First Real Snow of 2016

I love snow.  It’s magic.   We had a little magic this morning!    Al Archer, the weather guy for WXBQ, said we’d have about one inch of snow.   We had anywhere from about two to five inches throughout the Tri-Cities.    I went into work and decided to leave at 10:00 am, because I was concerned about the slippery roads.   When I got home, I felt guilty because it stopped snowing!!   Later, however, I was really happy with my decision.

Here’s a picture that I took on the way home…Caney Valley.

Caney Valley 2

If you look closer in the picture above, you’ll see the big icicles…here they are up close…

Rock Ledge with Water

When I got home from work, I asked Mike to drive me down the road in the truck with four wheel drive.    We had a bit of a traffic jam…


We got through all this goat business and saw the river.  It looks cold!!   It reminds me of the funny weather forecast that Rita Quillen posted on Facebook.  Rita is a teacher, a poet, a musician and the writer of one of my favorite books “Finding Ezra.”   She’s an Appalachian Queen.  Here’s Rita’s weather update for Scott Count and surrounding areas..”Slicker-n axle grease on a pump handle.  Partly crashy with widely scattered KA-BLAMS this afternoon.  Caution is advised.”

Icey River 2

This is the North Fork of the Holston.    This is the river that runs through my world…Mendota and then Hiltons.  We love this river.   I double dog dare you to say she’s not beautiful!!

River With Ice

We are supposed to get a bunch of snow on Friday.  We’re all getting ready.  People of Mendota…Start Your Generators!! 


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!




The Baptism and the Bees

I have two things to write about, and they are both different. I’ll do them in the order they appeared today.

Mike and I arrived home from church this morning and saw a car parked near our entry gate. It was my cousin,Terri, and she told me her brother-in-law, Pastor Sammy, was going to baptize someone in the river in front of the house and asked if I wanted to come. I did. I always do. It is very common to baptize in the slow moving North Fork here in Mendota.

My sister Pat and I used to play in the very spot where this morning’s baptism took place. We took turns playing John the Baptist and baptizing each other. No sprinkling for Pat and me–we believed in full, repeated immersion!

In case you’ve never attended a  river baptism, here’s how it works…

There is a sense of waiting. It’s a reverent occasion. We stand there listening to the sound of the leaves. The river is flowing quietly. This is followed by singing. Sammy leads the small group in singing Amazing Grace. The voices are naked and beautiful.  I love it.

There is a prayer. Since I attend church elsewhere, I do not know the young man being baptized, but I learn that his name is Caleb  and he made his commitment to Christ during Vacation Bible School.

They are in the water now, and I can tell it’s cold. Someone whispers…”I hope Gordon and Sammy remembered to remove their wallets.” This is followed by a nervous giggle and then quiet.



It was over soon. It was time to get this young man home into dry clothes.

I walked up the hill following the baptism.  I’m glad I live where we still baptize in a river.   I started thinking about my week ahead.

One of the things I started thinking about was our honeybees as today is the day I will start feeding two of the beehives.

Beekeepers have so many different instructions. One beekeeper says do it this way, and another says do it a different way. Some feed the bees and some do not. We have two hives that appear to be weak and to help ensure that they have an adequate supply of honey for the winter, I’ll be feeding them for the next 45 days.

Here I am…getting suited up to go put the feeding apparatus on the hives and to start them on their beloved sugar water.  They love this stuff. I have to take my shoes off to get them through the bee suit.   Check out those nasty shoes.

When the hive is new, we add a vitamin supplement called “Honey Bee Healthy,” but today I’m giving them only sugar water. Five pounds of sugar will make up four quarts of sugar water. It’s not cheap.

Each day I’ll zip up to the apiary on the golf cart and feed these little guys and girls. I don’t mind this feeding system because the swap of the empty jar of sugar water for the full jar is easy and I don’t kill any bees.

They will get used to me after about a week and won’t take much notice when I’m around.   Our previous system held more sugar water but was very harsh on the bees. I dreaded feeding them, and they chased me out.  I had to be fully suited up to feed them.   I’m glad we’re returning to the old feeding system.

Once I’m comfortable, I will not wear the entire bee suit.  I might wear the veil and gloves, but unless they appear aggressive, I won’t feel the need to suit up.

Last year, I think I got overly comfortable because I was feeding them in my shorty pajamas…not veil, no gloves, no covering on my arms and legs.  I think that might have been a little risky.  I won’t do it again.

It comforts me to know that the bees have plenty to eat…they forage in a two-mile radius. This yellow flower is everywhere in Mendota right now. It’s around the apiary, and I could hear it buzzing as I walked by. The bees were foraging. Is this goldenrod? I don’t know!

I imagine them flying up Clinch Mountain, over the North Fork for a sip of water and into my neighbors flowers, trees and vegetable gardens. There is a cultural move to stay away from pesticides here in the valley. I’m glad.

This past winter we had a bit of a crisis. It was a mild winter, there was too much room in the hives, and they did not cluster properly, and we lost a lot of bees. I was in Georgia and I got an email from Mike saying that Gerald had looked in the hives and while there was honey, many of the bees had died. I was sick. Gerald was sick. We were all depressed.

Learning from this, we removed the top supers last week. This leaves the hive more crowded..they must keep the queen at about 85 degrees year round, and the closeness will facilitate proper clustering.

I’m glad we have the bees.




