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...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Old Memories

Funny how old memories surface from the deep pool of our minds. Over 40 years ago, while raising my three kids in California, I volunteered to assist in the elementary school lunchroom one day a week. The kids were great, very polite and courteous--remember, this was another time, unlike today's permissive, My-kid-is-always-right view.

There was one shy little boy who ate his lunch very slowly during the last of three lunch periods. It was obvious to me that he just did not want to go out to the playground. I suspect he was teased there. My turf was the lunchroom, not the playground, so I gave him permission, when he softly asked me, to stay in the lunchroom until the bell rang to go back to class.

One of the other moms insisted he should go outside, but I told her it was the last lunch period, so no one was waiting for the room to clear to eat lunch. He wasn't causing any difficulty. He even cleared up after himself without leaving a trace that he'd been there. "Leave him alone," I told her. For whatever reason, he needed to have this time. He smiled up at me through his thick dark eyelashes.

The last day of school, he asked me if I had a pencil. I handed him one, and saw him begin writing on a napkin while the other kids noisily headed for the outdoors, all wired up for their summer vacation to begin. He wrote and wrote, then when the bell rang, he hurried over to me, handed me my pencil, then pushed the folded up napkin into my hand, his eyes downcast, as he smiled towards the floor.

After I got in my car to go home, I unfolded the tightly creased napkin and read: I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU scrawled all over both sides of the napkin. Tears came. I'd been facing my own trauma at home, with an abusive alcoholic husband making my life, and my kids' lives, a living hell. Our priest had patted my knee, telling me: "That is the cross you must bear, my dear." I had left his office (and ultimately, the Catholic church) determined to find a fulltime job and file for divorce. I never was good at carrying a cross. I had been strongly feeling the lack of love in my life, and this shy little boy had shown me the sunshine of his heart just when I most needed to feel loved.

I still have that folded note in my jewelry box. We never know whose life we touch--and perhaps, change--with simple kindness.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Keith Ferrell Speaking at Moneta Library

My buddy (and brilliant speaker) Keith Ferrell will give a talk at 10 am on Thursday, 8 November, at the Moneta Library at Smith Mountain Lake. His topic: The Death of Reading. Yes, we all hope he is wrong, that young people ARE reading, but as former Editor-in-Chief of Omni Magazine in NYC, Keith still keeps very strong ties with what is currently happening in the book business, in the magazine business, and with reading in general.

Keith has authored over a dozen published books and is currently working on another novel. Keith moved from NYC to a farm in Franklin County with his wife, Martha, a teacher. Their son is a successful musician in NYC.

I love that he bakes scrumptious pizzas on his outdoor grill...in fact, he says he does all his cooking on the grill. I wish he'd teach a couple's course in this; my husband finally does grill, but his repertoire is somewhat limited.

Keith's talk on the 8th will not include baking pizzas, but the Friends of Moneta Library will provide refreshments. There is no charge for the event.

Hope to see you there.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

SMAC and my play

Smith Mountain Arts Council held their annual meeting Thursday evening and for entertainment, four 10-minute plays were performed by SMAC members who had attended a Mill Mountain Theatre acting class. After the plays, I went over to congratulate my friend Peggy, who had acted in one of the plays. She introduced me to the person who had taught the classes, telling her about my 30-minute play that I've written for the SMAC playreading group.

Lo and behold: I was asked to send a copy of my play to her. I know not why, but it's exciting to contemplate Summer at the Lake, which is NOT about SML but concerns a small lake in northern Maine, and visitors who drop by but then do not leave, as fitting somewhere into the Mill Mountain productions, or possibly the next classes they hold.

Yesterday (Friday) after our Lake Writers regular meeting, three of us met for lunch and decided we'd read my play on a Sunday in February, to the playreading group. My hairdresser, Eric, was into little theater years ago; he's asked to play the part of the arrogant doctor. Peggy will be his Trophy Wife, cellphone to ear. I'll be Aunt Edna, who is a breath of fresh air...she descends on the group with a plan, and her plan sends the doctor and his wife, their two kids, and their small dog running off full-speed. Except for Aunt Edna, this actually is a true story, changed around for the humor.

