Thursday, August 21, 2014

Cary's Visit

In the course of emails that went out detailing a high school reunion,
I learned that one of my fellow U-High Cub classmates had moved to Virginia
We corresponded a few times
about how we'd each wound up leaving the Baton Rouge area.

Cary and I were both "First through Twelfth Graders".
Meaning that we'd been at U-High aka LSU Laboratory School for all twelve of our school years.
There were about 25 of us (one classroom) during the elementary years
and then in Seventh grade our world was rocked with the addition of 30 new students.

When you know classmates that well;
endure the chaos of having your classes filmed,
break in eight new student teachers each semester,
acquire your first LSU ID card as a 6 year old
and attend school across the street from Fraternity Row,
you've got a weird sort of set of common life experiences.

So although we hadn't been in touch for almost 40 years,
it was great fun when Cary stopped by for a few hours on his way north one morning.
(No this isn't Joe but they look a bit like brothers!)

It was fun to reminisce,
but even more interesting to learn what he's been up to since graduation.

It boggles my mind to think of how lives intersect and connect.
From the days of stacking cardboard blocks
and working the abacus in Ms. Edwards first grade classroom,
we've each transitioned, detoured and changed in a myriad of ways.

Yet here we are a thousand miles from our childhood homes taking a photo together....
all grown up now (some might say we're old)!
With kids of our own, spouses that we love
and no worries about acne or getting dates to prom!
Every day is a little miracle isn't it?

Anybody else coming through?
I keep coffee on the counter and cold beer and tea in the fridge.
plus the guest room is always ready....
unless somebody else is already in it!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sign? What Sign?

Anybody remember the old 5 Man Electrical Band song:

"Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind

Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?"

I spied this nibbling sheep at White Oak Lavender Farm.
Apparently she doesn't want a warning sign on her pen! 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Hiking and Working!

Friday's Newcomers hike was a long drive away but short in length.  
We caravanned to Wintergreen Ski resort and hiked a rocky trail 
for a little over 3 miles to Shamokin Falls.
I was wearing new hiking boots so was grateful for the short hike
in case they fit poorly.
Hoorah! No blisters or rubs and they gripped terrifically on the rocks.  

The hike was followed by our second favorite activity.... eating.... 
at nearby Devil's Backbone Brewery/Restaurant in Nellysford.  

I took no "keeper" photos this week,
but here's one from an earlier hike in mid June 
where we went on a short section of the AT
starting at Long Mountain wayside. 
After the hike we set up a "Trail Magic" station at the wayside 
and had an array of homemade food, fresh fruit and vegetables,  
and ice chests of cold drinks (even beer) for thru-hikers.  
We were probably about a week too late to hit the peak of through hikers on their way up to Maine, 
but those who came by were grateful!
Photo by Deb Maurer

It's a cloudy and gray day out today with some rain forecast for the afternoon.  
I worked at the shop yesterday and am headed in again today.  
These are my first days to work this month; 
although I remembered how to operate the register, open and close etc, 
the muscle memory of my feet on the brick floor all day was a little lacking!

By the end of 9 hours, 
I was thankful to sit on the porch with a cocktail
while Joe won the Good Husband of the Year award 
by cooking local filets from Donalds on the grill 
with sides of local veggies from the Farmers Market trip earlier in the week.  

My biggest decision for today may be whether to go to the barn this afternoon 
or to attend the meditative Taize church service 
after closing the shop.  
Definitely a lazy morning but I'm now on my way out the door.... off to work!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Visits from Family are the Best!

We went for a 5 mile ride on the horses at the barn this morning.  
It was pretty eventful since we got caught in a torrential rainstorm.  
We made a mad dash across the fields to a run in shed in one of the empty pastures
 but too late as we were already soaked to the bone!
Earlier in the ride we were treated to a close up of a bald eagle as it took off
right above our heads and soared out over the lake!  

I'm still playing catch up and needing to post about Clark and Raeanna's visit last week.

Another advantage to the move to Virginia 
is that Clark is occasionally having friends getting married in town (his college town) 
So coming back for weddings becomes even more attractive 
when you've got a place to stay and family to visit!

Clark arrived first and my youngest was a sight for sore eyes
when we picked him up at the Charlottesville airport.   

Raeanna arrived several days later from New Orleans 
and I snapped this photo of them before they left to attend their friends wedding.
It had been 18 months since I saw this lovely young lady!  
I sure do love both of them!

Raeanna was only in town for the weekend.....
(one of these days Med School will be over!) 
But Clark was able to stay for a few more days.

When I found out about a new pick your own blueberry place, 
we were all game to go get a few pounds for the freezer. 
The last time I picked blueberries was with Paige in Ethel (LA)
It was hot, hot, hot!
This time there was a breeze and none of us even thought about breaking a sweat.
And the views.....  

