Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Meandering in Ivor Virginia

It is the season of our constant wanderings on the back roads of Virginia and North Carolina. Late afternoon light is beautiful, the roads wind and bend, with little adventures waiting for us around every turn.

A sign on the side of this weathered old building above reads, "Sycamore Cross."  I'm not sure if that refers to the old house that sits next door or perhaps it refers to the street's name.

This late afternoon, we ended up in little Ivor Virginia whose population of about 300 people has not changed much since1910.

Ivor once had a passenger railroad stop, along with other tiny Virginia communities like Waverly and Disputanta. 

Otelia Butler Mahone, wife of the owner of the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad,(now Norfolk Southern) was a great fan of Sir Walter Scott's novels. Local legend says that Otelia named various stops after places in Scott's novels, such as Ivor and Waverly Virginia.  
Thanks to Find-A-Grave.com
As for Disputanta, it came about after Mr. and Mrs. Mahone couldn't agree on a stop's name, i.e. they had a dispute about it.

Ivor lives on and still is primarily agricultural.  This old grain silo was probably there back in 1910.
I don't see ghosts. However, I fancy that I hear echoes of the past in old places like Ivor.  In my mind's eye, I see women heading to a small grocery fanning themselves and saying, "I declare it is hot."

I see shoeless boys heading to a creek to swim. I hear mothers ringing large bells from the back door calling, "Supper's ready."

Can you see the checkered tablecloths and piles of cooked sweet corn, sliced tomatoes, and iced tea sweating in the sun? I see freckles, heads bowed over grace, crooked teeth, straw hats, aprons, strawberries made into jam, and ribbons in little girls' hair. In my mind, these types of "ghosts" are everywhere.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Dr. Walter Reed House Murfreesboro NC

This is Dr. Walter Reed's home in Murfreesboro, NC.  We are all familiar with this name, what with the famous Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the Washington DC area. How many of us know why he is famous?
Dr. Reed researched yellow fever, once a terrible scourge with periodic epidemics in the United States. His painstaking investigation both in the US and Cuba (the part of the US), confirmed the cause of the disease. He was a pioneering biomedical researcher using strict scientific methods and studies to confirm his theories.


Dr. Reed received his medical degree at 17 from the University of Virginia, the youngest person ever to do so.

Dr. Reed's wife, Emilie Lawrence, was born in Murfreesboro, as was Dr. Reed's mother.  His father was a circuit preacher. Walter lived in this home during his father's preaching tours and also later as an adult. 

Yellow fever hit warm locations, as it is spread by mosquitoes. Can you imagine Dr. Reed's fatigue in working with no relief from the temperature with no certainty whether he would survive exposure to it?  In 1855, ten percent of my local population died from this infectious disease. Yellow Fever

Walter Reed died in 1902 from a ruptured appendix. Medicine had not yet advanced to the point that this was a routine illness.
I thought the porch with its interesting railings and cornice decorations was lovely in the late afternoon light.

I've known about Walter Reed my entire life, what with a father who was also an Army physician.  However, I never knew that he had a distinct presence here so close to home. 

It seems so odd to have run across his house, as I just finished this book regarding Yellow Fever.  American Plague by Molly Caldwell Crosby was mesmerizing.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Like I Said - It Is Poor Grammar

I am a grammar Nazi. I admit it.

My mom, a teacher, raised us to speak properly. I remember answering the phone at Fort Monroe, VA at 5 saying, "Captain Galvin's residence, Annie speaking." My mother spent a lot of time teaching me to do that.

She drilled us in grammar and syntax.  I disliked it as a child. However, as I grew up, I appreciated her instructions very much. I ended up doing well in job interviews and in expressing myself.

So it is in that spirit that I offer this: Peeps...The term is not "LIKE I said." The proper term is "AS I said." 

I'm hearing this term often with professional newscasters. It makes me cringe. Someone used "like I said" on Friday on the Fox News noon show, "Outnumbered."