I've never written a play before, and this one was written just to be read off the page, so we'll see what happens next. (I just did a small edit here; I decided not to put the entire end of the play on my blog...after all, Google is watching...) and thanks for the nice comment, Amy.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Your Name in the Paper

Generations ago, it was thought inappropriate for one's name to be in the newspaper except on two acceptable occasions: birth and death. Now, it's everybody's 15 minutes of fame and some push and shove to get their faces turned towards the camera. We see completely untalented singers standing in front of three 'judges' and singing off-key and out of tune. Couldn't their friends or family have told them ahead of time...Honey, I love you, but you just cannot sing?

Ah, but this is a story about having your name in the paper...I hope I haven't already blogged about this, 'cause it is one of my favorite stories.

Some years back, while living in California and raising three kids, I was visiting a good friend whose four boys were already in their teens. She told me about her youngest, David, who was reading the morning paper while eating his breakfast when he shouted, delightedly:" HEY! LOOK! My name is in the paper!"

His brothers and Mom and Dad huddled around him as he pointed at the sports pages. Sure enough, he'd joined the golf team at school, and his name was listed among the members.

"David," said his proud Mom, "when your name is in the paper like that, you cut it out." She began clearing the breakfast table and decided to buy David a scrapbook when she went to the store later, so he could keep pictures and articles.

After everyone left for school and work, Martha went into John and David's shared bedroom to straighten up and dust. From the doorway, she saw something very tiny and white on the dresser top. Going closer, then closer still, she discovered: David's name, cut from the newspaper. Just his name, the tiniest narrow strip of paper carefully scissored out.

She laughed and laughed. He'd taken her advice to heart, all right. Cut his name right out of the paper.

She and I got the biggest kick out of David's interpretation. I suspect she Scotch-taped it right onto the first page of the scrapbook she bought for him. And of course this became one of those family history stories that she now shares with her grandchildren about their father.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tornado Warning? For Rocky Mount?

At 4:30 pm, the Weather Station posted a tornado warning for...Rocky Mount! What? A tornado warning? We were advised to go to the basement (what basement?) or at least away from windows, crouch down under heavy blankets and stay there for an hour!!

OK. Sure. Definitely. Yeah.

I hurried over to the camper, where Dick was installing his latest purchases...new towels with a flyfishing motif, a bathroom rug the same caramel color as Sadie Mae, a seat cover for the toilet...and told him about the warning, asking him to please come over to the house as the weather people were advising to get out of any mobile homes.

He did, just in time for the Weather folks to remove the tornado warning....whew! Pouring rain followed, so we decided to stay home tonight rather than drive into town for choir practice. Too risky, with all the tall old trees beside the roads we'd be driving along. They could easily come crashing down.

The rain is SO welcome, although flash flooding alerts are coming through now. The red clay soil is so dry that the heavy rain must be rolling right off the top, and we're downhill from Rt 122, with the Blackwater River below our ledge.

I can still hear my grandmother saying: It never rains but it pours!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Cool misty day

Looks as if we'll get some actual rain this week. This morning's mist was like a light kiss on my upturned face as I took Sadie Mae out for her walkies. Ah, how nice this feels after such a long hot summer that baked this red clay soil until it cracked.

Mother Nature changed things around a bit...I found two yellow and orange peace roses blooming away, and even the poor old weeping cherry tree that suffered through the drought conditions and some kind of creepy caterpiller that wove nests on the bare brown limbs, even the weeping cherry put out tiny bursts of cherry blooms on several dead-looking limbs.

I even saw wild asparagus sprouting bright green fronds, at a time when I believe they should be dry and golden. Up in Maine, near the edge of the woods where the birds would sit on limbs and...well...drop seeds down, we would look for the asparagus fronds and tie small streamers on the overhead branches, so we could go back and find the asparagus in the spring. We would grill trout or landlocked salmon along with new potatoes and fresh peas from the nearby farmers' fields once we'd had a feed or two of asparagus.

We also would take our persimmon-colored canoe to a swampy island and pick fiddlehead ferns. THAT's work, let me tell you...back-breaking. Fiddleheads taste a lot like asparagus but they have to be thoroughly cleaned of the outer coating before you can steam them. I finally learned to buy them from the fellows sitting beside their pickups along the road who had done all the hard work for me!

