April 30, 2008

Frustration on the Remodeling Front

The kitchen is coming along. None too soon - it's been out of commission for over a month. It's going to look good but a lot has gone wrong. 

That single wall cabinet will be replaced by two cabinets slightly smaller because our contractor misunderstood the dimensions on the window and made it a bit wide and set it a few inches to the left, so the 30" cabinets that arrived did not fit in the space between the windows. We are now awaiting 27" cabinets, but it takes about a month to get them.

The wall cabinet on the far right was 12" deep and blocked the window. Frank had the contractor cut it down to 8" deep and it looks much better.  Not seen in this picture are three more cabinets with problems. All were too tall so various adjustments were made. Considering we had an experienced kitchen designer, I was surprised at the number of errors.

The cabinet makers failed to drill holes for the handles so that had to be done by our team today. Also one of the cabinets got cracked during shipment.

Note that the sink touches the backsplash. Actually it overlapped so we had carpenter Helmut cut into the backsplash just enough to fit.  And the pretty faucet from Lowe's turned out to have a diverter missing so the water did not get hooked up today, although we paid plumber Hirsch a lot of money for his time spent doing what he could, struggling to hook up the sink through a rather small cabinet door. 

Out of the picture to the right is a closet. Our contractor did not built it as high as Nancy specified so he had to build up the wall. We did not insist that he tear out the closet ceiling so now the door is shorter than we desired. Not a big problem, just not ideal.

But what upset me was the flooring. A guy from C&S Floors in Mt. Jackson measured the space and somehow underestimated by 20 square feet. Now we have to wait for another box of laminate to come to the store so the floor is not finished.

So we had more big errors than we had on the last kitchen which we did ourselves. This one will be prettier though.

April 29, 2008

Orchard in Spring

Bushong Farm, New Market Battlefield Park

Maryland Music Makers

While coding the Spiritual Singles Calendar, I noticed that their upcoming house concert features Maryland-based musicians who sound really interesting:

April 28, 2008

A Hot Pink Tree

A Weight Watchers Success

My brother's wife is featured in a Weight Watchers success story. She lost 36 pounds using their online program. Her cholesterol dropped 30 points. Impressive!

I was surprised that an online program could work so well. Of course, she has plenty of determination which probably helped a lot.

April 27, 2008

Old Stone Feature, Shrine Mont

This baptismal font is said to be an artifact, long ago carved out by native people and used to grind corn.

The outdoor church at Shrine Mont appears to be open for the season. (During the winter, access was blocked by downed trees, perhaps to keep motor bikes off the trails.)

The church can be reached from St. George Camp Lane, Orkney Springs.

Previous Post: Autumn at Shrine Mont

How Ben Helps Me Hike

I took Ben up to Orkney Springs for a walk today. We parked by the playground which is on the hill across from the rectory. Behind the basketball pavilion we spied a little pond with a trail going down to it.

Of course, walking down the hill means you have to walk back up. Fortunately, Ben likes to pull me up hills.

Thanks, Ben!

April 26, 2008

Tulips are blooming

It's almost a surprise that our bulbs and plants actually survived the winter. I planted the tulips a bit late but they did well. And the Japanese maple that Frank bought is looking very red and healthy.

Our Dogwood is Blooming

dogwood and mountain view
Today at 2:45 PM

April 25, 2008


flowering tree
The redbud trees are brightening our forests with their purply-pink blossoms. Along with the white dogwood, they sparkle in the woods.

Ken the Contractor

man on ladder

April 24, 2008

The Shirley House, New Market, VA

This house stands by the road to New Market Battlefield Park not far from Route 211 and I-81. It is headquarters for the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation.

A Civil War Trails marker tells the story of the house and the Shirley family. It starts out like this:
In 1875, Confederate veteran Christian Shirley constructed this brick house on the site of his family's former home, which had burned two years earlier. The Shirleys were longtime residents of Shenandoah County who had farmed their 153 ares since the late 1700s. When the Civil War began in 1861, Christian Shirley, though a physician, joined the 136th Virginia Militia and eventually rose to the rank of major.

The Shirley property was traversed by both Union and Confederate forces during the opening stages of the Battle of New Market on May 14, 1864. It was from Shirley's Hill, located south of the home site, that Confederate Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge formed his battle plan.

