Catch-up and Other Stuff


On April 24, I started this post, but never finished. The purpose was mainly to catch up and let y’all know I’d be leaving for my solo adventure on Saturday. As in LAST Saturday, April 29. But then I had the busiest work week ever, leading up to the trip, and never got around to finishing the post. So here it is…

Holy cow. How did it get to be so close to the end of April already?!? So much for me trying to get all of the 2016 vacation catalogued before my 2017 adventure begins.

It has almost been a month since my last post. On one hand, it feels uneventful. On the other hand, a lot has gone on.

Let’s see, there was the visit to my friend Tracey’s farm, which provided a chance for three friends to catch-up with each other AND an opportunity to meet, feed, and love-on four three-week-old baby goats.

That was followed by another brief trip to Charlottesville, Virginia, . where my employer’s headquarters is located. I got to enjoy some face-to-face time with existing co-workers and meet a few new ones.

There were a few weekends of yard work, each followed by five to six days of very sore and achy muscles.

We even managed to squeeze-in a motorcycle ride on Easter Sunday!

When I was blogging regularly, I could look back at a variety of posts as a reminder of what happened, when. I’ve lost that. Now, I have to rely on things like Instagram and Facebook. Of the two, I prefer Instagram. Its only downfall being that images are not dated. I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. I love being able to keep up with friends and loved ones. I hate that there’s so much negativity. I’m torn between wanting to pull the plug on my Facebook account and maybe whittling down my list of “friends” to people I care about, with whom I share at least some sort of valid connection. There are many folks on that list who I rarely, if ever interact with. I suspect many of them probably have just unfollowed me (elected NOT to see any of my posts, often the last step before actually removing oneself from a friend list and/or severing the cord of friendship).

In other news, I learned a fun new word — pareidolia — after receiving an email from Ry (from Two Wheels to There) containing a link to a web page with a funny collection of images. In that case, the word refers to seeing faces in everyday objects, but it’s apparently an all-encompassing term to describe a “psychological phenomenon” wherein one perceives familiar patterns, like faces, where none exists. The image shared below is one of my favorites among a nice collection that made me laugh out loud on more than a few occasions.


There are lots of great pics on that page. You should check it out.

Finally, I am excited to say that I’ll be leaving on Saturday for my Big 50 Adventure. I figured I deserved to celebrate making it to my fiftieth birthday, and a solo adventure seemed like a great idea.

I’ve told y’all before that Hubby and I enjoy riding together, but we have different riding styles. He likes to cover long distances in short periods of time and I like to meander, stop often, and look at stuff. Oh, and take pictures, too.

Periodic solo trips are good for the soul. I’m not planning ahead either. All I know is that my first stop will be Monterey, Virginia (there’s a new LOVEwork there). I’ll plan the route as I go.

For those who are interested, there’ll be a Spotwalla Tracker Map. That’s how Hubby can keep an eye on me.

The Rosiest Gal I Know

A Labeled Specimen

I have met some really cool people since moving to Virginia in 2011. It’s hard to believe it has already been five years! Well, not officially five until September 30/October 1, but that’s close enough. Sometimes it still feels so new…

But, back to me having met COOL people. One of the interesting localish ladies I’ve befriended is Connie Stevens Hilker. Some of you may remember her from this 2014 post of mine. According to the bio on Connie’s blog…

…I started Hartwood Roses, an educational rose garden in Virginia that specializes in rare and unusual antique roses. I know a lot about roses, old houses, carpentry and remodeling, and am an expert day dreamer. You will often find me working in the garden, planning a home project, building something, or hanging out in a cemetery …all of this has come in handy as my husband and I restore our historic home (built in 1848) renovate the outbuildings, and design the gardens.

She loves animals, too. She’s a supporter of dog rescue. She paints furniture. She’s just a really fun gal. And she’s married to a guy named, Steve, an artist who also seems like a cool chap. Here’s a recent pic of the two of them from Connie’s blog…

Steve and Connie
Steve and Connie

Aren’t they a cute couple? They’re grandparents, too.

