Where Are We and What Are We Doing?

Hi there!

I logged onto RiverCliff Cottage’s admin site and realized I had messages from readers from quite a while back.  Sorry!  I haven’t been on here lately.  I am going to redo this blog with a new theme, but I want to do it completely by myself and I need to take a couple of classes.   It’s part of the plan for 2017 but it won’t be until fall.

So what have we been doing down here in rural Appalachia?   Life is more busy, if not exciting, than one would imagine.

A friend and I are  planning a Farm Girl/Shabby Chic baby shower in April, and it’s going to be so fun.   I have the theme all in my head.   I know my friend will make sure the food is top notch (I’m not a cook).   I’m hoping that my responsibilities will be decor, invitations and hosting plus paying a portion on the food.   I was thinking about pastel colors and natural elements that reflect Mendota and  decided to try painting a Mason jar in a pastel this morning.  It turned out pretty good.  I wouldn’t use red flowers but they are pretty today.

I’m thinking that several of these in pastel colors with ribbon and baby’s breath and greenery will look pretty at the shower.

We are also planning the Mendota Cemetery Quilt.   I am going to chronicle it.  So excited.  I actually may get to work on this one a tiny bit.  I’ll definitely be selling tickets.   Patsy Carrier and I sell most of the tickets.  Here’s the fabric, which I I donated the fabric because I loved it so.

We’re working on a bingo to accompany the town hall meeting.  We need the funds to heat the Mendota Community Center.  The current focus is getting prizes for the bingo.   On the hunt for restaurant gift cards next week.  Please come and get involved if you are local.   I made this flyer in an app called Canva.

And concurrent with that, still looking at tees for Adventure Mendota.   We are working to get the price down and more colors.

Still working with my friend, Sue Cressel, at About Face and honored that we are still friends after all these years.   I’m actually doing the About Face prescriptive weight loss plan.  Day 3.    Our website is up but I continue to work on it all the time.   It’s www.tryaboutface.com .  Check us out and if you find a boo boo, message me!!  Here’s one of our Juvederm Volbella pictures.

Very excited to be speaking to a group of outdoor recreation students next month and helping them with their interview skills.  Adventure Mendota has opened so many doors for Mike and me to do things like this, and we really enjoy it.   If it were not for Mike, I’d do everything the night before.   As it is, I’ve already sent my information over and it’s not until February!!!

A loss in my life  has been the decision not to keep our honeybees.  Gerald says we may be able to keep one hive just for pollination, not for honey.  If we sell them all, I will miss seeing these bees terribly.   I have the fewest stings of any of us.  I think they know I love them.   If one is inside or in a perilous place, I will work to catch it and remove it.     You have to be physically strong to work with hives full of honey.  I’m not that strong,  Gerald pulled his shoulder and I absolutely cannot lift them.    My friend Helene is taking a turn at having her apiary so we may see her bees down this way.

I want to love my sisters better.   I am so lucky to have Nancy and Pat in my life. I just realized I do not have a picture of the three of us.   Ouch!!

I’m approaching  mid-January with a grateful heart.   It’s not a perfect life but it’s a good one.    I’m a little concerned about obtaining health insurance now that the Affordable Care Act is being repealed.  I don’t mind paying for it, but I want to make sure I can get it.   I probably should work at least part time so I’d have more money; however,  Mike and I are happy sharing this winter down time that we have, so I haven’t done anything about it.  Our family is not perfect.  We let each other down but we lift each other up.    We have way too many conflicts over our small business (Adventure Mendota), but I’ve gotten tougher than I’d ever dreamed but I know the good we do.    I used to say “haters are like maters and I eat them.”  That is not the case.   I just try and not think about what  I have no control over.   Why not put energies into people and things that are meaningful and give back?   Smile and the world smiles with you. Cry and you’ll cry all alone.  (Mother).  Is your glass half full or half  empty?

That is my road.  What is yours?

Thank you for those who still log onto RiverCliff Cottage after all these years.  I’m off.  There is a house to be cleaned!!



Come See Me! I Live in a Postcard called Southwest Virginia!