These are all smart, well-educated women (with one rotating male guest) who have no excuse for not using proper grammar.
Just to be an equal opportunity grammar snob, I also hear this term constantly on the Today Show on NBC.

Thus, my dear friend Debra's very well-written blog is As I See It Now and not Like I See it Now.

Let me get the following other issues off my chest:

1.  Your - belonging to you
     You're - contraction for you are.

2.  There - at that place
     Their - belonging to them
     They're - contraction for they are

3.  To - preposition indicating direction of motion
     Too - also
     Two - the number after one

4.  Using the term "I seen" when you mean "I saw."

5.   Here - at this place
      Hear - what your ears do

6.  Using the word "like" as an oral connector for no
     apparent reason.

     So like I went to the store and there weren't any 
     avocados and like I was jonesn' so much for 
     some guac. So my Mom was like all up in 
     my grill and like she said to just like move on 
     and like get some clam dip instead.  Like, I don't
     have needs?

7.  Here's a favorite: "He don't know any better." Please 
     peeps it is "He doesn't know any better."

8.  Its - belonging to it
     It's - contraction for it is.
Finally, we need to remember that "apostrophe s" after a word ('s) as in the word pump's above, means "that which belongs to the pump" as in "That pump's notice is grammatically incorrect with poor spelling."  Pumps, no apostrophe, means more than one pump.

How about:

The pumps are not taking debit cards. Please pay inside with your debit card and then pump gas. Credit cards can be used right at the pump. Thank you. We are sorry for any inconvenience.

My husband is a great writer with excellent grammar and syntax.
And God help me if I made any mistakes in this post!





Laura Ingalls Wilder and Great-Grandma Delphenia Hurd

This is Bruce's great-grandmother Delphenia "Della,"above but I think she looks like a lot like Laura Ingalls Wilder pictured below.

Many similarities exist between Great-Grandma Della and Laura. They were homesteaders on the prairies. They both cut their bangs in what was then called, "the lunatic fringe" by older adults who criticized this new style. These adorable little bangs are curled around their foreheads almost identically.  According to Laura, they used pencils heated up over a kerosene lamp to achieve this style.

Both girls have the typical high-necked and proper dresses of the period. Laura and Della are wearing their best (and probably only) piece of jewelry.  

Pa Ingalls and John Hurd must have had a lot in common. He must have had that wanderlust like Pa. John, Bruce's second great grandfather, started out in Ohio and ended up in Thedford, Nebraska territory. This was the time when the federal government was encouraging homesteading.

As an aside, and in what I think is one of the coolest things EVER, my mother-in-law, Della's granddaughter, grew up in a sod house like the Little House book, "On the Banks of Plum Creek."  

Della's daughter Irma taught in a one-room schoolhouse on the prairie, just like Laura. Only Irma supervised recess with a rifle over her lap ready to kill rattlesnakes if need be. 

Irma's grandson and my husband, Bruce, teaches Alternative Energy Systems on the college level, among other courses. One topic explored is modern uses of sod houses to conserve energy.  It's just in his DNA, I guess.

I think Della was just a tiny bit prettier in her picture, but I'm not objective.



Friday, July 21, 2017

Buddha's Hand


How peculiar looking is this citrus fruit? The label at Fresh Market said, "Buddha's Hand."

They had a lovely aroma, despite their rather creepy appearance. Buddha's Hand fruit can be used to impart a flavor to sugar and is used in mixed alcoholic drinks.  

You can take part of a Buddha's Hand and add it to vodka, infusing it with a lemony flavor.

According to the Smithsonian, five varieties of Buddha's Hand are cultivated by farmers in China.

Buddha's Hand is definitely the most unusual kind of produce that I've ever seen.

To learn more:

Kitchn.com Buddha's Hand

Smithsonian - Buddha's Hand



Thursday, July 20, 2017

Bloom Where You're Planted


Does the ground feel rocky?  Do you think you'd do better if only you had: more time, more money, a better place to live, better health, a better job, or a million and one other "if only's?"

