Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thoughts on New Year's Eve

Another year is almost over. Where did the time go? For me and my family, it was a year of special challenges, but as 2008 comes to an end, we are all still here, and we have a roofs over our heads and plenty to eat, and much love from family and friends. I wish everyone the same "riches" and hope the new year be a good one for all.

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky.

The flying cloud, the frosty light;

The year is dying in the night;

Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,

Ring, happy bells, across the snow:

The year is going, let him go;

Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,

For those that here we see no more,

Ring out the feud of rich and poor,

Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,

And ancient forms of party strife;

Ring in the nobler modes of life,

With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,

The faithless coldness of the times;

Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,

But ring the fuller minstrel in.

- Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ring Out, Wild Bells

Best wishes for 2009.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to you!


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Florida bound

For a number of years on Dec 1 we have gone to Florida for two months, except this year we had to delay a week for medical reasons. We are leaving tomorrow morning, via the Autotrain from Lorton, VA to Sanford, FL. This is what my poinsettia shrub looked like last year when we arrived at our Florida house. A hard freeze last January killed it back to the ground, but I was told that it had grown back. Am eager to see if it is blooming again. Also, we both looking forward to a break from the unseasonably cold weather we've had so far this year.

Heading south.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

After a brief absence

When you are a senior citizen, things happen that change your daily routines and your future plans. The past few weeks have been a challenging time for us, but we're learning to adjust to new doctors medicines, and routines. Usually Cliff and I go to Florida the 1st of December and stay a couple of months, but this year our departure has been delayed. We now have reservations for this coming Sunday, Dec 7, to travel via the autotrain from Lorton, VA to Sanford, FL, and are hoping that nothing else happens to delay our trip.

As a result of the delay, this year I was able to go to my garden club's December meeting and holiday party which I've missed in previous years, and it was delightful. One of our members graciously hosted the event at her historic home here in town:

Here are a couple views of the interior of this majestic old house. The hostess had every room decorated with beautiful greens and ornaments. Here is the dining room:

and the front hall:

And of course, being the garden club, we brought floral entries for judging:


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

Today is Veterans Day. Our town celebrated with a ceremony at the County Court House. Veterans, their families, and non-veterans, as well as representatives of other community organizations, arrived to participate in the event. Here are some of the scenes:

Local school bands played the national anthem and other songs.

The Commander of the local American Legion Post welcomed visitors.

A chorus from a local elementary school sang patriotic songs.
It was a moving ceremony on a clear, cold day. For those who may not know how we came to commemorate this occasion, here is a brief history. In 1918, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect , and the world rejoiced and celebrated. After four years of bitter combat, the "war to end all wars" was over. The first “Armistice Day” was celebrated Nov 11, 1919, to commemorate the end of war.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly.

Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

The poem above was written by World War I Colonel John McCrae, a surgeon with Canada 's First Brigade Artillery. It expressed McCrae's grief over the "row on row" of graves of soldiers who had died on Flanders' battlefields, located in a region of western Belgium and northern France. The poem presented a striking image of the bright red flowers blooming among the rows of white crosses. Col McCrae died of pneumonia and meningitis in 1918 when he was still working in a field hospital. He was 45 years old. Because of this poem, the poppy came to the flower of remembrance for veterans.

The dream of an end to war would not be realized. Only twenty-odd years after the Armistice, World War II would require the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history. In 1954, Congress changed the name of the event from Armistice Day to Veterans Day, to honor all of America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

If you value your freedom, thank a veteran.


(Information above adapted from websites of the US Veterans Administration and of Flanders Museum, Belgium)

Monday, November 3, 2008


As Americans, we are fortunate to be able to vote for the candidates of our choice. Regardless of your political afiliation or preferences, it is important that you go to the polls and cast your vote.

In many countries, the people have no say in their government. These people would welcome the opportunity to vote to select their leaders.

We have that wonderful privilege. Let's use it.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Autumn Colors

This weekend Cliff and I went to Hampton Virginia for a conference. During part of our trip, we drove on the Colonial Parkway. The leaves were at their peak and the colors were spectacular. My photos do not do them justice.

The National Park Service describes the parkway as follows: "An integral part of Colonial National Historical Park, this 24 mile scenic Colonial-style highway connects Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown. Its panoramic vistas, gently winding curves, through patches of Pine and Evergreen forest, constantly leaves the visitor with an expectation as to what the next curve may bring forth. "

Of course, it is always good to come back home. Here we get a first glimpse of the mountains that surround our beautiful valley.

