July 31, 2007

A visit from Rysujo

Looking down from Woodstock Tower

It's an odd photo but I like it.

The usual photographic view from the tower is of the Shenandoah Valley with the river snaking through it -- quite lovely on a clear day.

If you want to visit Woodstock Tower, I suggest driving into Fort Valley (a lovely place) and taking the road up to the tower from there. It's not as steep and twisty there as it is on the Woodstock side of the mountain, which frankly I found scary.

July 29, 2007

Around the Pond

Orkney Springs,
July 28, 2007.

Another concert

We went to Orkney Springs for another concert. We heard the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra play music by Gershwin. Unlike last week's show, it was sold out.

The couple next to us had driven all the way from Alexandria for the concert. We felt fortunate to have driven less than 15 minutes to get there.

July 27, 2007

Flowers from another season

I came across this photo from a few years ago. It was the last frame of a film roll and partly cut off so it needed to be Photoshop'd just to be suitable for printing. I couldn't resist brightening it a bit.

Here's Ben!

happy dog
Ben's trainer theorized that his sometimes erratic behavior could be caused by a physical problem, so this week we took him to the vet for tests. They did a blood test that included a thyroid screening and found nothing. However, he had lost 2 pounds but is still overweight.

July 26, 2007

Searching for a Squirrel?

I like to check my site statistics to see what search terms are bringing people here. Often people are looking for a phrase that does not appear in my blog, but the individual words appear separately in one of my entries. Often the word squirrel is part of the phrase, as of course, it appears in my blog title. Here are some of the phrases that have showed up recently:
  • squirrels happy birthday

  • squirrels martial arts

  • how to lure a squirrel back home

  • squirrel allergies

  • CPR for squirrel

squirrel on railAs intriguing as these ideas are, they are not covered in my blog - sorry!

Disclaimer: I don't actually live on Squirrel Ridge, so "The View from Squirrel Ridge" is an fanciful name for this blog. When I made up the title, I was living across the resort on a ridge that had no name that I was aware of and we had a lot of squirrels, so I called it Squirrel Ridge. Last year we moved to Supinlick Ridge but I didn't change the blog name. After all, we have squirrels here too!

One search phrase that does occur on this blog: Staring squirrel.

Purple beans

purple string beansI got some purple string beans from Deauville Farm on Crooked Run Road. They taste like regular green beans - sweeter than canned beans, of course.

When I cooked them, they turned green.
cooking beans

July 25, 2007

July 24, 2007

Gray on Gray (or grey on grey, if you prefer)

camoflaged squirrelNatural Camouflage: Here the Eastern Gray Squirrel barely shows against the gray trunk of a dogwood tree. If he didn't poke his little face into the sunlight, you probably wouldn't spot him.

Yesterday's and today's sunsets

The top photo was taken through the car window in Prince William County. I took the picture to the right tonight from our living room window.

It's leased!

We finally rented out the house in Dale City. I'm sure the new kitchen floor and privacy fence helped.

July 22, 2007

Another Civil War Audiobook

I just reviewed With My Face to the Enemy -
Perspectives on the Civil War.
This audiobook is almost 5 hours long and based on scholarly research, but I found it quite interesting. It consists of six essays:
  • Lincoln Takes Charge by David Herbert Donald

  • Failed Southern Strategies by James M. McPherson

  • Malvern Hill by Stephen W. Sears

  • When Lee was Mortal by Gary W. Gallagher

  • The Rock of Chickamauga: George H. Thomas by John Bowers

  • Rebel Without a War: The Shenandoah by Robert F. Jones

Personally I found the last two to be particularly intriguing because they covered stories that were fairly new to me. For example, George Thomas was a native of Virginia who chose to remain in the U.S. Army after his home state seceded. His family never spoke to him again. His leadership at Chickamauga and elsewhere in Tennessee earned him well-deserved acclaim.

As for the final essay, the Shenandoah was a Confederate ship, not much different from a privateer. It fired the last shot of the Civil War basically because the captain and crew had been at sea sinking whaling ships and did not know that the war had ended until late in the summer of 1865.

By the way, Malvern Hill is a battle site near Richmond. Author Sears explains its importance and shows how General McClellan failed to take advantage of his victory here.

July 21, 2007

Music Festival, Orkney Springs

festival dusk
Tonight we went to the Folk Festival right up the road at Orkney Springs. We enjoyed performances by Trout Fishing in America, The Arrogant Worms. and Susan Werner.

July 20, 2007

Picnic 1961

picnicHere's a picture I took of my older brother and younger sister MANY years ago. Our parents took us for picnics fairly often - no doubt more often than they took us to restaurants.

July 18, 2007

New Interior Design Business in Basye

I saw Nancy Meyer today and she is inviting everyone to an open house at the new design studio she shares with Karen Estep and Tom Marshall.
Saturday July 21, 2007, 10-4
Great North Mountain Design Studio

The interior design studio shares a building with Creekside Realty, which is just as you turn onto Resort Drive.

