March 15, 2018
Winter and Spring seem to be contenders in a game similar to the one we played as kids called “King of the Mountain”. We know that eventually Spring will kick Winter’s butt and take over the Appalachians but Winter isn’t going away without a fight. A lot of times, we will get snow in Laurel Fork when there is none in Staunton, but this past week, snow arrived in both places covering the green grass that had emerged after the warmer weather we had experienced. Last night when we arrived in Laurel Fork, the wind was bitter and the house was cold. We keep the temp cut back to around 50 in the house when we are away and the temperature had dropped to 59 inside which really wasn’t too terrible considering the outside temps had dropped to the upper 20’s at night and not above the mid-forties during the day. Our first priority was to get a fire going to help heat the house. I cleaned out the cold ashes and laid a fire. We had forgotten that a man was to come by to give us an estimate on some fence work. Mike was tied up with him for a good while, but he seemed like a really nice man and gave Mike a lot of good information. Before leaving Verona/Staunton, we had to go by the bank because my statement showed a deposit of 1500 dollar from the IRS that did not belong to me. I was agitated thinking it might be a difficult process to get corrected and not feeling comfortable about having someone else’s money put in my account by the IRS. Fortunately, the IRS had realized their mistake and had already removed the money with a note saying they had inadvertently put it in the wrong account. I think I was more irked by the fact I had to get out of the car and go inside to address the problem. I typically use the drive through window option. A couple years ago, Dupont remodeled and changed the inside of the bank. They have stations where the tellers stand and everything is open with television and big screen computer monitors behind them on the wall. All the business on the wall with the large, moving screens and the way the stations are located in the middle of the room makes me feel anxiety the minute I walk in the door. I feel exposed and vulnerable. Their new floor plan and customer approach caused me to want to move to another bank. I really must be getting old and set in my ways. We also had to make a stop to pay a bill and a stop at Factory Antique Mall to pick up paperwork and a check. For the first half of the trip I was busy with paperwork and hardly looked up from the computer until we got to Dublin. Going to Dublin makes our trip a bit longer but there is a restaurant we like there so we go that way on occasion. We got into Laurel Fork a little earlier than we sometimes do and it was nice to have time to get some things done before settling in for the night. I love to let the quiet soak into my soul and feel the stress melt away when we are in the mountains. We have been here a year this month and the place hasn’t lost one bit of its charm for me. I breathe deeper when I am here.
March 16, 2018
Another fence builder came yesterday to give us estimates. We are delayed once again by several factors. We have to make a decision if Mike is going to build part or all of the fence. If Mike does it all, then it will take a good bit of time to get it accomplished. Even if we get the fence builders to do the job, we are looking at several months out due to the contractor’s schedules. We also have come to a delay because we are considering working with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to try to come up with a plan for some major erosion, some wild life areas, and possibly fencing the cattle out of the streams. If we do that, then it is going to take some additional time for planning before we can get the fences put up. The delays are somewhat frustrating and the process of making the decision that will affect the future of the farm bring a certain amount of consternation but we want to do this right and to the best of our abilities with the resources we have available. The delays could mean that I don’t get the Jerseys to Laurel Fork until later than expected, which means milking them is going to be an issue for a while until their calves are old enough and big enough to consume enough milk that I don’t have to milk them daily. It will work out, it just means that I may be spending more time in Staunton than I had planned when the cows calve since we might not be able to move them until mid to late summer. Still, even with the possible delays and the decisions to be made, I am excited to have dreams that include more than just our instant gratification as we try to find ways to protect the land for future generations. Our children may never live here but I hope that someday there will be someone who loves this place as much as we do when we are no longer living.
March 19, 2018
This past week has been a whirlwind of activity. I feel like every week I write something similar about being so busy and time getting away from me. It seems like time just moves faster and faster. That is why taking the time to do things intentionally are so important. It is so easy to get caught up in “doing things” and miss the real opportunities that life has to offer us to slow down and absorb the lessons that bring peace and greater understanding in the world around us. I do intentionally set aside time now to do certain things that help me slow down and breathe deeper and as a result, maybe I don’t get some of the” things” done that I use to accomplish, or at least not as thoroughly. More and more I let the housework go. I like things to be in order but where I use to clean until I drove myself crazy, I have learned that a little dust and dirt are not going to kill us. This is a conscious effort for me because I have been somewhat OCD in the past about cleaning and I can let it control and concern me very easily. This week, instead of taking the time I probably should have taken to clean the house, I spent a whole day sewing. I didn’t do anything difficult, simply making various sized pillows out of vintage grain and flower sacks. However, it was so relaxing and I had so much fun doing it. I have my sewing machine set up in the guest cabin at Laurel Fork. (It is not actually a cabin and is above the detached garage, but it is set up with a retro hunting/fishing cabin theme.) Currently, the cabin has no heat, so I have to use electric heaters in there and it has been too cold most of the winter to spend any real time there. It was great to be able to get in there and do some sewing. It was still pretty cold even with the heaters blowing right on me, but I love being in that room. It’s so peaceful. I also took the time to walk several times throughout the week. Those intentional down times are so important. One thing I did not do this past week was write a lot and I do regret that. It seems like it is so hard for me to write in the evenings. I’m tired by then and not quick with my words. My best time to write is in the morning and that just didn’t work out well for me this past week.
