Sunday, December 26, 2010

Talice in Snow

The weather this year has really been crazy.  I am not accustomed to having so much snow or snow so early  in the season.  We had three snowfalls with accumulation before winter officially arrived this year.  And, at about 3PM on Christmas Day the first snowflakes of this storm began to fall.  They have been falling ever since, but started falling more heavily this morning.  At 9 AM I went out with the yardstick and verified it was 7 inches deep.

First Measurement this Morning
I went out to the goat pen, where Talice is the guest visitor.  She is opting to sleep in the now-vacant goat shed, rather than the heated dog house.  She watched me as I approached with the bucket, in which she knew I had food.

Talice in the Goat Shed
Goat Shed with Straw Bedding

Once I'd opened the gate, she bounded out of the shed, frolicking as only dogs can do, in the deepening white stuff.
Gate to Goat Yard

Talice, Bounding Out to Greet Me

Talice, Catching a Smell of the Food Approaching

I filled her bowl, placing it back in the dog house, protecting it from the falling snow, and she was right in on that food!  The empty bucket was of no interest to that dog!

Talice, Chowing Down

Empty Bucket in Snow
The old farmhouse, her outbuildings and the property look so lovely in the snow, but I'm still not a fan of the white stuff.  I know that with the snow come the power outages and the accidents, both on the road and at home.  We are just not really well equipped to deal with snow in these parts.

Old Farmhouse in Snow
Outbuildings in Snow
I have been cooking this morning, in anticipation of losing power.  The wood stove is cranking out the warmth, and if it should be that we lose electricity, we will still stay warm, and be able to heat food on the wood stove.

Providing Winter Warmth

Talice appears thrilled with her accommodations.  She returned to the straw-filled goat shed when she'd finished eating.  The others, Killian, Benson and Miah, all just looked at me when I walked back into the garage.  They are keeping warm in the 60+ degrees the wood stove maintains for the garage, and they refuse to venture out into that cold, white powdery stuff!  What little wimps I have for pets!  They could learn a thing or two from my "granddog" Talice!
Talice, Loves the Snow!

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Day Before the Day Before Christmas

Saturday my daughter, Jenn, was to drive from her home in Madison, VA to ours in Mathews, VA, bringing her dog, Talice (pronounced TAH-LEASE) for us to dog sit while she and her husband spend Christmas and the first week of the New Year in France, with his family.  However, as seems to be an annual ritual, travel plans were thrown awry by weather.  Benoit, traveling to France ahead of Jenn, was to leave Friday night.  His flight was canceled and after persevering through the airport hassle of getting another flight, he finally was able to board a plane, 24 hours after his originally scheduled flight.  So Jenn spent Saturday, waiting in their home, in case he was unsuccessful in getting another flight.  We agreed to do the Talice delivery on Sunday.

Sunday, with Benoit safely on his way to France (he got stuck in a seven hour delay in Zurich) Jenn and Talice set out for our place.  They stopped to visit with friends in Richmond, and, in mid afternoon, Jenn called with a new plan.  She didn't want to be without her dog for several days while she was still at home, so the NEW plan we agreed to had her driving here on Wednesday, spending the night and then having me drive her to the airport for her flight on Thursday.

Yesterday afternoon Jenn called.  She was closing up the house and getting ready to load Talice into the car and make her way here.  She would see us in the early evening.  After I got off the phone, it occurred to me that it might just be simpler if I drove there, picked them both up, drove her to the airport, and came home with Talice.  So, I called her back and we all agreed on the NEW, NEW plan.

This morning dawned cold, and windy, but clear and beautiful.  I set out at about 9:15 AM and made the trip to Madison, arriving just after noon.

Madison Bound - Picturesque Country Roads
Ancient Farmhouses
Blue Ridge Mountains
Snowy Foothills
Horses in the Fields

Jenn and Talice were standing outside, Jenn wrapped up against the bitter cold wind, when I arrived, and within a few minutes we were on our way to the airport.

Jenn and Ben's place in Madison
Jenn's Workshop
Jenn and Talice Waiting Patiently
Jenn and Talice -- Ready to Go
We stopped for lunch about twenty miles from the airport and enjoyed a delicious bowl of black bean soup, a Greek salad and a nice visit.