This is the view from our family room window, looking out on the deck and the leaves of our two red maples (acer rubrum).

Autumn brings mixed emotions. Today is my mother's birthday and were she alive she'd be 101 today. However, she died suddenly in 1987, just five days shy of her 80th birthday. The leaves were spectacular on the day we buried her, as they are today. I look at the leaves in all their magnificent glory and remember her passing with great sadness. Still, I am so grateful I had such a wonderful mother.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bambi and friends

Last week I bought $20 worth of pansies at a local nursery and planted them out in the yard. The next morning -- yes, the very next morning -- they had been eaten to the ground! This evening I looked out the window and saw four deer in the front yard. In the first photo below, there are four, but it was hard to capture them as it was just about dusk. If you look closely, one is on the far left behind the dogwood tree; two are to the left of the big oak. and one is to the right of the oak.

In the photo below, you can see three of the four more closely. This is my front yard, just a few feet from the street, and the walk leads to my front door. But we don't have a lot of traffic on our street, and there are vacant, wooded lots next door and across the street.
Although the deer are interesting to watch, they do a lot of damage to our landscaping. I wonder if anyone has tried to estimate the economic loss caused by deer damage. They have eaten my hostas, daylilies, tulips, yews, sedums, and of course, pansies. They seem not to like herbs or iris. So I guess I'll concentrate more on things that are not as appealing to them next year.

On a happier note, it rained today. We've been under mandatory water restrictions, so I hope today's rain will replenish our water levels enough that the restrictions will be lifted.

Joanie 10/25/08

Friday, October 24, 2008

The joys of friendship

We all love our guys, our children, our siblings, our parents, but there is a special category of people who are precious to us -- our female friends. I am fortunate to know a delightful group of ladies. We belong to a volunteer group that educates the public on the value and benefits of trees in cities and towns. We get together once a month for lunch. Here we are yesterday at one of our local restaurants.
It is hard to put into words how much my friends mean to me. They lift my spirits when I'm feeling down. The bring lots of laughter into my life. And we work together on rewarding projects -- such as decorating a Christmas tree and donating it to our local arts council for auction. I hate to refer to them as "girls" because we are all mature adults (and some, like me, are seniors), but these "girls" are so creative. I learn from them each time we are together. Best of all, we enjoy spending time together. When we get together, there are no conditions. no expectations, just an opportunity to have fun and laugh a lot. To all of my friends, a big thank you for the joy you bring to my life.
Best to all. Joanie

Friday, October 17, 2008


Where does the time to? October is half over already. The leaves are changing color and starting to fall on the ground. This is the view from the windows of the living/music room this morning. I need to get out there and start raking.

The cat usually sits on top of the sofa and watches birds and squirrels and whatever other critters (deer, groundhogs) wander through the front yard, but today he decided to take a little rest instead. What a life.
Happy fall.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tempus Fugit

People say "time flies when you're having fun" but at my age, time flies whether you're having fun or not!

Haven't posted for over a week and don't know where the time went. In fact, a friend of mine and I were talking last week and both of us said we don't know where September went.
Last week was busy. Monday I worked half a day at the Master Gardener help desk at my county extension office. Tuesday I attended a refresher class on trees. My garden club met on Wednesday and I was the hostess, which meant I brought the food and beverages.
I also made two arrangements to enter into our monthly competition. One was a "general " arrangement which means that the style and theme are the exhibitor's choice. Mine is shown above as the centerpiece on the refreshments table. Another "general" entry is shown below:
My second arrangement was a "theme" arrangement, which means the theme and style of the arrangement are set by the club. This month's theme was "Tempest in a Teapot" and the style was a stretch design--two containers, one smaller than the other, and connected in some way with botanical material. Here are some of the entries (mine is the second shown below):

We also assembled flowers in bud vases to be taken to a local nursing home. We do this several times a year and the residents really appreciate them. Below are the bud vases, boxed and ready to go.
Flower arranging is so much fun. I am amazed by the creativity of the others in my club.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A great man

He was so awesomely good looking. Every woman of my generation was in love with him, and every man wanted to be him. But his inner beauty was even greater than his external appearance. He was a good man, humble, and generous to an extent most of us can never know. It is hard to accept that he is gone, but all who saw his memorable performances will be grateful for the memories. Deepest sympathy to his wife, Joanne Woodward, to his children and other family members, and to all others who knew him and loved him.
This photo appeared on a number of internet sites. I was unable to determine it's origin. If anyone can tell me the source, I will gladly give credit where credit is due.
Joanie 9/28/2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