Bloom where you're planted baby!

The "if onlies", notions of future perfection, and lots of money may never come so love your life right now.

God uses nature to show us that one may bloom even in the rockiest of environments.

So do something today, right now, this minute to improve your situation.  Pick a free bouquet of flowers right outside. Pray intensely for someone. Create something, fix something, paint something, DO something to make things better.

Send an email to a friend,ride your bike, go to a river or the ocean and let it soothe your soul,take a walk, cook a lovely meal, make your bed, throw out the trash, play with the dog, pull some weeds, etc.

Godliness with contentment is great gain.  1 Tim 6:6


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Cow Swimming Pool

Talk about the life of Reilly, or Daisy, or Old Bossy...these cows have some fabulous owners who damned up a pool for them, diverting a little nearby stream.

It was so beastly hot and there they were, lowing softly and just standing around in the cool water in the later afternoon.
I almost wanted to jump in too!

This old barn with the wonderful texture and rusted implements is beautiful to me. Maybe I am kin to Oscar the Grouch who used to sing, "Oh I love trash. Anything dirty or dingy or dusty.  Anything ragged or rotten or rusty."

Well, okay, I don't like anything rotten.

I love this abandoned farm house, which we passed after the cow pool. I don't find such a house spooky or scary. Maybe the house is a bit sad, as it thinks of the lives once sheltered there with only mice, hoot owls, and other furry creatures to keep it company now. 

I always wonder who was the last person to close the door, to take down the curtains, and to say goodbye. What was the last meal eaten 'round the table? Cornbread and beans? A Sunday chicken dinner with mashed potatoes and sweet corn? Was it during the Depression or during World War II - so hard to say.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Five Frugal Things

Here's the glamour shot!
Frugal Girl is a favorite blogger who writes an occasional column entitled Five Frugal Things.  

Here are my Five Frugs for today:

1.  I made a pasta salad as I cleaned out the fridge. So tail ends of feta and mozzie cheeses, almost empty bottles of Italian dressing, lemon juice, a quarter of a bag of frozen mixed veggies, half a green pepper, black olives, a couple of ribs of celery, whole wheat elbows bought for under a dollar, some black olives, and leftover chicken all went in. I took a little taste and it is YUM-O. Easiest way to save on food? Use every bit of what you purchase.The Atlantic reports that 50% of all American produce is thrown away.  Second easiest way? Cook and eat at home: cheaper, healthier, and more environmentally friendly.

2.  A fellow church member is affiliated with a famous and rather expensive chain of restaurants which uses "clean" foods.  This person brings in the bread that will be discarded. I used part of that bread for "Philly Cheese Steak" sandwiches with leftover cooked beef with grilled onions, green peppers, and a few mushrooms. I normally take home several loaves. It pleases me that my church reuses food that would be thrown away in a world with millions of hungry children.

3.  I folded ten ziplock bags I had washed and hung in the laundry room on a multiple skirt hanger. Hence that beautiful pic above.

4.  I took a military shower which is both frugal and good environmental practice. For the uninitiated, here's how: Turn the water on and get all wet. This time of year, I don't even use hot water, as it is coming up from the ground lukewarm. Once wet, turn off the water. Scrub yourself. Wash hair. Turn water back on. Rinse off. This practice saves amazing amounts of water.  A regular shower uses 60 gallons; a military shower uses 3. You get just as clean.

5.  I put a bucket in the bath to catch the running shower water and used for a few flushes. Why pay for something you let run down the drain?

To learn more:

The Atlantic - Food Waste

Washington Post Water Wasted

Huffington Post - Military Shower





Monday, July 17, 2017

Calling for Take Out

So early this morning I had an in-depth conversation with Lulu. She was standing on my celly and looking at me, well, like this:
I said, "Um do you have a call to make?  You're standing on my cell phone."

