On The Blackwater

Musing on retirement, writing, puppies, and whatever else strikes my fancy

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Spending my life in 20-year increments: DC, Calif, Maine, & now in the BlueRidge Mountains of VA, where my YoChon, Sadie Mae, has started to blog...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Doctor's Visit

Monday, I got in to see my doctor as the pain in my ankle has worsened, and there's swelling too. When he examined the ankle, he said: Wait! the X-ray showed a hairline fracture on the outside of your right ankle, but the pain and swelling are on the INside. You must have something else going on here...perhaps a torn tendon. We'd better get an MRI as X-ray only shows bone.

I'm set for an MRI on Monday. Meanwhile, he gave me new & stronger meds to take the pain away (pain is like shards of glass and brings tears to someone who does NOT cry easily) & admonished me to stay OFF the foot until we find out what is happening here. The new med is wonderful so I must be careful now not to do too much since this has been going on for nearly two months.

Hubby says he'll vacuum today...yay! With 10-year-old Winchester (choc Lab) in the house with Sadie Mae, the vac gets used a LOT.

I read the other day: Get your older dog a puppy to play with, and I have to agree. They had so much fun this morning, Sadie Mae copping Winch's chewbone & running swiftly around so he couldn't get it back...he finally did, so she started the game all over again. She'll do this, then collapse on the wooden floor of the foyer, pink tongue hanging out, and have a little nap. She loves to ride up with Dick on the ATV to get our paper. They are certainly bonding.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sunday musings~

Unusual for me to be at my computer, but at yesterday's wonderful picnic, I stood more than I should have & now am paying the price in pain. So we both stayed home from church and have all this amazing time to just sit around.

Dick not only grilled chicken breasts for yesterday's picnic, he added some moose, deer, and bear meat. He sliced everything up & I put lots of fresh parsley around the trays. I was pleasantly surprised that nearly everyone there (maybe 80 people) tried some of the wild meat & loved it. There's no wild taste if the meat is handled correctly & marinated & grilled. Most folks believe it has to be cooked to death, but this was all just like choice steak.

Colleen Redman's blog mentions her 'writing prompts' from another blog, so I went there today, and the prompt is "I've Got a Secret." You mention something in your Blog & readers try to guess what the secret is.

I think I'm too much of a "blurt it all out" person to follow that prompt, but maybe not. I just commented on Becky's blog about her picture of a singlewide set up for a wedding (or reception) with a fancy arch and huge green tractors, one on each side of the arch! Well, my comment was probably longer than her Blog, as I was so offended by videos shown on GMA of brides deliberately trashing their very expensive wedding gowns by wallowing in swampy water or mud or standing in a carwash & being photographed for their own albums. One dress was $2,500. I was horrified; all I could think about was some poor young woman who could have gotten one of those dresses at GoodWill or Salvation Army and felt wonderful at her own wedding. It's just obscene for those women to deliberately trash those beautiful dresses.

Of course, I had TWO weddings. The first dress, packed & saved at my inlaw's house, was ruined by a flood in their basement. After divorcing, when I married present husband, I bought an old-fashioned Jessica McClintock 1890's style dress, which I was able to wear again on our 10th anniversary when we renewed our vows. Since it is a size 8, it still hangs protected in my closet. I don't think I'll ever be a size 8 again, but I have a tall lanky grandaughter who will fit into it some day.

That's my rant for the day! Ankle felt like shattered glass this morning and I even had to let Sadie Mae run free instead of leashing her, so she raced around outdoors for 20 minutes before she returned home, pink tongue hanging out. Now I'll send Dick up on his ATV to get our Sunday paper & we'll sit on the sunporch (now all screens so it won't get too hot) & look out at the BlueRidge Mountains in the distance...

Saturday, June 23, 2007


This Blogging (that Becky talked me into) is addictive. I've never been good at keeping a Journal, but now I feel this is the best way to do that.

Yesterday (Friday) was another day of doctor's visits instead of meeting with Lake Writers.

About my ankle: it appears that my doctor's prediction that I'd be able to walk without the brace and cane in 'about a month' is a prediction for some 20-year old who might have twisted her ankle playing tennis. Instead, it's going to be more like THREE months total at my age, and I'm already approaching two months. This is a relief to know; I left the brace off on Thursday so I could get a much-needed pedicure (ingrown nails, don't ask) & ended up with lots of ankle swelling and pain. I was worried that the hairline fracture had turned into a real break, but apparently not.

Now, when are these Golden Years supposed to start?

