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Archive for the ‘Virginia’ Category

Is it Halloween yet?
Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

Today is downright cold. “Sweater Weather,” my Mom called it. In Florida where I grew up Autumn announced its arrival with a delightfully cool breeze that offered blessed relief from Summer heat. We knew more of that was coming and we could not wait to greet the season.

Virginia is different. Things can and do change overnight. Winter’s warnings here are loud, clear and insistent. Last night the warning came with a breeze too cold to leave the windows open and a sudden need to cover up.

Yes, summer tops look strangely out of place in the closet now and shorts, bathing suit and sun hats are ready for wistful hibernation. I should have been prepared for this since the little market down the road has been showcasing mums and pumpkins for many days now. And the internet is featuring autumn decor and Halloween.

Even recipes emerge that I haven’t even thought of all Summer. I suddenly want to make more stews and hearty meals. I am famous for simple, easy, recipes that taste like they took alot of work. Here’s a good one for Old Fashioned Meatloaf with a great tangy twist.

DOR’S BARBECUED MEAT LOAF

1 ½ pounds ground beef

1 cup breadcrumbs

1 onion, finely chopped

1 egg, beaten

1 ½ teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 15-16 oz. can of tomato sauce, divided

½ cup water

3 tablespoons vinegar

3 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

            Combine first 6 ingredients in a large mixer bowl; add ½ can of tomato sauce, mixing well.  Place mixture in a 10x6x1-inch baking dish, and shape into a loaf.  Combine remaining tomato sauce and remaining ingredients in a small mixing bowl and pour over loaf.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until done, basting often.  Yield: 8 servings.

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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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Many steps from house to pool.

Thirty years ago, when we built our little house in the country, we had an in-ground pool installed at the same time.

I insisted we live by water and Bill insisted on a woodstove instead of a fireplace.  It was a compromise.

The end result was a heavy-duty woodstove in the middle of the living room and a swimming pool!

As it turned out, that woodstove grew on me, maybe because it saved our lives through many a frigid winter.

And the pool meant happy memories with our son and the grandgirls, friends who visited, and our two golden retrievers who loved anything water.  Swimming in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia has always seemed to me to be the ultimate luxury.

Oh, and I forgot – there was once a horse in our pool, but that is another story.

But now (due to sheltering in place from Covid-19)  we are pretty much the only swimmers.  We invite Elsa-the-dog to join in but she is suspicious of so much water.

On July 3rd I was determined to get into the old pool and paddle around as a prelude to celebrating Independence Day 2020.  A swim would also be good for Old BigFoot.

But as enticing as it is, getting to the pool is now an enormous challenge.  Navigating all those steps is out of the question since there are many steps down, and the only other way (I thought) was walking down over uneven terrain.

Then there were the endless preparations… What to take…

  •  A water dish for Elsa.  Treats for Elsa.  A leash for Elsa.
  • Towells, walking stick (cane), suntan oil, bug repellent, sunglasses, first aid supplies.
  • How to get down there.  The pool is not far if you can walk.  May as well be to the moon for BigFoot.
  • Bill to the rescue!   “We will take the car!” said he.  And Elsa jumped into the backseat thinking it was another ride.
  • And off we went for a one minute drive around the house to wind up at the pool.

It was an unceremonious but successful arrival. 

Elsa would not even consider getting near the water.

Instead she began tentative explorations and found shady spots (to shelter in place).  In fact she found a cave under one of the big evergreen bushes where she was cool, hidden from danger, and could watch for bears in case the peeps needed protection.

BigFoot loved the swim and was already plotting how to get down there again without the mortification of being driven! 

The only concern is that Bruno-the-Bear or his sister would decide to join in, but there is always Elsa for protection.

Do you think she would emerge from her new private dog-cave-digs to scare off another bear? 

 

 

 

 

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It was 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon when Elsa-the-Dog begged to go out on the deck. She loves just looking around her “estate” from the safety of the rails and rungs.

So out we went to sit in the shade of the eaves and contemplate sudden fair weather.  Surely the wispy breeze and floods of sunshine would make us safe from the dreaded virus.

As I was about to doze off, Elsa suddenly sprang to life and trotted to a corner of the deck.  She likes to chase bumble bees and I thought that was her goal.

But then she zipped over to the opposite end and then zipped back.  She was definitely on the alert and straining to look in one direction through the rails and I too looked in that direction to see what all the fuss was about.

What I saw was a very large VERY LARGE Virginia Black Bear who was ambling along the edge of our woods.  He had obviously been at both ends below our deck and was certainly interested in my hummingbird feeder!

About the time I put this all together in my slowly emerging brain, Elsa was growling and barking, and the BIG BEAR began to run.  Thankfully, it was running away and not toward us.  Elsa kept up a loud piercing bark that I think made her seem to be a giant adversary instead of a little twerp of a dog.

And the VERY LARGE bear ran all the way out of sight and into the forest.

Thank you Elsa-the-Dog for your grand big-dog bark and for your courage in sounding the alarm.  You are my heroine!