Bruce, who I did not notice come in to the room said,

"Yes, I need to call for take out because neither of the two of you have put breakfast in my dish."  

This is her "Give the dog some food" face.

Radium Girls - A Book Review


Radium Girls is a difficult book to read at times, but completely worthwhile. The author, Kate Moore, researched extensively in writing this book and it shows. I defy you to put it down once you begin reading.  

One can barely comprehend the hubris and callousness of an industry which knew its workers were being harmed terribly by industrial materials, but did nothing to protect them.

Radium girls worked in factories painting watch faces with radium to make them glow in the dark. The young woman were trained to make a point in the paint brush with their tongues. Around and around they went on each watch face, over and over again, all day long. Each time the paintbrush was dipped, the girls ingested deadly radium.
Early on, companies like the U.S. Radium Corporation did not know that the radium paint was harming these young women. 

Radium was first touted as a healthful substance. As unbelievable as it seems today, one could purchase radium toothpaste, radium drinks, radium face cream and other radium-laced products.  Yikes!
The danger soon became clear, but the companies continued to hire young women and continued to use the radium paint which they knew to be exceptionally dangerous. Companies denied the truth they knew and refused to pay damages.

Not surprisingly, the problems seen first occurred in the women's mouths.  One of the first Radium Girls described in Kate Moore's fascinating and very well written book consulted a dentist. The radium damage was so severe that when the dentist pulled her tooth, her jaw bone came out with it.

Every woman should read this book which provides an astonishing look at the treatment of females in the work place in the past.  Along with abuses of mine, garment, and textile workers, this is a part of our past would should not be forgotten.  Do these girls (actually women) receive justice? You'll have to read to find out!



To learn more:
Interview with the last Radium Girl

Interview with Kate Moore Author of Radium Girls

/Thanks to National Public Radio (NPR) for the historic picture of Radium Girls featured above.

Thanks to MentalFlosscom for the old radium toothpaste ad.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

My Cousin Arline Lost in Time

Gosh but doing ancestral research can get frustrating.

This is my cousin (3x removed) Arline McCullough Rondeau. I was told that she died very young and that her family loved her dearly.  A very nice distant relative on Ancestry.com provided me with her picture.

I can find scant information about her, my great grandmother Ella's cousin. She was a stenographer and then a clerk at The Travelers Insurance Company. 

Arline is in the Hartford City Directory records until 1926, still with her maiden name. I recognize the East Hartford homes in the background of this photo and the general area of the city where such houses are located.

Clearly this is Arline's wedding photo when she married Philippe Rondeau. He was a dough boy who served in World War One as a sergeant.

I love her flapper era dress and hat and her pensive face looking back at me through the years and years between us.

Who were you Arline? Were you mad for love for Philippe and waiting to have a wedding lunch or dinner with your family? Did you enjoy your job at the Travelers? Did you take the street car to work, your smart shoes tapping along the sidewalk as you exited? 

Did you make a good New England boiled dinner? Was Charlie Chaplain your favorite movie star? Did you have to give up your job because you married? 

When did you die and why are no death records available? Why is there no account of you in any U.S. newspaper? You survived the Great Flu pandemic only to die soon after with your information buried so deep in the records that I cannot find you.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

NYC Roof Top Cottage

There are many amazing things in the City That Never Sleeps.  

This adorable cottage looks like many cedar shake clad summer places I saw as a kid at the Connecticut Shore.

There's one catch, which you can see on the extreme right-hand side of the picture above.  This sweet little cottage is on top of a New York City building.

This place is breathtaking.  Check out the listing on Apartment Therapy's website below:

Learn more here:

NYC Roof Top Cottage for Sale

Lookin' Out My Front Door

After days of 100 degree temps, the weather "broke" a little last night. We had hours of thunderstorms which made the dog tremble and hide her eyes under the covers so as not to see the lightening flash. First the Independence Day celebration with loud, scary noises and then three hours (on and off) of thunderous boomers. What is a little white dog to do?

