September 2008

I was reading an article in the local paper some months ago, about local swimming holes. My daughter had discovered one, near Massanutten, thanks to friends who live in the area. It had a natural rock slide, and was hidden way back in the woods, so you would only be able to find it if you were a local!

There is one off Rte 259, that is just a bend in the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. Teens congregate there on hot days, parking in the lot of an old garage. On occasional summer weekends, 2 or 3 regulars gather in that same parking lot to set up impromptu yard sales- I have found alot of my garden vegetable plants there from a Mennonite farmer, and  great little antique cups, silverware, and odds and ends. I have peered longingly over the edge to the swimming hole, but have never ventured down. It seems understood that this is a teens only spot!

If you grew up here in the Gap, which I did not, you know where all the area swimming holes are. Some have dried up to mere trickles, after the Big Flood of 1985. There is a place not too far from me, that neighbors remember swinging from a rope and leaping into the river. Now that river is not very deep, and no one leaps in, but the sweet memories of childhood remain there- and its stories are repeated, every time someone drives by.

The Shoemaker River, which runs right by my house, has several “deep spots”, and after a rain, was probably a magnet for kids in the area in years past.

Blue Hole, Wittig’s Pond, and others with names only known to those who grew up here, still exist to those who are lucky enough to know their whereabouts.

I heard tell of a local pond the kids would flock to, that was also used by the Brethren Church for their immersion baptisms. The kids remember getting out of the pond, when the Brethren approached, waiting patiently on the bank, til the baptisms were completed. When the church members left, the kids jumped back in! I was told that some immersion baptisms were done in October – bbbrrrr!!! No one died, or got pneumonia, but it was a testament of your faith in God-that you would NOT die from exposure to the elements, from being dunked in a frigid pond on a cold day! If you did contract pneumonia and die, at least you were confident in the knowledge that you had accepted the Lord during your baptism!!




There are still some warm days left – if you feel the urge to find a swimming hole and don’t know where they are hidden – there are many sites online to help you!!! Is there anything that CAN’T be found online????

They only list swimming holes with public access, as far as I can tell, so the ones on private property are forever hidden, known only to those who should know their whereabouts!

All is well, and a little too chilly for swimming, at Mountain Meadows this morning!


‘Life can only be understood backward. but must be lived forward.’—-Curious Case of Benjamin Button

“…we know from daily life we exist for other people first of all for whose smiles and well-being our own happiness depends.”           Albert Einstein


I am about 3 posts behind on my blog, because we had company! That is unusual for us, but my brother and his family came for a visit- first time in about 4 years!!

They flew in to Nashville, from California, then drove up to see us. An 8 or 9 hour drive took about 14 hours, because there was just so much to see along the way!!!

My older nephew, is 17, and was thrilled to be here -he is a Civil War re enactor- and what better place to absorb all that history but Virginia! He is a Union soldier, but I think we have swayed his allegiance to south of the Mason-Dixon line and the Confederacy! One of our NY ancestors was a Zouave, in the Union Army, who lost an arm at Gettysburg.  My mother had a ceramic Zouave figure that was my great grandmother’s (I think) that now belongs to the nephew!!!

There was a long list of places Christopher wanted to see, Gettysburg being one of them! But, since there was a limited amount of time, they decided to tour Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, New Market Battlefield,  some cemetaries with mid 1800’s interment dates, and stopped at all the historical markers along the way!

Union soldier and ‘his’ mount in enemy territory!

The daughter took him for a trail ride in some of the same woods probably tramped thru by C.W. soldiers over 140 years ago.

This young ‘soldier’ is also a gifted sculptor, master of special effects, and altho a natural talent, is apprenticing with one of Hollywood’s top special effects artists.

