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Posts Tagged ‘country challenges’

o-NEIGHBOURHOOD-WATCH-SIGNS-TORONTO-570There were two hummingbird feeders on our deck this week.   Now there is one.

A Dine Until Dark Curfew has been imposed on the little hummers and the one remaining feeder is taken inside when the sun goes down.

What happened?

A mystery intruder  visited and vandalized our peaceful Virginia home.

If you are interested in solving mysteries, here are the clues:

  1. A favorite old hummingbird feeder  was lying in three pieces on our deck,
  2. amid a wide swath of sticky sugar water, 
  3. replete with large animal footprints, and
  4. unidentified animal scat on the deck stairs.

“What critter (or person) could it be?”we wondered.

Bill thought it was a raccoon.  I thought a bear. Can you tell by these observations the differences in our personalities and outlooks on life?

I Googled SCAT and found some that looked like ours (NO, NOT HUMAN).  Oddly, there are actual animal “poop charts” so you can compare and identify droppings!  Somehow I find this offensive to my sensitive senses.

scat_berries4_800x600

Bear Scat

Anyway, that was as far as I got researching when an email came in from our immediate next door neighbors warning they had seen a mama bear and her two cubs in their back yard!

bear watch

Mystery SOLVED!  IT WAS DEFINITELY A BEAR!!!  AND A VIRGINIA BLACK BEAR WITH TWIN CUBS!!!  Well, what did I expect when we chose to live in the country – civilization?

Then a second email came  and a third.  The word is out and we have a NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH with friends sending email alerts!

  • “We saw a mama bear and two cubs in our back yard this morning.  If you think this is information that should be shared with the neighbors, would you pass it on?”  
  • “Yep! We had some work being done at our house a few weeks ago and they videoed two cubs and the mom on our property.”
  • “Also I saw them crossing the hunt road, heading up the hill into the woods between the pond and the riding ring, just like last summer. My mare has indicated their closeness to our place too. I have not viewed them there personally yet (but, she doesn’t fib).”
It is certainly comforting to know there is a Three Bears Neighborhood Watch, but having the trio on my deck borders on disconcerting!
I have a plan though.,
The trick is stay close to the front door, or the back door, or the car door.
Or if the bear gets inside – to barricade in the bathroom with my cell phone!
So much for summer walks in the woods.

 

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horse-head-49642_640This morning featured a unique Neighborhood Breakfast.

I am not a morning person. Maybe closer to a bear.

I used to get up early to fix bacon and eggs  for Bill, but he was always too sick to eat!  Then he found out  it was me who made him sick and he has made his own breakfast ever since.

Nevertheless, at 8:30 this morning I managed to stagger into the Hunt Lodge where our neighbors were meeting other neighbors, and all with widely divergent interests.  The breakfast was to spread good will and I guess they had no idea about grouchy morning people.

But this is the story of a Buffet Breakfast designed to bring even me around to discovering the joy of connecting in an equestrian community.

Bill and I live in  the middle of a 700 acre tract designed for traditional fox hunting.  The scenery is spectacular and we have always loved  seeing the riders in their pinques (scarlet jackets) and the thrill of seeing them “ride to the hounds.”

They say they never actually catch a fox and I fervently hope that is true, but I diverse.

One of our fellow property owners is a Fox Hunting Club.

As you might expect, the Club’s main interest  is “horsey” and although many of the Hunt people once owned parcels and lived on the land, the Club Members  no longer do live here but now come to ride from far and wide.

The “other Land Owners”  are like Bill and me.  We own a parcel of land we live on and that is partially accessible to the Fox Hunting Club.  

We, the “other” Land Owners, are the people who love horses but  don’t ride in the Hunt.

We oftentimes feel vulnerable to the Club’s hounds, horses and riders who traverse our land.

And we tend to worry about liability.

Over the decades since our equestrian haven was conceived, the Hunt Club and  the other Hunt Landowners  have drifted apart and do not always agree on the use and care of the land or even the roles of each entity.

Enter two dedicated fellows with peace and harmony in mind. One is from the Fox Hunting Club and one from The “Other” Landowners, and these two peacemakers decided to host a Neighborhood Breakfast!