It may seem like a strange choice in the heat, but I had a hankering for minestrone this morning.  I bought a London broil at half price manager's special and cooked it in a slow cooker with half price, store brand dry onion soup mix and water for dinner last night. Superb and the kitchen doesn't heat up.

I made the minestrone with some of the leftover beef which I shredded vs. the traditional ground beef and set it in the slower cooker for dinner this evening.

All my windows are fogged over this morning and it looks like the temperature will be 6 degrees cooler today. I'll take that.

About this time each year, I refresh some of the tired looking plants and do something new at the front door. Bruce found the empty bird's nest. Using thrift store finds and some plants on sale, I made a happy place right next to the entrance.

The ancient Hebrews of the Bible mentioned front door posts frequently. Gpd commanded them to place a small receptacle (called a mezuzah in Yiddish) at the front door area. A mezuzah contains the 10 Commandments. I have one on the other side of the door jamb.

The door post area was considered important, I think, because it reminded ancient people who they were in God and let others outside their faith know the same.

My front door and porch area are important to me.  I hope that the pretty things from nature arranged out there are a witness to others who pass by. Above the new arrangement, I have a little chalk board on which I've written, "God is love."

Those black-eyed Susans also remind me that God expects me to be productive, create, and to bring beauty into my home.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and with all your soul and with all your strength [your entire being]. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be [written] on your heart and mind. You shall teach them diligently to your children [impressing God’s precepts on their minds and penetrating their hearts with His truths] and shall speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up...You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.




Friday, July 14, 2017

Fields of Gold

Issue number 5,234 of Bruce and Annie's travels...in which we find a field of sunflowers while meandering in Bertie County NC near the Chowan River. I was so excited to see a field of them that I ran out of the car.  The Chowan was named by explorers in 1584. Wikipedia tells me that it is one of the three oldest surviving place names in America.
Aren't they just the friendliest flower with their faces turned to the sun and so useful with tasty seeds?
And our lovely state road ended here...
at the Chowan River.

What a spectacular late weekday afternoon!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

DNA Doesn't Lie - The Railroad Bridge

When I was a kid, I divided my time between New York during the school year and East Hartford, Connecticut during school holidays.  Portions of my family have lived in Connecticut since the 1600's.

In warmer months, I dearly loved to walk across this trestle train bridge in the background from East Hartford to Hartford.  I never mentioned this to anyone in my family, as I did not want them to tell me not to do it.  I am not quite sure what I would have done if a train came by, but it never did.

I was fascinated with the river and the bridge.  For a time I worked in downtown Hartford  If it was nice out, I could walk over the bridge and get to work about a half hour sooner, totally avoiding any rush hour traffic.  It was a lovely commute.

When my friend, Barb, got me interested in researching my ancestry a number of years ago, I went first to this part of my family to discover more about them.

Recently, The Hartford Courant made its archives available via Newspapers.com.  The Courant is the oldest continuously published newspaper in the United States.  I've been searching for information about various ancestors and came across this article about my second great grandfather, Charles McCullough listened under "In General."
My second great grandfather died on that bridge.  How amazing!


Saturday, April 15, 2017

He is not Here; He Has risen! (Matt 28:6)

Was it a morning like this?
When the Son still hid from Jerusalem
And Mary rose from her bed
To tend to the Lord she thought was dead
Was it a morning like this?
When Mary walked down from Jerusalem
And two angels stood at the tomb
Bearers of news she would hear soon
Did the grass sing?
Did the earth rejoice to feel You again?
Over and over like a trumpet underground
Did the earth seem to pound, "He is risen!"
Over and over in a never-ending round
"He is risen, hallelujah, hallelujah!"

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

And Jesus said, "Mary." (John 20:16)

Most of us find certain Scripture passages which speak to us down deep in our souls. The following passage is one that speaks to me deeply.  Mary Magdalene has gone to Jesus' tomb to tend to His body and finds the tomb empty. Crying, she approaches someone whom she believes to be a gardener.

