Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Snow Play

After a great breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes we went out to play in the snow.
Here's Winnona hunkered down in the barnyard.

And a Winnona eyed view of the farmhouse.
Enough snow to make it pretty but not enough to have to shovel.
Just right.........

Until we tried to go sledding.  Because the fields were mowed earlier in the fall, the grass was a little too tall and the snow a little too little to make it possible.  But this team gave it a valiant effort for a while trying to make a "sled run" by pushing snow over onto the trail.  But finally they gave up and we went for a hike.

Down to the pond which was mostly frozen except for a couple of nose holes.  Whose nose we aren't quite sure.  Probably snapping turtle we think.

Everything is downhill from the farm house.  Unless of course it is uphill from there.  That's what happens when you live in the foothills.  There's Winnona in the distance.

From the pond we hiked down, down, down to the stream.  Which was still flowing beautifully over the rocks.  I was the only one who ventured ALL the way down as you can see from this shot.

We walked all around what we call the white trail, even when it's not snowing, and took this shot of the fields and mountains on our way back UP. 

Check out that wood lot.  No wonder the house is so warm in this very cold December weather.
There is NOTHING like a wood stove to warm you down to the bones.

Here's the woodsman bringing some more back in to the stoves.  Any one wanting to help split is more than welcome. It's great exercise and food is provided to keep up your strength!  J

Later on Winnona put on her new socks and here she is modeling them.

Carrie leaves tomorrow and we'll be sorry to see her go.  But 2011 is right around the corner and we have LOTS to do so we'll have to stop this playing stuff and get busy.  J

Santa Knows

Somehow Santa always knows what you need or want. 

A new Associate Attorney needs information on dealing with the tax implications of actually having a salary.
Santa to the rescue.

The loving daughter took pity on Mr. Dunk His Camera and got him this fine gift. 
This is camera #3 within the past 3 months, can he keep it out of the drink??  
Anybody want to place a bet?  :-)

WOW now this flag is definitely big enough to display what I love!
Thank you Carrie!!!   Winnona can hardly wait to display it when she's settled in her site.

Click this pic to see the logo on the hat.  When I first met David he was riding a Harley and was definitely Born to Be Wild......ah what a difference the years make.  :-)

Well I tried clicking it and it still isn't readable enough so here you go.

Sporting new Celtic earrings to remind her of a college semester in Ireland,  Carrie is already engrossed in one of several book gifts.   This one really grabbed her interest and having read it myself, I can say it is a great read.  Title: See You In A Hundred Years.
Check it out.

Thanks to my dad, I'm ready to take on the Everglades and any other mosquito infested kayaking trail.  The suit also comes with mesh pants which I did not model.
Pretty attractive huh??

Santa even left gifts for Winnona
brand new socks!

And a platform step for her short legged owner.

We had a wonderful time under the tree as the snow fell outside.  Later we watched one of our holiday movies.  This year Miracle on 34th Street.   And then off to bed to rest up for some snow play tomorrow.
See you then.

Holiday Fun Part I

Carrie has returned to work and the party is over so I thought I'd take time to post something about our grand holiday.  But so as not to spring too much on you at once, it's coming in parts, just like it happened for us.

I start the celebration on the Winter Solstice.  It's hard to do it up right since it isn't one of those Federally sponsored holidays that our nation supports by closing all its offices, declaring a holiday and giving folks vacation days.   But it should be.  The longest night of the year and the days beginning to wax rather than wane is definitely reason to celebrate.   Makes for a great reason for another cake and presents wrapped in gold.

But since our sweetheart doesn't get the day off we moved the celebration to the 24th
Chocolate stout toasts to more sunshine and warmth!

A little girl talk at the foot of the tree before trimming it.

And home made venison pizza with games for the eve.

Trimming the homegrown tree with home made ornaments and bubble lights!
Love those bubbles!!

Awaiting the morning.

Stockings hung on the stair railings since there is no mantel on a wood stove :-)

Check in tomorrow to see what Santa brings to such good little girls and "sometimes David"  :-)

Crackers on the road???

Most of the focus here has been on keeping warm in this “high temperatures below zero” abnormal weather. That has really slowed things down. But I’m still cleaning out and the loads are going off to the Good Will and Salvation Army.  This is hardly the weather  for yard sales and I’m just not inclined to store it all until things become more “normal” if there is such a thing anymore.

