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I live in rural Virginia, in the Shenandoah Valley in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and on the other side too, in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains. In other words: Where exactly do I live?

To make matters even more confusing, I live just off a State Road on a private road, but my mail box is located on the State Road about a mile down the private road. The residents of my community pay yearly fees to take care of the private road. But I am told the State Road is maintained by the County, especially when it snows.


Are you confused yet?

We had a fairly big seven inch snow a few weeks ago. The private road was plowed by my community and the State road portion was plowed by the County.

We were all hugely grateful for the combined effort to allow us all to get out in an emergency.

However……….

The County managed to leave huge mounds of compacted snow in front of our mailboxes which are on the State Road – not the private road. At any rate, a bank of four mailboxes was plowed in.

I was with Bill when he tried to pick up our mail by balancing atop the mound, holding onto the car with one arm and the mailbox with the other in a shaky attempt to retrieve the mail. Not good for us over-the-hillers for sure. How the mail lady managed to deliver was a mystery too.

As we were rejoicing about how well things were managed here in times of crisis there appeared a notice in our mailbox entitled United States Postal Service – Approaches to Curbside Mailboxes. And it read:

“Dear Customer, The Postal Service depends on you to meet postal requirements regarding delivery and collection of mail to curbside boxes. Please keep the full approach and exits to your mailbox clear as illustrated in the examples below. Removing trashcans, snow, vehicles, and any other objects from the area allows the carrier to deliver your mail safely and efficiently without exiting the vehicle.”

  • The State owns the road connecting to our private road.
  • There is a bank of mailboxes on the State Road.
  • The County plowed the State Road after a snowstorm.
  • The County blocked access to the mailboxes for Postal Service personnel and its customers.

And the USPS says,

“Dear Customer,

You are responsible.

Clean up this mess.”

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Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Happy Holidays!

The festive greetings seem louder this year and maybe they even mean more.

Bill and I once again managed to put the tree up and got it covered with memories. I am always so proud that each ornament carries its own story going back so many years.

There are the Hungarian hearts sold to me by a woman on a street in Budapest. It was my first trip to Hungary to see where my father was born.

And look at the smallest decorated glass globes! They are what are left of the very first ornaments we purchased 62 years ago when newly wed. We were so young and just starting our lives as adults.

I love the doggy memories too. One real ostrich egg has our pair of Golden Retrievers painted on, and another is of my brother’s Dalmation. The horses are there too – Martini and Lucy.

The list goes on and the finally the fully dressed tree each year is actually a biography of a family.

That is what Christmas is all about – Past, Present, and Future. So, I am wishing you, my family and friends, good health and happiness and more of the same and lots of great memories in days to come.

MERRY CHRISTMAS! HAPPY NEW YEAR! HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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Wonder how I can find a place in bed?

Elsa has found ways to worm herself into our little family. And she is winning.

We chose a smaller dog when we were looking to fill the hole left in our lives when we lost Rozie. And that’s what Elsa was – a smaller dog. We figured as we age, we will need a light-weight for us to be able to lift and carry. Ha!

Elsa is verging now on being a heavy-weight who has used her sweetness and big dark eyes for treats and more treats and delicious people food handouts. Yes, I know this is the fault of us humans who fall for canine pleading.

But what about sleeping? What would make a little (fat) dog work on getting into bed between two humans?

Fear.

And witnessing the abject fear demonstrated by Elsa (at any unusual sound emanating from the terrifying forest primeval) prompted us to allow her to join us abed “just this once.”

And now tis a nightly event.

She waits until 3 or 4AM to make sure we are too groggy to say, “NO” and shivers and shakes a bit to convince us she is frightened about something (a bear outside our window or an intruder or thunder or gunshots)? After all, it is hunting season in our neck of the woods in southwestern Virginia.

Alas! We have fallen once again for Elsa’s charms and her well thought out tactics.

The battle is on for bed space.

And there you have it – the ultimate bedtime story.

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Virginia Views

Wandering Witch Off Course #1

Wandering Witch Off Course

I was driving along when I saw this evidence of the humor that abounds in my rural county in Viginia.

I kept thinking of the Wizard of Oz and humming “Ding Dong The Wicked Witch is Dead!”

