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, May 30, 2007

of Septic Tanks and other mundane things

As a former city girl (Washington DC & Sacramento CA) turned country (Presque Isle Maine & now Rocky Mount, VA) septic tanks were not part of my earlier life.

Heck, you just flush that flush...a Maine term...& life goes on. Or doesn't~

I am so thankful that Hubby, raised in the backwoods of northern Maine, knows exactly what to do when the thousand gallon tank decides it has reached the limit. Find the plot diagram, since we do have 12 acres of wooded land, measure out from the house, dig down in this wonderful clay soil, then call the pumper-outer people.

The other evening, I was out to supper with three women friends who live in town. They complained about their huge water bills that are soon to increase, the cost of weekly garbage pickup, and other maintenance costs. I sat there, so smug...no wonder our septic system grumbled at me.

But I would not ever trade our beautiful view of the BlueRidge Mountains for downtown, even if downtown Rocky Mount is hardly the big city. And we've never met kinder, friendlier, more welcoming people.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial Day Weekend~

Oh, the weather is just loverly! Hubby has been working on his ham radio tower since Friday, climbing 70 ft up, hoisting tower sections, bolting pieces onto it.

So much for spending a 3-day weekend enjoying yourselves, but it makes him happy to get this done, and my hobbling around with a cane doesn't allow for much in the way of fun. I DO have the perfect excuse for taking it very easy, however.

And the grill has been working every day. I love grilling season. Got some sweet corn from Kroger's, removed the silk without removing the husks, soaked them in cold water for an hour, brought the husks back up around the ears of corn, piled them onto the hot grill, and had roasted corn in about 15 mins. Oh, my, wasn't that good. Had steak shishkabob with the corn.

Tonight will just be hotdogs and beans. Tomorrow: steak & more of that good corn. The last batch was white corn; today I found sugar & gold, which was always my Mom's favorite.

I had planned to get some lessons on using the digital camera and then posting pix on this Blog, but I'll have to get Hubby down off that tower first. Glad he is safely belted in; I'd hate to hear a **THUD!** and have to go dig him up out of the red clay.

Sadie Mae got into some tiny green stickers & had to be combed and brushed, & combed again & brushed again. I saw something on her lower lip & when Hubby looked at it, he saw it was a big gray tick...looked like a hulled sunflower seed. He yanked it out, and Sadie Mae was so happy.

I guess the combo heart worm, flea & tick med we give her the first of every month must have worn off early. You would think an inside small dog would be virtually tick-free, but whenever she gets off her lead, she loves to head down into the brush & tall grass. Tick heaven.

Well, it's time to bring the man down off his tower so he can get the grill going. He has never been a grill man, but my having to stay off my feet has got him working the grill. This is a good thing~

Becky, I enjoyed your Blog about your tail-gater. I love it when you are stopped for someone ahead of you who is turning, and the person behind you leans on his or her horn. Do they expect you to push a button & leap over the vehicle ahead?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

An Angel in the Woods

Our home perches on a ledge over the Blackwater River, a rock ledge with very old, very tall trees. Looking down, we see the river as it flows by. On the other side of the river, a lush green field rises up towards the Blue Ridge Mountains, providing a home for Black Angus cattle, an occasional deer, and wild turkeys in flocks of as many as 35 or 40.

Before the ledge drops away down to the river, there is a natural alcove, rising like a small cathedral and padded by a soft pale green fern-like ground cover. Inside the alcove stands a 4 foot tall statue of a praying angel, looking down sweetly on a river rock-lined flower bed. Every year, I plant shade-loving white flowers in the flower bed, after I’ve cleaned it up from the year before.

This is my Lhasa Apso’s resting place after filling my heart with love for 16 years. Muffie had lost her eyesight and resorted to curling up on my feet when I was in the kitchen at the cutting board, so she knew exactly where I was all the time. Her kidneys were failing as well, and when she began her rapid decline, we knew it was time to ease her into another world, one where she could still run and jump and see the wild rabbits scampering into the woods.