Now for the point of this post… Connie and Steve hosted an open house/walking garden tour this past May. It’s an annual thing, I think. After seeing all of their preparations online, I thought it would be fun to go.

Illustrated Map of the Property

There was a map and everything. If you click on any of the images in this post, a larger version will open so you can see details.

Hartwood Manor
Hartwood Manor – photo courtesy of Connie


There were LOTS of different rose varieties.

I hadn’t told Connie I was coming. She was a little surprised to see me, but I think Steve was more surprised to see this granny pull into his yard on a motorcycle. I hadn’t met Steve before that day. Of course, I felt like I knew him to some degree through Connie and her social media posts.

That’s Connie on the left chatting-up some other visitors.

It’s a big yard with a lot of different gardens and planting areas.

Front Hybrid Tea Rose beds, laid out English-garden-style.


Rear outbuildings; L-R, Carriage House Garage, The Shack, and the Greenhouse.


5_Miniature Garden_IMG_0197
There’s the large Miniature Garden behind the outbuildings.


The Barn and Cottage toward the rear of the property.


6_The Barn_IMG_0220
English Rose garden near The Barn


Rose Tree (a climbing rose went crazy, resulting in this happy accident)

That’s an overview of the property. Isn’t it delightful?

Now for a bunch of pictures of their gorgeous roses.

One of my favorite pics from the day.




This flower is a unique shade of dusty lavender; the pic doesn’t do it justice.




Tea Rose




This is a George Washington cabbage rose that dates back to 1860!


Tea Rose


My Favorite Flower




Connie  did a post back in June — she’s FAR more timely than me — with pics where she labeled a lot of the roses.

If you’d like to read more about their old house, check out the “home” section of Connie’s blog. WARNING: you may fall in love with these peeps if you read all about how they restored that beautiful old barn.

Impressive, right?

Do You See It?

I can’t help it. I see faces in the oddest places. And once I see one, I can never unsee it. Know what I mean?

Do you see the face?
Do you see the face?

She kind of reminds me of the shrunken head character in the movie Beetlejuice.

In other news… I am honored to be hosting my friend ScooterBob for the next few weeks.

I met a couple more moto-bloggers today, and also surprised them with a very special guest. You can read about it HERE if you like.

Not-so-traditional Thanksgiving

K and Belle (L-R)
The Girls (L-R), K and Belle

I hope you folks in the US enjoyed your Thanksgiving. Ours was interesting.

As I mentioned the other day, we didn’t have any meal plans for turkey day. A couple of weeks ago, when I was cataloging VA LOVEworks I still needed to capture, I mentioned planning a trip in the car, since Winter is approaching. Hubby said he’d go along, so I suggested doing it on Thanksgiving.

Hubby started a diet recently, and I knew we wouldn’t be preparing a traditional meal for the two of us. So I figured a road trip would be better than sitting around the house.

Not only did Hubby go along, we took the furkids, too. That’s something we rarely do. In fact, we’ve never spent the night in a hotel with these two. K is a good car rider. Belle doesn’t like car rides. Neither of them gets carsick, thank goodness, but Belle does a lot of panting unless we’re on an interstate or other smooth, fast-moving road. I was a bit worried that they’d be a real nuisance, but they actually did good on the ride.

Overview Map
Overview Map

I’d planned on capturing seven of the large LOVEworks and one smaller one, which I knew to be indoors. I also included two roadside oddities, which I knew wouldn’t be enjoyed by all participants. But, since both were in areas we’d be passing through anyway, I included them.

Traveling in a clockwise direction, our first stop was in Lynchburg. Wait, I mean our first planned stop was in Lynchburg, we first had to stop at Wal-Mart to buy a dog leash. We’d forgotten to grab the leashes before leaving home and could only find one in the car.

My Traveling Companions at the Lynchburg LOVEwork

Mike, being a good sport, tried to get both of the girls to look at me for a pic. I took about ten shots before giving up.

