Archives for March 2014

Embellished Towel Basket

I have a bathroom that is a pretty herbal wash green with red and white accents. It’s a cheery room, but you will have to take my word on that because I can’t get a decent picture in that space. It’s a guest bathroom, and while I have towels in the linen closet, I also keep a couple out in a basket so guests won’t have to plow through what will almost certainly be a messy closet.

Here’s my “towel basket”. It came from TJ Maxx.

Basket Handsome

Here’s how it works (bet you had no idea this is how it looks with towels…right!)

Basket Towels

I love red and white and I love polka dots. My mother used to call them “pokey dots.” Mother!! I miss you!! In a day when I had obviously lost my mind and thought I’d try to sew something, I bought a few yards of red and white pokey dots! While it’s not been stored on the front porch all this time, it has been wadded up just like it is here.

Polka Dots

That fabric came out of its sad, wadded up state in the closet.  Look what I did with just some scissors and glue!  POKEY DOTS!!

Red Towel Basket


Living Room Clean and Re-Arranged

Each spring I go room by room and clean house.   I started in my living room this year.    I took everything out of the room.  Here’s what it looked like over a week ago.


And it stayed that way for a few days.   Finally, we finished cleaning this room and reversing the fan for warm weather which was immediately followed by a night where the temperature dropped to 19 degrees.    Spring must be very confused this year.

This room is painted in a Benjamin Moore color I have used before and I never tire of it.  It’s called Concord Ivory.  I’m not sure I would like it in a dark room but in a sunny room, it looks so pretty and cheerful.

LR Couch

I cleaned this room from the top town. I vacuumed each piece of furniture and put it back where it belonged and then I decided to move it around. This couch was somewhere else in the room.   I still don’t have the curtains up.

I also moved this curio.  That “arrangement” is sticks I got in the yard and a forsythia branch.   I know…it’s a fake.  Sorry. 


Without running out and buying a lot of stuff, I tried to make the mantle look more spring like. I removed the red berries from the willow branches and inserted some green berries I purchased at Walmart for $3.   Like the forsythia, I’m sorry to say my berries are fake.

Willow in Vase Spring 2

Here’s the mantle…

Mantel 2

I like to see books and magazines on a coffee table. I also like to use alot of live plants in this room (in spite of my two fakes I mentioned earier. )

Coffee Table

Here’s the whole room again…I like this room. I think it’s pretty but still casual enough to be comfortable, and it’s very eclectic. I really do need to put the curtains back up. I will. Maybe today.

LR 2

Next is the kitchen. Have you started your spring cleaning?


The Rainbow Bridge

Thank you to all of you who reached out to me via email, Facebook and by cards 13 days ago when I lost Gracie.  I ache for her presence.  I have her remains back, and they are hidden in a place where I know they’re safe until I have the courage to transfer them to an urn.


One friend sent me this poem…


Just this side of heaven lies the Rainbow Bridge.
When a beloved pet dies, it goes to the Rainbow Bridge.
It makes friends with other animals and frolics over rolling
hills and peaceful lush meadows of green. They are a
healthy and playful as we remember them in days gone by.

Together, the animals chase and play, but the day comes
when a pet will suddenly stop and look into the distance…
bright eyes intent, eager body quivering. Suddenly
recognizing you, your pet bounds quickly across the green
fields and into your embrace. You celebrate in joyous
reunion. You will never again separate.

Happy tears and kisses are warm and plentiful,
your hands caress the face you missed. You look into
the loving eyes of your pet and know that you never
really parted. You realize that though out of sight,
your love had been remembered.

Gracie and Me


March Honeybee Date

I saw this on Facebook…

Honeybee cartoon

Chilling isn’t it?   I’ve been watching my two hives closely this past two weeks because one has had very little activity outside of the hive while the other has been rockin’!   Here’s my Hive No. 1.  Looking good!!   I went out at 10:00 pm last night and inserted the device that holds the jar of sugar water.  I’d tried to insert it earlier that day, but my mean little pets did not understand my interest.   They will have a change of heart once they fully discover the wonder of wonders in the honeybee world…SUGAR WATER! They will restart their love affair with my visits to the hive. “She’s here! She’s here!”