I dropped Jenn at Dulles Airport at 3:30 PM.  Her flight was not scheduled to leave until 9PM, but she assured me she was happy to be there early and would have no trouble keeping busy.

The drive home required much more patience than did the drive there.  Garmin announced, as I pulled out of the airport, that I should arrive at my destination at 6:31 PM..... I pulled in at 8:30 PM.  Still, though the traffic on 95 in northern VA was the typical traffic jam, I couldn't shake the feeling that this had been a really enjoyable drive.  I had spent the trip to Madison listening to a book on CD, and I listened to the rest of it on my way back from the airport.  It had been a long time since I listened to a book while driving, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  And while I am, most decidedly, NOT a fan of the busy roads and hustle and bustle that is northern VA, I absolutely LOVE the countryside on the way to Madison.  So I was happy to be able to get a few pictures, en route.

On my way home, my friend Kitty's husband called.  Kitty is back home from the hospital.  She has had her surgery and WILL make it for Christmas Eve service tomorrow.  Tom wanted me to know that we are STILL invited for Christmas Eve dinner at their house before the service.  When I asked what I could bring, he said he'd ask Kitty, and then reported that she replied that I should, "Bring Joe!"  

Back home now, everyone is settled down for the night. Talice is quiet, snuggled in the heated doghouse, surely wondering about her new "vacation" digs, but we'll get her more acclimated to the place tomorrow in the daylight.  She does not like to come indoors, even into the garage where our pets hang out at night.  She is happy outdoors, so outdoors she is. She is a model traveler, and though she did offer up a few hound dog bays when she was investigating her temporary yard, and dog house, she ate well, drank happily and is now sleeping.

Jenn, on the other hand, called to tell me her flight has been delayed until 2 AM......

Simple Christmas Decorations in Gordonsville, VA

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Watching the Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse

I watched from the window, too chicken to venture out into the sub-freezing temperatures, regardless of the opportunity of a lifetime.  Joe, on the other hand, braved the bitter cold to capture photos of this historic show.

The earth's shadow took only about an hour and a half or so to make her trip across the moon. Joe's first photo was when the eclipse was already about thirty minutes underway.

12-21-10 2:07 AM
12-21-10 2:08 AM
12-21-10 2:09 AM
12-21-10 2:21 AM

12-21-10 2:23 AM

12-21-10 2:40 AM

12-21-10 2:40 AM

12-21-10 2:41 AM

By the time the last photo was taken, the earth's shadow was totally covering the moon...but the image, while not clear, shows the whole sphere, rather than the sliver visible just a minute earlier.

As I saw it through the window, it appeared I could see the whole sphere of the earth's shadow as it approached full coverage of the moon, but could see nothing, once the moon had been eclipsed.  Interesting.

Waiting for Parts

It has been freezing, snowy and generally too wintery for this time of year in this part of Virginia... nevertheless, 2010 has brought many such "too's" and so we have simply responded to winter's early arrival.  Grumbling and groaning about not having sufficient time to gather the firewood, or properly protect the various out-structures around the old farm, wishing the pond house would sell so we could focus our attention on the farm house... etc. etc.  Forget it, it's winter... find some projects inside to occupy ourselves.

So, when I arrived at choir rehearsal Saturday, having braved the too cold, too windy outdoors to make my way to the church, I was ready to commiserate with others.  It is, after all, a fashionable thing to do, bemoan those things completely outside of our control. As it turns out, however, I had no opportunity to whine about the weather, since my attention was quickly diverted to my friend's announcement to the choir.

It seems that on Friday, after the snow had fallen Thursday and turned to hard packed ice during the night, our friend and choir director, Kitty, had fallen.  As I understand it, she went out on her front porch to do some mundane chore, slipped on the ice and went down for the count.  She could not get up.  She could only call to her husband, who was inside the house, and who, eventually heard her and came to her aid.  As she waited for help, the eave's dripping icicles kept her alert, and, moderately ticked.... she could not move to get out of the icy dripping.

At the emergency room she was treated to what I could best characterize as incompetence.  She has a history of diabetes and lupus, and took a wicked spill three years ago, crushing several bones in her arm and shoulder.  A year later, she'd turned, while filling the dishwasher, and fallen to the floor, unable to move, lying this way for an hour and half until her husband arrived home from work.  She'd broken her femur -- a break her doctor speculated actually stemmed back to the wicked fall a year prior.  The femur break required surgery, with plates and screws and pins and more than three months incapacitated....

