My World September 24, 2106

WOW!  Has it ever been hot and dry in Mendota, Virginia!    It was 90 degrees yesterday when I took this picture from the Mendota bridge.  I was waiting on kayakers to come in.   I’ll go back to this same spot next week and the following week so that I can record how the leaves will change as we approach real fall weather.

Clinch Mountain View From the Mendota Bridge

Clinch Mountain View From the Mendota Bridge

For some reason, this lady and her little one cooling off in the river was a sweet view for me.   When I grew up there was no air conditioning, and the river was a place we went to cool off.    That is when my relationship with the North Fork of the Holston began.


Adventure Mendota is suspending kayaking until it rains and we have more water in the river.  Hopefully, the rain will come concurrent with the leaves changing.   During this time, between taking afternoon naps and going to the movies and eating out–like all the time–Mike and I are getting ready to have all of the trim and a few rooms in our house painted as well as have all of the hardwood sanded and refinished.   We have movers coming October 6 to move the heavy stuff so the next ten days will include our moving the small things next door.  We’ll be staying in the guest house while all this is happening and using the garages for storing larger things such as mattresses, etc.  Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

A few years ago, our son and daughter in law put their house on the market and were told that the trending paint colors were lighter…blues, grays, beige and “greige.”   “Not me,”  I thought.   Our son jumped right on it, and I thought it was a mistake.   Well, I guess this old girl might be a few years behind, but I’m having our master bath, guest bedroom and laundry room–all painted in shades of blue.

Mike and I are NOT painting ourselves which is the best news of all.  Our painter will use whatever paint we choose, but he likes Behr paints from Home Depot and can provide a 20% discount on the paint.  It’ll be a Behr paint.   It’ll be a color like these which I borrowed from Pinterest.


Can you imagine how dirty my house will be after the hardwood is redone?



Ruby Smith…. A Century Of Life

My mother had two best friends in her lifetime.   One was Connie Collier and the second was Ruby Smith.    On Saturday, Ruby’s 100th birthday was celebrated by her friends and family.   Here’s a picture of my sister, Pat,  and Ruby that was taken at the event.


Pat wrote about Ruby on Facebook, and she expressed her thoughts so well, that I’m just going to copy them!   Everyone wanted to stop by and say hello to Ruby.  So much so that it was hard for Pat to slip in and get her picture made with Ruby.    Pat observed that “Ruby was surrounded by friends and well wishers…serenaded by jewels of a lifetime, her grandchildren and great grandchildren.”

This next picture is a picture of Ruby and her husband.   I never met him.  He died at a young age.  I do know, as Pat mentioned on Facebook, there was no social security for Ruby to rely on.   Her resourcefulness was her social security.


She had to be resourceful.  She had two daughters to raise.    Pictured below–and I’m so afraid of misspelling names– are Wilhelmina, Ruby and Frances.   Wilhelmina’s life was cut short by breast cancer.    When I was little,  I loved slipping over when Mom and Dad were visiting and asking Frances to let me play in her makeup.  I thought she was so exotic because she owned eyeshadow.


Ruby told me once that she contacted a doctor (I think) who owned a small piece of land and asked about buying it.  She wanted to have a tobacco allotment so that she would have a regular income.   He sold the land to her and she paid it off over a period of time.   Mother and Daddy helped Ruby by “sharing” the allotment.  It was “bottom land” behind the Mendota Baptist Church.   Pat said that there were lots of jokes between the three of them about this being “Ruby’s bottom.”    It went right over our heads.

Here’s my father working in tobacco.   When he died someone said that all of the widows cried along with our family, because who would keep their refrigerators running…their furnaces…their stoves?   W. T. Barker could fix about anything and he did not charge if someone could not afford it.


And Mother…there just are no words.  Like Ruby, she was extraordinary.


I am fortunate enough to own quilts that Ruby has made.  I gave the one below to my nephew, Will, and it will be given to his daughter, Faith, at some time in the future.   It has pieces of our mother’s clothing in it.

Will Gardner Quilt

Here’s another quilt she made.   I adore this quilt and every time I see it, I think of Ruby.

Yellow Guest Bedroom After Photo Corner View

Here’s my grand niece, Ari, and my brother in law, Gerald, eating cake.   Ari told her Uncle Gerald that she “didn’t know Miss Ruby until today but she was glad she made it to 100!”    We are too. 

Can you imagine all that Ruby has seen in 100 years?   Happy Birthday Ruby.


