February 28, 2014

Little Crocus

This bloom is about the size of my thumbnail. It's one of the first flowers I've seen in our yard this year. The other one was a dandelion.

Skywatch from Strasburg

Here were looking south from Hupp's Hill in Strasburg, Virginia. In the distance we see the Massanutten Range.

Linking to: Skywatch Friday

Street Scene, Harrisonburg

I'm posting this photo for the March theme for City Daily Photo: People on the Street. The location is Main Street at Newman Street in downtown Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Since the topic involves people, allow me to crop in tightly so you can see them. The store with signs depicting cats is Blue Ridge Dog. Sorry, I don't know the story behind this.

Linking to: Signs, Signs

February 27, 2014


I took this photo two days ago showing one of the county roads between our subdivision and Strasburg Road. As you can see, it was pretty rough.

After numerous complaints by residents, workers showed up today and spread new gravel. This is a temporary fix, of course. Another round of snow or rain will open the holes back up.

This is a gravel road and so far we've been unable to get it paved. Apparently Warren County has to put it in their 5-year plan before Virginia Department of Transportation will pave it. It's a county road but maintained by the state.

If you are a Virginia resident and want to report a road condition, you can do it online on the VDOT site. I've found they respond quickly to requests for warning signs and such, but potholes can take a while.

February 26, 2014

My Mother's Wedding Day

Scanned Black and White Photo
My sister gave me a photo taken over seven decades ago when our parents got married.  They wed at my mother's home in Riverside, Illinois. She made her own wedding gown! After all, the country was struggling to come out of the Great Depression.

Next to my mother is her sister. I believe the flower girls were neighbors. My parents met at the University of Chicago.

Tulip Under Hanging Lamp

Linking to: Wordless Wednesday

February 25, 2014

Mid-day at the Oasis

Downtown Harrisonburg, VA

The Oasis Gallery is on the corner of Main Street and Water Street. It's on the far left in the the first photo.

Harrisonburg is home to James Madison University. It's in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley.

Linking to: Our World Tuesday

February 24, 2014

Looking Left and Right

Mourning Dove in a Tree

doveMourning Doves are plump birds that make such a delightful cooing sound, I had forgotten that people hunt them for food. I read on our state game commission site that doves are very popular as a game bird. They are plentiful and stay around all year.

My photo of a dove with a blue jay was popular with readers last year. Normally they don't hang out together.

February 23, 2014

Proud Wings

I like to watch the geese stretch their wings. Yes, I've posted this sort of pose before. I hope you like it.

Linking to: Sunlit Sunday

Lecture in Strasburg

St. Paul Lutheran Church

We attended a lecture a week ago at a church in Strasburg. I was pleased to read that the pastor is Bill Nabors, whom we knew when we lived in Bryce Resort.

The talk was hosted by Strasburg Heritage Association and featured Dr. Clarence Geier of JMU. He gave an illustrated presentation on "Historical Archaeology and Sheridan’s 1864 Valley Campaign." He focused on investigations at Fishers Hill and Cedar Creek Battlefield.

This combined two of my interests, Civil War sites and archaeology. When I lived in Alexandria (Virginia), I was a volunteer in their archaeology program and edited their newsletter.

Clarence Geier, Ph. D.
Linking to: Inspired Sunday

February 22, 2014

Waiting Dog

In Woodstock, Virginia

Squirrel in the Snow

Our snow pretty much melted over the past two days but I took these photos before that.

Linking to: Saturday's Critters

February 21, 2014

Those Tall Crosses Near Strasburg

Skywatch: 3 Crosses, 2 Flags

If you drive up Interstate 81 through Virginia very often, you've probably spotted these huge crosses at Exit 296. They were erected by a large church along Route 55. The church was recently sold, but you can drive through the parking lot and get a closer look at this proud display behind the building.

I included a picture of the church in a 2008 post that's gotten a lot of hits via Google.