April 23, 2008

Street Scenes, Mt. Jackson, Virginia

street scene
One day two months ago while waiting for Frank to get a haircut, I walked around Mt. Jackson and took a few photographs. It is the closest town to us that has a supermarket and medical offices.

It's in the Shenandoah Valley just off I-81. Exits 269 and 273 will get you there. Local places to visit include Shenandoah Caverns, Meems Bottom Covered Bride, a town museum, and some Civil War sites along U.S. 11. 

Within sight of the town is Massanutten Mountain. 

April 22, 2008

It's Somebody's Birthday

Happy Birthday to Marie!

child licking spoongirl with puppy
These pictures are from the early 70's. Other than the birthday girl, we see me (was my hair really that long?) and puppy Spotsy.

We were living in a townhouse in Alexandria at the time.

April 21, 2008

The View from Kratzer Road

The other day I decided to drive home from Harrisonburg through the Linville area. I took a couple of pictures from Kratzer Road.

April 20, 2008

Field Trip to Port Republic

  • Yesterday I went on a field trip with Blue Ridge Community College. Instructor Rudy Tucker was our leader and van driver. I was one of only four students.

    The subject was the Battle of Port Republic (June 1862). "Port" is one of my favorite small towns and combining it with tales of Stonewall Jackson drew me to this course.

  • a parkOur first stop was the riverfront park in Port Republic. Here our teacher gave a detailed description of the battle using magnets labeled with the names of the military units that were there. This took a while but really clarified the action.
    Rudy Tucker

  • Our teacher, now 83 years old, has been a resident of that area for a long time and had permission to take us on farms that stand on the historic battlefield.
cattle farm
Here we stood on crossed by Confederate soldiers trying to reach the high ground of "The Coaling," which you can see on the upper right.

"The Coaling" is now preserved and marked with signs just off Route 340 near Grottoes. Below is the view from the point where Union artillery stood and was fired on the advancing Confederates.
sign and view
Next we rode to Brown's Gap. If you look closely in the photo below, you can see white rocks right in the middle. That's the remains of Mt. Vernon Furnace. At the time of the battle, the trees would have been cleared to provide charcoal for the furnace.
Finally we stopped at the site of Jackson's Bivouac on June 16, where his army rested before leaving for Richmond and what turned out to be the Seven Days' Battles. This field is clear of trees except for this old giant on the left, known as Jackson's Prayer Tree. You can see it from Rockfish Road near Weyers Cave Road. It's been struck by lightning and trimmed yet it still stands, preserved because of its association with a hero of the Shenandoah Valley.
tree and field
There's another trip scheduled for next Saturday on the Battle of Piedmont but I will not be able to go because we are hosting a library program. See BRCC's special interest classes.

Previous Posts on Port Republic:
  1. By the South River
  2. Madison Hall
  3. Port Republic Trip with NVCC
~For more on the battlefield see the NPS page on Port Republic.
~This SNP hiking guide includes history of Brown's Gap.
~CWPT has a page on The Coaling.
~Our teacher recommends reading Conquering the Valley: Stonewall Jackson at Port Republic by Robert Krick.
FaceTweet it!

April 19, 2008

A Putt Putt Patio

We drove past the court where we used to live and saw this new feature next to one of the homes. Apparently the family who bought Don's house likes mini golf. They have installed this platform with artificial turf and a small putt-putt course. This is the house on the corner where Susan's family stayed a couple of years back.

I don't think the entire feature will remain very long. There are property owner restrictions and procedures up here. But for now, it certainly is colorful!

April 18, 2008

Progress in the kitchen

Most of the cabinets are installed. There were problems with a couple of them so they will have to wait. One was cracked during shipment and another won't fit because the new window was made a bit too wide.

That space is where the dishwasher will go. I got one with the option to wash half a load (upper rack only).

A countertop technician came today and measured for laminate. On Monday the electrician will come and hook up the new stove. So progress is slowly bringing us a wonder-kitchen.

Our Daffodils are Blooming

Just a Rant

'Scuse for a minute while I vent. I am spending SO much time following up on things... this is one of my pet peeves. If someone says they will do something, shouldn't they do it, especially if they are paid for doing it?

