September 30, 2010

Belle Boyd?

Near Mount Olive, Virginia

Living History, A Gentle Side

Civil War Living History
Mt. Olive, VA

Revolutionary War Reenactors

I enjoy living history events. Partly it's the costumes, but mostly it's the fun of traveling back in time sort-of, while still feeling safely in the present. I'm pretty sure I would not really enjoy living through the American Revolution or the Civil War. People really suffered here in the eastern part of the country.

These fellows are teaching us some things about the Continental Soldiers and their weapons. The location was the Shenandoah Germanic Heritage Museum property in Mt. Olive.

September 29, 2010

Fife and Drum Corps

The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps played at GermanFest on Saturday.

The Fife and Drum Corps is part of the U.S. Army's Old Guard which "conducts memorial affairs to honor our fallen comrades and ceremonies and special events to represent the Army."

The band's colorful uniforms are patterned after those worn by the musicians of Gen. George Washington's Continental Army. In those days, military musicians wore the reverse colors of the regiments. The uniform designed by General Washington included a blue coat lined with either red or white fabric.

Farm House Becomes a Museum

Shenandoah Germanic Heritage Museum
Mt. Olive, VA

farm houseThis farmhouse stands on the Hottel-Keller Homestead on Back Road in Shenandoah County. It is part of the Germanic Heritage Museum complex but is not yet open to the public. The grounds surrounding this home were the site of the recent Germanfest.

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September 28, 2010

Making Rope

One of the various living history demonstrations at Germanfest showed a method of making rope.

Rope used to be made of hemp, which grew well in Virginia. It could be made in modest quantities on a farm like this man is doing, or it could be made industrially in the very long lengths needed for ships.

September 27, 2010

A Civil War Doctor

Living History at Germanfest
Mount Olive, VA
Sept. 25, 2010

I was interested in the presentation on Civil War medicine because my great-grandfather was inspired to become a doctor after serving with the 84th Illinois Infantry. The historical interpreter gave an informative talk and showed examples of some of the medications. He discussed the toxicity of some and cautioned us that if we were to find a bottle of one of these buried in the ground, we should be extremely cautious.

In preparing for this post, I did a search for my great-grandfather James P. Suiter. I found him quoted in several books including Illinois in the Civil War and The Union Soldier in Battle: Enduring the Ordeal of Combat. I knew that he had left a diary and my dad's sister had given it to a history library. Well, the books show that it's in the collection of the Illinois Historical Library. I'm glad that researchers made good use of it.

September 26, 2010

Getting Tires in Maurertown

Frank Waits at the Tire Dealer

My car was due for inspection and the tires were getting worn, so last week we went to Shen-Valley Tires and got a set of new ones. If you've ever drive through Maurertown, you probably recognize this place. It's on the Valley Pike (U.S. 11).

September 25, 2010

Photos Lost and Found

We went to a festival today. The day was sunny and warm (a bit too warm for late September actually) and there were a number of history exhibits. So I took a lot of pictures.

Patsy Cline Exhibit
Tonight I started downloading them to my computer via the Zeikos card reader that I started using as described in a previous post. But the reader kept losing the connection. I've had this problem before but this time the connection went off and on, off and on. And each time a warning message appeared saying to eject the card properly or data could be damaged.

Then the pictures would not come back. The card appeared to have been scrambled. Uh-oh! I ejected it and tried to view the images in the camera. They seemed to be gone!

I opened my image recovery software (PhotoRescue) and tried to repair the damaged card. Unfortunately, the card reader lost its connection again part-way through the process. I wasn't able to eject the card properly because the connection was too loose, so I wound up shutting down the computer and starting over. This time I connected the card reader through a cord and made sure everything remained still on the table while the recovery software did its thing.

Yes! It worked and 70 pictures were saved. It looks like one was damaged but I don't think it was important.

September 24, 2010

Deer in the Driveway

deerWhen we took the dogs outside yesterday afternoon, Flash spotted a couple of deer at the end of the driveway. Of course he barked and the deer strolled away. Since both dogs were on leashes, we were able to get them back indoors without a deer chase.

Later I walked outside again and saw that the deer were back. I got my camera and took some pictures. When they moved slightly out of sight I walked halfway down the driveway to where I could see them and took another one.

