November 30, 2006

A pain of a puzzle

jigsaw puzzleWhen Allison and Dave were here a week ago, we started a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle. I've been trying to finish it, but it's one hard puzzle.

There are lots of solid black pieces and a ton of pieces showing red roof tiles. I hate to give up now that's it's almost done.

The picture is of Bruges, Belgium. We were there in 2000.

Decal for the birds

leaf decalI've put out bird seed and now I'm concerned about birds flying into the windows. So I bought some translucent decals that birds are supposed to see clearly to alert them that there is something solid where they see a reflection of the sky.

The Window Alert website explains that birds see differently than we do. In fact, they have remarkable vision! No wonder they can spot tiny seeds from far away.

November 29, 2006

Calendar posted

I got the Spiritual Singles Monthly Calendar posted after a small delay. The calendar editor emails the calendar to over 800 people using bCentral. Normally bCentral sends the calendar out to everyone on the list (including me) but this time they had technical problems so it came a day late. Oh well, it's still posted before the first of December, so that's good enough.

November 27, 2006

A couple of filtered images

cowThese pictures were taken on warmer days -- not much warmer, actually; we had temperatures in the 60's today.

The cow was crossing a creek near Lexington, VA.

I added filters in Photoshop for a painterly look.


November 26, 2006

Sunset through the pines

pine treesHere's this evening's sunset.

We are so pleased to have a mountain view!


A Turkey on the Table

November 25, 2006

Thanksgiving Birthdays

two women

Happy Birthday to Allison (on Nov. 22) and Lynn (Nov. 23)

November 23, 2006

What's wrong with fighting bacteria?

War on Bacteria is Wrong-Headed says the LiveScience article. It says that more than three-quarters of liquid soap and more than a quarter of bar soaps on supermarket shelves contain triclosan, an antibiotic that kills most bacteria, both good and bad. And...

Bacteria outnumber human cells in your body 10 to 1. This is a good thing. The entire digestive tract is lined with bacteria, from top to, uh, bottom. These bacteria work with the body's own chemicals in breaking down food, converting it to useful vitamins and minerals, and making sure the intestinal walls can absorb the nutrients for the bloodstream to circulate. Without these bacteria, we could not digest food. Babies, born relatively bacteria-free, are extremely limited in what they can eat.

Human skin contains many species of harmless bacteria. Their presence prevents harmful bacteria, what we commonly call germs, from gaining a foothold on your skin. Numerous studies show that antibacterial soap is no more effective than ordinary soap in cleaning your hands. Either kind lifts off germ-laden dirt. But antibacterial soap kills helpful bacteria on the skin, freeing up valuable real estate so that harmful bacteria can move in later.

Now I've read that triclosan is not really healthy to have in your soap. But finding a liquid soap that doesn't contain it is a challenge! Since I'm allergic to aloe vera, that rules out a couple of the "natural" brands, and in some stores, there is not a single bottle that is triclosan-free and aloe-free.

Fortunately, Dollar Tree has some. And the price is right!

November 22, 2006

Busy little library

This morning I worked at the community library here in Basye. This is a volunteer position and it was the second time this week that I staffed the circulation desk. In both cases the regular volunteer was going to be away and so I filled in.

The library was busy this morning. Families came in to check out books, and visitors came in to use the internet. At one point all three internet computers were being used, two vacationers were using the wireless on their laptops, and a man was waiting for his turn to use a computer.

Our branch library is small but it includes a children's room and an ongoing book sale in addition to the adult collection. We have an extensive collection of audio books. The building is unique in that it is located at the airport.

By the way, did you know that Amazon Gift Certificates make a good gift? (And if enough folks use my links I may eventually earn a gift certificate for myself.) And don't foget that you can purchase books by Marie Javins.

November 21, 2006

Squirrel Story

child's story
Both of my daughters have writing talent. When Lynn was a child she made this little book using photos she had taken in the fron yard.

It starts off:

This is a toy squirrel.
He is in my yard.
I have a real squirrel.
She lives in my yard.
Her name is Mama Charlie.

