Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year !! ........................

It's hard to believe that another year has passed and that another decade is ending. We've been through a lot in the last 10 years, but we have survived. I'm wishing each of you peace, love, and happiness in the coming year. Hope you have a safe and fun evening! We'll be at home, watching TV - to see the ball drop on Times Square. (That is if we don't go to sleep before then.)
I will be back next year!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Our snow has melted .............

Our snow is almost gone.

The cats are glad to see it go.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. Mine was very quiet. We had our fried oyster dinner at my Dad's on Christmas Eve. It was just the four of us - Dad, my brother, hubby, and me. I had prepared everything except the oysters ahead of time and carried the prepared dishes with me. It didn't take long to fry the oysters after we got to Dad's.

We had a relaxing Christmas morning. Maggie May and Mazie Grace had fun with their new catnip mice and ate some of their new treats. Hubby gave me two books - "U is for Undertow" by Sue Grafton and "Pirate Latitudes" by Michael Crichton. I've almost finished the Sue Grafton book. Hubby got a small portable battery charger - the one he had broke and he wanted a replacement. Of course, we've been enjoying our new TV.

My brother bought a small turkey for our Christmas dinner. He put it in the oven at Dad's that morning. He's become quite an expert at roasting a turkey - it was perfect. We arrived later, and I finished preparing the meal for the four of us. Of course, we all stuffed ourselves and were ready for naps after eating. I was thankful that I got to share another Christmas with my Dad. I've spent every Christmas since I was born with him - a total of 62.

We got rain Christmas Day. As you can see in the pictures above, it melted almost all of our snow. At least we had a white Christmas morning. Today has been another lazy day. We made a quick trip to the grocery store, then came home and made a pot of soup.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas ! ......................

May everyone have a wonderful holiday season full of love, peace, and happiness!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cats in the snow ......................

Maggie insists on going outside in the snow. She doesn't like to walk in it though. She will shake off her feet after each step. She spends most of her time sitting on the deck looking out over the yard.

Mazie Grace gets around in the snow better than Maggie May. However, she prefers to spend her time inside sleeping under the Christmas tree. I think Mazie Grace has the best idea.

I will start my Christmas cooking in the morning. We always have fried oysters and country ham on Christmas Eve. Tomorrow I'll make potato salad, deviled eggs, candied sweet potatoes, congealed salad and pie to go along with them.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The big snow storm .........................

Like a large part of the eastern US, we got slammed with a big snow storm. It began around 5 PM last night and continued until around 5 PM tonight. This morning the snow turned to sleet for awhile, then back to snow this afternoon. I think we got a total of around 10 inches. I can't remember when we had such a big snow. I know some parts of the state had over 2 feet!

Hubby had to get up and go to work this morning. Everyone was suppose to be there at 6 AM, ready to go out in case someone's electicity went out. Luckily they had very little trouble. In fact Hubby spent the day sitting in the office talking to coworkers. They finally told them to go home around 2 PM.

I spent a large part of the day curled up under a blanket on the sofa, watching TV. Mazie Grace went out a few times, but she wouldn't stay long. She would take a few steps on the snow, sink down, climb out of the hole, and take a few more steps. Maggie May wanted to go out too, but I made her stay in.

The snow plow just went by the house clearing the road. There has been very little traffic today - just a few trucks with 4 wheel drive. Tomorrow everyone will be out and about again.

If you are getting snow - stay safe and warm and enjoy the beauty The snow may still be around on Christmas - so we could possibly have a White Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Prep .............

I've been busy the last few days with Christmas preparation. Completed are -

1. Inside and outside decorations put up
2. All Christmas gifts purchased
3. Gifts wrapped
4. Christmas cards written and mailed
5. Cookies baked
6. Menus planned for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

All I have left to do is last minute grocery shopping and meal preparation. I tend to procrastinate and put things off, but once I start I want to keep going until I finish. I can sit back now and enjoy the next week or so.

I still plan on making some peanut butter cookies and chocolate fudge tomorrow. I also would like to make some cheese straws. Does anyone have a good recipe? I've never made them before, but I love them and I think my Dad would enjoy some.

