March 31, 2009

Itemizing Medical Miles

I've spent many, many hours gathering figures for taxes and putting them into the computer. I use Quicken for much of this process because it generates reports by category. I also use spreadsheets on Google Docs to track mileage because I already used a spreadsheet there to track medical expenses and insurance reimbursements, so I just copied that spreadsheet and entered the miles for each visit.

Is it worth adding up those miles? Well, I've accounted for over 5,260 miles so far! After all, a round-trip to see a specialist in Harrisonburg takes 72 miles, and a round-trip to Winchester takes 108 miles. At least our "regular" doctors are closer: 24 and 34 miles.

I entered 126 lines of data, which accounts for 2.4 medical visits per week. That's a lot, but it feels accurate. (This week, for example, we exceeded our average: I have 3 physical therapy appointments and 2 doctor appointments, and Frank had a dental appointment.)

It wasn't until after I totaled all our 2008 miles that I looked up the mileage rates on the IRS site. Uh, oh! It changed in the middle of the year. Now I have to insert spaces and find subtotals. Good thing that Google's spreadsheets behave like Appleworks' so I'm familiar with the math functions. Here's the IRS rule :

For 2008, the standard mileage rate for the cost of operating your car for medical reasons or as part of a deductible move is:
* 19 cents per mile for the period January 1 through June 30, 2008, and
* 27 cents per mile for the period July 1 through December 31, 2008.
Pardon my complaining about tax preparation; I know it's a dull topic. What I really should complain about is having to spend half our weekdays going to medical appointments. But that would really sound like whining.

And I won't have physical therapy 3 times a week for much longer. I've gained enough range of motion in my shoulder so that A.J. says I can switch to twice a week. This therapy is very painful so the less the better.

March 30, 2009

Our Sky Yesterday

Yesterday started out rainy but became sunny. Then a thunderstorm rumbled through before the sun came back out.
Rain Clouds Seen from Our Deck

March 29, 2009

Who Wants Sludge?

The issue of sludge on Shenandoah fields came up at a Garden Club meeting on Wednlittle flowersesday, and contact info was sent out by L. Kirchner in a follow-up email. Basically, we want to request a hearing regarding a permit application to spread sludge in Shenandoah County.

The Friends of the North Fork has an article explaining the sludge permit application and the contact info for requesting a public hearing:
Tim Higgs, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
(DEQ), email

In order to hold a public hearing, DEQ must receive at least 25 individual public comments by April 2.

March 28, 2009

Another View of the Shrine

I know I've shared pictures of this spot before. It's one of my favorite places in Shenandoah County: The Cathedral Shrine of the Transfiguration at Shrine Mont, Orkney Springs.

I noticed that a sign has been erected to help you find it from the parking lot; I believe it says "Shrine" and has an arrow pointing up the hill.

March 27, 2009

Ponds Drained for the Winter

At Chalybeate Spring, Orkney Springs, VA

rock pond
spring with gutterWe haven't passed the last-frost date yet, so these stone-lined ponds at Shrinemont lie dry. Apparently they were drained this winter so that ice wouldn't expand and break apart the masonry.

Left: Chalybeate Spring usually pours straight into a little pond but is now redirected through gutters into a creek.

Early Spring Flowers

I photographed these flowers at Orkney Springs the other day, up on the hill near the playground. The daffodils in our yard aren't blooming yet, although we have crocus blooming.

Last night our electricity was out for four hours so I couldn't get on the internet. We went out to Timberville for dinner at the Double Dragon and still had no power when we got back. My laptop was fully charged though. I played with this picture in Photoshop, adding an Accent Edges filter. By 10:30, the house was starting to feel cold, so we blew out the candles and went to bed.

March 25, 2009

Collier's Hut at Elizabeth Furnace

This reconstructed collier's hut is near the parking lot for the interpretive trails at Elizabeth Furnace. A collier is someone who collects coal or (in this case) charcoal.
small hut
A small sign nearby has a drawing of a hut like this with a door on it. The text on this sign says:

Colliers Hut
This here is just one of the places we'll use this season. We put it up while we're coaling this part of the woods. It don't look too grand but it ain't so bad now.. suppose you peek inside.

boards form coneSo of course, I peeked my camera inside and took a picture looking upwards.

An adult could not stand up in this hut but it looks like it would keep out the rain.

