February 1, 2018
I have coffee percolating in the old, enamel pot and I have coaxed the coals from last night’s fire back into a full flame. It won’t be long until the bedroom is toasty warm. I will probably then want to slide under the blankets and go back to sleep, but the truth is, I need to get some things done because Alissa and two of her friends will be arriving this evening to spend the night before going on to Charlotte, North Carolina tomorrow for a conference in which they are all speaking. Analia is going to be spending the day with me here in Laurel Fork tomorrow and Rory is supposed to travel with her momma. As soon as we got in to the house last night, I put a big bowl of October beans to soak so that I can make a large pot of chili. Between the visitors this week and a carry in lunch at church on Sunday, I am sure it will be eaten. Before I start my day (and while the room warms up), I wanted to get caught up on my journal. I don’t even try to write on Monday or Tuesday evenings anymore. I am always just so tired after watching the girls. I know I remark often that Rory is high energy and her inquisitive approach to life keeps me on my toes. The result is that by the time Alissa comes in around 9 pm after class, I am so tired I can’t see straight. The girls say and do the funniest things and I wish that I could remember it all so that I could write it down. When Analia was Rory’s age, she was very vocal. The doctors could not believe that she already had such a large vocabulary for one so small. Each child is different, and Rory, who makes lots of noise, doesn’t have a lot of words yet. She says “Dadda” and “Momma” mostly. She will say “Papa” when we coax her to say it. She calls me “Maaaaa” when she is upset. (Analia went through a long period of time when she called me Mom or Momma Tita. I think they hear Alissa calling me Mom and they do the same.) She has started trying very hard to say “Sissie” and is doing a pretty good job of it. She uses a lot of hand gestures to get her point across. Alissa has taught her some sign language and she signs for milk, more, and help. Then, she just makes up a lot of her own signs. She gets her point across without all the vocabulary that her big sister had at that age.Analia is really wanting to learn to read and is constantly sounding out words in her head and talking about the sounds the letters make. I think she will pick up on reading quickly, which is no wonder, because we have surrounded the grandkids with books and read to them since they were infants. They all love books. I do worry about her ability to write her letters though. She struggles with fine motor skills and has difficulty writing or coloring.
We were able to spend some time with Nate, Kristin and the twins this week. They all seem to be in a really good place right now with Nate having finished his degree in December and Kristin being able to stay home with the children now. The kids seemed really settled and happy. We love seeing our kids happy and at peace. We had talked about going to the Discovery Museum. We bought the twins a season pass and Analia also has a season pass. However, with so much flu and other contagious illness so rampant, we decided to just visit together at the restaurant where we had a nice little corner to ourselves. The restaurant was slow on a week day and we had fantastic server. It was good to spend time together and we planned another get together for a week from Tuesday so that we can make Valentine’s Day cookies at Tita’s house. All of our grands are so precious and when I get to see the twins I just want to squeeze and hug them so much. They are just so cute. Kristin said Hudson asks every day when they will get to see Tita. I am so glad for those first four years when I was able to help take care of them and establish that bond with them.
I did not spend as much time at the Antique Mall this week. My schedule just did not allow. However, I did manage a couple hours and was able to get most of the inventory finished there in our booth. We have a few shelves in Al’s front booth that I still need to inventory. Hopefully I can get that finished this coming week. Unfortunately, we have had to watch our items very closely. There seems to be a good bit of theft that goes on in the mall and I am suspicious that a lot of it comes from other dealers. The mall is very large and it is filled with some fantastic dealers who are good people. It only takes a few to make things ugly. When we first started in the Mall, we had a nice piece stolen, the price changed, and the item put up for sale in another dealer’s booth. The whole situation culminated in that dealer being asked to leave and take her business somewhere else. (There were other factors involved in that decision by management as well.) As a “parting gift” perhaps, we found a few things stolen the day she moved her booth out of the mall. Since then, we have had a few things turn up missing here and there but not anything too large or expensive until this last week. I went looking for a large item that was missing and found it untagged in another dealer’s booth. She said someone put it in her booth and she didn’t know where it belonged. (Correct procedure in these instances is to take the unmarked item to the front of the mall where it can be seen and claimed by the proper owner. This individual knew that, because she also works as an employee of the mall.) I want to believe her, but it is a little hard when we have already had a bad experience that was similar. At any rate, I got the item back. I guess that’s the most important thing. These types of situations are so frustrating and are prevalent in all types of retail situations. It’s sad. I stop and consider why people do a lot of the things they do that end up harming others and I think the answer comes down to jealousy and /or selfishness. I think of the times I have been hurt deeply or that I have hurt others deeply and the root of the problem is usually the same.