This is my sister Marie.
She is putting a nut in my
squirrel's mouth so that mama Charlie can come and take it out and eat it.

This is mama Charlie.
She is sneaking up on my squirrel to take his nut away from him.

Now isn't that cute.
Why it's mama Charlie taking the nut.
This was a tricky picture to take so, it blurred a little.
But who cares?

Now she's sneaking away with the nut, and she says, "That was a close one." Then "He won't get me or will he? But ... I still got the nut."

November 19, 2006

Another book on Celiac / Wheat intolerance

I'm slowly getting through the pile of books that Nancy M. loaned me on gluten intolerance. Personal Touch on Celiac Disease calls it The #1 Misdiagnosed Intestinal Disorder. The book is a collection of stories contributed by ordinary people who either have celiac disease or live with someone who has it.

Several points came up repeatedly, including a tendency for the condition to run in families and an intolerance for even tiny amounts of wheat. This is disconcerting for those of us who thought we could just remove the croutons from our salad or peel off the skin from breaded chicken and eat it.

Although the book was published in 2004, some claims are already out of date. Several people stated that Mcdonald's fries are gluten-free, but McDonald's now warns that the fries contain traces of both wheat and milk. So readers need to supplement this sort of book with current research.

I wrote about another book on celiac disease here along with an audio course on American History.

Javinses in Israel?

I just posted an email on Javins family history stating that the Javins surname is not uncommon in Israel. It could be a shortened form of Javinski, a Polish name.

I have read that Javins is from Shropshire, U.K. shows some Javinses in England and associates them with a more common name Jevons, aka Jeavons.

November 18, 2006

Too much fluoride in water

The National Academy of Sciences is saying that too much fluoride is allowed in tap water. Babies in particular may be getting unhealthy levels of fluoride. Even the ADA now warns parents that if liquid concentrate or powdered infant formula is the primary source of nutrition, it can be mixed with water that is fluoride free or contains low levels of fluoride to reduce the risk of fluorosis. Since the ADA has long been a proponent of fluoridation, this is a warning to be taken seriously.

Another view of Great North Mountain

autumn landscape

View from The Pines, Orkney Grade just east of Basye

November 16, 2006

Too much water

ceilingIt rained this morning. Then it poured! Usually when we see rain that hard, there's a hurricane nearby. But this was a thunderstorm on an unusually warm November day.

Plop plop! What's that sound? Uh-oh, water coming in from our brand new roof! I grabbed a picnic cooler and placed it under the leak but it was not wide enough to catch all the drops that were coming in around the eagle plaque which covers an old hole under a stovepipe. (Before the fireplace was built, there was a woodstove in that part of the room.)

wading pool on furnitureFrank dashed out to the garage and brought in Guppy's wading pool. (I bought it for a dog bath.) I wiped up the puddles with a towel and Frank put the pool under the leak. It did a good job of catching the water.

Then he called the company in Front Royal that installed the new roof. In less than two hours, a crew arrived. Fortunately the rain had stopped so they were able to make repairs. In somewhat broken English, the leader explained that a collar around the old stovepipe had leaked and they had fixed it.

This was not quite the end of my misadventures with water. I drove to the post office, taking the "high road" to get there (up the ridge and then down Orkney Grade). The pond at Wetlands was flooded and muddy, and the tiny creek that feeds it had turned into a torrent. For the ride back I took the "low road" by the golf course, which is usually lush green and pretty. Today much of the golf course was under water. I eyed the dam a bit warily but it looked intact, and when I got to the bridge past the airport, I made sure the creek was still under (not over) the bridge. It was, but only by about ten inches.

Near the snack bar it was a different story. The road was flooded, and as I neared my turn, I saw that the creek was out of its bank and completely over the road. Recalling stories of cars swept away by small creeks that flooded, I started backing up. Then I saw a car come up behind me so I stopped. It was a state policeman. I rolled down by window and he pulled alongside. Do you think it's safe to drive through there? I asked him.

