Category Archives: Family and friends

A son … ‘daring and loving and strong and kind’

??????????“I have a son, who is my heart. A wonderful young man, daring and loving and strong and kind.” — Maya Angelou

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I have to indulge a bit today since it’s my son’s birthday. In this picture he was four yeas old holding his six-month-old sister … my little buddy who arrived three weeks early on that February day, a cheerful first born of a first born of a first born who was the first grandchild and only grandson. Thoughtful and introspective, and a source of joy since the day he arrived, this tiny six-pound baby became a little blond curly-headed boy who loved baseball and grew into a kind, industrious, hard-working young man who is now six feet tall.

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A Valentine’s Day message to my children

Valentine 2By Lynn R. Mitchell

A Valentine for my children…

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together … there is something you must always remember.

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

“But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart … I’ll always be with you.”

— Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh (A.A. Milne)

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Remembering a Cat Named Palmer

Palmer 1991-2011

[It’s  difficult to believe it was six years in January since we lost our long-time pet, a Maine Coon cat named Palmer. He was part of the family for 20 years and we still catch ourselves sometimes looking for him around the house. This is my post written in memory of him just after his death in January 2011.]

His spirit still lingers in the house.

He came into our lives in 1991, a tiny ball of fluff with attitude, and my three-year-old daughter immediately bonded with him. Even though the kitten hissed whenever anyone went near him, he was hungry, and so she fed him cat food at the end of a stick to avoid his needle-sharp teeth and claws. He was a long-haired Maine Coon with gray and white markings, and he looked to be around six or seven weeks old. He was cute although we were not looking for a pet. But what do you do when your loving and adorable three-year-old latches onto an animal? And so he stayed.

We named him Palmer after the town in Alaska where my sister lived. He was a barn kitty that was born to the old barn cat on the farm where we lived. We began to feed him and he kind of let us adopt him. He was, however, wild at heart and wild in spirit and so he lived outside on the 100 acres in North Carolina, roaming the fields and barn, and showing up to visit us at the house when he felt like it.

The glare on Palmer’s face looking in the window said, “Let me in.”

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Remembering My Dad On His Birthday


Today is my dad’s birthday. The clock just tripped over past midnight and I’m sitting in the light of the Christmas tree. Yes, the twelve days of Christmas end today with the Feast of Epiphany. “The Adoration of the Magi” … “The Manifestation of God” … the day of the Three Kings.

For me, it’s Dad’s birthday.

So the memories will come … some smiles, some tears. One thing is for sure: the hurt of losing a parent never goes away.

But the Christmas lights help take away the sting. Some will remain through winter … they are my snow lights.

Happy Birthday, Dad. And Merry Christmas.

2015: The year the fudge wouldn’t set and other Christmas thoughts

Christmas gifts 2Originally written Christmas Eve 2015….

It’s late Christmas Eve. I’m alone with the Christmas tree, “It’s a Wonderful Life” showing on the television, and my laptop. Everyone else has turned in for the night in preparation for a busy day tomorrow that will include family and friends.

When we look back on the historically warm Christmas of 2015, I think I will remember it as the year the fudge wouldn’t set up.

It’s been rainy with warmish temperatures most of Christmas week but today — Christmas Eve — the temperature was in the upper 60s, humidity was high, there was on-and-off rain, and we tried to stay cool by opening all the windows and doors — which didn’t help much in the kitchen. The oven was turned on by 10am to cook the ham for Christmas Day dinner, and it didn’t get turned off until 7pm as ham and casseroles were baked one after the other.

Fudge that was made Wednesday afternoon was still soft and not totally set when I cut it today so I scrapped plans to make toffee. The weather conditions just aren’t conducive for candy-making. And so it’s the Christmas that the fudge wouldn’t set.

Historic temperatures are in the forecast for Christmas Day all over the eastern part of the country. Friends from Williamsburg east to the beach had 80-degree temps today. Tomorrow … who knows? The warm temps will continue through the weekend.

