Wednesday, May 24, 2023

A Birthday Week-End

May 19-22, 2023                                                              Most Recent Posts:
Reisterstown, Maryland                                           Time on My Hands – I Love It
                                                                                           A Family Play Week-End

Last time I said I would do an entire post on the books I’d read these weeks in Virginia.  But I’m going to make that next so that I can post something that actually just happened.  It’s almost real time.  Can you believe it

Friday, May 19th was Celia’s 7th birthday. 
How CAN that be?

I drove the 3.5 hours up to their house.  In our family if it’s your birthday, you get to have whatever you want for dinner.  This birthday girl chose Chick-fil-A.  Is it the chicken nuggets or the cookies and cream milk shake??

Apparently Carrie is the only one who responds when you say “smile”.


This was my mother choice.   What were they looking at?


The girls play bingo and all look at the camera and smile.

The weather was gorgeous all 3 days.  Perfect for walking around the neighborhood.

Celia helps mommy bring the empty recycling and trash cans down to the house.  It’s wonderful when they are big enough to help and young enough to want to…..sometimes.

Although her party isn’t until Sunday, today is her official birthday so presents from parents and Nana get to be opened today.


Very pleased with her new watch.  Pink of course.

And with her new camera.  Also pink of course.

And with her new water bottle which came with stickers and stick on jewels.  She loved decorating it.  What a great gift.  Pink of course.

Saturday morning we take Colin to swimming lessons

He looks pretty sharp in his googles.

We were sitting behind a glass window watching so picture taking was a bit difficult.


He was very interested in looking around to the bottom of the pool


I volunteered to do a little pruning of the roses in front of the house.  They had a lot of dead wood.



And looked a lot better when I finished.


Helpful Celia was at it again.


I had to put this in.  SO typical of sister and brother.



Nana brought 4 presents.  Two for her birthday and two for the in between day before her party.  It’s a birthday WEEK END don’t cha’ know.


The set of Junie B Jones books were quite a hit.


Carrie and Matthew’s 8th Wedding Anniversary is the 23rd which is Wednesday after I’m gone so they went out for an anniversary dinner on Saturday night and the kids and I hung out together.

One thing we (well they) did was to put together the wooden train tracks and drive the engines.  Colin is extremely good at design for bridges and curves.

He’s also a champion hug giver.


Sunday is the day of the big party.

But first we had to read some more Junie B Jones.  There were four books in the set and we read two of them while I was there.  It was clear they both liked them since there are 8 or 10 chapters in each book.


Colin goes to swimming lessons which Celia has also done.  She is now taking gymnastics lessons.   It was much harder to get pictures of her not only because of the glass but because there were so many kids and adults of all ages in the room with all the equipment.

You put the block on top of your head, squat down and roll over backwards over the block.   Why?   No idea.

Beginning of a handstand.

Trying to wait patiently for the party guests to arrive.


And of course they do.

Having a pool in your yard really makes for a relatively relaxing party for the parents.  I remember planning birthday parties and it was a lot more difficult than this.


Celia in the hot tub with her two favorite guests, her cousins Fiona and Amelia.


There were floatees of every kind for those who cannot swim.


Pensive moments at the party.



Even mommy can chill out and have pizza.



It really is a great set up for having a party.



It’s wonderful when your sister has a birthday party.  You get to eat watermelon and cupcakes.



And now for the last of the present opening.  Seems everyone brings their presents in bags these days.  No one but Nana and Mommy wrap.


Monday everyone has to go back to work and school.

Celia goes back to school on the yellow school bus that she loves.


This is the last I see of the birthday girl until she gets in her seat and waves from the window,


Nana celebrates on the long drive home with a stop at Brusters REAL ICE CREAM for Jamaican Me Crazy and German Chocolate Cake. 
Eat your heart out Paul!


Thursday, May 18, 2023

Time on my Hands–I Love It

April 25-May 18, 2023                                                    Most Recent Posts:
Greenfield Mountain Farm                                     A Family Play Weekend
Between Greenfield & Batesville, Virginia                 April in Virginia


This is going to be a really wandering post.  I’ve had a lazy time in Virginia this spring mostly hiking, reading and doing puzzles.  I hope you have time to sit back, relax and mosey along with me through nearly a month of spring in Virginia.

For those who don’t know, here is where I am.  The azaleas at the door to the screened in porch  give me a great deal of pleasure when I sit in the yard to read.

Only as you can see, they block the view out of the porch and the breeze coming in.  Time for a trim.  When is the right time to prune azaleas?

At the end of my first post from Virginia I showed the puzzle I was working on and here it is finished.  I’ve seen many of these birds since I’ve been back.  And I’ve done many puzzles as you will see.