I started last weekend and continued working this week on updating the blog. We are getting ready to reactivate the Facebook Farm Page in the near future and I wanted to have the blog up to date before I do that. I had unpublished some of the pages on the blog such as the PRODUCE FOR SALE and ANIMALS FOR SALE. I updated all the stand-alone pages. I also created a new page where I put links to things I have written on other blogs at various times over the years. The farm blog has withstood the test of time. Even when I let it sit ignored for large periods of time, it doesn’t die. This year will mark a decade since I started it. The other blogs have been started and then completely let go by the wayside because I never have time to follow through with them, even though writing is one of my passions. Someone remarked to me one time that I shouldn’t separate my life with the blogs but rather should have all my writing in one place. With this in mind, I created a page with links to all the other posts I have written. My plan from now on is to put any entries I might have right on the farm blog. In the past, especially with my grief blog, I felt that I needed to separate those writings that other might find difficult from the farm blog that was so closely connected with our livelihood. I learned early on after Josh’s death that folks don’t mind supporting and listening initially after a loss, but as time goes on, people began to feel uncomfortable with lingering grief and don’t know what to do with it. Rather than make our clients and readers, as well as family and friends uncomfortable, I found a different spot to express my grief and that journey. I tucked that grief blog into the page with links on the farm blog yesterday morning and by last night, already, someone had sent me a message telling me of their own grief and loss. I think that is the purpose of writing for me. It is being able to express something in such a manner that someone else is able to connect to it. For many people, what they are experiencing feels alienating, and that doesn’t necessarily mean just tragic loss. It can be something simple that makes a person feel alone. For me, if I write well and I am able to express myself clearly, then occasionally there is a connection with a reader that says, “Hey, you understand me and you just put I into words what I am feeling.” When that happens, I feel so blessed. I have a few posts on the blog the farm blog that I would like to go back and edit. It’s not the content that needs editing but rather the format. Somehow, the background and text ended up in a strange format that makes it hard to read. I have tried changing it and have about given up and feel like the only solution is to totally rewrite the post. Were it something I didn’t feel was important, I wouldn’t worry about it, but this long post in particular contains a lot of information that I want to be able to share with other Family Cow owners as they face similar situations. I want the blog to be informative but I also want it to be user friendly and easy on the eyes. I have always just used blogpost for my farm blog but I am limited structurally with what I can do with the page. Still, the fact I have never had to pay for the services has been great.
We actually arrived in Laurel Fork before dark last night which was so nice. We unloaded the car. (I had brought some of my Nativity collection down this trip to store with the Christmas decorations.) Mike got a fire started and I put away the boxes we had brought with us and started a load of wash. I called grandma and visited with her awhile, and then we settled in for the night.
February 4, 2018
It’s Sunday morning, just after daylight, and the snow is beginning to fall. Snow and ice are predicted for both Laurel Fork and Staunton today. Actually, I wish it would just snow a foot and then we would have no choice but to stay. The way it looks is that we are going to get just enough to make driving hazardous but not enough that we can really justify not making it back to Staunton today. We need to be back but I dread the traffic and the possibility of poor driving conditions. For now, with church being called off, I am sitting in bed with a fire in the fireplace and my computer across my lap trying to catch up on the week’s events. With Alissa, her two classmates, and the Little Girls coming and going here from Thursday until Saturday, things were a little hectic and different. Before they arrived on Thursday, I made Chili, homemade bread and a pineapple upside down cake. On Friday while the students went to conference in Charlotte, I kept Analia. It is rare that I get time alone with Analia anymore, and I wanted to give her some individual attention. We read a lot of books and built with blocks. She went with me to get a few things from the dollar store that we needed. I didn’t want to have to drive all the way into Hillsville, so we just made do with the local dollar store down the road from our house. The crew got back from Charlotte late afternoon and Alissa told me how she explained to the professor in charge of her panel that she didn’t have a babysitter for Rory and had to bring her along. (The other two student’s panels were scheduled for the same time frame as Alissa’s and they were unable to watch Rory while Alissa spoke.) She explained that she regretfully would have to forgo her presentation. However, the professor stated that they had a very child friendly university and told Alissa that she could hold Rory while she was presenting. It was a 20 to 25-minute presentation on the subject of the difficulties of motherhood for African American women who were slaves and bore children under the horrible conditions of bondage. With their own lives and the lives of their children subjected to the demands of the plantation owners, it created a unique and difficult situation as a mother. Alissa said that for the first of the program as other people were speaking, Rory was very quiet and just stared at the speakers. However, when Alissa began to speak, wearing Rory in a carrier on her front, Rory began making noises and “talking” too. Alissa began handing her objects she had collected to try to keep Rory busy. She said Rory would hold them for a minute and then toss them out into the audience. Somehow, Alissa made it through her topic and it sounds like it turned out well in spite of her little helper. When it came time for questions, Rory was fussy and Alissa tried to hold her on her hip and answer questions but Rory wasn’t having it. The professor ended up taking Rory out for a walk in the hall while Alissa finished up. It has not been easy for Alissa to first get her bachelor’s degree from Mary Baldwin and now her Master’s Degree from James Madison as she struggles to juggle work, school and motherhood. But, she is almost finished and these difficult but rewarding times will soon be behind her and she will know that she persevered and completed the task at hand.
