April 30, 2007

Busy Spring Days

We've been busy the past few days.

  • Friday: I went plant-shopping with a friend while Frank went to a doctor appointment. Then I baked a chicken dinner and Allison arrived to share it with us.

  • Saturday: In the morning we set up for the library program (signs, coffee, chairs, intro), took down everything afterwards, spent afternoon with Allison and at the same time supervised a crew who arrived to cut up the trees that blew down in the storm. Had dinner at the 263 Diner. Then Allison left.

  • hanging basketSunday: Did laundry, supervised the yard crew who cut down brush and hauled it away, went to local art studio tour - three artists exhibited here in Bryce and two more out on Crooked Run Road.

  • Today: Some paperwork and phone calls, then a trip to one of the plant nurseries that Carlas showed me just off Turleytown Road (west of Broadway). It's called Spring Gardens. We bought four hanging baskets and a bunch of potted flowers for the yard. Also stopped at the recycling center and the Food Lion. This evening Frank started painting the entry room.

See Ben Run!

Click the arrow for a 2-second video.

April 29, 2007

Exercise for Ben

Here I am with Ben at the tennis court in Orkney Springs. We forgot to take his ball with us so we took turns getting him to run around with us.

April 28, 2007

Bird with red epaulets

I believe this is a red winged blackbird. I don't see them around here very often but this one was hanging out by the public dumpsters on Orkney Grade.

April 26, 2007

Farmland near Mt. Jackson

Frank signed up this lovely piece of farmland for sale. It's an eleven and a half-acre parcel east of Mt. Jackson on the lower slopes of Massanutten Mountain. It's practically suburban - not far from town and close to a few other homes. It has a lovely view.

April 25, 2007

Confederate Gibralter

Sketch is signed J. E. Taylor

At Fisher's Hill Battlefield (south of Strasburg, Virginia), there is this interpretive sign. It reads:

Confederate Gibralter

This is Fisher's Hill, the Shenandoah Valley's "Gibralter" -- a commanding height that offered Confederate forces a superb defensive position.

Confederate Gen. Jubal A. Early's beaten and bloodied army filed into position here on September 20, 1864, one day after the disaster at the Third Battle of Winchester. For the next two days the men strengthened their position, but no amount of digging could make up for Early's lack of men.

Early's defensive line extended along Fisher's Hill for almost three miles. The right flank rested on Massanutten Mountain, but the left fell about one mile short of Little North Mountain in front of you. His infantrymen held most of the line -- and they were stretched thin -- while a small number of cavalrymen occupied the left flank, which was "in the air" (not anchored on a natural feature such as a mountain or river). It was a weakness that the Union commander, Gen. Philip. H. Sheridan, was determined to exploit. On the morning of September 22, he sent Gen. George Crook's corps toward Little North Mountain to strike the Confederate left.

April 24, 2007

Evening clouds near Mt. Jackson

Late Day, Early Spring, Shenandoah County

A lease extended

Our tenant at Glebe Harbor says she wants to stay another year. Yay! That way our mortgage there is covered until next summer.

I'll miss being able to spend weekends there but for the money we'll save we can go plenty of other places.

April 22, 2007

Happy Birthday, Marie!

A long time ago and far away, Marie had some friends over for her 3rd birthday.

April 21, 2007

The high-priced spread

Once in a great while I buy some goat butter. It does not give me tummy pain for several days the way cow butter does, and I like buttered vegetables now and then.

This tiny pack of goat butter cost $3.99 - that's $15 a pound! That's one reason I don't buy it often. The other is that I can't buy it around here. I have to drive 2 hours to Whole Foods to find it, so naturally I only buy it when I happen to be in Northern Virginia for some other reason.

Last weekend we drove up to Woodbridge to put a house up for rent and I insisted that we make a side-trip to the new Whole Foods at Fair Lakes. It's a nice store, very large, with a huge section devoted to salad bars and ready-to-eat foods. If you've never been in a Whole Foods at lunch time, you haven't seen the frenzy of hungry people buying containers of tasty foods to eat for lunch. Obviously not everyone wants a burger and fries!

