Aliens May Have Landed but I've Still Got My Feet on the Ground

I am working on creating my own reality.

Because I have a short attention span, it is important that my world be filled with wondrous things...like, for example, the alien takeover of Franklin County, Virginia.

I was cruising along Republican Church Road when I crested the top of a small hill and saw this:


You can perhaps not see it exactly as clearly as I did because I was limited to using my cell phone camera to take the photograph, but there are huge swirling circles in that field.

A less creative soul might've seen this and thought "Ah, the farmer got drunk and drove his tractor through the field."

But I saw alien crop circles. I saw Mel Gibson clutching his wee small daughter, preparing to defend himself and his family against an onslaught of marauding alien invaders.

And while these crop circles were nowhere near as neatly placed as the ones in the movie "Signs," I still decided it could've been aliens instead of DWI farmers behind the event.

It just makes my day a bit more interesting if I take the less traveled neural pathways, you know?

Enter...my butt...

The other night my son installed this in his doorway:


Well, I walked back and forth, passing it I don't know how many times in the span of about 24 hours before mentioning it to a very fit, very athletic friend of mine.

"He can even do one-armed pull-ups!" I exclaimed. "Can you believe it?"

My friend is much younger than me. "How many pull-ups can you do?" she asked.

Little snot.

"Are you kidding me? Have you seen what I'm lugging around behind me? I can't lift that off the ground with both hands, let alone carry my chin along with it!"

But in my little world, where all things are possible, there was just that one small chance that maybe...just maybe...I could indeed do it.

So, once the boy was safely at school and the dogs otherwise occupied, once I was absolutely certain NO ONE was around to witness the event, I walked down the hallway. After looking over my shoulder one more time, to make sure no one was watching, I quickly reached up, gripped the bar with both hands and tugged- at first gently and then as hard as I could.

Nothing happened.

Well, okay, so my shoulder hurts, but the bottom line is, my chin never approached the bar.

A lesser woman might see this as failure. Not I. In my little world this only means I have achieved what some people spend entire lifetimes trying to accomplish...

I am one with the Universe. I am centered in my world.

Yes, dear reader, I am totally grounded.


Dr. Phil Doesn't Live Here



I'm in my youngest son's beat-to-death 1998 Toyota, riding with him for the first time. 

It's early evening, just beginning to turn dark. This is my favorite time of day. The darkness is not yet complete, more blue-gray than  black. The lights in the homes along the way cast a cheery, golden glow over the rooms inside.

It's raining and a gentle patter of drops hit the car's roof, more whisper than storm.

Here we are- The almost-grown boy and his mom, enjoying the companionship of a non-essential errand. 

We talk about the news show we just watched and what we think of the cops seizing the children in the Texas compound.  We take the keys back to Ellen's house where the Youngest has been dog sitting. I think, but don't say, what a good driver he is and I feel a tiny bit better about him driving alone out in the world.

And then I blow it.

"What do you think makes a happy home?"

The question, coming out of nowhere, blind-sides him. His head whips to the right and he gives me a quick, disbelieving look.

"Dear God, Mom!" he says.  "What was that?"

I try to cover for myself.  "Well, I was reading this article about the qualities of a happy home and they interviewed these kids and..."

"Mom, God, is this one of your psychological issue questions? You sound like Dr. Phil. What is wrong with you?"

I slink down in the passenger-side seat.  "Well, I just thought it was interesting and..."

"Mom, relax. We are happy," he says, reading right through me. "We're fine."

"Yeah,you're right," I say.  "That wasn't one of my kinds of questions.  I should've just said, 'What band do you think is on the edge of making it big?' instead, because that's really a lot more interesting. Besides, if we don't have a happy home by now, it's too late.  It's just what it is, I guess." My voice trails off, uncertain.

"Wolf Mother," he says.

"What?" The kid thinks I should've been more of a Wolf? Is this some kind of metaphor? Is he trying to say I should've been stronger, more directive, more of a take-charge parent?  I mean, if so, he's right.  I should've been more pro-active, about a lot of things not just...

"Wolf Mother," the Youngest says again.  "They're going to make it big." He looks over at me, like he thinks I've lost my mind. "You know, you asked about the band?"

I laugh, sounding, I'm sure, hysterically relieved.  "I thought you meant you wanted a wolf, or you wanted a wolf mother...you know, as part of a happy home?"

He shakes his head slowly, then laughs. "A wolf? Mom, sometimes I just don't know how you come up with this stuff!"

"Me either," I say, sighing.  "So do you have any Wolf Mother we can listen to?"

We pull over. He gets out his I-pod, puts on the music and we start up again, slowly moving our heads in time to the driving bass, agreeing they are reminiscent of Led Zeppelin.

The Youngest Unnamed One is right about Wolf Mother.  They're a good band. And he's right about everything else, too.