See my 2005 photos of the walls of the old iron furnace at Elizabeth Furnace. If you get a chance to visit this interesting historical site, you'll find that it's surrounded by lovely scenery and recreational opportunities. It's in Fort Valley, which in turn is within the Shenandoah Valley, walled off by the Massanutten Mountains. It's easily reached from Front Royal, Strasburg, or Edinburg, VA.

March 24, 2009

Suspension Bridge, Elizabeth Furnace

This bridge connects the picnic area with the Elizabeth Furnace Cabin. It's in the George Washington National Forest.
suspension bridge
bridge undercarriage

March 23, 2009

Passage Creek, Fort Valley

Passage Creek runs through Elizabeth Furnace Recreation Area in George Washington National Forest. The creek is a tributary of the North Fork of the Shenandoah.

Views from a Suspension Bridge

Passage Creek, Elizabeth Furnace

branch over river
Red Fishing Bobbers Hang from a Branch

tree at river
The Sign Says "Trout Waters"

reflection in water
Shadow In the Water

Little Church in Fort Valley

Dry Run Christian Church, Est. 1921

This charming church is in Fort Valley, Virginia, a scenic valley nestled in the Massanutten Mountains east of Edinburg.

March 22, 2009

Blog Post Number 1800

Wow! I've posted here 1800 times!

I just took a look at my site statistics and while I'm only getting 72 readers a day, there have been a total of 55,000 page views since installing Sitemeter. Most of our visitors come via search engines, and while tea allergy and split rail fence are still popular as search terms, many searchers are finding us while looking for Robert Lee Hodge (famed reenactor) and three crosses along highway. A few recent posts are drawing a surprising number of readers: caves for sale, peace lily, and even wordles.

A wide variety of other search terms bring folks here, along with many folks looking for an image using Google Image Search.

March 21, 2009


A "Wordle" for this Blog's Tags is a site with an online application for turning text into a graphic. The words will be arranged randomly, with words used multiple times showing up larger.

Below is a wordle that I made using words from my Civil War Field Trips page.

A Note about the Hemingways

I came across an 1892 article about one of my Hemingway ancestors at USGenWeb. James H. Hemingway of Hadley, Michigan was a grandfather of my grandmother Leora Morton.

James is described as "a dealer in agricultural implements" and was born in Chili, NY. His parents were James and Phebe (Hart) Hemingway, both described as born about 1792. The senior James was a native of Connecticut and his father was Isaac Hemingway.

Disclaimer: There may be inaccuracies in the 1892 article. The interviewer could have confused New York with New Jersey, for instance, or Connecticut with Massachusetts. These details do not match the information in the 1932 book, Ralph Hemmenway of Roxbury, Mass. 1634, and His Descendants compiled by Clair A. Newton, excerpts from which can be found on the web. (Pages like this one show how we are related to Ernest Hemingway and Presidents Taft and Nixon.)

March 20, 2009

Signs of Spring Show in Shenandoah Valley

  • The grass is turning green and some trees are shyly displaying early leaves, like the willow on the left (above) at JMU in Harrisonburg (photographed yesterday)
  • Early flowers are blooming. I saw this forsythia (below) in Woodstock today.

Flash and Lynn at the Animal Clinic

Yesterday I put Flash in the car and drove to Raphine. Lynn had made an appointment with his veterinarian, whose office is there near Route 11 and Borden Grant Trail.
woman holding dogLynn met us at a gas station just off the interstate. She eagerly picked up Flash but he would not even look at her. He seemed to be sulking. Whether he is upset that she left him at our house or whether he just didn't want any further changes, I don't know.

At least his appointment went well. He got a shot and had his nails trimmed. Lynn was sad when she left him with me to drive him back home, but she has just moved into an apartment and does not have room for a second dog right now. Rock is with her but he is a quiet elderly dog and should not be a problem.

March 19, 2009

Peace Lily

I've had this large house plant for years -- maybe 15 years, perhaps even more. It's a peace lily, latin name spathiphyllum. The white flowers appear rolled up and unfurl gradually.

The plant survives without much attention, although if have to dust off its leaves now and then.

March 18, 2009

Blazing Hot

The site statistics for this blog show that the number of visitors is returning to normal after a huge increase that resulted from a very positive review at They called this blog "Awesome" and brought hundreds of visitors here. Thank you.

March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Actually, I'm not predominately Irish... but why split hairs?

The folks at Colgate's Irish Spring have a little application where you can put your photo in an Irish scene, choose a wig and accessories, even add a limerick if you want. And you make a little video. Click "Turn Irish Now" to try it.