Door Knobs Or Channeling Aunt Clara

We are moving next door in about three weeks while our house is being updated a bit with fresh paint and refinished hardwoods.    Since we essentially have to move out of all the rooms with hardwood, and that is all of the bedrooms, living room, dining room and hallway, this is a great opportunity to get rid of things.   I was so embarrassed when we had unexpected house guests last month and there was no place for them to hang clothes.  Our closets were full.  Stuffed.  The horrible thing is at least one half of the stuff was things we don’t wear.    This week I began taking things to both the consignment shop and Goodwill.    I’ve taken at least one very full car load. I’ve also make several trips to the dump.

So while I’m getting rid of things, Mike is thinking of acquiring things!   Go figure!   We started our search looking for old metal chairs that people used to have in their yards.  We looked in Gate City and then headed to the Homestead Shoppe in Church Hill.  We didn’t see any.   I thought of something else I wanted, however, so the day was not lost.

Do you remember Aunt Clara from Bewitched?  She was Samantha’s beloved befuddled aunt who collected doorknobs.  I channeled her today while we were at The Homestead Shoppe.    I’m amazed I could even think.   When you have this attention deficit thing that I have, it’s hard to find anything when there is a lot of everything.  It’s almost impossible.  Here’s what I was looking at…


If you are ADD like me, it’s really hard to focus on anything when there is a lot of stuff…and remember, when you’re looking at this, you’re also talking ALOT and then there’s the circus train that is always going on in your head at the same time…Choo Choo…”Look at me and notice nothing!”     I’m serious.   This is what it is like. circus-train-carnival-ride-item-561I kept looking for the knobs…of course, they were invisible.  Mike, who is focused, found them immediately.   Here they are…


And here’s another slightly different knob.  I’d really wanted to find three completely different knobs but I ended up   with two alike and one different.


The asking price was $50 for these.  $35 for the one with two knobs and $15 for the one with one knob.  Mike negotiated it down to $35 for both.     And here is my inspiration picture.  Mine will be white on a blue wall.


This will replace my old towel bar.   I doubt that I’ll still pick up a towel from the floor–I’ve never learned to pick my clothes up–but perhaps I can display a towel on the new towel bar doorknob thingy!!

Here’s something else I found that I am thinking about.  I don’t have a place for it.   It was $17.


Don’t you love it?     Valleydale Packers.  Bristol, Virginia.   I’m enjoying this down time with Mike.  We’re goofing off lots.   We suspended kayaking until we get some rain, so it’s a vacation.




My Goals – One More Thing Done

I’m still working on my 2016 goals.  So far, I’ve got my ears pierced and they grew right back up.    I’ve lost 11 pounds but still have about 15 to go.   I’m on to a new goal.  I have always wanted to enter something into the Washington County Fair!    This year, I did.   And guess what?  I won 2nd place.

It started like this…just plain ol’ Concord grapes taken from a neighbor’s vines.


Add in a good friend to work with, and making grape jelly becomes a very good way to spend some time.  I worked with Sandy Lester.  We both worked on these grapes like we were being paid a gazillion dollars for the jelly.  We made somewhere between 75-80 pints.   Guess what everyone is getting for Christmas?


Yesterday Mike and I drove up to the Washington County Fair Grounds and I entered one jar of canned tomatoes, one jar of black raspberry jam, one jar of grape jelly and one “repurposed item”.    The judging was today, and it was like being in high school and going to see if you made cheerleader (I did not).   I could not wait to see if I placed!!

At 5:30 pm today, I went back to the fair and paid the $12 entry fee to get in so I could check on the judging.   My canned tomatoes?  I couldn’t even find them!   My black raspberry jam?  Lonely and naked.  My repurposed picture frame turned jewelry organizer?   Lonely and naked.  Crying!   My grape jelly?  Well, she was wearing a red ribbon!!


Here she is sitting with her friends…other grape jellies.


She doesn’t mind being second place.  She’s going to work really hard to get 1st next year!!



If I’d entered ten things, I could have gotten into the fair for free.

It’s fun to live in a rural county in a small town.


I Choose Love

My favorite picture of the past few weeks.    I choose love.  How about you?

Good picture


Shopping in Abingdon, Virginia

Our small river outfitter, Adventure Mendota, got rained out today.   We had to return a child’s PFD (life vest) to her grandmother at The Virginian in Abingdon, so we decided to head up to the Abingdon Farmers Market.

I bought bread.  It’s actually made in Mendota.


Picked up some treats for River at Barkery & Co.    He got right down to putting these away.

Barkery and Company

Purchased some of my most favorite juice in the world from White Birch.  Nicole Dyer owns White Birch and she’s been a strong competitor in the business challenges we were in together.   For some reason,  I was first resistant to trying these juices.  I thought “healthy” would not be “tasty.”    No so.   I love the Pink Punch and the Orange Dream which tastes like a Dreamsicle.

