Archives for April 2014

My Big Surprise Today

It is so pretty and green in Southwest Virginia right now, but it’s the time of year when we have storms. I have friends in Alabama and Arkansas, and I can only imagine the stress during times like this. I slept in the closet last night. We have a storm radio, and there was no tornado warning or watch by the time I went to bed, but I thought I’d just go ahead and get in the closet and sleep. Luckie and two cats followed me. It was cozy. I am grateful for the rain, but I don’t like wind.


Everything is really coming along. Here’s my grapevine…


Eating greens from the garden now…in fact, I’m finishing a great salad as I type this. I like salads because they are one of the few things the dogs and cats don’t beg me for, and I just breezed right by the organic baby spinach at Food City which is normally one of my regular purchases.


And now for my big surprise of the day! Today my bees swarmed but the swarm did not go far. It was nothing like our adventure in catching a swarm earlier in the week. Read here and here. They moved in right next door, so there is no “catching” to be done. This was such a huge surprise and what good luck. We had this little white “Nuc” box beside the hive just for this purpose, but I really doubted anything would come of it.


I was wrong! Welcome Hive #6. This is like finding a $100 bill in your pocket! I am so happy!! We’ll transfer them to a proper hive tomorrow!


After We Caught the Swarm of Bees

My brother-in-law, Gerald, and I checked on my bees today.   We had to establish a new home for the swarm we caught yesterday but we also needed to check on our other bees.  Hello bees!

Bees 042714

We installed a new queen bee in this hive just a few weeks ago.  We could not find her but we saw “brood” where she’s laying eggs, so we know there’s a queen in there somewhere. I wish queen bees were neon colored. I can’t ever find the queen bee.

Do you have pollen allergies?   Raw honey such as what we have has lots of pollen in it, and by ingesting the pollen, it can help alleviate symptoms.   Here’s what the pollen looks like inside the hive…see the arrow? There’s a bunch of this inside the honeycombs. The honeybees carry it into the hive in little saddle bags.  I love to watch them zoom in for landing loaded with pollen.


We also installed the bee swarm that we captured yesterday into their new home. They’ve adjusted well and are working hard. We’ve got sugar water on the hive to help them until they are well established. We were exhausted yesterday after capturing the bees. I told Gerald that when we sell honey later in the year, the price should not be $6 per pint but $700. Seriously. They wore us out!

New Bee House

Thank you for reading RiverCliff Cottage.


The Swarm and The Day After

For those of you who read RiverCliff Cottage regularly, you know the Third Annual Dale Jett & Hello Stranger Cemetery Benefit took place last night.  It was great.    I am so grateful to the artists, the folks who came how to see Dale, Teresa and Oscar and the Poor Valley Girls.   I’m very grateful to Domtar who helped us so much by providing seed money.   The melodies have been in my head all day.   Carter Family music is alive and well in Poor Valley!!

I didn’t take the next two pictures.  Friends took them and put them on Facebook.   Here’s the final song where everyone is gathered around singing “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” and we were singing, too.

The Gang on Stage

This picture below is of the Poor Valley Girls.  Great CD.   If you attended and did not purchase a CD and want to, message me, and I’ll hook you up.   CD’s are $15 and they are worth every penny.     Dale Jett & Hello Stranger have several CD’s.   They are more easily found, and I’ve downloaded a couple of their songs to my MP3 player, too.  The Poor Valley Girls are just getting started with recording, so their CD is trickier to find.

Heads in the Building

So I am very grateful for last night, but whew!    This morning left quite a bit of work to be done….after the benefit stuff.   I got up early…it was still foggy in the valley…

Butch's Lambs

First on my list was taking down banners.   In the past, I’ve felt sorry for the Elk Knob guys working on Barnrock Road who have to put the signs up, take the signs down, move the signs around and so on. What a pain!  I thought about that today as I followed the truck. I took a picture.


So I was doing the same thing this morning.  Taking signs down.   I hate seeing out-of-date signs left behind, so I wanted to get these down quick!!    I had no makeup, uncombed hair and my pajama top out scurrying around.   I’ve got one left that Mike will have to help me with. I’ll reuse them next year.

Dale Jett 2

So after taking the banners down, it was about 9:30 am, and I ran down to the community center to help break down tables, pick up all of the stuff like chalkboards, ferns, etc., and I came back home thinking I’d rest. My feet were killing me. And then the call came….Gordon (pictured below) had been told by the Elk Knob guys working this morning that there was a swarm of bees up in one of the hollers.