One nice thing about cleaning out “stuff” is that you find things you looked and looked for but never could find.  In this case it was my National Parks Passport and it was right in plain sight.  How I could have missed it is just beyond me but I did and so I don’t have my Cumberland Island stamp among others.  BUT  since that’s a place I plan to return to J it’s not problem.  AND the universe was watching out for me when I tried to buy a replacement passport book and they were out of them. 

Yesterday I did manage to do something else as well.  I made some pizza crackers and they were so good I thought I’d share them with you. I call them pizza crackers because they sort of look like tiny little pizzas and taste a bit like it too.  They are made with flax seeds, fresh tomatoes or dried this time of year, garlic, onion, red bell pepper, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes.  After soaking the flax seeds over night I put the seeds into the food processor, add everything else and turn it into glop.  I put the mix on the dryer sheets by the teaspoon and using the spoon back, spread each one out to be thinner.  They are oddly shaped but they will dry more quickly than if they were  thicker.  I could spread the mix out and cover the sheet and then score them to make the normal square crackers but after a few times of that I decided it took too long and odd crackers were more in tune with my style if you know what I mean.  J

Here they go into the dryer, eight trays of them.

Then you just walk away and 24 hours+ later (depending on the humidity) voila!!  Great crackers for the home made soups so good in this cold weather and for salads when it’s warmer or for just eating out of hand as I seem to do with about 1/3 of what I make as I of course have to test them to see if they are crunchy enough or if I need to leave them in the dryer longer.  Right?? J

Wonder where I can find room for this dryer in the RV?  How DO I decide what to take and what to give away….forever…..or until I realize I should have kept it and have to re-buy it.  J   Easy in some cases but much more difficult in others.

Snow is predicted for tomorrow which is very uncommon in December for us or it was until last year when on the 18th we got two feet.  Crossing my fingers this is not Snowmageddon Part II.

Great Idea for December Birthdays

Bitter cold continues here and the weather goddess took no pity and gave no break for my birthday.  First let me say that I hate having a birthday in December.  Especially one sandwiched in between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  You know all your life that parents and partners simply take one of your other holiday presents and wrap it in birthday paper.   PLUS, you never get anything but winter clothing and can never have a pool party,  J  With all that grumbling said, this year I’ve figured out how to compensate for the lack of sunshine, warm temperatures and being sandwiched in. 

Have birthdayS.

My birthday is December 7.  Yes I know, everyone's comment is.... “Pearl Harbor Day”.  I will not mention my mother’s too often repeated comment about when the real bomb was dropped.  I never thought that was funny but she sure did. 

This year December 7 was on a Tuesday but I had one festive day after another, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.   Now that’s how to do it.

David made me my favorite moist chocolate birthday cake with yummmmmmyyyy butter cream icing.  This is what happens when you ice it too soon.  Warm cake - the letters slide downhill. J   It was supposed to say “HB 2 U” on one line and “60 Something” on the next but here’s what happened.

Still it was delicious and since it was a sheet cake, there are  LOTS of leftovers.  Mmmmm 

Day #2   I had delicious home made carrot cupcakes with cream cheese icing with my friend Pam who gifted me with a pair of merino wool socks she had hand knit just for me.  WOW!   Cupcakes were delicious and socks are beautiful, warm and I feel her friendship every time I wear them. 

Day #3  My friend Lynda took me out for dinner to the local Thai Restaurant just off our Downtown walking mall where we had a great time chatting and eating Pad Thai.   The restaurant allows you to choose your level of spice from 1 to 5.   IF you actually can eat all your #5 entree they post your picture on the wall of fire eaters.   Wimp that I am, I had #1.  Lynda, whom I consider to have a fire retardant tongue had #3.   I forgot my camera so no pics of us, the restaurant, the firewall or the delicious pad Thai.  L

Day #4  Out to the Mud House with my friend Kathy.  Espresso for her Hot Chocolate for me.   Like everyone else, she wanted to talk about “the trip” and my plans.  Easy conversations.  GREAT and get things squared away so I can be out there permanently.