Hive No. 1

But Hive No. 2 looked nothing like Hive No. 1…15 bees at the most flying around, and that was a surprise as I had not seen any yesterday when it was 58 degrees.    I thought these bees were probably from Hive No. 1 and were over robbing what I suspected to be a dead hive.   This was so depressing. I felt I’d lost my dog and now my bees within a ten-day period.  However, this morning I did see pollen being carried inside with the very few bees entering Hive No. 2.     I hopped on the bee mobile (golf cart) for a visit with my brother-in-law and bee partner, Gerald Booher, to put our antennaes together and figure out what is going on.

I hinted “I’m just dying to look inside that hive.”  He said, “let’s go!”  Whew!  That was almost too easy.  We both had the same sinking feeling as we suited up to open the hive.  Neither Gerald nor I thought we’d see bees in the hive.

Here’s what we found.  Would this many bees be typical in a hive that was being robbed? We do not know.

Hive No. 2

We pulled another frame. More bees.

Hive No. 2 again

Another…we’re looking closely for the queen. We did see one large bee, but she really didn’t look long enough to be the queen. When you first get the queen, she has a big colored dot on her that makes her easy to find. That was months ago, however, and her dot has probably worn off. Gerald said “if we move slowly, they’ll be nice.” They were!

Hive No. 2 again again

So, at the end of the hour that we spent messing with the bees we know  Hive No. 2 does have bees, but we are uncertain if there is a queen. If there is no queen, and there is no queen cell (and we did not see one), the hive will die. We are going back in and looking again in a week. If the hive continues to look weak, we’ll take a queen cell from Hive No. 1 and a couple of frames of bees and move them to the hive that is dying. We’ll see if we can restart that hive.

The upside of all this is that Hive No. 1 is really strong.

Do you have a place for bees in your yard? If not, you might want to make your own date with a honeybee. You should not get bees to make money. You will be disappointed. You really shouldn’t get bees expecting honey but that could happen, and you’ll be thrilled (as will all your honey loving friends). You should get bees because of what the cartoon says.

Honeybee cartoon


Oscar Harris & Audrey Auld

This past weekend was my last weekend with my beloved Golden Retriever Gracie.    I’m aching missing her.  We decided not to go to church on Sunday because I did not want to be away from her even for an hour.   However, I missed the special music provided by Audrey Auld and Oscar Harris.

If you can take five minutes and listen to the two songs that Oscar and Audrey recently performed – the first is not at Mt. Vernon but for a  television show – you won’t be sorry.  The first song is called “Dear Mother ”  written by Audrey.  The second song is “Clinch Mountain Prayer” also written by Audrey and being performed at  Mt. Vernon on Sunday.    Please listen to her clear voice, peppered with words describing the places and people we love  followed by our own very talented Oscar coming in with the autoharp.  Are there many things more beautiful than the sounds he makes with the autoharp?

Audrey’s  from Australia, lives in Nashville, but obviously she needs to be here with us!    She gets it!

Each day I work a small amount on the publicity for the Dale Jett & Hello Stranger Cemetery Benefit on Friday, April 25.  (Save the Date!)    If you are local and receive WCYB on your television set, mark your calendar for the News 5 at Noon show on Tuesday, April 22.  We’ll be there talking about The Third Annual Cemetery Benefit, Oscar and the Poor Valley Girls will be providing some great music, and I’ll have the Mendota Cemetery Quilt with me asking the viewers to help sell a ticket in all 50 states.   We missed it by 10 states last year, although we did sell tickets in about 7 foreign countries!    This year’s quilt is a beauty….it’s being worked on by Chris, Nancy and Margie.  We  are so grateful for their hard work and talent.   Here’s a little peek…it’s red and white.  I love Chris’ sewing machine.  Chris knows something it took me years go figure out — newer is not always better.


Margie’s ironing…I didn’t get  a picture of Nancy.  I’ll get that in a week or two.