Anyway, I did not find the goat butter right away but a couple of friendly store employees helped me locate some - it had just come in and wasn't even on display. I purchased two of the precious little packets. I use just a tiny bit at a time so it will last me a while.

April 20, 2007

Show your dog who is the leader

I recently read Leader of the Pack by Nancy Baer and Steve Dunno. It's a short book on earning your dog's respect by behaving as a pack leader - consistently. It was recommended by a dog trainer.

The chapters begin with a vignette of wolf behavior showing the importance of having leaders and a specific aspect of canine leadership. The authors then switch to pet dogs, using as an example a dog with the cute name of Bobo. Here are their key tenets:
  1. Eat before Bobo.

  2. Sleep higher than Bobo.

  3. Initiate and control interactions.

  4. Go first, not last.

  5. Control all space in the home.

  6. Maintain a dominant posture.

  7. Begin and end play.

  8. Be fair, calm, and confident.

  9. Be a good provider and protector.

We do well on some of these but need to work on others. I found this book to be very instructive.

Rambler up for Rent in Dale City, VA

houseFrank owns a one-level house in the Forestdale section of Dale City which will soon be available for rent. Monthly rent will be $1495 and it has 3 BR, 1.5 baths, a family room, and a garage.

You can find the listing on Realtor.com. Also, I posted a brief summary on walcroft.com.

Historic Tauxemont

The community where I grew up is now "historic." Tauxemont is dedicating its first historic marker on April 28. This seems a bit strange to me since Tauxemont was a new subdivision when my parents moved us there. It was a modest subdivision situated among the trees in the Fort Hunt area of Fairfax County, Virginia. Now it has passed the half-century mark.

April 19, 2007

Library News

basye libraryOur county library system has redesigned the Shenandoah Library System website. I use it fairly often to search the catalog or renew a book.

Our little community library here in Basye has several computers for visitors to use and wireless internet access for those who bring their own laptops. Our library is a rarity: a fly-in lending library. It is adjacent to the airstrip.

April 18, 2007

Downed trees

This house is around the corner from us. I took the photo yesterday morning and by late yesterday afternoon a crew had removed the tree from the house and was in the process of sawing away the large tree on the driveway.

April 17, 2007

Natural Balance Pet Food Recall

Yikes! My dog's favorite food has been recalled: Natural Balance Venison and Rice. Here's the story in USA Today. The food does not contain gluten and the company thinks that there may be melamine in the rice protein. They write: Dogs or cats who have consumed the suspect food and show signs of kidney failure (such as loss of appetite, lethargy and vomiting) should be seen by a veterinarian.

Thankfully, my dogs don't have those symptoms.

Here's the FDA page on pet food recalls.

A Wind-Powered Energy Audit

Our electricity was restored an hour ago after being off for 26 hours. We made good use of flashlights, candles, the fireplace, extra blankets, and even the outdoor grill, so I won't complain about the discomforts. Instead let me share a benefit: we found out where cold air is leaking into our house!

Last night we had pulled down the insulated shades and closed the curtains. With high winds charging around outside, it soon became apparent that three windows were leaking air because the shades started moving when the wind gusts became violent. (Forty MPH winds were expected but I bet some of the gusts were 60 MPH. Trees were blown down all over the ridge.)

So our energy-stealing culprits are a window in the master bedroom (which we already knew about), the sliding door in the dining room (a surprise), and the crank-out window in the kitchen (old crank-out windows are often leaky, so I shouldn't be surprised at that one). Also the fireplace lets out heat when the damper is open, of course. Closing that damper was a no-brainer when the wind started blowing down the chimney! Of course, that meant no fire to warm us up while the winds were high, so we piled on blankets. This morning the winds died down and we were able to enjoy a fire. And at lunchtime we cooked a meal on the barbecue grill.

Early this winter we tried to get an energy audit but our power company here doesn't do them and we couldn't locate any who did them in Shenandoah County. Now nature has done one for us, showing us the leaks that steal our electricity dollars.

April 15, 2007

Woodrow Wilson's Birthplace

president wilsonI took these pictures last spring and never got around to posting them. We visited the birthplace of President Woodrow Wilson in Staunton, Virginia. It is adjacent to a museum which tells the story of Wilson's life.

