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Archive for the ‘Country Challenges’ Category

macro photography of black sunglasses on sand

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

Although we have had a few tooth-chattering days here in Camelot, it still somehow feels like summer.  I have almost forgotten that Virginia has a temperate climate but still boasts the four seasons.

But here it comes January and I never finished retrieving winter clothes and never packed away bathing suit or shorts.  First of all, it stayed warm enough for cooler garb than sweaters.

And for a true weather guage there is always my curly-er and frizzy-er hair which usually only happens during the muggy days of summer.  I suppose winter frizz  is due to a mountain version of seaside dampness.  Who knew?

And those lazy hazy days are here again and I am sweating (not whistling) while I work.

This sleeping beauty is also doing a bit more tossing and turning on over heated body-warmed sheets.

This morning there was a summer-like drizzly rain with no coat necessary – just short sleeves for dog walking.

The stink bugs are happy and back in plague mode too, accompanied by a competitive lady bug infestation.

I am confused.  Should I switch the heatpump to “cool”?  Should we re-open the outdoor pool?

Feeling a chill where you are?  Virginia may be just the place to go for the excitement of an off-season-summer.

 

 

 

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bright burn burnt candle

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We are on a mission to add a “Whole House Emergency Generator” to our whole house where we have survived for 30 years without one.

One of the great challenges in country living is to remain alive and functioning during power outages.  A severe thunder storm will trigger an outage here – or a slight breeze will do it too.

Living in an all electric house means when there is no power there is a total blackout.

No flushing toilets

or taking showers

or cooking (Hurrah!),

or seeing at night without flashlights and candles.

And we cannot do laundry or watch television or

charge our cell phones.

We are cold (shivering) in winter and hot (overheated) in summer.

And the silence is deafening.

But in the beginning it was an adventure!

Being cold in winter and hot in summer was a satisfying challenge.  The woodstove had to be watched and logs added and added again and again  A big storm once arrived in a summer heatwave.  It was called a “Derecho” and we lost power for five days.

Ah, the ultimate dream!  Automatic power!

Yes, Bill and I have made a grand decision to take advantage of modern progress and add an emergency Whole House Generator to our whole house.  Still, having made that decision we are now faced with numerous other decisions in order to move forward.

  1. Where should we put the ugly duckling?  The propane tank is big, ugly, and by Virginia law has to placed ten feet from any building.
  2. And  where should we put the actual generator?  It is not particularly ugly nor huge but evidently (by Virginia law) has to be five feet from any window opening.

These are only the first two questions and the more we talk and the more we investigate, the more questions arise.  Rent or buy the propane tank?  How big a tank?  How big a generator?  Where to buy?  What electric company to use for installation?    How to disguise the ugly duckling(s)?  And how much will all this cost?

The dream of automatically reinstated home comfort is the inspiration to keep asking questions and moving forward but stay tuned for any end result.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Elsa Desk 2.jpg

We are still trying to figure out how to make Elsa-the-Rescue-Dog happy.  Mostly she is tough, strong and independent.

Unless there is a mysterious noise.

Like thunder of course.

Or fire crackers.

A backfire from a distant Virginia highway.

Or just any unidentifiable noise that indicates the sky might fall.

Lately we are having regular afternoon thunder storms at the time she has her dinner and most especially when she needs to go out.  And of course Independence Day was yesterday so right after the storm there were far off cracks and pops in the neighborhood.  That was enough to start her shaking shivering and pacing in a mad search for safety almost all day yesterday.

Go out?  Wanna go out? Ha!

Eat her dinner?  Ha!

Well, she can afford to lose a few pounds.

Elsa has a “Thunder Shirt” which wraps snugly around the middle to combat anxiety. Trouble is, it doesn’t fit.  We feed her well and Elsa has outgrown her Thunder Shirt!  It will not wrap around her anymore.

Elsa has anxiety.  Me too.

We both worry about everything.

We both worry about the sky falling.

The Thunder Shirt will not fit me either.

Lately, Elsa’s safe place to hide out and shiver is in the foot well of my desk.  She is still worrying about the thunder storm from yesterday and is now under there.  What a sweet blogging companion, except when the shivers hit or when the thunder claps and we both want to run for our lives.

It is all quiet now, but the prediction is for thundder storms this afternoon.

Elsa has taught me one important thing.

There is no point in worrying about the weather.

But if I could get under my desk with her,

I would be there too.

 

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There was no rain in the forecast for the whole week. Ha!  We had the gutters cleaned.  We are weeding and planting things.

Ahhhh Summertime (and the livin’ is easy)!

Good friends arrived one night as an unforecasted storm blew in.  And while we were talking and solving the problems of the world, our lights went off and on and then off again.

No problem. 

Only a little storm.

Even Elsa-the-dog was not intimidated.

And as we predicted, the storm subsided.

Off we all went to the Pink Cadillac for dinner, an old fashioned 1950’s style diner that was bustling as always. We placed our orders and kept on talking.

pink cad interior

Until the lights went out.

mystery-man-groping-behind-glass-square (1)

It’s hard to make a point

or conversation with

unfamiliar faces in the dark.

“Who ARE these people?” I wondered.

“They could be strangers I am talking to.”

At home again, the electricity was still missing.

Usually the eternal optomist, Bill was becoming negative and frustrated about the power outage.

And usually the eternal pessimist, I was beginning to see a bit of humor in the situation.

Hmmmm.  I wonder if traditional personality traits can get switched with age.

But I suppose it was easy for me to stay mellow when Bill was in charge of our survival up and down stairs to monitor the generator.

Then darkness descended and another friend drove up to our house in a panic.

“Help!” she cried.  My road is blocked by a fallen tree! Do you have a chain saw?” 