Margie Ironing

Lots going on.  Quilts, music, weddings, babies…why does everyone think we live such sleepy lives in Mendota?

I’m going back and listening to those songs again.






Teddy’s Restaurant in Nicklesville, Virginia

A couple of days I wrote about the trip Mike and I took across Clinch Mountain. I didn’t tell you what we did when we got to the other side. We went to Teddy’s!!! If you haven’t been, you know it’s worth the trip. I’ll bet 50 percent of the people who go across the mountain from Mendota end up at Teddy’s.

Teddys 1

See the burger on the sign above? If you want a burger like that one, you just tell your waitress to “run it through the garden!” I loved hearing that. Mike ordered his hamburger, and she said “Honey…do you want me to run it through the garden?” I wish she’d let me take her picture. I was able to get a picture of this handsome guy!

Cute Boy at Teddy's

They serve great ice cream. It’s busy all the time, but in the summer, it’s really busy…probably because of the ice cream. The people are nice, the prices are good, and the food is great. They even have fried pickles.

Teddys 3

Tractors are welcome at Teddy’s. While we were there, a farmer parallel parked his tractor, came in, ate his lunch and got a “to go” for his wife. I liked that. I liked this guy, too. His name was “Flip” and he said for me to tell everyone hello!

Teddys 4


Drive Across Clinch Mountain

So….we came home from the vet today without Gracie…my 15-year old Golden Retriever.  She could no longer walk more than a few feet without falling.   I have been talking about Gracie on this blog and how I felt her time with me was limited, so this was something I was prepared for.    Not. You are never prepared for loss.  As this goes, it was as good as it could be.  Dr. Dotson sedated her so that she wouldn’t have anxiety.  I held her, breathed in her stinkiness one last time, and following a series of injections, she peacefully left me.   I loved that dog.  I am having her cremated, and like her sister, Annie, she will be buried with Mike or me…whoever goes first. Do dogs go to Heaven?

Mike and I came home bereft.  Empty.  What to do…what to do..what to do?   When Mike asked the question…how did I wanted to spend the remainder of the day…I told him I’d like to go across Clinch Mountain. I am a mountain person, and I cling to what I love during times of loss. So…we got in the truck and took off. I took my camera. The pictures are not that great because the mountain is still sleeping in winter.  It’ll burst in green in just a few weeks.  There will be dogwood blooms…mountain laurel…a symphony of beauty.   However, if you have ties to Clinch Mountain, you’ll still enjoy going along with me on this day of gray.

Up up up we go on the dirt road.  I have an affinity to this road–it’s called Pinnacle Road, but I still refer to it as “The Mountain Road”. The Barker family once (many years ago) operated part of the road as a toll road.    

Mountain Road 1

Can you see the incline increasing? We are driving into the sky.

Mountain Road 2

No guardrails. If you meet someone, you have to determine who is going to back up to a wider spot. Yikes. It’s a little dicey.  You must rely on sky to catch you if you go off the road to the left in the picture below.

Mountain Road 3

We’re at the top in this picture and this pathway is where you’d hike up to the tower.

Mountain Road Top

Because Mike was driving with his not-so-great-knee and a sprained ankle, we omitted part of the trip…the part where we hike to the firetower.   Honestly, however, if I’d said I wanted to hike up there, he would have crawled. He wanted so badly for me to not be sad.   So sweet.  I’ll go another time. When the Hawk Count occurs in September, there’s lots of folks up here. Lots of hawks, some Golden Eagles and some Bald Eagles are seen here. Once at the top, you cross from Washington County into Russell County and start going down. It’s more trecherous going down than driving up. Here we go!

Gotta be careful…see where the road has caved in ahead on the right!!   I wish we had stopped so I could take a picture of where that goes…straight down!

Road caving in

Looking through these trees, I see the fire tower.  Can you find it?  This is like looking at one of those pictures in the HighLights Magazines in the dentist office!  It’s there…you just have to look.

Tower Peek

I held the camera out the window as we passed so this is a picture of the road just behind us.  It’s not particularly steep at this point, but still…I wonder why there is no guardrail anywhere on this road?