Linking to Skywatch Friday

February 20, 2014

Little Things for West Virginia

The children who live across the street are collecting items for people in West Virginia whose lives have been disrupted by a chemical spill that poisoned their drinking water. The collection is sponsored by their elementary school. They are asking for things like bottled water (of course), cleaning wipes, waterless toothbrushes, paper plates and cups, no-rinse shampoo, and food products that don't require water.
Items We Donated
This project sounds like a good learning experience because the students are not only enjoying a way to help others, but are also seeing how water, which we usually take for granted, is important to protect and how we depend on it for many things, such as drinking, cooking, cleaning, and bathing.

Although the chemical spilled into the Elk River a month ago, many people still don't have water that's clear and palatable. Not much is known about the safety of MCHM, and it has proven difficult to completely flush out from pipes. Some 300,000 people were affected including the population of Charleston, the state capital.

A thoughtful article on remediation is at Green Risks, and a charity accepting Paypal donations is Aurora Lights. I've been following the story with interest because West Virginia is a neighboring state and I've been there many times.

Blog Post #4250

For Bloggers Only

  1. Do you post photos on Blogspot or Google Plus? Have you noticed that your pictures don't look quite the way you expected? That's because Google now "enhances" your pictures unless you tell it not to! You can turn it off in Google+ settings. (Sorry, if you don't use Google+, I don't know how to fix this.)
  2. I've been trying out blog hops (or memes or linkups … whatever you choose to call them).  They present an extra challenge, and help bring new visitors. I prefer the ones that provide thumbnails so I can see a preview. Gemma has a blog listing different memes called Memeaholics.
    Of course, they present new places to visit and comment and already I just can't visit all the blogs I like to follow, much less comment on all of them. Let me know if you have a way to streamline commenting!
  3. A blogging friend emailed me to say that really short comments are rated low by potential sponsors. This doesn't really matter on my blog because I rarely get free stuff or advertisements, but now when I visit a blogging friend who carries ads or does reviews, I try to make my comments a little longer, say six words or more.
  4. Among the hindrances to leaving comments is lack of an easy-to-find link. Occasionally I find a link that's out of date so I can't find your blog. And sometimes Google+ makes it hard to find you. Also, verification puzzles like Captcha can slow down commenting. Yes, requiring users to solve a word puzzle in order to leave a comment is one way to cut down on spam, but it also cuts down on bona fide comments. Personally I will usually persist until I solve the puzzle, but if I see a second post that merits a comment, I'll just pass it by because I've already spent enough time squinting at wavy letters. Some researchers say that many users just leave a site rather than solve one of these puzzles. Other scientists estimate that people "spend a cumulative 150,000 hours at the gates of these irritating obstructions every single day."
Some of you bloggers are really amazing, keeping up with comments so reliably! Love you guys!

February 19, 2014

Look Up, Look Down: Sand Ridge Road

February in Western Shenandoah County

St. Matthews Church, West of Toms Brook, VA

Looking Down from the Church toward Back Road
I've driven down Back Road many times without noticing the Lutheran Church on Sand Ridge. It stood out against the snow and I noticed it was scenic. Then I drove up to see the view. That's Great North Mountain in the distance.

Linking to: Look Up, Look Down

Aflutter at a Feeder

Linking to: Wild Bird Wednesday

February 18, 2014

Snowy Garden Waterfall

Water World: Winter Pond

We stopped at a store today to pick up dog food and I was surprised to see one of their outdoor pond displays had the waterfall going in spite of the snow. Last week's snow has started melting but it was refreshed by a new frosting of snow last night.

Winter in Warren County

Our World: Snow Scenes 

In the Distance: Skyline Drive
Views from the Parking Lot, 
Front Royal Warren County Airport

Farmette with Red Barn

Linking to: Our World Tuesday

February 17, 2014

Happy Presidents Day

When I was a child we had a holiday for George Washington's birthday and another one for Abe Lincoln's birthday. Both were in February, and eventually they were combined into Presidents Day.

