Monday, May 23, 2011

Spring on Rockwell Avenue

I have a number of gardeners who read this blog. I thought I might share a few shots of my other hobby.

We have been very fortunate this year. Spring has lasted over a month now. Generally spring comes and gives in to summer within a week or two. This year has been spectacular. We almost turned the AC on today, so I am sure summer is right around the corner.

Virtually every plant you see came from our good friends at Radmer Farms in Denton MD. Anthony and I used to be landscapers many years ago and have remained friends ever since. His wife Debbie and he have a very nice nursery. They grow for the trade and allow me to come shop from time to time.

When we bought our house, there was nothing in our yard. There was only two holly trees. All the rest or the yard was a blank slate. Major changes in eleven years' time.

Beth and I love our flowers. The baptisia is really awesome this week.

Six years ago that birch was only 6 feet tall. It has been moved twice. I do not think it will get moved again.

Hope you enjoyed the little stroll around the yard.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Oh, Yeah. Signs II

Is this legal in America?

I Seem to Forget the Name of the Place.

For the first time in my life I feel a strong inclination to not reveal my location. I really do not want to see people flood the place. There is already a bit of second and third home building going on here. For years now, Beth and I have been wanting to relocate. We live in the suburbs of a very large city and have yearned to live in a small town. We have explored many Western States thinking it to be the right direction to go. Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, and Arizona were all strong contenders. New Mexico was leading the fight for many years. I think Virginia just knocked them all off of the list.

We had the pleasure of going to Central Virginia for a little rally. The rally was at someone's family log cabin. Pretty cool to inherit such a beautiful place. What a treat to be able to camp there. Thank you for the honor.

For the first 24 hours it was totally overcast and rainy. The weather never damped anyone's spirits. The weather did however obscure the mountains...

and the mountains behind the mountains. In that general direction is Walton's Mountain. There is no Walton's Mountain on the map, but the one they called Walton's Mountain in the TV show is over yonder.

We absolutely fell in love with this place. The sound of the river lulled me to sleep each evening and even during my nap on Saturday. The air was clean and fresh. I was sold by the fact that the entire county only has one traffic light. What more can you ask for? Still not revealing where we went. Okay, it is Fairfax County, everyone should move there. Oh, right, they already do.
Well, not all went as planned.

I managed to get Anna a little too close to a tree. It was a big old walnut tree. The tree won.

The porch light lost.

As did both jalousie windows.

The entire lower window is destroyed as is most of the top one. The frames are twisted and both will require major surgery. I am very doubtful they will ever be right again. All I can hope is that someone has a wrecked trailer I can glean some parts from. Anyone? Please?

Lovely huh?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Are You Trying to Tell Me Something?

I often find myself saying "WTF? Do you really have to tell me that?" I always read the signs I encounter. It is incredibly difficult to avoid this sort of visual pollution. Though we are not as bad as the Japanese, we have a great deal of it. Often I make a concerted effort to do exactly what they tell me not to do...

No, actually I am not there. I was right next to the sign, but never was I right there. I have considered writing this on my shoe so I will always know where I am. What's that saying everyone loves? "All you wander are not lost." It is the full quote that has a real bearing on my life, not just the wandering part.

"All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king."
J.R.R. Tolkien (The Fellowship of the Ring)

Is the awareness month taking a stand for or against the consumption of alcohol? The colors are rather faded on the sign. I have a feeling it has been alcohol awareness month for a while now. The irony of this sign is that on the opposite corner there was a liquor store. The lot was full of cares looking to become aware. I am sure some were hoping to forget all they were aware of.

Yep, broke that rule twice. Honestly, I did not see the sign until the second time. At that point it was water under the ferry.

Permit? Is that another way of saying "pay the fee?" BYOB, but collect the fee before you pass go. I think I have my permit somewhere around here... Honey, where's my passport?

This one is my favorite. I always wonder if this guys Jesus loves me so much, why must I be told over and over. If I were, wouldn't I already know it? The answer is "yes, I have been saved," just not like you have. Everyone needs a hobby and many need a cause to get behind.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

den sjätte och slutliga posten av min semester

I do not like saying the phrase "good bye." I either skate out without a word or say "see ya soon". There are other deviations, but "good bye" is so permanent sounding to me. Unfortunately all good things come to an end and Thunder and Anna were forced to part ways.

We took the bridge over the Tappahannock and headed North West. Thunder headed due North over the Bridge-tunnel we had crossed seven days previously. It was a gloomy day and our spirits were in the same state. There was no turning these lemons into margaritas, we were homeward bound. We needed a side trip to break up the funk of saying "see ya".

