Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Summer Morning When All Flowers are Equal

I walked out in the garden around 7:30 this morning to check for ripe tomatoes.  There were a few.  What really caught my eye, though, were the flowers.  Obnoxious and invasive flowers but this morning, they were beautiful.  So pretty, I had to get my camera and capture them and the activity there were creating.

First, just as I walked out the door, there was that nettle that I want to pull but never have my gloves with me when I think of it.  Still, so pretty in the morning.

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Next, out in the garden, there was the bindweed we’ve been fighting all summer.  Still, there is a honey bee enjoying it’s nectar. 

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And, there around the tomatoes and grapes is that darn Morning Glory vine that will take over the plants if we don’t get on it.  But, there is a bee clear in that little flower.  And, isn’t that a beautiful shade of blue?

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Finally, coming back into the house, I see a legitimate flower on my poor bug riddled Hosta by the back door.  This beautiful morning though, all the flowers were lovely.  I walked away from them—I’ll deal with the vines tomorrow.

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Friday, July 06, 2018

The Saga of Water Line Leaks

We feel fortunate for our well maintained waterline.   Wells are not an option where we live, so an extension of a fairly new rural water district system to the edge of our place was the reason we purchased this land 40 years ago.  So, of course, 40 years is the age of the pipes that bring the water to our house from the meter—about a third of a mile.  We’ve had no problem with those pipes for all of these years.  Until now.

Our water usage has gradually increased since the first of this year.  We turned off our hydrant down by the garden when not in use.  When that didn’t help, we purchased two new low water usage toilets.  That didn’t really show any improvement.  Then we planted a garden and did a little watering  and thought that was why our bill was bigger than we thought it should be.

Finally, in April of this year, we got serious about trying to find what was going on.  Using a post hole digger, we dug three holes where it looked like there was some evidence of extra water by how the grass looked which was about 50 yards away from the house, up toward the meter.  Sure enough, one of the holes was nearly full of water after about eight hours.  After $385.00 in time and backhoe use by a company that specializes in fixing water lines, the small leak was found and fixed.

Then, with traveling and thinking we had the problem fixed, we didn’t check our water bills  which are auto paid each month—until July 1st.  That bill was $215.00 and showed that we were using 120 gallons every hour. 

That got our attention and when we checked, our meter was whirling.

Again, out came the post hole digger.  We dug a hole every place there was extra green grass.  One hole, directly out from the hydrant in front of our house was full of water the next morning. 

We decided, two people in their 70s could still dig a hole.  The whole backhoe situation would play havoc with our front yard. 

First, Dan used the tractor to scrape off the turf.

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Then, we dug straight down.    As when we dig anywhere around where our house sits, we had to spend time extracting a big granite rock on the way down.

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It turns out, we were almost perfect in our estimate of where the leak was located.  About four feet down there was the water pipe and it was definitely leaking.  There was also something right on top of it as well—a tree root.  And, we soon discovered there was a granite rock directly under the water line.    This isn’t a good picture, because you can’t see the rock and we have already cut part of the root.

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We enlarged the hole, turned the water off at the meter and went to work to successfully fix the line.

Here is the most interesting thing about this whole situation.

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This picture shows how the leak developed.  The water line was laid right on top of the rock 40 years ago.  In fact, the granite rock actually had a little grove where the pipe laid on it all those years.  Then, the tree root came along and grew right along the pipe.  As the leak developed, the root got bigger and pushed the line down harder against the rock.  And, that’s how our water bill continued to gradually get larger. 

We will definitely be tracking our our usage because, you know how these things occur in threes.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Neighborhood Excitement

Friday of last week, Dan was sitting at the kitchen table and out of the blue said, “The Goodyear Blimp is over east of us.”

Of course, I didn’t believe him, but after checking the binoculars, sure enough!

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This picture was taken as it passed over the north part of our hay field here at home.    The wind was giving it fits and neighbor Brenna thought it was going down in their field.  It could be it was trying to change course a little because it ended up landing at Forbes Field and probably needed to move north.  It would have been awesome to see it land!

As it turns out, the blimp is really a dirigible because there is no internal flame.  It runs on three engines--two on the sides and one on the back—that use outside air to propel it..   It is a semi rigid airship and is never deflated.  The outside structure lasts 15 to 18 years.  The square visible on the side in my picture is actually a digital sign.  You can read the article in Topeka CJ Online about its visit here.

So, I thought I would check social media to see if there were any pictures.  It was funny how, as it crossed over the area, posts showed up with pictures on Facebook and Instagram.

