Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I have no idea why Hannah started shouting this out whenever we see a train, but now Abba bellows out her version: "TRAY BOW!" Living near Clifton Forge, a town with a long railroad heritage, these shouts are common in our ears.
Hannah has a thing for trains. Even before we moved here she couldn't get enough of "I Love Big Trains" - versions one, two and three. Her best (imaginary) friend is named Jeff, the youthful narrator of the series. She's going to work for the railroad when she gets older - "working with the trains all day."
Clifton Forge is mecca for C&O (Chesapeake & Ohio) Railroad fans. The C&O Historical Society's headquarters are in town. In the newly-restored Heritage Center, they have an educational program and visitor's center that includes a huge model train layout encompassing (at least) local routes. Hannah can tell you all about it if you come visit.
Well, last night after the town council meeting, Andy came home with a poster announcing a train show and sale on February 21 &22. We hung it on Hannah's bedroom door. She was SO excited when she saw it this morning! Anyways, we're planning on going. Its on the calendar.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Well, so in high school, middle school and elementary school I think I was a dork. And in college, too, most definitely. In grad school I learned not to care so much so I forgot about my dorkiness, but as a mom I am afraid once again that I will nerd out on my kids and embarrass the heak out of them. Only time will tell.
The thing is, though, as I get older, I think (and you may just snicker behind my back and make snide un-dorky comments) - I think that the things that make one dorky are just grown up types of things that, done as a kid, were out of place and nerdy only by virtue of their chronological placement in your life.
When I was in the seventh grade, we were forced to - I mean, we were able to choose between four or five elective subjects in school, with Birdwatching being one of the selections. I think it was even called "Elementary Birdwatching," but I am old now and could be mis-remembering. No matter what it was called, though, for a red-headed, freckle-faced, "pre-braced" girl, any type of Birdwatching was fourth on my list just wasn't going to fly. Home Ec, Auto Repair, Needles in yer Eye or whatEVER else was being offered was my first, second and third choice. Alas, (and fortunately for me) my parents deftly placed the blue Peterson's Field Guide to Eastern Birds in by hand and said, "But Chap is our frieeeeeend." Just my luck that not only would I have to sit in a class populated ENTIRELY by other dorks like me, but the instructor was my parents' friend - no, a good friend - who would, no doubt, embarrass me to no end by pointing this out. To the other dorks. Imagine. My very own parents actually having a FRIEND who was a high school science teacher and amateur ornithologist. The horror of it all.
The semester began smoothly enough and I think I remember I tried not to get too tight with the other students. I learned that there were many, many birds populating the skies other than crows, sparrows and robins. Grudgingly, I came to realize that it was impossible NOT to enjoy myself out at the Triple-R Ranch in Chesapeake at 7AM by an ancient pear tree "bssshhhh, bssshhhh, bsssshhhhhing" in an attempt to flush a Carolina Wren out of her hiding place. I didn't enjoy waking up at o'dark-thirty in the cold darkness of a Spring morning to drive to the Outer Banks to peer at sanderlings, waders, gulls, and terns, but a line of pelicans floating single file over the breakers led me to believe that I was mistaken in my misgivings. (Aside: Every time I drive down to Hatteras I still remember our mantra: "There's no bathroom on Pea Island!") .