Most would pass this house and think how fortunate it was not theirs. This country is covered with houses just like this. Once someone sat on the porch proudly. Today it is left to slowly rot into the ground. By todays American standards this is a shack. Once it was someone's home. I cannot help but look at these houses and think of all the good times that must have been shared there. The births, deaths, birthdays, anniversaries.

The memories in this house also make me wonder. It was here that our first President was raised. George was actually the forth generation on this plantation. He went on to have his own plantation further up the Potomac. Having visited both, the view here is much better.

I wonder how many times he must have run through the door looking out on Pope Creek. He couldn't have run through that door. The real house burnt down. This one is close to what historians think it looked like. You understand my thoughts though.

To walk the same paths and be on the same property.

This was a very prosperous plantation in the day. It never reached the status of Mount Vernon, but it still did well. Maybe if Augustus Washington has opened a distillery he might had made it bigger. He just stuck to tobacco.

We had not planned on coming here. Honestly, we had no idea it was here. We saw a brown National Park sign and turned right. Very glad we did, the kids got another stamp in their National Parks Passport and the parents got to experience something they never knew existed. There is something to be said for making an unexpected right turn and seeing what is over the next hill. Thank you Wally Byam for teaching me the value of this. I will never look at a wrong turn as anything but an opportunity to see the unexpected.

We glided over the Potomac into Maryland. As we did the whole trip seemed to come to an end. Within minutes we were in thick traffic on 301. The worries about work flow and cash flow and everything else I had left home eight days previously came back like the rising tide. I wanted so badly to just take the next right turn and the one after that....

Sunday, May 1, 2011

公佈 5 號 (you follow the pattern by now)

Music has a major part in my life. Often a single song can effect my entire day. This song by Dave Mason set me in the mood for this post so perhaps you will listen as you read. Sorry for the bimbo in the beginning that ruins the entire lead up Dave is going for. The song rocks though and is something I try hard to do every single day of my life.

We shipped out of Ocracoke to begin the journey North again. The week was coming to an end and honestly I needed to do something besides RELAX.

The ferries were unusually empty unlike the previous times we used them. I think bike week was over and traffic had thinned out. Maybe the Outerbanks was trying to make our leaving easier.

The terns even guided us off the island.

Ava wanted me to know I need to touch up the polish on Anna. She is such a teen now. The cold water showers at the camp ground were labeled "unacceptable" and thus required me to buy an extra 100 foot hose to actually reach the spigot. A hundred foot hose at an island hardware store... bend me over, here it comes. We had to fill the tank often. My girls all use way too much water.

The aliens in Frisco said bye to us also.

Is that triple legal? These folks from Texas think so. You are looking at 75 plus feet of rig going down the road.

Our next camp site was New Port News Park. This was the first place we ever camped at with Anna. Halle fell out of the trailer and busted her head on the asphalt here. The WDCU was having it's installation rally and we had a great time despite the head crackin. That was over four years ago and my God have priorities changed in my life. As then, once again, I highly recommend this place. Very nice wooded sites and clean, clean, clean. Not as much privacy here, and when busy, it would be rather crowded. This is still far more space than afforded in any KOA. New Port News is a great launching off point to see the Historic Triangle. That is what they call Yorktown, Jamestown and Williamsburg. When in Rome, do as the tourists do.

We first hit Yorktown. This is where one of the most decisive battles of the Revolutionary War was fought. We opted to hit the National Park instead of paying to enter the Yorktown Victory Center. The Victory Center is a commercial venture that has a location at Jamestown also. I suspect they also control Williamsburg. The kids ran up and down the earthworks while we tried to figure how the movie version of the battle worked into where we were.

The collection of cannons was very nice. I was struck though by how little information there was on the battle field itself. I guess there is no money for signs here to at least give a little info on what happened where. Yorktown was very important to the entire Revolutionary War. A little more importance to the site is needed in my opinion. Maybe if the Park Service turned it into another Disney Land it might get a few signs and some guys in stuffed soldiers uniforms shaking hands with Mickey.

We next visited Jamestown. The real Jamestown, not the recreated one. Here is a bronze model of what the settlement was like in the day.

We were fortunate to arrive just as Sara the Chicken Lady began her tour. She was a perfect enactor that never once stepped out of character. Her colorful insights into Jamestown life really brought it to life for us. She was an indentured servant brought over to care for her Masters chickens. The short and skinny; we got it real good.

Very recently archeologists found the actual Fort that historian thought had been lost to the river. The walls are exactly where the original ones were. It is amazing to walk the same streets that such early Americans did.

It was a very tough life here at Jamestown and most of the settlers died behind these walls.

Captain Smith was a resident that went on to chart much of the Eastern parts of North America. As a teen I read his journals. John Smith had big balls and a jumbo sized horse shoe was imbedded up his back side. He skated death many times and lived a life of high adventure. He was helped by Pocahantis.