No exciting news like it had to land in our area because of the weather.  It actually was visiting Topeka (first time in 16 years) primarily I am sure to support the Goodyear plant.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

North Carolina Swim Meet

The main event for everyone making the journey to North Carolina was Aaron’s graduation.  It was a fun day with good food and conversation.  I think Aaron is experiencing joy and elation at his graduation from high school but also somewhat apprehensive of the future.    I would like to tell him there is no hurry, that he should enjoy his youth and freedom.   I feel confident he will do that and work out his life’s goals in good time.

Kim wanted to do a little shopping in the afternoon.  Bedding is a hard one to figure out.  There just isn’t a way to “try it on” to see if it works.  Or is there…

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In addition to graduation day, we also attended Adam and Evan’s swim meet at the pool in their living area, just a couple blocks from their home.  Swim meets are exciting for a few seconds and then wait.  So we had time to visit with Marc’s parents and enjoy pizza provided by Kim and Marc.

This all took place on June 12th, Dan and my anniversary.  So, that is the reason you will see our mug shot in the pictures.  Here is the link or click on the picture below.

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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Aaron’s High School Graduation 2018

Green Hope High School graduation ceremony began at 12:00 noon on Wednesday, June 13 at the Raleigh Convention Center.  There were over 750 graduates in attendance.  The speakers were members of the Class of ‘18.  This graduating class has to be one of the most diverse group of young people in the US.  The lady who read the names did an outstanding job.

At this point, using my little laptop, I have not been able to organize the pictures.  Also, the pictures taken with a cell phone seem to be small.  However, here they are.  We had a lot of fun helping Aaron celebrate his big day. Click here or on the picture for more!

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

New River State Park Rail Trail

Southern Virginia New River Rail to Trail State Park is considered one of the Nation’s Premier Rail Trails and has been designated an official National Recreation Trail by the Department of the Interior. In 1986 the Norfork Southern donated its abandoned track for the purpose of this bike trail.  The New River itself is historical in that it is the oldest river in the United States. For all of these reasons, plus the fact that this rail trail is not too far out of the way from Kim and Marc’s, we decided to ride at least part of the 57 mile trail. 

Our plan was for me to start at Galax and Dan would drive up the trail and we would ride toward each other. 

The Galax to Fries Junction section that I started out on is actually not along the New, but along a tributary Chestnut Creek.  Comments on the trail web site led me to believe this was a nice part of the trail to ride.  And it turned out to be exactly that.

First, the trail is flat and well maintained.  Most of the trail is open to horseback riders but there was little evidence of their use.  At first, I rode right along with nice views of the gentle creek.   Soon as more little drainages added to the size of the creek I was excited to find rapids forming and even several waterfalls.  I was along side the creek most of the time, although enjoyed Virginia ranching landscape too. There was a cute little store but I had to pass as I didn’t bring any money.  

I always enjoy the tresles of which there were many.  My favorite, though, are the tunnels.  The one I encountered looked onomous because it was completely dark at the entrance—spooky because I was by myself.  I considered waiting until another trail rider came along, but thought that would be unadventurous on my part so I tentatively started in.  No sooner had I got about twenty steps in than the tunnel curved enough I could see the end.  Still, there is nothing like seeing light at a distance and it being completely dark in front of where I am riding.  It is disorintating and makes me feel like I losing my balance.

Chestnut Creek entered the New River and at that point, there was a beautiful long tresle over the big New River.  So exciting but still no Dan .  I thought I would meet him at the tunnel when we parted.

Turns out the place we made out to meet had a very long a curvy road which did not lend itself to speedy travel.  He mostly missed out on a great ride.

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Click here or on the picture for a few pictures and a little movie

Monday, June 11, 2018

Boondockers Welcome

This is not a sign travelers often see.  In fact, staying off the grid is considered by some RVers as kind of cheating.  Then a clever computer person, seeing a need, created the web site Boondockers Welcome.

Basically, it is a site where people sign up to host other RVers at their home or on their land. Self contained travelers then go online and ask to spend a night or two.  The host has to approve the request.   Of course, there are profiles etc.
 
So, that is how we found one of the most beautiful and serene places to camp near the New River Rail to Trail.  It wouldn’t be fair to the hosts to tell the exact location but I will say it is close to Galax Virginia and right next to a beautiful tributary of the New River.

Our hosts were friendly and gracious.  They opened their front porch to conversation and we left feeling like we were friends.  We learned local history and about the surrounding lands.  And, what is it about that southern accent that seems so friendly and laid back?

We will definitely be using this web site again. And thank you to Jim and Andrea for a memorable stay at their lovely summer home.





Saturday, June 09, 2018

North Carolina Graduation

It’s hard to believe our little Aaron is now grown up and graduating from high school.  The family is gathering for this celebration on Wednesday of next week.   There will be more on that later.

We are roadtripping of course.  We drove ten hours on Thursday arriving in Nashville nearly at dark.  This was a short layover so Walmart it is. 