One thing I found intriguing...when new potatoes came in, you could stop at any stand on a highway to find bagged potatoes and a price posted, with a basket or box sitting there for you to drop the money in, and make change if need be. If you were a regular, you could leave a note such as: Sorry, Sam, I don't have the right change, but I took a bag of new red potatoes and I'll bring the money by tomorrow.

I remember one time, the Governor (who was married to my boss, the US Senator) was told to drop his rental car at the airport and put the key in the (unused) ashtray, leaving the car unlocked. He laughed, saying if he did that in DC, the car rental agency would never see the car again. He knew I'd grown up in DC and loved to tease me.

Bit of nostalgia there! I do NOT miss the long hard -40 degree weather nor do I miss the driving, sliding, skidding, whirling around in a circle without intending to do so. Ooops, I thought I was going UP this hill but it looks as if I'm heading back down again....

We built our own log and beam home, on the side of a mountain, next to the state park. And I do miss it. Hence our plan to haul our camper up next spring, and spend the middle of summer there. Maybe my daughter Cathie will drive me around in her new car!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fantastic News!

The local radio interview went really well, and I got to break my personal good news over the air...

My grown daughter, 44 and living in rural northern Maine, attending college there, has had a rough time in life. She raised three wonderful children alone after her Vietnam vet husband died of a massive coronary on Thanksgiving Day, 1997. Up until 1999, when we retired to Rocky Mount, we helped her out as much as we could although she is fiercely independent. (Wonder where she gets that?).

Cathie lives in an old farmhouse on 5 acres, heats with wood, and is frugal with the modest income she receives...which now is sharply decreasing as her children come of age, graduate college, and leave home. She has only 15-year-old Anna at home now. But Cathie never complains, she's a very positive person who finds joy in a sunrise and exercise in shoveling foot-deep snowfalls every winter.

After her husband died, Cathie began depending on her online widow friends to help her through the night. Then she got in the habit of entering each and every contest she came across online. Her kids and friends teased her, telling her she was wasting her time.

Apparently not.

She has just been officially notified that she won the NASCAR Sweeps, winning a Racing Customized Dodge Charger worth $51,000, a check for $25,700 to pay the taxes and other costs involved, and airfare and hotel costs and spending money totaling another $2,920 with a grand total of over $81,000! They are flying her and her oldest son to Phoenix for the Kasey Kahne (#9 driver) race on November 11th; they'll be there from 10 until 12 November. Her older brother, my son Michael, just finished a year's training in financial advising and he is planning to fly at his own expense from Montana to Phoenix to help her make any decisions.

We are all so happy for her. After a lifetime of hard knocks, I've prayed and prayed that something wonderful would happen for her, but I never would have expected her to win a NASCAR Sweeps prize like this. I know very little about NASCAR and she knows even less. But I'll bet she will end up learning a lot after this event.

I plan to watch the race on November 11th, of course, cheering on Kasey Kahne and watching for Cathie and son Jessie Sherwood being awarded this huge prize.

Being the sensible person she is, I suspect she'll opt for a 4WD SUV rather than a splashy racing Dodge Charger...she'll need something that can stand up to two feet of heavy snow over six inches of solid ice where she lives. Son Michael is already advising her to invest, invest, invest. She says she at least wants to replace some old drafty windows in her ancient farmhouse. I am just so pleased; prayers DO get answered.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

On the Radio tomorrow~

Remember radio? Remember AM radio? Remember local AM radio? Like Fannie Flagg writes about, I'll be interviewed tomorrow morning (Monday the 22nd) at 11 am on 1570 AM which is WYTI in Rocky Mount.

I'll be looking for a little house with a huge antenna, so Becky tells me as she was interviewed last week.

Peggy Conklin does the show, and she told me I'll be on for about 15 or 20 minutes, talking about my book, When Men Move to the Basement, Rocky Mount Writers, Lake Writers, why I moved to Rocky Mount in the first place, and who knows what other topics.

Should be fun; I started out in local radio, waaaay back with WOL in Washington, DC, with Eddie Walker and Willard Scott as THEY were just starting out. Eddie still broadcasts out of DC, but of course Willard went on to announce birthdays of 100+ years. Of course, it's much easier to be interviewed than to ask the questions.