Disclaimer: I don't use Irish Spring personally because I have such sensitive skin that I avoid any unnecessary chemicals, but my husband uses it.

March 16, 2009

Yellow Crocus in the Snow

On Friday, we awoke to see that it was snowing, and over an inch on snow was on the ground. Later the snowfall turned to rain, and it's been raining ever since. But I did get a chance to take a few photos of our crocus blossoms braving the wintry weather in the morning.

March 15, 2009

The North End of Massanutten Mountain

Seen Near Middletown, VA
view of mountain and treesThe Massanutten Range splits the Shenandoah Valley between the Front Royal/Strasburg area and McGaheysville, Virginia.  It also separates the North and South Forks of the Shenandoah River, which join together near Front Royal. 

I was on my way home from Front Royal late one afternoon when I took this picture.

I've mentioned Massanutten Mountain several times on this blog - here's a different view.

March 14, 2009

Cow #667

cow with ear tag
Like cows? See my white-faced cow photo and my daughter's gallery of Comic Book Cows.

March 13, 2009

Flying Ears

At one of the old tennis courts in Basye

March 12, 2009

The Old Forestville School

Forestville, VA
The charming building stands on a hill overlooking Quicksburg Road and the town of Forestville. It is used by the Ruritan Club.
See previous posts: Spring in Forestville and Forestville's Mill

March 11, 2009

Evening Clouds, Forestville

Seen this evening from a hilltop in Forestville, VA

March 10, 2009

Views at Mt. Zion Church, Fairview

On Fairview Road west of Woodstock, VA
country church
I love the rural landscapes around Back Road in Shenandoah County. Here we have Mt. Zion Lutheran Church and a couple of views from the church parking lot.

Last year I posted a scenic view of the church from farther away. And the barn and sheep in the photo below can be seen close-up in an earlier picture.
basketball net

Looking west toward North Mountain

March 9, 2009

Stoney Creek in Winter

Snowy Day at Bryce Resort Golf Course
I posted a version of this in 2005 as "Winter in Basye" but the image was carelessly scanned from a slide and the color was off. (I had paid to have a box of slides scanned but the price was too good to be true and quality was sadly missing.) I liked the composition and today I finally got around to adjusting the color in Photoshop.

March 8, 2009

Cape Henlopen, Delaware

When AOL cut back on services this winter, they discontinued "AOL Pictures" which was basically a photo-storing and sharing site. I only had a few dozen images stored there and they dated back to 1999 and 2000.

AOL offered an easy way to switch the photos over to PhotoWorks which I took advantage of, adding them to my existing account. These photos were included. I took them at Cape Henlopen in 1999.

Family members may recognize the picture of the path through the sand fences as one that I had enlarged and hung on the wall when we lived in Montclair.

March 7, 2009

Sunset View Near Harrisonburg

Seen from a Parking Lot, Burgess Road
Yesterday Evening, Harrisonburg, VA

March 6, 2009

Events: John Brown's Raid

The year 2009 marks the 150th anniversary of John Brown's Raid on Harper's Ferry, WV. See the John Brown anniversary events scheduled for April and May.

This is a chance to visit the Kennedy Farm, where John Brown and his followers secretly prepared to attack Harper''s Ferry. The town of Harper's Ferry is well worth a visit also, especially if you've never been there. The National Historical Park is fascinating, and the town itself is scenic and unique.
About the picture: I photographed these wax figures in the Kennedy Farmhouse, and used Photoshop filters to share the eerie feeling that they gave me.

March 5, 2009

Shadow of A Zig-Zag Fence

In Virginia, you can see split-rail "snake" fences at historical sites, especially Civil War battlefields,. Settlers built this style of fence when wood was plentiful. By stacking rails in a zig-zag pattern, the fence could be constructed without nails or wire.

This one is in Shenandoah County south of Mount Jackson.

March 4, 2009

Old Tulips Don't Fade Away

...they spread their petals until they drop.
spread out tulip

My tulips have finally lost their shapes and most of their petals. Yesterday I put the vase in a sunbeam and took a few final pictures of the loosened blossoms, pollen and all.

The second image is cropped to emphasize the shape of the vase.

A Yellow Tulip

March 3, 2009

Ice Cold


I have a rain chain hanging from a downspout. When it rains, the water cascades from one bell to the next and soon spills onto the ground. Unless, of course, the temperature is hovering around freezing, in which case the water may turn to ice.

Bunny Hops

Tracks in the Snow