We get out of the car and stop beneath the pin oak in the middle of the front yard. "Isn't this cool?" I say. "The tree's branches are so thick it's like peeking out at the rain from inside a tent."

He stops, not appearing to be humoring me but instead looking up and feeling it with me.  "Yeah," he says. "It is."

We stand there for a moment, listening to the sound of the rain hitting the leaves overhead. 



Note to self-

No more reading self-help/inspirational articles in an attempt to receive validation of my parental abilities. Dr. Phil doesn't live here- we do.

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Staking Out the Big Ugly

It was planting time again. Time to put in more vegetables and check on the DIY Self-Watering Planter.


So far- so good!


As for the Ugly Spot...It's now dotted with little bits of green...wilting gourd, watermelon and cantaloupe seedlings that were just totally freaked out by the rock and clay pile. Despite watering and a good talking to, they just fell over in a slump. I marked them with rusted fence stakes and pounded-out metal rings we found lying at the bottom of the former blacksmith's hut...a.k.a The Ugly Spot.


We'll see.


Tomorrow, I've got to tell you about the half-buried moonshiner who used to live here.


Spring Comes to Town Like Pumpkins Cover Ugly

Lest you think the town house has suffered from lack of attention due to "cabin fever," let me assure you that is not the case!

The roses, lilacs, camellias and a host of others are bursting into bloom.  There are a bunch of new shrubs out front and a small gaggle of friendly hostas who've come to live in a previously uninhabitable bed in the backyard. 

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The little seed pods we started almost two months ago are multiplying faster than we ever imagined, making it necessary to start a "townie" vegetable garden as well.





Mertis potted up a little gift basket of hollyhocks, foxgloves and assorted veggies and took the poor little orphans to our friend, Ellen- the greenest of green thumbs- in hopes they'd find a good home in her yard.

In the meantime, it's back up to the cabin tomorrow to do some serious vegetable planting.

When we had to take down the big tree, we were left with an ugly patch of roots and rocks.  We've tried to smooth it every way possible, but no joke, it's just a hard, immovable hunk of red clay and white quartz. (Which is strange as the rest of the soil isn't so thick with clay or rocks.)




So, in the spirit of "use what you have"- I'm thinking nothing covers ugly like a pumpkin vine.  Those suckers seem incapable of "failure to thrive."

In fact, the one and only experience I've had growing them was when the Unnamed Ones wouldn't let me pull out the seedlings that sprang up from the Halloween pumpkin I'd tossed into a raised bed right in front of our old house. That vine took over the entire front yard and grew all the way out to the street- a good 75' away.

Seeing as how I've got plenty of pumpkin, watermelon and gourd seeds, I figure I'll scatter those puppies out around the rock bed and see how well that works...It's the best I can do for now- at least until we get around to building a pole barn.



DIY Self-Watering Planters


You know, I can't stand to pay a lot of money for something I know I could probably make myself without having to spend near as much.  Take, for example, self-watering window boxes and planters.

Since I divide my time between the mountain and town, it's impractical to have pots of flowers or window boxes at the cabin.  Last summer was proof enough of that.  I filled planters with lovely summer blooms and one pot with a tomato plant only to have them about die of thirst.

This year I found self-watering window boxes and planters online.  What a great concept!  They have reservoirs that hold extra water and so you don't need to be around every single day to give your thirsty plants a drink.

And for that privilege, you pay way too much money.

I put them on my garden "wish list" and 2 window boxes and 2 tomato planters as presents. But I could use a lot more of them, as the cabin gets sun while the house in town doesn't get much.

When I opened the boxes and saw how the things were constructed, I thought, hey, even I could do that! Maybe.

My rule for such projects is simple- you have to use what's lying around.  No spending money on things that may not work out. (New rule set in place after the black landscape fabric fiasco.)




So, I had a pottery bowl that had been given to me as an intended future sink for one of my renovation projects that never happened, a broken fireplace grate left behind by the cabin's former owners, a plastic plant liner and an old dog pull toy made from braided rope that I found out in the field, abandoned.






The plastic liner becomes the reservoir.  The un-braided dog toy becomes the wick to fit through the hole in the planter and slowly provide water and the purple sink is the new planter.



I suppose we shall see what we shall see.


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Queen of the Garden

Remember this?


Remember how heavy those rocks were and how long it took to carefully place them around the perimeter of my black landscape fabric?

Neophyte that I am, I was so proud. I was totally sure an ounce of prevention would pay off in me not having to break my back pulling weeds in the sweltering, midsummer heat. 

Well, I am proud to report my little Weed Prevention Program is paying off royally! And so early in the year, too!



Yes, indeedy- When I arrived Friday afternoon there was not one weed to be found way up there in that tree.

Plenty of pricey black fabric, but not one weed.

