June 29, 2007

Quicksburg Mill

Twice a year there's an antique sale at the Quicksburg Mill. Hundreds of old books, some antiques, and an assortment of junk are offered. Usually this sale takes place on Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day Weekend.

We've gone a couple of times but didn't buy anything. Old books tend to be too musty for me.

Scenes near Quicksburg, VA

These two photos were taken from almost the same spot in Quicksburg. The scene above is looking east towards the Massanutten Range.

June 28, 2007

June 27, 2007

Good News from Peggy

Congratulations to my sister on her new job starting August 1. She will be working for an insurance company in Leesburg.

June 26, 2007

After the Storm

We had a thunderstorm yesterday afternoon. When it was finally over, the sun came out and we enjoyed some pretty clouds. In the photo above, notice the cloud in the valley.

As sunset neared, the colors deepened.

Almost a Diptych

I took this at GW Hospital while I was waiting for Frank to be released. Yes, that's a Metro Station on the right: Foggy Bottom.

June 25, 2007

Geology Talk this Saturday

Dr. Bill Melson will present "Geology Explained" focusing on formations near our hometown of Basye, no doubt including Great North Mountain.

Where: Orkney-Basye Rescue Squad on Route 263, across from Blue Ridge Truss Company.

When: Saturday June 30, 2007 at 10 AM

Sponsored by our Community Library, no charge. This is our last lecture for a couple of months.

June 23, 2007

Two years of Blogging

I started this blog in June 2005. Feel free to use the search box at the top of the blog to look for particular subjects. For example, I have multiple posts on the Civil War, family history (especially Suiter and Hammer genealogy), Bryce Resort and environs, and yes, squirrels.

Frank is coming home

Frank has been eating solid food today. Tomorrow I will pick him up from the hospital and bring him back to our mountain home.

His daughter Allison spent the day with him yesterday and today, helping to keep his spirits up.

Lake Laura, across from Bryce Resort

You can reach the boat ramp at Lake Laura from Orkney Springs. Take Happy Valley Road and turn left at the lane to the lake, near the old riding stable.

You can drive right up to the lake. This is not the swimming area, though - you reach it through Bryce. There is a trail around the lake.

June 22, 2007

A Suite in the City

In order to stay near Frank while he was recovering at GW Hospital, I stayed two nights at The River Inn, which is two blocks from the hospital. I found it listed on several online hotel reservation sites, and I booked a suite for $229 which is a lot of money but actually reasonable for that section of DC. The list price was over $400 and frankly, I think that's more than it's worth. It's a nice hotel but not that much comfortable than a Days Inn, for example. Of course, having a kitchen is convenient and offers a way to have a break from restaurant food.

They also charge $22 a day for parking! That sounds like a lot but again, it's in an expensive area. Even parking at the hospital garage is $17 a day.

June 21, 2007

It's been a tough week

I haven't been posting much this week, mostly because my husband is back in the hospital so I've spent most of my waking hours on the road, on the phone, or beside his hospital bed.

His surgery last week seemed to go well but the gas that they pump into his abdomen left him terribly bloated. On Saturday he felt very nauseous. When he started throwing up with great force, I called the doctor. Of course, I had to go through an answering service since it was Saturday, but before long I was talking to his doctor's partner. He had me drive Frank to the hospital in Winchester, which is an hour away.

After doing a CT scan around 2 AM, they transferred him to GW Hospital in DC, where the prostate surgery was done. There they did abdominal surgery and repaired a hernia, which had not caused any problems before. At that time they thought he might come home Wednesday or Thursday. But now it looks like he won't be released for a few more days because his digestive system just isn't working yet.

And something even worse happened on Saturday. My nephew's son died. Brave little Alex only spent a couple of years on this earth, and they were challenging ones. He was born with myopathy, very weak muscles that did not even provide enough strength to sit up or even to breathe without oxygen supplementation. I guess his little heart could not struggle on. I feel so sad for his parents and all the other people who knew and loved him. He was a sweet little boy.

I did not make it to Pennsylvania for the funeral because my husband needed my help here. But I can only help him a little, since his body has to heal and I can't make it progress any faster. He still cannot eat or drink anything; he is "fed" through a tube. Naturally he is not very happy but at least his siblings and daughters are calling him and trying to lift his spirits.

June 20, 2007

Picture: Wildflowers in a Mug

vase of wildflowers
The mystery plant in the herb garden turned out to be chicory. In the winter it looked like lettuce, but with the warm weather it grew like a weed. Then the distinctive blue flowers appeared.

Turns out that not only can the roots be used in coffee, they are are high in inulin and are used as a sweetener. And the leaves are a variety of endive!

You often see chicory growing wild along roads and railroad tracks here in Virginia.

Finding a hotel

Marie gave me this tip for finding accomodations, at least here in the eastern US: Park at a moderate-level hotel and use your laptop to check the rates. Places like Days Inn and Best Western usually have free wireless that you can access outside.

I'll add a few more tips:
  1. Use a service such as Priceline or Kayak.com to check the rates (and ratings!) BUT...

  2. Don't book it until you have checked the hotel's own website. Moderate hotels often have their own discounts, and internet sites have a booking fee included in the rate.