White Birch

Went up to the Holston Mountain Artisans shop on Park Street.   I bought this small quilted banner to hang on the wall in the guest house.   It was made by Laura Bryant and was $12.

Quilt hanger

I also bought this very special wall hanging which I’ll save as a gift for a child  It’s called “Wild Dogs” and was created by Mary Warner of Bristol, Tennessee.  It has a story.

Wild dogs 1

Mary Warner is married to a diplomat, and she spends a great deal of time in Africa.  She teaches quilting there–I believe it is in Botswana.   She asked her quilting friends to send their leftover quilt pieces so that the ladies she is teaching will have fabric to work with.   At any rate, this is one of the quilts that they have made.   It’s constructed of fabrics that normally would not be used in the same piece — but these ladies “used what they had” and made this beautiful little quilt.   I’ll probably never meet Mary Warner, but I hope she learns that I have this special little quilt and I’ll make sure it’s treasured and those tiny stitches are respected and loved.

Here’s another picture…Wild Dogs 2


I won’t give this little gift to just anyone.  I’ll wait until the right person needs it.

Thank you for reading RiverCliff Cottage.


Magic Black Raspberries

I am not on this blog often in the summer since we own and operate a small outfitter on the North Fork of the Holston.   We’ve been very busy until this week when it rained — much needed rain.  We are like farmers — we watch the skies and the weather diligently.

The rain gave us much needed rest and a chance to do berry picking.  It was only a chance because I didn’t go.  My friend Sandy went and picked the berries.  I may go back with her tomorrow.   These berries are a treasure.  Sandy made the comment that Mike and I are hard to buy for because we have about everything we want and that is true.  However, we did not have black raspberries.  In fact, I haven’t eaten a black raspberry in over 40 years.   That changed this week.

Here they are.


My mother’s voice comes to me when I see these.  When she was a young girl of about 12, she picked a black raspberry from a vine and ate it.  It had an ant inside the hollow of the berry and it bit her tongue.  Ouch.

I read on the internet (so it must be true) that black raspberries contain 11 percent higher levels of antioxidants than blueberries and 40% more than strawberries.

I made jam with mine.   It is so good.   I stirred like crazy getting everything just right so the jam would “set” nicely.  It has.    There’s tons of folk lore regarding raspberries…they are magical.  They provide a fertile ground for creative thinking.    Ironically, this picture reminds me of an early ultrasound that I see on Facebook for the early stages of pregnancy.

Inside of Pan

Here’s the resulting prize.   I have nine of these and I’ll be making another nine tonight.   “You never double your recipe when making jam” are the wise words of Barb Leonard, a friend here in Mendota.   I left the seeds in mine, and while they may be annoying for some, they give the jam more flavor.   Sandy, my friend who picked the berries, and I compared the jam with the seeds to the jelly that had been strained.  The seeds gave an extra burst of flavor.

One Red Jar


I can’t wait to share a jar with each of my sisters.   I’m thinking about Christmas gifts.   When it’s cold out this winter, Mike and I will open a jar and spread it on toast, and I’ll remember the summer.





The Vines On North Fork

What I like about blogging is chronicling time.   In Mendota, things move slow but we do have change.   Some very good changes, but we remain a rural farming community.

Farm Use

It’s such pretty country…

God's Country

While only a very few tobacco farmers remain, we still have several organic operations, RiverGate dairy, sheep, cattle, and finally, a small vineyard quietly went into place on Friday and Saturday of this week.    Here’s The Farmer.

Farmer Kevin

I don’t have a picture of The Farmer’s Wife, because she was cooking and running about, but she is the reason for the vineyard.  She wanted some grapevines for grapes for jelly.  The Farmer must really like her jelly.   She has 1,000 grapevines.  I hope she has a lot of jars.

Kevin and Ginger Mumpower own and operate Gingerbread Cooking and Catering and, hopefully, in a few years, they’ll have some grapes ready for the first homemade jellies and food sauces.    Ginger’s jellies for our bellies!

The grapevines arrived last week.   They are dormant at this time.

Grapes in the Barn 2

Kevin worked with Virginia Tech to determine the soil PH and how it should be amended as well as to determine what grapes would grow best here in Mendota.   Everything is ready to go in the picture below.

Rows for Grapes

Each vine was tucked into its place.  It rained shortly thereafter.

Vine in the hole

It’s good to have some help.  This is Bill, Kevin’s father in law.

Bill's Tractor

Some help came from East High…and one former Gate City High School (now JMU) fella..

It Takes a Village 2

And that’s Scarlett….every vineyard needs a dog.