Also in Lynchburg, within sight of the LOVEwork, were “the red high-heeled shoes of a giantess,” as described on

Giant Red Shoes along the Lynchburg Waterfront

Not knowing when, if ever, I’d get back to Lynchburg, I wanted to see the shoes. There were other oddities, like an enema collection, large metal water pitcher, and Easter Island head, but I didn’t want to push it.

Crazy Clouds

From there, we headed south and west toward Lambsburg. The LOVEwork is actually located at the Virginia Welcome Center along the northbound side of I-77, so we dipped down into North Carolina then headed north on the interstate.

The weather was warm — mid-60s F / about 18 C — dry, and partly cloudy, which made for some interesting skies.

Lambsburg LOVEwork
Lambsburg LOVEwork

That’s my favorite LOVE image from the trip. The light was perfect and there was a break in the clouds.

From there, we headed west toward Abingdon, where we’d reserved a hotel room for the night. A good bit of the Lambsburg-to-Abingdon leg was along The Crooked Road Trail (a portion of US-58), which goes past Grayson Highlands State Park, a place I’d been wanting to visit. I’d read there was a pretty good view from the park. As it turns out, the Internet was right.

View from Grayson Highlands State Park
View from Grayson Highlands State Park

I’d hoped to see downtown Abingdon’s Main Street at night, but Hubby was tired after those 380 miles in the car. The girls needed some people time, too. So, we got a mediocre-to-crappy meal at Cracker Barrel, which was right next to the hotel, then hunkered down for the night. (By sheer coincidence, Abingdon was almost exactly the halfway point of our journey.)

After a yummy breakfast, we were off.

Abingdon LOVEwork
Abingdon LOVEwork

I’d stopped in Abingdon in July, but the sculpture had been damaged during a storm and removed for repair, so I missed it. I’m glad I got the chance to go back. Not capturing the Abingdon piece wouldn’t have been a huge deal, but it’s a pretty town in a very nice area.

We also stopped at Holston Mountain Artisans, a craft co-op which has an indoor LOVEwork I’d hoped to see. They have a barn quilt on the outside of their building, so I actually got a chance to see a full-size barn quilt up close for the first time. (The standard side on a big barn is 8′ by 8′ (about 2.5 x 2.5 meters) square.

Holston Mountain Artisans' Barn Quilt
Holston Mountain Artisans’ Barn Quilt

Hubby actually discovered a second, smaller barn quilt behind the building, which I’ll share later. Sadly, the shop didn’t open for another hour or so and we had a lot of ground to cover, so off we went.

Dricing northeast toward Tazewell
Driving northeast toward Tazewell

I forgot to mention earlier that it was a very pretty day for a drive.

The next planned stop was Tazewell, where we’d capture the piece I was most excited about seeing.

Seen along the drive to Tazewell.
Seen along the drive to Tazewell.

I couldn’t resist stopping to see the barn quilts on this not-yet-open arts center. Speaking of barn quilts… wanna know why I was so excited about seeing the Tazewell piece, which was also added very recently?

It is a barn quilt LOVEwork! I’m not doing a barn quilt scavenger hunt, I just really enjoy seeing them.

Tazewell LOVEwork

That piece is in a really, really cool location, too, which I’ll tell you about in a separate post.

Blacksburg LOVEwork
Blacksburg LOVEwork

Not all LOVEworks have to be standalone art works. The Blacksburg piece is a very nicely done mural.

We also revisited neighboring Christiansburg to capture a pic of the piece we’d ridden past in July because it was rush hour and too dang hot to stop.

Again, not seeing it wouldn’t have been a big deal. There are no hard and fast rules to this self-imposed scavenger hunt, but since we were in the area, we stopped.

Christiansburg LOVEwork
Christiansburg LOVEwork

We were supposed to see a seventh LOVEwork. Unfortunately, I’d failed to notice that the LOVEwork at the Silver Hearth Lodge, which was one of the more-recent additions to the growing list of sites, is on private property and you’re supposed to make a appointment to see the thing. We took our chances and drove up to the lodge anyway, but didn’t see the LOVEwork.