And so concludes my birthdayS.    I highly recommend that if you are unfortunate enough  to have a December birthday, this is the way to do it.  Make it special, make it last for days!!!!

Cold Motivation

Well I just have to grumble about this weather thing.  Today’s high is 34 and the low is 18.  The normal lows, not highs,  in early December here are in the mid 30’s.   And there’s no end in sight.  We actually had a dusting of snow – WHAT? – on Sunday morning.  All the more reason to get in gear to get out of here.  Cold motivation for sure!!

Coming back of course we found quite a few more things than the furnace that need to be taken care of.  Luckily “most” of those are inside.  But when you don’t have a furnace, you have to split firewood weather or not.

We’ve noticed a lot more stuff that needs to go.  Quite a lot and have been inspired by others’ blogs to get rid of even more.  But this time of year is not conducive to yard sales and we hope not to be here in the spring sooooo it looks like lots of donations.  J

So what else have we been doing you ask?  Or maybe not, but I'm going to tell you anyway.  Our local theater “The Paramount”, refurbished about a decade ago to its early 1930’s elegance, showed the holiday film It’s A Wonderful Life last Friday.  What a great and timeless movie.  And so wonderful to see on a BIG screen.  No matter how big your home entertainment center is, there is nothing like the even bigger screen in the movie theater with other people laughing and ohhing around you.  Throughout the year, the Paramount brings in The Metropolitan Opera simulcasts to our little city as well as lots of stars who are on tour.  But their showing of vintage movies for the reasonable price of $6 a seat is a really great community service.   Earlier this year they had the newly redone version of The Wizard of Oz and the color and sound were fantastic. 

Tonight is the 43rd annual "Messiah Sing In" which will be directed  by Dr. Donald Loach of the University of Virginia’s Music Department, who started it back in 1968. Don’t you love traditions? The community all comes together at the University of Virginia’s great musical acoustic space Cabell Hall and you sit in whatever sectional part you are going to sing (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) with  scores provided by the music department for a donation to their scholarship fund unless, like many in the community, you’ve been doing this for years and have your own score.  (That’s ME)  There is also a volunteer orchestra of whoever shows up.  Hopefully one trumpet at least if you know the Messiah!  Listeners sit in the loge or the balcony and it is a wonderful no rehearsal, no professional singers, no big deal, fun for all.  Beautiful singing of magnificent music. If there is a “sing in” in your neck of the woods, give it a try.  You’ll love it I know.

Sorry no pictures.  I’ll try to do better next time.  Although not wanting to be outside for more than 5 minutes does limit my opportunities.

Thoughts are things.  Make them good ones.  Life is a Law of Attraction.

Friday at the Farm

Greenfield Mountain Farm
Afton, Virginia

We had a slow and leisurely morning.  I was down first sitting in my little rocking chair reading in front of the bay window watching the birds just after sun up when this fellow flew in and worked over the Paulownia trees in the backyard.

 Carrie came down and joined me and we both enjoyed the quiet reading atmosphere of the living room in the early morning.

After David came down it was time to get some fires stoked to take off the overnight chill.   I must admit that the wood stoves make it toasty and cozy inside. And there is absolutely nothing that will warm you to the bones like a wood stove. But someone has to tend them.  Cut the wood down, haul it up, split it, stack it, carry it to the porch and then bring it in the house, build the fires and tend them.  We’ve gotten it all down to a system, have seldom used the furnace over the years and might not replace it except it’s rather a necessity if you want to sell a house or be gone for any period of time that includes winter. And boy do I!  J

We have two wood stoves, one to heat the original back portion of the house which is now the farmhouse kitchen, pantry, main downstairs bath and an enclosed west porch.  And another in the front portion of the house which is a two over two old virginia farmhouse design. 

SO I emptied the ashes out of the stove in the living room where Carrie and I were.  The ashes, apparently left from the last fire last year were so deep the air intakes were covered. 

And brought in wood from the porch to get fires going in both stoves.

 Meanwhile, the chef was at it again.  More pastry .

but this time flaky biscuits.  Eat your heart out Betty Crocker even you couldn't  do that with spelt flour.

 and a BIG farm breakfast

How does he stay so thin?  And his daughter too?  If he keeps this up I’ll be waddling around. And Winona will far exceed a safe weight! 

