Virginia Brunswick Stew Recipe

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Baby, it’s cold outside! On this chilly, snowy December Sunday with below-freezing temps, it’s a good time for a steaming bowl of Brunswick stew — hot and filling and yummy.

From the cookbook, Virginia Hospitality: A Book of Recipes From 200 Years of Gracious Entertaining, is the Brunswick stew recipe I have used for years. As with any cook, I have variations (in parentheses). Stew is best when the flavors are given time to meld together so I often make mine the day before it will be served. The recipe easily doubles and triples for larger groups.

Brunswick Stew
1 whole chicken, cut up (I use boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
1 onion, quartered
2 ribs celery, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
16 ounces white shoepeg corn
10 ounces frozen small butterbeans
1 pound canned tomatoes
2 small potatoes, cubed (I double or triple that amount)
1/3 cup ketchup
2-3 Tablespoons vinegar
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco
1/4 teaspoon marjoram (I omit this)
2-3 Tablespoons butter

Place chicken in Dutch oven and add enough water to cover well. Add onion, celery, salt, and pepper. Boil until chicken comes off bones easily. Remove chicken to cool and add corn, butterbeans, tomatoes, potatoes, ketchup, brown sugar, and vinegar; cook 2 hours or until tender. Remove chicken from bones or shred chicken breasts and add to vegetables along with Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, marjoram, and butter. Serves 6-8.

Note: Vary amount of water for thick or soupy stew. Add a cube of chicken bouillon after the first or second serving.

Stay warm and safe, and enjoy!

Cross-posted at BearingDrift.com

Update on Skyline Drive’s Closed Southern Section

An update Friday morning, December 7, 2018, from the National Park Service details the continued work clearing Skyline Drive’s southern portion after a devastating ice storm three weeks ago. Those of us who live at this end of the Drive will be happy when it reopens because the winter landscape has definitely taken over vistas in the Park. My camera and I are anxious to get up there.

Today’s update:

The Skyline Drive is now OPEN from Front Royal to Swift Run Entrance Station (Elkton).

Park crews are continuing to clear hazard trees and debris caused by the ice storm that hit 3 weeks ago in the south district of the Park.

The Skyline Drive is still CLOSED from Swift Run to Rockfish Gap, but crews have made steady progress towards clearing the estimated 100 down trees per mile. Once the road is completely cleared of trees, crews will assess any overhanging limbs and chip trees that have been dragged to the shoulder.

We appreciate your patience as we work as quickly and safely as possible to open up the Drive for public use. As always, the safety of the public, and of our staff, is our number one priority. Please call 540-999-3500 (select option 1, then option 1) for the most up-to-date closure information.

With that many trees down, there should be a firewood supply for years for campers in Shenandoah National Park. Many thanks to those working in the cold and hazardous conditions to again make the Park accessible.

 

Photos by the National Park Service / Shenandoah National Park

Cross-posted at BearingDrift.com

President George H.W. Bush: 1924-2018

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“Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro, and I are saddened to announce that after 94 remarkable years, our dear Dad has died. George H. W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for. The entire Bush family is deeply grateful for 41’s life and love, for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for Dad, and for the condolences of our friends and fellow citizens.” –Former President George W. Bush

As I sit in the early morning darkness with only the glow from the Christmas tree to keep me light, I’m reflecting on the life of President George H.W. Bush who passed away last night at the age of 94. A few thoughts as the news settles over me….

A good man is gone. He outlived his beloved Bar who preceded him by seven months.

In an age when the GOP appears to have lost its way, and when civility and decency continue to decline, the loss of #Bush41 is felt even keener. As a friend noted, “The morning dawns a little dimmer today. George H.W. was the graceful, strong, calm and loyal conservative – a rarer and rarer breed. Now belongs to the ages….”

It’s not a total surprise. President Bush was 94 years old and had been in ill health in recent years. Still….

I walked to the bookcase and took out one of the books about the Bush family, whom I have admired for all the reasons today’s politics grates on my last nerve.

