Archives for November 2014

Luckie Update From The Staff at Adventure Mendota

Here’s the Luckie Dog update as she went to the vet today.  Dr. Steve thinks she has a bacterial infection.  He gave her a couple of injections, and we have medication for the next week.   She’s feeling better but she’s still not out of the woods.   We’re just treading water with Luckie.     Here’s  me and my girl last fall.    She was 14 when this picture was taken.   That sweet girl is looking good!


Back to our other baby called Adventure Mendota.     I said “staff” in this post title.  Are you kidding?   Mike is working on his stuff, and I am working on mine.    That’s the staff!     We each have our Post It note goals that we work to complete.     Mine include:  (1)  before Christmas to have the website up and working well (50% done); (2)  have a banner in place to put on the shop as it transforms into our “base camp”  (ready to go);  (3) business cards ordered (0% done but will be easy);  (4) promo cards ordered (got an idea but 0% done);  and (5) have a brochure (will not go to bed tomorrow until it’s finished).     Since I’m working while doing this, it goes steady by not fast.   It sure has cut my internet surfing down.

Here’s the brochure at about 40% done–one side of the Tri-Fold.  It’s 40% done because this was the easier side.  The other side will be more detailed and more difficult with my limited experience in working with Publisher…plus…I educated myself on graphic design by Googling “How To Create a Tri-Fold Brochure?”      It’s  not very subtle, but we’re talking about climbing in the North Fork in a kayak or a tube with a loaded squirt gun.    What is subtle about that?

For now, however, here’s 1/2 of the brochure.    It’s a tri-fold.   The front right side is the front cover.   The background is a picture I took of a few friends launching from the riverbank in front of our house in 2013,  so that’s kind of neat.  They were learning how to paddle, and in this picture they are headed upstream.

Brochure Resized for Web

I love that “on the North Fork of the Holston River.”      If you’re from Mendota, you know exactly what I mean!     I wonder if the winter will be so cold again that the North Fork will freeze in the coming months?  It’s going to be about 13 degrees tonight, but it will take much more cold weather for it to freeze.

However…..remember this?  Brrr!

River at Munsford Mill




It’s Official!

Hi…thanks to everyone who keeps coming back to see me at RiverCliff Cottage.   I continued with about 4700 views in the past 30 days and since I’ve been less than diligent about updating the blog, I am very thankful.    This is actually not a very large number, but it’s larger than I ever anticipated, so I”m very happy!   RiverCliff Cottage  is my precious!

I’m learning more about blogging.  At the onsite of my fleding career as a webmaster for Adventure Mendota, I tried to save money by using the same account as RiverCliff Cottage but as an add-on domain.   Blue Host, the server where this blog sits,  allows as many domains on one account as you want at no additional charge, and in many cases, this would work nicely.  However, after the fact, I learned that this made it difficult for search engines to find the site.   I’d Google Adventure Mendota, and there would be Adventure Mendota mentioned on RiverCliff Cottage but no website showing up.   I added SEO plugins, tried this, that…very little success.    Drat!   Sunday morning,  I’ve called and started the migration of Adventure Mendota to its own account.   It was a $99 migration charge I had not planned for, but I didn’t want to deal with learning how to do it.  How many times will I have to migrate a site?  Probably not again soon.   Never I hope.   Concurrent with this, I’ve learned that websites that have a blog that is updated on a fairly regular basis have better search results.   Do you know what this means?  I’m going to add a  blog page on Adventure Mendota–what a shameless self-promoter I’ve become!

Speaking of this baby called Adventure Mendota, I found a sign at the end of the driveway this morning as I left for work.  A Washington County elf was out and about!   Here is a portion of the sign…I cut off  the phone number.   Sorry!    This is one of those milestones moments.  It’s like when you get married, vote the first time, do you-know-what the first time…and so forth.    This is an “I really did that” moment.

zoning sign

On the downside of the week, my Luckie dog has been ill.  This is not a picture that I took this weekend.  This was last summer, when she was getting in touch with her inner-Islam.   She was wearing the veil that day.

