Monday, April 25, 2011

Last Day of our visit on Spy Wednesday

What better day to climb a firetower and play "I spy Gramma & Paka's house" than on Spy Wednesday. It's a quarter mile from the parking area to the tower but a lovely walk along a rocky path with rock steps. Here's our destination.

And our intrepid hikers.

Sean wasn't sure he wanted to climb up the tower. He started back down, but when I asked him if he was afraid his natural manly spirit took over and turned back around. This kid is fearless!

Here's everybody but our photographer.

And here's a portion of the famous "Seven Bends" of the Shenandoah River. Worth the walk and the climb. Brendan picked out our house which was clearly visible by its blue siding. In another month it will be much less visible behind all the greenery. 

No matter how far out in the country you are or how far off in the woods, the barbarians can always find you and leave their mark. They usually leave plenty of trash behind as well. Pray for the barbarians; they know not what they do. Wonder how much bench time in Purgatory is associated with mindless vandalism.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter and Enjoy those Rice Krispy Treat Easter Eggs

Our idea man saw a kids craft making rice krispy treat Easter eggs hallowed out and filled with goodies. So off he and Paka went to the grocery store to get the necessities and then came back to supervise the other kids in the preparation. With plenty of cooking spray to keep the rice kispie treats from sticking to hands, plastic eggs, etc. we made a large plate of treats.

I tried a few on the outside of the plastic eggs and they turned out to be "eggstra" large. Most of the other treats were small and medium using the inside of the eggs as the mold.

Checking out all the goodies! Yum.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Rte. 11 Potato Chip Factory

On the way home from Skyline Drive we stopped at the Rte. 11 Potato Chip factory to let everybody select a bag of chips to go with grilled burgers and hot dogs. Ryan was the only one who stepped out of "lightly salted" category going for dill pickle chips. Good choice, Ryan. I like those too. I bought a bag of vinegar and salt for me and Larry. We were late in the day and the cooking was pretty much done so we watched the seasoning and bagging. The cooking and bagging rooms are on the first floor. The seasoning room is upstairs.  Lauren and Sean were calling down to tell me the workers were waving at them.


This is the machine they were watching upstairs through the window behind them. 

We admired the colorful shirts, but didn't buy any.

And here Larry is paying for the chips while his eager helpers wait for their bags. Everyone agreed the chip place was a fun stop on our outing. The last time we went we got to see the peeled white potatoes go from the holder into the giant cutter and then fly into the oil. I think they said it takes about 90 seconds to do 4,000 pounds of potatoes. Wow! 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Holy Week Visit

Spring break and Holy Week usually coincide so we had the pleasure of a visit from four of our grandkids and enjoyed several fun outings. Our visit began with dinner at the Melting Pot, a pizza place in Front Royal which had absolutely no atmosphere (maybe grunge) but had good food. We met our daughter and her husband to make the exchange in the midst of a wild thunderstorm accompanied by hail. Fortunately, by the time we were ready to leave, the storms had moved out.

Sunday was Mass day and, since Larry and I had tickets for Groucho at Wayside Theatre, Marianna came over to play. Later on Brendan said the thing he liked best about the weekend was playing with Marianna. Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos of them together. But it was sweet to see the eleven-year-old wooing his shy little two-year-old cousin.

Monday was our big outing day with a trip to Skyline Drive for a picnic and hike. A nice young man offered to take our picture at one of the overlooks, our only photo of all of us together. What a view!

We stopped at the Pinnacles picnic area which is at the top of a ridge and unprotected which makes it chilly and breezy. We were chasing napkins and using ice to weight our cups.

Before moving on to hike the Limberlost Trail, Lauren played Queen on the mountain (or the big rock anyway).

The Limberlost Trail is 1.3 miles and handicap accessible which means it has a firm surface and is nice and wide, although we ran into a ranger in one spot that was rough and rutted from recent rains. He was working with a rake which looked hopeless. He said they had already done the trail earlier, but would have to bring in bigger equipment to get it back into shape for the season. The trail was a good choice because it's mostly level and easy with plenty of diversions like big fallen trees and huge rocks for scrambling over and walking on, a wooden bridge over a stream, and cut tree trunks that made stumps for sitting or climbing. There are plenty of benches along the trail for taking rest breaks too.