When we buried her in her grave-garden, I would wake at night, upset that she was out there in the dark, all alone. I found the praying angel at a local garden center and got hubby to install a steel rod inside to anchor her to the spot. It was he who found the round river rock to line the flower bed. And it was he who turned the spotlight in our house eaves so a soft white light played on the alcove during the night. Since then, we can look out at night and feel comfortable that Muffie has light, and flowers, and an angel looking over her above the river and in the trees.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

NOT osteo & other matters~

Before I forget, check out the Blog at http://www.looseleafnotes.com. Not only is it fascinating (Colleen Redman lives in Floyd, nuff said!) but she linked to a blog co-written by an alligator named Virgil that is very funny. I particularly liked the alligator's story about Ivan Trump's bras. Interesting technique, to have a 'co-writer' go off like that.

OK, somewhere I posted that the Bone Density test came out A-OK. I do not have osteoporosis but somehow twisted my ankle and caused a hairline fracture. Got myself one of those 4-pronged canes and actually had to go online to learn how to walk with a cane! I kept wanting to have it on my left (much less pain in my right ankle that way) and sure enough, that's what you do. Went to Kroger's yesterday (5% off day for seniors AND you get points for cheap...er gas at the Lake Kroger's AND they sent me $10 worth of coupons if I spent $70 in one trip. Which is easy to do.

Well, Rocky Mt Kroger's apparently only has ONE of those drive-around carts, and it was in use, so I ended up leaning on a regular cart...ooops! That's BUGGY down here... they were nice enough to unload my groceries into the trunk of my PT but Hubby was not home when I arrived, so I had to get the frozen & cold stuff into the house. He unloaded the other stuff once he got home.

I want you to know...I had more pain in that ankle last night than I'd had all week long. When the doctor says to stay off your feet, apparently he actually means it. Whew! Today, I feel like a new person as the meds kick in and I STAYED OFF MY FEET!

Thanks for all your nice comments. I wasn't sure whether or not to publish them on the blog...maybe I should do that. I do appreciate the kind thoughts & sharing of information.

Tomorrow, Becky and I meet with our small committee to work on the August Book fest for Franklin County Library. It'll be primarily the Fri night readings upstairs at Edible Vibes, August 10th, when we will drink a little wine, with Tapas, and talk and listen to the readings, which promise to be humorous. Then we have one local author speaking on Saturday, when you can bring the kids along. If we lived in Floyd, we'd be able to hang with our kids and play Scrabble...


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Getting Older Ain't for Sissies~

I came home from the eye doctor the other day, driving very carefully from Roanoke as my eyes were still dilated and everything was very, very bright. I'd gotten myself one of those 4-pronged canes to steady my fractured right ankle and am still learning how to use it along with the black leather brace on my foot. No, there's not a whip to go along with this outfit!

Dick hadn't driven me to the eye docs as he's had that awful flu that keeps a person from getting too far away from a bathroom...

When I got to my front door, Sadie Mae, my bolting Yorkie pup, flew by me yipping her high-pitched squeal at her delight that I'd returned home. I was struggling with my keys, the awkward cane, and my purse.

Dick, resembling a grey ghost in his flu misery, shouted: Quick! Run & catch Sadie Mae!

I burst out laughing. RUN & CATCH Sadie Mae? "I can't see, can't run...or even walk...and you're throwing up all over the place. This is like living in an old folks' home!"

Fortunately, Sadie whipped around and made one of her famous big leaps back into the house.

Maybe I need to keep one of those Grabbers by the front door ....

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sedalia Center writers' conference

I had a great time at Darrell Laurant's conference The Brave New World of Freelance Writing. It began with a very informal Friday evening wine and cheese reception. I spent much of my time chatting with Dan Smith, author of Burning the Furniture, and Shannon May, who visited our Lake Writers a few times. Shannon is thinking about starting a writers' group in Forest, so I gave her some tips garnered from our recently-begun Rocky Mount Writers' Group at the Franklin County Library.

Laughed a bit with the fellow pouring wine about the fact that I'd gone to Mapquest for drive directions and time to get to the Sedalia Center. Printed out a whole page of fairly confusing directions, when all I really needed was: follow Rt 122 north, make a left turn on Sedalia School Road...bingo! Return: follow 122 south. (I live right off 122). I guess if Mapquest gave those simple directions, they wouldn't stay in business!

I returned the next morning to find a light breakfast of donuts, muffins, coffee and juice. Despite a particular chocolate donut with fudge frosting that was frantically calling my name, I met up with Sally Roseveare, our own Smith Mountain Lake mystery author (Secrets at Spawning Run) and we rushed off to catch two discussions: First was the author of There is a Season...A novel based on a true story, Carolyn Tyree Feagans. Feagans has previously written four books about this area. Season takes place during the 50's and 60's, on and around the Blue Ridge Parkway. Her books are published by Lynchburg's Warwick House; Joyce Maddox of Warwick House Publishing was also in attendance at the conference.

