Monday, June 30, 2014

Day Hikes on the AT

Two Friday hikes from early June with Newcomers Hiking....

Thunder Ridge to Sunset Fields going southward on the AT:  
Ferns everywhere
We shuttled cars for this hike which was about 4 miles with a slight 500 foot ascent.
The trail passing under "The Guillotine"
Easy to see how it got it's name!
After walking under, looking back down the trail with the "Guillotine" almost at eye level
The next Friday, we went back to the same area 
and shuttled cars for another four mile jaunt. 
Again going south on the AT
this time starting at Sunset Fields (where we ended the week before)
and stopping at the Floyd Field/Mountain area.

I thought this little salamander was cute....
well honestly at first I thought it was a red lizard but then realized it was pretty unlizard-like.
Fact of the day is that this is the "eft" stage for the Eastern Newt 
it stays in this vibrantly red spotted juvenile stage 
for 1-3 years living entirely on land 
and then.... presto-chango,
it becomes brownish green, develops a flat ridged fin tail 
and becomes entirely aquatic (but still breathes air) 
for it's adult life. 
Don't say you've never learned anything by reading blogs!  

The rhododendrons that we'd hoped to see the week before were in blossom
Our already slow hiking turned to glacial speed
because of all the photo taking!
Got to stop and smell the roses though!  
Though it was foggy,
marveled at the view from the Black Rock Overlook
Foggy Blue Ridge as seen from Black Rock
And turned the camera on ourselves
At Black Rock (photo by Debbie Maurer)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Old News: Music and Friends

A month's absence from the blog has me with a backlog of old news
and before I forget everything
there are some memories of fun and friends
that I want to commit to the "diary" aspect of the blog.

Even without the help of wine or hard liquor, 
I found myself dancing up a storm
at the Maurer Dance Party.
I'm a total klutz and have no rhythmn 
but the older I get, the less I worry about how I look.  

Maybe next year Joe will venture out onto the dance floor 
but he enjoyed talking, eating and watching his wife act like a maniac.   

The Village People made a brief appearance....
The costume contest was a hoot....
The judges for the dance contest were "blind" but we loved them anyway....
Ah life in a small town!  

On a much more serious musical note, 
we hosted Californians Rita Hosking, her husband Sean and their daughter 
for the night
when Rita performed at one of the Krantz music parties.  
The enjoyment of getting to know the artists is my true reward, 
but I've instituted a "fee" for staying the night from visiting musicians:  
a CD!

We've about worn out Rita's CD;
it's that good!
Give her a listen at  Here (American Agency/Rita Hosking)
Maybe it's rude to try and peg someone as "sounding like" another artist, 
but she's in the vein of EmmyLou Harris, Gillian Welch, Allison Krauss and Kate Wolf.

Other recent visitors have been Leigh Ann, Don and daughter from Tampa
(met in Charlottesville)
Pennie and Greg from Baton Rouge (here for lunch while passing through)....

And Ada who came bringing her beau Vern!!
Don't they look happy?  
What to do with these youngsters who find each other on the internet?!!
You know you're with a good friend when you wish them goodbye on the driveway at 10AM 
still wearing your pajamas and holding your morning coffee cup!
My mother would be so ashamed of me!  :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Garden Progress

There are some mega differences in gardening in Virginia vs. Louisiana.
Virginia has it all locked up in the low sweat and human to bug ratio categories.
Louisiana is the clear winner when it comes to ease of digging holes (no rocks)
and overwintering ability.

Gardening books, garden tours and countless trips to nearby nurseries,
are helping me get a firmer grip on the plant varieties that do well here.
I've filed many, if not most, of the standard stalwarts
of my previous Deep South gardening
away as tropical memories.

The only plant that I can't get out of my mind is Camellias.....
I may have to try and baby one (or two) along
even though it'll likely be a Sisyphean task.

Though it's far from finished,
here's photo evidence
of the reason for my lack of fingernails and Joe's "tractor tan."

Before shot taken in May:
These are the shrubs and Japanese Maple that we installed in late fall.
After:  With the addition of edging,
plants and a few loads of soil and compost....
we've got a garden!

Before:  The main front bed in May...
Edging just going in
Shrubs and trees from the late fall coming back to life
and all pretty scraggly looking....
 One of SEVEN truck loads of soil and compost
that we added....
shovel by shovel!
(We had to lift many of the previously installed plants so they didn't smother!)
 We're both pretty proud of our dry stack stone wall.
Our first attempt at stonework!
 We quickly realized that
 this was about the upper limit on  rocks
that we were capable of hauling and moving!
And Ta-DA....
Parking bay all tidy and inviting...
 It's beginning to look like a home
and not just a house!

Monday, June 23, 2014

I Come Bringing Flowers

Over a month since my last post??!!
How in the world did I let that happen?

I've got one dear son 
(Clark, whom I'll remember in my will) 
who has been asking repeatedly when I'm going to post again.

That familial interest helps balance the scales
for the son who once told me 
that he didn't have time to read the blog when I posted daily.  
That hurt! 
(But I still love you Owen!) 

I'll bring a vase of flowers as an apology 
for anybody who's been pining away for a post.

The wildflowers are spectacular this month....
Except for the three yellow yarrow, 
all of the flowers above were gathered from the edge of our woods and along our gravel road. 

Oxeye Daisies, Grasses,  Queen Anne's Lace, Viper's Bugloss (thanks Linda for the ID!), 
Clovers, Mallow etc....

I'm loving the pitcher I bought this month from Henry's Antique Shop.
A $12 bargain!
I do wonder about the woman who carefully painted it
(porcelain painting was a big hobby for ladies "back in the day").
I hope she'd be glad to know that it's being used and displayed again.
It has a hairline crack, but by slipping the flower frog into an open ziplock bag,
it's as watertight as I need it to be for flowers! 

Now that I've said hello,
it's time for good-bye!

I'm off for a walk on the road (ogling wildflowers), 
followed by dinner, an episode of Modern Family 
and then a cocktail on the porch while watching fireflies!  
Wish you could all join me!