Gordon’s wife, Janet, called to let my brother-in-law, Gerald, know.  My sister, Nancy, called to ask if I wanted to help.  Off we went on our bee adventure!    Who cares about tired feet when you have bees to catch!!   We had to drive about two miles.  I could not take pictures while we were doing all of this because we needed all of our hands, but I went back later with my camera.  Here’s the holler.


It was muddy…really muddy. It had rained hard last night. My foot got stuck in the mud.


And then both Gerald and I had to channel our “inner goat” and climb the bank. It doesn’t look that steep in the photograph, but we were climbing around with sugar water, a plastic container and a nuc box. Here’s where the bees were.  I can look to the left in this picture about half way down and see two tracks.  That was me.  Sliding.

Bee Swarm

When we first got there, we could not see the bees.   We decided to best thing to do was listen, and Gerald heard them first.  We walked toward the sound but couldn’t see anything, and then, I saw them!!   There were probably about 8,000 bees there in a big clump.  We then got our stuff and Gerald swept then in the nuc box while I squirted sugar water.  The bees were very calm.  They were probably thinking “it’s raining sugar water…we hope it never stops!”   Once they were in the nuc box,  we had to carefully scale back down the slippery, muddy bank.  We each had to do this one-handed because the other hand was on the nuc box.  We had to make sure the top of the nuc box did not come off.  Yikes!    We’d be covered in thousands of bees.   A fleeting thought of where my Epi-pen was went through my mind, but we were too involved to worry about that.

We finally got back to the truck.    Someone drove by and saw us in our white suits and heckled. This picture wasn’t from today, but here’s what we look like. A haz mat team!!    However, I would not heckle anyone carrying bees. It’s just not polite! What is that bumper sticker????…”Watch out, I’m low on estrogen and I’m carrying a gun, and I’ve got a wad of bees I’m going to throw at you!”

Beekeepers Again!

We got the bees installed in the nuc…this is a picture I’ve used before.  The nuc is a small box with five frames.  It’s where they’ll stay while we are setting up and airing out the hive structure.

Recapping the Nuc 2

We put them in the back of the truck and I climbed in the back of the truck with them. Gerald now looked like he was hauling an astronaut around with a white box. I wish I’d got him to take a picture but we were just so excited that I forgot all about it.

Tomorrow, we’ll put these bees in a hive.  You might be wondering where the bees came from?  We are,  too. Most likely, since they were a mile from the house (as the crow flies), they were OUR bees!! We’re so glad that they are back home and we can keep them safe and they can grow their colony.  Their instinct is to separate and find a new home with their newly hatched queen.  It’s how they reproduce.  Now,  they’ll think they found that home even though they are right back where they started.

Had the nice folks at Elk Knob not seen them and told Gordon, they would have surely perished. Thank you Elk Knob for watching out for our honeybees!



Follow Me…and Just One More Sleep

Psssttt…Follow Me.  That’s right.  I didn’t put my usual jeans on today and I haven’t combed my hair, but that’s okay.  We’re friends.

Mister Mister

There’s a legend in Poor Valley.  “Once you get that Poor Valley mud on your feet, you can’t wipe it off.”   You’ll always want to return.    A group of bikers (bicycles) headed to MerleFest from Knoxville got lost last year and ended up late in the evening wondering where they could set up camp.   There’s no store here so they were pretty much on their own (unless you count one solitary Coke machine).   Helene was outside her home and saw and  spoke with them.  They were wistfully checking out her barn as a consideration.   They were thinking a little granola, protein bar and water from a hose and a dry, safe place to sleep.

Big Barn

Helene, however,  thought “southern hospitality” and put them up for the night under clean quilts in real beds following a hot shower.  She fed them dinner.

This year, they headed off to MerleFest  and, again, they ended up in Mendota at Helene’s place.  It wasn’t a wrong turn.  They knew our secret.  They had the Poor Valley mud on their feet.


It’ll be the same for some first time visitors who drive out to Mendota tomorrow night for the Third Annual Dale Jett & Hello Stranger Cemetery Benefit with special guest, the Poor Valley Girls. Oh by the way, here they are on the front page of the Kingsport-Times News thanks to Jessica Fischer. Love you Jess.   Here’s the link to the article.  

Kingsport Times News

They think they are coming to just hear some great music.

But they’ll drive by this…and they’ll start talking about the redbuds, Clinch Mountain, their granny’s home-canned green beans…they’ll breathe the air and they’ll see scenes like this over and over.