The second discussion was by Dan Smith, about writing memoirs. His delightful humor was very much a crowd-pleaser, as was his excellent advice to all of us there.

Lunch gave me a chance to "count the house" and I believe there were 30-35 in attendance at that point, some having had to leave. Lunch was make-your-own sandwiches with a large tray of sliced roast beef, turkey, swiss and cheddar cheese, several choices of excellent breads, chips and veggies, pasta salad, sodas and bottled water. Dessert was a selection of bakery cookies. Perfect!

For a total cost of $25, which actually was a donation to the Sedalia Center, this conference was a winner. The last one was some 4 or 5 years ago; I'm hoping Darrell will make this an annual event. Networking went on at both panels I attended, as well as at the wine and cheese on Friday night. Books were bought and sold, but in a very low-key way indeed.

For Darrell Laurant and all who helped him put this together, Bravo! And a resounding Thank You.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Birthday and then Mother's Day

Had a lovely birthday dinner at Carrabba's Italian Grill. Dipping warm homemade crusty Italian bread into EVOO while sipping sangria...heavenly.

Hubby got home late Saturday night from a Mission Trip week down in Biloxi with 8 other men from our church. They had a great time restoring a 1900's era home for an elderly black woman; three previous teams had turned down the job because the wiring and plumbing were so ancient, but our group rolled up their sleeves and went to work, hardly breaking for meals.

They slept in a dorm-type building and rudimentary meals were provided, but they particularly enjoyed the meal cooked for them on Thursday night by the homeowner and her sister. Grilled chicken and greens, salads and biscuits. Hubby couldn't eat the biscuits, but the other men tucked right in!

They flew back to Raleigh, arriving home just before midnight, then got up at 7 Sunday morning so they could get over to the church and cook breakfast for us Moms. Crisp bacon, sausage patties, biscuits and sausage gravy, scrambled eggs, coffee, OJ, and fresh fruit. Our service followed at 11 am and those of us in the choir watched as the Mission Trip members nodded off, one by one!

It's good to have him home again. These missions absolutely change everyone's perception of what in life is necessary, and what can be just something a person wants to own. A pharmacist, an eye doctor, a retired banker, a business man (who took vacation time for this trip), other retirees all paid their own way to participate, considering the expense as a donation to our Methodist church. And they are all excited and happy to have helped someone be able to have heat and running water, and stay in her own home after Katrina.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Fracture not slowing me down too much

OK, I'm walking much more slowly but thank heavens I can drive (YAY!). Grocery shopping meant I could use one of those little electric carts. With milk and eggs always miles away from the produce section, that little cart is a blessing.

Have hubby doing lots of grilling and also waiting on me, so that's an added bonus.

Dick leaves early Saturday morning with a group of 8 other men from our church on a mission trip to Biloxi, doing rebuilding and renovating after Katrina's damage. This time, they're flying instead of making that long tedious (& expensive) drive. They are supposed to stay in military-style tents, but I convinced him a motel would be better, so they could shower and sleep with AC. These are mostly retired men; they don't need to work all day in that heat and humidity and then sleep in an open-sided tent.

As for me here at home, I'll just take care of the dogs and eat my salads without having to worry about fixing meals or anything like that. Sadie Mae IS learning to Come when called (bits of hotdogs worked magic!) and doesn't need to go outside as much. But I know she'll miss the Alpha Dog/Pack Leader. She & Dick have a close bond. He even takes her with him to the dumpster; one of her favorite things is to ride along in his truck. He lets her stick her head out the window only while he's driving up our driveway. I'm guessing it makes her feel like a BIG DOG for those few moments!

Hey, thanks for all the sympathy, but I'm doing OK with the fractured ankle. Going out for my birthday dinner tomorrow night to Carrabba's and will let you know Friday how it went. My Montana son Mike sent me an enormous hanging fuchsia plant, which I just love. I'll get Dick to hang it before he heads south.

Yes, I know Becky, take pictures! I did get some of our writer's group and Dick 'put them on my PC' but I have to find out from him how to get them HERE!