I was fascinated by the natural arch made by the bent tree trunk in the photo below.

Sean is usually intrepid and resists any help when we are out hiking, but we apparently wore him out. He took a break on Paka's shoulders.

Nearing the parking lot at the end of the trail which makes a big loop.

With a stop planned for custard, we had no complaints about the ride back. Only one disappointment, we didn't see a bear. As a matter of fact we saw hardly any wildlife at all, but there were lots of visitors to the park and with four noisy kids, we must have been a scary group. The animals were apparently lying low -- except for this critter. it a giraffe? a seahorse? a unicorn?

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Boston Marathon Runner I Love!

David, our oldest son, is running in the Boston Marathon today with an enthusiastic audience of cheerers. Since he was recovering from an injury only a month ago, we hope he is able to finish in the time he wants. From my point of view, finishing at all is amazing. Even in my younger days running a marathon was never on my bucket list. But I managed to raise a bunch of runners who like to do marathons, half marathons, 5Ks, etc. Walking five miles is my idea of a marathon. Good luck, David! Hope the weather is perfect for a great run.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Deluge!

We've had some bad, and I do mean REALLY BAD weather lately. Yesterday we thought we might need to build an ark. And then came the hail!

Here's what out playground looked like out back. When the river quits flowing we'll need to check how badly the back driveway eroded. Fortunately, none of the grandkids floated away! And we were blessed that none of the tornadoes materialized that they suffered farther south. Please pray for those who died in North and South Carolina.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April showers bring April flowers

Rain...rain...rain and the daffodils are finally blooming. The redbud are popping out. The birds are glutting on sunflower seeds getting ready to nest and the grass is turning green. Outside my window the peach tree's pink blossoms are glorious. And oh, the redbud in the rain!

Welcome, welcome, welcome Spring!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I'm not Scottish, but I Have the Thrift Gene!

Larry and I started square dancing again last October after a 25 year break. Unfortunately I gave away all my dancing regalia years ago including five petticoats and the skirts and dresses that went with them. But I'm finding that filling my closet is just a question of a little thrift and imagination. Today I cut the top off a prairie skirt, sewed a casing, and inserted elastic and voila! I have a "new" square dancing skirt that cost me $2.00 at the thrift store. I've been picking up tops at thrift stores here and there as well. That plus the generous contribution of two skirts, a dress, and a petticoat from several other dancers and I have almost too many outfits to choose from. I feel like the grandkids picking through my dress up box for the perfect outfit.

Friday, April 8, 2011

"A Faithful Friend is a Sturdy Shelter..." (Sirach 6:14)

What a joy it is to have a friend of the heart. One of mine, Joe Wall, a dear fellow rescuer, lives in a suburb of Philadelphia. Every now and then I go to my mailbox and find a letter or package from him that is always filled with something unexpected and special. Today it was a book, a work of historical fiction on St. Thomas More. It's an old and obviously well-loved paperback from Image Press. In the back is Joe's name and the date, January 1963, when he first read it. In his accompanying letter, Joe writes:

Not long ago I came across the enclosed book, Stage of Fools, in the course of sorting through my innumerable piles of books. As you can see, I had read it over forty-seven years ago. Naturally, I sat down and reread it!

Is it poetry, is it history, is it fiction? Perhaps, all three. Historical fiction, well written, can often convey the temper of the times, the atmosphere wherein the events took place, better than straightforward history. I believe our Charles Brady in his Stage of Fools has succeeded in doing this. He has reminded us that these people, living some 450 years ago, were, at bottom, vulnerable, fallible human beings prone to sin and to cowardince. Much like ourselves!

As we can see, the entire English Board of Bishops -- with the shining exception of (now Saint) John Fisher -- caved in . Likewise the Lay Leaders, again with one exception; our heroic Saint Thomas More. I don't think I need to draw the parallel with the present day. Maybe that's our answer; we need more siants!
I just finished reading Louis de Wohl's book, The Spear, about Cassius Longinus, the Roman centurion who thrust the spear into the side of Christ. Currently I'm reading de Wohl's Citadel of God, about St. Benedict. I agree with Joe that well-written historical fiction can often give us a feel of the times better than a history book. It bridges the gap between our own day and the past in a more intimate way than most histories can.