Kitty KNEW when she went down, this time on the ice, that the news was not good.  She KNEW her poor, plated, bolted leg was in trouble again.  However, at the hospital, the young doctor read the X-rays, came in to examine the leg, argued with Kitty when Kitty told her it was the left leg NOT the right leg that was the issue....  It turns out the X-ray had been incorrectly labeled as RIGHT leg...............................

Still, once the LEFT leg was examined, the young doctor informed my friend that there was no break and that she should get dressed and go home..... Kitty, her husband, her friend, all were dismayed.  This could not be.  Kitty was in REAL pain.  The doctor suggested she could see her regular doctor on Monday if she was still in pain. Kitty explained her history to the young doctor, and explained her level of pain, to which this, obviously self-impressed doctor responded, well, "you're just going to have to suck it up for the weekend."  Clearly, this doctor does NOT know Kitty, who complains almost not at all, and "sucks it up" where most of us would be whining like babies.  As they were trying to get her dressed, there was a little commotion in the ER, where, as luck would have it, the surgeon who'd performed the bolt and plate fix not yet two years ago, happened to see the X-ray hanging.  He recognized his work and inquired what patient was in the room....

As it turned out, the more competent surgeon saw the break, not only to the femur -- same location as the last break, but to one of the screws that had fixed the broken femur.  Kitty wasn't going home.  She was to be put into traction while they awaited the "parts" required to operate on her leg again, giving her another chance to be able to one day walk on that leg.  The surgery was scheduled for Sunday at 8 AM.

Sunday, at church, I inquired about her surgery and my friend told that the parts were not in for the surgery, so it had to be put off until Monday.  It had been a rough night for Kitty and her family was growing increasingly ticked at the "night shift" at the hospital.  She kept complaining of the pain and they were not helping alleviate it. 

Today I had to go to have some printing done at the local office supply store.  My friend works there and as she was doing my printing, we chatted.  I asked if Kitty's surgery had been successful.... it turns out, they are still waiting for the parts.  However, my friend told me that another of our choir members, a retired nurse, had gone to visit Kitty Sunday afternoon.  She recognized that, while they had Kitty in traction, the set-up wasn't right, resulting in unnecessary pain for Kitty and ineffective stabilization for the leg, as they awaited surgery.  I'm not clear on HOW they were able to get a doctor in to verify Sally's contention, but it turns out she was correct.  As a result of getting her PROPERLY in traction, Kitty was able to enjoy a much less painful night last night.

Her doctor had originally promised Kitty he'd have her out of the hospital, in a wheel chair, in time for her to attend the Christmas Eve service at church.... that is not looking so promising now, as they await the arrival of "parts."

Tonight, as we watched the Winter Solstice, Lunar Eclipse, I from the warmth inside, Joe from the freezing, but much better vantage point of outside, I wanted to bemoan this ridiculously cold weather. I wanted to complain just a little more about winter getting here before her time, etc.  But I didn't really have the heart to do so.  All I have to complain about is a little discomfort when I ELECT to walk outside.  My friend is in the hospital, awaiting parts so she can, hopefully, elect to walk outside again, one day.

Still, despite the pain and incompetence, despite the inconvenience of missing the Christmas festivities, despite the fact that this is just ANOTHER in a long line of "life never promised she'd be fair" for my friend, I can be pretty certain that when she is back, directing the choir, she will have some pretty funny stories to tell of the experience.  For she has always been able to find the humor in her own challenges.  I look forward to her speedy recovery -- I just know she'll have a doozy of a story for this one.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Comfort Corner

We made the purchase a couple of weeks ago. Since we installed the Linda wood stove in the garage, I've had the idea that it would be a lovely place to "hang out" -- if only there were more comfortable seating.  Sure, the lawn chairs we've been using in the garage have served us well through our first Spring, Summer and Autumn here, but the wood stove simply invites a comfortable corner that isn't easily achieved with the lawn chairs.  I suggested to Joe that we might look for the more comfortable lawn furniture, the padded stuff, that we could perhaps find used.  And, with that, the perusal of Craigslist began again (did it ever really end?).