In the last photo, note the figure right behind Junior. It's an old concrete deer statue that stands next to our neighbor's driveway. I'd love to know what the young deer thinks of it!

September 23, 2010

A Ridge in the Forest

George Washington National Forest near Wolf Gap

The View from FR 92

Last week we went for a drive on the slopes of Great North Mountain. From Wolf Gap Road we turned onto Forest Service Road 92 and followed it through the hills until it met Millertown Road. (I have a National Forest map which shows FR 92 but I can't find it on Mapquest. I purchased the map at the GWNF district office in Edinburg.)

Logging in George Washington National Forest

By the way, we saw a parking lot for the Big Schloss trail but a sign said the trail was temporarily closed because a bridge was out. (Turns out that the bridge replacement on Big Schloss is funded through the Recovery Act.)

Mosby Symposium Coming to Winchester

I just saw an announcement for an event in Winchester:

October 2, 2010

See the Turner Ashby Chapter Page for details.

September 22, 2010

Historic Newtown (Stephens City)

On Saturday I visited the history museum in Stephens City. In addition to their main building in a graceful brick house, they provide tours of a couple of nearby buildings.

I was impressed by the interior of Steele's Store, pictured below. It's shelves are full of authentic old merchandise, neatly displayed as though ready for customers.

All this is a short distance from busy I-81, providing a sharp contrast between the noisy and pressure of heavy traffic and the more gentle pace of the past, at least as we imagine it.

Old Farm Wagon

The Newtown History Center in Stephens City consists of several buildings. One of them houses large equipment, particularly this old wagon.

This one is not a Conestoga wagon, which has more of a banana shape in order to keep cargo centered. It does not even appear to be one of the many wagons that were built in Newtown (Stephens City) back when it was well-known for the the wagons built there. However, I have seen a Newtown wagon in Luray, VA.

September 21, 2010

Living History in Newtown, VA

These people are dressed in Civil War-era costumes as part of a living history event in Stephens City. Once known as Newtown, Stephens City lies along the historic Valley Pike south of Winchester in the Shenandoah Valley.

Earlier Posts:

Playing with PhotoFrame

PhotoFrame is from onOne Software. To open it's library from Photoshop (in Mac) I use the File/Automate menu.

September 20, 2010

Squirrel in Ivy and Grass

This little squirrel seemed shy but once he found something to eat he held still long enough to have his picture taken.

I used a filter (Ink Outlines) in Photoshop on the first image. The second one is not filtered except for a slight sharpening.

September 19, 2010

The View from Maggie's Deck

Some friends moved to a home on the section of Supinlick Ridge Road that heads southwest of Orkney Grade. They have this lovely view of Great North Mountain.

September 18, 2010

Pink Roses

We saw these roses in Winchester. I believe the first one is a "Queen Elizabeth" rose.

The roses in our own garden are not blooming right now, but we expect to have some more blossoms now that the weather is cooling off.

September 17, 2010

Close-Ups at the Shrine

The outdoor cathedral (shrine) at Shrine Mont is one of my favorite places in Shenandoah County. I've taken pictures there a number of times but they don't capture the feeling of ancientness of the place. You really should visit it!

To reach the cathedral from Orkney Springs, enter through the archway gate on the circle at the end of Route 263 and park in the lot across from #29 on the map. Walk up the driveway to the little chapel and the shrine.

Previous Posts: Shrine Mont in January

September 16, 2010

At the Music Festival

Shenandoah Valley Music Festival
Orkney Springs, VA

I took these pics on Labor Day weekend when the Tom Cunningham Orchestra was playing. They had a big rich sound that carried all the way to the tent where we were helping to serve ice cream and brownies.

September 15, 2010

View from Creek Valley Drive

Looking at Great North Mountain From
Creek Valley Drive at Orkney Grade,
Basye, VA

September 14, 2010

Testing a New SD Card

Our View Today

Great North Mountain
I formatted a new memory card for my camera today. It has a capacity of 8 GB which is much more than my old card. I've been shooting in "Camera Raw" and the files are large (over 20 MB) so the old card was filling up too quickly.

The new card works well in my newest camera but when I tried to see the pictures on my laptop I ran into a snag. My trusty card reader was not up to the task! Fortunately Frank had given me a new card reader for Christmas (which I had never used), and I located it and voila! The files showed up on the laptop so I can process them the usual way in Photoshop.