"Woman, why are you weeping?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?” Thinking He was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried Him off, tell me where you have put Him, and I will get Him.”  Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to him in Aramaic, Rabboni!" (which means teacher)

Mary was so traumatized by the sad events of Good Friday that she could not see Jesus standing directly in front of her.  For the past three days, she had experienced a world without Jesus in it.  Fear and pain had blinded her to the risen presence of the Lord.

This is the same Mary from whom Jesus cast out 7 demons.  She was known as Mary Magdalene. Despite what we may have been taught, Mary of Magdala was not a prostitute.  

The Hebrew people in 33 AD didn't have a way to describe mental or emotional illness. Perhaps these were 7 actual demons or perhaps Mary had mental health issues which were cured by Jesus. Demons are subject to Jesus and so is mental illness. 

In any case, I believe that she would have been greatly disturbed in spirit because she was standing at the cross as He died, witnessing that cruel and terrible death.

This Gospel passage is not only telling the story of Mary Magdalene, an historical figure of antiquity, encountering the risen Jesus.  The passage is also speaking to all of us in the 21st century who experience fear, stress, horror, isolation, and rejection. 

Israel in 33 AD was a culture with violence all around under foreign occupation.  America in 2017 is a culture with stress and violence all around as well. Mary didn't recognize Jesus because of her pain and stress. I sometimes miss Jesus for the same reason.

Mary had an advantage, though.  Despite the stress, she had followed hard after Jesus for three years. She had reclined at table with Him. She had listened in wonder as he taught in parables or used illustrations from the Old Testament prophets. She sat at His feet. She KNEW Him vs. just knowing his Name.

So it only took that sound of her name, Mary, on His lips to instantly drop the scales from her eyes.

How do we avoid missing Jesus?  Mary's advantage was that she had heard His voice before trouble came.  We can follow her example and also recline at table with Him when we bless our food in His name.  We can listen to His voice when we read His parables and teaching in Scripture. We can sit at His feet in prayer and meditation.

Because I don't want to think it is the landscaping guy when Jesus is standing right in front of me.




Monday, April 10, 2017

Dinner

I was totally uninspired about dinner tonight.  I do all the cooking. If I haven't planned for dinner in the morning, I rebel against cooking after I get home from work.

Hanging on the open refrigerator door, as one does, I had no plan. Then I decided to imagine that my family was coming to dinner or another important guest. What would I do?

That thought got me moving.  I set some golden potatoes on to boil. I took two slices of bacon put them in a pan to cook.  

We had fresh limes, so I made lime chicken.  I dredged chicken breasts in spiced flour, cooked them in olive oil, and then juiced three fresh limes.  I poured the lime juice over the chicken, with a slice of lime on each, and let them simmer.  

I cooked some squash (I had bought it diced) with the bacon and some sliced onions.  Finally, I cooked a package of grape tomatoes very simply by reducing them over a low flame.  All that was left was to "smash" the potatoes.  I didn't even take the skins off first!

Everything turned out great.  I should treat myself as an important guest more often!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Your Word is Like Honey on my Lips

This is my neighbor, Dave Mitchell. showing me how he works with his bee hive.  
Mitch looked into bee keeping to get over a fear of them. I understand this. I walk over the Brooklyn Bridge whenever I am in NY City, because I have previously had a fear of bridges. The Word says, "Perfect love casts out fear (1st John 4:10)."  When I remember this promise, I am not afraid.
Here he is putting on some super-secret sweet stuff to attract the bees. It smelled like peaches, despite the apple juice container.
Mitch is a great neighbor with a generous, godly spirit and the go-to locksmith for the neighborhood and my church.  He and his wife have persevered through tough times and raised a darling, godly young adult, Ahna, who is now living on her own.  Their lives have truly been their witness to our neighborhood.

