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Well, the gang was all here for Thanksgiving in the country and it was a hoot (as they used to say in another of my previous eras). Son, daughter-in-law, 3 grandgirls and one Golden Doodle descended upon this quiet, mostly people-less, oasis of calm and serenity in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Even Elsa-the-dog was in shock and only began to adjust by Day 4.

Thanksgiving day and the day before were a frenzy of cooking. And in spite of my Grand-girl, Jessica’s brilliant pre-holiday spread sheet outlining each of our specially owned menu items, we largely proceeded to cook old favorites in our own unique ways. The results were a delicious (if not elegant) meal. This is not a criticism because there are obviously benefits to using paper plates liked fast cleanup and less chaos in the kitchen.

But I had envisioned setting the table with “good china” for the first time since the advent of Covid and in fact, bought a new cloth that would spotlight the glowing beauty, etc.

I think it was the day after Thanksgiving when we almost all went to the Great Valley Farm and Brewery just to check it out and for something to do. And for no real reason we stayed and stayed in a plastic wrapped bubble laughing and talking and of course sipping the wine and eventually the view, and made friends with a giant pit bull terrier named Ed who was happily visiting there with his own human family. And Ed was truly a gentle loving giant.

Since I had not had a drink in years you might understand why the giggles came on strong. I was also chilled since being housebound and not accustomed to real air. The girls noticed me shiver and proceeded to wrap up Grammy and the giggles got hilariously contagious.

After awhile we moved on down the hill to the Halcyon Days Cider place and sampled all their delicious hard cider varieties which only amplified the giggles. There was more of course…. more food, more games, more talking and laughter.

The gang was all here and now gone. There is an odd empty feeling of quiet.

So we decorated the Christmas tree.

And all the while we were wishing the family and all of you wonderful friends in cyberspace a Christmas laced with great food, grins and giggles.

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Bedtime Story

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.

Cooking With a View

I never tire of the sweeping view, especially whilst cooking and standing at the kitchen window.

How blessed we are to have found this place and recognized it as home.

Thirty-two years ago I would hum happily en route to this 20 acre plot where there was no home yet . It was a place in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia where we could imagine a future.

The land stayed unspoiled. The house Bill designed sustained us.

And “the future is now.”

A Kitten Finds a Home

My friend Amy discovered this adorable little kitten abandoned and alone. Being a “dog person” with two dogs at home, Amy was not looking to add a feline to the mix. She found a foster family for the baby and was relieved to hand the kitten over. But the foster mom called in two days to announce she could not keep the kitty because her own dogs threatened to harm it.

What to do. What to do. Amy knew little about felines but made sure the kitty had enough food to eat and was healthy. As the days went by Amy became more and more attached and she named him Sam.

And it has been a love story ever since.

But the true love of his life is now Amy and the true love of her life is now Sam.

When Amy was sick for a few days recently Sam slept with her and never left her side and she would wake up to find Sam’s little paw on her face.

This is an ongoing story of course and it will make for a few more smiley faced blog posts.

But isn’t Sam adorable?

I am so glad he and Amy found each other and that Sam has found a real home.

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 Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

My mind is wandering. The chaos of the holidays is especially confusing this year and of course I can blame it all on the pandemic.

Is the Covid-19 pandemic evolving or devolving? Is it now called endemic because the cases are going down? Or is it because the numbers of hospital stays are decreasing? Or is it the number of deaths? Or maybe things are not improving at all.

They say there is a new “variant” emerging that could be faster at spreading than ever and maybe more lethal. Or is it? Boosters might help or might not. Hunkering down again might help or might not. Should I wear a mask all the time or just in public or just among the unvaccinated? Should it be made of cloth or what?

Really I have more important things to think about. Almost my whole family are coming for Thanksgiving. Who will bring what or cook what and how will we all be seated? My mind is wandering.

It is not even Halloween yet but I already have plans for Thanksgiving. Planning is the secret.

  • I will make a big beautiful chocolate bundt cake the day before. That is in case there is a pumpkin shortage. They are predicting shortages you know and pumpkin is one (due to some sort of fungus on the crops… or is it a dearth of trucks for transport?). I do love pumpkin pie but chocolate will take the yearning away if need be. I have all the cake ingredients now so Ready-Get Set-Go!
  • I will also make my own favorite cranberry salad two days ahead to give it time to set and merge. There is a joke in the family about the grand who added 3 cups of sugar to the salad making it inedible. Not this time although she has graciously offered to make it again!
  • But just in case there is a problem or a shortage of cranberries we have two cans of the jellied version – the old fashioned kind we used to get when I was a child.
  • I will also make my own favorite veggies with carrots and turnips the day before.
  • We are stocked up with Stovetop Stuffing.
  • There is nothing like instant mashed potatoes nowadays but I will have a bag of real potatoes on hand just in case.
  • My friend reminded me of the merits in making a marinated salad so forget the green bean casserole.
  • That only leaves the turkey and gravy!

And there you have it. This is what happens when my mind wanders.

Now onto Christmas!

Start Writing

Photo by Lisa on Pexels.com

I believe in writer’s block because I have had it for about two years now. It began just before the pandemic. Oh wouldn’t it be lovely to blame it on that?

How confined one becomes when hunkering down.

Or maybe I could blame it on Big Foot and then the Creaky Hip.

Perhaps it is a matter of concentration.

Or maybe I need to take a different eye view of the world,

a walk on the wild side

or just time for contemplation.

Can you tell I have reflected on this?

And have come to a conclusion

that in the end, there is really no writer’s block.

You simply have to sit down and start writing.

Summer Memories

I was in the hospital a few weeks ago, recovering from total hip replacement surgery. The nurses and all the staff were wonderful and I was trying to be cooperative as well. I was scared but putting a brave face forward and trying not to be too demanding. And I was also asking questions about their own families and lives.

One of the nurses told me she was from Finland and had married an American. She said she was not entirely happy here because she was pregnant. And she said that in Finland, new moms get a year off when the babe is born. And yes, I looked that up!

Finland offers a very long parental leave to its employees, where starting in 2021, both parents are entitled to parental leave of 164 days each. Parents will be able to transfer 69 days from their own quota to the other parent.

Another long-time nurse was an animal lover who had horses, dogs, cats and other creatures she adored. We shared happy dog and horse stories like old-time good friends.

Then another of my favorite nurses said, “I want to be you when I grow up.” She was not a child of course, but she said that in the most matter-of-fact way.

Finally another long-time nurse wheeled me out to the car at discharge time. And as we left, she said to Bill, “Take care of her because she is precious!”

I have been thinking about those nurses and the things they said and the stories they shared ever since.

“I want to be you when I grow up” is the most unique and unforgettable compliment I have ever received.

What is the greatest compliment you remember?

To Do or Not to Do

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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