Wilson did not live in Staunton very long. His father was a minister and was transferred to Georgia while little Woodrow was still a baby.

wilson birthplace

We enjoyed seeing the carefully sculpted shrubbery in the garden.

April 14, 2007

More Pictures from Tacoma

We show up on the RySuDoJo blog in the following entries:
The Northwest Trek, in photos taken by Ryley, in pictures taken with Josie while Ryley was in school, and playing with Play-Doh.

The Boyles family will come to Virginia for a visit this summer. It will be good to see them again.

The Sitemeter Controversy

Someone sent me a warning about Sitemeter (a sophisticated hit counter) because they have been using a new cookie which people assume is spyware. The cookie shows up as specificclick and here's what USA Today said about specificclick two years ago:

If you travel to a lot of sites served by DoubleClick (or a similar company — I see cookies from specificclick.net and realcastmedia.com on my machine right now), your surfing habits can be tracked. In fact, they are. These companies want to serve you ads you might be interested in, and they want to build up a profile of who's going where. Is that spyware? In a sense, perhaps. But it's just a tracking number on your computer. It doesn't do anything; it's not "ware."

Yet bloggers are in a panic about Sitemeter. People don't like finding new cookies on their computers (when they bother to look). I found a fairly thorough discussion ofthe Sitemeter controversy at Eric Odom's blog. He contacted Sitemeter and got this explanation:

The cookie you are seeing is from a trusted partner who we are working with to provide more intelligence to you about your visitors. In the past few days we’ve begun beta testing this cookie.

Over the next few months we will be rolling out enhancements to our service that will offer you more information about your users like their other content interests and demographics ...

...If you would rather not participate in this process we can offer you a couple options -

1 - If you replace your current Java code with the standard HTML Sitemeter code the cookie will no longer be issued.
2 - We can move you to a new server that will be restricted from the cookie process.

Personally I don't see anything to panic over. However, Sitemeter owes it to their subscribers to address the concerns on the Sitemeter homepage. Privacy issues are a hot issue.

Ducks on the Shenandoah River


North Fork near Quicksburg

April 13, 2007

Minor website work

  • I added a SiteMeter to the Spiritual Singles website. This will enable the webmaster (me) and the organization's leaders to see how many visitors are looking at the site.

  • I updated my Civil War Field Trips site blog. I really should do that more often. Sometimes people write to me about Civil War sites and I don't post their emails, which could be of interest to other folks.

  • I still get emails from people who see my Glebe Harbor pages. Usually they want to know if our house is still for sale. I tell them that at the moment it is still leased out to a tenant (through June).

Daffodils, Dusk

vase of flowers

Field Trip

Dr. Poland has sent out information on this season's Civil War Class. The lectures will take place on field trips as follows:
May 18: Deals with the Northern Invasion Corridor, Winchester VA area.
May 19-20: Deals with West Virginia 1861, starting in Grafton on 5/19 after lunch. Overnight at Elkins.

The West Virginia tour will be similar to the trip I took in 1999 which included Grafton, Phillippi, Corrick's Ford, Cheat Mountain, Greenbrier River, and Camp Allegheny.

The class is for-credit but just about anyone can sign up (for the cost of tuition). The course description is at www.nvcc.edu/schedule/crs2073/course_detail_new.asp?indexno=19911.

The instructor is Charles Poland Jr., author of a thorough book on the struggle for West Virginia called The Glories of War, and it is available through Amazon.

April 11, 2007

Shark in the sky?

Is it just me or does this cloud look like jaws?
split cloud

April 10, 2007

A Country Road


A Road in Rockingham County

April 9, 2007

Three views, Bryce Resort

golf course
Many homes at Bryce have views - here are some examples. Personally I like our view as much as any of these.

For those looking for a home here, try Creekside Realty, Basye, VA or write Frank at walcroft1@msn.com.

basye view

Sur la table

squirrelI took this picture before I stopped filling the bird feeders on our deck. The squirrels were getting aggressive and I was afraid they would come through the screen door or even jump on us when we're cooking on the grill.