Yesterday several of us from Lake Writers (see Becky Mushko's blog at http://www.peevishpen.blogspot.com/ for a picture of the group) sat outside the Westlake General Store and signed our books. Well, some of us signed books, others of us just chatted with everybody and drank Vermont Maple Syrup coffee to wash down some great ham biscuits. It was a bit breezy, but the weather was beautiful.

Today was church, and the Methodist Men's Group put on a spaghetti feed to raise money for scholarships. They had quite a bit left over, so it went into the fridge until Tuesday, when hubby and others volunteer at the Soup Kitchen in Rocky Mount. Spaghetti sauce is always better a day or two later. We also had an Eagle Scout ceremony at the church, so Dick got to wear his (adult) uniform as they celebrated four young men achieving that rank.

Busy day, busy week~

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Friday, October 19, 2007

No Child Left Inside!

That was the underlying message of last night's Visual Essay put on at the Franklin County Library by Floyd's Fred First.

His presentation was prose poetry interwoven with his magical photography. He and his wife had visited their daughter and husband and grandaughter in the midwest, and the family decided to take their visitors to a Childrens' Fun Center. The parking lot was jammed with vehicles, and they entered to find a garish world of video machines, noisy clanging bells, bright lights, and kids straddling make-believe ATVs with all the accompanying sounds.

Remembering that 'Grammie and Grumpy' were from a peaceful place in the mountains, the family retreated and drove to a nearby park. No other vehicles were in the parking lot. It was quiet. Soon, grandaughter found an abandoned bright blue kite, missing some pieces. She had a great time 'flying' that kite, to the adults' delight.

Fred went on to feature pictures of his grandaughter as she climbed around in a Floyd creek, dipping water into some discarded food containers, picking up a salamander, getting her jeans thoroughly soaked, and all the while grinning in pure childish delight.

No Child Left Inside? We are becoming a nation of children sitting in front of the flickering blue light of their computers, 'chatting' with strangers, circling the globe without moving from their chair, or their room, or their house.

Fred advocates breaking free, taking your child or grandchild or neighbor child outside, into the creek, up the side of a mountain. He suggests we learn the names of the plants around us, the birds up in our trees, and teach this to our children. Show them the world that exists outside the window to that bedroom of theirs, the world most of us grew up taking for granted. Live in a big city? I grew up in Washington, DC, yet I recall biking to the library and sitting under a weeping willow tree, hidden away, while I eagerly began reading one of the stack of books I had in my bike basket. My library card was like a magic carpet.

After years of hikes and canoe trips and other wilderness adventures, my husband and I found ourselves standing on a ledge above the Blackwater River, looking across at a sloping field of Angus cattle and the Blue Ridge Mountains beyond, knowing we would buy these 12 acres of wooded land, because somehow, we too were home.

Be sure to visit Fred's http://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/ and read his blog, enjoy his photography, order his book, Slow Road Home: a blueridge book of days. Our book club selected his book for this month's read, and last night, he graced us with his Visual Essay.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Get Your Dog a Puppy

These cooler days have the chocolate Labs full of energy, and little Yorkie Sadie Mae is doing her circle runs at highest speed, ears straight out behind her as she jumps OVER the Labs every chance she gets. I still don't know if those long, high leaps are from her Yorkie dad or her Bichon Mom.

We believe all her youthful energy helps the oldest Lab, Winchester, move more and maintain his alertness as well. Remington is the same age as Sadie Mae, but of course his larger size moves him to a different ranking. He thinks. He did challenge Winchester the other day, and got his come-uppance. Winchester showed him who is boss. Interestingly, this moved Sadie Mae to believe SHE is boss of both Labs...nothing like a feisty female to take over the pack.

We're still waiting to receive the gadget from Dick's camera that we left in Tenn. Or I'd have pictures to post (oh, sure).


Sunday, October 14, 2007

What gorgeous weather!

Can you believe (those of you in this area, snuggled up against the Blue Ridge Mountains) this weather that has finally changed from baking, broiling 90+ endless days, to crisp, cool mornings and breezy afternoons?

Fall has always been my favorite time of year, but the leaves are slow to change between the drought conditions and the extreme heat itself.

Predictions are interesting: one article tells us we have a cold winter ahead of us, the next says it will be very mild. Guess it's just wait and see.