Mazie Grace has decided that she wants to live under the Christmas tree. I have my Santa collection under the tree, so she crawls back behind the Santas and curls up in a ball. This is her first Christmas with us and probably her first Christmas experience. Last year at this time she was homeless, living in the fields behind our house.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

TVs and customer service .......

I've been neglectful of my blog again. Seems like I've been constantly busy, but I haven't gotten that much done. Hubby and I put our new TV console together last Sunday afternoon. It went together perfectly - all pieces were present and they fit together with no problem. It took less than 2 hours and, amazingly, no voices were raised during the process. I have arthritis in my hands and have absolutely no grip, so I'm not much help in picking things up and moving them. So, both the new TV and console were in the garage until we could get help moving the old out and the new in.

Tuesday, two wonderful men came to change our Direct TV dish to a HD dish. They got the dish changed on the roof and came in the house to set up the new receiver. I mentioned that we had a new TV and console in the garage that we were going to move in when we got some help. These kind men took everything out of the old unit, moved the old TV and entertainment center to the garage, moved in the new console, got the new TV out of the box and set everything up. The old entertainment unit and TV were very heavy and neither man was young, so they were huffing and puffing by the time they finished. I don't think they realized it would be such a job and I felt bad about them doing all that work. All they were required to do was install the dish on the roof. These guys should be given an award for excellant customer service - something that is rare today. Hubby was very surprised when he got home and his new TV was set up.
I know lots of you have gotten snow - all we've gotten is rain. We had close to 9 inches last month and already have close to 4 inches this month. That's more than we had in the first five months of the year. The ground is so saturated, you squish when you walk. We finally got a good frost last weekend. Now I need to go out and clean out my flower pots and flower beds.
I can't believe that Christmas is only two weeks away. I haven't made any preparations. I may try to put up my outside decorations this afternoon and maybe make some cookies tonight.

Friday, December 4, 2009

More mushrooms ...........

We have been inundated with rain lately - over ten inches for the month of November. As a result we have mushrooms growing everywhere. These were on a tree in my dad's back yard.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Shopping, yard work, and repairs ...........

Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving with lots of good food and good friends to share it with. We stuffed ourselves, then spent the rest of the day recovering.

Did you hit the stores for black friday? I usually refuse to go anywhere near a store on that day, but we needed to pick up a few groceries, so we braved Walmart around noon. Hubby and I have been wanting a flat screen HDTV, but we've been waiting for our old TV to die before buying one. On our way to pick up some milk, we stopped just to look at the TVs that were on special. I was totally shocked when an employee appeared almost immediately and offered to help us. He answered our questions, told us what we needed, loaded it on a cart, checked it out, and even took it to our truck. We had bought a TV at Walmart on black friday in under 10 minutes! Evidently all the people who work at the distribution center were sent to work in the store on that day. Now that we have the TV, we've got to get a stand for it and the Direct TV HD receiver. One thing leads to another. We also need to find someone who would like to buy the huge entertainment center and TV that we have. Right now the TV is still in the box in the garage - hopefully it will be set up by Christmas. That will be our Christmas present to each other.

The weekend was spent in the yard. Sunday was simply gorgeous - sunny and temperatures in the 70s. Hubby ran the leaf vacuum over the entire yard while I raked in areas that the mower couldn't get. It looked so good right after we finished. More leaves have fallen since then, but they are not as thick as they were. We will probably have to go over the yard again at least one more time. I still have my flower beds to clean out, pots to empty, and a few other fall chores to do. December has arrived much too soon - seems like summer was only a few weeks ago. Have you ever noticed how time tends to speed up as you get older?

I spent all day today at my Dad's. The french doors in his den had to be replaced. The rain had splashed off the patio bricks onto the bottom of the door for so long that it was rotten. It had gotten so flimsy, I locked the door several weeks ago and told everyone not to use it. I was afraid Dad would get upset having the workers there. He never believed in paying anyone to do jobs like that - he would do them himself. But he sat in his chair and watched them calmly all day.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving ! .................

