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I’ve given up trying to understand why. Truth is, I just don’t know.
One thing I do know is that I am thankful for each and every one of my followers. Folks like you. Blog friends who haven’t given up on me. Even though I’ve been noticeably absent from your blogs, too. If you follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram, you know I’m still alive. Still getting out and about in the world, more on four wheels than two.
I’m going to make a real concerted effort to be more present for all of you. Both writing more posts here and reading what you all have to say. You folks “get” parts of me that other friends and loved ones don’t understand.
So, thanks for sticking with me. You may never know just how grateful I am for each and every one of you.
I have a love/hate thing going on with Spring. I love that all of the trees and flowers are blooming, and that the grass seems to be waking from hibernation, but I hate that the weeds are growing, too. (Many weeds have been growing since Fall!)
The older and more out-of-shape I get, the less I enjoy gardening. It takes a toll on this aging body. Hubby feels the same way. He’s older than me, remember. Or, as he likes to say, I am younger than him, by slightly more than a decade.
Our yard is small, but it is full of flower beds. In 2013, after he and I spent an entire weekend weeding, schlepping around and applying 65 two-cubic-foot bags of mulch, and a whole week recovering from the resultant aches and pains, we told each other, “Never again.”
So, in Spring of 2014, it became my task to hire a landscaper. Long-story-short, they were terribly expensive, asking for much more than we were willing to spend. I decided it would be much more cost-effective if we, really I, bought mulch and found a local kid or two to come spread it around for us.
As I was leaving the garden center, having just paid for a mulch delivery, our favorite waiter was walking into the garden center, wearing that establishment’s uniform. He’s a very nice young man in his late 20s who I know has a couple of children and routinely works three to four jobs at a time.
I asked if he’d like to help with our yard. He agreed. He did such a fabulous job, he’s been doing it every year since.
That first year, I didn’t have high expectations. I just wanted him to spread the mulch. He did that, of course, but first he weeded and cleaned out all the old leaves and such. He filled about 15 large trash bags with debris! Then he spread the mulch.
He worked around his own schedule, doing it in a few shorter blocks of time. Between every shift, he cleaned, so the yard was spotless when he left. Of course, he cleaned when he had finished the job, too. The yard was spotless. He really does an amazing job.
I do not know this young man very well personally, but he always provides top-notch services. He’s a good guy, a very hard worker, and is also very conscientious and takes pride in his work. Plus, he loves doing this type of thing. To quote him, mulch smells “like freedom” to him (meaning he’s outdoors working rather than indoors).
If you live in or around the Warrenton area and have a project for which you could use some assistance, let me know and I’ll put you in touch. It will be up to you to meet and negotiate an agreement with this young man for whatever project you have in mind. He’s very good AND very reasonable.
As I was planning my latest road trip, I had a few simple goals in mind. One, capture pics of all nine LOVE signs. Mission accomplished.
Goal #2, see three roadside oddities I’d selected on RoadsideAmerica.com and one cool town hall. Check!
Goal #3, spend the night close enough to the beach that I could watch the sunrise. That’s why I drove so far/was in such a hurry on the first day. I really wanted to make it to the beach.
There were a couple of other general goals, too. Enjoy some alone time and see what I could see. When you take time to look, interestingness almost always presents itself.
Look closely at the above pic. See anything odd? I’d just happened to park near something unusual on that street.
What are the odds of my parking by a large metal giraffe — about 15′ / 5 meters tall — simply by chance. I laughed out loud when I saw it.
I stopped at the Halifax County Visitors’ Center as I was leaving South Boston. Mainly because those places usually have bathrooms. It was actually a very nice visitors’ center with all sorts of nice displays, brochures, etc., but it was late in the day and the lady needed to be somewhere so was anxious to leave. BUT, she did ask what brought me to the area. When I told her about the LOVEwork, she told me there was one in Boydton, which I’d be passing through.
I looked for it, I did. Especially since it’s NOT on the current list and may be added soon. But I couldn’t find the dang thing. 🙁
I didn’t see a whole lot of other interesting stuff in my push towards the coast, mainly because it got dark. I did, however, drive past Virginia’s largest lake, Buggs Island Lake, also known as the John H. Kerr Reservoir. I wasn’t expecting that.