I think she may have been texting.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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Photo by Daniel Reche on Pexels.com

Yesterday I actually drove to downtown Lexington, Virginia all by myself. I parked in a nicely arranged parking lot with stairs at the end, and went for a walk. And then I climbed up one stair and back down and then two stairs and down and then THREE steps up and down.

Talk about self congratulatory pride! I felt like Rocky!

And then I walked on level ground for about 20 more minutes.

HURRAH!

Big Foot complained a bit but we managed to ignore all that. “I am woman. I am strong. I am invincible!”

Of course walking in a parking lot is not too exciting. There are certainly not many photo ops, but the sun was shining yesterday with a cool little nip in the air, and the traffic was nil, and I took my trusty cane for balance. That little parking lot is now my personal training track!

In the good old days around 1998 the goal was to walk 10,000 steps. But my pedometers don’t work anymore. I suspect it is because the goal is now low low low! What pedometer would be caught displaying 150 steps anyway?

So out with the pedometers.

Now the goal is just some time moving….. any time moving….. just moving.

Today I feel pressure to enter a blog post.

What about all that beneficial walking?

To do or not to do? That is the question.

Walking is more important really.

But blogging is a good excuse not to do what I set out to do yesterday.

I promise I will start walking again tomorrow.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I love Spring in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. ‘Tis really the season for beautiful color and the clean clear beauty of nature’s reawakening. Even the deer begin boasting their new babies. And I feel happy and productive and eager to think about planting more flowers. But thinking is not doing and since I am still a slow motion walker waiting for a hip replacement I have not injected myself into the wild.

Photo taken by Daughter-in-Law, Emmy – Virginia Redbud

Spring is is also a time of imminent threat from the wild. Whether you go outside to feel your toes in the grass or not.

Three days ago I felt an itchy place on my back just below the left shoulder. A hot shower helped and I thought nothing of it.

Two days ago, the itch was back so I took a look with the help of a hand mirror and saw a red place with a slightly dark center. I asked Bill to take a look with a magnifying glass and he did. He said, there was nothing there…. maybe a little raised mole. So I put some anti-itch gel on it and went to a peaceful slumber.

Yesterday the itch was back in full force and when I looked at it with the hand mirror there was a pronounced dark center, much larger. Bill took a look too and said “it” (the dark center) was kind of hanging loose so he removed it. In my opinion it was a well fed deer tick! And I was immediately off to the doctor.

Results:

  1. It was probably a tick. An adult deer tick is the size of a poppy seed. There are no charts or photos I know of that show a well fed deer tick as opposed to a hungry one.
  2. The doctor said if you check yourself all over each day and you happen to take off a tick, no medication is necessary.
  3. Because I came in early, I only had to have two antibiotics immediately… no more.
  4. Evidently, if you have a tick bite and remove it within 34 hours, you will not need meds.

I am still confused over all of this.

Seems to me, you should report a tick bite no matter what. My niece contracted Lyme and suffered with it for many years.

Anyway, in addition to gimpy walking I now have the remains of a bite on my back. The culprit escaped a plastic bag I swear I sealed. He was a major escape artist.

The doctor’s answer for this latter issue was to put a cotton ball soaked in nail polish remover in the bag with the tick. He will then suffocate and die but his body will stay in tact for identification! More than I want to know.

I dislike ticks and other bugs, but do I hate them enough to become a wanton murderer?

‘Tis the season all right.

Spring has sprung in all its glory.

But there is a downside to living in paradise.

Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

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Life and Death

Bill and I are finally both innoculated against the nasty Covid-19 virus. Bill got his second Modurna shot this afternoon and I am almost a month since my last Pfizer shot. We are so relieved that now our son and grandgirls can come and visit and suddenly the world seems open to our presence. We are celebrating life even if we do still wear masks, keep our distance and wash and rewash hands. Life is good!

But two days ago my little brother, Steve, called to tell us the love of his life (our sister-in-law, Vivienne) had passed away. It is impossible to comprehend.

Viv was not only a relative, but a friend, and they were our eager travel companions too. Our last trip together was a river cruise through Germany. Viv was so delighted to be there and to be with us. She was so happy to be walking through the little towns where we docked, and all the cobblestone streets and exploring the old world with new eyes.