Cook & Dishwasher

They planned the event right down to name tags and provided all the food and drink.  There were home baked scones and biscuits, West Virginia sausage, ham and eggs, beautiful fruits, mimosas and all the coffee we could drink.

Maybe  people were motivated by the yearning for good will, and  maybe they were mellow from all the goodies, but soon there were folks chatting  away and getting to know each other better.

We talked about horses of course.  We used to have two of our own.  

We talked about the way things used to be,

the people we knew who were such assets to the Club and to all who live here,

the beauty of the grounds, the fun and camaraderie.

We talked about “the way we were.”

And the Neighborhood Breakfast Buffet was a big success!

Kudos to Pete and Hugh who hatched this ice-breaking outreach event, and to those of us who participated in spite of morning stupors.

I hope next time we will talk about ways to work together going forward and I hope next time the party will be in the late afternoon.

But, in spite of my bear-like morning persona, I must admit there is something to be said about sharing a lovely breakfast with good people.

Communication must surely be the way to overcome divergent interests so we can all live and let live and enjoy a beautiful world.

Amazing Egg Maker

Amazing Egg Maker

06TailRideJulyBrownJarvis2

Please Come Near (626x460)

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Mushroom Underside

Mushroom Underside

I was and am alarmed, embarrassed, and totally MORTIFIED!

On Saturday I discovered a mushroom growing in my spotlessly clean house!

A beautiful white opaque mushroom was happily embedded in the carpet at the baseboard in Bill’s office/den/t.v.room/napping place/man cave.

Admittedly a manly retreat like Bill’s might offer a peaceful atmosphere for a mushroom to grow up in, but why?

On first sight.

On first sight.

And why am I creating this post?   Maybe the mystery of the spores has addled my brain.

Because where I come from (muggy Florida), we had to be vigilant about preventing mold and mildew.  That means being spotlessly clean.  Keep a closet door closed too long in the era before air conditioning and you  inspired the growth of dreaded MOLD (stuff that is dangerous to one’s health)!

So I grew up learning to be spotlessly clean.  Please believe me. I am “spotlessly clean.”  There is also air conditioning now.  And really…… I am spotlessly clean.  I keep a spotlessly clean house.  That is the truth.  Really.  A mushroom growing in my house??????   Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

And so begins a journey of discovery about how a spotlessly clean house could nourish a lovely mushroom.

We called Bryan the Plumber first.

We love and admire Bryan anyway, but even more now because he came over right away early this Monday morning.

Bryan cut up the wall and identified a leaky pipe that was bringing fresh water to our master bath commode (via the den wall) and he replaced the pipe.  “That should stop the source of the moisture,” he said in his most reassuring voice.

New Pipe Replacement

New Pipe Replacement

I love reassurance but  rather prefer guarantees.

Bryan also identified a huge stand/pod/bevy? of mushrooms growing from our subfloor underneath the house!  Who knew there would be a whole FAMILY of mushrooms?  And under our house?

Note:  There is only so far I will go with spotless housekeeping.

And so, we called Dennis the Carpenter.

We already love Dennis too because he is coming right out tomorrow at 8AM!  Dennis will remove more drywall to inspect for further damage.  He will also remove a patch, a chunk or a whole area of carpeting to inspect the sub flooring and decide what next to do.

I expect Dennis will also be reassuring (without any guarantees).

We hope Dennis will inspect the sub flooring in the crawl space under the house too.

I have a new high regard for plumbers and carpenters for their brave and arduous work challenges.  But now I wish for a magic solution that will exterminate all those lovely mushrooms beneath the house.

All of this will be costly we think.

So we called our Insurance Company.

The insurance company gave us a Claim Number.  Evidently Claim Numbers matter but to me that means we have to wait in line.  And  soon they will assign an Adjuster.  Under the circumstances one of their claims agents told me they “understand the urgency” in getting things repaired even if it is done before the Adjuster can take a look.  They suggested I take lots of pictures.

Ah!  Pictures.  And I may as well do a blog post as a kind of documentary evidential piece to present to the Adjusters in our lives.

The saga of the Mushroom in the Man Cave will be continued.   Bill is temporarily carrying on manly activities in another room usually reserved for grandkids’ visits.  He doesn’t seem to mind the big stuffed puppy in the corner.