This being a Christian school, choruses of anything rowdier than "100 Bottles of Milk on the Wall" were verboten on field trips. But for the handful of students who showed up for the Saturday field (often literally) trips, comparing notes on life lists, sightings and habitat garnered more attention and interest than any verse of "Henry the Eighth" could elicit.
Ah, now it comes back to me and I remember when one of the popular girls intoned, "Ahh, the BHURD-vatchahs" as we filed out of our classroom on the second floor. But I have to smirk when I recall that she sat behind me the next semester....Mr. P even had to limit students from taking more than two semesters of the class - funny, I don't remember what else I took after those Fall and Spring sessions.
Occasionally throughout my high school years and even into college, when I'd see a Prothonotary Warbler alight on a low branch or hear the echo of a Wood Thrush through the forest, before I could mask my delight I'd spoken its name aloud, identifying it, much to the amusement (? were they laughing at me or with me?) of my friends. One year I even received an obviously re-gifted coffee-table bird book because "you always seem to like those birds!"
Nowadays, I drink my coffee watching the birdfeeders outside of our kitchen window. We have five feeders: a pinecone smeared by little girl hands with a delightful mixture of lard, stale bread, birdseed, and leftover potato pancakes; a suet feeder with a homemade cake of peanut butter, several roasts' worth of congealed beef fat, goldfish cracker crumbs and the crusts from Hannah's sandwiches (YEAH, what ABOUT it?!), two tube feeders and one homemade milk-carton feeder that Hannah helped me to "recycle." (Note that the cost of birdseed is exactly the same as the sum at the bottom of our "entertainment" column on our monthly budget worksheet.) I eagerly point out Blue Jays, Downy Woodpeckers and nuthatches to Hannah, and she tells me when she sees a Cardinal, a Mourning Dove or a Goldfinch. I'm sure I can design a series of lesson plans around those feeders....
I am so grateful to my parents and their friend, Chap, for introducing me to a hobby which has been a constant in my life through its many incarnations. Those Saturday birdwatching expeditions are among my best memories of high school. The other day Andy said that he and a friend had seen a Flicker on their drive through town. My first inclination was to ask, "Was it a yellow-shafted or a red?" But I uh...well, I didn't want to um, blow my cover you know, and dork out on him or anything.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

historical day

I tried to get Hannah to watch the innaguration on with me today but she asked so many questions (why are all those police cars there? why do they want to kill him? where are the bad guys? Is he really from Africa {this in response to Rick Waren's term "AfricanAmerican"} can I go watch Sesame Street now?) that I finally cut her loose. We watched Aretha Franklin singing an edited version of "America". Here's the lyrics:
1. My country,' tis of thee,
sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing;
land where my fathers died,
land of the pilgrims' pride,
from every mountainside let freedom ring!
4. Our fathers' God, to thee,
author of liberty, to thee we sing;
long may our land be bright
with freedom's holy light;
protect us by thy might, great God, our King [emphasis mine].
But Ms. Franklin omitted the last four words - that is the whole point of the song! Instead she repeated "freedom" a few times and closed. Personally, I think this is telling, significant and calculated as were other things about speeches I heard.

Coincidentally (yeah, right), just last night we were reading Little Town on the Praire by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Read for yourself here (pages 75 and 76) what we read in the chapter, "Fourth of July" and contrast that with current events.

It sent chills when I re-read it just now.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

a quiet Saturday evening

This is what happens when you ignore a crunching sound from the other room while washing dishes:
1. They were barefoot, so it was a tactile experience.
2. There was no butter on the popcorn, only salt.
3. I saw it happen; the biggest bowl tipped just out of her fingertips...
4. But the rest of it wasn't a mistake.
5. Big deal!
6. The vacuum cleaner was efficient when set on "high carpet."
7. Daddy-o was at a meeting until late. (Whew!)

And speaking of vacuum cleaners, what is it about turning one on that makes them screech like banshees and run screaming from the room? They're not afraid of it - I even say, "OK, girlies, I'm going to turn on the vacuum; don't yell." And they start hollering the minute I've pushed the button. They run laughing with their arms in the air up and down the hallway like pingpong balls in a bingo basket. I give up. The funny thing is, though, Andy came home about 10 minutes after this picture was taken and was none the wiser. If he noticed le aroma du popcorn, he didn't mention it!

Oh, and for what it's worth, here's the view from our loo: Its not the Virgin Mary, but -

Maybe a Righteous Reindeer?

