Boating on South Holston

In the early spring,  I asked my brother-in-law, Gerald, if he’d take me out in his boat.   Since I had about 60 other “little boats” (kayaks) to think about shortly thereafter, we didn’t  go until this week.   We picked what we thought would be a perfect day.  It was going to be 70 degrees and sunny.    It did turn out that way, but we left at 10:00 am  and for some reason, the fog hung over later than usual so most of our time was not in the sunshine.   Instead it was a gray, silvery morning on the lake.    Very pretty.   We’re getting ready to launch in the picture below.


I was the helper who got to hold the boat.  Gerald backed it down and then went to park the truck.   My job was to stand on that slim little ramp with a cord both keeping the boat from floating off and keeping it from hitting the ramp which had some rough metal sticking out that would scratch it.   I did not tell him but I wasn’t paying attention and almost fell off the ramp.  What if I had fell in the water and let the boat loose?   I would have had to make up a story that a bear got on the ramp and pushed me in.


I’ll be super careful next time!

Everything went well, and off we went.   We both had sweatshirts on so during the cooler morning.  The water was so pretty.  It was warm at 75 degrees.   It takes a while for this much water to cool off, and just last week, our temperatures were in the 90’s.


Here’s the Captain.  I suppose I was the first mate.  I was Gilligan.


Just like on Gilligan’s Island, here’s a deserted island.  I’m glad we didn’t capsize because there appears to be no Professor, Maryanne, Ginger or Mr. and Mrs. Faust.   There was no tv crew.   The only picture of me was my feet.


Look how pretty the water is.


We had a Garmin which showed us where fish were, allowed us to follow the same path back and displayed the depth of the lake.   The deepest place I saw on the Garmin was 214 feet.   This is very important as the water is low as we approach winter and if you’re not careful, you could end up in a shallow area and tear your boat up.

This is the famous 421 Bridge.  It is so pretty and , back in the day, I know people who have jumped from that bridge.  Me?  I jumped from the Nordyke Bridge in Mendota.  It was so shallow I had to wear tennis shoes because I knew I’d hit the bottom.   The people who jumped from this bridge didn’t have to worry about hitting the bottom.

In the picture below, this is a pump station where Bristol gets drinking water.


So…about 2/3 of the way into the trip, the sun finally showed up.


Look at the Holston Mountain in the background.   It was hiding in the fog just minutes before I took this picture.


There is lots to do in our area.   We have lakes and rivers and mountains.   Feeling lucky.

Pretty homes.


It was over too soon.  The sun was really nice as we left.   Getting a boat out of the water is interesting.  If the propellers aren’t running, you can’t steer a boat, so you actually have to drive it up the boat trailer and hope you center it.  Gerald did a good job.  We then made sure everything was hooked up and tied down and took off.


A very fun day!  I did learn, however, that when you are hauling a boat, you better not need to go through a drive through and eat.  No one accommodates boats!




We took honey from the bees last week.   This was very late to be taking honey.   For many reasons, we did not take it in late July/early August as most beekeepers do.   It was me.  My fault.   I was too tired….too busy.   I thought a lot about the bees as I whirred about doing everything else,  but I knew they had plenty to forage for and that while the amount of honey might suffer because I wasn’t supplementing their diet with sugar water, they would most likely be fine.  They were.  Whew!   There wasn’t much honey to take, though, as those bees had been multiplying and swarming.    (Keep in mind…we only take excess honey.    We make sure we leave plenty for them, and they are now being fed again.)    Gerald, my brother in law and honey partner, has been a far better beekeeper than me and he got two supers from his hives whereas I only had one.  These supers  were dripping with honey.

This frame was from Gerald’s hive but I had honey as dark as this also.     Those girls have been in the blackberries again.

Black honey

Actually, that may not be blackberries at all.   After we took the honey, I started reading about honey from Virginia that is very dark.  It is usually either wildflower honey (which says exactly what it means) or Raw Bamboo Honey from the Japanese Knotwood plant which is an invasive weed in Virginia!   Ours is possibly a combniation.  No one knows but the honeybees and they are not talking!    Here’s what the Japanese Knotwood plant looks like, and I believe I’ve seen it, although we have so many weeds in the country that…well who knows!


Our honey is most likely a combination of wild flowers and this weed!

However, another frame looked like this which definitely is clover honey.   This came from my hive.   When I lived in the ‘burbs, we had treated lawns with real grass.  Now I have a sort of snobbery for that.   It’s so silly.   (I’m sorry ‘burb friends, but it’s true.)    Our yards in the country are a mix of clover and probably…well..more weeds.  Our weedy lawns are green like grass and that works  fine for me and for my bees.

Light honey

After we put the frames in the extractor and sling them around for a few minutes, that wonderful honey looks like this.  It’s going into the first strainer in this picture.