Not sure why she guided him. I guess love is blind. Maybe she liked a guy in uniform. How history could had been changed had her people not helped the English. We would have been speaking Spanish 300 years ago instead of today.
Moving on...
To happy hour... We not only ate very well, we managed to have happy hour each and every afternoon. Hey, now, we are civilized Neanderthals! We, we, we. Who is we?

Amanda at the beginning of happy hour. Always with that warm inviting smile.

Me during happy hour. Yes, short hair. I cut it all off. Short, clean cut, even mistaken as "the Man" Yep, Someone took me as an undercover cop. If your reading Rob, it is shorter than yours.

Now Don knows how to have a real happy hour. I want to use this venue to announce my astounding love for Don. He is truly a great friend, and I am so honored to know him. In case he does not realize I feel this way, now he does. Don always lives up to Dave Mason's song.

Beth, my wonderful wife. She ponders the lack of reservations and total lack of a plan. Though totally out of her comfort zone, she was such a trooper.

Troopers? That is Ron Vance. Ron lives 15 minutes from me. We have talked via email a few times. Of all places, I run into him here. Nice 70's rig there, I suspect it is a Cali unit though. Just joking, I love Cali trailers.

We also went to Williamsburg. I will apologize right now. I came to distain Williamsburg in 6 short hours.

You will notice the badges we are all wearing. Without a badge $38/ day badge you see nothing except the street. Somewhere in the past 13 years since we came here, Williamsburg has become a Disney type attraction. You wait in long lines to be funneled into a gift shop followed by a 30 second ride. Sorry, you Disney fans, but that is the experience at both places for me. Spend a bunch of money to wait in a que to spend more money for a brief experience. When we were here before, one could walk around freely. There was not a costume shop on every corner trying to sell to the kids. There was not a family entrance fee equal to a days pay either. I guess I am either getting cheap or places are feeling more exploitive to me. Williamsburg has truly become one of those places for me.I hope the money they pried out of me was worth it, because I will probably never return even though this period in our history fascinates me the most.

During this time, a man built his entire house using an axe. An axe was the one and only tool a settler would need to provide everything for his family.

Hand split singles look like nothing a machine can produce. He and his children might spend a year splitting singles and three foot long boards to build a house. Everything was done by ones self. A pound of nails was worth a years wage for a frontier settler.

Houses were small and everyone lived in the house. Often livestock did also.

If he had some money, he might afford an adz to turn logs into cabin sides.

If he was really put together, he might afford a city house like this one.

This guy was very put together. Each addition is another generation. Which house do think was the first generation? The smallest one.

Every board was made by hand. No power tools, lumber yards, or saw mills back them. Just men and lots of time.

Even the paint was made using elbow power. Pure iron oxide and linseed oil. Crude but very effective.

But the law was made by the men of means. This building(the original burnt down three times) was where they wrote such laws to govern us all. It is also from this building that the choice to not follow the rule of the crown occurred. A beautiful building it is and the subtle colors of the woodwork really caught my eye.

I am sorry if in any way I detracted from your Williamsburg experience. I tried my best to get it off my chest as quick as possible and move on. Go, see it for yourself, just transfer some savings into checking before you go. Practice a great deal of patience also.

Everyone of us had a great time none the less. There is something at Williamsburg well worth the cost. At the edge of the historic district is the Rockefeller Folk Arts Museum. As previously, it was high on the list of must sees for us.

I love all the weather vanes on display.

It is a rather extensive collection.

Things like this are just not made any more and those that are will last a fraction of the time these have.

Nor will they be collected someday.

Advertising will never be the same either.

The carvers are all computer driven now. Very few craftsman can do this work today.

Why bother to learn how, the Chinese will do it cheaper until the skills are all gone .

You looking at me? I don't think your looking at me. Stop looking at me.

The carousel animals are all made of fiberglass now.

And very few artist can release the soul trapped in a block of wood.

We are all seeking our block of gold the easiest way possible these days.

Even Saint Nicholas is a part of this change. Man, what a dour note I have gotten off on. Sorry.

If you love folk art like I do, the collection here is awesome. It is not for everyone, but for me, it is special.

This is my favorite object. It is a record player.

When cranked up, not only does it play music, but it's tongue moved back and forth to give the feeling it is singing. It also winks it's eye every now and then. People just do not build things like this any more. We were so glad to have visit the collection again.

We made a correct turn going back to the campground and happened upon this place. It is a commercial venture called Presidents Park. It was closed and had little appearance of opening soon.

We almost jumped the fence. The fence had a huge hole in it and there was not one sign warning of trespassing. Ava was so worried about getting caught that we didn't. Ava is the one in the group that follows the rules. She is a good kid.

There just might be another post coming. I promise to have a more positive attitude next time.