Thursday, July 24, 2014

What I've Missed ~

Flipping through my Iphoto pics, there are so many little things I've meant to share with you, dear readers. So ... in no particular order ... here goes:
A teacup and two saucers that I picked up in Lewisburg, WV at an antique market. The set was originally $12.50, but it was marked down 70%. What a steal!
 Beautiful blue-and-white, which I love,
 I love the shape of the cup,
 And Japanese!
Next up, a little cousin fun. I took the available older cousins to Bear Town while I was in West Virginia. Bear Town is a massive array of large rock formations in rural WV near Droop Mountain.
 Julia

 My nephew Honor ~

 And Katie ~
 And Hannah ~
 They had fun, and so did I.
I also picked blueberries, of course, at Max and Anne's farm. That's the look of yummy-and-healthy.
 I tied a bucket around my waist. It was late afternoon when the berry rows were empty of customers.
 I slipped under the protective nets and found a quiet row waiting for me.

 Tonight we'll enjoy blueberry scones and blueberry muffins, thanks to my time there.
What's next? How about lunch with some family before I left town? Here I am with my oldest brother Max. 7 years apart, but close in heart.
 My brother Mark and his darling wife ~
 My folks with Julia ~
 We ate at Stella's in Lewisburg. The food was very good, a little froo-froo, but I prefer that to greasy! It was pretty on the plate and tasted light and healthy. I think this was my plate (I've rather forgotten ...), but I had something with shrimp and grits, and I swapped with Mother and got some of her crab and avocado.
Are you still reading? How about a few random photos of humans? Not just any humans ....
Here are my parents with an assortment of grandchildren. That's Clark, Ben, Nathan, Hannah, Julia, Abraham, and Katie.
 I got to meet Hannah's boyfriend, Michael. They look good together.
 When you tell a group of teenaged nieces-and-nephews you want their picture, you get this:
 When you tell a younger crowd, you get something lovely like this:
 My brother Marshall relaxing in his parents' living room ~
 My brother Mark's definition of relaxation ~ You can see that we "kids" have made ourselves right at home before our parents have even settled in! No, seriously, it is lovely to have them there, and they do always make us so welcome. Mark has been working on their house, so he has good reason for napping.
 These three munchkins showed us all that they learned in a week-long kids' workshop in Lewisburg. Pretty neat! They learned to weave!
 My mother and I visited the quiet bakery in Lewisburg. We were only a little naughty. I must admit, going to Lewisburg with her is just about as pleasant as going to Brevard! Next time, we must stop at the library.
 JoAnn in a selfie! Who would have thought? Isn't she a doll?
Do I have anything else I must show you? Is anybody still there?
Here is a candle that my sister-in-law DeVona gave me:
I'm sorry I forgot to take its photo until after I'd lit the three wicks, then quickly blown them out, so the wicks are black. But they are the most beautiful things -- you want to eat them rather badly, and they smell edible too. Mine is cherry, Julia's was raspberry, and Mother's blueberry. DeVona has a lovely candle workshop and sells her goods and ships them. She does such perfect work.
Oh, I'm adding this photo of the house Philip is living in with a few other post-college friends -- just because, 20 years from now, we'll wish we had a picture of this place! His first residence away from home! It's in a rather sad part of Chattanooga. He says they let the weeds grow out front to discourage thieves.
Oh, how 'bout a little antique store humor?
I must show you my favorite aspect of my parents' new house -- the heat vent that goes from the kids' bedroom down to the living room.
 I know it's silly, but I love this! You can be a little kid (as I once was) and quietly kneel next to this grill in your room (as I did years ago in my uncle's upstairs bathroom) and listen to conversations the grown-ups are having below in the living room (or in the kitchen, in my uncle's house). It's delicious.
My uncle and aunt stayed in an old, historic home in Fredericksburg, Virginia, decades ago, called Federal Hill. It had many secrets. I think they were caretakers of the property, but with seven children and various pets, and visiting family like us, we probably wore away more layers of history than we preserved! You can read a little about Federal Hill at the bottom of this page, with its resident ghost.
What else? Here's a sweet shot of my mother's kitties, asking for breakfast.
If you made it to the end, you're a trooper :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

About That Plantain Salve ...