The former president’s book, “All the Best, George Bush: My Life in Letters and Other Writings,” was given to me Christmas 2000 by my then fifteen-year-old son. President Bush, a prolific communicator, left a treasure trove of letters and notes to family, friends, colleagues, and people he met along the way.

He was known for his maturity and straight-forward approach to life, lessons learned from his mother who taught him to put others first and help others feel better about themselves, to be humble, and to serve and not expect to be served.

As the day unfolds and tributes to this great public servant continue, perhaps Americans will pause to reflect on the decency, character, and respect represented by President Bush, who urged that we be a kinder, gentler nation.

“There could be no definition of a successful life that does not include service to others.” –President George H.W. Bush

Addendum….

As I reflect more on #Bush41’s passing, my memory just flashed back to late 1990s when my sister, who lived in Austin, called to share news about her new job. She knew what an admirer of the Bush family I was so she said I may want to sit down to hear the news. Then she announced that she was going to work as speech writer for my hero.

“George Bush?” I asked incredulously. At that time George W had not been president so everyone referred to the first Bush president as George Bush.

No, she responded … George W, the current governor of Texas. That was okay … he was also my hero and went on to become president, only the second father-son team to do so in the history of this nation.

Cover photo from the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum

Cross-posted at BearingDrift.com

Virginia Green Beret Among Three Killed in Afghanistan

Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Michael Emond, 39, of Brush Prairie, Wash., Army Capt. Andrew Patrick Ross, 29, of Lexington, Va., and Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan J. Elchin, 25, of Hookstown, Pa. (Photo courtesy of Department of Defense)

A Virginia man was killed Tuesday in Afghanistan when he and two others suffered fatal injuries after their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device (IED).

Army Captain Andrew “Drew” Patrick Ross, 29, of Lexington, had served more than seven years in the Army and was on his second overseas tour, according to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. Captain Ross, who is survived by his wife and parents, was a member of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) out of Fort Bragg, N.C.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Michael Emond, 29, of Brush Prairie, Washington, and Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan J. Elchin, 25, of Hookstown, Pa, were also killed.

Lexington is a small, close-knit community in western Virginia. The historic city is home to Virginia Military Institute where Captain Ross’ father graduated.

The Taliban, a Sunni Islamic fundamentalist political movement in Afghanistan that has been behind numerous attacks over the years, took credit for the attack, claiming foreign invaders were being targeted.

The Lexington News-Gazette wrote:

Drew Ross was a 2007 graduate of Rockbridge County High School and a 2011 graduate of West Point. In May 2011, he was invited to lead the Pledge of Allegiance at the RCHS commencement ceremony.

“It’s very sad news, he was a great kid,” said David “Weenie” Miller, RCHS teacher and coach, on Wednesday. Ross was recently married, he said, and Miller’s son, Michael, a member of the U.S. Navy now serving in Naval Intelligence, was best man at Drew’s wedding.

Drew was the son of Stephen and Beth Ross, both now living in Richmond. Stephen Ross, a 1983 graduate of Virginia Military Institute, coached soccer at VMI. Beth Ross was a nurse in the office of Dr. Troise.

Drew Ross played soccer at RCHS coached by the late Tony Conway and went on to play soccer at West Point.

His sister, Sarah, graduated from RCHS in 2003.

Drew Ross is the second RCHS and West Point graduate to have died in Afghanistan, both victims of roadside bombs. Chase Prasnicki, a local football star who graduated from RCHS in 2006 and who played on the football team at West Point, was killed in Afghanistan by an improvised explosive device while on patrol in June 2012.

Stars and Stripes wrote:

While fewer Americans are dying in the war these days, members of the relatively small and tight-knit special operations community — and especially Army Rangers and Green Berets — disproportionately number among the American deaths in recent years.

More than half of the 13 Americans who died in Afghanistan this year — 12 in combat — have been special operations troops. In 2017, Rangers and Green Berets accounted for five of 11 U.S. combat fatalities and special operations soldiers constituted half of the four noncombat deaths.

The Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which supports the families of special-ops troops and other troops within Special Operations Command, estimates elite troops and their support personnel make up about 5 percent of the military but half of the casualties.

Captain Ross was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, and the Combat Infantry Badge. He had previously earned a Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, NATO Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Special Forces Tab, Ranger Tab, Combat Action Badge, and Military Free Fall Parachutist Badge.

Before the attack on Tuesday, Army Ranger Sgt. Leandro Jasso, a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment, was killed the week before while battling al-Qaida in Nimruz Province.

Freedom is not free.

Happy Thanksgiving from LynnRMitchell.com

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“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”
— Charles Dickens

LynnRMitchell.com extends Thanksgiving greetings with gratitude to our readers for continuing to make us a statewide voice in the Virginia conservative online news and opinion websites. We wish you a joyful day with family and friends as America pauses to give thanks for the blessings we all enjoy.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

‘Twas the Day Before Thanksgiving … Virginia Family Traditions


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‘Twas the day before Thanksgiving and all through the house
Lots of goodies were cooking and tested by the spouse.
The pies were all set on the counter to cool
While Ma in her apron was a holiday-cooking fool.

That’s my sad attempt at putting a poetic spin on the holiday as I swirl around the house on Thanksgiving Eve.

Like many, I’m in the kitchen today prepping for tomorrow’s big meal with family. My sister Lori and I traditionally take on the cooking and baking, something we both enjoy, and we like to incorporate old favorites along with the new dishes.

We broke tradition a few years ago when we roasted a chicken, a new idea that carried over last year and will continue this year. Lori and I are adding side dishes, bread, and desserts.

It’s comforting to stay in touch with family and Southern traditions by using familiar recipes. My Aunt Ola made the best baked mac and cheese you’ve ever wrapped your lips around. It’s a lot of cheese and many memories, a reminder of fun family dinners at her house when there were so many of us that we barely fit, and we had a children’s table in the kitchen and a grown-up table in the dining room.

I think I was in my 30s before ever graduating from the children’s table which, sadly, meant the grown-ups were growing older and leaving us. There’s many happy memories of those years at the children’s table especially after I had my own children and we were all sitting in there together.

Chocolate pies were always anticipated at holidays from my Aunt Ruth. These aren’t pudding-from-a-box pies. These are — pardon my language — “stir-your-damn-arm-off” real chocolate filling (as it was deemed by my sisters and me because it took forever to thicken and you couldn’t leave it unattended or it would stick to the bottom of the pan and burn). After it was cooked just right, the delicious concoction was poured into a homemade crust.

I take a short cut on the crust — no patience for making it and really don’t want to spend the time — and buy a ready-made one, something Aunt Ruth would never have done. One year I made phyllo pastry crust for something new and a little — emphasis on “little” — healthier. The pie is a meringue-topped decadent chocolate fantasy so after my aunt passed away over 20 years ago, I carried on the chocolate pie tradition.

That’s what holidays are — traditions carried on by families from generation to generation. My aunts were fantastic cooks from a large family and my sisters and I learned their tricks of the trade. One slice of pie or a serving of macaroni and cheese unlocks special memories of years past — those who are no longer with us, cousins and grandparents and aunts and uncles — and tomorrow that will be going on all over America.

The food is delicious, the baking is fun, but the best part of Thanksgiving is being with family. Though my father passed away years ago leaving behind daughters who were 13, 20, and 22 at the time, another dad came into our lives when Cal married our mother, and so we are grateful to celebrate with the two of them who are now the youthful ages of 91 and 92.

To America’s military members who are stationed around the world and away from their families, a special thanks and prayers for them and their loved ones. We can never repay their dedication, sacrifice, and service to our country which allows us the freedom to celebrate Thanksgiving in a peaceful land.

As I head back to the kitchen to finish food prep, here’s wishing a Happy Thanksgiving. To those who are traveling for the holiday, be safe out there.

