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Posts Tagged ‘Virginia’

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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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Elsa Here a Year

Elsa Here a Year

Has it been a whole year since we brought Elsa home to our little house in Virginia?  I realize now how terrified she was that day and for many after.  We think she was abused in her other life/lives because she used to flinch when we tried to pat her head.  She is still frightened of raised voices or fast movements.

But Elsa feels at home now and she looks calm and contemplative.  I somehow know she is happy.

Me too.

dog towel

Thank you Mary Ellen!

 

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Elsa

Our little dog, Elsa, is not as little as she was when we got her.

I knew she was chunkier.  I had a feeling you know.

And of course, some signs are clear.

It was a very stormy night here in Virginia, and Elsa is terrified of storms.

My first clue that she had gained weight was the “thunder shirt” I got her didn’t fit anymore.  I couldn’t get the velcro closure to close around her tummy.

Thunder shirts are supposed to feel like swaddling and hopefully calm the jitters.

When Elsa is really frightened she looks for a close covered shelter where she can go to shake and shiver.

During one previous storm I had to laugh when she literally flattened herself out and slithered under our bed.  That was when we first got her.  After the storm of course, she slithered herself back out.  I called that acrobatic maneuver The Return-Slither.

Well,  last night, when I was all tucked in and ready for a long sweet sleep, there was a thunderstorm. And this time, sans Thunder Shirt, she needed an escape cave – fast! 

Once again Elsa slithered under the bed.  Unfortunately, I never saw or heard her emerge, even when the storm was over.

There were subtle movements like maybe she was trying though, like the bed kind of heaved.  And then I thought I could feel her trying to turn around under there.

Was Our Dog Stuck Under the Bed?

  • Oh No!  Had Elsa gained so much weight she couldn’t slither back out?
  • I agonized over what to do.  
  • Would Elsa have to spend the night in the dark?
  • I lay there imagining.  Was she frightened?  Could she breathe under there?  Did she feel abandoned?
  • And I lay Sleepless in Virginia, imagining the worst,  and plagued by worry for hours and hours..
  • I couldn’t call to her or I would wake Bill.
  • I dozed and woke and dozed and woke.

Finally at 3AM I thought I heard a little cry so I jumped up, got a flashlight, and determined to wake Bill to help me lift the bed off our poor littlechubby Elsa.

But she was up and out.

Elsa had managed the Return-Slither.

It must have been a struggle though.

And Elsa is now on a diet.

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Elsa on the Sidelines

Elsa on the Sidelines – Note: Lovage Herb still growing mid-November!

 

Today is chilly and wet here in rural Virginia.  When we go outside, our new dog, Elsa, confines herself to exploring under the eves of the house where it is still dry.

I too confine myself to the interior to keep warm with wooly socks and comfort foods.

I am contemplating the arrival of Thanksgiving.

However – the stores are already playing Christmas music!

And whole aisles are devoted to holiday trimmings and diabetic inducing holiday sweets.

Time seems evermore meaningless.

Commerce demands earlier and earlier displays.

Maybe it would be a good idea to have Christmas in August for Bill’s birthday.  Why not?

Tree and all.

My friends and I are becoming cynical about the charms of winter.

But then I discovered  a magical snow globe.

Snowglobe

  • It plays holiday music.
  • Turn it upside down and of course there is a gentle snow storm.
  • And flip a switch for barn illumination and little colored lights that twinkle in the trees.
  • I am transported in time to the sweet charms of Winter.

The little globe has done what no store display could do.

It has inspired me to look forward to a joyful winter season with much to be thankful for.

So no matter what holiday you celebrate, my wish for you is joy

and

warm socks.

 

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I have never been able to take a credible photo of the moon.  This little cell phone camera doesn’t have the capacity (or maybe I don’t know what I’m doing?).

But one silvery night when the fog lay in low Virginia hollows and there was a shimmer on surfaces left wet from a creeping mist, I had to try again.

Deck in Moonlight 3

Deck in Moonlight 4

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I love to roam around my “backyard” with its wonderful long-range views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Summer still hangs on but there are little clues to the coming of Autumn.

Shades of Summer

Shades of Summer

Field of Goldenrod

Fields of Goldenrod

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If I hide my head in these leaves, maybe she won’t see me?

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Day Dreaming in the Sunshine

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aunty acid sleep

My compliments to the Virginia hospital sleep clinic  and kudos to the technician who conducted the study.  The attendant was efficient and kindly and I had a clean room with a double bed, a television and my own bathroom.

HOWEVER………

Following is an accurate account of the night I spent entrapped by wires that are designed to detect oxygen deprivation and other sundry unidentified maladies.

But, of course, if I could do it, you can too!  And this post, although accurate, is actually an attempt to make you laugh – not to scare you off.

And so it all began.  Arrival time: 9 PM

Firstly I expressed doubt about sleeping the requisite time.  That resulted in a bedtime story about why people do not sleep well in strange paces. 

Picture this:  It is the caveman days and humans are nomadic.  Every time they arrive at a new cave they are compelled to stay awake.  Who knows what predators are waiting to eat them?  So, staying wide-eyed when we find ourselves in new digs (even today) is a trait passed down through our DNA.  A perfectly understandable tale though not particularly comforting.