I’ve also read many books while here.  I’m  trying to go through my books and clear some out to donate to the library book sale.  Those who have been to the farm know that nearly every room has one or more walls of book shelves.  I have pledged to buy no more books, to read nothing on the kindle and to avoid checking books out from the library and read only from my own shelves.  My next post will be for the readers among you.  It will be all about the books I’ve read during this time.

Below are 3 boxes and one bag of books I have determined I no longer need for reference or have read and do not wish to keep any longer.  This has been a very very difficult task for me, to part with some of my books.  I confess to being a book hoarder.


My next puzzle mid work and finished.  This post is created in chronological order of days so the puzzles are interspersed as I did them.




In addition to puzzles and books the other activity where I spent much of my time was hiking, mostly on my own property.

This hike was down to my lower field and along the stream.  The photo on the right is at the top of the hill that when I continue straight ahead will dip down into the field.

Along the stream,  I found this squaw root



The farm is home to many members of the Asteraceae family.   I love these smiling faces beaming up at me.


And the fragrant wild rose.


Many flowers grow not only along the stream but in it.  My property has several springs from which these streams originate.  Thus they are very shallow and small until they gain speed heading down to the Rockfish River.




Other members of the Asteraceae family blanket the field and I have a lot of trouble not stepping on them as I make my way up along the stream toward the top of the field.

They are midway through their bloom and some of them are visibly fading.


The woods on the farm is second growth.  It hasn’t been cut in over 70 years though.  It was once a home to chestnuts at the turn of the 20th century and I have found them growing on the hills trying to come back.  They only get to a certain height and then the blight takes them again.  But they come back from the elderly roots.  I wonder for how long...


Today the most common tree here is the tulip poplar.  Named for the shape of its flower.  They are tall trees and if  the wind did not blow some of the flowers down to me, I would not be able to see them.

I think they are lovely and have tried to bring them inside and put them in a vase of water to no avail


The only unusual thing I did this month was to try one of the many meals in the by mail meal plans that have popped up recently.  I have found cooking for one to be difficult and not so rewarding. 

20230428_161243Hungryroot promised delicious organic vegan food and had a half price initial offer.  So I took them up on it. 

They sent me 4 days of meals and snacks with instructions for making them and any additional ingredients I needed to supply which were not many. Their meals each served two so I actually had 8 days of meals.  They were delicious and very easy to prepare.  If the price had not doubled with my next order, I would have ordered once a month or so.  But instead I enjoyed this treat and cancelled my subscription.   I do highly recommend them.  The food was wonderful.  And an added note, they send the foods in the most amazing refrigerated recyclable packaging.  This seems to be a very responsible company.


One day I went into Charlottesville to meet my friend Laurie to have our weekly book club in person.  I was very surprised to be overtaken, as I walked to the restaurant, by a bicycle race.  So Charlottesville….side streets were blocked off and the cyclists were flying by me as I walked.

The city flowers though domesticated were no less lovely.  I imagine spring is beautiful everywhere.





At the new to us vegan restaurant Botanical Fare, we were able to sit outside and enjoy vegan macaroni and cheese and a crispy chix sandwich on sour dough.

As you can see, we were discussing Where the Crawdad’s Sing.  Two days later, we got together to see the movie which, as usual, we felt was not as good as the book and noticed a number of changes made which is always disappointing.  If you only saw the movie, read the book, the language in many places is gorgeous.


I so totally enjoyed a fellow diner that I took several pictures of her and her wonderful outfit.   I think her dog had my number.  

When I am no longer traveling, I hope to dress just like her.




Although I took many many hikes, this is the only other one I’m going to report on.  I climbed the “mountain” (foot hill) behind my barnyard.  We used to have maintained and marked hiking trails all through the property and hosted retreats here.  Most of the trails are gone now with no one to maintain them.


I brought only my phone with me since this is steep climbing and I didn’t want to take a chance with my canon and perhaps unsure footing though I did have a hiking stick.    The result is that my phone pictures do not begin to do justice to what I found.

I’m not sure why I was surprised to find so much Mountain Laurel as this is it’s blooming time.


But I was thrilled.



It seemed to be everywhere, in bushes and scrawny little trees.


I must admit to not paying a great deal of attention to where I was going, just up and following the laurel.  When I ran into what are apparently old logging roads I knew I was no longer on my property.  It made the hiking much easier, so on I went.



Though the Laurel was the main attraction, there were shelf mushrooms and trees to hug.


At the point I started down over the top to the other side I knew it was time to turn back but I wasn’t exactly sure where I was.  Long story short, I was lost.  But I found my way back just the same.    Great day hiking for sure!!!


Back at the farm, back yard birds.  Is this a hairy woodpecker?  The bill looks too long for a downy.  She’s in the Paulownia Tree that I really should have taken down in the back yard.  It has so little life left.  But the woodpeckers love it, including the Pileated and I love to see them so close.

More puzzles, two in a row.   I told you I did a lot of puzzles.