Cross-posted at BearingDrift.com

ICYMI: Bearing Drift’s Weekend Roundup

It’s the weekend and time to catch up with all the great Bearing Drift posts you may have missed. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy the weekend roundup.

Former Del. Joe May Wins Nomination for 33rd Senate District by Lynn R. Mitchell

No Recount for 24th District, Ronnie Campbell’s Win Holds by Lynn R. Mitchell

Campbell Wins By One Vote in 24th HOD District, Challenger Calls for Recount by Lynn R. Mitchell

The Score: California Wildfires, Thanksgiving Origins, Illiberal Democracy, Facial Recognition by Rick Sincere

Firehouse Primary for 24th HOD Seat — Update: Ronnie Campbell Wins by Cole Trower

17 Additional Localities Eligible for Public Assistance for Hurricane Florence Damages by Lynn R. Mitchell

U.S. House Schedule for Friday, Nov, 16, 2018 by Bearing Drift

So How Are Things for the Democrats These Days? by D.J. McGuire

Snowy Loudoun County by M.D. Russ

Previewing The Score: Wintry Weather in Virginia by Rick Sincere

Icy Shenandoah Valley by Lynn R. Mitchell

U.S. House Committee Activity, News by Bearing Drift

Saying Goodbye to Augusta County’s Bob Dickerman by Lynn R. Mitchell

Eric Cantor Suggests Republicans Need a Suburban Agenda by Lynn R. Mitchell

U.S. House Schedule for Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018 by Bearing Drift

How to Fix RPV in One Easy Step by Stephen Spiker

U.S. House Schedule for Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018 by Bearing Drift

24th HOD: Ben Cline Won. Now What? by Lynn R. Mitchell

The daily U.S. House agenda and committee activity schedules are included when Congress is in session. For all the latest posts all the time check out Bearing Drift’s Latest News.

Icy Shenandoah Valley


It was the first wintry precipitation this year in the Shenandoah Valley as snow, freezing rain, and sleet moved in overnight and continued throughout Thursday.


Temperatures have hovered between 30 and 32 all day so nothing is melting … yet.


The forecast says temps will begin rising overnight and continue to the mid-40s on Friday so everything will melt. Not that I like ice but there really isn’t anything we can do about it so we’re enjoying the wintry scene out the windows while we can. Our Shenandoah autumn continues…

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
November 15, 2018

Cross-posted at BearingDrift.com

Eric Cantor Suggests Republicans Need a Suburban Agenda

Eric Cantor, former Virginia Congressman and Republican U.S. House Majority Leader who served in the U.S. House from 2001-14, penned an op-ed in Tuesday’s New York Times suggesting the GOP needed a suburban agenda. In it, he made reasonable suggestions for the future of the Republican Party.

Will anyone listen?

Cantor began:

An election provides a certain definitiveness for political candidates, win or lose. I know from experience, having lived through both the ups and the downs. For political parties, elections also provide a chance to reflect, learn and move forward with the business of attracting more voters next time. Or at least they should.

For Republicans, losing the House majority in last week’s midterm elections is a clear demonstration that the party must do more to appeal to suburban voters, especially college-educated women. Once a Republican mainstay, this group has been slowly moving away from us for the past few cycles.

The data is indisputable, and Republicans must address it. We need a Republican suburban agenda.

He laid out the need for Republicans to attract and regain lost voters. It was a reminder of the Republican National Committee’s “autopsy” after the 2012 presidential election when Mitt Romney lost to incumbent Barack Obama. In it was a blueprint of what the GOP needed to do to attract and/or keep voters. Sadly, the party didn’t listen.

If not willing to compromise on issues and work with their colleagues across the political aisle, Republicans face the possibility of continued losses as voters become discouraged and continue to move away from the party.

There’s a better way, Cantor wrote:

There is a better way. Two of the most popular Republican governors, each re-elected in a landslide on Tuesday, happen to be from two of the bluest states in the country — Massachusetts and Maryland. They have figured out how to maintain support among base Republicans while still appealing to independents and even Democrats.