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving. I've done some of the cooking today and will finish up tomorrow. Since it is so difficult to get my Dad out and about, we will have our dinner at his house. There will only be four of us - my brother, my dad, hubby, and me. I'm sure we will all be stuffed by 3:00 PM

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Leaves and more leaves ...........

I apologize for not posting lately, but I just haven't had anything to post about. I lead a very dull and routine life - no drama, no excitement, no stress. I wouldn't want it any other way, but it does make it difficult to come up with interesting posts.

We got all the leaves up in the back yard two weeks ago and the ground is covered again. It's been like a blizzard of leaves coming down. Maggie May has had lots of fun chasing them all over the yard. Hubby will have a four day weekend, so I hope he will be able to get out with the leaf vacuum and get up all the leaves that have fallen so far.

We still haven't had a frost around the house. The rain and the few warmer days we've had have made some of my flowers make a comeback. The petunias in the pot in front of the garage look better than they have since spring.

My azaleas all have scattered blooms. My herb garden is growing and looks really good. I got a hand full of onions out of the garden and will probably pick some more collards tomorrow. I'm hoping we can keep the really cold weather away until January.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Camouflage ...............

Mazie Grace and Maggie May were so glad to see the sun today. They both went out early this morning and played in the back yard until I brought Maggie May back inside a few minutes ago. They chased each other through the leaves and had a jolly good time. They both seemed to blend in with the colors of the leaves.
It was a gorgeous day - in the 70s and sunny! I spent as much time outside as I could. A welcome relief after our days of rain.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Fall foliage #5 .....................

These pictures were taken Monday before the remnants of hurricane Ida gave us four days of rain and wind. There are only a few leaves left on the tree today, but there is a bright orange carpet under the tree.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rain and more rain ...............

It's been raining in Southside Virginia - and raining and raining. So far we have gotten a little over three inches. The forecast is for heavy rains through this evening along with strong winds.

There are flood warnings out for low areas and near streams and rivers. I live on a slight hill and have water sitting in my front yard.

It's too wet and windy to venture outside so Maggie May has been watching the rain through the window. She is waiting for it to stop so she can meow to go back outside.

Mazie Grace has curled up on my furry throw and says to wake her up when the rain stops. I've been snuggled up under a throw myself - reading "the Lost Symbol". We are a lazy bunch.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Fall chores ...................

We had a beautiful weekend - sunny and very warm. I had to take advantage of it by going outside and taking care of some fall yard chores.

We haven't had a frost yet, but it's time for one, so I decided to put the Norfolk Island Pine in the garage for the winter. I got this tree years ago as a Christmas decoration. It was only about a foot tall and was in a small pot. As it grew, I kept repotting it in larger and larger pots. It got too large for the house, so I would put it on the deck during the summer and in the garage during the winter. The pot is too heavy for me to carry off the deck and around to the lift up garage door, so I slide it across the deck and into the garage through the back door. As you can see in the picture, it has gotten so big it was a challenge to get it through the door. I had to tilt the pot and bend the top in order to get it through. It takes up a lot of room in the garage. It's sitting beside my treadmill, so when I work out, I feel like I'm walking in the woods.
I got some weeding done while the ground is still moist, planted some tulip and daffodil bulbs, and cleaned up some flower beds. I also raked up pine needles under the trees by the road. Hubby got the leaf vacuum out and went over the yard for the first time, getting up all the leaves that had fallen.

I am sore tonight - probably from all that raking. I'll soak in a hot bath and take some Tylenol Arthritis before I go to bed.

Hope everyone had an enjoyable weekend

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mushrooms ........

We have had a lot of rain in the last couple of weeks - over 4 inches. Yesterday as I was walking across the back yard, I noticed lots of mushrooms had appeared.

The only thing I know about mushrooms is that some are poisonous. Therefore, I do not touch them and will only eat mushrooms bought at the grocery store. Some of them were unusual looking, so I ventured close enough to take a few pictures.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Fall Foliage # 4 ............