I'm going to find out right now! he answered. He drove through the water and it did not quite reach his floorboards. I followed him and made it across to higher ground, although there was a moment when I felt like I lost traction. Once across I made my turn and headed uphill to the higher drier land of our ridge.

November 15, 2006

We bid goodbye to the chalet

couple in living roomToday we put the finishing touches on the chalet on Joyce Court. Settlement is officially tomorrow, although we signed much of the paperwork today and sent it out via overnight mail.

We sold the house furnished. After all, the house we bought was furnished and we had a garage-full of furniture stored in Montross.

We even left Frank's geese because the buyer said she really liked them.


We are glad that we found a buyer for the little house, but standing in the kitchen of it today, I felt a twinge of sorrow. We really loved that place, even though it was a little too small for two people with a lot of possessions. The great room was cozy, everything only a few steps apart. It was friendly. And never too cold or drafty.

We owned the house for five years and only lived there full-time for two years, but it was a special place. I'm glad we only moved a mile away, for we still get to see the lovely little valley of Bryce Resort and the beautiful countryside surrounding it. And the mountain view for our current home is uplifting. I can't complain. We've been very fortunate.

November 14, 2006


Until a few weeks ago, most Americans had not heard of Kazakstan. However, my daughter Marie went there in 2001: Read about her weekend in Kazakstan here.

November 13, 2006

Looking for the plane crash story?

If you are looking for news about the small plane crash here in Basye, check out That Harrisonburg station had the story on the news last night. I imagine that soon it will be on the other news sites serving Virginia. Sadly, the pilot was killed. This happened Saturday (Nov. 11, 2006) around 4:30 pm.

My site stats show that people are hitting my blog looking for this story. I guess that's because I have the words Bryce Resort, Basye, Shenandoah, airport, and plane elsewhere on this blog.

small airplanesThis is a picture of the airport that I took a few years ago. The airport here is very small - a landing strip near the golf course, daylight only. We watched a sports plane take off Saturday afternoon and now I wonder if it was the same one.

November 12, 2006

Blending layers

One thing I like to experiment with in Photoshop is Layer Blending. You need at least two layers to do this. I have an Action that I use a lot anyway that makes a second layer - recorded it using the Action options. It includes making a new layer, running "Shadow Highlight" to lighten some dark areas, and increasing the exposure slightly.

treeI often select Multiply as a blending mode and then move the Opacity slider to the left until I see a little detail in the shadows. This gives me deeper colors without totally blacking out the dark areas. Can you see the slightly richer color in the second image? Well, it's a subtle difference, but subtle is good if you are working with a photo and want it to look realistic.

The image below is neither subtle nor realistic. Here I used Exclusion as a blending option. Exclusion often gives you a dark muddy look but in this case it was worth trying.

After you find a look that you like, merge or flatten the layers before saving as a JPEG.

Foxy dog

dogLynn came up on Thursday to get my old dryer. When she saw the fox character at our entry, she said "Look! It's Lady!"

Well, here's Lady. And she does have a fox face, doesn't she?

We call the fox Renard. He was put there by the previous owners.

November 11, 2006

More about MRL Carpenter (Sharpe) Freshel

I wrote about MRL (sometimes spelled Emarel) a few days ago (here) . She was my grandfather's half-sister. She must have been quite talented, for in addition to designing a Tiffany lamp still made today, she designed an elaborate chalet for a neighbor. I came across this some time ago using in a book called The American Bungalow 1880-1930. The book states that the house and the "Freshel Elizabethan house next door are now part of Boston College, called Philomatheia Hall and the Alumni House." Today I searched for more about it on the web and learned that both buildings were demolished in 1988 to make way for a modern building on the campus.

On another website I found MRL's house listed as the "Sharpe Property," leading me to surmise that MRL owned it with her first husband and kept it after his death and used it until sometime after she married Curt Freshel.

November 10, 2006

Just finished reading...

statue of soldier audiobook and a softcover book. Both are used copies and both are nonfiction.

