Mendota Rising

There’s something different in the air in Mendota this fall.  For some reason, people are becoming optimistic that our little community is revitalizing.    I thought about this today and wondered out loud to Mike whether this was wishful thinking on my part or was it reality?   Perhaps you and I together can find the answer.

It started, believe it or not, with our Mendota Cemetery Quilt sale.  We sold $2100 in tickets for our quilt.   For a large community, this might not be significant, but for Mendota…a community without even a store, this is impressive.   Was it just a pretty quilt?

Mendota Cemetery Quilt 2014 2

And there are other signs.   Literally.  Do you see two signs in the photograph below of “sprouts” of vitality in Mendota?    If you did, you missed one.

Three Signs

Gary Barker retired from the Washington County School System and opened a garage in Mendota.  The Kiser family operates a successful organic farm in Mendota.  The third “sign” is that corn in the background — that belongs to River Gate Farm — one of Southwest Virginia’s largest dairy farms located right here in Mendota.


Then…as I climbed back in the truck….interruption here to say I love Luckie and she and I roll in a truck!

Luckie in the Truck

Back to whatever I was talking about.….I looked over at Gordon Barker Jr.’s  farm and saw….more!    I recalled two years ago when Mike, Marc, Mary and the boys and I drove across Clinch Mountain to a pumpkin stand and tiny farm maze.  I asked the owner “where did you get your pumpkins?”   He replied “Gordon Barker, Jr. in Mendota, Virginia.”


Here’s some awesome news…I’m going to the doctor next week, and I’m riding my bicycle to get there.    HMG has reopened the Mendota Medical Clinic (pictured below).  The days are Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  The phone number is 276.645.6710, and the beloved Dr. Andy Brockmyre is our doctor.     Great medical care right here in Mendota.   He bikes to work…we might just bike beside each other on the day of my appointment!



Katie had her store open last Saturday.  She’s percolatin’

Katie's Store

She had some cute pillow slip dresses and a stack of stuffed punkin’s…

Pix 2 Pumpkins

Here’s the dresses made with antique pillow cases…nice.

Pix 3 Pillowcase dress

There’s several folks that operate businesses from their homes….

Gray Guy

I know of three men in the valley who make beautiful jewelry.  Tom Ilowiecki made this bracelet.  It sells for $35.


Like a little table with barn siding?   Mike makes those.   Personal note:   are you happy Pat Statzer?  This is for you!!!   


So there’s all sorts of bits of optimism!  So…another thought for Mendota.   We could have our own Quilt Trail.   The Timmons’  barn has one, and look what is going to go up soon at RiverCliff Cottage!    Are there more to follow?

Sawblade Quilt Square

Next spring is going to be fun for Mike and me.  We are working to have our property on the North Fork of the Holston work for us.  There’s a business plan, there’s lots to learn and there’s a lot of work, and we’re still in the “almost decided for sure phase” of what we want to do.  I’ll share it with you as each step becomes concrete.   But I can tell you, we’ll be down at the shop often enough to make sure my flowers get watered.

Shop Window Box

In the meantime….we are keeping it all in perspective.  One step at a time.

I love Mendota




Dinner at Rivermyst

Remember the Farm to Table dinner at the Kiser family farm which is called Rivermyst? It was tonight.     I thought I’d take you along.

RiverMyst Sign

It was so nice to NOT drive to town to eat.   Just right up the road, and we were there!  Sweet! Even so we  arrived late–we were playing Rook and watching Nebraska beat Michigan.   The novelty of eating dinner close by was great…we didn’t change clothes or get “fixed up.” Mike hesitated about wearing his Ohio State sweatshirt, but I reminded him…this dinner was in a barn! And while the barn looked like…a barn, there were special touches to give it a nice ambiance…black tablecloths with burlap here and there.


These two nice ladies drove from Marion, Virginia.  We are so glad they came!

Marion Ladies

Bits of twine to fancy up the Mason jars…

Rivermyst Farm

Here’s a snippet of the pretty menu…Emily Kiser’s work?

Rivermyst Farm Menu

And guess what…this soup has some bits of apples. Guess where they came from? Yep..these are from my trees!! Feeling pretty smug.

Rivermyst Farm Soup

And here is a picture of the main course…


This is the line up of the younger generation of the Kiser Family and one of the Mehl’s girls.   Bet they are back home rubbing their feet.  They worked hard!

Kiser Gang

I didn’t get a picture of Don and Molly.   I went to high school with Don Kiser but I didn’t really know him. (He was older than me!!! So much older..years and years. Possibly ancient.) We then worked in the college work study program at the YMCA in Bristol; and now he and his wife, Molly, are our neighbors. The Kiser kids pictured below were really young when I first met them more than ten years ago. I’m so excited to see God’s plan unfold for them in the next ten years.

Kiser Trio

Thank you for coming along to dinner with me.   If you want to learn more about this certified organic farm, the Rivermyst CSA box program, or just talk farming, please look a member of the family up at the Abingdon Farmer’s Market and/or the Bristol Farmer’s Market.   Want to see another post about Rivermyst Farm from a long time ago?   Here’s a link!

As always, thank you for reading RiverCliff Cottage!