These pictures were taken a few days ago. The last two days have been warm, but very wet here in Southside Virginia. My rain guage had almost 3 inches in it this afternoon. The rain has really brought the leaves down. It definitely looks like fall now.
Hope everyone had a nice Halloween!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ladybug, Ladybug .................

Ladybug, Ladybug ....
Fly away home.
Your house is on fire
And your children all gone.

I went outside this afternoon and the ladybugs were swarming. They were everywhere and on everything. Evidently the warm weather (in the 70's) made them all come out.

I was only outside for a minute or two before I was covered with ladybugs. The little things can bite too! I had to retreat back inside.

However, once I got inside, I found that they had also invaded the house! This little fellow had landed on my cooktop.
This happens several times a year. I have some neighbors who claim that they are so bad in their homes that they have to literally sweep up piles of them and throw them outside. Hope they never get that bad here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Our Sunday ride ............

I talked Hubbie into going for a ride up to the mountains of Virginia last Sunday. It was a beautiful day and the trees were spectacular. We left home around 8AM and headed west on 460. We stopped in Farmville and had breakfast. We had planned on going to Peaks of Otter, but somehow we missed our turn in Bedford, so we went on toward Roanoke and got on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

You must visit the Blue Ridge Parkway in October. The leaves are so colorful and the views from the lookouts are breathtaking. I am not a photographer and all my pictures were taken through the car window while we were moving, so they do not do justice to the scenery. Snappy Di has some beautiful pictures on her blog at The Blue Ridge Gal. Check them out.

Unfortunately, Hubbie's back started to bother him, so we exited the Parkway on 43 North, went to 81 North, then to 60 East and headed back home. While the trees in the mountains were beautiful, I think they were even more colorful as we got closer to home.

This last picture is about 5 miles from home. (Please ignore the squashed bug in the middle of the picture.) It was nice to view the scenery across the state. I consider myself lucky to live in a state with a seashore, a piedmont area of gently rolling hills, and mountains.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

The maple and the well ..............

This red maple is still the only tree in my yard that has any color. You may notice that it looks more like a shrub than a tree. There is a story behind that......

In the late 1800s a family had a home in the same general area as my house. Of course, they had a well. When the house was torn down, someone had placed a large piece of metal over the well opening. When we built our house, we did not want the old well in our front yard. We had the builders remove the cover and asked them to fill the well with dirt and other debris from the construction.

The first few years we were here, the area over the well settled a bit, so we filled it in with more soil. When it appeared that there would be no further settling, we purchased two maple trees and planted them in the front yard - planting one where the well had been.

The trees grew to 10 to 12 feet and were thriving. One day I looked out the front window and the tree over the well was gone. When I went outside to investigate, I discovered the tree sitting in a hole with the top of the tree at ground level. Evidently, there was some drastic settling and the tree descended with the soil.

Surprisingly, the tree survived and continued to grow. The part that is now visable are the upper limbs of the tree. As it grew out of the hole, we filled the hole with soil. There hasn't been any more settling and it has turned out to be a rather pretty and unusual tree.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cooler weather arrived ...............

This has been a cool, cloudy day in Southside Virginia, It actually feels like fall outside. I decided it was time to get out my cooler weather clothes, so I spent the whole day going through closets and drawers. I have three bags of things to take to Goodwill. I've always loved clothes and find it hard to get rid of things. I don't have much closet space, so I'm forced to pare down. I'm hoping I can finish up tomorrow.

I got another picking of collards from the garden. The groundhog has been in the back yard every day, but thankfully has not come back to the garden. He's been munching on the grass instead. I had the collards with pork chops, navy beans, and hush puppies for supper (my hubbies' favorite meal). The next few days are going to be cool and rainy, so I'm going to make a big pot of soup tomorrow. I haven't had homemade soup since last winter, so I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fall Foliage # 2 ...........

The red maple in my front yard is just beginning to get some colorful leaves. Our trees are still mostly green, but it shouldn't be long before the woods turn all the shades of fall.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cats and snakes ...............