Here’s some fun stuff I saw when I reached my destination for the night, Virginia Beach.
Those fun fish were right next to my hotel, which was oceanfront. Yay!!! Gotta love traveling off-season when you can snag an oceanfront room for under $60.
I’ve been to VA Beach before, but just to visit the beach (as in sunbathe and swim), I’d never really looked around. I had no idea there’s a public art program, and that there are fun displays like the school of fish (est. 1993) scattered around the city.
And a cluster of big-ass Hermit Crabs.
I love kitschy souvenir shops. Most of them were closed, unfortunately (it was around 9:00 when I reached VA Beach). I couldn’t resist snapping a shot of this colorful display as I made my way to eat dinner.
Speaking of colorful stuff… I was tired. I wanted something quick and easy for dinner, so was happy to see a pizza restaurant that was open AND served beer. By complete coincidence, it happened to house an “oddity” I’d seen mentioned on RoadsideAmerica.com, but had deemed not interesting enough to go out of my way for.
It’s listing on RoadsideAmerica.com is titled, “Hippy Bus in Pizzeria.” Had I read the listing instead of just scrolling past it, I’d have realized it’s creator was Mark Cline, a name many lovers of large fiberglass Americana will recognize. He created Foamhenge, which I still need to visit, and “has been building fiberglass monsters, dinosaurs, and freaks for the tourist attractions of America for decades.”
It was weirdly warm at the beach — mid-70s! (mid-20s in C) — so I was able to enjoy my modest but yummy dinner on the outside patio.
Then I went to visit one of my targeted attractions… King Neptune. 🙂
I’d selected my hotel specifically with this guy in mind.
As RoadsideAmerica.com describes him…
The statue of Neptune is 34 feet tall and weighs 12.5 tons. It was unveiled along the beach in 2005. The bronze scowling Neptune holds a trident in one hand and a turtle in the other. Sculptor Paul DiPasquale also created the Arthur Ashe statue in Richmond in 1992, which is generally loathed as a work of art, but he seems to have gotten Neptune right. – See more at: http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/23107.
I was really looking forward to seeing him at sunrise, but couldn’t resist one or two quick night shots.
It was a lovely, sunny Spring Sunday here in the Virginia Piedmont. By afternoon, temperatures were in the mid- to upper-50s, but it felt warmer in the sun. I had to do a bit of shopping and, since I knew I’d be heading southeast, I decided to stop and visit Walnut Hill Farm at Elm Springs.
The farm is owned and operated by Jeff and Ginny Adams. Jeff sells meat at the Warrenton Farmers’ Market, which is where we met. I see him sort of regularly during the market season, and we usually chat a bit. He speaks often of his wife, Ginny, who I’d never met until today.
Finally, during today’s visit, I had the pleasure of meeting Ginny. She’s just as nice as I always thought she’d be, and obviously enjoys her animals. She was kind enough to introduce me to a bunch of her animal friends today, much to my delight. 🙂
AND, get this, she re-introduced me to one very handsome guy.
Cute little Charlie isn’t so little any more. But he’s just as beautiful. (I sure wish I had hair that color!)
After visiting with Kit and Nellie for a bit, I moseyed to the next pasture to have a look over the fence at the sheep.
They were all looking right back at me.
Then, Ginny said we could go INTO the pasture. Squee!
As soon as we stepped through the gate, a funny thing happened. All of the sheep in the pasture came running over. Literally.
“Look at them all running over,” I said with a delighted giggle.
“That’s because they don’t know who you are,” Ginny explained, “or they think maybe you’re going to feed them.”
From there we headed over to the cow pasture. We spotted this courting couple along the way.
Y’all know there are different breeds of cattle, right? American Milking Devons are on the smallish side. The big, full-grown AMDs only weigh about 1,000 pounds each.
While Ginny and I stood quietly in the pasture chatting, the herd of American Milking Devon cattle watched us closely. I was struck by how much that bull’s head resembles a bison.
Cows really are curious critters. 🙂
Look at that sweet face on Chip!
Chip and Dale, the farm’s oxen, are of the Milking Shorthorn breed. Both weigh in excess of 2,000 pounds each.
They’re very gentle. Chip loves having his chin scratched.