Friday, January 16, 2009


The first thing I did after rolling out of bed this morning was check the thermometer in the carport. It read 2. The second thing I did was grab an armload of wood. I smiled. It was 2. I like saying that. "What shall I wear today, dear?" "I think you better put on a jacket, it's 2 degrees outside." "What's the weather like up there?" "Oh, its 2."
Last year, when the wood stove was new and somewhat of a novelty, my ever lovin' husband would gallantly keep us well supplied with firewood in the house and dutifully stoke the coals each morning to ensure we girls had a roaring blaze by which to warm our sleepy limbs.
Not so much anymore.
Hmph. No. Instead, he spends several hours a month chainsawing felled trees, loading them in the truck, hauling them down the mountain, unloading them, splitting them on the log splitter, stacking them and engineering the design of the stacked wood so that it doesn't cascade on our heads when we pull from oldest to newest. Of all the nerve.
Which is why I was checking the thermometer - to see if I could balk at my chore, especially on this freezing morning - and to judge whether I would be able to garner any sympathy in a blog post. However, instead of raising an objection to the frigid concrete under my bare feet, I was a little giddy at the prospect of a high temperature of 12, a mere 10 degrees over the chilly 2 at 5:45 AM. Outside. INSIDE was toasty and quite comfortable.
Made me appreciate free firewood...the wood dear husband....and the pile of logs stacked neatly beside the hearth.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Something to look forward to

Hannah said today she was "house sick." I told her she meant that she had cabin fever. So I packed 'em both up and we haded over to Douthat State Park to enjoy the 29-degree cold and get out of the house for a bit.
Before we left I was perusing a day-old Virginian Review and there in the Letters to the Editor was the first glimpse of summer! A letter mentioning that Magic In The Mountains will be in Clifton Forge beginning June 19, 2009 - WOO-HOO! I promptly jotted it on the calendar - now, you go put it on yours.....
But then, when we got home, there was the Maple Festival brochure for March 14-15 and 21 and 22. MMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, maple doughnuts....maple syrrrrup.
That is the great thing about the Highlands. There is always something going on to bring the kids to. This year I think I'll have some sort of entry in Magic in the Mountains. Either that or I'll set up a craft table.
Remind me, OK?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

ick and crafts

The girls are sick. Again.
It started with Abba's launch of supper at BK before church on Sunday night. We were so careful not to stain their clothes with ketchup that....I won't finish that thought.
Then last night, in the middle of a blizzard from our Little House on the Prairie: The Long Winter reading, Hannah let loose in my bed. I closed my book as Daddy-o rushed to the rescue with a towel.
And today, I feel as though I am on the brink. Maybe the antibiotics for this sinus infection will stave off any nastiness, and maybe its the Breakfast of Champions (black coffee and a hard boiled egg) that is making me want to follow my daughters' leads, and maybe its just being cooped up in the house.

Enough pity.

Here's a project I've been working on: actually a late Christmas present for a neighbor. I don't know now, though - up close they look a little elementary - its been awhile since I've stamped and I just feel a little rusty. I used Diamond Glaze, Liquid Laminate or Mod Podge on the "water" in the vases. I added iridescent pigment to some of them and Tiny Glass Beads (those are the ones that are super-reflective in the photo below) to others. It gives them a nice 3-D effect. I wasn't sure about the black cardstock, but these are winter-made cards, so black seemed appropriate. I like the pink ribbon best - that was my original inspiration, believe it or not.

Anyways, I finally finished them last night except for the insides - I need to glue in piece of white cardstock for a writing area. Nothing fancy.

And, in case you didn't see them in person, here's the girls' Christmas Eve presents:

I am hoping to start a new tradition of new nightgowns as a Christmas Eve present. Abigail's is the one that I finished up that afternoon. Once I got the hang of it, I am able to make up one of these in about an hour and a half (if I am uninterrupted/undistracted). That's good news because this pattern is very flexible - it makes nice peasant tops for spring and summer.

That's all for now. I need to get laundry done (including my quilt - yuk!) and entertain the little ladies.