No Guard Rail

God’s Country. This will be so much prettier in a few weeks, but I love it every day…any time. Like Ava Marie in Big Stone Gap…I’m a flat-bottomed mountain girl! When is that movie coming out anyway?    If you don’t know what I’m talking about…it’s the movie based on the book by Adriana Trigiani entitled Big Stone Gap starring Patrick Wilson and Ashley Judd. It was filmed in Big Stone Gap, Virginia.

Russell county Side 2

Once we near the bottom there’s a pretty barn and quilt square. Russell County is forming a Russell County Barn Quilt Trail.  I am so jealous.  Maybe they’ll annex Mendota, so we can get in on the action. We’re dragging our feet in Washington County.

Quilt Square

Mocassin Creek flowing below…you can see the remains of a dam…was there a mill here at one time? Also, are there mocassins in the creek or is it named that because it snakes along like a mocassin?

Mocassin Creek Dam

And…I wonder who Bill Jackson Hartsock is/was?

Bill Jackson Bridge

If you got this far in this post, I suspect you’re from Mendota or you have ties to Southwest Virginia. Thank you so much for reading RiverCliff Cottage. I love sharing this beautiful place and our rural life in Mendota with you.


My Beloved Gracie

My Dearest Friend….Princess Gracie Barker Beaule – September 26, 1999 – March 10, 2014

Beautiful Gracie


It’s Bristol Baby! Not Bangladesh.

Ever since the garment factory fire in Bangladesh last year, I’ve been increasingly aware of where I buy my clothes.

I’m really writing about Pointer Brand. L.C. King is manufacturing jeans that people from all over the world are noticing.    Check out what the folks in New York had to say about Pointer Brand.    

Mike and I recently purchased some new jeans at L. C. King (the official name for the Pointer Brand label).  They have a little retail store now.  We consider ourselves “regulars” as we’ve visited L.C. King for years.  When I lived in Boston, I ordered my Pointer Brand bibs online.   When buying in Bristol, until this visit, we went into the factory office, asked for the jeans, and someone would run back on the sewing floor and find us some.  If they were too long, they’d cut and hem them on the spot.   Now we have a real store to visit! Here it is. It opened during Rhythm & Roots, opened during Christmas…and I believe the plans are to keep it open.

Pointer Brand 1

Shiny clean windows…I’m loving this!

Pointer Brand 3

These are the best jeans you’ll ever wear. Made in the United States. Made in Bristol, Tennessee.   I love the bibbed overalls.  They are my favorite.


I also like this little apron. Very handy.


This is new, and I am going to get it. A Pointer Brand handbag. Yes! Yes!


And when you are wearing those jeans or carrying that cute little purse, you’re assured that they were made where working conditions are not deplorable…where the workers are paid a competitive wage…where there is no child labor.

Pointer Brand Man Working

I want my clothing and shoes made at places like L. C. King. It may mean that I have less clothing, but I will be able to wear it and know exactly where it was made and have some assurance of how the person who stitched those stitches was treated. They say you are the clothes you wear.

Here’s a few things I’ve found that influence this decision Here’s something to read that might help you make similar decisions.

Thank you for reading RiverCliff Cottage.


Sea Turtle Diaper Cake

Way back in 2003…eleven years ago…while I was Branch Manager of the Mendota Library, I met a little girl named Brittany. She was so sweet, and she read 700 books that summer — she was recognized in her age group as having read the most books for both the Washington and Scott County Library systems.   She devoured them…especially horse books and recipe books.

Although I don’t see her as much as I used to, we’ve stayed close. She and I have a special relationship.

Brittany is in her 20’s now and she’s going to be a mother soon. I made her this Sea Turtle Diaper Cake for her little one.

Diaper Cake Sea Turtle

Here’s the cake topper…if you touch this little sea turtle, it plays a happy tune.

Sea Turtle


Because I am lazy and I hope you won’t mind, I am going to link you to a prior diaper cake if you’re looking for instructions on how to make these little gifts.   The instructions are here in my Shabby Chic Diaper Cake link.

Back to this little turtle….wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone we touched responded with a happy tune?


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