I was able to scratch his chin, too. I just had to keep an eye on those horns. His head is almost as long as my torso, and if he swung his head around quickly, I could get speared. Not impaled, mind you, but those horns would hurt if they made contact with the wrong spot.
As we approached the pasture housing Chip and Dale, Ginny remarked that there’d been a pig escape. There were at least two very large sows running around. VERY large.
I’m a tall girl, and I’m pretty sure the backs of those pigs came up at least to my hip.
I may be a city girl, but I read a lot, and I know pigs can be quite mean, so we both kept wary eyes on them.
That enclosure also held more sheep. And there was a noisy flock of geese — it’s mating season — up behind the house.
Ginny and I chatted about farm life and critters the whole time we strolled. She explained how the sheep, once they start dropping lambs, adopt a “grass is always greener” mentality and tend to wander far and wide across the pasture in search of newly emerging grass shoots. Which is why most of that herd was on the far side of the pasture.
We eventually made our way back to the shop. In addition to attending various Farmers’ Markets throughout the area, the couple also maintains a farm store on their property, with freezers full of packaged meat.
Just as Ginny and I approached the shop, a couple of cars pulled in. These folks were regular customers, and were greeted warmly by name. There were several small children among the new arrivals, so Ginny went and got the newest bottle lamb.
This youngun had been discovered in the middle of the pasture less than a week prior, only partially cleaned off. They have no idea which sheep birthed the lamb. It’s possible that it was one of a set of twins. They’ll be bottle-feeding it for quite some time. It seems to be doing well, so far.
While the animals are cute, farm life is rife with harsh realities. Like this abandoned lamb, which, if it hadn’t been discovered when it was, could easily have died.
Ginny said she won’t name the lamb until it’s a least a week old. In the past, after she’d named several younger lambs only to have them die for one reason or another, she’d decided naming should wait.
It’s easy to romanticize farm life. Just look at all of those beautiful animals! But farm life is hard work. They have to feed and care for the animals and the 38-acre piece of land with its myriad fences, animal shelters, the pond, etc.
They rarely get days off. And they both work other jobs, too, to make ends meet.
If you’re a local and have never tried meat from Walnut Hill Farm at Elm Springs, you should. Jeff and/or one of his helpers will be at the Saturday market in Old Town Warrenton with massive coolers full of meat. The bulk chorizo is my favorite, but I also like their link sausages, too, which are available in pork and lamb varieties. I also like to experiment with new stuff on occasion. This time, I bought some lamb kabob meat, too, which I am quite anxious to try.
Address: 449 Kellogg Mill Road, Falmouth, VA 22406
Phone: (540) 752-2909
And if you are nowhere near Virginia, find another local farmer to support. Not only will you find an alternate source for good, fresh, healthier food, you may just make a new friend or two in the process.
It’s that time again… the very first day in a brand-new year.
One of the cool things about having a blog is that it makes it REALLY easy to look back on major, and not-so-major, events.
I had to laugh when I read my pal Fuzzy’s annual re-cap and saw that she said “…it often feels like I never go anywhere and I never do anything…” She does a lot of fun stuff. I found it funny because I feel that way often, too. And I also did a lot in 2014. I didn’t ride my motorcycle nearly as much as I’d hoped to, but I got around.
As much as I appreciate being able to work from home, I think it makes me feel like I never go anywhere. On a day-to-day basis, my scenery doesn’t change much. Not that I’m complaining. I just want y’all to understand where that “I never go anywhere” feeling comes from.
For me, 2014 was an interesting year. More ups than downs, fortunately, but some of the downs were pretty low. Fuzzy and I really are kindred spirits in many ways. She said something else that rang true for me, too… “Much of 2014 was spent learning lessons about dealing with people and dealing with myself.”
Some of those lessons were harder than others, but I learned. I know I am not perfect. I try to be a good person, I do. (Of course, “good” is relative.) I can’t make everyone happy. Honesty is not always the best policy. People are complex creatures. I just need to live my life the best way I know how, for better or worse.
Anyway… here’s my look-back at 2014.
There were a few things I said I’d be doing that actually happened.