Bedtime story aside, it was not yet time to bed down because we had to do the real prep work!

 It took 40 minutes to attach 40,000 wires glued to head, face, neck, chest and legs, and another contraption attached to a finger (Well, maybe not 40,000 really but a huge mass)!

After hookups, some test runs, checks and rechecks I was tucked in and then visually monitored to record sleep positions!

I could not go to the bathroom without announcing the need out loud.  Then the technician would magically appear and unplug the wires.  That meant carrying 40,000 wires in a glob strapped over my shoulder and taking the glob into the bathroom.

While trying to wash one wireless globless hand, I got a glimpse of my face in the mirror.  Perfect reflection of a science fiction monster!

O.K., Blessed sleep time.  And there I lay for another hour or two, eyes wide open, hands in fists, and muscles tensed (primitive posture to deter an ancient mammoth attack).

The Turning Over Challenge.  Try rolling around and dragging 40,000 wires!  Barely making it to one side I stayed stiff for an hour or so until the body insisted on turning to the other side.

Oh, I forgot to mention they put a belt around my waist and another belt around my chest.

I prefer sleeping in the dark but the room was not dark even after the technician turned off the lamp and the overheads.  Didn’t she know killer bears can see into a lit room?

Praying for oblivion, I finally did fall into a dreamless sleep (on one of the stiff sides) that lasted 4 hours.

And finally, at 6 AM a cheery “Good Morning!” sounded over the speaker.

All the hookups were removed with instructions on how to wash off the goo.  My hair was all stuck to my head with gel stuff.

Did I look bad with all the wires attached?

That was nothing compared to the final unplugged version.

Thankfully I returned home, showered, removed goo, and slept on and off all day in a recliner.

My body was shaky and in screaming revolt.

 It may still be revolting, if not screaming.

But the test was meant to determine if I stop breathing during sleep.  A lack of oxygen to the organs is dangerous, and especially dangerous to the heart.  I trust my doctor.

So again, please don’t let this blog post deter you from doing a Sleep Study too.  Ha!

But, it you do go, please don’t tell me if you breeze right through the whole thing.  It would be too embarrassing to discover I am a colossal wimp!

 

 

 

 

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Hogweed 1

Hogweed in Northern Michigan

“Shall I not have intelligence with the earth? Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself?”

– Henry David Thoreau

 

Oh how we rejoice in the beauty of nature!  And summertime in rural Virginia couldn’t be more invitingly lush and green.

Then my brother called from California to warn us about an invasive weed recently found in Virginia.

Beware HOGWEED!

It grows exceedingly tall and some might say, “pretty”,  but you don’t want to cut Hog Weed for indoor  arrangements.  Even if you just brush against as you pass by, your skin may suddenly become sunlight sensitive to the point of third degree burns!

And if you get some of the sap in your eyes, you could literally go permanently blind.

Read about Hogweed  here!  It is in a number of states now and Virginia is the latest.

Now if Hogweed wasn’t enough (and forgeddabout Stink Bug infestations) but have you ever heard of SLIME MOLD?

Slime Mold

Slime Mold – Nickname “Dog Vomit.” Ewwwwww!

This weekend I looked around the mulched beds in our front yard and saw a giant spread of a horrifyingly ugly mold.

It was a sickly white globby thing!

I expected it to ooze out bigger and bigger and to eventually smother every living thing in its path.  Yes, you would definitely see SLIME MOLD in a very scary horror movie.

I was terrified.  I didn’t want to touch it.  I didn’t want to move it.  “Well, maybe I will water it,” I thought.  A hard spray to the monolithic gooey mass created a copper colored cloud of deadly dust.

  • Am I inhaling this?
  • Will I die of an alien fungus and who would know?

My fearless friend Amy was here but even she was intimidated by the ugly slime.  She agreed to turn a pot over on it so we wouldn’t have to see it.  I had nightmares that night though.

  • What if it seeped out the sides of the upside-down pot?
  • What if it could figure out how to get inside the house?
  • There was a hole in the bottom of the pot for drainage but the hole was now “up” and was I feeding The THING with oxygen and enabling it to grow?
  • Would it crawl out the drainage hole?

Thank Goodness for “Hey Google!”

Turns out that SLIME MOLD (affectionately nicknamed “DOG VOMIT”due to the similarity in appearance) is not dangerous to humans or pets or even plants if it doesn’t smother them with love.

Slime Mold is only horrifyingly ugly, which demonstrates that sometimes Mother Nature is indeed, benevolent and even compassionate.

Watering will cause Slime Mold to float around in the air (in that big copper cloud I unleashed) and spread (the result of my watering efforts).

And so my friends, my own personal ugly Slime Mold took up new residence on top of an Impatiens flower in the same bed.

According to my panicked research, the way to remove it (the Slime Thing) is to dig it up with a shovel, put it in a plastic bag (like you would dog doo) and discard the whole thing in the trash.

Bill grinned and bore it and just pitched the one celled organism into the woods where it will surely find some new decaying vegetation on which to build a life.  We are not killers after all.

Such are the gifts of nature to be found in the Virginia countryside!

I did see a mama turkey and her six young-uns running for the woods yesterday.  Maybe they heard about the Slime Mold Invasion.

So, what’s new in your neck-o-the-woods?

 

 

 

 

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