Sean is the 15 year old – shown here, claimed by my Sunny, as “his” boy for the week!!! I am sure the historical part of this trip wasn’t all that interesting for Sean, not being the history buff his brother is. Sean is a videographer, filmmaker and future Steven Spielberg! He has some 60+ shorts (some VERY short- don’t blink!) on youtube. His Batman trailer is a definite must see!! Sean spent some time filming our Frances the Fabulous Ferret- who will be appearing sometime soon on youtube, with a Chaplin-esque soundtrack as backround for her antics!! Sunny has a very brief cameo in the video, as he attempted to get into the room and at our little starlet Frances!!! If not for the quick action of Uncle Bill – this video might have quickly become a snuff film!!!

The boys’ mom, Jean, is a singer, and she made good use of her time after landing in Nashville!!

My brother is the only one without a web page, but he is the glue that keeps this riotous group together!!!

We also visited my favorite spot in town, the local post office. Small and unassuming, it reminded my brother of the small post office near his home, in Montrose, California.  Altho similar in its plain cinderblock exterior, all similarity ends once you walk in the door of Fulks Run Post Office! Here, all its personality can be found behind the counter, in the form of our local postmaster!!! He did not fail me, entertaining all with his local lore and witticisms (some of which will show up in future posts!)! The postmaster and his wife, a 5th grade teacher at Fulks Run Elementary School, are the nicest folks ever!!!

Then, it was on to the Fulks Run Grocery, home of the famous Turner Ham, for some last minute gift shopping and sandwiches for the road.

All too soon, the visit was over! The air mattresses were deflated, the bags packed, and Sunny was moping around with a very dejected look on his face. It was time for all to drive back to Nashville and catch their flight back to LA. A great time was had by all, and we all hope it won’t be another 4 years before they get to come back again!!!

All is well, if a little quiet, at Mountain Meadows this Sunday afternoon………..


“The family is one of nature’s masterpieces.”—–George Santayana   (thanks, Lennie!)

You might be an artist, you might be a gardener, you might be a mom, or run a business. But, if you are reading this, chances are, you are also a blogger. You are a writer.

Where do you get your inspiration? Do you have a place where you go to put the words together?

Oprah ( recently featured 5 legendary writers and where their words came to life.


* Flannery O’Connor- “Good Country People”- her Georgia dairy farm, Andalusia Farm, inspired much of her stories.

* William Faulkner – “A Fable”- the text was shellacked like a wallpaper border to his bedroom wall – much to the consternation of his wife!

* Eudora Welty – “The Optimist’s Daughter”- wrote next to a window, seated at a simple table and typewriter, facing her secretary with its multitude of neat cubbyholes.

*Edgar Allan Poe – “The Black Cat” -his basement, eerie as you would expect it to be, perfectly replicated in his works.

*Edith Wharton -“House of Mirth”-her many works written in the morning, before even getting out of bed. Inspiration came from gazing out her window at a panoramic view of a manicured and gentile landscape.


Leave a comment – where do your thoughts come to life ? Is there a special spot in your home where thoughts flow, or is there just a pad by the bedside, or are random thoughts on scattered scraps of paper scribbled as they hit you?


All is well at Mountain Meadows tonite…………………………..




“Your memories are like the colors in paints, but you must arrange them.”———Willa Cather

This picture portrays my sentiments EXACTLY, after a season of VERY prolific zucchini!!!

Patty ( sent it to me today, after I gave away my last 44 pounds of the versatile zukes!!!!

A picture says a thousand words!!!!!!!! Thanks, Patty!!!!

A dear friend and faithful reader commented on how much I must have learned this first year of gardening on the “new” property.

I did, in fact, learn quite a bit, and there is still soooo much more to learn!

I learned that I definitely need a big freezer!!! And, more shelves in the pantry – just for the canning jars!

I now know:

*Never again plant birdhouse gourds! I’ll be drying them all winter, and either turning them into birdhouses, painting them, or being totally overwhelmed and selling or giving them away!!! LOL

*Tomatoes DON’T do well if they have been exposed to fire, extreme hot weather, or are surrounded by weed reducing black plastic! And, the local hardware store’s tomato cages were waaay too flimsy- don’t buy there next year!