Guard Dog

And it has to have a name…


Vines on the North Fork 2








Some Things Work Out

Remember the crates that I found in Gate City at Memory Lane Antiques?   Here’s how they’ll look with the tees in them.  This is the Canada Dry crate which works well for small t-shirts.   I take no credit.  Mike thought this up.

Crate of Tees

Also, long…I talked about the kayak quilt square Mike was making me.  the date of the post was April 27, 2015.   It’s done–it’s hanging up on the shop we use for our base camp.   It took him one year, but he got ‘er done!   Thank you honey!

Kayak Barn Quilt Square

We have both enjoyed repurposing things for Adventure Mendota’s base camp.   Since we have a septic tank, we have to b e careful what goes in the toilets, so we ask guests to dry their hands using paper towels outside of the bathroom.   It’s our hand drying station.  It’s made of an old sawhorse Mike made, the center leaf to an old table that we used 25 years ago, and we added the Saltville crate that we got at Memory Lane to house the paper towels.  We could have used a plastic bin, but it just didn’t seen right.

Saltville Box With Towels R


I’m rolling and folding t-shirts for the crates.   It seems like they have multiplied since I started this!


Treasure Hunting in Gate City, Virginia

Hi there!   It has been such a busy time around here as we prepare for the first days of Adventure Mendota 2016.    Mike and I have also been on the fundraising merry-go-round for the Goodson Kinderhook Volunteer Fire & Rescue, Crossroads Christian Academy and the Washington County Public Library.   We’ve  bid in three silent auctions in less than 8 days.  I’ve ended up with a few dinners out, several tickets to the Barter, and a pretty wall piece.  We’re now broke.

Last night, however, we got into a bidding fever over these…apple crates from Chilhowie.

Crates from Gala

Mike bid….are you ready…$185 for these crates.   We want to use them to hold Adventure Mendota’s t-shirts.  We’re rural…they’re rural…it’s  a match.   If you are still reeling from the $185, the real shocker is that we didn’t win the bid.  They went for $200.     Mike was bummed, but I was secretly relieved.  Whew!   Close call!

However, as we went out to deliver Adventure Mendota rack cards today, I suggested that we stop in a few antique stores in Gate City to see if they were aware where we could find some similar crates.    We stopped in the old Hackey Furniture and Appliance Store.    I don’t know what it looked like “in the day” but here’s what it looks like today, and it is the home of Memory Lane Antique Mall.  Very, very nice folks.

Hackney Furniture Store

So, I went in…

Interior of Store

I left a pool of drool when I saw this.  It’s sold, and I’m kind of relieved.    It’s hard to explain to Mike why I want something chippy and blue and wonderful.   He does not get it.   Sorry for the blurry picture.  I took this with my iphone.

Blue Chest

This is all about hunting crates, but there is one more thing I want to show you.  This light fixture was $199.  I’m going to look at similar new ones and compare prices.    When I redo my dining room, I’m replacing the light fixture and this one would look very good.   They were asking $199.  I’m sure I could get it a little cheaper.   $150??

Light Fixture

But the real story here is the crates.   I cannot see things in stores like this.  Something in the way my mind is wired does not let me find that “needle in a haystack.”  If there is a lot of distraction going on, I am…well…distracted.  So I walked all the way through and started to leave and then I asked the salesperson if they had any old fruit crates with markings.

Here’s all the ones I passed walking through the store.   I’m so glad I asked.   This was just the start.  We bought 7.

Crate Crazy

Here’s a few of my favorites…starting with my #1’s from Saltville.  This box has so much history.  It’s really about the rise and fall of an industry and how it affected a town and the environment.     I’m honored to have it as a home for my t-shirts!

Soda Box

I’ve seen fake crates in stores.   I do not meant to sound snobby, but really…why get fake when the real think actually tells a story?   I’d rather do without than have a crate that doesn’t know how to speak!!!    My crates speak AP-PAH-LACH-UN!

Here’s another one…this is actually from California and doesn’t speak AP-PAH-LACH-UN very well, but I couldn’t resist it.    My XL tees will go in this one.

Mendota Melons

And finally…this little Canada Dry sings to me as well.    I think it’s singing “I want tank tops!”

Canada Dry

Yes, those are my feet.

New topic.   Guess how much the Adventure Mendota Basket went for at the WCPL A Tisket A Tasket Fundraiser…$120.  I’m thrilled!  Each basket is around a book.  My book was “A Day on the River” and if you can believe it, the little girl’s name in the book is….Eva!

Adventure Mendota Basket

Thank you for reading RiverCliff Cottage.  XOXO


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