Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Friday Hike: Sharp Top

It's been almost six months!  I've thought about posting almost every day but it remained just a thought and a nagging desire.

I had to do some thinking about why I was blogging.  I guess it's a natural temptation to try and "grow" the blog, get comments and have an audience.  But that's NOT why I started recording my thoughts and activities.  It was primarily for me in order to remember this period of my life and stay in touch with friends and family.

A very wise son told me yesterday that I should "Just Post"; the blogging version of Nike's Just Do It.  Dive in and not worry about trying to catch up.

So here goes.... a deep breath in,
a step to the edge,
and a post....

I'm still hiking with the Friday group through Newcomers but rain and travels have made me miss quite a few recently so I had to stop and catch my breath more times than I'd like to admit and I was sorer than I'd thought possible after the hike to the top of Short Top Mountain.

Without a doubt it was the hardest hike I've done lately.
We're headed up to the top of the mountain on the other side of the lake.  With it's steep little cap, you can see why it's called Sharp Top.  The trail gains 1,500 feet in 1.5 miles and we hiked a little over 6 miles that day by returning along a different route.

When we reached the top there was a stone summit shelter nestled in among the boulders.
I couldn't find any info on the web about who built it and whether it ever served any purpose, but I'll guess that it was another of the many CCC projects that we still benefit from in our forests and parks across the country all these years later.
Once again, I was proud to have a son who works for the NPS which administers this area off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

It was a hazy day with low clouds but the 360 degree views were worth the aching thighs that plagued me for two days post hike!

The day after the hike, I varied between thinking that I was woefully out of shape or that I was doing better than many my age who wouldn't have even attempted it!
Tonight when trying to research the history of the shelter, I found that in 1815, Thomas Jefferson and two friends climbed Sharp Top with surveying equipment in order to try and estimate the height of the mountain.  Jefferson was 72 and I'm only 59; so that's a little embarrassing, but maybe he rode a pack mule?

I'm a lucky person to live among this natural beauty.....

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sarge's New Saddle

Sometimes husbands need to be gently lead to the right decision.....

Last fall (and this will also give you a clue as to how far behind I am on blog news)
I decided that Cloud's saddle (an adjustable "Specialized Saddle") needed to be refitted.

After a little Googling, I found Terry Peiper who owns Fit Right Saddle Solutions
and scheduled a date to bring Cloud up to her place in Carlisle PA.  

Its definitely doable to tweak and refit your own Specialized Saddle, 
but I just didn't want to do it.... Terry's charge wasn't that much 
and more importantly,  I had an ulterior motive.   

I suggested to Joe that since Carlisle was only a short drive from  Gettysburg,
"Wouldn't it be fun camp for the weekend and ride the bridle trails at Gettysburg National Park?"
So..... Sarge got to come along.  

And my plan was in action.  
Because riding at Gettysburg wasn't the ulterior motive.... 
it was the carrot on the stick.

Ever patient Sarge has been tolerating a poorly fitting saddle for some time now.  
He's eighteen years old and between muscular changes due to age,
his 8 year old custom built saddle from California wasn't right for him
and hadn't been a good fit from the very beginning.   

So after Terry finished with my saddle and Cloud.... 
 Since Sarge had come along (you know for the ride at Gettysburg)
..... why not have him looked at too?

Terry measured and checked over Sarge, analyzed his saddle and watched Joe ride.  
The verdict was what we already knew in our hearts:  his saddle woes weren't fixable with a pad.... 
Sarge needed a new saddle.  
I believe this was Terry's husbands saddle that she's trying on Sarge for a comparison....

Sarge is a sweetheart..... 
and Joe was glad to try and make him more comfortable.
Sometimes it helps to have a tiny push to get the wheels of change in motion!
Hearing Terry's explanation of what was going on with Sarge's old saddle
and the intricacies of his back made it much clearer for both of us.
And easier for Joe to accept writing the deposit check!
Based on the tree and the pommel clearance that Sarge needed, 
Joe picked out the saddle style, color, and a various other options,
and his saddle was ordered.    
Specialized Saddles are made in Texas and it takes a while to have one built.
Note that in the above photos, Terry is wearing a short sleeved shirt!

The saddle came in at Christmas time but we couldn't get away.  
And then we cancelled because of snow.....
and then because it was 12 degrees and icy....
and finally we braved the elements 
and got up there in February on a frigid 15 degree morning!!!
Sarge's back was carefully measured again....
Isn't this a cool flexible caliper thingie??

The removable under saddle panels were carefully shimmed
 to fill all the hollows of his aging back and give support where needed.
I wish I'd have gotten more photos but I was afraid my hands would freeze off!  
We'll go back in a few months after Sarge gets back in shape and have another fitting done.