... Or as I call it, "Green Goo."
I posted about making it here, a couple of weeks ago. Click over and read about it, if you missed it.
My friend used it on her poison ivy, and it eradicated the poison ivy overnight - amazing! She's a farmer. I gave her a little bottle of the stuff, in honor of its success and to thank her for being my guinea pig. Then I took it on my vacation trip. It works well topically because it immediately relieves pain and itch -- seriously. On mosquito bites and stings, it simply makes your skin feel better so that you don't scratch it. And it doesn't become an open wound that you scratch over and over.
Then while I was at Fairhaven I accidentally touched my hand to the heating element in the oven when it was red hot -- on broil. Ouch! The skin turned white. Thankfully I remembered my Green Goo, ran upstairs and applied it on the burn about 30 seconds later. It felt better immediately -- no pain. No burn sensitivity. I kept applying it all that day faithfully. It was rather a bad burn, as you can imagine.
I took this photo the next day.  You can see that the skin never did blister, as burns do. It looks more like a birth mark. The burn area never hurt at all, which is a blessing, and the skin on it never felt like it would fall off. It was secure. Also, the burn did not hurt when I put it under warm water, so I could shower and wash dishes without discomfort. The burn spot remained like in the photo above, for about 6 days. I applied the salve each day a few times. Eventually the brown skin began to dry and itch slightly, as skin does when it's healing and separating from the layers underneath. It was healing well.
Yesterday I got impatient with the dry skin and began picking at it, but still putting on the salve to keep it moisturized. The pink area is where I picked (shame on me!), but you can see that around it is skin that has healed nicely.

I love this salve. I plan to use it on burns and rashes, and on bites as necessary. Think of making your own batch, if you can, or if you desperately want some and don't care to mess with making it, I will sell you a 1/2 cup tin for $5.00, plus whatever the postage is. I need to make a new batch because I've already sold 3 of the 4 tins I made the first time! Let's hear it for Green Goo!!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Tour of Friends