Today includes an annual picnic for Dick's Barbershop Chorus. He grilled some chicken breasts and will slice them onto a platter with some parsley for decoration. He's good at that; he was a meatcutter and worked for a gourmet market in CA when I met him. I remember my lobbyist boss at that time was upset that I was dating a mere meatcutter...until he & his wife answered Dick's invitation to dinner and discovered a wonderful steak dinner, good wine, and the elegant home he shared with another bachelor at the time. They had a large pool and outdoor Jacuzzi, and would ride golf carts from their garage over to the golf course.

That takes me back almost 30 years in time!

Now we live on our 12 wooded acres above the Blackwater River, in our own piece of paradise, Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. Perfect. Peaceful. Lovely neighbors, each on their 16 or 18 acre piece of land, hidden in the tall trees. Someone bought a piece up near 122 and she (newly divorced, we hear, with 4 kids) is building a McMansion there...three stories high, lots of attic peaks, even a castle-like turret. I hear some of the neighbors are unhappy, as we all seem to hunker down into the trees while this new house will soar above the mailboxes and paper tubes.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Hubby's Mission Trips~

Oh, Amy H, let me explain a bit about St Richard's mission trips! We had a pastor at our church (since reassigned down to Danville to a larger church) who knew what mission trips could mean to people if he could persuade them to participate. Pastor Larry went on world-wide mission trips; he's a registered pharmacist and provides much-needed medical skills. Sometimes his teens went with him, and once his wife, a nurse, went along.

When a huge storm struck the Virginia coast, flooding out some very needy families, Larry coaxed my hubby and several others to drive there with him, and see what they could do in one week's time. Dick was directed to a disabled couple; when the flood hit, she had climbed onto her husband's bed as it floated up towards the ceiling. They survived, but the house and their wheelchair ramp did not. FEMA moved them into a nonaccessible trailer and gave them lumber to rebuild. I believe they were both in their late 70's or early 80's. The team plumbed & wired & then rebuilt the ramp so they could move back into their house.

Two years ago, after Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi, the group who had gone on the first mission trip decided it was time to head south. There's an agency called
UMCOR that sets up all around the world to recruit volunteers and provide them with necessary tools and materials. It's United Methodist Committee on Relief. That trip, the men helped rebuild a destroyed Methodist parsonage and actually slept in the church itself.

Now, this year, these older-and-wiser men decided to fly rather than drive to Biloxi. They were assigned to a house that was nearly just studs; you could have thrown a cat through any of the walls. By now, the group included several men who work as builders, so they were able to rebuild the house in that one week's time. (Details and pictures will be in the next Prime Living issue.)

Finally, let me say Dick no longer needs to be persuaded or coaxed. All of the men insist they gained more from each of these trips than anyone could possibly imagine. And they've bonded into a tight, cohesive group as well. (They purchased glowing green tee-shirts from the Mississippi conference group, and when the 9 of them stood up in church last week to show the slides and talk about the trip, we felt like we should have worn sunglasses!)

Yes, he is a good guy. And United Methodists are not the only churches sending teams down there; I think every denomination is doing this. If you know anyone who lives down there, they will tell you the churches send teams, and the colleges and universities do, too.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day Musings~

I so miss my Dad on Father's Day but find joy in memories. He's been gone since 1982, just 5.5 months after I lost my Mom. We had started building our part-log house in Maine, and suddenly I was orphaned. They were retired in Florida, came to Maine for a visit, and Mother became ill while they were returning via Fairfax, VA, where she was born. She wanted to visit old friends there, but ended up hospitalized. Cancer. I flew down, my sister flew north, and we spent the last 5 weeks of mother's life with her.

Daddy, whom we had thought was so strong, just crumpled. Those few short months later, he was gone. I didn't get to Florida in time to say Goodbye, but we'd talked on the phone before he lapsed into a coma.

Now, every Father's Day, I think of that dear man. He was always in a great mood; just tap dancing around on the kitchen linoleum to the radio or to one of the many records he loved to play. Many times, Mother would be cooking at the stove and Daddy would come into the kitchen, whistling, swoop her into his arms (he was tall and handsome, 6'3, to her 5') and dance with her. Then they'd push the pans to the back of the stove and disappear upstairs, Mother giggling away. It was years before I figured it out! After all, that was the 50's.

Back to the present...hubby got back from BBS college late last night, exhausted from the 7-hour drive from Salisbury and the 4 days of classes. Since he'd been eating out all that time, I thawed a couple of steaks to grill tonight. He got to sleep in, I went on to church and I'm glad I did, as our music director's daughter Emily played her violin (after 6 mos' of lessons) during our anthem, and it was beautifully done. Emily is 12 and was adopted from China; her younger sister Katie is from Guatemala...both have thick long straight shiny black hair, and southern accents!

When you realize that these were abandoned babies...Emily was found in a cardboard box in a park...and then see their canopied beds and the greatest parents any child could wish for, it puts a whole new face on adoption. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt aren't the only people to provide loving homes to babies with no forseeable future.