My Vote is in Mendota, Virginia

Happy Election Day!  The providing of flu vaccine at no cost to residents on Election Day is a Mendota tradition.   I met my girlfriend Helene (aka Dr. Helene Holbrook) down at the Community Center at 7 am this morning. She had managed to locate a small amount of flu vaccine and although she could not vaccinate everyone, she could get to a few as they came in to vote. We are so grateful to Helene, Patti Vanhook and our friends at ETSU for taking such good care of us. There are folks here who would not otherwise get the vaccine if this effort was not made.  Hopefully if more becomes available, more folks can be vaccinated.

Election Day is also  a fun day to catch up. I got to give everyone’s friend Bubby a hug as he soon will be joining me in a special club. He’ll be a “senior citizen” in a few weeks. We’ll be AARP buddies! Notice Bubby is wearing cammo…did he really think he could hide from Helene and that needle?   He’s thinking about the needle in this picture…he’s sort of tense!   However…she got him! He’s all vaccinated.  He was so brave…said he barely felt it.

Bubby and Me

Another tradition that I love in Mendota is the food that is brought by the ladies working the voting table. I had quiche and nibbled on a biscuit.

Food At Mendota Voting

Here’s another friend, Curtis, who stopped stuffing his face for a minute so I could take his picture. Curtis lived in Texas and had friends living in Mendota. Over a few visits, he got infected with that Poor Valley mud on his feet and had to move here. There’s no known cure…you  just cave to the desire to live in Poor Valley. He’s a talented woodworker.

Curtis B.

I was home by 10 am and felt like I’d been gone all day. There was still much to do! If you read this blog regularly, you know we’ve got a Farm to Table dinner on Saturday at the Kiser’s RiverMyst Farm.  (See more about that here. )

RiverMyst Sign

Last night Molly Kiser called needing local apples for Saturday’s dinner so I delivered 1/2 bushel of our Red Delicious apples. They have been refrigerated since we picked them. They’re starting to shrivel just a tiny bit. Here’s a couple of the apples…all fancy and excited about being part of the salad that will be served Saturday.


So I got back from RiverMyst and decided to work on a chalkboard project. You can see where this project was going…it was going to be so awesome. The wreath that you see is not the one I’ll use at Christmas. I’m making a wreath out of boxwood that I’ve stolen from every neighbor with boxwoods in Mendota, but my boxwood stolen booty is “being preserved” in a magic potion in the garage. I’ll be blogging about preserving boxwood if it works. With my’ll be a dismal failure.

Project Failure

So I had this on its way and was feeling pretty smug when I realized the chalkboard hanger was on the bottom. If I leave it as it is, it would be upside down.

Peace on Earth Upside Down



Rivermyst Farm’s “Farm To Table Dinner!”

Have you every envisioned a “fine dining” experience right here in Mendota?   I’m not talking about a good bowl of soup and cornbread, although that’s pretty awesome.  I’m talking about being served,  pretty dishes and glasses, napkins…conversation…and excellent food. Not some old, worn out  salad green that lost its luggage on the way here from California…oh no…I’m talking about lettuce that is outside sunning itself in Mendota as I write this.    Pampered lettuce.   Locally raised beef.   Drool worthy stuff.

I hope you’ll join Mike and me and about 30 others at Mendota’s Rivermyst Farm for their Farm to Table Dinner on Saturday, November 9, 5:30 pm.   Rivermyst Farm is a certified organic family farm owned and operated by the Kiser family, and yes, they rock!

Rivermyst Farm

This is the second Farm to Table Dinner I’ve attended at Rivermyst.   We had such a lovely time at the first one.   We took some friends and it was great to say it was just “minutes away.”   You’ll eat in a barn with a rustic atmosphere that makes you comfortable but enough “fancy” to make you happy!    All the dishes will be hand prepared on location.  This lovely  farm is beautifully situated on the North Fork of the Holston River, and if you need directions, the Kisers will be happy to provide them.

RSVP: By phone. 276.466.6080 By email:     The cost is by donation with a $40 minimum donation suggested.




Hunting for the Perfect Muffin (Not a Recipe)

Mendota doesn’t have a store! It’s awful! We’ll get another store some time. I hope it’s soon.

However, if you look real hard, there’s a whole bevy of stuff available for “local” shoppers. For instance, here’s the perfect blueberry muffin. I did not have to drive to Bristol or Abingdon for my muffin.   The picture does not do the muffin justice.  It is not a’s big.  The sugar flakes are large.  It’s moist.

Rivermyst Farm's Perfect Blueberry Muffin by Lizzie Kiser

Where did I get this muffin?   I’ll give you the scenic route.

I went up Swinging Bridge Road. There’s ol’ Clinch peeking out of the fog. The mountain looks pretty on days like this. Actually, the mountain always looks pretty.

Drove along some fencing

Drove past my neighbor’s house. Here’s one of their sheep.

Me: “Hey sheep…know where I can get a muffin?”
Sheep: “Lady…I don’t know nothun’ about no muffin!”
Me: “Know where I can get some lambchops?”
Sheep: “Moo.”

DJ's Sheep

I turned onto Barnrock…

Pine Grove Baptist Church

I drove past Pine Grove Church. Nice folks at Pine Grove, and Sammy, the pastor, is married to my cousin Susan, but there are no muffins at Pine Grove.

What is this?   I’ve arrived!

Rivermyst Farm is located on Barnrock Road. It’s an organic family farm owned by the Kiser Family. You can find Don, Molly, Jonathan, Lizzie and sometimes Sarah and Samuel at the Bristol Farmer’s Market and the Abingdon Farmer’s Market. Lizzie makes great muffins.




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