The neighbor lady stopped as she drove by Sunday afternoon. She was on her way to a tea party but when she spotted me working in the yard, she made sure to pause long enough to congratulate me.

"Like your tree decorating," she said, smirking.

"Oh, you mean my Earth Day banner?" I asked, tossing my head and pretending I had arranged the artful masterpiece 70' high in the air on purpose.  "It's my way of commenting on the wretched state of our environment," I added. "You know, draping the tree in a shroud to symbolize man's destruction of all that is life-giving and nurturing."

Given that I was wearing shiny, new pink rubber rain boots, with their bright, white price tag dangling from the upper buckle, it was a bit of a hard sell.  But then, that's me.  I'm all about trying.



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Happy Earth Day from the Cabin


It was an off-again-on-again rainy weekend in southwest Virginia but lots of planting got done.  The lilacs are blooming and I have new neighbors.



In the pink birdhouse...a pair of bluebirds!








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Spring- Inside and Out







I drove up to the cabin to work today and found Spring well on its way.  Yes, the beans and corn seedlings are toast but the roses are greening out and the Lilliputian Echinacea is still happy. 

Hope is perhaps still alive.





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Green Bean Popsicles

Uh-oh...Hard Freeze Warning for the Cabin.


Can you say green bean popsicles?  Cause that's what I'm thinking they are now.  Little, crunchy popsicles that used to be seedlings.


Note to self...Just because you read one report that says Spring is running 15 days ahead of itself, it doesn't mean you should take it as gospel and plant tender, little baby green shoots.

Live and...well, freeze and learn.


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Some Local Virginia Mountain Bloggers I Love to Read...



There is a lot of good writing out in the Blogosphere.  Lately I am drawn to writing from my new neck of the woods- the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  I suppose I've become a human tea bag, steeping myself in the words and wisdom of people who know so much about mountain and country life. 

I love that so many writers and artists live nearby. 

I stumble on new sites by searching but also by clicking on the blogrolls of bloggers I already admire.  But I would REALLY appreciate any links you'd like to pass along to me that I might've overlooked. 

While we're at it, if you haven't checked these blogs out, you are missing a treat.

Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl- I was reading her profile and noted we have a lot in common.  We're both writers who began our blogs to get back in touch with our writing muse and to find a part of ourselves that we felt was lost.  I think she's accomplished that goal.  Her posts are both poignant and at times, wickedly funny

I found Life at Dogfight Cove in the middle of the night last week while I was up at the cabin.  Trust me.  You need to see and read this for yourself.  This is really rural living.  (I love the header shot that so perfectly captures Life at Dogfight Cove.)

These are just a couple of my recent favorites.  The others are over in my blogroll along the sidebar.  I love Fred over at Fragments from Floyd lately because he hates Windows Vista as much as I do.  (But don't mind me, look at his photos!)

I always check out Doug Thompson's blog.  His pictures were the initial draw but his fearless confrontation of local injustices and bigotry is always cogent and succinct.  What I'm trying to say is, he doesn't take s**t off nobody! (I like to imagine him as a loveable curmudgeon...with a torn rotator cuff.)

Now, your turn.  Please send some new links my way!

Maggie Wants To Go Back

Maggie says she doesn't want to be the one to say anything but she's ready to go back to the cabin. I think she likes being the top dog. Here she's just one of 4.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Tell me about it. That's the bad thing about vacations. They end.


May the Blue Bird of Happiness Come to Roost in Your Trailer

The view from the back porch this morning as I drank coffee and contemplated saying goodbye to my week away from my regular life. A few moments later the rain began in earnest.

But a good pan of cornbread chased away the gloom.

I managed to squeeze in a few more pages of writing before it was time to take our morning walk and then clean the place from top to bottom.

The cabin afforded one last sweet treat before we left.

I had two bird houses which had been sitting on the porch for months, so this week, in a fit of "a place for everything and everything out of my hair," I walked out into the yard and hung them up. Didn't think another thing about them.

But as the rain cleared and I stood once again on the back porch, staring numbly into space, look who flew right slap out of the pink trailer birdhouse...

What a cool way to end the week.


Day 8- Goodbye Cabin

Goodbye little house.

Goodbye truck.

Goodbye neighbors.

Goodbye mountain.

Tomorrow is the last day. The last part of a day as we leave in the afternoon. Maggie won't know what to do with herself when she's once again just part of the herd.

We did get a lot done. The garden's started, sort of.
The trim got painted, partially.
A book got started.
A mountain got climbed.
The back creek is a creek again.

We learned a lot too...

We'll carry a cell phone the next time we climb a deer stand and scoff at turkey hunters.

We'll buy a wheelbarrow so we don't have to tote rocks to the garden, one bucketful at a time.

And we'll always take time to stop and watch the sunrise...even if it is from the cozy comfort of our own bed...