OK, down from my soapbox! Five kids between hubby and me (one deceased, though) and 16 grandchildren and 1 greatgrandchild. I guess we've done our part....being a grandmother is SO much better than being a mom...you get to break all the rules, grinning the whole time.

Tomorrow (Monday) I need to work on my play. It IS coming together, so far.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Blogging Away~

Becky, be sure you check out Colleen Redman's Blog on .... blogging! She has some interesting comments indeed.

Good meeting of our Rocky Mount Writers' Group today. Lots of information exchanged, copies of magazines (Hey...I saw a stack of Senior News downstairs in the library, gals.) This is a very active group, which helps me be motivated. I'm even plotting out a play that I plan to write; something totally new for me.

Looks like I won't be able to attend the July 11th meeting as our Book Club, which meets at noon across the hall at the FCL, is planning to visit a winery for their July meeting. Heather, Becky, it'll be all yours that day. Unless I need a designated driver...

As you can see, I DID finally figure out the picture posting deal. My problem was: Dick would e-mail pix to me, but I couldn't figure out how to move them to the blog. Now, I think I've got it. Next plan is to get my own picture up at the top. Hmmmmm

Hubby goes off to Barbershop College in Salisbury, MD leaving very early tomorrow morning and returning on Sunday. He's excited; nearly the whole 40-member group is going. That means I get the remote control, the easy quick meals...which includes my 'hubby's away' treat, getting Kroger to steam up a pound of large shrimp, with Old Bay of course, and rushing them home to enjoy with a glass of white wine. Dick doesn't really care for shrimp unless someone else peels them, which to me is part of the fun...peeling my own shrimp, that is.

Oh, I'll probably fix myself a salad, too, just to be healthy!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Sadie Mae now

Sadie Mae asleep on her Duck

Monday, June 11, 2007

Playreading yesterday~

I was asked to read FOUR small parts in 4 one-act plays at the quarterly playreading the SML folks put together. FOUR! And the plays were very wierd plays, but humorous, so I said OK. We begin with a social hour, then an outdoor potluck (if weather permits, and it did) & despite the cane and foot brace, not yet discarded, I had a grand time. Just sat and let friends come to me.

Playreading is just that; one run-through & you sit and read the material. No memorizing! YAY

Of the 4 plays, the one I liked the most was about a couple who come into the hospital where the wife had a baby three weeks prior, and they've decided to return the baby (for a refund, of course) because they've decided it is just too much trouble. It cries and poops, for heaven's sake. So they've changed their minds. I played the nurse/receptionist who cannot believe this couple actually wants to return a baby.

I could only think of Paris Hilton...couldn't you see her in the part of the wife? Oh, this is just too much trouble, so I've changed my mind. But of course in real life, she'd just hire a nanny. Or two. Or three.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

8 Things About Me

OK, Heather, here goes.

1. I adore Paul McCartney & Beatles music, although I missed 1964 The Tribute this year in Roanoke.

2. My favorite food (that's risky) would probably be my friend Martha Ann's homemade macaroni and cheese. Heart attack on a plate. She's a widow (fellow alto in the choir) who lives alone and bakes up my fave whenever I'm sick, delivering it to my door. Oh, I'm feeling a bit faint...

3. I'm a morning person. Get up at 6:30, watch the sun rise across the river, drink my coffee, eat my oatmeal, and then watch GMA with Diane Sawyer. Old habits die hard, but I used to have to run to work before the middle of the show, and now I can watch the entire broadcast.

4. What else do I watch? Grey's Anatomy, Dancing with the Stars, Northern Exposure (on every day on HD TV!) and on Saturdays, occasionally get hooked on Food Network.

5. I call my daughter up in Maine nearly every Saturday; my son moved to Montana after retiring as an Army Colonel/helicopter pilot in CA. We chat on the phone or by e-mail; he's busy with his mother-in-law's late-stage Parkinson's...his wife is her caretaker...and their 4 boys.

6. When moving here, I did a lot of research about medical resources, closeness to the VA Center, utilities, taxes...but never did I expect so many writers/readers in one area! And such supportive, helpful people. Becky at times had to dig her heels in and drive her head into my back to get me going on my book. And then this Blog. Thanks, Becky...

7. Let's see..favorite ice cream? Well, the Creamery wins hands down, but I yearn for Rum Raisin...my Dad used to take me to a small airfield near our home to watch the planes take off and land, and he'd always buy me a cone of Rum Raisin. So that is associated with very fond memories.