  3. You can also call the hotel's reservation number and ask about discounts for AAA or whatever group you belong to.

I used these methods when I had to stay in Winchester unexpectedly. And since it was few minutes after midnight, I could not book a room over the internet for that same night, but I could check the rates and customer ratings.

On the other hand, when I knew I'd be staying in Washington, DC, I made my reservation ahead of time. Rooms there are likely to be booked up, and they are quite expensive. I checked various travel sites and found nothing that was reasonable within 20 minutes of my destination, and 20 minutes in the DC metro area easily turns into an hour with the traffic.

June 17, 2007

A Hummingbird, Yesterday

A hummingbird visited our deck
But ever so briefly.
He hung around the hanging basket
Outshining its blooms, but delicately.

A friend feeds hummingbirds
sugar water mixed strong as an enticement.
She has dozens of little birds -
Buzzing around in pleased excitement.

Mine left as quickly as it started
Stayed for seconds - why not hours?
Then up it lifted, off it darted
Free to seek some other flowers.

June 14, 2007

Back home from GW

Frank's surgery went well and he is back home. It's a long drive to DC -- almost three hours and we are tired. He spent last night in the hospital and I stayed in Alexandria with my friend Sarah. Ben C. Spaniel stayed at the kennel in Woodstock.

June 12, 2007

Our Changing View

Here are more views of our view than anyone needs to see but...

Yesterday Frank did some serious tree-trimming to open up our view. Looks nice, doesn't it?

For those who don't know, the ridge in the distance is Great North Mountain.

Can you spot the crow on the branch? He was there earlier today so I took his picture.

Late this afternoon I saw this large cloud in front of the sun. It's eerily reminiscent of a mushroom-shaped cloud.

Rain Clouds This Evening

It's raining tonight. The storm blew in this evening, and for a while we could see the sunset to the west while the rain moved in from the north.

Check out the video above to watch the clouds flow around.

More Squirrel Photos

squirrelLast year's squirrels have expanded their family and now we see small squirrels playing on the feeders and eating seed and suet.

I don't put out a lot of squirrel food (labeled "bird seed") because I hear it can attract bears. We haven't seen a bear yet but at least three local residents have told us they had a bear visit their deck to get bird food or pet food.

Wish Frank a Fast Recovery

Frank is scheduled for surgery tomorrow at GW Hospital. I plan to bring him home the next morning.

Book: The Known World

I just finished listening to the audio verson of "The Known World." It's a fascinating novel about Black slaveholders before the Civil War.

The characters are complex human beings who often disappointed me by becoming mean or violent. This was depressing but made the point that a system that is inherently evil (slavery) tends to enmesh people in evil as they attempt to cope with it. The book does not sugar-coat plantation life, but by making Black slaveowners a key part of the story, it does not paint slavery as a strictly racial institution. I found the book both a riveting narrative and a thought-provoking commentary on the attitudes of the slave-owning gentry.

June 9, 2007

Work Trip to Dale City

We made a trip to Northern Virginia yesterday to do some work on Frank's vacant rental house. Allison came over and helped him paint the inside.

Marie drove down because she had to get her car inspected and we spent the afternoon together. The four of us went to dinner at a Chinese restaurant and then everyone headed home. We got back to Bryce around midnight.

View of Lake Birdhaven

View from Hillside Drive, Basye, VA
We went to an open house here on the resort today. A friend is selling her home and it has a beautiful view. The house is very nice too, built in 1990, with fireplaces and multiple decks. It's right on the ski slope. The large lot is steeply sloping but has a nice garden. They're asking $550,000 for it. (Click here or all Creekside Realty Listings.)

That's Lake Birdhaven and the chalet we used to own is behind the trees to the right of the lake. Resort Drive runs in front of the dam but is obscured by foliage in this photo.

June 7, 2007

A-B College in West Virginia

Overlooking Philippi is Alderson-Broaddus College, also know as A-B College. Our Civil War class was there because it is on a prominent hill which figured in the 1861 Battle of Philippi. The college has a pretty little campus and a nice view of the town.

June 6, 2007

Another Bryce Mountain View

This view is from a house that is for sale on Fairway Drive here in Basye.

June 5, 2007

Railroads still vital in West Virginia


Grafton, WV

West Virginia railways carry more than 226 million tons of freight each year, mostly coal.

June 4, 2007

Picture: White-Faced Cow


In the Shenandoah Valley

with Massanutten Mountain behind her

June 3, 2007

My Sister and Friends Visit

Peggy, Bill, Linda, & Beth

Civil War Tour Dog?

Our cocker spaniel likes car rides and long walks so I got the idea that I could take him to the various Civil War sites around here. Here he is at the county park at Maurertown, which has an interpretive trail regarding the Battle of Tom's Brook.

In the left-hand picture, Ben has found a little shade at New Market Battlefield.

Unfortunately the extra exercise has not eliminated his bad temper. He barked and growled yesterday morning and acted like he was going to bite me. I called the trainer and she thinks he is "resource guarding." Since he's usually around his bowl when he growls, she said to remove his bowl when he is not eating; also put his toys away. The idea is that he needs to know that we provide his bowl and toys while also removing them when he is not using them so that he doesn't feel the need to guard them from us.

June 1, 2007


Since this is our first spring in this house, we are planting flowers and shrubbery to add color to our yard. We visited several nurseries and bought a number of plants. Of course, then we have to plant them.