Luckie With a towel on her head

She became very ill with severe diarrhrea and her appetite left.   I just want to add that this all occurred at 2 am.   Rumbling, sad, exploding dog.   And me.    I spent half of Sunday morning cleaning the bedroom that I’d just cleaned the day before. She’s worth it.  I’m running her by the vet tomorrow, but tonight she has shown an interest in eating again.  I’m cautiously hopeful.

When the time comes and she’s ready to walk the Rainbow Bridge, I want to be with her…to hold her.   But let’s hope that time is not this week.






Cold November Day in Mendota

It’s a nippy 24 degrees today in Mendota.   I washed an old quilt that Luckie wallows on and hung it on the clothesline.  It took it almost all day, but it came very close to getting dry.   Miracle!    Yesterday I removed the sugar water feeders from our beehives.  I also changed out the spacer which provides them with their opening to come and go.

My Bees

As of this morning,  they have only a tiny hole as their entrance.   This will keep the hive a little warmer.   They will remove dead bees through this hole as well as their waste.   Just noticed this picture has dead bees that they’ve already tossed out.  Gross.   Apparently, bees aren’t much on ceremony for the bees that pass on before them.  Just toss ’em.

Bee Hive in the Winter

I’ve been watching the temperatures.   On Tuesday night,  it will be about 15 degrees in our area.   I won’t do anything special to the hives as they can survive that type of temperature every once in a while.    Each one of these hive boxes is full of honey.   It has to last them until the honeyflow in the spring.  I’ll say a prayer tonight for these little pals.

I’d told you about the woodboiler earlier this week.   We had to go get a part for it in Peterstown, West Virginia.


Mike and Gerald got it up and and running, and the house is so warm, and whatever improvements were made are working.  It’s not using as much wood.  Yay!  I went over to the guesthouse, and it’s toasty warm, too.   We heat both houses with one woodboiler.

We do not have the woodboiler heating the water in the guesthouse at this time, but we do in the main house.  It’s really hot.   Because of this, I went back to my “homemade” laundry detergent.    It’s the recipe you see all over Pinterest and the internet using Fels Napta soap.   Here’s the recipe from the blogger I got it from.      I do not like using this recipe with cold water and my high efficiency washer.  It stays on dark clothes.  However, if I use it with hot water which helps dissolve the ingredients, it works very well, so with my free hot water from the woodboiler, I can use this detergent which costs very little.

I’ve been looking at Pinterest and thinking about next year’s vegetable garden today.   Gardens are so rewarding, but they are especially rewardng in the winter.  I’m making soup tonight and instead of store bought tomatoes, I’m using my own.   Here they are…looking fine in a cabbage stew that is on the cooktop.  It smells so good.

Cabbage Stew

I’m taking these pictures with my iphone, but on Black Friday, I am getting a new camera!!




Our Annual Trip To Peterstown, WV

Mike and I made a quick trip to Petersburg, West Virginia today.  We make this trip every year to get a part or two for the woodboiler.  We have a heat pump, but as the deeper cold of winter approaches, we transition to the woodboiler.   We bought one a few years ago that was supposed to be very energy efficient and exceed EPA standards. What the reality has been is this thing is  a pain in the butt to get ready to go.   Each year there is an upgrade or something that needs to be replaced…sometimes under warranty…sometimes not.    Because of this, and all of the wood that we buy to keep it going, I doubt that it saves us a penny.   Change that to “I know it doesn’t save us a penny.”


However, we are very nice and toasty in the winter.  We keep the house on about 72 or 73, and the heat is a much warmer heat than that of the heat pump.  I have no idea why.     So even though it’s a lot of trouble and uses a lot of wood (we call it The Pig), all is forgiven when it’s 10 degrees…or – 7 degrees as it was last winter, and we know that our electric bill is not even phased by the cold.   This year’s upgrade says that it will burn twice as efficiently — using 1/2 the wood.    Right.    It will probably breeze right through this barn full of wood.  