In my home state of Virginia, the suburbs throughout the state have been trending blue for some time. Last year in the race for governor, Democrats faced a choice: Double down on the gains they had made in the suburbs of Washington, Richmond and Norfolk or try to hold those voters while simultaneously appealing to rural areas.

In short, he says, Democrats broadened their appeal.

The 2020 election season has now begun. After last week’s niceties of calls and congratulations, what comes next will foreshadow whether these lessons were internalized or ignored. Will Republicans have something to offer suburban, college-educated women? Will Democrats have anything to say to white, non-college-educated men in the rural areas?

There is an added bonus for all the beleaguered voters who aren’t quite ready to dive back into a divisive political process: A campaign where you’re trying to bring more people into your party tends to be more civil and less toxic than what we just experienced.

Read the Congressman’s entire op-ed here.

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

Saying Goodbye to Augusta County’s Bob Dickerman

“Did you know someone named Bob Dickerman?” my husband called up the steps this morning. His question came out of the blue and made me stop what I was doing.

“Why?” I asked. “Did he die?”

Indeed, Mr. Mitchell had seen the obituary in the Staunton News Leader. I quickly pulled it up on my laptop to be sure it was the Bob Dickerman I knew from politics in Augusta County.

Sure enough, it was him. As I read of his amazingly versatile and far-reaching life, it again struck me how we don’t really know most people until they die. That is when their life’s achievements and accomplishments come to light in a brief end-of-life wrap-up known as an obituary.

How sad.

And how enlightening.

When I was very active in Augusta County Republican Committee leadership in the George W. Bush years, Bob and I crossed paths a number of times — he with the Augusta County Democrats, I with the local GOP. He was a bit crusty, and I am certain he made more of an impression on me than I on him. Too bad I was such an activist in those days and didn’t take the time to get to know him a little better.

He had a mountainside farm in Buffalo Gap on the Old Parkersburg Turnpike, a gravel road that traverses the national forest through the Appalachian Mountains to Deerfield Valley in western Augusta. Born in Staunton, after his many years of foreign service, he came home and spent his final years here.

Bottom line: this is why I have grown to dislike extreme partisanship and the fact that we often see people only through a one-dimensional political lens. Everyone is so much more than that, and reading about Bob’s life showed all of him that I did not know. And didn’t take time to know. It’s my loss.

Charles Robert (“Bob”) Dickerman

Staunton – Charles Robert (“Bob”) Dickerman, a Staunton native who served the United States for 30 years as a Foreign Service Officer, died on November 8th, 2018 on his farm in Buffalo Gap. He was 81 years old and had suffered from a rare neurological disorder: Multiple Systems Atrophy with Parkinson’s.

Bob was born in Staunton on November 29, 1936, the son of the late Staunton physician, Dr. Charles Pingrey Dickerman and his first wife, Stella Irene Mallory. Bob received his BA from Antioch College, and a Master of Public Administration degree from Harvard University‘s Kennedy School of Government.

During this time, he was also a faculty level research fellow at Harvard University’s Center for International Affairs. In addition, he graduated from the State Department’s prestigious year-long Senior Seminar on US Foreign and Domestic Policies.

Prior to joining the United States Information Service in 1962, Bob was a journalist on three Midwestern newspapers, including THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE. As a career diplomat in the Foreign Service he specialized in cultural affairs and media relations.

During his more than 30-year career, he served in Finland, Somalia, South Vietnam, Norway, Iceland, West Germany, the Eastern Caribbean, and Denmark. He worked in several languages including Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, German, Vietnamese, and Italian.

After his retirement from federal service in 1992, Bob continued to be engaged in politics and his interest never ceased in how our country is viewed by many people overseas. He followed the news in many countries, and maintained many friendships with former colleagues and friends.

In his conversations and writings, he discussed and addressed some of our most significant problems: racism and other forms of intolerance and prejudice, our lack of universal health care, and social inequalities. He was intensely concerned about the decline in American prestige and respect and was active in the Democratic parties of Arlington, Staunton, and Augusta County.