Nancy is a kitchen designer, artist, teacher, and hiking club leader. She gave a presentation for our library series in November on places to see around Basye, VA.

July 17, 2007

Young M.R.L.

Here's a photo of my grandfather's sister MRL when she was young. I have others; apparently her mother had her portrait taken many times.
Born Maud Russella Lorraine Carpenter, she preferred to use the initials MRL for her name, which eventually became Emarel. She married Ernest Sharpe, and after he died, Curt Freshel.

Earlier Post on My Grandfather's Family

July 16, 2007

A Royal Relative?

kurt freshelThis is a snapshot which I inherited from my grandfather's collection. On the back is pencilled 1956
CPF + Sister Erma Mowbray
. CPF is Curtis P. Freshel, who married Emarel, my grandfather's half-sister. Curt and Emarel were well-known vegetarians. My aunt tells me that Curt's name was originally spelled Kurt but he changed it at the outbreak of World War I so that it wouldn't looked German or Austrian.

Anyway, I found Uncle Curt mentioned in a book on Amazon called Ripper and the Royals. Turns out that one Joseph Sickert, the son of a man whose reputation became linked with Jack the Ripper, had been looking for his long-lost brother Charles some years ago and thought it could be Curtis Freshel. It was not. However, Curt is said to be a grandson of Edward VII !

Here is what the book says:

An American, Henry Bailey Stevens... had once mentioned knowing another American, Curtis Freshel, who had a connection with the Royal Family. Stevens was traced, and in due course Joseph received the following letter from him. Though it provided no clue to Charles's whereabouts, it did reveal a gobbet of information ...

Dear Mr. Sickert,

I deeply appreciate your letter of August 28. Although I have to report that Curtis Freshel could not have been your brother, he must have been some sort of cousin.

He was born in Detroit on April 22, 1886. Most of his boyhood was spent in England, graduating from the International College in 1908. He died in his apartment in New York July 1 1968.

I do not know his grandmother's name, but she was a Lady-in-Waiting at Queen Victoria's court and was seduced by Prince Edward Albert probably in the early 1860's. The understanding was that if the child proved male he would be in line to the throne. She took her child to America and possibly with help from the Queen brought her up well. Curt's father was a successful industrialist with important holdings in both Detroit and Brazil.

In 1914 Curt married M.R.L. Sharp (nicknamed Emarel by Bernard Shaw and was a warm friend of them both) in Boston. There they used their beautiful home,'Providence House', as a cultural center and home for their Millenium Guild. My wife and I came to know them and admire them. The inflation caused by World War I nearly bankrupted them, and they moved to New York, where Curt developed Bakon [sic] Yeast, a profitable industry of the vitamin B class. He kept his lineage a secret until he knew Death was taking him.

I am enclosing two photographs of him, young and old.

Yours sincerely,
(signed) Henry Bailey Stevens

Said photos are not in the book but you can see a photo of Curt Freshel with Henry Bailey Stevens (who wrote the letter) at http://www.ivu.org/congress/1949na/. The Freshels, by the way, did not have any children.

Since I don't know much about Queen Victoria, I pieced together the following using a chart in the book plus Wikipedia.

Queen Victoria's mother was German. Victoria and Albert's son was Albert Edward,, who became King Edward VII in 1902. Although he was married to Princess Alexandra of Denmark, he had numerous affairs.

Their children were George V and Prince Albert Victor. George became king and Albert Victor had a daughter who married Walter Sickert; their sons were Joseph Sickert. and Charles Sickert. Charles, it turns out, was deaf and epileptic and died at age 14 but apparently this was hushed up at the time. Father Walter was an artist who became intrigued by a rumor that Jack the Ripper had lodged in his room. Much later, writers theorized that Walter Sickert WAS Jack the Ripper; thus his story becomes part of the book Ripper and the Royals. Son Joseph's efforts to clear his father's name are part of the book Ripper And The Royals , which is searchable on Amazon.com.

Working on the floor in Dale City

We spent Saturday at the house on Fullerton Road in Dale City (VA). Allison helped us to install a new floor in the kitchen and a new medicine cabinet in the main bath. The shiny new kitchen tiles really make the place look better! It was a lot of work though, especially cutting the tiles and placing them along the walls.

Frank is now offering the house for sale or rent, at $319K or $1350 a month.

Last month he had a privacy fence installed along part of the rear yard to eliminate threats from the neighbor's dogs. Now the yard is quieter and more attractive too.

Romney Cemetery in Rain and Sun

dark mournful cemeteryWhen our Civil War class visited Romney (WV) this year, the weather was too rainy (left) to get many photos. I dug out some pictures from a field trip there a few years ago.

Below is one that my classmate Leona Strich gave me. Yours truly is on the far right.
These last two were taken by me. The location is historic Indian Mound Cemetery, once the site of Fort Pearsall.

old tombstones
fort pearsall

July 13, 2007

The Sky Seen from Our Deck

One thing about having a view is that it calls you, pulling you to the window or tempting you out to the deck. Changes in clouds and sunlight make it varied and interesting.