Honey bees are disappearing, so I am glad he is doing his part to help them out.
Honey Bees Disappearing

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!  Psalm 119:103

Thursday, March 30, 2017

I've Got Sunshine On A Cloudy Day

What a difficult week. My mother is having some surgery tomorrow to remove three abscesses which has me concerned. I've been not-too-spiffy as well.  Nothing like stepping out of my VSP vehicle and hurling over the side of the 164 bridge. I've been dragging my okole for sure, as they say in Hawaii.

McDonald Garden Center is a happy place for me. Their staff is very knowledgeable and they stand by their products.  McDonald's is a small, family business which I like to support.  I know I'll always perk up if I stop by. Therapy AND gardening supplies!

McDonald Garden Center

I picked out some things and headed home. Looking around my front yard, I felt overwhelmed by the work I needed to get done. Instead of focusing on the entire yard (suffering from winter neglect), I decided to focus on one area only.  My potting bench.
This "bench" was assembled from a variety of discarded objects left out for the trash or given to me by folks who say "I know you can do something with this."  That top red part was a child's homemade doll house left on the curb after a move.  It made me sad, sitting there all forlorn.  I had to use it somehow.

Within an hour and a half I had potted and fed the plants I bought, cleaned up, and cut out the "woody" parts of the sage, marjoram, and lemon balm which have started to bloom once again. That first smell of lemon balm in the new year, so intensely lemony, smells like Spring. And makes me think of lemon curd. Thinking of lemon curd is always a good thing.

I was headed down the sorry ass road of pity.  As my mother always says, the good thing about self pity is that you know it is sincere.  I'd rather look back on a chill and cloudy day and say, "I made sunshine in the front yard."


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Rails to Trails and Peeps

My friend, Nancy (or should I call her my "unindicted co-conspirator") walked a newly-added portion of the Rails to Trails project over the weekend.  Rails to Trails

We gabbed and walked, stopped for water and apples along Bennett's Creek, and solved all the world's problems. She and I were traveling down the remnants of the old Seaboard Coastline Railroad, which operated until 1971 when the railroad was absorbed by Amtrak.  Not long afterwards, the tracks stopped being used. The "Juice Train" used to regularly traverse where we walked, bringing orange juice from Bradenten, Florida to Kearney, NJ.

Rails to Trails is such a superb idea for getting folks out to walk, bike-ride, roller blade, or even wheel chair down a newly-paved trail which (until recently) had been abandoned railroad tracks. I was delighted to see families out there walking or biking. In my area, this project will eventually become a 41-mile trail throughout the cities of Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach.
We walked on an unseasonably warm March Saturday, listening to birds calling and spring peepers...well, peep.

THIS spring peeper or chorus frog
NOT THIS
Just sayin'

Any adventure is not complete in my book until I find the abandoned house.  Not far from the McMansion houses of over 4,000 square feet (which you can see to the far right in the top picture) was the quiet old farmhouse below.

You know what a McMansion is right?  That's the ubiquitous new house with palladian windows and other fake details which I detest. I don't think you build them, you go into a planned development and have them Super Size it as you pass through the drive through. They are over-sized, soul-less, take up too many resources, and just generally annoy me.  McMansion

How can you tell if a house is a McMansion? They end up in a development with a made up name like The Myrtles at Hatton Point or some such. Then, you'll notice that all the street names are cutely coined by marketers who find some tie in with the development's name.

My mother has lived on "Balmoral Trace" and "Winster Fax." Seriously? My sister once lived in the "Cool Amber Forest."  Aren't forests green? My favorite made up marketing name of all time is "Tarleton Bivouac" in Williamsburg, VA. Try getting a pizza delivered there!  What happened to Main, Elm, Oak, or Maple Street?
The end of the trail landed us in Driver, Virginia, a small, quaint hamlet in the larger town of Suffolk. We found this farm stand:
I bought hydroponically-grown tomatoes from nearby Southampton County from this pile:
They tasted divine.