This morning I heard cicadas up in the trees along farm road 106. They weren’t the deafening rrrrr-reeeer-rrrrr-reeeere of late afternoon July and August ones. This was more of a chhh-chhh-chhhh but as soon as I heard it, my brain said “cicada “. It wasn’t the pulses of 3 or 4 like a katydid, but smooth. I’ll see if I hear them again tomorrow. I’m not looking forward to the 2024 double brood of cicadas.
I’m about halfway through _Black Candle Women_. This afternoon I listened to the playlist Diane Marie Brown put on Spotify to accompany the book. It was fun to listen to while puttering around the basement. I would say I was cleaning and organizing, but I kept getting distracted by things I’d forgotten about.
Once the spring rain stopped, it stopped. We’re watering regularly. And pulling weeds. Mulching as much as we can since we’re going to be gone for 10 days. Headed for Vegas, Baby! We’re having a 4 generation family reunion. there will be 15 of us.
I picked a small bowl of strawberries tonight. We’ve had a handful of berries a few nights, which I’ve sliced and served over yogurt as dessert.
Peas are still blooming and pods are forming. The potatoes and onions look good. Green beans and tomatoes look good. Garden is 90% planted although not everything is up. It hasn’t rained in over a week so we are already having to water.
Dennis has been to two Master Gardening classes and is learning a lot; from the instructor as well as classmates. He’s bringing home photos from the botanical gardens that he wants to try here. Large groupings of hostas under trees. I’m all in favor of that. Less to mow.
Mosquitoes are bad. It makes working in the yard after supper unpleasant. Dennis found poison ivy growing on a pile of fence posts. Tomorrow I’ll put on disposable rubber gloves and pull it up, double bag it in plastic bags and put it in trash. Then shower with Dawn detergent. Ticks are also around. Only one has embedded so far but I’ve removed several walking on me. Gross little boogers!
We’ve had 2 dry days. No rain in forecast until Wednesday, and that’s only 30%. It’s also just been in the 70’s, so working outside is pleasant. Dennis is still planting. I’m weeding and mulching.
I had a traumatic experience when a crown came off my back left upper molar. Fortunately my dentist was able to clean up the tooth stub and cement the crown back on. He was optimistic that it would stay on this time.
Friday evening Brenda and I went to a “Colossal Yard Sale” in Springfield. There were so many clothes I had no idea how to sort through them. I casually strolled through the kitchen area and saw a plum colored Fiesta serving bowl for $10. While debating on whether I should get it or not, the previous owner told me the $10 included the plum plates, bowls and a small serving platter as well was the serving bowl. SOLD!!! Plum is a new color for me, but it looks good with the other colors I have. I found a few other items, but the dishes were the big thing.
The second chicken palace is almost complete. I decided to order baby chicks. July 11 we will pick up 15 Buff Orpington chicks at Cackle Hatchery. I’d hoped for a June pickup date but July 11 was the soonest available.
I’m about 1/2 through _Cold Comfort Farm_. It was written in the 1930’s by Stella Gibbons. Her writing is amusing with LOL moments. Think of a British Dorothy Parker. A movie was made in the 90’s and I can’t wait to watch it after I finish the book.
Nefarious weather continues. That’s what our weather person is calling our current weather pattern. Late afternoon and into the evening we have thunderstorms and lightning, strong winds and sometimes hail. We’ve had some big branches break but no damage. 1.5” seems to be the average daily rainfall. I’m not sure if we’re out of our drought designation yet, but the ground is saturated.
Friday evening Matt and family came over for our first cookout. My parents came over too. We set everything up in the garage, but the rain held off until after dark. For Mother’s Day, Matt’s family gave me a set of Morning Mantra cards to start each day with an affirmation. I had just commented on how the cloudy skies & storms made it hard to stay focused and get things done. I drew a card and it said: Even storms have a calm center. Today, if storms arise, I will be the eye. We were all impressed by the cards message.
Larry brought us over some crappie he caught. It was enough to fry up and have my parents over. There’s nothing like fresh fried fish.
Dennis is finally in a Master Gardener’s class. He’s been wanting to do this for years but the timing never worked out.
We had some hail yesterday afternoon. Quite exciting. Most was pea size but some nickel size. It only lasted a minute or so. The hail then turned into rain and lasted about 1.5 hours. There was some distant thunder and lightning but nothing cause concern.
About 8 pm we had a Weather Alert on all the local stations. We had more rain, lightning and thunder along with winds. Wind that whipped around the house and rattled the storm door. A few more thunderstorms rolled through but without the wind. This morning we saw a huge branch had broken off the maple tree out back. We got another inch of rain, so we’re waiting a few days before dragging the branch away. It will require the tractor and we don’t want to leave more ruts in the grass
I saw a black snake as I was walking out to get the paltry few eggs the chickens are laying. I didn’t see any suspicious lumps along his 3 ft body so I let him keep going towards the garden. If he’d been heading towards the killdeer nest I would have redirected him.
This spring my allergies are the worst I remember. I’m taking Xyzal and it is helping. Unfortunately it is also making me drowsy. I dug out my cloth masks and wear one every time I go outside. Then I shower and wash my hair when I come inside for the final time. Air conditioner is on, so that also helps. There are thunderstorms all around us, so a nice rain might rinse away some of the pollen.