Bob Dickerman is survived by his daughters Julia Torres and Anneke Braisted of Cary, NC, their husbands Nehemiah and Timothy, his grandchildren Liam and Kaia, and his former wife (and best friend) Gerhild Sachs Dickerman of Durham, NC. In addition, he is survived by his brother, Dr. William Dickerman, his half-sister, Anne Reid, and his half-brother, Dr. Will Dickerman. A Celebration of Life will be held with family and friends at his beloved farm. Contributions in his memory may be made to Planned Parenthood.

My condolences to Bob’s family and friends.

Cross-posted at BearingDrift.com

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell
Shenandoah Valley looking west to North Mountain Range
Appalachian Mountains | Augusta County, Virginia

I’m Sick of It All

Yesterday was Election Day 2018, and today I’m sick of it all. I’m tired of hearing conspiracy theories and defenses of immoral behavior and excuses because of who is currently in the White House.

If you thought it was wrong when the Democrats did it, but now think it’s okay when the Republicans do it, then you are part of the reason the GOP is drowning in hypocrisy.

I thought we were better than this.

I grew up in the church. The teachings of moral character came directly from the Bible with guidance from our Sunday School teachers. We strived then, and now, to live a life that included integrity, courage, fortitude, honesty, patience, faithfulness, respect, responsibility, humility, compassion, loyalty, perseverance, optimism, generosity, politeness, kindness, lovingness, and reliability … traits that are goals to practice every day.

President Abraham Lincoln was a role model for integrity and honesty. His examples of good character traits are legendary, qualities that stayed with him through his life. They were instrumental as he led the country through the dark days of war. It was a time when a person’s character was a highly-regarded quality.

Before Lincoln, President George Washington was known for his character and leadership, and believed highly in the importance of civility which meant basic respect for everyone. As a Virginia school boy, he wrote his Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior, a list of 110 commonsense directives to guide him in life and in the company of others. Many still adhere to his rules to this day.

The good traits of character, if we believe some, are irrelevant in today’s world. I disagree. They are perhaps more important now than at any time in the past. Light the path for others and be an example. And keep in mind the words of C. S. Lewis: “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”

Tonight I’m tired of it all, and sincerely hope we do not lose our moral compass.

“But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” -James 1:22

 

ICYMI: Bearing Drift’s Weekend Roundup

It’s the weekend and time to catch up with all the great Bearing Drift posts you may have missed. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy the weekend roundup.

Tonight: Daylight Savings Time Ends as Clocks Fall Back an Hour by Lynn R. Mitchell

The Score: Afghan Elections, Midterm Predictions, Second Amendment, Revisiting 1968 by Rick Sincere

The X Factor in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District by Norman Leahy

The Culture Wars Come to Fluvanna County High School by Rob Schilling

Previewing The Score: 2018 Election Prognosis by Rick Sincere

A Tightly Focused Plan for Boosting Virginia’s Business-Climate Rankings by James A. Bacon

Happy Halloween 2018 by Lynn R. Mitchell

Why Birthright Citizenship Is So Important by Brian Schoeneman

Why I’m Voting for Barbara Comstock by Brian Schoeneman

Wason Poll: Brat, Spanberger Statistically Tied in 7th Congressional District by Lynn R. Mitchell

A Trump Country Toss-Up in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District by Norman Leahy

31 Days of October, Day 31 by Lynn R. Mitchell
Day 30
Day 29

The daily U.S. House agenda and committee activity schedules are included when Congress is in session. For all the latest posts all the time check out Bearing Drift’s Latest News.

Trick or Treat! Happy Halloween 2018

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It’s a mild evening in the Shenandoah Valley as darkness falls with temps in the low 60s and a slight breeze, the jack-o-lanterns are glowing, and we’re waiting for neighborhood goblins to visit. Not to worry … we have lots of treats to ward off the tricks.

For years I’ve blogged about our Halloween visitors so tonight is no different. With “Hocus Pocus” on TV and a fall supper, we’re in our annual routine.