Honey Straining Better

Gerald has an electric “hot” knife made just for uncapping the honey.  He runs it across the frame and uncaps it.  We capture the wax and the honey in a plastic bin which we will drain to get additional honey.    I think the caps look like snake skin  (below).  Whil we are working, I grab this “snakeskin” and chew on it.   It’s just beeswax and honey.  It’s fun to chew on it while we’re working.

Snake Skin

I’m busy selling the honey this week.  It’s easy to sell because it’s raw, so local and sooooo good.    However, I’m thinking about next year’s bees.   I’m going to set up a new hive and paint the hive.   Something like this.  I found this on Pinterest but I do not know who to credit.  At any rate, bees, with their keen eye for color, should enjoy having a pretty colorful house.

Painted Bee Hives

The thing about the internet is that it shows you what others are doing, it also is a little demoralizing. When I thought about painting the beehives, I thought “wow…bet no one has done that.”    Stern reminder….DRAT…everyone has done everything!!

Well, honey, that’s enough for tonight.





Cat Pee On Heating Vents – Never Again!

Sometimes it’s right under your nose. That’s how Nancy and Gerald felt when they realized their cat was peeing in the heating vents. Nancy is my sister, and Gerald is my brother in law.

Apparently, cats like to pee in vents–at least Sissy Booher does. Sissy is Nancy and Gerald’s tortoiseshell kitty cat. Sissy sees heating vents as a kind of “out house”…a hole in the floor meant for her business. Nevermind that the warm house she lives in gets its warmth from these vents.

This was stinky business. Gerald recalled that cats do not like plastic…the “scrunchy” sound drives them crazy. He took a Walmart bag and placed it over the vent. It’s got air holes to let the heat out but it also inflates…it moves a little when the heat is flowing.

Walmart Bag on Vent

And here’s another picture…this is a versatile invention. We’re calling it the Cat Pee PreVent Cover. It fits into any decor with a bow accessory which can be customized to fit your home.


Laugh all you want. She’s not peeing in the vents!! You saw it here first…the Cat Pee PreVent Cover!!


Guest House & Honey Bees

I talk about the “guest house” from time to time on this blog. When we did not live in Mendota year round, someone else lived here and took care of  RiverCliff Cottage.  They did a very good job, and I miss them. They lived in an apartment over the garage. When they left, we put our extra things in, I made window treatments, etc. It became…and still is… a sort of “doll house” for me.   Following that, my girlfriend came for a few weeks and stayed several years.  I miss her, too.   Most recently, I’ve “stuck my foot in the water” in  renting it in a modified bed/breakfast fashion.   I’ve had a measure of success but I’ll have to figure out if I want to do this as a “real” business.   There’s lots to consider–the downside is I get to be the maid as well as the owner.   

We’re currently working on the guesthouse, so I took several pictures before we got started.   Here’s the kitchen…

Mike made the kitchen table. It’s wormy chestnut with an “apron” from a tobacco barn that had fallen on hard times. It has a second chance as my table.  My neighbor gave me the chairs which we spray painted black.     I made the window treatments…I even lined them!

Another view…

Here’s the cooking area of the kitchen, and I think you’ll agree that this will look much better with hardwood. We are currently removing the vinyl which is a tough job. 

The living room is open to the ktichen…here it is…

I’m leaving the carpet in the living room. It’s good carpet and I think the hardwood that will replace the vinyl will tone it down a little bit. I may replace the carpet in a few years, but I like having carpet in this area because the sofa bed could scratch hardwood when we move it about.  Mike made the little coffee table.

On the bannister as you come up the steps, I leave my sister’s quilt to enjoy or snuggle in..I won it during a Mendota Cemetery raffle.  I bought a gazillion  tickets… 

I’ve shown you the bedroom before. I love having the new hardwood in this room because I can  swap around quilts and bedding with little thought to what colors they are. I love linens!

The bathroom is really cute…lots of angles…this chair was a trash to treasure find. It was destined for the landfill but visited Mike’s shop and he put it back together, ran over it, and put it back together again. We recovered it in  cheap inexpensive fabric from Walmart.


Thank you for visiting the guest house apartment and for reading RiverCliff Cottage.   But there’s more…

It’s been a busy day.   We are in the process of getting the last of the 2012 honey flow from our bees.  I want to share a few bee pictures…this is my brother in law, Gerald Booher, armed with a smoker…he’s serious in his defense.   When you “smoke” the bees, they all dive deep into the hive to start eating their honey thinking it might burn.  Anyway, I assume that is what they think.   Gerald has  had quite a few stings in 2012. 

Here’s me…I’m sweating like a PIG in this picture.  I am armed with sugar water which calms the bees.  They are like crack addicts for sugar water.    My bee suit it too big so the helmet falls around all the time.  I wear leggings, shorts and long sleeves under the suit because the suit does not stop an ambitious bee from stinging.   It’s a bit warm. 

 And here is why we suit up so carefully.   

 Good night. 






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