She was stuck, couldn’t get home, and at the same time, so were our dinner friends.

It took two men, two chain saws, and a big tractor to clear a “huge” tree from the road.

And of course Bill was Man #2 with Chain Saw #2.  And about two hours later he came home craving water and rest.  My hero!

And Hurrah!  The road was cleared.

We are expecting visitors in

the coming weeks of summer.

Hopefully anyone who arrives will not wind up sitting in the dark.

Let there be many joyful adventures but clear roads!

And may I please know who I am talking to (and what I am eating) at the dinner table.

 

 

 

 

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Rhody in Bloom 2 Window

Thirty years ago we planted a baby Rhododendron at our new home in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.   It was a house warming gift from our friends, Terry and Barbara.  Barbie did all the work too and she has a magic touch in the garden because our Rhody grew and grew, and her saucer sized flowers stunned all visitors.

Note:  I did prune her once and as if in protest there were no flowers for several years.  

But she grew and grew and grew some more.

And this year she bloomed again foor the first time in a long time (see photo above)!

But Rhody was suddenly enormous!

She reached the roof of the house and spread out to cover two windows.

That was when Bill said, “She needs to be pruned.”  “No,” I cried, “She will not flower again for years.”  Then Bill left it to me, but the seeds of doubt were planted.

I literally lost sleep over the decision but finally got enough courage to begin to cut.  “Just a little here and there,” I thought.

I think I cut too much.

I am so sad and so sorry.

Do you think I killed Rhody?

Rhody Pruned

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night caps

It has been an unusual winter here in rural Virginia.  Everybody says that around the globe, but it may actually be true here.  One day it feels and looks like Spring with balmy breezes and sunshine.  And the next there may be snow or freezing rain or rain or flooding or wind.

With each ensuing event our family and friends (in warmer climes) would call and ask if we were o.k.  “No problem.  They simply exaggerate the weather here.  All is well,” we said.

But then for the last two days we got seriously punishing winds.  Gusts were up to 60 miles per hour which caused limbs and toppling trees to fall onto power lines and then massive outages.

Even so,

for a time we were spared any inconvenience and we smugly carried on.

But then there were the inevitable lights out.

It was our turn.

Ah well, no problem.  There is a trusty wood stove in our living room and a little generator only Bill knows how to operate.  And soon we were once again smugly carrying on.

And in a mere two hours our lights returned and we let the fire in the woodstove slowly burn itself out. 

I retired around 11PM and went into a warm cozy dreamy kind of sleep

when around midnight the lights went out again.

The house slowly turned stone cold.

So did the top of my head

and then my nose which woke me up at 3:15 A.M.

Have you ever tried to warm your nose and keep breathing?

I did manage to create a sort of blanket tent

around head and face but

the cold kept seeping in.

I got up to put on a wool cap

(not particularly becoming).

It kept slipping down over my eyes.

The forehead got warmer

but the nose re-froze.

This went on until 5 AM…. a rough night.

Bill finally got the wood stove going again at 6AM and the power returned about 10 AM this morning.

My nose is warm again.  So is the forehead.  But I had a lot of time to think about coping with a cold nose and other bodily parts and kept remembering “mama in her ‘kerchief” in the Twas The Night Before Christmas poem.  Surely she and my ancestors had the same problems with the fires going out and the cold creeping in.

Today my side of the bed is at the ready with

  • a wool cap nearby (forget romance forever),
  • an extra blanket for swaddling semi-exposed areas of face and body,
  • tightly closed windows (never mind allowing in fresh air for health),
  • and warm socks to avoid frostbite.

I wonder if “mama in her ‘kerchief” had a canopied curtained bed.

Not a bad idea.

Now if only Elsa-the-fuzzy-wuzzy-dog would recognize the value of cuddling, winter’s woes will disappear.

 

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elsa hiding head

Elsa Heard a Noise

Gun Shots, Backfires or Fireworks?

The end of 2018 began with popping noises in the distance.  Elsa-the-dog is terrified of popping noises like faraway fireworks.  We bought her a “Thundershirt” (meant to wrap around her tummy to create a sense of well being).  The problem is we don’t get to it (the shirt) in time.

I suppose hiding your head is a good alternative.

More Cookies?

I started a new tradition this New Year’s Eve to celebrate Year’s End and a new year’s beginning.  I baked whipped shortbread cookies.  My sweet Canadian friend, Cindy, gave me the recipe for truly melt in your mouth fabulous cookies and I intend to make them every year for New Year’s Eve.

As my dear old Dad was known to say, “Delicious if I do say so myself.”

cookies shortbread 2

Whipped Shortbread Cookies – Recipe by Cindy – Made by Dor

Old Traditions or Old People?

Every year we replay the tradition of getting together with old friends for:

celebratory drinks at our house,

followed by dinner out,

followed by a movie at our house,

followed by champagne to toast in the New Year.

We aim to finish up at midnight and sometimes we make it.  This year, not so much.  We were all dozing off by 10:30PM so made our toasts and called it a night.

Something’s wrong here.

End of a Year and The Downtown Lexington Fall of the Ball

lexington_balldroprelee5_sm

This year I hope to urge our friends to have a very late dinner with us in downtown Lexington, Virginia and then proceed to Main Street to hang out and watch the falling of our very own small town ball!

More and more people are doing that even though it only takes about 30 seconds for the shiny thing to fall.

Then maybe 100 balloons float down upon the crowd of maybe 100 folks who are just as ready to cheer and holler as all those revelers in Times Square.

 I am awake now and trying to adjust to the end of a full-of-surprises 2018.

Hope your “endings” were fun and your “beginnings” too.

And now wishing you a very Happy New Year!

 

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