Trail North Fork

And at some point, they’ll put those feet on the ground. And then it’ll happen.  It really just takes a speck of dust and without a lot of rain lately, the ground is getting dusty.  Once that dust gets on those feet…well…they’ll have to come back

We have one more “sleep”…one more night before the Dale Jett & Hello Stranger Cemetery Benefit.   If you are reading this prior to Friday, April 25th, please consider plans to make the drive out to 2562 Mendota Road (your GPS will work) and hear music that is world-class while eating one of those wonderful Hormel wienies I told you about last night here.   (Disclosure…when I first put this post up…and if you know me you know my posts are full of typos as I pretty much just slap the pictures up and start typing….it said “wondering wienies” instead of “wonderful wienies”.   Please note this important correction as our wienies won’t wander but they are wonderful.  )

I’ll be there! Be sure and tell me you read my blog!!


What About Those Wienies?

In a small, rural community, you can find yourself doing just about anything.    I do the Publicity for the Dale Jett & Hello Stranger Cemetery Benefit, but there is a lot of other stuff involved, too.  I made a wienie run today.    I’m so tired tonight, but I keep thinking of my conversation on wienies and smiling.   I went to pick them up as they were so graciously donated, and if   the conversation did not go exactly like this, it went something like this.

Me:  “Hello…I came to get wienies.”

Very Sweet Pretty Receptionist:   “Oh yes..we’ve got them for you, but first, what kind of wienies do you want?”

Me:  “Humm…I dunno.  What kind of wienies can I get?   I want good ones.   Only the best wienie for me!”

Very Sweet Pretty Receptionist:  “We have all beef or another kind or the red ones.”

Me:  “I definitely do not want a red wienie.”

Very Sweet Pretty Receptionist:  “Most like Hormel wienies.   It’s what they have at a lot of ballgames.”

Me:  “Okay…let’s do Hormel.   Do I still get 500 wienies if I pick the good wienie?”

Very Sweet Pretty Receptionist:   “Yes!   You can just go to your vehicle and someone will come out and load your wienies for you.”

Me:  “Thank you so much.  I don’t really eater wienies so I didn’t know.  You’ve been so helpful.”

Very Sweet Pretty Receptionist:  “I don’t eat them either.”

Out at the truck waiting…

Man Delivering Wienies:  “You’ve got yourself some good wienies here.”

Me:  “Really…that’s great!  The only wienies I’m really familiar with are Pal’s wienies.”

Man Delivering Wienies:  “These are THE BEST wienies.  You’ll love them.”

Me:  “Thank you so much for the wienies.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate them!  You are so good to us down in Mendota!  We love the wienies!”  (Why couldn’t I just say thank you instead of gushing?)

Man Delivering Wienies:  “You’re Welcome!  Anytime!”


Please come to the Third Annual Dale Jett & Hello Stranger Cemetery Benefit and try these wienies for yourself!   You may love our wienies!




I Can’t Think of Anything Else

Ok…we are now three “sleeps” away from the Third Annual Dale Jett & Hello Stranger Cemetery Benefit.   This was the first one and that’s Dale Jett digging around for a door prize ticket.  There were hundreds and he pulled out his first cousin’s name!   Crazy!     I remember that day well.  I’d been in Chapel Hill, NC  all week and I drove home the morning of the benefit and I got a speeding ticket in Galax that was so terrible it was considered RECKLESS DRIVING or is that WRECKLESS DRIVING?    I’m so tired I don’t know.

thanksgiving hog

Oink Oink Squeal


It’s now the Third Annual Benefit, and I’m still worried about the very same things.   I have lost a little bit of weight though, but I think the oink oink squeal still applies.




Five More Days

We’re five days from the Third Annual Dale Jett & Hello Stranger Cemetery Benefit.  At breakfast this morning at Mt. Vernon UMC’s Sonrise Service, Dale Jett casually asked “do you think many people will come?”    Ohmigosh why did he ask  me?  Now I’m worried I’ll let him down.

Banners went up last night.  Mike and I put this one up on Rick Begley’s property in Gate City, so anyone coming into Gate City from Highway 58 should see it.   We’ve also put them up in Hiltons and in Mendota.   Next year, I’d like to put one up in Benhams and two more in Gate City.    We are so thankful for Pepsi for helping us with the banners.  I did not know who to contact this year since Pepsi Bottling of Lee Highway closed, but the store manager of Food City’s Euclid Avenue store, Raymond, stepped in and helped me out.  Naturally, I find that Raymond lives in Hiltons–no wonder he is a gentleman.