As you can see, I shrunk the picture and added a copyright line from an image that I created for that purpose. I paste it in whenever I feel like adding the copyright message. I resisted doing that for a long time, figuring an image smaller than 5x7 inches would not be stolen but alas! I found my pictures showing up on other sites without even a credit to my name. (People, if you want to use one of my photos, please ask!)

My reason for using the "Camera Raw" is to cut down on "noise" which was showing up as blocky pixelated areas in the sky. I still get some of that when I save as a JPEG, particularly a small version like this. I always save a larger version for printing.

A disadvantage of using "Camera Raw" and large files is that each picture takes noticeably longer to save on the camera, so it's click and wait ...and wait... before I can click again. I think when I'm shooting a bunch of pictures that don't involve the sky I will switch to a smaller image size.

Allison Visits

Frank and Allison

It was nice having Allison visit this weekend. She's working for ELI at Nova.

September 13, 2010


On Saturday we drove out to Waterlick to attend the annual meeting of the Shenandoah River Lakes Property Owners Association. It was our first homeowners' meeting with them because we did not own property there a year ago. Currently the home we purchased is occupied by renters but we were curious about the association.

The meeting was held at the community pavilion which is on a bluff next to the North Fork of the Shenandoah. The weather was beautiful and the people we met were friendly. The meeting was conducted by SRLPOA President Johnny Eppard, a local contractor.

September 12, 2010

Clean Water Needed in Many Countries

water aidThousands of children die each day due to illnesses from lack of clean drinking water. is raising awareness of this problem.

WaterAidAmerica: Supporting safe water and sanitation in Asia and Africa.

Blue Butterfly

butterflyI think this is a spicebush swallowtail. If you want to see something cute, search for pictures of the caterpillars of this species. They have spots that look like cartoon eyes!

September 11, 2010

Lynn and her Cat

Yesterday I visited Lynn and we took her cat to the vet for a follow-up visit. Fortunately Kitty is doing better. She had become quite ill following a treatment with a flea-control product.

The Humane Society has a page on the hazards of spot-applied flea treatments. They advise consumers to consult a veterinarian before using over-the-counter pesticides on pets.

September 10, 2010

Old Log Cabin

cabinI spotted this old house on Dellinger Gap Road near Jerome in western Shenandoah County, Virginia.

September 9, 2010

Burger King Changes It's Coffee

I drink only decaf and even then I only tolerate some brands. At home I make Folger's decaf because it tastes okay and doesn't cause me pain afterwards. The pain I speak of is high in the abdomen, around the rib cage. Sometimes it's been pretty intense, so I try to avoid drinking coffee in restaurants unless I've had it there before without bad results.

On Monday we were in Luray and stopped at Burger King. I ordered a cup of decaf and had a rude disappointment. It was not the coffee I was used to getting there. It tasted like bitter mud. I threw out most of it, partly because of the taste and partly because I need to stick to brands I know are safe for me.

I got around to checking the web tonight to see what happened and found that Burger King has ditched it's BK Joe coffee and replaced it with Seattle's "Best." That word "Best" is part of the brand name, not an actual description. Yuck! (To be fair, I don't like the other famous brand from Seattle either. Expensive does not equal good, in my experience.)

Back to the chest pain: I don't know why I get it from some coffee brands and not others. Perhaps it's the acid content causing gas, or possibly there's an additive or contaminant (propylene glycol maybe?). It even happened with a cup (actually only part of a cup) of organic decaf that I purchased in a natural foods store. Anyone else get chest pain from coffee?

Contrails forming a "Y"

Yesterday we saw these vapor trails against the evening sky. We often see contrails left by planes flying over the mountains.

September 8, 2010

A View from the Quicksburg Mill

Vista at Quicksburg, VA

Looking across the railroad toward the North Fork of the Shenandoah with the Massanutten Mountains in the distance

We stopped in Quicksburg on Saturday to visit the annual Labor Day "Yard Sale" at the old mill. It's a chance to see some old stuff including books, magazines, sheet music, and antiques, and to take a look at the inside of the mill. It is believed to have operated until the middle of the 20th century, and later served as a post office.