Everybody's happy now! 
Even Sarge is smiling!  
And yes, we did camp and ride at Gettysburg!  

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Another Project Finished!

The frames of the cabinets arrived like this
and have lived in the basement all this time.
Joe's job of assembling the cabinets went much faster than my painting.

Finally the doors were finished and it was time to bring them upstairs,
level and make them look like built-ins.
Drumroll ...... time for the grand reveal.....
Soooo much better not seeing a gaping hole with stacks of plastic storage tubs
We're both proud of how nicely the top piece that matches the crown molding came out.
And Joe obsessed over the side trim that joined the boxes to the walls,
but did such an excellent job that they look for all the world like master cabinet makers built them in.
Now I can hide the big basket of ironing!
And I unpacked my hardanger and hand sewing....
who knows maybe one day I'll take it up again.
There were over NINETY things on our To Finish the House
"punch" list and we've whittled it down by about 12 completed jobs so far! 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Louisiana Travels Part Two: "Home?"

I enjoyed every minute of my trip back home to Louisiana.

OK.... Honestly I didn't miss the Baton Rouge traffic and it has been ages since I've seen men walking awkwardly holding their baggy pants with their underwear showing.....

But those two things aside, it was good to be hanging with friends
Vern, Ada, Me, Suzanne and Matt
as well as family (although once again I didn't pull out the camera to get photos with Randy).
Yearlings at Ada's Farm
I brought home a roll of  fabric which I hope to turn into draperies for the dining room (it may be a major leap of faith to hope that my long dormant Home Ec skills will be able to pull this project off!), a few Christmas presents for next year (yes, I'm thinking ahead) and a sack of about 25 grapefruits picked in Suzanne's backyard.
Even though I was in little Bernard the Mini, I could have fit in much more for the return trip,
but it wasn't tangible items that I'd returned to Louisiana to fetch....
I wanted to tuck away some new memories.

Podcasts filled the hours of the uneventful return drive
and before I knew it, I was greeted by the lights of our house on the hill, a smiling husband and delighted pets.

To people who have moved often in their lives this may be a no-brainer, but I had a revelation on this trip and it's that I can now say the word "home" to mean two different places!  Semantics is important to me and when we first moved to Virginia, I thought that I had to quit referring to Louisiana as home.
I had this idea that Virginia was now my home.... the only home.

But now I realize that I didn't need to have create such a black and white distinction.

Of course, home is where the heart (or is it hearth?) is,
but can't it also be where the heart (or hearth) was.

This might make sense only to me:

I'm glad that I went home and now I'm glad that I am home.  

Fred the Donkey at Ada's

Friday, January 30, 2015

Louisiana Travels Part One

I was sure that I'd clicked the button to publish yesterday's post but apparently it went to drafts instead!  SIX days ago!!!  

I've been tooling around Louisiana for a week and am just getting a minute to sign onto Blogger. 

I'm back in LA for the yearly gathering of girlfriends at Carol's camp which has become an every other year event for me.  2011 was the last time that I was still living in Louisiana and could make an easy 45 minute drive to attend.  Since then I've missed a year  (2012-due to house construction), flown down in 2013, and missed last year (2014).   

The lower cost of gas and plans to linger longer in Zachary and Baton Rouge made driving the best way to get there this year and besides I was looking forward having the luxury of  some hours of reflection while driving.  

I was ahead of schedule to arrive at the camp so made a stop in Jackson MS in order to pick up a few groceries at Whole Foods, wander in my favorite southern bookstore “Lemuria” and buy bread from Broad Street Bakery. 
During my  first visit to Lemuria in the 80's, I bought Carter a book about Lego's;  and now he's in his mid 30's??!!  How has so much time passed?  

The camp is just over the Louisiana border south of Woodville MS.  When I arrived it was chilly and damp but the drizzle that I'd been driving through all day had finally stopped! 

I had to laugh when I made my final turn and looked at the road sign that greeted me.  It wasn't a "Dead End" as far as I was concerned!  It should have said "Friends Ahead" or "You're Here!   I'd gone more than 900 miles and about 1/2 mile past the dead end was the place I was heading for!
No cell service, ensures that the “Girls” Retreat/Reunion remains a true getaway.  

Everyone takes turns preparing a meal….

Sunrise over the pond…..

View of the camp from the pond levee

As you might expect there's a lot stories shared and plenty of considerate listening.

I’m honored to be a part of this unusual gathering of women. 

Three days at the camp passed quickly and it was time to get back in the car.   My plans to visit our former church and the cemetery in St Francisville changed.  Rather than take a nostalgic and perhaps sad trip down memory lane at my parent's graveside, I instead went straight to Paige’s.  