1. Hubby, Mike, and I took his Mom out to Washington State to visit Amy and her family (February).
2. Eric, our youngest kid, and his wife moved to Spain. But not until the end of September.
3. Hubby and I enjoyed another visit to Europe with our friends (September).
There were some things I’d hoped to do, but didn’t. Like get out on my bike more. Perhaps 2015 will be my year.
And there was a LOT of stuff I didn’t anticipate or plan. I hope you enjoy the re-cap.
We suffered a broken pipe at the WV Place. It was an oogy mess. Really.
It could have been much worse. It was sheer luck that Hubby discovered the break when he did.
The place actually cleaned up much better than we’d expected. There was only one broken pipe and it was really easy for Hubby to fix. Also, the contractor we found to do the major, labor-intensive repairs, eventually did a great job. It just took him a while to get around to doing the work (weather was the biggest factor).
On the whole, February was a quiet month.
The biggest event was that trip to Washington State to visit Amy and her family. You can read about it here (Part 1) and here (Part 2).
Then there was the visit with my girlfriends, Carol and Tracey. We’ve known each other for close to 40 years. The older I get, the more I appreciate these gals.
Friends are the family you choose. Good ones are worth keeping. It takes effort, though. There have been ups and downs over the years, of course, as we all lead different lives and have grown into people with very different interests. But our hearts will always be connected. We live in separate states, have widely varied responsibilities, schedules, hobbies, etc., but we make sure we stay connected.
Speaking of connected, my friend Brad came for a visit at the end of March. We’ve been friends since high school. We are both horrible at keeping in touch, but that connection runs deep and will always be there. I hope we are able to get together again soon.
I had a very nice surprise in April when my employer invited me down to Texas for a sales meeting. I hadn’t been back to Texas since joining the company in January of 2012. I’d never had a chance to explore much, so I stayed a few extra days and moseyed around the state a bit. It was lots of fun. It helped chase away those winter blues, too.
Post and picture links are provided below, if you’re interested:
The biggest event in May was Hubby’s unveiling of Grandfather’s Clock. If you haven’t seen that post yet, you should take a look. It’s all about the clock that talented Hubby of mine built completely from scratch, using black walnut harvested by his grandfather. There are lots of pics, too.
Oh, and I shared a video in a separate post., which includes even more images. It’s Mike’s finest woodworking project to date. It’s also one of the reasons we didn’t do much on weekends… he spent MONTHS making that heirloom.
I finally got some motorcycles rides in, too.
The most memorable for me was my long-anticipated yet sorta impromptu meetup with my friend, Rachael (aka FullyGalore). I wrote all about that meeting here. I’ve been following her blog for quite a few years and had been wanting to meet her in person for a long time. We really are kindred spirits. But she lives on Long Island, which isn’t exactly close or easy to get to from Virginia.
I compiled a neat little video using some of the footage I captured while riding with Dottie. Watch it if you dare. It made me want to get out and RIDE. Like now. But with temps in the mid-30s and no heated gear, I decided to just finish working on this blog post.
Oh, and our eldest daughter Shannon got her motorcycle license!
We finished of the month in high style with a sorta last-minute trip to Texas. My company celebrated it’s 15th anniversary that month. Since we had a pretty good year, they decided to fly all of the remote employees and their spouses in for the party.
Hubby hadn’t been to Texas since before we were married. He’d spent a lot of time there early in his career since the company he was working for built the Marriott Rivercenter hotel.
I squeezed in a brief motorcycle ride AND our Canuck friend Alain stopped in for a visit. We met him back in 2010 when we did our first motorcycle tour in Europe. He was part of the group, and is one of the nicest and smiliest folks you’d ever want to meet. I hope we get to see Alain again soon.
I also enjoyed a morning ride with Dottie, which is when we discovered the Blue Ridge Country Store, which isn’t really a store, but the coolest yard decoration ever.
Then we went on a trip to Europe. It wasn’t quite two weeks long, but we packed a lot of stuff in. I still haven’t finished posting about the trip, but here’s what I have so far. The first six posts were either written while traveling or shortly after we got back to Virginia. I tried to at least keep y’all somewhat updated, but I didn’t have a ton of time what with traveling around, limited Wifi, and spending times with friends we rarely get to see.