The cleanup crew again did the dishes, dried, put them away and nobody took any pics of that.   Guess it just isn’t as attractive as Fritatas and home made fluffy biscuits.

Then the chef donned his handyman outfit and went to work repairing the apple picker so that the last of the fall apples could be harvested. 

While that work was going on, Carrie and I started a game of Canasta.  I’d played it a lot as a child but not in years.  So we got out the card game rule book and started out. 

Then the apple picker was ready and they went out to get those apples for yet more pies. J.   We planted a Granny Smith apple tree for Carrie when she was in elementary school as it was her favorite apple and it has been providing apples for years, this one included.  They also picked the Macintosh tree but we got back just a tad too late for that one to be good eating out of hand.  They are beyond prime but sauce sounds good too.  J
Carrie got them out of the tree

And emptied the picker into the bucket.

When the apples were in the bucket they divided them so Carrie could take some home with her for a pie or eating out of hand.  We finished up the card game and then Carrie had to go in order to meet some friends for dinner.  I had no desire for dinner after yesterday and the brunch we’d had around noon so I just had another piece of that great cherry pie.  J

Curling up with a good book.  Now that’s my idea of how to spend a fall evening.  Not sure what’s up for tomorrow but we are laying off “most” of the work until after the week-end so that we can spend time together as a family.  Just another day of blessings.  How lucky are we?

An Avalanche of Blessings

Greenfield Mountain Farm
Afton, Virginia

Haven’t posted in the past 3 days.  We've been getting adjusted to the return, putting things away,  checking around the farm,

 and the rig, making lists longer than my arm of things to do, to do, to do.  But I'm glad we came back at a holiday so the change from life on the road to life at chore headquarters wasn't quite so drastic.

We spent nearly all of Tuesday taking things out of Winona and into the house and putting them away and getting things back to “normal”.  Temperatures are dropping here so we have Winona connected to the house and wood fires inside.   Here's Winona's current Campsite.  Not too bad! J  

We spent Wednesday just checking up on things.  It looks like one the maple trees in the yard has died and we aren’t sure at all how.  I'll take some pictures in to the agricultural extension agent next week.  But it will have to be taken down and turned into firewood.  Another thing to be added to the list.  I went  running down the familiar roads and went to Yoga which I have missed and must incorporate more regularly into life on the road.

Carrie came in the late afternoon.  As expected on a holiday, it took her about an hour longer than usual to get to the foothills of the Blue Ridge from Baltimore.  She was tired but we chatted and compared stories.  She of her new job and we of our new life.  It is an interesting juxtaposition that she is starting in on her career just as we are ending ours.  

And today, we had a fine Thanksgiving together.   Cooking in the morning, eating in the afternoon and play at night.

Here's the chief chef working on Candied Yams.  Everything from scratch of course.  Only the cranberries were from a can.
Not sure why he's wearing his Merry Christmas apron unless like most of the rest of the country he's getting a step up on the next holiday before this one is even finished.  I was appalled to find that the towns and cities we went through starting in early November were already putting up their December holiday decorations and some of the stores had those things up before Halloween was even over.  Can't figure out what the rush is.  Isn't life going by fast enough?

This year after checking out the cost of free range turkeys we decided as a group that we aren't THAT fond of turkey and would rather have a pork roast already in the freezer and so we did.  But we did still have the other traditions at least for our family......plain dressing, oyster dressing for yours truly, broccoli, candied yams.  So here is our farm kitchen table all decked out and we are ready to dig in.
And here we are about an hour later.   Notice who is STILL eating!  
 Where DOES he put it all?

After doing all the kitchen clean up, not sure why the cook didn't take a picture of the clean up crew, the father daughter duo set out to make the pie.  Now usually we have pumpkin like tradition says.  But this year since we were already bucking tradition and hadn't grown any pumpkins, we decided that since we'd driven two sets of our own hand grown and picked and then frozen cherries all over the southeast without making one pie, we would have cherry pie with the pumpkin's whipped cream as our Thanksgiving dessert.  We are VERY thankful for those cherry trees and their generosity.   And here is the fruits of their labors with freshly whipped cream no vacuum cans for this great pie!