If you want to see a larger version, click on the image.

Looks like a blacklight poster

psychedelic fireworks

Psychedelic Fireworks

July 12, 2007

More Fireworks

white fireworksHere are more photos of fireworks that I took from our deck. Some are barely recognizable as fireworks but I like them as abstract images. Some of the "special effects" are due to hand movement.

The image on the left reminds me of a palm tree.

fire works

July 10, 2007

Gut feelings

It was a strange coincidence that my daughter Marie and I had colonoscopies just a few days apart. She had the traditional kind and I had the virtual kind.

I thought I was avoiding the pain that I experienced a decade ago with the traditional kind. I remember waking up during the procedure and feeling sharp pain as the doctor tried to force a tube around a bend in my intestine. It was painful and alarming. I was relieved when they gave up, the doctor saying they had gone far enough anyway.

Several times since then I was told by doctors to repeat the exam. One time I scheduled it and later cancelled. I figure my occasional tummy pains are due to food sensitivities anyway, so why go through the trouble and risk of a colonoscopy.

When I learned that Winchester (VA) offers virtual colonoscopy, I convinced the doctor that it was the only way I would take the exam. He was not that keen on it but gave me the paperwork. The folks at Winchester Imaging were very helpful, although Fenton (not his real name) gave me the wrong prep liquid. Fortunately I read the instructions ahead of time and called their office to see if I was missing something. The sent me the correct medications and even a box of "low-residue" food for the day before.

I had to substitute for some of the foods because of allergies, and the technician advised me on what I could eat instead. It was more than just the clear liquid diet than I had last time, so I was pleased, although I had to buy white rice since the brown rice that I had in the cupboard would not do. (Fiber is a no-no.)

So until the medicine I took at night, I did well. But that bitter liquid tasted like poison. Later I took some pills. And later I had diarrhea until 4:00 in the morning. So I was tired, thirsty, and uncomfortable when we got to Winchester.

Fortunately I didn't have to wait long. The test is a CT scan and would be easy except that they fill the colon with gas so that the images are complete. Gas can be painful, and the amount used for this exam caused me plenty of pain. I found myself wishing I had chosen the traditional method. But it was over fairly quickly and I was able to leave as soon as I got dressed.

Would I recommend it? Well, that depends. If you have zero tolerance of pain, no. It does not require anesthesia and that means less risk but possible pain. Hopefully in future the process will be improved.

July 9, 2007

July 8, 2007

Festival Photos

Brycefest drew a crowd yesterday. Frank volunteered at the Lion's Booth. I stopped by the library book sale and watched the helicopter rides for a few minutes. Eventually I wandered among the vendors' booths and listened to a little music.

helicopterBrycefest is an annual event here at Bryce Resort. It's held on a Saturday near the Fourth of July.

July 7, 2007


Since the "core area" of the resort is directly west of our house, we thought we might be able to view the fireworks from our deck, at least to some extent. It turned out that our view was excellent!
My Nikon digital camera has a "fireworks" setting to automatically take a good exposure. Some of the results had odd trails of light though.

July 6, 2007

Albemarle County limits pesticides in parks

I read in the Old Dominion Sierran that Albemarle County is limiting its use of pesticides and chemical cleaners in county parks. This was the result of research done by a group called Friends and Advocates for Children, Teachers and Schools (FACTS).

I don't see the article in the online Sierra Club site but here's a Charlottesville news report. Personally I've had some painful reactions (including pleurisy) to pesticides so I welcome news that they are being used less.

July 5, 2007

Our patient makes progress

Frank continues to recover from his surgeries. We went back to GWU on Tuesday and met with the surgeon who repaired the hernia, Dr. Abell. He feels that Frank is making satisfactory progress.

Frank is feeling well enough to want to get out and do some things, although his stamina is still low and after 15 minutes in Lowe's today, he was ready to go back to the car. Usually I'm the one who gets tired of those big hardware stores and wants to leave.

Still, he gets better day by day. He made it through a walk-through and real estate settlement on Friday and a Lion's club meeting on Tuesday, and his appetite is coming back.

July 4, 2007

A Damp Day for a Field Trip

In May I went on a field trip covering Romney to Delaplane shortly before the Grafton to Camp Allegheny trip, but I just got around to opening the Romney trip images in Photoshop today. I didn't take as many photos as usual on that field trip because it rained most of the day and I didn't want to ruin my camera.

Above left, morning mist rises over the Potomac River Valley at Romney. On the right are some classmates in a picnic shelter.

Below is a church in Paris, Virginia.

videographerThe student taking video footage (left) managed to shelter her camera with an umbrella.

In 18 years of taking these Civil War field trips, this was the first one where rain was a real problem! Once we postponed a trip for a day, and a couple times we had brief showers but they didn't last long.

bike in rain

Railroad crossing in Delaplane, VA.

July 3, 2007

Music coming to Shenandoah