How best to describe the next three days? 
Talking and eating!  We had a lot of catching up to do and plenty of meals to do it over.

But like a dummy, I didn't think to snap any photos of the two of us or even one of the pets.

Sometimes I'm so caught up in a moment that it never occurs to me that it will end, or perhaps I was in a food induced stupor; but either way, photo taking never entered my brain except for this one moment when I wanted to brag to Joe via a text that I was eating a Jay's Po-Boy!

Likewise I didn't take a group photo at dinner with the Steibs or Williams. 

I'd a lot rather have some photos of dear friends than one of a sandwich. What was I thinking?

More to come...... 

More Laundry Room and a Painters Holiday

The spices took an afternoon,
but the laundry room cabinets are still a work in progress.  

They come looking like this 
and with the magic of a few screws....
The insides are pre-finished perfectly and left plain, 
but I paint the front edge so that it matches the overlay doors. 

There will be three sections stacked, joined together and screwed to the wall.  Filler pieces affixed to the sides will make it look built-in and there are several shelves for each cabinet.

This is the view toward the laundry room from the sofa area of the den.  
I usually keep the pocket door closed 
because of the stack of plastic bins and tubs that have been towering in plain view behind the hole.
It won't be long before the door can stay open to show the cabinet!
Joe is working on leveling and screwing together the sections 
and who knows maybe he'll knock out something else on our list, while I'm on a "painter's holiday"!
Road trip! 
Off to Louisiana!!!!!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Spice Drawer Rehab

 We came up with a massive things that need to be completed or started in the house. 
Some are daunting (the pantry and garage doors) 
while many are small details like a couple of missing door stoppers.  

This is one of the littler manageable ones,
but even I'll admit that this post that may have you thinking that I need to join OCD Anonymous. 

Lurking behind inside this seemingly neat corner by the stove
was my mess of a spice drawer.
A jumble of tins and bottles sliding around
and stacked 2 deep on their sides 
since the bottles were 1/4" too tall to stand up in the drawer.
Not awful but the containers were stuffed in willy-nilly.  

Last summer I saw a Brother labeler on close out and bought it planning to get organized.  
It's been languishing in it's box ever since but finally got to see the light of day!  
I don't know when I've seen such a lame excuse for an owners manual, 
but eventually I got a the better of it and was able to churn out some labels 
for the spice drawer rehab.
Meet the players:
a few large glass jars with seals for large and bulk spices, 
tins with clear lids for easy pinching of leafy herbs, 
and glass bottles with removable sprinkle caps the right height to stand up in the drawer.

With the help of a coupon and sale, my World Market purchases came to about under $50.

The garage may be a wreck but the spice drawer is perfection!  

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Laundry Sink Cabinets: Finished!!!

After a little more than a week of paint drying
(isn't that supposed to be the most boring thing ever?) 
Joe attached the lovingly painted fronts to the six drawers
and the hinges to the two doors.
Then it was time for him to take a deep breath,
put on his glasses, 
and say a prayer asking for the courage 
to drill into the cabinet fronts for the handles.

After all my painting,
I'll admit that I might have had a total meltdown if he had mis-drilled ...  :) 
Because he wanted a happy wife,
it was a case of measure 25 times and drill once!

And he did it perfectly!

Why in the world did it take us 2 years to get this done???
The Barker cabinets are terrific!

I've almost convinced myself 
that I could survive devoting a few weeks of my life to painting
in order to use them in the pantry.
(Yet another project to be done this year!)
Dovetailed drawers, formaldehyde free
a gorgeous finished maple interior,
soft close hinges and drawer glides.
Solid US wood and totally sourced and made in the US.

I wavered back and forth between using "fun" and colorful handles or knobs
but traditional and classic won the day 
and I ordered more of the same bronze pulls that I used in the kitchen.

Halfway through the month and already one project checked off the list!
This morning I was in the mechanical room putting the final coat 
on the six cabinet doors
which will be opposite the sink cabinet.

Part Two of the laundry room project:
The cabinet boxes are assembled (Barker again)
and Joe has work to do getting trim pieces cut;  
while I take a break and watch paint dry!
Products/colors used:
Cabinets: Barker (Paint Grade Adler and Maple Front, Boxes Prefinished White Maple), 
                 "San Francisco" Door Profile
Cabinet Paint:  "Feather Down" Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo 
Handles:  Hamilton Sinkler Tradiitional DP collection Bronze Pulls
Walls:  "Inner Balance" Benjamin Moore Regal Eggshell
Counter and Backsplash:  Quartzite/Slate with Murano Glass Accent in Lagoon
Floors:  Terrazo Tiles
Sink:  White Kohler Glen Falls with Grohe Concetto Faucet