Wood in Barn

And there’s wood behind the barn that we don’t have room for.  We’ll move that and stack it for next year.    For the past few years, our wood needs have kept EJ and Neth, our sweet nephews of a sort, in spending money.

Wood Pile

When people find that we have a woodboiler, they’ll say “that’s good when the power goes out.”  Actually, no, it’s not.  It’s one reason we have a generator. (Her name is Ginny and she is my best buddy. Here’s an old post.) The way the woodboiler works is actually like this.   It has a pump that circulates water through or near the firebox.  The  water becomes really hot in the pipes which then enter our crawl space and somewhere along this journey, there is a fan in our ventilation system and the warm air comes through the same vents that the heat pump uses.  It has to have electricity to move the air around.    At any rate, that is how I understand it.   That’s why it’s so important that we have a generator.

We get our power from AEP, and there have been some years that we’ve had many outages due to all of the trees the power lines run through.  They’ve done a better job in recent years in tree trimming, and we’ve kept power when others have lost it during snow and wind.   The worst outage we have experienced in 15 years was during the first year our house was under construction.  The power was off for 11 days.    We usually have at least one outage per month but if the outage is just four or five hours, we don’t even blink.    I know AEP’s number by memory.

The power was off at an acquaintance’s  house living in a more urban area.   In just a few hours as the house got colder and colder, they went and sat in the car with the engine running.    I cannot imagine. I’d just keep driving and never return.

I took a picture of this AEP plant this morning as we crossed the New River going into Peterstown to get the parts for the woodboiler.   I like old industrial buildings.   (Don’t you love looking at images of abandoned buildings and amusement parks in Google?)    I always wonder who works in these buildings, what stories the walls hold, etc.     I learned that this is the “Glen Lyn” plant, and it was scheduled for closure in 2014.   It looks empty so the closure may have already taken place.   I read that 44 jobs were lost in this closure, and I’m betting they were good-paying jobs.   This was an old coal-fired plant…about 90 years old… located on the New River,  and there were environmental concerns.  Still, I feel such sadness.

AEP Plant in Petersberg - 2

It was an ugly, winter’s day on this trip so I did not take a lot of pictures but this is really a pretty area.   Peterstown has a quaint mountain town charm.   When we visited last fall…a little earlier in the year…I loved it.  I’m sure we’ll be making a return trip back.  Maybe it’ll be a prettier day.

The cat just came in, so it’s time for bed.







Last Day Feeding The Honeybees

Ecclesiastes says there is a time for everything and a season for every activity, but yikes…did winter have to come so soon?  It was just a few weeks ago that my mums looked like this…

Summer Flowers

They looked so happy!  Did they know what was ahead?    I pruned everything in our yard a few weeks ago but I left this giant mum because of the bees.  They were loving it.  It had about 100 on it every day.  I didn’t cut it back because I knew they were still getting some benefit from it, and honestly, I would have had to suit up and fight them for it!  But today, I did cut it back.   Winter is coming and there is nothing much left for them with this plant.

Dead mums

I spoke with John of Poor Valley Bees and he said that many beekeepers are finding their hives empty of honey.   Bees have to have their honey in the winter to survive.   It’s what they eat.   Humans should only take the excess, but this year, there wasn’t really any excess.  We had less than 20 pints of honey from six hives (some were swarms that we did not expect to have honey from), but we are entering winter with all of our hives full of honey.   I’m thankful for that.

It’s also the last day we’re feeding them.  Tomorrow morning, very early, I’ll go out and remove the jars and replace the spacer in the bottom of the hive with a spacer that has only about 3/4 of an inch opening.   This will give them added protection from winter weather.  They’ll use that tiny opening to remove dead bees and their waste.   Here they are enjoying their last day of the thick, sweet sugar water which we’ve used to supplement their foraging.    The sun is shining on the face of the hive, and I imagine it to be very warm inside.  They are probably fanning the queen to keep her comfortable.    As it gets colder, they’ll cluster and keep her warm.   The barn is my wind barrier.  I love where these bees sit because they are protected from the wind and get the evening shade.  More importantly, it’s easy to walk over and check on them.  Watch them do their work.   They are so clever.    Reminder to self.  These are just insects.  