Mmmm was that pie good.   We ate it and finished out the evening playing the games you see stacked beside Carrie.  Too busy playing to get pics of that.  Can't remember who won what but we sure had a good time.  

Stoked the fires and went off to bed giving thanks for a great day and this great year in which we have bought Winona, discovered RV-Dreams, went to the rally and as a result jumped off the cliff and retired early, went out on the shake down cruise, met wonderful people, reconnected with great RV friends and are back to get things squared away for life on the road.  We are grateful for it all as well as for our health, our happiness, our daughter's new career, her lovely house in PIkesville, her cute new kitties and so many other things that it is nearly an avalanche of Blessings.   We know your life is too!

Happy Thanksgiving from us to all of you!

Leaving Pocahontas for Charlottesville

We got what may be our earliest start ever and were out of the campground just after 9:00.   A MIRACLE!  J

It was foggy when we woke up and we set about having breakfast and getting packed up to leave.  Not much to do since we didn’t take the bikes or the kayaks off the car or the car off the dolly or the dolly off the RV.  But we did get some things out that had to be put away, David checked fluids, I brought in the slides and unleveled and we were off.  I got so busy I forgot to get a picture of Site 75 which was a paved pull through between the two campground roads.  A fine overnight spot but not some where I’d want to stay for a week or so.  I’m sure the campground has other much nice spots but this was an easy in and easy out even if it wasn’t so easy last night in the dark.  J

Uneventful drive back on roads we are familiar with.  We pulled in around noon and set out on the task of opening up the house and emptying Winona of the stuff we’ll need to use while we are off the road.   A sad task that I’ll admit I didn’t do with enough cheer.

Then it was off to the grocery store to get the fixings for Thanksgiving.  WOW are there a lot of people on the roads in town on a Monday.  Was it really like this before we left?  Why aren’t all these folks at work at 2:00 in the afternoon???  J  

Nothing else of interest to report.  Somehow tonight I’m more tired than on any night I can remember recently.  Not looking forward to the tasks at hand but the sooner we get started the sooner they’ll be finished. 

I imagine we’ll get the unpacking completed  tomorrow and perhaps even get a start on the list.  Think I’ll type it up to see how long it actually is and try to rustle up some enthusiasm for checking things off.  J

Our daughter Carrie is coming for Thanksgiving and will be in town Wednesday night so that’s definitely something to look forward to.  We are lucky enough to have her with us for the whole week-end.   

We all have lots of things to be thankful for this year.  She began her career life in a job she likes.  We ended our career lives and went on to a life we like better.  Short break here, we hope, and then back to the wonderful wandering life.

Thoughts are things.  Let’s all make them good ones!!

Here We Go Round the Campground Loop

Little Pee Dee State Park
Site #27
Dillon, South Carolina

Thankfully we didn’t slide into the lake although the angle for sleeping made it not the best rest we’ve ever had.  Especially when the gun shots started going off just before sunrise.  I had intended to run 5 miles in this sweet park but not knowing exactly where the shots were coming from, nor the borders of the park, nor the lands adjacent to it, I decided to skip that idea.  And I was really looking forward to it too.  A very rare thing for me and running.

I would have walked up to the ranger’s station to check on all of these questions J
But we discovered the night before that the “office hours” are 11:00 to Noon.   Sounds like a job I’d like to have, what about you?   Tiny hours for a tiny station I guess.  J
Isn't it cute?  But now you can see how we drove right by it in the near dark with its lights out.  

When we pulled in last night just before dark David said he thought the ranger was in a truck behind us but then the truck turned left.  As we drove by the tiny Ranger’s station with no lights on we thought there must be another office so we drove on and ended up at the boat launch where we had to take the car off the dolly in order to turn around and go back where we found the lights on and the ranger in the little office.  That’s when we read about the hours.  But they had a site and the price was great so……as Howard would say…all righty then.

Back to this morning, here is a picture of this great but way too sloping site.

We thought we’d be safe walking on the campground loops in terms  of the hunters so even though we have a longer day of driving than I like because of our late start and short trip yesterday,  we got some coffee and hot water respectively and headed out to check out the park and possible level lake sites for “next time”.  The verdict, not many if any along the lake front.  We found one possibility maybe two, but David decided he would design a  leveling string that is as long as the front to rear wheelbase of the vehicle with a string level that he could use to determine how high up off the ground you’d have to raise the rig.  My guess is this will be his 2011 “gadget” so if anyone has already made one, let us know.