I added a new bird feeder in the yard though. It is designed to thwart squirrels but they can still raid the other feeder down there. I like watching them but I don't want them to become pests.

Civil War Audiobook for Sale

I listed For Cause and Comrades, Why Men Fought in the Civil War on ebay. This is the audio version on 8 cassettes. I'm asking a lot for it but it cost me more than that (used) and it's hard to find.
See the listing (this week only)

Book: Finding Oprah's Roots, Finding Your Own

I found this book in the "New book" section at the Basye library. It's a fascinating book and I finished it quickly.

Author Henry Louis Gates, Jr. has used the family history of Oprah Winfrey as an example of genealogical research and a case study of how respect for education can lift a disadvantaged family out of hardship.

The written record of Oprah's ancestors only goes back to the 1870's census because the last names of slaves were rarely recorded. Here the author delves into the history of slavery in America and (to a lesser extent) in Africa. He also discusses the after-effects of slavery following the Civil War.

DNA now enables genealogists to bypass gaps in written history and learn where some of a person's ancestors came from. We learn that Oprah's matrilineal line likely goes back to the Kpelle tribe in Liberia.

You don't need to be a fan of Oprah to enjoy this book. It's a fascinating look at genealogy and African-American history.

April 8, 2007

Easter 1966 and 1969

Lynn in her Easter dress, 1966. This was just a few weeks before her sister was born.

Their grandparents have prepared Easter eggs for Lynn and Marie, 1969.

Easter Bunny?

April 7, 2007

The Great Turkey

turkey statueOn U.S. 11 between New Market and Tenth Legion stands this turkey monument, welcoming you to Rockingham County.

When we visited a museum in Dayton last year, we learned that the turkey was selected for the county's welcome signs several decades ago via a contest. The turkey was the suggestion of an African-American student - I believe he was around 12 years old.

Rockingham County is one of the nation's top turkey producing counties. I noticed that this monument is not exactly at the county line. For those who feel compelled to visit it, it is at the intersection of the Valley Pike (Route 11) and Newdale School Road.

April Snow

flower in snowWe had light snow last night. The daffodils hung their heads in sorrow this morning but after a day of sunshine, they looked perky this evening.

April 6, 2007

Shenandoah County's Scenic Landfill

Although our regular trash is picked up in front of our driveway and we can take our recycling to Orkney Springs or Mt. Clifton, we have to haul large items to the county landfill for disposal. It's between Edinburg and Woodstock and the surrounding landscape is lovely.

There was a rusty old stove in our garage so we took it here so it could be with other old appliances.

April 5, 2007

Daffodils from the rear

yellow flowersThe daffodils face toward the sun, but I like photographing flowers with the sun shining through to show their veins, so here they are from the back.

I hope they don't mind the freezing cold weather that blew in last night. It was 28 F when I walked the dogs this morning.

April is National Poetry Month

PhotoWorks offers books that you create online, adding your own photos and text. I haven't tried it yet, but they sent out this idea for National Poetry Month: Create your own photo poetry book. When you are creating stunning Personalized Cover photo book, include text only layouts.

Sounds like a great idea for someone who wants to make up a gift book.

April 4, 2007

The lion sleeps tonight

This is one of the lions that Frank decided to replace. It turned out that it was not only cemented on but it also had a piece of rebar holding it to the gatepost, so he was not able to remove it without breaking it. Oh well... we have another pair of lions and they are better-looking anyway.

Oh, that eagle on the wall was also there when we bought the house. The flag on his shield was red, green, white and blue; and one of my first decorating jobs was to cover the green with red paint. (Red, green, and white are the Italian flag colors. I didn't find them any more appropriate than lions in the Allegheny foothills.)

April 3, 2007

The peanut feeder

squirrel feederI bought this peanut feeder but it only lasted a few weeks. One day someone (possibly this squirrel) got it loose and absconded with everything but the top. I thought it would be nearby but I couldn't find it.

April 2, 2007

The bane of landscape photographers

This landscape is spoiled by plastic bags hanging in the trees. No doubt if you take a lot of photos outdoors you have noticed scenes ruined by plastic litter like this.