I don’t think pieces should be included  on the official/master list of LOVEworks unless they are publicly accessible around the clock. I can’t be the only person to have driven to see a specific piece only to be thwarted because a piece was behind closed gates and/or doors.

The next-to-last planned stop for the day was a must-see for me. I missed it the first time I visited Roanoke.

I had planned the route, but Hubby was in charge of entering it into the GPS. His label for the next stop should tell you how unexcited he was about that one.

Just another stupid roadside oddity…

was excited, but the girls were ambivalent.

My first Paul Bunyan Muffler Man
My first Paul Bunyan Muffler Man

I should have made the girls get out of the car, but sunset was fast approaching and I wanted Hubby to see downtown Roanoke. As it turns out, he wasn’t impressed.

Looking west from Roanoke, just before sunset.
Looking west from Roanoke, just before sunset.

That was the end of day two. Not counting the uneventful drive home from Roanoke. I think it was just before 8:00 p.m. when we got back to Warrenton. The girls were especially excited to be back home. We were, too.

Now, if I could just muster up an iota of Christmas spirit, I might get something done today.

In search of some Christmas spirit.


Surprise Delivery & Thanks

Is there anything as fun as getting an unexpected package in the mail? It’s extra cool when there’s something uniquely “you” inside.

Last Friday, I received that kind of package. It totally made my day. And I still smile when I think about the Staples (office supply store) box that so completely masked what was inside.

What was it? Shoes! Not just any shoes…

Frog Shoes
Frog Shoes

Genuine leather frog shoes! How cool is that?

Frog Shoes
Frog Shoes

They’re very me, right?

A Real Fashion Statement

Unfortunately, they’re a bit small for my feet. I might be able to find a way to stretch them, we’ll have to see.

Aren’t they hysterical?

They’re actually from a dear lady who worked with Mike (aka Hubby) for many years. I knew there just had to be a story behind those shoes, and I was right. Here’s what she said when I asked…

My dear sister is always going outside the box when searching for presents. This one hit the jackpot, but I could not bring myself to venture out! You kept popping into my head, with your love of frogs. Enjoy them, laugh at them, or start a new story. They really are out there!

I was so touched that she thought of me. Thanks, Bridget! You’re awesome!

You know who else is awesome? You! My loyal followers.

It’s Thanksgiving Eve as I write this. Thanksgiving isn’t just about eating lots of food, it’s about being thankful, too. So I want to let you all know that I’m thankful for each and every one of you. Thanks for showing an interest in the pictures and stories I share. It means a lot to me. Really.

I hope you all have a fabulous Thanksgiving. And for those of you outside the US, I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Thanks again!


xmas-turkeyHave you ever been chewing on a kernel of an idea for a post, which needed just the right image then, while searching for said image, gotten completely sidetracked by the search results?

That’s what happened to me this morning. I was all set to tell you about this different sort of plan I have for our Thanksgiving, the US holiday happening this Thursday. It’s a rare four-day weekend for us, so I figured we should make it interesting.

Our parents have other plans. Two of our three kids are on the West Coast. Kid number three works in a restaurant, so I assumed he’d be working, but he’s actually going to spend the day with his wife’s family. We could invite friends over, or go out and share a meal, but most of our friends have families of their own or, I assume, plans with others.

So I decided we should do something we’d never done before. Which I was going to tell you about in that post. So I went to Google Images and searched for something like “turkey car thanksgiving” and got completely sidetracked.

I must say, there’s a lot of weird stuff on the Internet, in case you didn’t know that already. It can be quite entertaining, nostalgic, appalling, perplexing, and more.

Pilgrim in Corn Car with His Turkey
Pilgrim in Corn Car with His Turkey

The images that I enjoyed most were the vintage postcards. I mean, I like postcards in general, but vintage postcards can be rather unique. They were so entertaining, I figured sharing some of the gems I discovered would entertain you all more than some boring “guess what we’re going to do on Thanksgiving” sort of story.