Book events coming up: Avenel in Bedford, 10/18 at noon, reading & signing & Jim Morrison's short play...me, Becky Mushko, Jim, & poet Jean Brobeck. Same day, 6:30 pm at Rocky Mount's Franklin County Library, A Visual Essay by Fred First from Floyd. He'll have his new fall note cards (beautiful scenes) & sign copies of his Slow Road Home, the blog that became a book.

On Saturday, the 20th: 11-2 at the Westlake General Store, there'll be a gaggle of writers (a giggle?) signing their books...Mushko, Higgins, Morrison, as well as SML crime writer Sally Rosevere. Stop by, buy a book, have it personally signed, & stock up on some of the store's outstanding corn salsa at one and the same time.

Life is good~

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Donna Reed morning

Clean carpets must have motivated us...Dick manicured all the azalea bushes & rhododendrons out front, cleaning up the entire long flower bed. Meanwhile, I got out the big crockpot (bless this cooler weather) & have a deer meat stew going. Also cooked up two weeks' worth of 7-grain cereal, complete with cranberry juice instead of water, dried cranberries, chopped walnuts, flax seed, flax seed oil. I keep it in the fridge & nuke a cup, adding Activia yogurt. As you age, it's all about fiber.

I started the morning with a walk up the driveway with Sadie Mae. That's when I realized Dick had left the gate open on the old road down to the river...when the carpet guy came, he was shaking all over, said he'd accidentally gone down the wrong driveway and thought he'd never get back up. I figured he'd gone to our neighbor's 16 acres since they have a very steep driveway, but no, poor guy must have gone through the open cattle gate. This is a 4WD road. It's a wonder he DID make it back up. I've already sent Dick on his ATV to close that gate. All we need is a new UPS driver heading down that way.

It's good to be off in the woods, but sometimes...

Becky, I think that is your carpet cleaner guy. His name is John & they have a Rocky Mount phone number. He's from upstate NY, been here 20 years.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Small Joys

I got a phone call from a local carpet cleaning business offering to clean FOUR rooms, a hallway, a carpeted bathroom, all for $50! Well, having silver-blue w/w that sucks in the red clay dirt even though we take our shoes off in the house...at least, us humans do... & having raised puppy Sadie Mae this past year, with all the accidents that come with new puppies, I jumped at the offer, fully expecting Larry, Darrell & Darrell to show up with a rented carpet cleaning machine on the back of their flatbed truck.

As it turned out, it was one fellow & his commercial carpet cleaning gear, and in 2.5 hours he'd finished, even including our camper carpet as the 4th room. It feels SO nice to have the carpets clean again, without Hubby renting a machine, buying the cleaning fluid, & cussing up a storm over all the work it takes...not to mention $50 hardly covers the expense involved.

So, that was an unexpected joy, to get that phone call & have such great results.

Today was Lake Writers meeting at the Moneta Library. I plugged Fred First's 'Visual Essay' production happening next Thursday, 18 October, 6:30 at the Franklin County Library in Rocky Mount. OK, I know the road runs from Rocky Mount to Moneta but hardly ever does it run the other direction...still, there was interest, and I hope we get a good crowd. Marilyn Amero is plugging the event on behalf of the FCL, on Cable 12 TV this morning. Dick Shoemaker will run the interview several times this weekend & into next week. He's a good friend to the FCL.

We had a good meeting, and Becky and I went out to lunch afterwards, and on to the Discovery Shop nearby, where I found some costume jewelry to wear on the 25th to the SMAC annual meeting. I'm reading a small part in one of Jim Morrison's short plays & wanted something flashy to wear.

On the 18th, prior to Fred First's presentation, we'll be at Avenel in Bedford, where we'll also read the same play and sign some books at their big luncheon. Cannot forget The General Store at Westlake, where we'll also sign books from 11-2 on Saturday the 20th.

WHEW! I'm just waiting for Dick to remind me that I am supposed to be cutting down on all this activity. I AM still taking my power nap every afternoon, with Sadie Mae cuddling up to the small of my back, taking her little puppy nap. One of us snores....

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Playreading at Rocky Mount Writers

We had enough time to read my play, Summer at the Lake, yesterday at Rocky Mount Writers Club at the FCL. It went really well; total time was just half an hour, which is perfect for the SML Playreading Group.