As it turns out, in December in these parts of Virginia, there weren't too many folks trying to sell their lawn furniture -- go figure.  However, I did notice a listing for a set of living room furniture.  The listing was interesting because it was for a very sturdy type of furniture, one that I'd always considered great furniture for rough and tough, raising kids years.  Of course, during those years, I was only window shopping when I admired that furniture... the price was a little outside the budget.  I made an appointment to see this furniture which was more than we needed, but for which the price was very intriguing.

These purchases are always mini adventures for Joe and me.  We seem to meet very interesting people and Joe always seems to make really good deals.  So it was with this purchase.  Not only did we leave, having given the seller a deposit for the living room furniture, but we'd also agreed to buy the dining table she had listed.  Joe negotiated a price for all of the pieces that was less than she'd asked for the living room set.  I'm not entirely sure WHY we bought the table, but it appealed to me.  The seller assured us she had four chairs that would go with this table, but they were not the chairs we were seeing that day.  These chairs, she told us, were the chairs her grandparents bought and had in their home from the first days of their marriage, in the early 1900's.  She was keeping those chairs.

We all agreed to make the pick up on Saturday, December 18th, when her husband would be available to help load and transport the furniture. Naturally, this week was a snowy one and Joe considered calling to change the date for the furniture transport.

Thursday Morning

But, as things have a tendency to do, time got away from us, and last night the seller called to verify we were all "on" for today.  Sooooo.... Joe and I spent last night getting the rather "full of stuff" garage prepared to accept the furniture for the comfort corner.

That area behind Mom is the targeted Comfort Corner...

Boxes were moved and stacked, and within about three hours, we'd cleared the spot, put down the carpet and were ready for the furniture.

Sweeping before Carpet

Carpet Down -- ready for Furniture
Conveniently, I had choir rehearsal during the agreed to delivery/pick-up time, so Joe had to do all the work...
Picturesque Cottages at Misty Cove

Another Van Load of Furniture

Seller's Husband -  Mid-Leap During Loading
When I returned home, the furniture was here, and after supper, we set it all up.  As we were setting up the living room set in the garage, Joe mentioned that we actually got "Grandma's chairs." I was astounded.  "Really? For the $50 for the table and chairs, she gave us the antiques?"  Sure enough.  Something about since she promised us chairs, and had not brought the others (those non-heirloom chairs) over from Richmond, she was giving us these.... How does this always end up happening to us?  We really were not in the market for a table, even, but got the table and four antique chairs... the hunk of glass that sits atop the table cost would cost $100 alone!

Heirloom Chairs
We are still deciding where to use the table and chairs while we await the completion of their eventual place in the old farm house kitchen.  I was a little nervous to admit to her, as she was disclosing the fact that one of the kids had scratched their initials in the wood on the back of one of the pieces, that I was going to put this great furniture in my garage! However, the couch, love seat, end tables and coffee table have created a cozy comfortable corner in front of the wood stove in the garage.  We will spend a lot of time down there this winter, I just have a hunch.  Oh, and I think it is really nice that this furniture, the furniture from "This End Up," is 29 years old.... the same age as my eldest child .... and has lived through the original owner's four children and now ten grandchildren... and it still looks GREAT.

Joe Moving the Furniture Into Postion
Notice who IS working and who is taking pictures...
Coffee Table Into Position
Cozy Comfort Corner

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Your Grandfather Would Have Loved This Place

The weekend, promising warmer temperatures, arrived, the warmer temperatures accompanied by rain.. lots of rain.  Of course, this was the weekend that we, Joe and I, were hosting my mother, stepfather, sister, daughter and son-in-law for our "Christmas in Virginia."  The "kids" will be heading to France next week for the rest of the year, so we decided to celebrate early.

Though I knew it was coming, I was working all week and so my Christmas decorating occurred on Friday afternoon and evening.  I examined the boxes in the eaves of the pond house and discovered lots of Christmas decorations about which I'd completely forgotten.  By the end of the evening, I was satisfied that, while not overly decorated, there would be no doubt about what we were celebrating.

Ridiculously Tiny Tree

Joe Cool does Christmas

Ridiculously Tiny Tree
Loaded Down
with Toyland Characters

Saturday morning and afternoon I spent cooking the food we'd later enjoy. At 3 PM it began raining, and raining hard.  I stirred the chili in one crock-pot and the kielbasa/vegetable soup in the other.  I checked the ham in the oven, and I started baking the brownies, and seven layer cookies.  Time crawled by as I waited for everyone to arrive.  I was all alone at the pond house... no computer, no TV, no books.... while it is nice to have the space to entertain guests, since we have moved out of the house, there are not a whole lot of "time-passing" items still there.  So, I kept looking for more things to cook or bake.