I hardly know how to begin describing the past week. Right now, it's Saturday evening and I'm back home in Oriental. After leaving West Virginia and all that family fun, I traveled south. First I stopped to meet a good friend, a fellow blogger, Sandra of Thistle Cove Farm. (You must click over, if to see the header photo alone! What a stunner!) We'd never seen each other face-to-face before.
I've seen some beautiful places in my time: my brother's blueberry farm, the Berkshires, the Alps, Venice, and Oriental, of course. But I think perhaps Sandra lives in the most beautiful spot on earth. Her valley in Virginia swept our hearts away.
She treated us to lemonade, a fabulous lemonade made without short-cuts, of good ole lemons and sugar. Go check out her recipe that uses a blender, a hat, and a syrup.
And that short bread delicacy there was very nice. It involved butter, brown sugar, flour and vanilla and I'm not sure what else. Yummy.
We met her doggies. Look at that sweet face. She was longing for my short bread, but I held her off! Sadie is a Rhodesian Ridgeback. Isn't that utterly cool!?
And then there's this fellow, Sam Spade. I fell in love with his sweet face. Oh my, how could anyone resist?
{{{Sigh}}}
Sandra's historic home and farm are for sale. I say this because it's such a treasure, and we want the right person to own it, someone whose heart will skip a beat when they walk in the front entrance and smell that Old House Smell that clearly indicates pre-1850 :) Someone whose eyes will water with delight when they gaze each day over the valley. Someone whose soul longs for peace and beauty. Sandra probably mostly wants someone who will just BUY it :)
 We met her curly horses and said hello with carrots.
I was sad to leave, but we had "miles to go before we sleep," as Mr. Frost once said. Good-bye, valley!
I wasn't sure how far I had to drive, exactly. We dashed down through rural Virginia into rural Tennessee, following rather vague directions to a place I'd never been. I was meeting a college friend I'd not seen in 29 years, Ruth.
Ruth is one of those wonderful girls with a cheerful, fun personality, stable inside herself, who hasn't really changed much in all these years. We stayed three nights at Fairhaven Ministries, a quiet place in the deep woods of eastern Tennessee. No cell service. No internet, at all. It was lovely! Julia and I arrived before Ruth, in the dark on Sunday night. We hunted for the road I thought it was on, slowing down on the winding mountain turns, peering at signs. I won't explain the near miracle that occurred in order for us to find our destination. We turned onto a narrow very-winding path, uphill, into deeper darkness. At last, twinkles of lights appears among the trees. A sign for Fairhaven appeared on the left, and Julia and I went on a hunt for any information that could tell us where to find our cottage in the total darkness. We met no people, but at last we found a map with our Ruth's name on it. We found our little home among the forest. Ruth and I stayed up late into the night talking and reminiscing, laughing and chortling, digging into our fuzzy brains, completing each other's memory gaps. I must say, I really like this idea of reconnecting with old friends!
Our cottage sleeps six people and has a loft.
Plenty of relaxing seating on the broad porch
 The main lodge:
We left the peace of Fairhaven on Wednesday morning and drove to Chattanooga to see Philip. He made pizza for lunch.
 We strolled around Chattanooga, an activity Julia never wearies of. She adores an urban life.
I include this photo of the house he rents with his old college friends, because we'll want to remember it twenty years from now.
He took us on a tour of his workplace, Southtree. It's a cool business in an old-brick building with younger-than-thirty employees. Very creative.

There's a lot to love about Chattanooga. Philip seems very happy there, and he's found a good niche for himself.
That evening we enjoyed dinner with some precious old friends. I failed to mention that Ruth was a fellow music major in college. So was this dear girl, Gretchen.
 Julia and I stayed overnight with her parents because Gretchen's house is being renovated. Her daddy was our voice teacher and chorale director, mentor, friend, fellow-conspirator-on-choir-tour, and general all-around fabulous human. When you're a musician, there is almost no greater joy than making music with your musical friends. When you do it every day, for years, without the pressure of making money but just because you love it ... well, it doesn't get much better. We had so much fun.
 We all owe him such a debt of gratitude, but he'd tell you he enjoyed every minute. And his adorable wife played the piano that evening while Gretchen and I sang together again. Oh! To go back and enjoy those days again! Well, to do it with the wisdom we now have. That would be perfect.
 The next day Julia and I had breakfast with Philip. We visited the Chattanooga Choo-Choo and rode the trolley for the first time.
 She was delighted to find a new pair of mile-high shoes on sale for $6. She's taller than me now.
Chattanooga has some wonderful downtown delights. Julia liked this quote and asked for its picture.
 The domed ceiling of the Choo-Choo hotel lobby is worth seeing also, and their ballroom-sized bathrooms.

Many quirky oddities dot the urban landscape on both sides of the river in Chattanooga. We enjoyed these brick adornments on the sidewalks.
Julia found a boat, of course.
We hurried on to North Carolina and found more friends at Ridgehaven, and stayed the night there also with our friends, Tom and Judy, but I forgot to get their photo, I'm sorry to say. By that time I was like a horse headed for the barn at dinnertime, and eager to drive the long road home. When we entered North Carolina on hwy. 64 from Tennessee, a little sign greeted us. "Manteo, 563 miles." Yes, that's how long our state is.
Home again -- what lovely words! What a perfect trip! Visiting friends old and new, staying in a series of strange beds, meeting deadlines and hunting unfamiliar places -- all these things are unpleasant to Adam, and he doesn't do these kinds of long trips. But I enjoyed it and would do it again! Many thanks to all my friends who helped make this a journey to remember.