Monday, January 12, 2009

"HOW TO" & a grammar lesson

I love comments to my posts!!
You can comment directly to the blog, though, and not have to go back to my email by doing the following:
1. Under "Post Comment", type your comment.
2. From the drop-down menu that says, "comment as", choose "Name/URL" or "Anonymous"
3. If you selected "name" type your name and leave the URL space blank
4. Type in the code letters that pop up in the provided box
5. Press "submit comment"
6. You're done! Your comment will post below the blog entry.

Its just that there are so many funny and relevant comments coming to my email that I wish everyone could see!

And, as an aside....

"Giving up the ghost" is correct.
"Giving up the goat" is incorrect.
Unless you are referring to a transaction in animal husbandry.

"Don't let it get your goat" is correct.
"Don't let it get your groats" is incorrect.
Unless you are referring to a member of the Bovidae family about to consume your hot breakfast.


Here's a funny video that my pal Andrea forwarded to me - and it is

especially relevant to ME, since I can't find my "travelling" Bible for the life of me. It is in a book cover with handles, and the fabric has khaki-colored flowers on a blue background. Please let me know if you've seen it! I am afraid I've left it at the Lake or something, but it could be anywhere. I've searched all the cars - and I wonder if I've just left it somewhere. Either that or I've put it someplace "safe" so I wouldn't loose know how that goes.

An anecdote: I remember when, years ago, our Sunday School class was getting together to put up lights at RRR or something - anyways, we carpooled, and someone not in that class had left her Bible in the back seat of one of the cars. Well, the owner of the car (a person in leadership, no less), chuckled when they saw the other person's Bible in the back seat. They said, "Oh, I see that 'Carrie' (not her real name) left her Bible in my car after I gave her a ride home last week. I can see that SHE has not been in the Word for awhile!" Then he kind of laughed it off, I guess realizing how this comment had sounded.

But you know, I remember the name of the person whose Bible was in the back seat. I will ALWAYS remember her name - because she was being judged and criticized for not "being in the Word" or reading her Bible. Now, the person who said that had no way of knowing whether Carrie had a stack of Bibles around her house from which to choose to read daily or what. He should have known better, too, but certainly as a Christian this person should not have been so judgmental - and certainly should not have pointed it out to others. It is THIS kind of behavior that turns off others to Christianity - the fear of being judged or looked down on because they are not good enough - or do not follow "the rules" well enough or whatever. Bottom line is, though, that ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

That event - over a decade ago - taught me to one, keep good track of my Bible and not leave it at church or in others' cars (!), but mostly to try to not pass judgment on others. Of course, I still do, and I catch myself up short more often than not. I don't want to, though...and mostly because I don't know the whole story, and above all because I don't know anyone's heart - I only see the outward appearance. I know there are hundreds of ways I could be judged for my actions and my appearances (and you'd be right!). Unfortunately, being a fallen sinner, I end up often giving in to the temptation to set myself up above others through judgement. That is the fallen, sinful nature of the flesh.

My earnest prayer is that the Holy Spirit will help me to resist the temptation to judge anyone - for I am no better than anyone else, it is just that I have been saved from the curse of Hell and have been promised eternity in Heaven with Jesus Christ and other Believers who have asked Him into their hearts. It is so easy to speculate about others - we have a wonderful brain that can think and come up with all kind of creative ideas and thoughts - but as Christians we are commanded to keep our thoughts under control and submit them to the Lord, not be tempted to think poorly of others.

So, all of this to say, would you please call me if you find my Bible? I have some reading to do.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Why the Internet Works for Me

As someone confided in Andy in a discreet yet direct manner yesterday, I have been slacking off my blogging, as I haven't had a new post since December 18 - of lastyear! Whew! And here's two in one morning! That's what a sleepless night will getcha.

I've not abandoned the Net by any means. I've been following a couple sites for crafting ideas, mainly since most of my Christmas gifts were home-made, and I am gathering ideas for next year.