This was taken on our way to park for the night.  Really,  where else but Nashville TN…. 

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From Nashville, we made our way to Virginia and the New River Rail to Trail.  I’m still gathering pictures so more on that tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Harvest ahead

Dan has worked hard on the trees and brush on the 80.  This will be the last fire before harvest.  The wheat in the background is starting to turn and will soon be too dry to chance a spark.  This picture was taken Sunday evening.  He had gathered a big pile of brush and noticed there was one small smoky log.  He thought nothing of it and came on home to get a match and see if I wanted to watch the pile burn.  This picture was taken right after we returned.  A lesson on how easily a fire can rekindle.

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The electric fence has done its job!  There are zero bean plants nipped by deer.  Also, the beans are benefitting from the composted dirt and are loaded with blooms.  Only problem with the dirt is it brought in a healthy dose of bindweed.  We have been fighting it mightily but finally gave up on a half row of beans.  Right now  all is looking good, but that pesky stuff will be back.  This fall we might have to address the problem with something stronger than a hoe & rototiller. 

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Finally, I am sharing a picture of one of many Hummingbirds that cheer our lives.  They are  social little things.  If the feeder is empty, they actually will let us know in a flying around the window sort of way.  Sometimes I think they sit on this little perch and look in at us. 

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Sunday, June 03, 2018

Colorado in May

Doug called a couple weeks ago wondering if we might want come out to Colorado for the annual nursery experience. That and maybe Dan could help a bit finishing up the bathroom project.  Memorial weekend worked so we headed to Colorado in the Colorado—pickup truck.

First, we stopped by the cemeteries.  There was enough rain that the grass was green and they were trimmed up nicely.  There were no military flags in our two rural cemeteries but the war medallions were in place.

The pickup is a nice roadtrip machine.  The PW wins the contest though because we have our own bathroom.  But, for a quick eight hour trip, we were fine with the pots available.

Dan was busy with helping Doug, so the girls decided to find a geocache near the Monument Library.  (Carly is volunteering with the library this summer).  All in all, we visited the location of the Geocache three times and never did find the “clever place” it was hidden—that is according to one of the commenters that found it only a week before we were there.  At one point, a lady came by with her daughter and volunteered to help us look—still nothing. 

The dogs loved the water but look out when they get out.

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Wait, where’s the wiener?

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Dutch Heritage Gardens is located near Larkspur, Monument and Castle Rock.  (I encourage visiting the link to get a feel of the size). Once a year they open their wholesale greenhouses to the public.   It was so overwhelming that I nearly didn’t buy anything.  Dan found a tray of orange Celosia.  I bought two pots of Bee Balm and a gift for our neighbor who watches over our place when we leave.  When I got home with the Bee Balm, I had a feeling I had pulled up a plant that I thought was a weed with the same leaf.  Typical.

More pictures of the weekend too numerous to put on individually.  Notice Trent’s garden.

Click here or on the picture

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Saturday, May 19, 2018

It’s all good here

What a a better way to end a busy week than to have our oldest grandson, Aaron, home from North Carolina.

He is here to spend a couple days with friends who are graduating from Shawnee Heights.  We are traveling to North Carolina in June to celebrate his graduation from Green Hope High School in Cary. 

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IMG_0411Two recent pictures of Aaron.  We had to get the cup out like we always do when the grandkids come home.  We got this cup when he was a toddler.

Love this prom picture.

This is a bumper year for Carpenter bees.  Carpenter bees might be mistaken for bumble bees only because they are about the same size.  Thankfully, they are not aggressive.  The males don’t have a stinger and the females will only sting if harassed according to internet information.  We’ve harassed them plenty and still never been stung.

We started an all out assault on them about a week ago.  Our main weapon is a fly swatter or a bigger tennis sized paddle.  They have a tendency to hover if you watch them long enough.  We estimate we have killed around 80 to 100 bees this week.  The reason they love us so much is probably because they love redwood, like our redwood decks.  They like to drill holes in the wood to lay their eggs.  The sound of the bees and the drilling drives us both nuts.  Just when we think we have made a dent in the population, there seems to be more.  Dan came up with a effective means to get them by loading small shotgun shells with cuscus (little tiny pasta).  It worked great for the higher reaches in the barn—he is deadly.

I know they are pollinators.  And, that’s good.  But, I wonder if they could do actual harm to a deck or building if left to continually drill holes. 

We are helping take care of our neighbor’s chickens while they are on vacation.  The chicken coop is humming with Carpenter Bees and there is an aggressive attack rooster to boot.  Despite all of that, those pretty hens lay a dozen eggs a day. 

All in all, it’s been a great week.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Good Morning

Just sunning in the front porch. I might not want to sit in this chair for a few hours