Meanwhile, if any of my blogging friends have words of wisdom to impart, or stories of such gruesome experiences, please share.

 

 

 

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Gathering Storm

Storm Brewing in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

Online Confession:  I am terrified of thunder storms.  Never used to be.  Only since we moved here.  That was 26 years ago, so I have been afraid of thunder and lightning for all that time.  Tsk!

In spite of valiant efforts to hide this phobia, most of my friends know all about it.

I used to tell them our Golden Retriever, Peaches, was so afraid of storms she would try to get in the bathtub or shower.  I suggested the closet and would accompany her there for comfort and solace through the wild flashes.

From that time on, Peaches and I hit the closet together to weather storms.

  • I lined the closet with pillows where delightful scents of shoes and clothing might calm the poor pup down.
  • I rubbed her with dryer sheets (supposed to reduce static electricity),
  • and I even gave her little candies laced with doggy herbal tranquilizers.

Maybe I should have tried the dryer sheet-tranquilizer thing on myself!

Friends would say, “It’s thundering Dor –you and Peaches better get to a closet!”

The real story is that in a state of abject fear I prefer to lie down in a closet.  Folks do not understand there are no windowless rooms in this house – no comforting walls for protection.   And then of course, Peaches caught my fear (dogs are very perceptive that way you know).  And I suppose she entered the closet to actually comfort ME!

We finally lost Peaches (not to lightning but to old age), and then inherited an old rescue dog named Rozie who also found solace in the closet during raucous weather.

We lost sweet old Rozie as well (not to lightning but to old age).  I fervently wish a stray would wander in but there are no dogs here now and I hit the closet alone.

This is irrefutable proof that fear of lightning is my own hangup and I should stop involving helpless animals.

Peaches

Peaches

Rozie

Rozie

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Guilt was the final feeling after I posted a blog about my new very short haircut.

I have  since decided to “bite the bullet” and grin and  share my dark haired beauteous transformation..

I realize today’s photo does not comport with the blog profile photo which has been up for several years.  I kinda liked the grey but with righteous living, my hair turned dark again.

And the shorter it gets, the darker!

Didn’t I tell you short hair would make you look and feel 20 years younger?

 

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Mist in the Treetops

My friend, Debbie at The Mountain Kitchen  just wrote a great story about a water pump problem at their house.  There are  emotions that come with sudden water loss and she tells a mesmerizing tale.  At the end her post brought back memories of an incident at our house that still makes me laugh.  Country living does have its challenges.

It was a summer weekend when we lost our water.  Isn’t it always?  And to make things worse, our son and family (with three young grandgirls) were visiting and we couldn’t even call a plumber until Monday!

We had lived here long enough to know that several things happen when there is no water :

  • There is nothing to drink.
  • Cooking becomes problematical.
  • Washing up from cooking becomes problematical.
  • There is nothing to wash bodies with.
  • Sanitation becomes problematical.
  • The toilets will not flush.

bucketThere are also steps that can be taken to survive the above crisis:

  • Buy bottled water.
  • Bring in water from the pool to flush toilets.
  • Eat out.
  • Use sanitary wipes to wash bodies.
  • Go to a motel.

But we were facing surviving the weekend (or longer) with a total of seven bodies in the house.

The visiting family had two choices:

  • You will not hurt our feelings if you pack up and go home now, or
  • You can stick it out.
prepforshtf.com Water Storage and Procurement

prepforshtf.com
Water Storage and Procurement

Oddly enough, they decided to stick it out.

  • We trucked buckets of water in from the pool for three bathrooms.
  • We rented a motel room about 2 miles down the road (for showers only).
  • We bought tons of bottled water.
  • We bought tons of paper plates, plastic glasses, and utensils.
  • Don’t ask me what we did for meals!
  • And we stuck it out until Monday.

On Monday morning I drove to town to get more drinking water and Bill called our Farmer’s Co-Op for help.

And when I got home, 30 minutes later,  the water was on!

“What was it?” I asked Bill.

“It was a switch,” he answered with a wry grin.

“A switch!?  But we did check the breaker box!”

“Yep, it was only a switch.”