It’s a far cry from the white Christmas many had hoped for … including me. Instead, we spent the day with windows and doors open, and ceiling fans set on high. My hair battled the humidity and lost as summertime frizzies set in.

In the Richmond area, not only were there high temps but also thunderstorms and downpours. Many reported running their air conditioning. Power outages were reported in the west end.

A wild outbreak of tornadoes spun off violent thunderstorms in Mississippi and Tennessee where seven people died including a seven-year-old boy. It’s sad to think of such tragedy especially at this time of year.

Toasty fires and visions of snow will have to wait, at least until after this week. Santa may get warm in that velvet red suit as he makes deliveries.

I think I’ll sit here and enjoy the lights and the quiet for a while longer. We’re all together, and that is all that matters. Merry Christmas to you and yours as the world pauses to celebrate the birth of a King….


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from

Christmas 12 lanternThe reason for the season….

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.” Luke 2:8-20

The true meaning of Christmas … a time for the Christian world to pause and celebrate the birth of the son of God.

As 2016 comes to a close, I are thankful for a successful year and especially for my readers who contribute and share the posts published at

It is a time to remember those who have special meaning in our lives. I am writing full-time and photo editor for, and still writing and posting pictures at The past year was busy.

February marked 10 years since I began writing in Virginia’s conservative blogosphere. January marks one year since I returned to Bearing Drift and that group of excellent political writers, strategists, and number crunchers.

Here’s to a great 2017 and another 10 years observing, writing, and taking pictures of politics and more. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Linus Explains the True Meaning of Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas first aired on December 9, 1965, and became a classic that still rings true more than 50 years later. One reason it remains among the most popular Christmas shows of the season may be because friend Linus reminds Charlie Brown of the true meaning of Christmas by reciting the King James Bible New Testament verses from Luke 2:8-14 describing the birth of Christ.

The fact that the message is delivered by an animated character doesn’t diminish the impact of the meaning.

Interestingly, the story goes that network executives did not want the scripture quoted in an animated show, assuming viewers would become bored. Charlie Brown creator Charles Schulz, however, was adamant that it remain. “If we don’t tell the true meaning of Christmas, who will?” he asked.

Today, even more than in 1965, we need to hear the true meaning of Christmas as told by a little animated boy in a scene that is beloved by millions.

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.’

“That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

How much richer we are for Charles Schulz standing by his principles. Merry Christmas to Charlie Brown, Linus, the rest of the Peanuts gang, and to you!

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Merry Christmas, Stacy … Wherever You Are

Christmas ornament hand-painted by 10-year-old Stacy in 1975.

As I was growing up, a tradition in our family was for my parents to give us ornaments each year from places they had traveled. My husband and I continued the tradition with our children … so we have a number of “special” ornaments that are placed on the tree year after year.

This year was no different. As I carefully unwrapped the tissue paper from around one particular ornament, memories flooded back as I saw the hand-painted ceramic decoration for the tree. It was a jack-in-the-box painted in 1975 by a 10-year-old boy named Stacy. I held the ornament in my hand and remembered back to the days when I worked at Children’s Hospital in Richmond, Virginia.

Stacy touched my heart more than any other child I came in contact with at the hospital because of his devilish sincerity. I loved that child. He was from southwestern Virginia, one of many children from a large, down-on-their-luck Appalachian family. As best I can remember, the accident that changed his life occurred when he was playing with his siblings and they tied him to a tree, piled leaves at the base of the tree, and set the leaves on fire. Stacy was horribly burned, so much so that much of both legs and part of one arm had to be amputated. He came to Children’s Hospital for rehabilitation.

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Toffee for Christmas

toffee-8Toffee for Christmas is a favorite with everyone. This is my most-requested candy recipe and I have gladly shared it with friends, fellow homeschool moms, and anyone else who has asked. I loved the toffee sold by Warfel’s Candy at the Dayton Farmers Market so began searching years ago for a recipe that would duplicate it and, sure enough, found exactly what I wanted in the Better Homes & Gardens Cook Book (entire recipe is at the end of this post). I made a double batch yesterday so thought I would share it for those who would like to make some for their holiday festivities.

toffee-1First thing was to butter the sides of the sauce pan, then put butter in pan and melt over low heat.

