December 31, 2007

New Years at Home

Here's Ben in front of the Christmas tree.

It's New Years Eve and we are staying home. I've never been a New Years party-person. I don't drink and I don't like being out late in cold weather.

We did some socializing on Saturday. Had the couple across the road over for some refreshments in the afternoon, and attended a get-together at a friend's house in the evening. Her guests included several children and two dogs, who mingled with her own dog. Her cat was off hiding somewhere. We left Ben at home, which is good because he is nervous and sometimes disagreeable.

December 30, 2007

Christmas 1972

Here's a picture of Lynn and Marie in 1972. They are posing in front of their grandparents' fireplace.

December 29, 2007

Our Morning View

A couple of days ago I got up early. As the sun lit up our view, the clouds parted enough to let us see the house across the ravine.

Scamp the Sheltie

We've been dog-sitting for some friends. Their dog is a sweet Sheltie (Shetland Sheepdog). Scamp behaves so well; I am embarrassed for our spaniel because he has neither Scamp's mild demeanor or cooperative attitude.

We used to have a Sheltie named Emmy. She was slightly smaller than Scamp is.

December 28, 2007

Happy Birthday to Frank

Frank's birthday falls even closer to Christmas than mine! He was born in Oakmont, Pennsylvania... a long time ago.

Frank's Sites: |

December 27, 2007

Christmas Gifts

We had a nice Christmas. Both my daughters were here, plus my sister, and Allison and Dave.

Left: Frank

Below: Marie and Lynn

December 26, 2007

Do You See a Resemblance?

Above: Me, Ben, Marie, Peggy

Below: Marie, Me, Lynn, Peggy

December 25, 2007

Christmas in 2004

Here we are three years ago while my best dog ever was still with us.

December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

LW, Christmas 2003

December 23, 2007

One Good Thing about Short Days

mountainsI'm no fan of the short days of December. What little sunshine there is ends before 6 PM, so we wind up walking the dog in the dark.

But sometimes we get a treat on the short days: a lovely sunset while we are on the way home. Below is one that I saw a week ago when I was driving home from a periodontal appointment. I pulled off into a church parking lot and took some pictures. (Yes, I often carry my camera when I am running errands. The scenery in the Shenandoah Valley is so pretty; all it takes is a nice shaft of light and you've got an image worth saving.)

December 22, 2007

No more antlers

All the taxidermy items (left by the previous owner of our house) have finally been removed from the living room. Frank mounted one set of deer antlers in his office; the rest went into the garage.
top of fireplace

December 21, 2007

Our Tree is Ready for Christmas

angel on christmas treeOur tree is decorated and twinkling with lights. We talked about cutting one again this year but decided to take the easy route and buy a cut tree. We found a nice one at Fort Valley Nursery, which is actually in Woodstock near our vet's office. It's full and straight and seems fresh.

December 20, 2007

Still Green in our Valley

Golf Course in Mid-December, Basye, VA

December 19, 2007

Snow for the Skiers

There's snow on the ski slopes here at Bryce Resort. People have been skiing for several days. But hardly anyone was out there Monday afternoon when I took Ben for a walk down there.

Good news: the diner in Basye reopens this weekend. We've missed having an economical restaurant here. Coleman's (inside the lodge in the above picture) is nice enough but a bit pricey for frequent dining.

December 18, 2007

December 17, 2007

Yesterday's Ice Storm

On Sunday we awoke to sounds of sleet and wind. The electricity was off during the night but came on in the morning, thank goodness.

It was foggy and slippery outside.
branches with ice
I took the photos above around 10:30 AM. By 1:30 PM, the fog had lifted and we could see Great North Mountain again, although the wind and cold continued.
great north mountain

December 16, 2007

Using Paypal Protection

I used Paypal's Buyer Protection to get my money back on an Ebay item. It took a while to go through the dispute process but eventually my $11.98 was credited back to me. It was a lot of trouble considering the small amount of money, but there was a principal involved.

The auction took place in September. I purchased a cell phone charger but when it arrived, it was not the one described and pictured. I emailed the seller and told him I was returning the item. Of course I paid a little extra at the post office and got a delivery confirmation. Several days after the item was delivered to the seller, I emailed him again... and again. No response.

Paypal requires that you open a dispute within 45 days of the original transaction in order to use their guarantee. So when the deadline approached, I opened the dispute. This action sends a message to the seller letting him know and giving him a chance to respond. Eventually he offered to refund a small portion of my money, but I held out for the whole amount. It was fortunate that I still had the post office tracking information; I had to submit it to Paypal so that they could verify that I returned the item. But finally I won my case.

I also left negative feedback for the seller on ebay. He retaliated by leaving negative feedback for me! Later he offered to retract it if I would retract mine. I did not. So I have one negative feedback.

December 15, 2007

Another View of Jerome, Virginia

church at dusk
I was so taken by this scene on the way home Wednesday evening, I stopped the car and took this photo through the windshield.

December 14, 2007

Shenandoah Sheep

I saw these sheep the other day near Back Road (west of Woodstock).

The fellow who had a recent haircut looks rather proud!

December 13, 2007

The Moore House, Yorktown

In October of 1781, officers representing Generals Washington and Cornwallis met here to discuss the surrender of the British Army.

The building was damaged during the Civil War but was eventually restored.

December 12, 2007

Civil War Yorktown

Although best-known for its role in the Revolutionary War, Yorktown also played a role in the Civil War. Here we see the overgrown remains of entrenchments.

A Civil War Trails signs calls the area "The Frowning Fortress of York, 1862 Peninsula Campaign." Here's an excerpt: The trench line to your right is all that remains of a formidable line of Confederate earthworks that once blocked this historic road and the Union army's advance westward past Yorktown in 1862...