We were a little scared about going, due to Meg’s health, which had been declining even more rapidly since her birthday in June. But she was still hanging in there when we got back.
Then, at the end of the month, Eric, our youngest, and his wife, Kelsey, moved to Spain.
On September 15, I learned that my moto-blogging buddy, Bob, had passed away. It was very sad, and hit me harder than expected, which is why I didn’t do a blog post about it until early November.
That pretty much covers September.
The month started off nicely on Mike’s birthday weekend with a visit from our friends, Kathy and Barry. They came down from Maryland for the day. Kathy and I enjoyed a shop hop/wine tasting event while Mike and Barry went for a motorcycle ride. Sorry, I don’t have any pics to share. Did I mention that my new camera had broken and was at the shop for repairs (under warranty, thankfully).
Then, on Sunday, Dottie and I did a much shorter trip into West Virginia.
Things started getting sorta hectic in November.
We lost Meg on November 13. She’d fought the good fight, and was with us much longer than either of us ever expected. When her health had finally deteriorated to the point that I knew she was in pretty much constant pain, I knew it was time.
It was the right thing to do, but it was very, very hard. Even though we’d known for so long that it was coming. We both miss our crazy old girl.
I did travel to Rehoboth, Delaware with another friend from childhood, but haven’t done a post yet.
Meg’s passing, Thanksgiving, and the scattering of Meg’s cremains, among other things, sorta set me reeling.
So the month of November was a bit of a blur.
December started off with a bang, too.
First, we went to San Diego December 5 through 9 to visit with Shannon for her birthday.
Amy flew down from Washington to join us, so it was a mini-reunion with 66.6% of our offspring.
It was a lovely visit. I haven’t done a post about that trip yet — I was too busy getting ready for Christmas — but captured some cool pics I’d like to share. I’ll do a post one day.
December 15 was a busy day…
Eric and Kelsey came back from Spain. They hope to return in the Spring. I haven’t seen much of them — they were sick, too — but am glad having them back on the same continent.
It was the day of my annual Chickmas gathering with Carol and Tracey. This year it was at Carol’s house in Southern Maryland.
AND it was the day everything we were shipping needed to be boxed, wrapped, and delivered to the post office or UPS store.
On December 17, Shannon flew here from San Diego to join us for Christmas. She was here through December 27.
My Dad and mother-in-law were here for Christmas, too (Dec 23-27). Hubby and I both fell ill with bad colds mid-way through Christmas Day.
The holiday was hectic, but good. We had a very low-key New Years’ Eve — we both needed that! –and I’ve spent quite a few hours today compiling this annual re-cap.
It’s for me, just as much as it is for you. I find l looking back at previous year in review posts is kind of interesting, too.
Several weeks ago, my friend, Dottie, and I rode our bikes out to Front Royal, Virginia for breakfast. (Here lately, I’ve decided if I don’t squeeze short rides in when I can, my poor bike will never get any exercise.)
We met at the Clevenger’s Corner Shell gas station about 10 minutes west of town. From there, Dottie led the way to the diner.
I generally tend to avoid Front Royal as traffic can get rather congested, but the diner is off of US-522, south and east of downtown.
The food was good. We did NOT eat all of it, in case you were wondering.
As we ate, I told Dottie I’d spotted a cute little store on the way to the restaurant that I wanted to visit on our way home. She was game, so we stopped.
It was hard to tell whether or not it was open, so we went ahead and parked. Judging by the hours listed on the door, I still don’t know.
I’ve thought about this place a lot since then. I still don’t know if it’s a hobby store (as in we sell stuff and are open when we feel like being open) or just REALLY cool yard art.
I mean, how fun would it be to have a little model store like this solely as decoration?
I think I’ll submit it to the RoadsideAmerica.com folks so they can check it out. I think it deserves a listing, don’t you?
They even have a Oreo Pig for photo ops. Although, really, the whole thing is sort of a photo op.
Dottie couldn’t resist posing with the pig. I’m teaching her to appreciate roadside weirdness.
Isn’t it just the cutest little place?
We didn’t have long to linger. Plus, it was getting hot. So off we went.
I couldn’t resist stopping for that flower shot.
So what do you think? Is it an operational store or yard art? Either way, I’m glad we happened upon the place.