This is my redemption video–I’ll tell you more about that in a minute.  It’s a wonderfully done piece by Two Rivers Multimedia’s Tim Ivy and MK.   I want to thank the Appalachian Spring initiative for including my “baby” called Adventure Mendota.  We are at about the 9th minute.   I hope you like it.

I call it a “redemption video” for those of us who have had to answer the misspoken and sometimes mean question “Why do you live in a place like that?”   The answer is clear.   It’s because we’re smart…and we value beauty…and we’re very, very lucky!

We live in a postcard!




Mendota Rising!! Loving Poor Valley!

To me, this is more true today than in quite some time.

Boots Corrected

Here’s why…

1) I’ve got me a doggy again. He’s a celeb dog.

River Big Picture

Rebecca Pepin wrote about him on her blog which I highly recommend you read AND COMMENT!!! She will love your comments! At any rate, River is famous, and you can read about it here! He thinks we are now “Staff.”

2) Adventure Mendota had a fabulous weekend, and our phone is still ringing. We are so excited. Here they are folks…just waiting on you!!

Six Waiting

Can someone in Mendota, Virginia bring ecotourism into our part of Washington County? Good, clean fun for families? Keep your fingers crossed!

Kristen Quon joined the Adventure Mendota posse pulling for this little paddle sports business “in the sticks” last week and brought us lots of recognition. I was so happy when I saw her blue WCYB car in front of Adventure Mendota!!


3) Are there people who will remove that beautiful dress from the box or hanger and let Adventure Mendota and Regina Shinall make it memorable again? Heather Faust Bruner did! She trusted this to Regina Shinall.

Heather 1

Regina gave me a couple of very glamourous roles….pull donkey and/or gofer.  Heather was having a ball.  The river was a little chilly, but she’s a country girl and so long as she wasn’t gray dead with cold too blue, we kept at it!!

Heather and me

4) And the kind words and people who came from everywhere and did a little of this…

Second Girl in Kayak

and this…

Girl in KayaK

Thank you for reading RiverCliff Cottage!!!


Practice Makes Perfect!

Today a new friend, Steve Dotson, called and wanted to use Adventure Mendota’s park shuttle service. We’ll allow someone to park here and we’ll assist them with shuttle service for $10 per watercraft.    Steve has his own kayak, and after a long, cold winter, he was ready to do some serious fishing in the North Fork.   We told him the river was pretty murky and that we weren’t yet open but if he wanted to come, we’d practice parking/shuttling on him because we were going to be around.   He must have had a bad case of river fever because our pretty river was having an ugly day.   Murky!

Murky North Fork

He was not deterred.

Old Town Kayak

Mayhe he just wanted to show off his fancy Old Town kayak.  I don’t blame him.

So anyway…he unloaded the kayak and Mike was going to just follow him down and bring him back for his float.   I told him that since he had such expensive gear, I’d just hang out on the river and take pictures and keep an eye on things.   I really wanted to sit in the kayak when he wasn’t looking.

I didn’t have my cell phone to take a selfie, but I was sitting on the kayak when this picture was made.  I was thinking how cool it is that this kayak has a lock area.

Kayak lock area

Yep…I was feeling pretty cool.  Just looking around pretending I’m riding in a $1300 kayak (even though it’s on grass)

Kayak Front

And then I started to get up and COWABUNGA!!   I had hooked myself on the back of my sweatshirt with Steve’s fishing poles.   Crap!!  Now I’m stuck.  I tried to unhook myself.    See the sad story in the picture below?


I was only hooked one time but when I was turning and twisting trying to get the hook out of my shirt, I hooked myself two more times.   I started hoping someone would drive by.  Nope…all I saw was this…a tree.  “Tree…can you help me?”

Tree 1

I started to pick up the fishing poles and try and walk out of the kayak, but I started thinking that if this kayak cost $1300, the poles were probably a kagillion dollars and…well…it would all be a bad idea.  So I waited.

Mike and Steve finally got back.   I was still in the kayak.    Steve had to cut me loose.  He was worried my old red sweatshirt.   Are you kidding?  Just get me off this kayak!

He got things ready…we don’t even have a ramp fixed yet.

Ready to Roll

But a true outdoorsman…he did not care.

Steve Going Fishing

Bet he’s thinking…they really need more practice and I hope I catch something other than her!