Last Monday I had Alissa’s girls but Alissa was home during the day as well because the snow caused Blue Ridge College to be cancelled. Alissa had a lot of work to do for her Master’s classes, so I tended to the girls while she worked at home. It did make for an easier day for me because Rory was able to nurse whenever she wanted and she was more content with her momma here. Alissa did have her regular evening classes. Mike drove her to James Madison in Harrisonburg as she was afraid to drive with the weather. It turns out, Harrisonburg didn’t have hardly any snow at all and we had probably five inches at our place. Tuesday, we had a get together with the Twins as well as Alissa’s girls. I had set up a St. Patrick’s Day “party” and we had “green food”, played games, and made a shamrock card. The kids had a lot of fun and it was so good to have them all together. I don’t write as much about the twins and about what is going on in their parents lives because they are much more reserved and private about their lives. Our daughter Kristin and her husband Nate don’t participate in Social Media other than a picture of the kids a few times a year. Out of respect for them and their privacy, I try not get carried away with what I write concerning their lives and I try not to share too much personal information. Now that I don’t watch the twins on a regular basis, we don’t get to see them weekly but we try to see them every other week and get together to do fun things as a family. This ended up being a two-party week but unfortunately, Hudson and Ella became sick between parties and were not able to be here for Rory’s birthday celebration on Sunday. We missed them so much and I know they were so disappointed to not be able to come. We had a nice, low key birthday party for Aurora Geneva (Rory) who will turn one year old this week. Alissa’s grandma and two cousins came from Lynchburg, Alissa’s step sisters from a previous marriage of Alissa’s biological father were here, Gabino’s two brothers, a friend of Alissa’s from her Master’s class, a dear high school girl who watches Analia and Rory for us a good bit and her little brother made up a wonderful, diverse group of people who love Rory dearly. I loved seeing the mix of ethnic, social and economic background as well as a conglomeration of folks from various points in our lives all represented in our home gathering around little Rory to celebrate her day. Together we are Rory’s family and I can’t help but be thankful that my grandkids have such a rich and diverse support system as they grow up. I am thankful that even though there were some hurtful and ugly things in our past, we have been able to keep close the people we love so much who were a part of our lives during that time. I love my ex mother in law and Alissa’s step sisters and step mom (who couldn’t be with us on Sunday). I’m thankful to be able to have such a great relationship with these folks after so many years and after so much of life has tried to beat us down.
I got up at 4 am to be ready to leave Laurel Fork and get back to Staunton for Rory’s birthday party at 1 pm. I wanted to be a little early so that I could help Alissa get set up. She had things in order and all I did was help with the girls a little and help put some food out and do some dishes. It was a great, low key party. Rory was not impressed much and kept looking at all of us like she was saying “Why are there so many people here?”. She wasn’t herself until everyone left and then she played music on her new toys and danced around the room entertaining herself. After the party, Mike and I went to both of the antique malls and worked on our booths. I took a lot of smaller items out of the booth at Verona Antiques and moved them to Factory Antique Mall. The booth at Verona Antiques needed a good cleaning up. Mike and I have a difference of opinion on what we present for sale. Mike figures there is nothing worth throwing out and someone, somewhere will pay something for most any item. I am more particular about what goes into the booths and want to weed things out that have been there for a while or that I consider junky. It’s hard to find a balance sometimes. Many times, items I don’t think will sell actually do sell, proving Mike right. However, Mike’s habits of keeping everything and placing value on everything tend to sometimes create clutter that needs to be cleaned out so that we can have a cleaner looking area. And, the items can become so eclectic that it is hard to have a display and things end up looking more like a warehouse for second hand items. There is no question that moving merchandise is good for business, so occasionally, Mike will give his blessing to my decluttering. (He tends primarily to Verona Antiques and I tend to Factory Antiques giving us each our own space but on occasion, he likes for me to come and try to put things together for him at Verona Antiques.)
I had left the pillows unfinished that I made earlier in the week so that I could sew up the seams where I had stuffed them as we travelled. I thought I could get more pillows made if I just kept to the machine work and then did the hand work in the car. I started sewing when we left Laurel Fork and finished them up about ten minutes from the mall in Verona. I put my makeup on in the car and we dropped the pillows off on the way to Rory’s party and then came back after the party to work on the booths. By the time I got home from the antique malls after 6 pm and had been on a dead run since 4 am, I was exhausted. Analia met me at the door and wanted to know if I would read to her, so we took time for that, and then I took a 20-minute power nap before getting up to help with the girls until bedtime. Alissa was babysitting a little two-year-old who took to me after initially sizing me up to see if I was trustworthy. By the time her momma picked her up around 9:30, she was calling me Tita, sitting on my lap, and seemed to have accepted me as her honorary grandma. (She is here often and calls Alissa mom and Gabino daddy just like our girls do.)
It is now Monday morning and I am writing quickly to try to finish this up because the Little Girls will be awake and our day will begin in earnest. I struggle with not wanting to come back to Staunton simply because I love our life in Laurel Fork and because being on the road so much makes it difficult to get things done in either place. However, once I am back in Staunton, I am always happy to have time with the family, be able to invest in the lives of the grandchildren, spend time with my animals and absorb the wide-open views from the valley. For years, I gazed across the valley at the Blue Ridge Mountains on one said and the Allegheny Mountain Range on the other side and fed my soul with the beauty. Now I am blessed to be able to escape to those mountains I love so much. While I love being in the mountains, for I been aware all my life that I a mountain girl at heart, one needs to step back and be able to view things from a wider perspective from time to time. Being in the valley gives me that wide open space with bigger skies for viewing the sunrises and sunsets and it gives me time to pour myself into my family who mean more to me than anything in the world.