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Christmas Fudge


I’m taking a break from politics to enjoy the season with family and decorations and cookie baking and candy making and everything else that goes with the holidays. Today I made the first batch of fudge and thought I’d share it for anyone who wants to make their own. It’s one of the easiest of the candies I make. The recipe was passed along to me by a dear, dear friend many years ago and, though she is no longer with us, I think of her when making this fudge every Christmas.


Here’s what you’ll need: 3 12-ounce packages chocolate chips; 1/2 pound butter, softened (2 sticks); 3 Tablespoons vanilla; 4 1/2 cups sugar; 1 13-oz can evaporated milk. The complete recipe is at the end of this post. Here are step-by-step photos from today.

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Extra Thankful This Year


The day is over, food has been consumed, we’ve enjoyed time with family, and now we have settled in with a Christmas movie. But as I reflect on the day, this year I am extra grateful.

Five years ago we had a serious health threat with my mom. Throughout it all, my step-dad was the energizer bunny as we dealt with hospitalization, fall backs, and all that goes with caring for someone with chronic health issues.

This year our energizer bunny had a health scare of his own. His little energizer heart was not doing so well and the cardiologists said he needed stents, and a new heart valve. Those can be serious issues for older patients but the prognosis was dire if he did nothing. September and October were spent at hospitals as my sister, and my husband and I, split our time between health facilities and at my parents’ home helping out during that uncertain time.

Today as we gathered around the dining room table for our Thanksgiving meal, we were grateful to have both parents with us, and grateful that my step-dad had not only made it safely through the surgeries and procedures but is again thriving with a new pep to his step. He is quickly regaining his strength and stamina, and is almost back to normal.

As families gather for holidays and other events, we never know who may not be with us the next time we are together. This year prayers of gratitude went up that our energizer bunny had his usual place at the head of the table and performed his usual task of praying over the meal, and us. For as long as we are blessed with the presence of our parents, we will be grateful. They are among our Thanksgiving blessings.

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell
November 24, 2016


Happy Thanksgiving from


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


Autumn 2016 … Winter Woods Return, Thankgiving Blessings

Autumn was late arriving this year and warm temps hung on into November. Leaf color was about two weeks later than usual and, like past years, when it began, it went fast. This past weekend a cold front passed through the Shenandoah Valley complete with below freezing temps and extremely blustery winds. Any leaves clinging to trees were no match and flew away, leaving behind bare branches as the winter woods returned. It was a good time to walk the yard and woods to see the transformation from fall into winter.

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The Gleaming Giant Lording Over My Kitchen

refrigerator-freezerThere’s a stainless steel giant in my kitchen. It’s our new side-by-side refrigerator-freezer. But this isn’t a post about a new refrigerator … it’s a post about having an appliance that is smarter than we are. And about bargains.

We didn’t decide to buy a new fridge just because we wanted something new. Our old one that was over twenty years old was in need of life support after we found frozen items thawing, and the refrigerator side wasn’t do its job of cooling edibles.


A trip to the appliance store was eye-opening. If you haven’t bought a fridge in the past 20 years, it’s a new world out there. They are larger, more energy efficient, and made up of panels and switches that make it feel almost as if a degree is required to operate.  Almost.

There are multiple lights inside both the fridge and freezer sides. You could host Disney on Ice inside with all those spotlights. What happened to the single, bare light bulb in the back? They’re LED lights, too, that we’re told will last forever, or pretty darn close.

The freezer has a computer-type screen on the front that announces the temperature of the fridge and freezer, on display for all to see. That’s accompanied with a menu of options including variety of freezing choices, when to change the water filter or time to change the air filter (yes, it has an air filter!), and more. The water-ice dispenser on the door has its own illumination and offers three choices: water, cube ice, or crushed ice. Drawers on the fridge side cool separately.

I am awed.

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