5:30: Our first trick-or-treaters showed up, came in the house, and hugs all around. It was our son and his wife who stopped by to visit for a while so they were here when the first little ones arrived.  There were sweets for them when they went home because, no matter how old our kids are, they’re never too old for Halloween treats.

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6:15: Down-the-street neighbors came around just before dark with their two young sons. Mom and Dad were in costume as they are each year, and the boys were already energized from sugary treats as they raced around the yard while the grown-ups yakked. One scary Dracula and one Marvel character. Treats for all!

6:50: Three neighbor kids — two sisters and a best friend — were a delight. One was a scarecrow with her two companions. Treats for all!

Halloween 11

7:55: Yay — more kids! A four-year-old unicorn and a six-year-old royal lady-in-waiting with their parents — our new neighbors who just moved in up the street and wanted to meet up with some of the neighbors. It’s so dark that they came down on their four-wheel drive Gator — headlights helped in the inkiness. Friendly newcomers and great to have another family with little ones. Treats for all, even Mom and Dad!

8:15: We’re still waiting to see if anyone else shows up. There’s way too much candy left over so we need to send it out the door. Need more trick-or-treaters!

Meanwhile, I’m on Facebook “talking” with friends far and near. It’s fun to hear from one of the former young Virginia bloggers who now is married, has a little boy, and lives in Texas, and was saying by 7:00 their time they hadn’t had any trick-or-treaters because it was raining there.

A twenty-something Facebook friend in Memphis, one I met during the Mitt Romney campaign, noted the same — storms were keeping her little goblins away on a night when she usually saw about 250 but only 40 so far tonight. Wow … can you imagine 250?

8:40: We’re closing up shop. Without any little ones for the past 40 minutes, I think that’s it for this year. Seven is about our average. As Mr. Mitchell came in from extinguishing the jack-o-lanterns, he laughed because the first trick-or-treaters, brothers, who were already on a sugar rush at 6:15 could be heard up the street chasing each other around their yard, peals of laughter coming through the darkness. It made me think of all the teachers tomorrow at school.

Happy Halloween!

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

31 Days of October, Day 30

We made the journey to Richmond today. That’s where I grew up and where most of my family lives.

Yes, the autumn leaves made the drive beautiful on a sunny, 60-something degree day in central Virginia. But today we weren’t out specifically to leaf peep.

Family is everything. Since my mom was the youngest of 10 children, there are cousins galore who have been friends and known each other since we were little kids. We gather for family weddings, funerals, and get-togethers. Our ages span 40 years from the oldest to the youngest.

It wasn’t expected that when October began we would close out the month by laying to rest one of the cousins. Her death was sudden. She wasn’t a blood relative but she had been married to one of my older cousins for so long that she was one of us. She left behind her husband, their children, and their children’s children.

She also left behind her beloved flowers that she spent hours cultivating in the yard. Gardening seems to run like a winding vine through our family.

Most of the cousins showed up to pay their respects. From the service of remembrance to the laughter afterward as we gathered in the church hall for a late lunch, it was vintage family for us, a time to catch up and visit, and to share memories, hugs, and tears. But mostly we shared laughter.

Family. It’s everything.

It was a sad occasion but it was a good day. And on our way home, as the sun dipped low in the sky as we approached the Blue Ridge Mountains, we looked at colorful autumn leaves along I-64 from Richmond to Afton. When we crossed Afton and began descending into the Valley, we could see fall color in the twilight.

It’s autumn in the Shenandoah Valley….

James River High School Crew teams on the James River, Richmond, Virginia

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

31 Days of October, Day 29


It’s hard to believe October is almost over. Around the yard these button mums with their bright yellow faces are beginning to bloom in the flower garden. A gift from my Aunt Ruth’s garden, they are prolific and always bloom late in the season when most of the other mums are finished.


Cheerful little flowers on a cloudy day.


Sedum


The maple beside the deck has finally begun to show color. It will be a deep red by the time it finishes.


The button mums

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

Cross-posted at BearingDrift.com

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