Working toward a simpler life

I have been visiting Emily at Remodeling This Life and her latest entry really hit home with me. For years I have been a collector -- samplers (see earlier post), miniature churches, church birdhouses, musical instruments, old church hymnals, cherubs, musical angel figurines, vases, rose dishes, books, teddy bears, and just about anything else that appealed to me at yard sales, flea markets, thrift shops, antiques stores, plus things that I cherish because they belonged to my parents or grandparents. Some of my little churches are shown below:

Last year, when I turned 70, I had a horrible thought -- in ten more years I'd be 80 and I'd still have to cope with all this "stuff." Ten years might seem to be a long time if you're young, but time seems to pass more quickly the more we age. Here are some of my musical angels and nativity scenes:
So this year I have begun to work seriously on "downsizing." It helps that a Goodwill opened here recently. Yes, it's a great place to find neat "stuff," but I don't go there unless I also take a donation. So far I have donated a few samplers, needlework kits, other vintage linens, crocheted items, a good number of books, a tablecloth, some clothing, teddy bears, and dishes. I f you walked into my house you wouldn't think anything was gone because there are still a lot of things in the house, and more must -- and will -- go.

The nativity scene below is a favorite because Cliff made it. The nativities, angels, and the church scene below are only displayed at Christmas; during the rest of the year there is other "stuff" on the shelves. (You can glimpse some of my rose dishes to the left of the photo and a dulcimer on the right.)

For a while I thought I'd make a little money selling some things on eBay, and I started collecting boxes to ship things in. Now I have a big pile of boxes to get rid of also!

There are still many things I treasure too much to give away -- my favorite books, old books that belonged to my parents, my musical instruments (well, maybe I could part with one or two), old family photos and mementos, Dad's paintings. But if I get rid of the "stuff" that I never use, that fills cabinets and closets or sits around gathering dust, I will have more time to enjoy the things I love, like my organ, below, the painting over it by my Dad, the little girl figurine Daddy bought at an auction years ago, and a sampler (shown in a previous post). I bought the chandelier lamp on eBay, painted it white, and found replacements for missing prisms.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Flower Arranging

Almost two weeks have passed since my last entry. It has been a busy time and somewhat stressful. Now my camera is having intermittent problems. Who was it said "it's always something"? Anyway, thought I'd share some photos of arrangements from recent meetings of my garden club.
The first two photos are arrangements by an ikebana instructor who spoke at one of our recent garden club meetings. Aren't they stunning?

Several times a year we make arrangements in bud vases to take to a local nursing home. The next picture is one of those arrangements:

The next three arrangements are by club members. Each month we have a judging of arrangements entered. I was a member for a year before I had the nerve to even submit an arrangement. Now arranging flowers is one of my favorite activities.

I have learned so much from the talented ladies in the club. But the best thing of all is how nice they are and how much fun it is to get together. Besides our monthly meetings, we get together for lunch occasionally and go on field trips to plant nurseries, notable gardens, and other places of interest.
I also want to say a word of thanks to all the lovely people who have visited Blue Mountain Home and left such nice comments.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Rembering all of those whose lives were taken by terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
And for all of those who risked their lives trying to save the victims, these words from "America the Beautiful":
"O beautiful for heroes prov'd
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life."

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Embroidered samplers

I have collected embroidered samplers for many years, and have made a few myself. To be honest about it, I have too many. Some, in fact, still await framing. I have begun sorting and donating things I've collected over the years, but there are some I treasure too much to part with.

Here are a few of my most treasured:

The first is a sampler made by my paternal grandmother, Ida, who died two months before I was born. My parents passed it on to me. My father made the walnut frame. It is one of the most frequently encountered phrases used on samplers of that era.

This sweet little sampler was a gift from my sister in 1980. I love it. The linen looks stained in this photo, but it isn't.

I love this embroidery of the prayer of St Francis. It hangs in our music room.

This is my goal, to "grow lovely" as I grow old.

This one, another gift from my sister, also hangs in the music room.

I made this from a counted cross-stitch kit, but adapted it in honor of my maternal grandmother who always said that I sewed "with a red-hot needle and a burning thread." Notice the name on the sewing machine stand is "White," which was her maiden name as well as a sewing machine brand.

This was a lucky find. I've never seen another like it.

I love white-on-white samplers. This one is in the dining room.

I made this probably 30 or more years ago from a Better Homes and Gardens kit. It pairs various herbs with the types of meats they enhance. Wish I'd had the forethought to date it.

I love this sweet sampler. What is more precious than "home" and all it encompasses.

May God bless all of our homes.