Joe is a writer himself and an Irish patriot who has often sent me notes casting much light on the history of that poor, persecuted country. He expands my view of the world and of life as all good friends should. God bless you, dear Joe, for thinking of your friend in Virginia. I'm offering my rosary for you today.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Wildflowers in the Woods

Some of my flowers are blooming far, far away from Camp Kreitzer. These thrive in the woods of Texas, but will definitely do just fine when transplanted to Virginia. If you want to see more of them visit Frodo Seven.

Dressing up at Gramma's: Little Tudor Princess

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Garden begins....

I have a friend who's an uber gardener. She produces an incredible amount on a very small patch. I was in her kitchen a few weeks ago and she had egg shell halves filled with dirt and sprouts lined up on cookie sheets. Each shell was marked with its yield.

Sadly, I am a pathetic vegetable gardener. I have a few herbs in my circle garden. Larry plants a few tomatoes and peppers and that's about it. Well, this year I decided to imitate my friend and start some things from seed. I also plan to pop in some vegetables here and there among my flowers. Who says you can't have red tomatoes contrasting to the golden marigolds or a purple eggplant (which I bought already well developed) thriving next to the lavendar.

I plan to put some container gardens on my deck, some vegetables mixed in with flowers in my Mary garden and more vegetable and herbs out front in my circle garden. Right now my eggshells are on the sunporch, my greenhouse. They should be sprouting in a few weeks and gaining strength for transfer.

Stay tuned for the results!

An Eeyore Day!

Why is it that some days the world seems to be a wonderful place and other days it feels like Eeyore's gloomy spot in the 100 acre woods. I'm having an Eeyore day for no reason at all that I can see. Perhaps it is just one example of the reality of evil in the world with the devil prowling about looking for whom he can devour or cast gloom upon.

So my response is pray more, do something kind for somebody else and stop hanging black crepe paper for the pity party. The sun is shining and all my dear ones are doing well. It's a great day no matter how I feel at the moment! So I will put off Eeyore's gloom by an act of the will and put on Winnie the Pooh who has no sense of gloom even when he is stuck in Rabbit's hole with his legs being used for a clothes horse.

Hope your Eeyore days are few and far between and your Pooh days are many!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Remember when life was simple....

And learning to ride a two wheeler was the biggest deal on the planet. Oh for those days.

Forsythia: the first of the glorious spring flowers

Forsythia are always the first of the Spring flowers and they turn Camp Kreitzer's playground into a golden place. They are a welcome sight because they tell me Spring really can't be far behind. They've been in full bloom for about three weeks, one good thing about the cool temperatures. Soon the daffodils will join them to add more sunshine to the yard. And the red buds are about to bloom as well. Welcome, welcome, Spring!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Heavenly Fireworks!

Lightening, thunder, and hail tonight. What a show! Marianna was afraid of the "under" at first, but when we stood in the door and watched the hail and I picked up some for her, she decided it was pretty neat. I agree! God's world is NEVER boring!

The circle garden may not be blooming, but the Gramma garden is splendiferous!

Darn! It was supposed to be sunny all day and it started out that way. But the gloom has returned and it is still chilly. Outside my office window I can see the lilac buds starting to swell, but except for the forsythia which has been magnificent for several weeks, the other flowers are hunkering down in the cold afraid to come out. So instead of thinking about the spring flowers in my circle garden, I will think about all the little flowers in my Gramma garden.

This little variety on the left is called "Josie" and can be seen here in pink. She comes in other colors depending on the day of the week and the state of the wash. She's a little Texas rosebud. I took the photo last time we were in Texas sometime after Christmas although she blooms all year. Obviously this little sprig is bigger now.

The next variety is called "Funny Face" and they need to be constantly fed and watered although "water" is not their favorite liquid. Juice and chocolate milk bring out big blossoming smiles. Time and attention to these little flowers is rewarded with lots of laughter.

These are only three of the 19 flower varieties in Gramma's garden, soon to be 20. If you visit regularly, you will get to see them all in their glorious splendor. And take it from me, an unprejudiced source, they are all glorious and splendiferous! 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Another Chilly, Windy Day in Virginia

Don't you just hate this global warming? We have had a week of frigid temps here with rain, chill winds, and little sun. Not only did March go out like a lion, but April came in like one as well.

I'm ready for some spring. Even my daffodils don't like it. They are rebelling by taking their time about blooming.