We did an awful lot of tasting and eating 
while we picked 
as there were multiple varieties which tasted quite different.
All delicious!
It looks like Joe is trying to decide what flavor notes he's detecting.....
We may have set a record for fastest pickers at the place....
the owner hadn't seen anyone determined enough
to strap on their picking pail with a belt in order to use both hands!  
I had enough for several batches of blueberry-lime jam,
some blueberry-basil vinegar which is still steeping, 
two tarts and numerous bags of loose berries now frozen!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

White Oak Lavender Farm

Before tomorrow and the 1st of August, 
I'm getting this post up that I can still say that it happened last month!

I was invited to attend a Christmas meeting/party for the local Herb Guild last year.
Since then I've attended the requisite number of meetings 
and will become a full fledged member of the group after summer break.

My future herb bed will be along the kitchen side of the house
but right now, it's a wasteland knee deep in weeds and only weeds....and I'm not kidding.
Some of them may even be reaching waist height.  

This is the extent of the herbs currently at the house;
parsley, lemongrass, rosemary, mint, pineapple sage.  
Five in pots! 

Despite my masquerading as an herbal gardener, 
I went with the group on a tour of White Oak Lavender Farm in Harrisonburg
last month (late June).

Lavender was a plant that I never attempted in Louisiana.  
Humidity, clay and acid soil combines to make lavender a challenge to grow down there.  

First stop was CrossKeys Winery where we ate al fresco on a terrace
with a view of the Blue Ridge and the grape fields.
Then on to the farm where the lavender was in full bloom. 
The first harvest of 2014 was scheduled for the next day
so rich colors and smells were abundant.   

The farm was started 9 years ago with about 100 plants and has grown to over 9,000 mature plants! 
Lavender from the farm is sold for culinary use and crafts
as well producing lavender oil and water for sale.   
White and Pale Blue Lavenders
White Lavender in the Foreground not quite in Full Bloom
We had scheduled a guided tour 
given by the owner
and learned about their cultural practices,
propagation efforts,
distilling operations etc.  
I bought some tea and three young plants 
that are waiting in their pots for the day 
when I clear the weeds and start the herb garden!
Lavender Bunches Covering the Walls In a Drying Shed

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Our Version of Jumping

Here's the cross country course out at our stable
with the stellar views of the Blue Ridge.

No jumping for us
although we occasionally step over some of the smaller ones!

Here's Sarge and Joe charging toward the water obstacle....
Could it be? 
Let's watch as they fly through and up the bank on the other side.....

Or not! 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cross Country Riding: Beautiful but not for me!

We went for a ride on Friday afternoon
after Joe's shift giving tours at the Chapel.

Did I fool anyone into thinking this is me on the gray horse?

No, no, no!
I doubt that Cloud could jump much more than an average sized log across the trail.  

I was a volunteer jump judge again for one of the  cross country days
 at the Virginia Horse Trials which was held in early summer.

Other than knowing how to operate a walkie talkie and a few basics,
jump judging consists mainly of staying alert and answering a few questions:
Did they get over it, refuse, circle around, get lost and miss it or fall off?

Once again this year, the weather cooperated and it was a clear, sunny, cool day.
Perfect for sitting out in a lawn chair and watching horses fly past.
I judged three different jumps over the course of the day.  
On average the horses go by every three minutes so there's enough time 
to make notes on the sheet, radio in the information 
and then get prepared for the next to come into sight.  

I took two photos while at this jump for the afternoon session.
I find it interesting to compare the positions of the two horses and riders.
Same jump but about a two second difference in the timing of the photo.
There were a few times that I held my breath and hoped that they made it across
when their approach left them a little short or at an odd angle

There's a cross country course at our barn
but you won't find either of us jumping! 
View of the warm up area

Thursday, July 17, 2014

HIking at Riprap Hollow .... and the "After Hike".

A couple of weeks ago, the Friday hiking group 
headed north to Shenandoah National Park for a hike 
along the Riprap Hollow Trail.

We started out on the Appalachian Trail for about a half a mile 
before turning onto RipRap.
When we got to this huge slide of ..... 
yes, you guessed it:  riprap rock, 
it became clear how the trail got its name. 
Fortunately we were only passing next to the loose rock,
not walking ON it!  

At the first overlook, we had to do some creative scrambling to figure out how 
to get everyone into a photo...
But we succeeded
and no one slid to their death! 

Chimney Rocks Vista was glorious.
The views went on for miles both toward the north....

and there were more distant views 
to be seen by swiveling on my rocky perch and looking to the west.  
 We didn't do the whole circuit hike which would have been around 9 miles,
instead opting for an out and back that was much faster, 
because we were itching to get to Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton VA.
We'd worked up an appetite and the food was delicious!