Evidently the man from our farmer’s cooperative came out right away.  The first (and only) thing he did was to inspect the breaker boxes.  He noticed there was another little box across the room.  We forgot about that one!  It was an emergency box that was installed for a new generator.

And the Co-op Man found it and flipped  the switch that was plainly marked, WATER!

Such is life in the country .

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Next Project Waiting

Dor’s Next Project Waiting

 

There is more to being a crochet wizard than learning the ropes yarns!

For one thing, one has to figure out how to wind a thousand miles of string into a ball.  Evidently this has been done for centuries.  I suppose you could make someone stand there (someone you wish to punish) and hold the skein for hours, while someone else who needs punishment winds the ball – but not too tightly mind you – in different directions, with three fingers in between to make sure nothing is stretched.

This morning I was the punished winder and two chairs served as the holder-uppers.  Lucky chairs.

But that’s not all.

I thought I finished my first shawl!

But it was not really finished.

It needed to be BLOCKED.

Forgetting to look up “how to block things” on the internet, I winged it and steam ironed the darned thing.

It grew.

Actually that may have been fortunate because it was too short to begin with.

But it grew to an appropriate shawl length.

“HURRAH!  IT IS FINISHED,” I thought.

Nope.

The shawl needs just one more thing.  A SHAWL PIN!

Have you ever heard of a shawl pin?

Well, it’s a sort of clasp thing to hold your buns together.  No, that is not meant to sound the way it sounds.

But, it’s a stick that goes through a nice cover piece.

Anyway, the final stick and cover thing are supposed to hold things together

like hair or shawls.

As you may know, I have a new network of lovely knitter friends at the Stitchin’ Post in Lexington, Virginia “WhereFiber Artists Come to Play.”  They told me about a lady who makes the most gorgeous sterling silver jewelry and some stunningly beautiful shawl pins.  Jen Letter, Silversmith is a talented Virginia artist who makes things with a twist!  That means she hand casts pieces that stand out as uniquely special.  The fact is, they are absolutely beautiful!

I am smitten with her work and after the shawl pin purchase I will finally take a photo of my first finished shawl plus Jen’s pin, even though her pin may take the limelight.

Stay tuned!

To be continued………..

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366px-My-bird-feeder 2

How to Choose the Right Bird Feeder: 9 Steps (with Pictures) http://www.wikihow.com My bird feeder.jpg

 

I knew the bird feeder was hanging from a slightly loose screw.

No time to tighten or re-position it under the eaves because we were just returning from vacation and facing shopping, laundry, and re-connections with humans.  I filled it that morning and thought to adjust things later in the day.  At least the birds would have a first meal after weeks of missing me.

 But, in an hour or so when I returned the feeder was gone.  Well, it must have simply dropped from that loose screw onto the ground but it was nowhere to be found.

The Mystery of the Disappearing Feeder

There’s a thief here in Virginia

who stole my perfect feeder

depriving me of viewing pleasure

and the birds their welcome dinner.

A search below deck, round and round

– no feeder was in sight.

Who planned the cunning caper

and not even in the night?

Who was the canny critter with all that derring-do,

who took such great advantage of a little loose screw?

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As you may know, I am a self imposed perfectionist preferring order over disarray.  I love things neat, clean, and smelling of the great outdoors.  But, this morning I experienced a developing nightmare in the daytime, which I call “My Horrible DayMare.”  It’s a very scary non-fiction Halloween story of despicable monsters and goblins who descended before Halloween.

I did not know at first I was going to be wide-awake crying and shuddering at such horrible, indelible images.  Oblivious to the lurking danger I was naively eager to put things in order this morning, before the rest of the family staggered out for breakfast.

MY PERFECTIONIST PLAN

Step 1 –  Since we are expecting visitors soon, I stripped the guest room bed  to re-wash the sheets.  My goal is always to achieve that clean, sweet smelling, fresh-as-the- great-outdoors scent.   I visualize  sheets floating in the breeze on an outdoor clothes line like in the good old days before electric driers.  Ooops! Am I dating myself?