A Tobacco Farmer’s Daughter

My father was a tobacco farmer…not a large scale farmer…a very small farmer. We just got by. I left southwest Virginia in my 20’s  and when I returned around the year 2000, I wondered…”where’s Mr. Burley?” Tobacco had been on every patch of land in Poor Valley, and it was gone! He had his faults but Mr. Burley kept us warm in the winter and we got new shoes for school in the fall.

Companies work so hard to develop teamwork today. and I think know the real secret…necessity builds teamwork. Small farmers helped one another in every aspect of the tobacco crop’s life…they worked as a team because they needed one another to succeed.

I was too little to do the hard work of tobacco. I remember only having fun riding the tobacco sitter and singing songs…keeping Pepsi Cola cold in the creek.  If a mule team was involved, I rode the mules.

In my home, there are bits of my tobacco heritage throughout the house…

The dining room table my husband built’s a beautiful table, but it’s the barn siding from a local Mendota tobacco barn that was being torn down that makes it unique.


In the den where I cleaned yesterday (finally), there’s wormy chestnut from old Burley tobacco barns everywhere…the table, the mantle, and the picture frame are all wormy chestnut. Soon an entertainment center will join them.

And is there any home in Southwest Virginia that doesn’t have one of these hanging somewhere?

I love home decor and like changing things out. However, I’ve found when I stay true to things I love or are a part of my history, I am the happiest with the results.

I like this red room.   Do you have a tobacco basket?   Do you have it hanging somewhere?


Golden Retrievers

I have had two golden retrievers.   I lost one in February.  Her name was Annie.  I’ve posted her picture.  Wasn’t she beautiful?   She loved the snow.   It’s almost June and my husband and I still miss her.   She could be a stinky girl but if I could place my face in her fur and breathe in her doggy smell, I would be grateful.  Do you believe dogs go to heaven?

Our beloved Annie



Coming Home To Virginia


Hay Cutting Time May 2012

Last week I made an overnight trip to Alpharetta, Georgia for work.  I got home just in time to see Mr. Faust mowing hay in the backyard.  Smelled so good.  If I could package this smell, I’d be a rich woman!

Even after one night, I get excited returning home to Mendota.   Clinch Mountain…happy feet…security.  All one and the same to me.

I am a mountain person.  I don’t feel safe if Clinch Mountain is not at my back.   In Adriana Trigiana’s book Big Stone Gap, Ave Maria describes herself as a “mountain girl with a flat butt.”  That’s me.

I am not, however, dissing an overnight trip.   I even brought a pal back home with me.

My pal PB!

She’s got good taste!   Stuff for the master bedroom.  I’ll show you the pictures when the goodies come out of the bag.   Currently, I’ve got PB and her contents hidden in the closet.   Beginning next week, I’m starting the process of cleaning and painting and freshening up the inside of my house.  It’s dirty filthy nasty!



Yukon Gold Potatoes

There's gold in them thar hills

Here’s the garden that sits beside the raised beds.  These are my potatoes–not just any potatoes.  These are Yukon Gold potatoes.  My favorite.   Just past the potatoes but before the raised beds, there are some zinnia babies that will show up soon.  There are also a few bell peppers in the picture.   We’ve had trouble growing corn.  The crows eat it.  This year they are not bothering the corn.    Maybe it’s all the cicadas keeping them interested and full.

Yikes!  Could the crows be eating our honey bees instead?  I hope not!!    Whatever the reason,  they have left the corn alone for the first time in 7 years.

Anyway, while I was gone last week, my husband received some visitors.

I’d like to introduce you to the Corn Family…there are a lot of them!

Mr. and Mrs. Corn


Only 10 More Days

Only ten more days and I am unemployed.   It’s a little scary, but it  is so necessary.  Check me out.  I’ve got so pudgy I could be a chipmunk.  Ok…maybe a chipmunk is a little small.  How about a hog?   I’ve got to lose weight before fall as that’s hog killing time in southwest Virginia.  I will keep you abreast of my progress.   It all starts on May 31.  My new healthy life.

Back to the hogs.  I can never recall my family setting down to a Thanksgiving dinner when we grew up in Mendota.  I remember other families having Thanksgiving but not us.  I asked one of my sisters, and she explained that Thanksgiving was hog killing time.    Oh.  Yuck.    I wonder…why was it Thanksgiving?

What do you think Dale Jett is thinking in the picture below?  He’s digging around hunting raffle tickets, but I’ll bet he’s really thinking…”she’d better be careful at Thanksgiving.”   Or…”hummm….I smell bacon.”

That’s okay…go ahead and make fun and think pig thoughts.  I’m gonna be skinny by summer’s end!!

thanksgiving hog

Oink Oink Squeal


Raised Bed Garden

This is my raised bed garden.  There are actually six 4 x 8 raised beds.  The one in this picture has salad greens.  We need to eat from them every day to keep them from bolting.

Salad anyone?


My Nephew’s Present

This is a double wedding ring quilt. For once, I had the perfect gift.

My nephew Will got married last week.  I am not even sure if I was invited to the wedding, but I’d already made plans so it didn’t really matter.  What was great is that for once, I had the perfect gift.  I gave my nephew and his new wife something I think they will come to treasure.  I gave them a quilt.

I didn’t make the quilt.  Mrs. Ruby Smith made the quilt.  She was in her late 80’s when she made the quilt…she’s in her 90’s now.  It is the double wedding ring pattern.   I believe it has a bit of my mother’s clothing in it.  Mother died 8 years ago.

Will and Jaimee, I hope you treasure this quilt.  I treasured it and for some reason, it wanted to come to your place.  You almost got towels and a cookbook.


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