  1. The History of the United States Part IV
    The Crisis of Nationhood by Professor Louis Masur, The Teaching Company
    This 10-cassette set is part of a long audio course on American History. The set covers the years leading up to the Civil War, the course of the war, emancipation, and reconstruction. Like most Teaching Company courses, it is well-done and interesting.

  2. Can a Gluten-Free Diet Help? How? by Lloyd Rosenvold, M.D. A neighbor who is gluten-intolerant loaned me a pile of books on celiac disease after I mentioned that I don't eat wheat because it makes me pass out. Dr. Rosenvold's book is more interesting than I expected. He avoids the sensationalizing that many authors fall into when they write about dietary matters. He explains how consuming gluten can be damaging if you have celiac, how it damages the intestinal villi and leads to other food intolerances. He also explains how it can worsen other conditions including MS, depression, and dementia. Find this book on

November 9, 2006

Winter's Comin' On...


There's comfort in a fireplace

Or a campfire. Glowing Warmly.

Harkening back to our ancestors

Even back before history.

November 7, 2006

Great-aunt M.R.L.

I regularly check the sitemeter for my blog to see what search terms are bringing people here. Someone searched for Emarel Freshel and looked her up on my Hammer Genealogy post. I looked at their search results and found various mentions of Emarel and her husband Curt as distinguished vegetarians. A detailed page at the Vegetarian Museum talks about Emarel:

Legacy of The Millennium Guild: Victorian Era to the Late in the 19 th Century, Maude Russell Lorraine Sharpe was an advocate for animal liberation. And ardent anti-vivisectionist, Ms. Sharpe became a vegetarian and worked well into the 20 th Century for the rights of animals. She was also a talented artist who designed the well-known Wisteria lamp manufactured by the Tiffany company.

A socialite based in Boston, Masschusetts, Sharpe was author of The Golden Rule cookbook, in which she combined recipes and philosophy, including these words: 'Do Unto Others As You Would That Others Should Do Unto You Even Though They Be Four-Footed And Dumb'. To see an image of the book’s cover click here:

In 1911 Sharpe established The Millennium Guild, an organization founded after the Biblical promise of a return to paradise, and dedicated to vegetarian and anti-vivisection advocacy.
What is more , stylish and much-admired beauty Sharpe hosted fashion shows featuring non-animal-derived furs, feathers, and leathers. The press reported on these events without ridicule, but with curiosity about the fashionable vegetarian lady and the members of her unusual groyup devoted to the liberation of animals from the slaughterhouse, fur trap, and vivisection laboratory.

Sharpe, later “MRL Freshel’ and her spouse Curtis Freshel at their celebrated Boston area mansion held lectures by phsycians and other experts on vegetarian subjects, showed slaughterhouse films, and had a bakery.

Businessman Curtis Freshel introduced Bakon Yeast, a meaty flavoring, to the US, to enhance the flavor of vegetarian foods.

Together, Mrs. Freshel and her husband and their Millennium Guild published a book of writings by emeninet authors, statesmen and scholars against vivisection.

Personally, I'm not a vegetarian although I admire their love of animals. With my food allergies including wheat and soy, I'd probably feel hungry a lot if I didn't eat meat.

Oh, you can see her lamp at various sites like TiffanyDirect. It's pretty - I'd like one for Christmas!

Shenandoah: More Places to Go

Nancy Meyer has made available her places-to-go list in the Orkney-Basye Community Library and the main desk at Bryce. She also posted a map showing some enjoyable back road trips.