Hope he had a great day “Fishing on the Fork!”  Update…he sent some pictures.  He did have a good day!!

Fish 1

And…here’s another one….there were more…but I thought these two were the prettiest.

Fish 2


Guess What’s Arrived?

I have 12 new babies I want you to meet.   They are very special, and they even have names.   Their names are Snickers, Candy Kiss, Red Hot, Sweet Tart, Hubba Bubba, Lemon Drop, Krackel,  Lollipop, Gumdrop,  Gummy Bear, Butterfinger and Milky Way.

Can you guess what they are?



I’ll tell you what they are not!  They are not chickens!  (But I’d like to have some chickens!)  Oh I hate surprises…here they are!

Kayak 1 R

Aren’t they pretty?

Kayak 2 R


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.






Honeybee Update 2014

This post has two things — an update on our bees and honey but also a You Tube video that Mike came across that is funny. Please scroll down and watch the video.

Lots of neighbors and folks who read RiverCliff Cottage have messaged me about the availability of our honey.

Unfortunately, we will not have any additional honey in 2014. We have checked the hives to determine if there is enough honey to extract, and we found in most cases that the top “supers” had little to no honey. We must leave three “boxes” which are a combination of deep hive bodies and supers on each hive so our bees will have adequate food for the winter. Their health is our first priority, and during our first year, we took too much honey and starved our bees. On the upside, our bees look healthy and numerous so, hopefully, we will be greeted with healthy bees come spring. In the meanwhile, you can rest assured that if there is another Polar Vortex with -8 temperatures in Mendota, Virginia, I will be out there with bubble wrap, black trash bags, and duct table! Our hives looked strange for a few weeks, but they survived the brutal winter.


The above picture is an old one — I’ve lost my DSLR camera! How did I do this? I’m not sure. I’ll be off RiverCliff Cottage for a couple of weeks–at least the remainder of October– while I (1) finally find my camera or (2) purchase a new one. Ouch!

In the interim, while Mike has been researching kayaks and the potential to have Go Pro cameras for Adventure Mendota (yay) he came across this You Tube video which is hilarious. I hope you enjoy it was much as I did.

Have a great October and I’ll be back in November!! I’ll miss you!!


Rainy Day Kayak Adventure

By now everyone knows that in the spring of 2015, Adventure Mendota will open renting very cool inner-tubes and totally awesome kayaks.  I’m messing around here with the early stages of a logo.  That is not a double-sided pitchfork.  It’s a kayak paddle in the middle of an oval.   Pretty rough, but you have to start somewhere, right?

Logo Work

Speaking of starting…..did I bother to tell anyone I’ve never been in a kayak?   Yes…moi.…conjured this up with Mike before I’d ever been in a kayak.    Until now.    Do I not look like a professional?  Even though the river is barely 4 ft. deep anywhere right now, I put on my life jacket!  I do not break rules!!

Eva Kayaking

Since I don’t yet own a kayak (that’s about to change in a BIG way), my sister, Pat, and I borrowed DeeDee and Eric Taylor’s kayaks.    “Float the Fork…we are on it, baby!”    Mike, who has kayaked before, is busy studying this to death.  He is into details and close to deciding what kind of kayaks we will offer.  Not just brands…but styles.   We are at a crossroads…do we want to order  “sit on top” kayaks or a “sit in” kayaks?   We are leaning toward the “sit on top” like the one below.    Do you have an opinion?   If so, please tell us!!

sit on topEveryone keeps saying that tubing will be the larger part of our business, but honestly, I with my vast knowledge acquired from today only, think that the kayaks will be the most popular!   Mike thinks 12 is the sweet number…I’m like..a MILLION!    I don’t know if I can wait until we place our kayak order…I may have to just go buy one in town NOW. Tonight.    All it takes is about six inches of water and they move along beautifully.  The North Fork was made for kayaking.  Here’s a picture I took of some friends last year.   Had I known how fun it is, I’d have ran out and stole their kayaks and took off!  This is in front of my house people!    Why haven’t we done this sooner!?


Kayak 4

My sister, Pat, is an experienced kayaker.   It was supposed to rain today, but when she and I talked, we decided it was not going to rain.  We are W. T. and Vivian Barker’s daughters, and we’re totally optimistic about things like this.    Pat, however, did have the good sense to wear rain gear and water shoes.   I wore a heavy, cotton sweatshirt (translate that into super absorbent), shorts, socks and tennis shoes.   Seriously…it wasn’t going to rain so why even bother with all that other stuff?