I spent hours this week calling people to remind them to do things they should have done weeks ago. For example, Adobe did not credit me with two refunds that they promised. After I called, they credited one refund and not the other. I may have to contact them yet again. And my doctor's office did not call in a prescription that they promised for over a week. I left them a message, got no response, called again and talked to someone who said she'd check. Finally she called back and said the prescription was sent to the pharmacy - 12 days after it was first written. And the community college charged me for a class that was supposed to be free because I sent in the senior form and it was approved. I had to make several calls to straighten that out - well, actually the charge still shows on my account but they have promised to fix it.

But I'll have to check back and make sure.

April 17, 2008


I added a "favicon" to my blog. You should be able to see it in the address bar at the top of the screen (if that line isn't hidden in your preferences). It looks like this little picture only smaller, and it's a ico (icon) file instead of a gif.

I made the little picture in Photoshop as a 64x64 pixel image. It needed to be half that size (figured I could shrink it) and the dot ico file is not a standard option in Photoshop CS3. However, you can download an add-on that saves your picture as an icon. I did that and resized the image to 32x32, then saved as an ico.

Next I needed to upload the icon to a server that accepts that format. No problem. My Javins.com page (hosted on Virtual Avenue) did not have a favicon so I put it there and made it do double-duty by calling up the icon in the header code:
<link rel="SHORTCUT ICON" href="favicon.ico">

For this blog, I opened the template and added a similar line, expanding the HREF path to the site where the file resides, and typing in a closing slash to make it XHTML-compliant. For clear instructions see Tips for New Bloggers.

April 16, 2008

Start Walking Day

I heard on the news that it is National Start Walking Day. That was news to me but since it was a pretty day, I decided to take Ben on a longer than usual walk.

We walked up to the ridge road, turned left, and strolled a little way on the fairly-level ridge-top like we've done many times. But instead of going back the way we came, I decided to make a circuit walk. The roads twist and turn because of the hilly terrain but we cut a few corners by going through some vacant lots.

I'd say we covered over a mile but under two miles. Ben helped by pulling me up the hills.

April 15, 2008

The New Window

When we went out this morning, Ken and Helmut had were sawing through the siding. I've drawn a red arrow to show you the saw blade coming through. 

We picked up a new dishwasher at Lowe's in Woodstock, had lunch at Cracker Barrel, and bought some housewares and goat milk at Wal-mart. When we returned home, the new window was looking out at us.

I'm posting a view from the inside too. 

The new window really brightens up the room.

I expect the guys will install the cabinets tomorrow.

Frank and the Laundry Closet

When we moved here, the washer and dryer were in the little basement room and I had to go outside and walk around the house to do laundry. Knowing this would be uncomfortable in the winter, we had a pantry next to the kitchen converted to a washer-dryer closet.

As part of the kitchen remodeling project, this closet became a bit smaller. This weekend, we installed vinyl flooring in there. Today our contractor put the washer-dryer back in the closet so that we can at least dry clothes. The washer isn't hooked up yet but we still have the old one in the basement and I've been using it again.

After Ken left this afternoon, Frank did some painting. (We picked up some low-odor paint on Sunday from Sherwin-Williams.) Below you see Frank standing on top of the closet getting reading to paint the wall behind him. There's a new window going in tomorrow on the wall where the drywall has been cut out. And in the foreground you can see the new half-wall that replaces the old brown wall and then wraps around in a peninsula.

April 14, 2008

Field Trips Scheduled for May 2008

Registration is open for the 2008 summer session at Northern Virginia Community College and I see that Prof. Poland's Civil War Field Trips will be held on May 16, 17, and 18. The topic is The Burning of the Shenandoah Valley 1864.

You can see photos I posted from that topic when we covered it in 1996 at Fisher's Hill and Cedar Creek.

Wow, that was 12 years ago! Long before I moved to Shenandoah County... it was even before I met Frank!

And now I see the sights of the beautiful Shenandoah Valley every time we leave Bryce Mountain to shop or run errands. Often I vary our route just to see the sights. Today we saw lambs, llamas, horses, goats, and of course cows enjoying the brilliant green grass of spring.