Maggie May did not go outside at all the first two years of her life. However, when Mazie Grace moved in with us, Maggie May didn't understand why Mazie Grace got to go outside and she didn't. Maggie May has her Daddy wrapped around her paw, so he gave in to her crying and let her go outside. Now she wants to be outside all the time. She chases grasshoppers and butterflies, and she actually chased the neighbor's dog off the deck. I'm hoping all the exercise will take a few pounds off her, since she has gotten quite chubby. I prop open the door to the garage just enough so she can run inside if she needs to.

Mazie Grace enjoys having Maggie May outside to play with. They will chase each other and play hide and seek in the flowers. In the picture above Mazie Grace is watching a mole hole, waiting for the poor critter to come out and get eaten. She still hunts but not as much as she did when she first came here. There's always food in the dish, so she doesn't have to catch prey in order to survive.

I have been occupied for the last week with problems at my Dad's house. One of the aides saw a black snake in the basement when she went down to wash clothes. Of course, everyone was then afraid to go in the basement and were also uneasy in the house. I got an exterminator out to remove the snake. The exterminator seemed to think there were possibly more snakes in the insulation on the ceiling of the basement. They came back and removed all the insulation and did find another snake.

We then had to clean a lot of junk out of the basement. I took away seven pickup truck loads. The exterminators came back today and sprayed the basement and all around the house for pests and put down mouse bait. I'll go back tomorrow and take a few more things out and give it a good sweeping. Hopefully that will take care of the problem.

After working all weekend at Dad's house, I came home with a renewed determination to tackle the junk around here. It's so easy for things to accumulate in a garage or in closets. I'm going to go through and donate to Goodwill or freecycle everything we don't use.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

That darn groundhog ............

My cabbage and collards were looking so good. The picture above was taken on September 22nd. I was looking forward to coleslaw, boiled cabbage, and pots of collard greens.

Tuesday, I looked at the garden and this is what I saw. All my cabbage had been eaten. I didn't know who had been feasting on my garden, but they evidently like cabbage. Yesterday I saw the groundhog in the back yard. I watched as he crept up to the garden and began chewing. I ran outside screaming like a crazy woman and chased him away. I thought he had gone to groundhog heaven, because I hadn't seen him all summer. Maybe he has been feasting in the neighbor's garden which is across the road from his den. Unfortunately, he had discovered my garden.

Today I checked the garden again, and it looked like this. He must have come back when I wasn't looking. After finishing off the cabbage, he ate at least half the collards. I rescued what I could and we had a big pot of collards for supper. They sure were good. That groundhog has good taste, but I'm afraid he's going to be disappointed when he comes back for the rest of the collards. They're in a pot on my stove.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Black walnuts .....

I have a black walnut tree right in front of my house. When the house was built, this was the lone tree in the field. I insisted that it not be cut down as it provided the only shade we had. This is the last tree to get leaves in the spring and the first to lose it's leaves in the late summer. It does provide some nice shade in the summer, but right now it is providing me with an excess of black walnuts.

I went out this afternoon and picked up eight buckets full. They were falling almost as fast as I was picking them up. It's a dangerous chore - if you are hit on the head by one of these large, hard nuts, it can cause quite a bump. They have to be picked up before I can cut grass, since they can damage the blades of the lawn tractor.

They can be eaten if you want to go to the trouble of going through the outside hull and the inside hull to get to the nut. I'm not a big fan of black walnuts, so I toss them in the gully where I throw sticks and limbs from the yard. I used to think maybe the squirrels would get them since there is a squirrel's nest in the tree above the tossed pile. Even the squirrels must not think they are worth the trouble, since they've never eaten any.

The tree is close to the house, so walnuts will fall on the roof. Sometimes when a bunch fall at once, it sounds like someone is beating on the house. I've even thought someone was knocking on the door and discovered it was only falling walnuts. Once they all fall, hubbie will need to go on the roof and clean them out of the gutters.
To amuse myself while picking up walnuts, I count them. (OK, so I'm weird.) This afternoon I picked up 867 to make a total of 2054 for this year. The tree has at least that many more still to fall. Looks like I'll be gathering nuts for awhile yet.