These are places that make great day trips for guests:

A. Winchester: Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Glen Burnie Historic House and Garden, Old Town museums and shops
B. Front Royal: Art Gallery, Skyline Drive’s Dickey Ridge Visitor Center and loop trail
C. Middletown: Belle Grove and Wayside Inn
D. Valley Pike (US 11) flea markets and Strasburg Emporium
E. Woodstock Tower and Fort Valley
F. Trout Pond in Geo. Washington National Forest, WV
G. Lost River State Park, WV
H. Shenandoah Caverns
I. New Market Civil War Battlefield and Museum, Endless Caverns
J. Luray Caverns, Warehouse Art Center
K. Dayton Farmers market
L. Staunton: Museum of Frontier Culture, Blackfriars Playhouse, Art galleries and train station restaurant
M. Lexington: Natural Bridge, Safari Park, downtown Lexington
N. The Jefferson Pools in Warm Springs and the Homestead for lunch
O. Canaan Valley, WV

Basye Resident Andrea Sutcliffe wrote a helpful guide to touring the Shenandoah Valley's charming roads. We've used it many times to find little-known scenic vistas and cute towns. Also, Tent Camping In Virginia describes many of Virginia's public recreation areas with details that are helpful to anyone touring the state. (My daughter Marie Javins did the rewrites to this guidebook, and she did a fine job, if I don't say so.)

November 5, 2006

Places near Basye to take children

At a library-sponsored lecture last week, Nancy Meyer listed places to take one's grandchildren near Bryce Resort, Basye, VA. Here are some that are an hour or less away from here.

A. Lake Laura: Walk around the lake
B. Take them to the top of the ski slope at Bryce so they can run down
C. Orkney Springs: Trails at Shrine Mont, Open Air Cathedral
D. Deauville Deer Farm near Basye
E. Winchester Discovery Museum
F. Mt. Jackson playground between highway 11 and I-81
G. Meem’s Bottom Covered Bridge and Edinburg Mill
H. The local caverns
I. Woodstock Tower
J. Lion's Tail Trail and Storybook Trail in the Massanutten mountains.
K. Luray Zoo
L. Perry Wildlife Zoo, Wardensville, WV
M. Harrisonburg Children’s Museum
N. Massanutten Water Park. It’s expensive so plan to spend all day.

November 4, 2006

Photo of Red Oak

autumn foliage red oak

Quercus Rubra

November 3, 2006

Scarecrow Photo, Bryce Resort

scarecrow at gazebo

Fall Color, Montross

rose bush and a tree

man at shedWe were treated to pretty fall colors when we drove to Montross.

Here's Frank at our storage shed. And below is the creek behind the house.

creek with colorful trees

Mostly a good trip

We drove down to the beach house yesterday, rented a truck, loaded it up with stuff (with some help), stayed overnight in Tappahannock, and drove back today. It's a long drive (4 to 5 hours) but the scenery was gorgeous. Autumn was a little late this year and the fall foliage was still colorful, with leaves glittering in the sunlight.

U-Haul reminds me of the Seinfeld episode regarding a rental car. Jerry was at the rental desk in the airport and they did not have the car he reserved. He argued with the clerk about his reservation.
Clerk: I know what a reservation is, sir!

Jerry: I don't think you do! You see, you know how to take a reservation, but you don't know how to KEEP a reservation.

So, lessons learned about renting a U-Haul:

  • Don't make a reservation using their 800 number. They may rent you a truck that's not really available.

  • Call the location where you want to pick up the truck. You can find the locations by town or ZIP code on

  • Don't bother making a reservation on their website. After you fill out all the forms, you see a screen that says they'll call you. Besides , they don't "know how to KEEP a reservation." And the price they quote you may not be the price they charge you.

  • Estimate you miles ahead of time using Mapquest or another mapping site. Then you can reserve enough miles so that you don't pay extra.

  • Know the hours of the locations you choose - they are not all the same.

Oh, and as you plan your schedule, consider that you'll likely drive a bulky truck more slowly than a car, at least until you get used to it.

The good news is that even though I used the 800 number, I confirmed with the local office a day before leaving and found out that the truck we'd reserved had mechanical problems (and had for some time). I was able to reserve and confirm a truck at another location, so our trip was not ruined.

By the way, rental locations can be very small mom-and-pop stores, so if you call at lunchtime, you may not get an answer. The store we rented from us a little hunting and fishing shop.