*Corn CAN withstand the heat of a house fire- and still be prolific and delicious! And a little mineral oil on the silk, will keep those tiny black bugs away!

*Bunnies eat your beans, and the tops off potato vines and shallots, despite your best efforts AND an electric fence! Looser soil is better for these plants- it’s not gonna be fun digging them out of this hard, rocky soil!!

*Only plant ONE zucchini plant- and even that may be too many!! Check them daily, they explode into massive 10 pounders overnite!!

*I may never figure out how much pectin it takes to make a batch of grape jelly gel- sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t! It’s all delicious, no matter what the consistancy!

*One can NEVER have too many grapes or blackberries!! MMMMMM!! But, more protective covering is needed while picking blackberries- too many invisible thorns get under your skin!

*Also, only plant one cucumber plant – there’s just so many jars of pickles and relish one can have!

*Aprons are very handy for carrying in all the vegetables you didn’t expect to find, when you forgot to bring your gathering basket with you!!

*One pepper plant of each kind is more than enough, unless you are heavily into salsa or other hot stuff!

*Plant more root plants next year – carrots, radishes, etc.

*Now that the garden is established, plant earlier, as soon as the frost is gone- and next year, lettuces, spinach, and broccoli when it’s time!

*READ the label, BEFORE buying that watermelon plant! A 50 lb watermelon is impossible for me to get out of the patch by myself!

*Learn more about preserving herbs – other than drying- for use over the winter!

*Don’t forget to plant pumpkins next year!!!

*A little farm stand might be a good idea next year………………………………………..


I have also gained TREMENDOUS respect for those farm wives who have gone before us, who HAD to do all this and much, much more, to feed their families!


All is well at Mountain Meadows today, and very, very hot!!!!!!


I took a walk with 2 of our 4 dogs yesterday. They love to walk to the river, as do I, and when the water level is low, we tiptoe precariously across the slippery algae covered rocks to get to the other side. Only one of my 4 dogs is an avid swimmer. The others look upon the river as a curiousity, a large water bowl, or a necessary evil to conquer to get to the other side!

We passed deer in the bushes, hummingbirds overhead, and bees at every flower patch. We even met up with a boy on a bicycle-these dogs have never encountered a bike before- much less with a small human on it – but that will be a whole other story!!!!

When I took the dogs back home, I got my camera and retraced our steps- there is a huge paper wasp nest (at least that is what I call it!) midway down the river, hanging from a tree on the bank. It is actually larger than a basketball!! I did get a few shots, just before my camera battery died, but may have to get brave sometime soon, and wade in for a closer shot!! It is very impressive work, these little winged creatures putting together this massive nest! Unfortunately, I don’t have a zoom lens and it was getting dark, so the photo is not great. From across the river, I could see the little inhabitants entering and leaving the nest!



Looking at my house thru the trees


My hyacinth beans are blooming!!!!!


All is well at Mountain Meadows tonite……………………………………………..

I have been waiting all summmer to pick this watermelon!! I picked one earlier in the year, weighing in at 15 lbs, and it was not ready to be picked. I discovered later, that these watermelons are called Black Diamond, have a dark green skin, and range in size from 30-50 pounds!! Yikes!!!!

I had to get the husband to carry it in, since I would only be able to roll it up the hill! He also had to carve it up!! It was really delicious and so sweet! There is nothing like the first bite of watermelon-I haven’t had any this year, ’cause I was waiting for mine to grow!!! So this was the first bite of the season and it was gooooood!!!!

There are so many seeds in this type of watermelon, and I have about 6 more melons on the vine.

I sliced it, ate, froze and refrigerated it- and gave some away!!! I have run out of space in the freezer!!!

I am putting the empty melon “shells” out near the woods for the deer and other critters, and hope that next year some seeds will sprout, and the woodland creatures will share some of the  watermelons with me!!!

All is well at Mountain Meadows today…………………………..


Nothing feeds the center of being so much as creative work. The curtain of mechanization has come down between the mind and the hand……….Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Next Page »