8. Well, here we are. #8. I've been searching my brain for 8 things not generally known about me...when my father was dying, he asked me to try to find HIS father...he told me he was adopted at the age of 4 by the man I thought was his biological father (who died when my Dad was 11) & that his actual father had been working on the Panama Canal (in the US Army) when HE died of either malaria or yellow fever. He was immediately buried in an unmarked grave, according to my grandmother. Who kept many secrets all her life and had her other son burn a wooden trunk with everything inside it that might have answered his questions. I wasn't able to get any information for him. But I'm sure he knows now.



20,000 visitors to Smith Mountain Lake?

That estimate was from the Roanoke Times, and I thought it was impossible, but living just half a mile off Rt 122, which goes directly to SML, I think they weren't too far off. On Thursday, when the bass tournament was starting up, I ran a few short errands. Hubby went down to the Marketplace in Rocky Mount to cook hotdogs for a church fundraiser during their First Thursday event, when they have live music.

Nobody came. Well, not entirely true, but the fundraiser was a bust and the Chamber of Commerce director was very apologetic. It was as if the weighing of the fish (the weighing of the fish? This is a big deal??) sucked everyone out of Rocky Mount to the lake.

Today, Saturday, I got hubby to take me to Lowe's to get 4 pots of geraniums (poor sad little things; they were marked down & had been neglected) for our back deck, and 6 pots of white flowers...forget the name of them!...that bloom in shade, for Muffie's grave-garden out back.
He decided to get a ream of paper for his printer nextdoor at WalMart's, and when he came back to pick me up at Lowe's, he told me Wallie World's parking lot was entirely full, streams of traffic going in and coming out, and town itself was nothing but bumper-to-bumper traffic.

I am happy for the merchants, the hotels and motels, the restaurants. But I'm glad my freezer is full so we can hide out here back in the woods. Yes, I did grow up in DC and then lived many years in northern CA (Carmichael, near Sacramento), but living in northern very rural Maine for 19 years turned me into someone who prefers small town life, seeing everyone you know at Kroger's on Tuesday (5% off day for seniors) or at Rose's on Wednesday (TEN% off for
seniors) or at the marketplace on first Thursdays.

I've driven in LA, Portland Maine, Boston (ARGHHH!), DC, NOVA (that's northern Virginia) but I'll just stick with Rocky Mount for now. Not on bass tournament weekend. CNN was there. ESPN was there.

OK, I'd better blog to Heather's challenge, although I do not know 8 other bloggers who haven't already gotten her e-mail!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Grilling French Fries!

Two blogs in one day; don't faint, Becky.

Hubby has been doing lots of grilling to keep me off my feet...and I surely do not mind. He never has been much of a griller. He laughed when I bought 'him' a new grill for Father's Day last year; he knew it was really for ME.

Well, he just loves French fries. I usually bake them in the oven to avoid all the fat, but most of them (frozen) turn out sorta blah. Dick decided to spritz an old cookie sheet, spread the FF out on it, then put it on the hot grill & put the top down. Frequently turning them, he gets brown crispy fries in no time. And it works with the cheapie fries, crinkle fries, whatever your family prefers. No heating up the oven thereby heating up the kitchen. No need to take them out of the oven, put them on top of the stove, turn them, open the oven again, bend to put them back inside.

How clever! I've been sharing this with everyone, so hope I haven't already put it on our Group site. Those of you with kids still at home, this is a real winner. Healthy, too, compared to McD's.

27th wedding anniversary

We went out for a lovely lobster dinner with the largest Margarita ever...I shoulda worn a bathing suit to swim in it, it was the size of a small pool. It took both hands to hold the glass.

Driving back from Roanoke, we went through some rain showers, nothing significant...until we arrived home to Rocky Mount. Apparently, a hailstorm had just passed through as we had small trees down beside the long gravel driveway and there were branches everywhere. Our sunroom got soaked, but fortunately everything there is waterproof, even the 'wicker' furniture. And we'd turned off the computers before we left.

Hubby is outside as I write, clearing up what we couldn't see last night. Living in these mountains surely does bring with it some amazing weather. My peonies had gone by, and the roses were going, so I'll need to do some deadheading now for sure.

Good news: My ankle is finally beginning to heal. The sharp broken-glass type pain is cutting back. I'll spend the next few days OFF the foot so I can take the brace off next week. I will say it has been great to see how accommodating strangers are when they see you with a cane. And I will miss those great scooters at WalMart! I am a real danger to others, smiling sweetly as I zoom down an aisle and around a corner...I just wish the items I need weren't up on a high shelf so often, but hey, this is temporary.

BTW: If you'd like to see our sunporch, it has been selected as the front of the Sunporch brochure and is featured first in their online brochure...check it out (the one with the Fiestaware) at http://www.sunporch.com Dick built it from a kit, on top of our existing deck.

I'm still trying to train Sadie Mae. I got the new book, The Loved Dog by Tamar Geller after seeing her on Oprah. The book is excellent...will keep y'all posted if it works!