April 13, 2008

More Pictures of Lake Laura

Some people live along Lake Laura in Bryce Resort; some visit for swimming or hiking; and some come to fish or boat on the Orkney Springs side of the lake just off Happy Valley Road.
lake laura

Sounds of Lake Laura

I hear a crow... and are those frog songs?

Shenandoah County, VA 4/12/08

April 12, 2008

The View from the Apartment

I've been fixing many meals in the garage apartment because we don't have a stove in our house. We don't have a kitchen even. In the apartment I have a hot plate, a waffle iron, a George Foreman Grill, a microwave, toaster, coffee pot, fridge, a counter, and a kitchen sink. And a view.

April 11, 2008

People are Googling...

I like checking "Referrals" on my site statistics to see what people are looking for. Sometimes folks follow search results to this blog and still don't find what they were Googling. Well, this can't be an encyclopedia, but here are answers to a few frequent queries.
  1. Sorry, the Buffalo Springs Herb Farm in Raphine is closed.
  2. The 263 Diner in Basye closed but the Hot Plates Cafe now serves similar food in the same building. Coleman's Restaurant also closed but Bryce Resort operates a restaurant again.
  3. I posted pictures of building a split rail fence, but for detailed instructions see this page.
  4. A list of Civil War Reenactments and Events is on sutler.net.

Not Enough Suite Memory...

I wanted to buy Adobe Photoshop CS3 and figured a new version of Dreamweaver would be a good idea too. (Dreamweaver is now owned by Adobe). Since I'm officially a student, I figured I'd check the Adobe Education Store. Indeed the discounts for students are great. I spotted Creative Suite 3 Web Premium and saw that it included Photoshop Extended, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, Flash and more for the price of getting just Photoshop and Dreamweaver. Seemed like a logical choice.

Unfortunately, when I tried to install the software, I saw that my laptop does not have enough RAM for all of it. Thought that I could just install the two applications that I needed, since I had enough RAM for them. But no. You can no longer unbundle the suite and install part of it.

Thinking of other software combos, I didn't believe it at first. Finally I called Adobe and they confirmed that you cannot split up the suite. However, they would issue a refund and it didn't matter that I had opened the box. I could just fill out and sign a form and they would invalidate the serial number and issue me a credit.

Once I get confirmation from my credit card that I have not been charged, I'll buy Photoshop CS3. I've already downloaded a trial copy; so all I need is the new serial number and I can keep using it after the 30-day trial is up.

Is the new version worth the cost? Probably. Photoshop CS2 has some problems on my operating system, and I really like the way the Actions menu behaves now. (I use it a lot because I have created a couple of actions for the way I process photos.) So CS3 seems to save

I really wanted to get Lightroom but it'll have to wait. I don't have enough RAM for that either. Guess I will be looking at new Macs before too long. But not quite yet. One has to use a little restraint or buying technology can make your credit card balance exceed your bank balance really fast.

April 10, 2008

An Early Spring Field Trip

Last week I spotted an announcement on the Shenandoah at War website for one of my favorite activities - a field trip class. It was a one-day class at Lord Fairfax Community College in Middletown dealing with Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation and its effects on African Americans in the lower Shenandoah. Prof. NoyalasProfessor Jonathan Noyalas was the teacher and he provided a lecture in the morning and a tour in the afternoon.

I've taken a photography class at LFCC and I was eager to try out this short course. It turned out to be interesting and enjoyable. A young woman who was a student at LFCC rode with me on the tour, which was good because she helped me follow the printed directions that we had been given to the various sites.

I'm posting some of the photographs that I took here and in another entry I made today.

Our first stop on the tour was Orrick's Chapel in Stephen's City, named for Reverend Robert Orrick. This church served a community of African Americans in the 19th century. It was destroyed in 1864 by Union troops who wanted the building materials for their camp. After the war, Orrick donated funds to rebuild the church. 

Orrick is an interesting man. Born a slave, he eventually operated a successful livery and stable business. He purchased a significant amount of property in Winchester.
churchWe drove to Kernstown (at the south end of Winchester). There we visited the Pritchard-Grim farm. Below is a building on the farm which was partly destroyed by fire. It is thought to have once served as housing for slaves.

Books by Prof. Noyalas on Amazon.com