And by the way, I will NOT wait until December to get to work on Christmas. This year was NO FUN! I am going to have my lists ready by February 1 and I will be FINISHED by November. Thanksgiving at the latest. I just won't do what I did this year. On December 26 I was wrapping presents to take to Tidewater - and leaving that afternoon. Now, that is just crazy. I was so focused on getting them done that I lost two presents en route and forgot to give three others. No, no, no. But I digress.

The site on which I've been lurking is One Pretty Thing, and if you want to see what you are getting for your birthday, Valentine's Day, Christmas, etc., then pop over there and take a look. I am so hooked on this site! Its not just the site, you see. Follow a craft project link to the creator's site and then look at their other crafts and posts. Then take a look at the blogs and sites they follow, and soon three hours have passed and your husband is snoring (if he snores, of course mine is adamant he doesn't) (yeah, right) in the background as the clock ticks off into the wee hours.

But that is what I like about the Internet. You pick up a thread and follow it to where it links, choose another thread, follow that one awhile, go to the next and so on. PERRRRFECT for those of us with short attention spans. And those of us who like bright shiny pictures.

I'd like to do more sewing this year, and finish at least two quilts: a denim one and a scrappy patchwork quilt. I'm motivated by this - and the fact that I realized WalMart has a great serger by Brother for...wait a minute. It was on Rollback before Christmas for $204 and now its at $232. Oh, well, I guess that means I'll have to save up a little longer. But that is my goal, anyways. Feel free to donate to My Cause - just write "serger" in the memo line of your check :)

Book Review

2. forty. five. Was the last time I looked at the clock last night. My eyes are sandpaper and my head is lead. This happens every time I find a really good book - or good author - I just can't put it down and I avoid looking at the clock, knowing I'll be dragging when (if?) I get up to fix Andy his lunch at 5:45 in the morning. Last night was one of those nights.

The author keeping my attention, recommended by my friend Loretta out in California, is Linda Nichols. Clifton Forge Library and CP Jones in Covington each have a selection of her novels. Put that name on your list and check her out next time you go - DO it. At the Scent of Water was probably my favorite - but Finding Eden, set in Abingdon, Virginia and Thurmond, WV, was a close second (It even mentions Clifton Forge!). Nichols is a Christian, but her books are far from being sappy or preachy, and she does not shy away from controversial or distrubing topics, but then she is not voyeuristic, either. There are a few authors who try so hard to get the Message across that the story gets lost; in Nichols' work, it is a perfect blend. I was running out of Amish Fiction: Wanda Brunstetter, Beverly Lewis, and B.J. Hoff.

Actually I turned the light off at 1:20AM, but I think my brain was stuck in about third gear and I had trouble shifting down. By this time it was too late to take a Benadryl, which I sorely needed because of what I think is a sinus infection. I lay (lie?) in bed for about 15 minutes, staring at the too-light walls from moolight reflected off light cloud cover. The cat came in and jumped in the window, his body tense and his tail flicking. He did that thing that cats do - focus intently on something unseen, then shift his head and shoulders to get a better, different view. Now, in Chesapeake, that freaked me out because there was always the possibility that indeed there WAS an axe murderer lurking in the dahlias, but here its usually a possum, a deer or Andy's friend, "Mr. Skunk." By the time I retreived my glasses, I couldn't see any of the critters that the cat was stalking, even though I went to the kitchen window and checked under the bird feeder in the unlikely event there was a bear at the sunflower seeds. No such luck. So I trotted back to bed to not sleep some more - moved the cat and snuggled in to watch the shadows on the wall.

And here it is Friday with no definite plans for the weekend, except for Andy to work on the Subaru-oooo, which appears to have a blown headgasket. After my doctor's appointment this afternoon (where I hope I will be prescribed something to fight the goo), its off to WalMart to fill prescriptions - and oh, we're going to look at a desk over in Idlewide I saw on Craigslist.

Hannah just shouted to Abigail, "Get out of here, you're too stinky!" So I better go get fresh pants on that baby....