Finally, at 6PM they all arrived... Jenn and Benoit from Madison, VA and Mom and John from Adelphi, MD... they all pulled into the driveway at EXACTLY the same time.  Before long, Joe arrived from the farmhouse, where he'd been working all day, preparing for the change in weather. Over the next seven hours we enjoyed visiting, eating, laughing, opening gifts to each other, and generally enjoying each others' company.

Jenn and Ben Modeling a Snuggy

Jenn and Ben, Unwrapping Gifts

Judy and Mom

Joe, Showing off his new Wrist Magnet!
Jenn and Ben Looking at a Gift
Everyone Eating
At about 1 AM, we called it a night, with plans for day two. 

Sunday, after church, I arrived back at the pond house to find my sister had arrived from MD and Jenn had heated up left overs from the night before for everyone to eat for lunch.

Serving the Soup
We enjoyed a filling lunch before piling into three cars to make the hour drive to the Virginia Choral Society Christmas concert, in which both my son and daughter-in-law were singing.  Joe and I sat in the balcony of the church, met and enjoyed a conversation with the pastor of that church, and successfully recorded the concert.

Virginia Choral Society
It was pouring again when we left the concert heading to the restaurant for supper. The restaurant we'd chosen for the meal was The Pub. Everyone was SOAKED by the time we got from our cars to to our seats at the table.  And we waited for Jenn and Ben to arrive... they'd left to get gas before coming to the restaurant.  We waited, and we waited.  Finally, I suggested we go ahead and order.  Jenn and Ben still had a three hour drive home, so they'd appreciate we'd already started the process of getting served.  Of course, I was also worrying they'd had an accident or something, given the awful weather.  Eventually, my cell phone rang.  Jenn was on the other end.

"Hey Mom," said she.
"Hey Jenn, where are you?"
"We're here on Water Street, are you here?"
"We are here in The Pub, at the table.....wait, Water Street?"
My brain was trying to wrap around the address and make sense of it.  "Jenn, The Pub, at the Coliseum Mall..."
"the Coliseum Mall? ... Ohhhhhhhh..... I thought you meant the Pub in Yorktown..."

So, the long and short of it is that, on this rainy, rainy, "Christmas in Virginia" night, we enjoyed our meal in two different "The Pub's" twenty miles apart!

Enjoying Dinner at The Pub

More Gift Giving

Sunday night Mom and John returned to the pond house to spend the night.  Everyone else had to work Monday morning, so returned to their own homes. Joe and I returned to the old farmhouse.  Our plan was to bring Mom and John to the old farmhouse before they set out to return home on Monday morning.

Monday morning we awoke to SNOW....

Snow on Deck
Nevertheless, we followed through with the plan.  I drove to the pond house, helped Mom and John  pack up their luggage and treasures and led them back to the old farmhouse.  Now, even under the best of circumstances, these two people do not move around with ease.  Still, despite the snow, they enjoyed a short visit here.  Sitting in lawn chairs in the giant garage, surrounded by boxes and building supplies,we shared cups of coffee and tea, and more conversation, as we enjoyed the warmth from the wood stove.

Garage Chat
Before they left, I took Mom over to to actually look inside the old farmhouse, at the broken beams and floor joists, at the massive amount of work still awaiting us.  I was surprised by her response.  She said, "this is what my father wanted -- what your grandfather wanted -- but Mother and I talked him out of it."


"Yes, he always wanted a place like this... just enough land to make a little farm to provide for the family's needs..."

And my mother explained that the land, the ancient farmhouse. the sheds, the "life" of this place is EXACTLY what my grandfather wanted.

We said goodbye to Mom and John just before noon, as the snow was tapering off.  Armed with directions back home, they headed down the long driveway to the paved road, their flags flapping from both sides of their car's roof.  I had to laugh.  My mother would HATE living in a place like this, but she's right, my grandfather would have loved it!

Flags Flapping as they Make Their Escape!

Your Grandfather Would Have Loved This Place