Everyone was very appreciative of the food that I made for them. I made homemade pizza and raspberry cobbler for Thursday evening. Austin and Karisa were very complimentary and thankful for the meals and a place to stay. They were delightful guests. At one point, after the conference, I had to laugh as I stood in the kitchen working because Analia had all the adults playing hide and seek with her. Austin hid back in the furthest corner of one of the closets in the cape cod style house. They had looked there for him but couldn’t see him behind the clothes in the dark. The second time they looked he jumped out and scared them. They may all be adults working on a Master’s Program but they screamed like little children scaring each other to death. Those are the moments for which I live, when happiness flows and laughter fills our home. These are the memories I hope my children, grandchildren, and even guests carry with them through the years.
Saturday morning the guests all left and Mike and I decided to head to Galax for an auction. We had been a little disappointed in the auctions at our favorite auction house over the last few sales. The owner had seemed edgy and irritable and had said a few things that seemed out of character for him. Yesterday’s sale seemed more like “old times” and I really enjoyed it, perhaps because I had mostly been providing child care all week and just needed an adult outing. We were able to pick up a few items to put in the booths at the malls. There were two whole tables filled with vintage linens but while everyone paid top dollar for them to get the particular boxes they desired, I sat back and waited until they sold the lot for one money at the end. In this manner, I was able to get some gorgeous, handmade pieces at a price where I can resell them and make a profit. I pulled a few pieces out for gifts as well and of course, I had to have several pieces for myself. I absolutely can’t resist the beauty of a handmade piece knowing how much time has been put into it. I also bought a box of handmade, vintage off white curtains. These were expertly sewn curtains, one set trimmed in eyelet lace and the other two sets trimmed with lace. I had been waiting patiently and looking for something to put in what we call “the girl’s room” at our home in Laurel Fork. The room has pink, French Country Scene wall paper, antique furniture and the windows are trimmed in white. The former owner had red, plaid curtains on the windows and I just didn’t like the feel of those curtains in that room. I had taken down some shabby chic, ruffled curtains from the dining room and replaced them with vintage lace curtains to soften that room up a bit and make it more my style. Until I could find what I wanted, I just used those white, ruffled shabby chic curtains in the girl’s room. When I came across these handmade, vintage curtains yesterday, I knew they were the exact fit for the room but I wondered if I could buy them cheaply. (I am all about buying cheap. The antique sales are a hobby for us and if we can’t turn a small profit to cover our expenses, then we will stop doing it. Same is true when I buy pieces for the house. We don’t need anything, so if I “want” something, I make sure that I can buy it economically and/or that I am able to turn enough of a profit on the other things we buy for resale to cover my expenses in purchasing that item.) I wanted those curtains badly but I refrained from bidding on the lot boxes until the bid got down to $4 a box lot. I didn’t dare go any lower than that for fear someone else would pick them up. For $4 I got three sets of beautiful, handmade curtains trimmed in eyelet and lace. What a deal!
February 5, 2018
The weather for travelling was not the best yesterday although it could have been much worse. We left our place in Laurel Fork with the heavy rains tapering off but the further north we came, the worse the roads got. Outside of Blacksburg and Christiansburg the trees were weighted down with ice and there was ice on the roads that had not been treated. Fortunately for us, we were on roads salted by VDOT and they were not too bad. Once we reached the interstate, things were better for a while but then we would run into areas of ice. However, the interstate was clear. It wasn’t until we were on our road going through Verona that the roads became really slick for us and we slid going around a curve. There was more snow and ice on the roads at our house than the rest of the journey.
The Little Girls were glad to see us although not quite as excited as they usually get. That’s probably because they have seen us every day this past week and have not had to miss us. Even with traveling, it has ended up that we have been together at least part of every day since last Sunday. Guess Papa and Tita are not quite as exciting when you have to hang around them every day. The girls also have colds.
Today will be a routine day with 14 hours of babysitting, trying to put the house in order, cooking meals, washing clothes, and tending to things here that need attention. We have fallen into a real pattern with our travels and most of the time we don’t even think about it but March will mark one year since we started the weekly commute between Southwest Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley and I think we are both looking forward to finalizing the need to travel weekly between the two farms. Alissa will graduate in the spring and I won’t be providing child care on a weekly basis. There will be days and weeks when we need to spend a good bit of time in the valley as Mike grows crops and makes hay and does some gardening here in the summer, so our commutes will continue but probably not on a regular schedule and very well may necessitate one of us staying at one farm and one at the other for periods of time, especially if we get the cattle moved to Laurel Fork. By next fall and winter, however, we should be able to just stay in Laurel Fork and come back to the Valley just whenever we want to visit. We really have not minded the commutes for the most part but there are times we would just like to stay in one place or the other without a schedule demanding otherwise. There is also the difficulty of getting things done because it seems just as soon as we get good and started on a project in one place, it is time to go to the other place. The great part of it is we are never bored and we get to see a lot of beautiful scenery in our beautiful state. I’m so thankful for all our blessings, for the ability to help out with our children and grandchildren, that Mike can still spend some time with his mom and do things for her, that we have good health, that we have had safety on the roads, and all the opportunities we have had to grow, learn and build better relationships.