Dale Jett Show

We’ve mailed postcards to everyone in the 24270 zip code as well as handed them out.    I’ve got a little western theme going on this with postcard.

Dale Jett Card front


We’ve placed 75 posters around the Bristol/Abingdon/Gate City/ETSU areas.   Next year, I’m asking the Scott County Vocational School’s Graphics Department to design the poster.  I can’t wait to see what those young creative minds can do, and I’m hoping if Domtar helps us again, they could judge it. Just early ideas. By the way, we cannot say enough about Domtar Paper and Jeff Chamberlin for helping us with seed money for this event. We love them, and we stretch every dollar.


We’ve requested media help with our benefit.  Oscar interviewed with Joe Tennis who gave us a nice write up in the Bristol Herald Courier. Many thanks to Joe! Here’s the link.   We’ve also got an upcoming feature article in both the Kingsport Times-News and the Scott County Virginia Star. I’ll link those into this post when they publish this week.   Please look for them.

The Mendota quilt is almost ready, and the raffle tickets are here–done so professionally for me by the students at Scott County’s Vocational School.  Buying 1500 tickets in the past, with shipping, ran us right at $50.   This was much more affordable with our tiny budget.  I sold my first 70 to Laura Cash and Tracy Leonard.  Thanks ladies!    Oscar Harris, the Poor Valley Girls and I will be on WCYB at noon on Tuesday, April 22, and I’ll have this quilt with me as I”m going to ask the viewers to help me sell tickets in all 50 states.     I wonder if they’ll ask me to sing, too?  Ha ha !  Mt. Vernon also has a beautiful quilt made by Linda Nunley, but I do not have a picture of it.

Mendota Cemeter Quilt 3

Gerald Booher is President of the Mendota Cemetery Association and he’s been getting the food together.   There are a lot of details in putting together even a small benefit such as ours.   While we’re planning on grilling hotdogs, we’ll be serving food in the Mendota Community Center’s cafeteria.   I will need to make sure everyone knows to go into the cafeteria to see both Mendota and Mt. Vernon Cemetery Quilts and to purchase food.  I hope the smell of the hotdogs on the grill brings them down.  Today I made a…well...interesting…chalkboard to help direct them to the cafeteria.  Here’s some bits and pieces of it.

I Love Mendota

And…this is a true one. If you have a “boney” butt, bring yourself a cushion!

Seats are Hard

And finally…the disclaimer that we like to share with first timers to Poor Valley…


Thanks so much for reading RiverCliff Cottage, and I hope if you are reading this and live nearby, you’ll make the trip out to Mendota on Friday night.  Don’t dress up.  Come as you are.   The music is truly world class.


Spring Window Chalkboard Project

I had to clean house this week.    The cleaning goes so much better if there’s a tiny project that I can look forward to in the middle of the boredom of cleaning the same old things again and again.   In a perfect world, we’d all clean each others houses because the cleaning would be more interesting.   I know…you clean mine first!    Actually,  I don’t mind cleaning house…I just would rather clean someone else’s house!

I wanted to do something for Spring in the foyer.   I’d meant to put a big bright vase of daffodils there, but the recent cold “snap” halted any of those plans.   They are now dingy, brown things, so I had to think of something else.  Something involving not getting in the car and going to town or spending any money.

I asked Mike to respray my old window so I’d have a fresh chalkboard surface.  I normally do this, but he’d accidentally messed it up so I thought he owed me one.     Here’s my project that motivated me to clean today.  It took all of about five minutes, but it was enough to nudge me to finish cleaning.   This is a no-talent project which works very well for me!

Spring NoTalent Chalkboard Window


I put it in the foyer.   Do you like it?   See that little sign on the mirror? I used Velcro tape to hang it and now I can’t get it down.


Spring Foyer


I also did a quick one in the kitchen. I didn’t use liquid chalk on this. I used plain old chalk, and it was a bit dusty but that’s okay. I’m just going to leave this up a few weeks. I put “April” at the bottom so that in “May” I’ll be reminded to put something else up. It’s fun to change out things.   I’d pinned one like this on Pinterest.    Mike came by and said “you must want something if you’re talking about me like that!”


Chalkboard Honey So Sweet


Hope you have a wonderful Easter.




Nordyke – Spring in Mendota

My sister, Nancy, commented “have you been on Nordyke since the redbuds have opened up?” I thought it was time to take a drive with the camera. Loaded my sidekick in the truck. It’s just not right living in the country without a truck and a dog.

Luckie in the Truck

Look look! We almost have a new road — the Barnrock Road project is almost complete!