The park has one nice trail, a boat dock on the lake (although you could launch a kayak right off site #27, another of its charms)

but the park has no put in for the river which is its southern boundary.  However you can leave the park and go only a short distance and put in so the paddling possibilities, outside of hunting season and bug season, could be nice.  Hmmm does that leave any seasons??

We came back and had a nice breakfast.  David was impressed with the design of Winona's interior which, even with the slides in, allowed the kitchen extension leaf to be used by the cook

In our usual easy (lazy? late?) fashion we managed to leave the park just before noon and headed off to I 95 which is the last leg of our trip.  The route took us up SC 301 which goes right through Pedro Land.  Do people actually stop here?  And what ever for?

 Driving north we were seeing the last of the fall colors on the road.

And we loved this guy also going north, an unusual sight.  He was driving a class A, towing a pick-up with a golf cart in the bed.   However he wants to travel, he’s got it covered.  J

We neared my projected stop for the day, which I'd called and they'd said sure come on, plenty of spaces.  It was only 2:45 and David wanted to get on in to Virginia.  Hmmmmmmmm  I'm thinking that makes it WAY longer than I like to travel in a day.  What’s wrong with a 3:00 stop for overnight?  We just made it in before dark last night and I’m not interested in a repeat of that.  But he said, we’ll make a 10 minute stop for gas and we’ll be there before 4:00.  

So I called the state park he had in mind, no answer, message machine “leave a message and we’ll call you back.”  RIGHT!   But by then, we’d passed my projected stop so we were clearly going on.

Gas stop took 25 minutes due to the pump cut off at $75 feature and our nearly totally empty gas tank.  By the time we pulled into the state park just outside of Petersburg it was 5:00.  No sign of anyone around.  No map of the park or the campground and the sun is just above the trees and dropping fast.

It was ring around the rosie as we tried to find
1) a pull through site to avoid taking the car off the dolly, the dolly off the RV for an over night.
2) a site that had working water and electric AND
3) one with a level enough spot that we could put the slides out for better sleeping than last night

Site 75, looks great, we pull in. David says let’s level it.  He’s clearly fixated on his lack of comfortable sleep.  Sherry, who is tired and over done with way too much driving, says nope  check the electric.  Ahhh her intuition?  Basement electric meter says OFF.  We try it again. OFF.  And Again.  OFF.  So….we are now past the other pull in sites as we looked for one that was pretty level.  And this one was no doubt.  But level and no electric won’t do.  

So out we go and back around the entire loop.  We pull into a site between two other RVs.  It must have  electric since they do.  Meter says OFF.  What??  Impossible.  Then, David discovers that somehow the meter’s switch got bumped and it wasn’t that the electric was OFF it was that the meter was OFF.  Ok, now it’s totally dark and we are checking this stuff by flashlight.  A total NO NO NO in Sherry’s book of RVing.  BUT, we have electricity, we hook up the water, go inside to level and NO DICE.  Cannot get this site to level up.  Jacks all the way down and it's still too far off in the front to put out the slides.  Maybe if we backed up.  Everyone else is level.  No backing….dolly and car remember. 

OK now that we know there wasn’t an electric problem we undo everything here again, in the TOTAL absolute dark, get back in the RV, drive back around the campground in the dark for the 3rd time.  What were the other campers thinking about these brainless people coming in after dark and then trying out all the sites or playing ring around the Rosie?  

Are we having fun yet???

Back to site #75.  Yes, electric, yes water, yes level.  FINALLY.   A little dinner, read a few blogs and we’re ready for level sleeping.

No doubt all of this happened because of our attitudes or at least mine.  I don’t want to go North or home or any of it.  But tomorrow we’ll be back at the ranch.  Oh, make that back at the farm with a looooong to do list.   SIGH  

But today we’ve got level beds, water, electricity and I got today’s blog posted before I went to bed on the day it happened and that’s a FIRST I do believe!   Pictures of our level site with electric in the morning.  Check back tomorrow!