I'll have to make a few minor changes, but everyone felt it worked fine. They wanted more of Aunt Edna, so maybe I can enlarge her part a bit without changing it. I also like Aunt Edna!

After the meeting, three of us went out for lunch, checking out a very new restaurant on Claiborne Avenue in Rocky Mount. Called (I think!) the Angle House, next to the Claiborne B&B, they offer a different lunch special each day, for around $7. Their offerings are 'good old home cooking' with yesterday's lunch featuring either fried or baked chicken, 2 sides such as an excellent baked macaroni and cheese, green beans, pinto beans. Floors are brillant polished wood and the tables were very nicely set. Our waitress was very attentive and helpful. They serve dinners, too, but I didn't get much information about what days and hours they'll be open.

Since the Red Clay restaurant just two doors away hasn't yet opened (they're now saying November) and is reported to be a steakhouse, we'll have some new choices to make. I'm still wishing a REAL seafood restaurant will open here some day!

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

An Attitude of Gratitude

This month's Readers Digest has a piece called: How the New Science of Thank You Can Change your Life, and what that can mean in terms of health and well-being. Research was done using college students, dividing them into three groups. The first was to concentrate/write about daily hassles, like traffic problems and everything that irritated them that day. The second group was assigned to write about what they were grateful for, and the third group just focused on shopping at the mall, buying shoes, that sort of activity.

Researchers discovered that the daily gratitude group became, by and large, young people who were happiest, were at ease in every circumstance, were comfortable to be around. They also went on to suffer fewer health issues in their lives. They had more joy, more energy, were more optimistic. "The results: The people who focused on gratitude were just flat-out happier. They saw their lives in favorable terms. They reported fewer negative physical symptoms such as headaches or colds, and they were active in ways that were good for them...plain and simple, those who were grateful had a higher quality of life."

The article is quite extensive, but it certainly is on target. "If you were going to have dinner with anyone, you'd want someone from the gratitude group at your table." The piece was taken from the book, Thank You Power: Making the Science of Gratitude Work for You, by Deborah Norville.

I've always been a very optimistic person, but sometimes I forget to focus on how grateful I am for our having found our 12 acres of wooded land by the river, for all the singing birds in our many trees, for our new puppy Sadie Mae, who makes us laugh out loud at her antics. There is so much for us to be grateful for, every single day. And look at the blessings it can bring!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Back from Clarksville

We returned last night, after spending time with Dick's five (count 'em, FIVE!) grandkids in Clarksville. We'd planned to leave the 2 chocolate Labs boarded, but at the last minute piled them into their crates in the back of Dick's truck. Sadie Mae, of course, rode like the princess she is, up in front.

Fortunately, the motel was wonderful about accepting Sadie Mae, giving us a first floor room with access to a field. Winchester & Remington were staked out by the truck & slept inside.

We celebrated Dick's 63rd birthday at his daughter's home; I'd brought along a gluten-free chocolate cake mix for her to bake as she'd been unable to find ANY gluten-free products in that military town. Frosting was easy; chocolate fudge with peanut butter mixed in. We took the family out to Cracker Barrel and the kids loved it. Then we handed each of them some funds so they could shop for themselves with their Mom and Dad helping them make selections before we drove back to their home for the cake and ice cream.

The next day, we took an easy picnic to a park near our motel so the dogs could run loose a bit and the kids could walk the trails with their Dad and Grampie. Sunday, Dick & I took the 3 dogs and the Sunday paper to that same park, sitting in a shaded picnic area and enjoying an occasional breeze.

Later, we drove over so Grampie could fix some wiring to plug in the stereo we'd taken to them, complete with old records. They loved it. Grampie also took along an old cedar hope chest that had been his mother's, for Trinity, the oldest grandaughter. Their Mom found an old photo taken when SHE was about 6, at the beach with her Dad. She had it enlarged and framed it for him...what a perfect birthday gift. He got all teary, of course.

For the foodies reading this: (Hi, Amy!)...at one point, Dick & I found the Golden Rule Pit BBQ restaurant, and enjoyed the BEST BBQ ever. Dick had baby back ribs that he said were incredible. By that time, I was ready for a salad, so I ordered their BBQ salad, which came with pork BBQ shredded on top. That, and a nice glass of wine, made my day!