Barn Rock Road Almost Done

We stopped on the Nordyke Bridge for a picture…

Nordyke Bridge

Look back over our shoulder…here’s what it looks like when you enter the valley from Nordyke. I know. Ya wanna buy some land..maybe a little cabin…do a little fishin’.    We understand.

Meadow BEst

Looking around at the redbuds…

Red Bud 1

They are all along the road…

Red Bud 2

More pretties…

Lower Nordyke

There’s a new reality television show called “Southern Justice” and it features law enforcement in Sullivan County, Tennessee.   The scenery was so pretty. We take it for granted until we see it in a picture.    Thinking of this caused me to take notice of some of the surroundings I travel by so often and just don’t notice.   This is Caney Valley…which is off of Nordyke…such a pretty curve in the road.

Caney Valley

The deer aren’t hungry now.  Look at this lush green grass.   Bruce’s cows graze by day and the deer by night.  I see them at night here all of the time.   Look at the mountain.  It’s not yet green.  Soon!

Nordyke Cabin

Whrrrr….what a great day to be out in the country!


Thank you for reading RiverCliff Cottage.


Meeting With Jessica Fischer of the Kingsport Times News

Today Oscar Harris and I met with Jessica Fischer of the Kingsport Times News since she is doing an article on our Dale Jett & Hello Stranger event that will be held on Friday, April 25.  If you are reading this, please try and come.    It’s at the Mendota Community Center, and it’s such a wonderful event.  Dale, Oscar and Teresa seldom get to play for the local audience so this event is as special to them as it is to everyone who attends. Oscar’s daughter, Heather Pace, and the Poor Valley Girls open the event at 7:00 pm. Dale, Oscar and Teresa will come on at 8:00 pm.

We met at Mt. Vernon Church in what we still call “Maces Springs” but now is officially Hiltons, Virginia.   I arrived first and walked through the cemetery to remind myself why we have this benefit. It’s our fundraiser for the Mt. Vernon and Mendota Cemeteries. I’ve blogged about the Mendota Cemetery several times, but not Mt. Vernon. Can you believe it was snowing while I was walking around?  It’s April 15, and it’s snowing!

Headstone 1


Mt. Vernon Cemetery — I see names I am familiar with…Bays, Faust, Hensley and Harper to name a few.

Mt. Vernon Cemetery Tombstones

There are also some famous people…beloved to many.   When A. P. Carter passed, my father was a pallbearer.

A.P. Carter's Headstone

Sara Carter Bayes…”Anchored in Love.”

Sara Carter Headstone

I called Joe Carter “Uncle Joe.” He sang about a girl from Mendota who drove a Toyota. He called me  “WT’s girl”. WT was my father’s nickname. I think he actually knew me as “Todi” but was afraid I”d be offended. I would not have been. Todi was my father’s nickname for me.

Joe Carter Headstone

Jeanette Carter….probably one of the most beloved women in Virginia and possibly Nashville. Jeanette was a lunch lady at Hiltons, but she was not afraid to dream and her vision created a legacy for Carter Family music at the Carter Fold. When I think about a hiking and biking trail between Benhams and Mendota, I consider Jeanette my inspiration. She was one of a kind. I’ve been looking at the shape of her tombstone and wondering if it’s shaped like an autoharp — that was her instrument.

Jeanette Carter Headstone

I noticed quite a few Barkers buried here. My family cemetery is in Mendota, but I’m sure there are relatives here, too, since I am a Barker.  A restful place.    This is a cemetery filled with believers.    Look at Jeanette’s stone above…”deliverance has come.”

Mt. Vernon Cemetery

It was freezing cold, so I went inside the church and Jessica arrived soon. She is wonderful and reports for the Kingsport Times-News. Everyone in this area looks for Jessica’s name in the newspaper…what she has written, etc. We are so proud! Her father is the recently retired pastor of Darthula Baptist in Hiltons, Layton Bentley.

Jessica and I talked a bit and Oscar joined us. We discussed all the reasons we have this benefit, what Dale Jett & Hello Stranger are doing musically, and how much we need for people to come to Mendota on Friday, April 25.


Oscar arrived just a few minutes after Jessica, and we asked him to pose with the autoharp. I know I’ll hear this autoharp come in with a sweetness that will capture everyone’s attention when they play “Farmer’s Prayer” on Friday, April 25. If that was the only song played that evening, it would still be worth the trip.

Oscar and Autoharp

Our article will be out in a few days. Watch for it in the Kingsport-Times News!


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