...By May 3 more heavy artillery was aimed on Yorktown than had ever been massed in a single spot at that time in world history. That night, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, CSA, who in mid-April had assumed command of Confederate forces, decided his troops could not withstand the Union bombardment and withdrew his forces.

Above right is a portion of the sign showing a period photo of the trenches (excuse the leaf!) and a portrait of Maj. Gen. Daniel Harvey Hill, CSA.

Not far from there you'll find the Yorktown National Cemetery. A sign there continues the story. Yorktown became a Union garrison for most of the Civil War and provided a hospital service to wounded and sick soldiers...

pvt. william scottNote the soldier on the right-hand side of the sign. He is William Scott, known as the Sleeping Sentinel, who won fame in newspaper reports and a poem at the time. He was killed at Dam No. 1 (Lee's Mill) and is buried here.

The other soldier on the sign is Isaac Cornelius, killed at Cold Harbor in 1864 and also buried here.

See also Yorktown in the Civil War (NPS)

December 11, 2007

Surrender Field, Yorktown Virginia

Above left: Mortar Engraved "Surrendered by the Capitulation of York-Town
Oct. 19, 1781"
Right: NPS Sign: Ground Your Firelocks
Below: Surrender Field

And if you look in the other direction from the parking lot, you see a cell phone tower.

More Photos of Yorktown

I posted a few photos of our visit to Yorktown in September but I have a few more to share now that the weather has turned gray and unphotogenic. The first one shows Frank posing with George Washington and Admiral Francois De Grasse. The latter commanded the French fleet which controlled the water access to the town. Without the French, Washington's victory at Yorktown would probably not have happened.

Below is the Yorktown Victory Monument.

December 10, 2007

Another Marker in Front Royal

This historical marker in Front Royal stands near busy U.S. 340. During the Civil War, opposing Maryland Regiments faced each other near here.

Brother Against Brother

The First Maryland Regiment, U.S.A., was part of the force holding this town when it was attacked by Stonewall Jackson, May 23, 1862. With Jackson was the First Maryland Regiment, C.S.A. The two regiments were arrayed against each other.

December 9, 2007

Slightly Changed View

We're looking at part of George Washington National Forest on Great North Mountain. Click on the image and see if you can find the new gas line.
On the left portion of the photo, there's a diagonal line coming down the ridge. It's a cut for a gas line coming from West Virginia. It wasn't there last year; it was cleared and laid over the summer.

The Green Living Q&A

Take a look at Debra Lynn Dadd's Green Living Q&A Blog. She has written several books for consumers and here she gets questions and comments from readers on green products and safer living.

December 8, 2007

Bel Air in Front Royal

bel air
One of the Civil War Trails signs in Front Royal leads you through an industrial area and suddenly you see this mansion on the hill. An interpretative sign explains that it was the home of the diarist Lucy Buck, a young lady who described the Battle of Front Royal. Later in the war, General Lee himself visited Bel Air.

The image to the left shows the part of the sign with Lucy's picture and a location map. Click on it to see a larger version.

December 7, 2007

Confederate Museum, Front Royal

confederate museumA couple of weeks ago we were in Front Royal (where I had a periodontal appointment) and decided to visit a local museum. The Warren Rifles Museum (left) is one of those small museums chock-full of artifacts, mostly from the Civil War. There must be hundreds of these museums in the USA. What a monumental task it would be just to catalog all the Civil War uniforms on display!

This one has some nice items and helpful signage so you can figure out what you are seeing. There were also some items that seemed odd to me: a jar of sand that was once in a cannon, a section cut from a flagpole, and a cut chunk of rope from the hanging of John Brown. Obviously these artifacts were collected as souvenirs at the time, just as folks today might have a container of ash from a Mount St. Helens or a piece of concrete from the Berlin Wall.

boyd cottageBehind the museum is the so-called Belle Boyd House, not to be confused with the Belle Boyd House in Martinsburg, WV. The one in Front Royal was actually owned by Belle's uncle and she was visiting there when she carried information to Stonewall Jackson. Her escapades as a Confederate spy (which she may have exaggerated in her later career as an actress, lecturer, and writer) earned her the title "Cleopatra of the Secession."

December 6, 2007

Sliding up hill

The snow stopped last night but our driveway was slippery today. I managed to drive to yoga class here in the resort this morning without a problem, but when I returned home, I only made it a quarter of the way up the driveway. My tires started spinning and I could smell the rubber burning, so I decided to give up and park on the road.

This afternoon we had to go to the store but we took the Montero and returned home with ease.

Here's a picture I took yesterday of the real estate office here in Bryce where Frank works part-time.

December 5, 2007

Enough snow to look pretty

tufted titmouse
We had a couple inches of snow today. Some of our mountain roads are slippery but we drove to the post office and back without a problem.

I couldn't walk Ben very far because I probably would have fallen. I tried to play ball with him in the house but he was more interested in grabbing paper and running behind chairs. He knocked the phone off the table and was distressed to find it's cord was wrapped around his legs!

Left: A tufted titmouse

Below: The driving range today

light snow

December 4, 2007

Two Versions, Same Image

Last night I was playing with Photoshop and ended up with the picture below. It's cropped from the "real" photo and filtered several times, etc.

A tip for applying filters: make a new layer first. Not only can you discard the layer easily if you don't care for the results, but you can choose different layer blending modes for special effects and you can try different percentages of strength for your layer.

December 2, 2007

Afternoon Nap

woman napping
Frank took this picture of Allison on the day after Thanksgiving.