And everybody on board loved her.

Nothing new.

Everybody always loved Viv.

My heart aches for Steve and our two nieces, Judy and Christi, and David, her grandson. And although we are celebrating Life After Covid, we are also mourning the death of a beautiful warmhearted, giving sister-in-law who was a vital part of our lives.

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It was ccccold when I opened my eyes this morning. I was looking at the ceiling where we can immediately know the time and the temp all lit up like a starry sky above.  Who needs to know the time and temp that early anyway?  In fact, knowing made me want to go back to sleep.

But I had to get up to put chicken in the crock pot. 

I was thinking, “How can I rise, dress in something warm and cozy,  find my cane, and then hobble out to the kitchen with nary a sound?

Should I just go back to sleep and forget the crock pot?

“No”, I answered.  “You have to stay on plan.  So, it’s cold.  You will survive.”

Now I am aware it is colder elsewhere in the country.  And wetter.  And snowier.  So feeling sorry for myself and broadcasting the woe-is-me attitude is self serving. 

“Stay in bed”, I thought. “You are entitled to selfish self-serving pampering.”

“No, get up!” 

“Get going.”

The internal struggle continued and jumped to other concerns about the cold temperatures.

Do the lights go out just because it’s cold?

Ooooh!  I almost forgot we now have a whole-house generator so the crock pot would theoretically keep on “crocking” and no need for me to find candles or store water.

No visitors expected here anyway due to the nasty Covid-19 virus, so why am I keeping to a regular dining schedule?  We could eat late or early or even in the middle of the night.

But the sun is rising in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  And by golly it’s cold!

The chicken dish is in the crock pot at last, and if you are interested, here’s the complicated recipe:

DOR’S CROCK POT YUMMY CHICKEN

GOOD ON A COLD DAY NO MATTER WHERE YOU LIVE

WORTH GETTING OUT OF A WARM BED FOR

Ingredients:  Chicken, a can of black beans, and a jar of salsa.

Directions:

Put however many pieces of chicken in the crock pot

Dump in a can of black beans and a jar of salsa.

Put on “Low” for about 8 or 9 hours and plan to serve over noodles or rice.

And go back to bed!

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View from the warm interior of my home December 17, 2020

An icey foggy strange and wonderfully different day in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

The Blue Ridge Mountains are always a viewing pleasure, but today they are a distant and magical kingdom right out of a Disney film.

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It has been over 30 years since first we came to this bit of Camelot in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. There was nothing here but we camped out on the land and dreamed of the perfect house to shelter us right into old age.

A Home for Living

All on one level with an attached two car garage we have given thanks many times for the cover during rain or sleet or snow. It is a modest house designed by Bill, that has bent with the years to accommodate many changes. In the beginning my mother came to live with us for several years, then Bill’s sister moved to the area and spent every weekend here. My brother and Sister-in-law and kids came too, and long time friends returned and returned. Our son came early on, married, and then grandchildren arrived, and we had dogs and horses and a garden and we grew along with the landscape and we changed too along with the house that accommodated and sheltered us all.

There are rooms with a view, mostly of the Blue Ridge Mountains which really do look blue sometimes. Other rooms look out upon our green green world and what I call the Forest Primeval.

Bedrooms have their own thermostats for individual heat control in case we lose power. But there is a big wood stove which heats the house so efficiently that I sometimes have to open windows in the middle of a blizzard.

Even though I always see this home as almost perfect, we began some upgrades in 2018. A big change was the addition of a “Whole House Generator.” It is still hard to imagine we no longer need candles. Oddly enough I still have a major stash of jarred candles “just in case.” But the generator keeps working its magic and we haven’t had to use a candle yet (except to add romance of course).

In addition to the magical generator, we upgraded the kitchen with a quartz countertop that feels cool and looks so cool that I think I am working in a brand new place. I love the view of the mountains from the kitchen too.

Kitchen Before – Outdated Cabinets and Formica Countertop
Kitchen After – Counter is actually a Dove Grey

Nope, we do not wish to sell the house! And this is not a pre-prepared advertisement. I have simply run out of adventurous things to blog about, and my self imposed isolation means you get a little tour of Camelot. Also, between you and me, I am practising using the new WordPress block editor format. What do you think?

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