Anyway, who said sheltering in place is not exciting?

 

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assemble challenge combine creativity

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

You can only watch so much television when sheltering in place, right?  And how many jigsaw puzzles can you do without getting a headache?  I even find myself reading two books at a time!

But, even though our world started to open up again to allow for haircuts and dining in restaurants, the Corona Virus is angrily re-emerging and forcing us aging vulnerables into continued self isolation.

When I started blogging I had no idea the end result would be the addition of people I not only enjoy learning about, but that many have actually become  friends.

And through all the challenges of self isolation, and through the long months of solitude, as if to prove the value of our relationships, my blogger friends continued to create incredible connections.  You offer your experiences, your humor, your photographs, your ways of coping, your thoughts, and mostly your love.

But for quite a while I was reading your experiences and not sharing mine.  I was absent from the blogging world in a writing dry spell I thought would never end, when suddenly I realized that reading your posts was helping me get through the Covid-19 Pandemic lock-down.

The inspiration was there “in plain sight.”  Writing and sharing were the blessed remedies for coping with odd downturns like lockdowns and forced isolation.

Many of your posts made me think of what I would do in similar circumstances.  And my own responses could certainly have been crafted into blog posts.  But, instead of following the urge to write, I sent comments instead.  It was writing in a way, but mostly done to thank you, my blogging friends, for your words, your time  and your continued contributions.  You kept me sane in the insane world of Covid-19!

I am posting things again but the dry spell threatens to return.

I recognize it looming overhead.

Then, as if it was meant to be, a Virginia Black Bear wandered into our yard today and has inspired me to create another post.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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Bill and I just discovered a golden restaurant to return to again and again.

Golden Garden3 Sign

 

The Golden Garden is comparatively new in our little town of Lexington, Virginia.  It specializes in Sushi and Pan Asian Cusine.  “What is Pan Asian Cuisine?” I asked Google and came up with foods originating from the greater continent of Asia including, but not limited to, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, and Indian.

Let’s try it,” we said.

Over the years we have devised our own criteria list for ranking local restaurants:

  • Must be quiet enough to talk without yelling,
  • must be very clean,
  • have pleasant wait staff,
  • and hopefully serve great tasting healthy food.

The Golden Garden surpassed all our criteria. The restaurant is quiet enough, very clean, and the staff are lovely, kind, eager to please and welcoming.  Not only is their food delicious but it is beautifully presented and there is so much of it, you inveitably wind up boxing up for lunch the next day.

We were so impressed with this new restaurant in our little town that we returned for dinner the following week.  I loved the Shrimp with Mixed Vegetables (with optional White Sauce and Brown Rice) and also tried their Wonton Soup, Spring Rolls, and the Seaweed Salad  – all truly scrumtious!  To give you an idea of the size of the entree, Bill had General Tso’s Chicken (see photo below).

Golden Garden2 Gen Tso

Bill’s General Tso’s Chicken after he added rice on top and stirred around the initial presentation.

I wish I had taken photos of the entrees as they were presented, as yet untouched.  Guess I was too eager to dive in!

Anyway, if you live in or near Lexington, Virginia, or if you are simply visiting, remember that Dor highly recommends The Golden Garden.

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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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B's 85th with Cake

Gathering

There was a gathering last week for (Dad’s/Grampy’s) Bill’s birthday!  And our once quiet little house in rural Virginia became a beehive of activity with lots of talking, shouting, and barking from Elsa-the-dog, all vying to be heard to catch up on our lives.

The Grandgirls 2019

And there was the birthday boy of course.  There were MaltShop Music DVDs from the 1950’s as a backdrop.  What fun.  What memories.  A chocolate birthday cake with chocolate icing was a hit too.

Dining Delight

I made a new dish for dinner which is now a family fave.  It is called Sausage and Linguine.  Basically it is just that with a few other things like red peppers.  It was a major hit though.  Nothing like a recipe with 5 or less ingredients.

Playing with a Rescue Dog

Elsa Loves Son Corky, who managed to actually play with her.  Elsa does not know how to play.  She runs away from squeaky toys (afraid they are crying and hurt), will not fetch a ball or play tug-o’-war either.  Sad.  But she loves Corky.  He treats her like a puppy, challenges her by showing and hiding treats and and Elsa wags her tail and acts much like a puppy even though she is 7 years old now.

Laughter Lingers

I'm in Cork 2019It was a lovely day for Bill’s birthday with calls and cards, and gifts and lots and lots of love.  The GrandGirls left first, returning to D.C., South Carolina and Michigan to resume their busy lives.  Then we had time with son Corky and daughter-in-law Emmy – time for shopping, talking, laughing, planning.  It was all such fun and we loved every minute, but they are all gone now.

The house is quiet again except for a couple of thunder storms.  Elsa is frightened and shaking under my desk at my feet.  I’m sure she misses Corky and all the other big humans who were here such a short time ago.

Ditto.

 

 

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A Virginia sky over the Blue Ridge Mountains

offers a scenic route to Heaven,

and clouds to guide the way.

Sky Scape 1

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