Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Guests On The Hill

The guest room has been getting a lot of use.....

In early fall we hosted our first "famous" guest on the hill!
Steve Katz who was playing at a Krantz music party,  
accepted our invitation to spend two nights with us.  

Steve was one of the founding members of Blood Sweat & Tears 
and has recently finished a memoir about his career.  
He was a delight to get to know, 
and listening to him in concert was an experience I won't forget. 

He interwove stories about the beginning of his musical career, Greenwich Village 60's memories, and his more recent musical interests with songs that reflected each of those segments of his life. 
Dave. Steve and Linda
His recollection of the evening that he accidentally slammed Eric Clapton's fingers 
in a car door gave me shivers though!

I'll be looking for his book to be released in the spring. 

You never know who's going to turn up in this town!
A corner of the Krantz Music Room
Famous musicians and then not long after Steve left, 
I had some REALLY special VIP's......

My brother, Randy, and my sister, Carol, 
came for their first Virginia visit!  

Nobody knows you like your siblings.... 
or at least they know you in a way that no one else does.  

Funny how I still can feel like the "little sister" at times even though I'm an old lady!
I can't express how good it was to be able to see both of them again. 
Lots of reminiscing happened out on the back porch!
Good times, but I think I wasn't alone in missing our mother and father. 

I managed to get several good photos of our next guests so I'll give them their own post.

I could kick myself for not taking more photos of Randy and Carol!
Too busy talking I guess!  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Back again!

I said a little prayer when the Blogger window actually opened without asking for a password or saying that the blog had been disabled.  It's been way too long.

My last post was about Cary's visit .... and he's been back for a repeat trip since then!

Why I can't manage to get a post knocked out, I don't know.... lately it seems that there's always something else demanding my attention.  And then there's that nasty habit that I have of wanting to do a worthwhile post; something with a stunning photo or grand words of wisdom.

Oh well I'm back at the keyboard again and unfortunately there will be no award winning photos or Pulitzer quality writing to be seen on this page today.   :)

Since mid August there's been a harmonious blend of daily routine (working at the shop, cleaning the house, chores around the property etc) with the special (house guests, travel, hikes and new experiences).  

But what's happening today?  Joe's at Lee Chapel all day giving tours and I'm about to go ride my wonderful little mare and then cook a supper that I hope we'll be able to eat by the outside fireplace.   The washing machine and dryer are running, Noel and Attagirl are keeping me company as I type, and I've got a cup of hot tea here on the desk.  The normal rhythms of a quiet life: dailiness.  Is that a word?  Since spellcheck didn't turn it red, then I suppose it's okay.

Somehow, miraculously perhaps, dailiness manages to incorporate change.  I spent a few hours last week packing away my summer clothes and saying hello to my corduroys, fleece pullovers and coats as they emerged from the storage boxes.  Sweater weather aka Fall has arrived and with it came not only the cool nights and changing leaves but slow subtle shifts like the unique angle of sunlight on the mountains and the disappearance of our summertime Blue Ridge haze.  

My delight in having Blogger allow me to start a post might be premature.  As I've been typing, dire warning pop-ups (highlighted by a grim looking red box) have been giving me the news that "an error has occurred" and my post isn't being saved.

It could be that my visit to the barn will be delayed while I try and coax Blogger in to publishing something again.  Wish me luck!

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!

Wait!  
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!