This afternoon I masked up and mowed all the yards. I wore the best fitting mask I made back in 2020; the one with 4 layers of chiffon to have a bit of electrostatic charge to trap viruses or pollen. It worked.
I’ve been weeding flower beds and figuring out where to plant the pink yarrow, tarragon and pentstemon midnight masquerade plants Linda gave me from her flower garden. There’s not just the space issue, but also the amount of sunlight/shade. Expanding existing flower spaces I’d a challenge.
In spite of it being in the 80’s, we had split pea soup for supper. I planned to make biscuits and serve with apple butter, but ran out of energy. Fortunately we had a nice loaf of sourdough bread to use instead.
We left Gordonsville about 7 AM Monday morning. We drove through snow in the upper elevations of West Virginia, on our way to the Fiesta Dish factory in Newell WV. We did a tour of the factory Tuesday morning. It wasn’t what I expected. No photos allowed. Parts are very automated, the processing of the clay to remove all air bubbles and the different sizes of “logs” of clay that are cut and pressed into specific dish shapes. Some dishes, such as the pitchers and all handles, are made with molds. We watched one person removing handles from the molds. It was an intricate process of tapping and shaking before separating the two halves. Then the handles are gently removed and placed on the assembly line. Those handles go to a woman who has an exacto knife and cuts off the tiny excess from the seams of the mold, then smooths the handle with a damp sponge. The handles then get put on the cups by another person. A very slow assembly process, when compared to a machine operated assembly line, but produces an excellent cup.
After the tour, we did a bit of shopping in the “seconds” area of the factory. Dennis finally got the red water pitcher he’s always dreamed of.
We got home from our trip yesterday. Today has been a quiet day of laundry and a trip to Aldi. Nachos and a margarita on the deck are in the near future. And this is a photo of the cutest baby burrito ever!
Yesterday was a perfect day for strolling the streets of Culpeper. We browsed all the unique stores. I indulged myself with the purchase of rosemary infused olive oil. We had hotdogs from a street vendor. It wasn’t as good as some I’ve had in Chicago, but it was above average.
We returned to Gordonsville and did a bit more shopping in the boutiques on Main Street. I bought a canvas print of three hens, which will hand in the kitchen when I get home. We had fried chicken at The Ice House again. I will have to research this recipe and try to replicate it.
It’s raining today. We ate breakfast at the Inwood restaurant. It’s where the locals go for a home cooked meal. Biscuits with apple butter were served there, as well as with the fried chicken at The Ice House. It’s a taste combination I’m going to remember. I also see more biscuit baking in my future.
Tuesday was spent at Mt. Vernon. Most of the rooms had replicas of furniture and paintings, with the originals in the museum, with climate control. They were in the process of putting in AC/heating. The house was built with wood, but plastered to look like stone. My favorite part of the house was the back porch, with a fantastic view of the Potomac River.
Wednesday we toured Monticello. The extremely narrow stairways were the most memorable part of the house. Jefferson obviously never had to carry trays or manage hoops and skirts going up and down them. He considered a grand central staircase a waste of space. His house and estate were more impressive than Madison or Monroe’s, but I’m not sure I’d have wanted to live there.
Montpellier was our destination on Thursday. The DuPonts owned the house for 8 decades and transferred it to a historic trust in the 1980’s. The house has been restored and has some of the original furnishings and books. The most impressive room is the study/library upstairs where Madison researched and help frame the constitution.
The irony that these three men created the documents for individual freedom of men while owning slaves is addressed on the tours of their homes. I also shake my head at Dolly Madison who was raised as a Quaker, yet married a slave owner and continued to own slaves until her death.
We are feeding our stomachs as well as our brains. We enjoyed excellent ribs at Exchange BBQ. I had the best fried chicken at The Ice House. Gordonsville is famous for its fried chicken. After the Civil War, black women started taking fried chicken to the trains stopping in Gordonsville for water and fuel. This went on until the depression. The competition for best fried chicken continued. Now there’s Fried Chicken Festival in October. no dogs allowed.
We embarked on the Virginia trip we had to postpone last year, due to Dennis’s bypass surgery. It’s always easier to reschedule than get your money back.
My parents opted out of the trip, so we are joined by friends George and Linda. We traveled several scenic routes instead of interstate highways. It takes a bit longer but is much more relaxing. We spent the first night at Portsmouth Ohio. The town painted murals along the retaining walls along the Ohio River. They depicted the town’s history as well as celebrated some famous people. They also had a mural of their 2008 Little League champions. We ate at their Portsmouth Brewery. I had their Bernie G beer which was the best German style lager I’ve had in a while.
We arrived in Gordonsville about 4:15 yesterday. The clerk looked confused when I gave the name for our reservation and asked if we’d already checked in. Someone with a similar name had been checked in as us and had the keys. Fortunately they were still in the check in area and we got out Grand Cabin with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. This is only an issue because it’s an older resort and most 2 bedroom cabins only have 1 bathroom. The cabin is great. It’s off the beaten path but close to many historic sites.
Today we are touring Mt. Vernon. It’s the furthest point we plan to visit, at 2 hours drive. Tomorrow is Monticello, which about 30 minutes away. Lots of presidents in this area.