Dor And the Billowing Sheets
in Days Gone By

Step 2–Anyway –  I retrieved some big beach towels left hanging from hooks on our deck – remnants of a summer suddenly giving way to autumn leaves and brisk cool breezes.  Snow can’t be far away can it?  Why it almost seems like Christmas!  Beach towels look a bit out of place now on the deck.

But, do you see how organized I am and dedicated to sparkling colors in my laundry and lavender scented towels?  Who needs a spa anyway?

Step 3– I daintily dropped the sheets, pillow cases, and towels into the washer and went off to accomplish other such perfectionist techniques for home improvement.  I was once again prepping our house for  Better Homes and Gardens photographers who have never quite arrived.

But I’m ready.   I’m always ready.

Step 4–Moving right along toward the photo spread,  I put all the dishes away from the night before.

Step 5 –  I prepared  Rozie-the Dog’s breakfast, neatly laid out for when she should awaken.

Step 6 – I moved the sheets and towels into the drier.

*AND THIS DEAR READERS, IS WHERE THE PRE-HALLOWEEN DAYMARE STARTED!

Removing one of the sheets, I detected a rank smell emanating from the washing machine.  And as I pulled the sheet out, a few STINK BUGS came along with it!  Have you ever heard of a Stink Bug?  YYYYyyyyukkkkkkk!

They are perhaps the ugliest insects I have ever encountered.  Well, three or four of ‘em were enough to make me gag.  I continued to move things from washer to dryer, and it became quite evident there were not just three or four, but 50 or more – maybe 100 –  of the ugly bugs in the bottom of the washer (and probably, I thought, “in the sheets!”)  Grand!  What a way to start a day.  What a way to spoil my own personal image of perfection!  HORRORS!   YYYYyyyyukkkkkk!  And Oh, I forgot – WHAT A WAY TO WELCOME GUESTS!

Well I hastily put everything in the drier and turned it on, but somehow knew the buggy onslaught was not over.  Sure enough, there were more of the ugly monsters in the drier. It occurred to me the bugs were nesting in the towels and sure enough, I even found a nest stuck to one of them!   Bleh!  The critters had found a nice warm place to snuggle and breed!  Perhaps they died in paroxysms of pleasure in the swirling waters of the washing machine?

REMNANTS OF THE PERFECTIONIST PLAN

Step 7 –Holding my nose, I cleaned up both the washer and the drier and extricated the hundreds of ugly bullet shaped bodies, and left them in a paper towel for show and tell with my husband.

Step 8 – Now to re-wash everything, but first I would shake each item over the deck rail to get rid of lingerers.  In that process, two pillow cases got free and fell to the rocky driveway below.  Sigh.  I would have to go down there to get them.

Step 9 – Having retrieved the pillow cases, I hauled myself up the stairs and managed to track in leaves and bits of debris collected from the gravel below.  I would have to vacuum now.

Maybe you have the picture that about this time I was ready to go back to my own clean bed to enjoy a real nightmare where I would only be limited by my imagination about when it would end.  But this – this was a real-life HORRIBLE  DAYMARE that just kept getting worse and would probably never end!

Eventually this morning, all the deceased stink bugs were collected and discarded.  The house was aired out.  The sheets were triple washed and dried with a scented drier sheet, the guest bed re-made, and although I sat in a chair sobbing and shuddering for 20 minutes, reliving the daymare,  I was perfectly calm when Bill and Rozie, the dog, came out for breakfast.  Notice I said, “perfectly calm?”

And so, dear blogger friends, my perfectionist image goes untarnished and the pre-Halloween tale of the Horrible Daymare Stink Bugs is just between you and me.  You wouldn’t want to ruin my perfect image would you?

ABOUT THE STINK BUG

Sink bugs are named after the smell they emit whenever they are squashed or crushed.

They eat your plants and vegetables and emit an appalling stench when they are squeezed that resembles decaying garbage.
They are also almost impossible to get rid of and have wings which means they fly off when you try to catch them.

‘They feed on a wide range of important food crops. Crops such as sweet corn, apples, pears, grapes, berries, peaches, tomatoes and peppers appear to be the most vulnerable.

Both live and dead stink bugs can be removed from interior areas with the aid of a vacuum cleaner – however, the vacuum may acquire the smell of stink bugs for a period of time.’

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