We're glad to be back home in Rocky Mount, though. All that traffic in and around Clarksville was very stressful; Ft Campbell, KY, is right there, and a gazillion fastfood places. Fortunately, the family located in a nice residential area with excellent schools, but traffic in the surrounding areas keeps them off the roads and close to home. Mom misses the smalltown life she grew up in (in northern Maine) and we certainly missed Rocky Mount.

Sadie Mae is SO happy to be home, running and leaping and chasing her toys around.

One kid story: Dick's youngest grandaughter, Morgayne, is just 6 and gets a bit upset when her name is pronounced as Morgan. When Grampie kept saying it that way, she climbed up on the picnic table bench, nailed him with those dark eyes, then reached her finger into his EAR and...turned up his hearing aid! Then she carefully corrected him: It's Mor-GAYNE, Grampie.

He got the message and we all laughed.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Hey, Charlie, this one's for you!

I found out last evening that I have another regular Blog reader who enjoys what I'm writing about...but hasn't commented, so I didn't know he was 'out there!'

Sixteen of us had a great time at Vieira's Restaurant last night, as the Amatuer Radio Club's FIST group was treated to a marvelous annual dinner. Hubby and I arrived early, giving me a chance to present Antonio Vieira with a signed copy of my book, When Men Move to the Basement. I mention him, and his restaurant, on page 57, so he asked me to sign that page, and in the front, and to be sure to date it...he was SO pleased!

I got a hug and a kiss on the cheek from an exuberant Antonio, who said he now has to figure out how to frame an entire book to hang on his wall!

Encouraged to order wine and appetizers before our chief, Stan, was to arrive, we set to. I began with an order of mozzarella oreganata, mozzarella cheese with fresh sliced tomato, olive oil and organo. Vieira's buttery rolls were served very warm in a basket. And of course I had a lovely glass of white zinfandel wine...their wine list is extensive and interesting. Next, as Stan and Carolyn arrived, we began ordering our dinners. Since it was a Tuesday evening, we were not rushed at all. We had an incredible waitress, who remembered everyone's drink choice and served us with absolutely no delay.

OK, I had Melinda's Delight...Melinda is Antonio's wife, and her "delight" is a delicate 6-oz lobster tail served in butter with three huge shrimp, with steamed veggies. A salad came first, served with their own avocado dressing.

Dessert? Well, of course we all had dessert! Mine was one of the house specialities...vanilla icecream with delicate crackling pastry, mounds of whipped cream and strawberries. Others had their marscapone cake with fruit baked into it, or a fluffy Key Lime pie with chocolate cookie crust, or cheese cake. They vary the dessert offerings, so you won't find them on their Web site.

Guess I slipped back into my restaurant review days a bit here, but we all had a marvelous time. Antonio is a great host, and I'd encourage anyone who has not visited Vieria's at their Smith Mountain Lake location to give them a try. Antonio is from Brazil, and offers Brazilian specialities on his menu, as well as beef and seafood and pasta.

Well, blog-readers, we'll be away for a few days so we can celebrate Hubby's birthday with his daughter & family (five children!) in Clarksville, TN. Back in a bit~


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Stranger Than Fiction

What a movie! I usually do not care for Will Ferrell movies, but this one is incredible. He's an IRS agent, with a very dull life when he begins hearing a voice narrating his every action. No one else hears the voice, and he begins to believe he is having a mental breakdown.

The voice is Emma Thompson's, who is writing the story of Will's life. She is a renowned writer who kills off each of her main characters at the end of each book. She is depressed and suicidal, and hasn't had a book published in 10 years.

There are twists and turns, and little bits of humor, mostly surrounding the other characters. Ferrell plays it straight as the bewildered IRS agent. Dustin Hoffman is a college professor with quirks and a mania for caffeine and is very believeable.

Maggie Gyllenhaal (sp?) is a spacey bakery owner who refuses to pay 100% of her taxes. She is delightful. But nothing in this movie is formulaic. The writing and directing are brilliant. Hopefully Ferrell will continue to select more roles such as this one, rather than the dumber than dumb stuff he's been doing heretofore.

Libraries have copies now, if you missed it when it came out in 2006.

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