Not only were there woodpeckers in the backyard but for the first time ever, the brazen wild turkeys were there.



This way out huh??


One afternoon walk on the farm lane brought out the blue birds.  On the fence going to the lower field…


On the yard fence between the Crape Myrtles


Mountain Laurel was on the farm lane too.

In the woods along the side of the lane.

Beautiful on the lane too.

The other wonderful trees at the farm are the long leaf pines.  They are in bloom too.  The only problem with all this blooming is the pollen EVERYWHERE.  Cars look yellow, my eyes itch, I’m coughing.


Best bluebird shot was along the farm lane on the fence.


I saw a lot of goldfinches but they zip around so fast if they aren’t at a feeder that this was the only one I could catch to remind me of how stunning they are.

We put up a Purple Martin house over 35 years ago and thankfully never had any martins.  We didn’t realize how noisy they were until a friend had a flock.  What we got were bluebirds who love the house and return every year.

Maybe the most amazing thing that happened was the day I heard a truck coming up the lane and went out to see if they were lost.  The lane is a dead end and I’m the end.

They were not lost.  They were coming to bring me internet.  I WAS ASTONISHED!  

I have researched internet for the farm for years to no avail.  Every year I call the various electric companies and the internet companies – nope.  The farm is in a black hole.

  It seems that when President Roosevelt did the Rural Electric Initiative in the 1930’s to bring electricity to the mountains, the “burden” was divided among the electric companies.  There were very few houses out here then.  We were lucky to have land line phone service and what we had was long distance to everyone but the folks on our road. 

At this point I am still the last house at the end of the line and nobody can help me.  But apparently the current President has included me in a Rural Internet Initiative and a local company came out to set me up.    He was up on the pole stringing the line to get to me.


IMG_7628Then they were installing the outside wires and box to the house.  Apparently the company providing the service will call me to activate it with plans and prices.

You may be wondering how have I been posting blogs from here ever since I’ve been on the road.  I use Winnona’s mobile wifi and a booster I bought and hooked up on my second story porch.  At this point, I’m paying for the wifi so I can travel and the booster is paid for.  So until I finish with my travels and come back to the farm for more than 2 or 3 months a year, I doubt I’ll take up the expense.  But still I was amazed that out of the blue, they showed up.    No idea how you knew I was out here in need but Thanks Joe.

And another puzzle.  How many is this now? 



And finally, the puzzle I’m working on now and boy is it difficult.  It’s circular and the connecting pieces between the zodiac signs are all the same.


Plus if you look closely, the sun/moon rays are all the same and many of the backgrounds are the same.   Not sure I’ll finish it before I leave.


And, the pieces are little.  So are my hands.


On one of my walks down the farm lane I saw the turkey group in the field.  From the house they look like little brown dots.


They are a little clearer here.


They eat leaves, grass, insects, berries, worms, snails, frogs and small reptiles.  Don’t know if they eat the field flowers covering the fields now.



Another afternoon I came upon a neighbor I haven’t seen in a while.  Because he eats mice and rats, I’m happy to have him.

Not sure you can see him there at the bottom of the reseeded hill where the barn once stood.  He’s the dark stick. The barnyard is solid red clay since Shannon scraped it to make it large enough for me to turn Winnona around in.  It’s in need of gravel



Headed up the hill.  I hope he’ll stay near the house.  That’s where I don’t want the rodents.


For our next get together, Laurie and I went out for a lobster roll.  I’m having visions of Maine.  Last year we were here too and the cost was about 1/3 more this year.  So at that rate, probably our last time. But it was delicious.  This time she took my picture.  I should have had a salad.  The fries were over done.


I’ll close with this member of the Asteraceae family.  Recognize it?  Pollinators love it and we definitely need to show them some love.  This is No Mow May (your grass really won’t get 3 feet tall)  so let those Dandelions shine on.  They really are lovely.  Like a golden sun.


And a bit of nostalgia for Carrie and I.  How many of you had a grandmother who made you handmade Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls in the 1950’s when she was in her mid 60’s and then made, for your daughter, a Raggedy Ann and another “rag” doll when she was 92 and came for a visit.  These dolls were made by Carrie Lackey for Carrie Boyd and her mother.   I have them sitting in a rocking chair in my bedroom so I can see the love every time I look at them.  

The main reason they are here is to see if any of you know of a doll hospital where they might get cleaned up and a few repairs done.  I’ve looked and am having no luck.  They could ride with me in Winnona to get there if you can suggest where to take them.


And if you’ve made it this far with this post you deserve a good laugh.  We have a local cartoonist whom I love.   Isn’t this great?


Thanks for reading, I’d love to know how long it took you if you’d put that in your comment.  I’m feeling bad about it being so long.  But I did do A LOT of nothing I found when I was doing this post.    The books will be next time…….