I actually grew up on land that was once owned by President Washington. In honor of his now-shared holiday, I'm posting two pictures from the old mill he owned at Mount Vernon. I took these pictures quite a while back; probably around 1998. I altered them in Photoshop and posted them on one of my webpages, which back then were hosted on AOL. Eventually AOL eliminated their web hosting so I moved most of my pages to other servers. These images are on my Old Mills page, which apparently I have not revised since 2008.

Cleared Snow

Snowy Day, Sunlit Day

After we got 14" of snow last week, we were amazed to find our driveway magically cleared! It turned out that our neighbor across the street cleared it with his snow blower. We have some really nice neighbors!

The next day the sun came out and the weather warmed up nicely. Frank and I shoveled a path to the bird feeders. Our little bird friends get quite an appetite in the winter, and many of their natural food sources are buried under the snow.

Linking to:  Sunlit Sunday and

February 16, 2014

Junco on Red Roof

When I bought this bird feeder it was unpainted. I painted the roof red so that it would look bright in photographs. The junco does not mind.

Linking to: I'd rather be birdin'

February 15, 2014

Tulips as Red as Roses

Linking to: Today's Flowers

Critters: Our Dogs in Winter

Notice how Ben is peeking out from behind the snow. 

Sometimes it's good to be indoors! Flash likes to sit in a sunny spot.

Linking to: Saturday's Critters

February 14, 2014

Skywatch: County Airport

Temperatures went up today and much of yesterday's snow melted. This is the Front Royal - Warren County Airport.

Linking to: Skywatch Friday

A Tragedy on the Highway

A friend of my older daughter was killed in an auto accident on Wednesday afternoon. His wife was seriously injured and underwent surgeries. Here's a photo I took of him with my daughter in 2010.
Ray Pickens and Lynn Javins
Ray was Lynn's next-door neighbor when she first moved to the Shenandoah Valley some 20 years ago. He was deaf and Lynn was able to converse with him using American Sign Language, which she had learned in school. Later they both moved to other neighborhoods and Ray married Kathy, but they kept in touch over the years, especially after texting on cell phones made it easy to send quick messages. At the time of the photo, Lynn was looking at mobile homes and Ray had a neighbor with one to sell, so we stopped at his home near Raphine to look at it. More recently, he and Kathy moved to Halifax County.

A news report mentions that the accident was weather related, as snow had started falling. Another vehicle crossed over the line and hit Kathy and Ray's car.

Lynn asks for prayers for Kathy, who faces a long recovery. Lynn has started a fund to help pay for burial expenses for Ray and also for Kathy's medical needs.

Please include Kathy Ratcliffe in your thoughts for healing. Thank you.

February 13, 2014

Another Snow Day

It snowed last night. At nine this morning, I measured 12 inches of snow, and we've had more since then.

This isn't breaking any records for Virginia, but it makes some roads impassable. We're just staying home.

February 12, 2014

Little Tracks in the Snow

Water World, Black and White

Ducks or geese waddled across the snow leaving curving trails. Yes, it looks like sand, but I can assure you it was snow that was still on the ground yesterday near Winchester.

February 11, 2014

Icy Branches

I took these pictures last week after an ice storm. There's another such storm heading for states south of here, and it's supposed to bring snow to Virginia tomorrow night.

Luckily the ice we saw last week melted the same day. I don't mind a little ice and snow as long as it doesn't stick around.

Linking to: Our World Tuesday

February 10, 2014

On Frozen Pond

One day last week I looked out and saw people on the ice. This is unusual because this is Virginia and the lakes don't freeze very often. In fact, I worried when I saw them. How did they know the ice was thick enough?

I remember when I was a kid and the pond over at Hollin Hall pool sometimes froze over. An adult would drill a hole and we would not be allowed to skate on the pond unless the ice was a certain thickness. Was it four inches?