NOTE: None of these images are mine. I searched the Internet, saved them, and re-posted them here. I usually check image licenses, you know, to see if it’s okay to share them, but I didn’t this time. So share at your own risk. And, if you don’t hear from me for a while, I may be in a jail with no Wifi.

Thanksgiving in Britain?

There’s my turkey in a car. But it’s a British car. I think. Did cars in the US ever have steering wheels on the left? Brits only recently started acknowledging Thanksgiving, supposedly because so many Americans are now in the UK, not because the Brits themselves find the need to celebrate.

Generic Thanksgiving Greeting

Honestly, I never knew Thanksgiving was an occasion to send postcards. Or greeting cards, even, which I guess these could also be.

Racing to Dinner?

Maybe there was once a tradition to race cars on Thanksgiving? Before the whole American football and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade thing began.

British Corn Car?

Is there some tradition I don’t know about with corn cars and orange-slice wheels? And why is this image also British? I suppose the steering wheel could be in the middle, but Tom is clearly driving. How can I be so sure? This is a vintage card, remember. They’d never let a female turkey actually drive the corn car back then.

God Bless America

I wonder what message that card is supposed to be sending? Maybe it was created during a time of war and folks were supposed to send this image of a pretty lady, clearly American, accompanied by a turkey couple to a soldier fighting abroad. To remind them of home.

What’s more joyful than a kid driving a turkey and load of produce around?

Kids in vintage images like these creep me out. There’s almost always something wrong or at least a bit off about their faces. That face isn’t horrible, though.


Here’s a pretty gal who dressed her young turkey friend up all nice and pretty, with a lovely pink ribbon to pull the pumpkin wagon. Maybe in a parade? But, behind her friend’s back, the gal is prepared to stab and eat said clueless friend. What kind of message is that?

Ummm… I’m at a complete loss.

Put all care away? Looks to me like this is more about hiding your true self. You know, so your family thinks you are well and normal.

Or maybe the artist’s kid dressed as a turkey for Halloween. The artist wanted to share the drawing with friends and family, procrastinated, so made it a Thanksgiving card to mask his tardiness.

I bet this was very risque, dark humor for its time.

It probably wasn’t polite to even refer to the turkey actually getting having to get murdered so people can enjoy the traditional meal.

I’m guessing this next one is another war-time greeting.

We bow to thee, oh Turkey God.

How odd.

Speaking of odd…

Because it’s tradition to dress kids up like jesters (or small clowns?), sit them on a wheeled pumpkin, and have Tom turkey take the kid for a ride. The flag was added just to make sure folks knew this was an American card. You know, because people is so many other countries would do this sort of thing, too.

Fun with Turkey

That’s a really small image, but I HAD to share it anyway. Maybe it was once part of the holiday tradition for kids to befriend and cavort with Tom Turkey before he was beheaded, plucked, stuffed, and cooked? Rural kids, of course. Stuff like that would never fly in a city.

Maybe that’s why there’s an annual Presidential turkey pardon? As the American population became more and more concentrated in cities, the pre-Thanksgiving turkey-trot deception became less and less popular…
Coming Out?

Is that supposed to convey having fun on Thanksgiving? Or perhaps indicate that the sender had enjoyed a well-dressed turkey?

This next one really made me chuckle. The turkey looks well and alive, but the child looks like she’s been stuffed, dressed, then laid-out on a decorative platter.

Who ate who?

The last one is my favorite.

Telling It Like It Is

No subterfuge there. No making the turkeys look like anything but the murdered, dead turkeys that they are. Surrounded by some vegetables, a big bundle of Popsicle sticks, wine, and a big fish. On a desk by the rocky coast, just like the Pilgrims would have done. How festive.

I hope your Thanksgiving is as interesting, straightforward, adventurous, different, fun, and love-filled as I hope mine will be. Even if you can’t be with family or friends, I hope you are able to find a way to surround yourself with love, good times, and good cheer on this thankful day.