As we launched, it began to sprinkle.   The reason these pictures are not clear…it was raining!!  Hard!   I’m here to tell you when I got out of that kayak, I weighed about 30 pounds more than I weighed in this picture…that sweatshirt can hold some water!

Kayak Hard

It was so fun.  I got stuck on a rock once or twice because I wasn’t paying attention, but I just pushed off with my paddle.  Nothing to it.

It was raining so hard that we pulled out at the second Swinging Bridge…about an hour into our trip…and ran and climbed in the Big Loop Farm truck.  It was lightening and thundering.   Scary!!  We flew over to that truck praying it was unlocked.  It was. Thank goodness!!  Neal Faust did not know he was an angel (okay…he was an angel only for a few seconds).    I knew I looked really fine so I posed by the truck when the rain let up a little bit.   Even just standing on this big truck makes me feel…well..AWESOME!  I love heavy equipment!   Remember the late  Liz Taylor?   Her last and final husband, Larry Fortensky, was a heavy equipment operator.  I wondered about that relationship, but I’ll bet he let her drive the big trucks and stuff.   I now get it, Liz! 

Pat 1 Small

Discussion then began on how in the heck we were going to get home.  We did not “take out” where we had planned to.   We had Pat’s cell phone.    Naturally, it did not work.  However, we were able to pick up a little bit of a data signal.  So…we emailed Mike.   This just looks so sad…a cry for help.   I printed it off when I finally got home.

Little Emal

The email did go through, but Mike wasn’t at home.    We sat in the truck a bit….maybe ten minutes.  When the electrical part of the storm passed and it was a nice gentle rain, we set out walking home.    We had to hide the kayaks in the river bank brush.  I swear…I was starting to feel like an Indian movie where the Indians hide the canoes along the shores of the river from the white man.  In this case,  Pat and I were Indians…trying to be FOUND by the white man (Mike) who was hanging out with neighboring white man Jim Otis seeking firewood to keep the fort warm for winter.    Seriously…where is this man when I need him?

I was soaking wet.  My shoes squished.    See my loveliness..the wet sagging shorts…the sopping wet sweatshirt…the attractive vest…the hat that says “Dad Rocks?”   And how about those legs?

Pat Eva Kayak Paddle in the Air

We started walking.  We walked the 3/4 mile up the road in the pouring rain, got Pat’s car, went and got my truck, and then parked the car and took the truck down to get the kayaks.    Pat drove the truck and I sat in the back in the pouring rain anchoring the two kayaks.  What difference does a little rain make after you’ve been in the rain for hours?  She forgot I was back there and speeded up, and I was pelted with stinging rain drops.   Thank you sista!

What I can’t find in the pictures my sister sent are any of her (hmmmm), but I will share that at one point after we got off the river, she was covered in mud and had to remove all of her clothes except her shirt and underwear.   She was very confident that no one was around to see….it’s a weekday…lots of woods, very remote area.  Totally confident.  No worries.

I reminded her…”honey, it’s deer season.”     Whoops!  









Adventure Mendota…Tiny Steps!

Last week I mentioned that we had plans for our shop.      If you’re not familiar with our property — there is the shop, the row of trees and black fence, the road, and then the North Fork of the Holston River.   The shop is getting a new use.


We are in the very early steps of establishing a kayak and tubing business.   Baby steps.   If all of this comes together, and I pray that it will, it will be called Adventure Mendota.    Adventure Mendota – Float the Fork!   It has a nice sound, doesn’t it?    

I see kayaks on this river almost every day.    I hope these same folks have friends that don’t have their own kayak….maybe they will rent from us.   Here’s what they’ll see when they are paddling along.   My friend DeeDee took these pictures.   They are real pictures of a real day on our river.   Do you like what you see?   There will be tubing, too!!

Kayak Front - DeeDee

Do you have a river you love?  If not, I’ve got one I want to introduce you to.  

Eric River

Live it.  Love it.  Float it.  

Thank you for reading RiverCliff Cottage.


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