Friday, August 31, 2012

August Visitors

The summer has been full of excitement, anticipation, and rewards.  Our gardens, though once again out of control by this time of year, have provided us plenty of tasty treats.  Our bumper crops this year were peaches, grapes, strawberries, eggplant, squashes of all varieties, cantaloupe, watermelon, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes. Other crops that made a decent, though not overwhelming, showing were bell peppers, potatoes, plums, figs, blackberries, raspberries, and cherries.  I have frozen plenty, canned some, and we have eaten a LOT.  My current delight is the grape jelly made from our concord grapes.  I think Joe and I are eating a whole loaf of fresh baked bread every day these days... and the grape jelly finds its way onto several slices a day.
A Typical Day of Picking

Delicious Watermelon

More Picking (Eggplant)

Butternut Squash

Sweet Potatoes


Busy Bee on SunFlower

We embarked on the addition to the farmhouse this summer, even though we are not yet finished with the final touches of the remodel of the original part of the house.  Our decision to move forward with the addition ahead of completion of the remodel was, in part, driven by a desire to have the whole place at least "dried in" before the cold weather made it hard to work outside.  As of yesterday, the addition is pretty well dried in.  The windows and a temporary door are installed, the exterior is wrapped with Typar and the roof is shingled.  Next week, the electric rough-in is scheduled.  We are seeing excellent progress on this phase of the building!
View from Garage Apartment

Back of Addition with Temporary Door

Left Side of House with Fire Escape

Inside Addition

Inside Addition 2

Part of the shifting of schedules on the building project had to do with the anticipated visit of Joe's mother and sister, who planned their summer vacation to include a trip all the way from California to visit us in Virginia.  This anticipated visit presented some interesting challenges, given that we were in the throes of the remodel with drywall mud and dust everywhere and no bathroom ready for "prime time."  We, of course, have a bathroom up in the garage apartment where we have been living for the past 2 1/2 years, but the long, steep flight of stairs to reach it would have been too much for Joe's mom, who turned 86 this month.

Additionally, my father and stepmother decided to come visit all of the "Virginia contingent" a couple of days before our CA visitors were to arrive.  Dad and Lynne did not stay with us, but got the grand tour here.  We enjoyed dinner at a local restaurant and then they spent the night at a local B&B.  Things being what they are, "local" can be a little too rural for those used to the modern conveniences such as cell phone, Internet, and even TV.... apparently the local B&B left them disconnected from the world, and they decided to check out in the morning before heading an hour south to spend the day visiting/sightseeing with my son and daughter-in-law.  They were able to see Steve and Kristen's house for the first time, and then we all met for dinner at a restaurant local to their house.  The following day, Dad and Lynne made the two and a half hour drive west to visit my daughter and son-in-law in Rochelle, VA.  From all accounts they had a lovely time there.  And so, they accomplished what they'd set out to do, visiting all of us, for the first time in our current homes in Virginia. Next time they visit, hopefully, our construction will be complete and we can have a little more time to relax and visit.  As it was, we were pressing hard to be ready for the CA guests.
Dad and Lynne taking the grand tour of the old farmhouse

Judy - Tour Guide

Dinner at a local restaurant

By the time they arrived on August 11, we had laminate flooring in place throughout the downstairs, the bathroom fully functional, and the kitchen fully functional.  All of the downstairs was painted, and all of the trim-out electric completed. All that is really lacking is the trim work around windows, doors and floors.  Joe and I then set the living room up as a "motel room" for mom and sis. We finished getting the place ready for them with just enough time to wash up and head to the airport.
Living Room as Makeshift Hotel Room

Living Room as Makeshift Hotel Room 2


Dinner on the way home from the airport

Joe and Sis at the Debtor's Prison

Judy and Sis Sightseeing

Sis with Pocahontas

They visited with us for a week and it was both relaxing and enjoyable.  We went out to eat three times. We had cook-outs two nights. My daughter and granddaughter were able to join us for the first cook-out and my son and our neighbors were able to join us for the second.  We played music and sang on both of the cook-out occasions and had a really nice time.  On the other nights Joe, mom, sis and I found our way to the kitchen table in the old farmhouse where we played games late into the night, occasionally taking a break for dessert.  It was a good week and we all agreed they need to return next year when, hopefully, all construction will be complete.
Jenn, Judy and Eloise at Pool

Gammi and Eloise

Eloise showing off her first teeth
Cookout with Family and Friends

Making a Little Music
Playing Games

And here it is, the end of August already.  We traveled to Pennsylvania last weekend to share a celebration of my sister-in-law's 50th birthday.  It was a fun time, and they tolerated our music playing... my sister-in-law even did a stand up solo of, "Jeremiah was a Bullfrog."  Everything else that happened at the party, stays at the party! Oddly, we drove through torrential downpours to get to the party, which was a big bonfire theme.....the rain stopped just south of Lancaster, and we were able to enjoy the party as planned.  Then, the following morning, as we made our way back home, we had to, once again, drive through torrential rain!
Happy 50th Michelle!  Looking Great!

Other than these fun visits, the gardens, the construction and, of course, regular work, I have been making trips up to Maryland to help my mother who is remodeling her house.... The remodel, which includes the painting of all her main level walls, and the refinishing of her main level floors, also includes combining two tiny bathrooms into one, and installing a walk-in tub in that bathroom.  The preparation for this project was a little overwhelming, as my mother is somewhat of a book hoarder..... EVERY wall of her house is lined with books on bookshelves.  Every door has an over-the-door book rack, in which she puts paperbacks.  She is also, obviously, a "collage" kind of person, as EVERY square inch of wall that is not covered by a bookshelf is covered by a picture of some sort...large small, old new, you name it, it's up there.

A typical Room in Mom's Book-lined House

Mom and Judy

Now, since I am in Virginia and she is in Maryland, a good three hours drive in light traffic, I prefer to get as much done as possible every weekend I go up there.  So, I packed boxes like a crazed person as she sat in her chair, helping sort the books, and pictures, and telling me stories about EVERYTHING we packed!  It took me three two-day stints, but we got everything packed and either stacked in the basement, or put into her storage units... and then the movers came to move the furniture out for the duration.....  Her remodel is scheduled to be completed next Wednesday and Friday I head back up to help her move everything BACK into its new place.  This time I will spend four days up there, and hopefully, will have it completed before I leave.  I know she is going to really love the new place.    I KNOW she will be happy to ride her elevator chair up out of her basement, where she has been living for the past month, and actually ENJOY her fresh new main level.

Workers' tools Ready for  Work
New Walk-in tub in new Bathroom
We haven't actually taken a vacation ourselves, in almost two years now.  Hopefully we will be able to get out to CA this year, but at this point I'm not sure when we can fit it in. Still, we are going to just spend this weekend relaxing, swimming in the pool and cooking out on the grill....if the weather cooperates! 

Have a great Labor Day Weekend!

My Sweet Eloise!