Bees 1111

About six weeks ago, honeybees attacked and killed someone doing landscaping somewhere…I can’t remember where.  It was in the news.     It’s a hard reminder that they are who they are.  Still, today, I think of them as my little pals.  They light on my hand and I look right into their little faces.   I’ll be watching out for these pals this winter.   When it gets below 15 degrees, I’ll be out with my bubble wrap, duct tape, tarp and protective cover and my little apiary will look like Shanty Town for a few days.   This is what it looked like at -8 degrees last year.  Everything was very strategic because even though the hives were covered, they could get air flow.  When the sun came out, I’d lift the tarp draped over the front and let it hit the front of the hive.   Make fun of me all you want.  My bees lived.  And thrived.  And swarmed! and I caught the swarm!

Wintering Bees 1


Still Learning

If you read this often, you know I’ve lost my camera.  I keep thinking I’ll find it.   Do you think I’ll do a better job of taking care of a good camera next time around?  Some lessons are just hard lessons, but they must be learned.

I’m still learning a lot.   I wish I didn’t have to learn as much because it would allow me to be lazy.    However, when you stop learning and growing, you stop.    Mike and I are both moving along!

I’m working on the website for Adventure Mendota.   It’s easy for me to write stuff, but putting it together on the WordPress platform is…excuse me for sounding crude…a bitch.    However, each time I have a small victory, I feel  accomplished.

And….technology rocks.  I use the ipad to watch a tutorial on how to do something while I’m doing it on the laptop.  Today’s learning is on SMTP ports.  I have already forgot what SMTP stands for, but I can tell you that my web-based email now interfaces with my Google Gmail, and when you email me at, I can read it on Gmail.

Technology Rocks

Each time I figure something out on my own, with help from tutorials or a Help Desk person, I save money for things that will be useful in the future such as Facebook Boosts and Search Engine Optimization expertise.

We have been stumped by words like “branding” and “logo”.    Finally, in last week’s Lunch & Learn at the Virginia Small Business Incubator, we had that “aha” moment that we do not really have to spend a great deal of money.  We’re never going to be a national firm where branding our brand so we stand out from the competition is extremely important.   So our home-grown logo came to life.  Do you like it?


Adventure  Mendota River Outfitters

Naturally, Mr. Picky Britches came down and said, “is it outfitter or outfitters.”    See the red pot?   It has multiple uses.   It is a flower pot, a thing to hold the ipod upright, and now it’s a weapon.   I’m going to throw it at him.

Red Pot Weapon




Some Pictures When Benhams Was Benham

If you are driving out of Mendota to Bristol, you drive through what we know as the “Benhams” area. Benhams is like Mendota as it is on a crossroads of becoming one of Virginia’s “lost” communities. I hope not!

Benhams was not always Benhams. It was “Benham” and was most likely named after John Benham, an “Indian fighter” who is credited for building a fort (according to a publication called Southwest Virginia crossroads). When there was a train depot in Benhams, it was called Benham.

Benham Depot With Photo Credit

Ken Fleenor provided me these photographs which he believes are from the 1940s, and the one above is a “nonstop” that was “catching” its orders from Mr. Clifford Sproles, the Station Master. Look at the depot sign that says Benham.

Here’s another view of the train. This was taken from Mr. Clifford Sproles’ front yard. My grandfather was a Sproles. Hmmm…

Benhams Train With Photo Credit

Here’s another one. I remember when many stores in our area had the Pet sign out front. It’s bet! I like the size of this store.

Benhams, Virginia Store With Photo Credit

Benhams also had a post office. It closed in 1959. Does anyone else have any photos of the Benhams’ area that they want to share?


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