Category Archives: Family and friends

Trick-or-Treat … Halloween 2017

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“The stockings were hung by the chimney with care” … oops, wrong holiday! Just kidding!

We were ready for our little neighborhood goblins by lunch time with front porch and walk swept of fallen leaves,  and pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns, gourds, and mums decorating the steps and porch.

5:40pm: For years I have blogged Halloween so tonight is no different. And for all my readiness, I was caught off-guard when our first neighbor kids came by — four of them, all girls, dressed as a scarecrow — really liked that mouth! — and a giraffe, a cat, and a witch. They were heading to the church festival after making the rounds of the neighborhood and, as their mom and I stood out front and talked, the girls thanked me for their candy and wandered up the driveway. Treats for all!

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6:18: Darkness is settling in and, as I went outside to take photos of the lights and jack-o-lanterns, neighbors came walking down the street, pushing a stroller with their little one while the four-year-old walked alongside his parents. They called out across the yard, “Happy Halloween!” I turned to see who it was, I laughed and told them I would know who it was by the dog! They have a huge dog that is recognizable to everyone, and she was walking with them. After stopping at the neighbor’s to get her to join them, they walked across to get treats at our house.

All were dressed for the night in a theme — dad as a red dragon, mom as a princess, and the boys as knights.

As the dragon, the princess, the two knights, and Luna the dog headed back up the street, our neighbor came on in to visit for a while … and while she was here we had no trick-or-treaters. Slow year.

7:45: As we walked outside as our neighbor was leaving — it’s mild at 46 degrees — we could hear coyotes running on the ridge behind the house, howling and yipping as they chased down something. It was eerie on Halloween … sounded like werewolves in the dark night. Spooky!

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8:10pm: Two more little goblins, our last of the evening, dressed as a SWAT team guy and a Special Ops guy. They were little, maybe seven and nine, and very polite. Treats for all!

This is about as late as we’ve had them in the past so not sure we will get anyone else. Total: eight trick or treaters for 2017.

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Happy Halloween!

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Mr. Candy Corn Goes to Richmond

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This is Mr. Candy Corn standing at my front door ready to go to Richmond. But first a little background….

In the autumn of 2016 my sister Lori spied this little fella at Blue Ribbon Nursery in Broadway as he stood amongst the fall and Halloween wreaths and décor. He was cute and she like him but we ended up leaving him behind.

Fast forward to autumn 2017. Lori hasn’t been able to come up to the Shenandoah Valley to chase autumn like we did last year so my friend Barb and I went traipsing through the countryside in September, buying chrysanthemums, pumpkins, gourds, and other autumn décor.

When we walked into Blue Ribbon, there was Mr. Candy Corn, again standing amongst the holiday decorations. I excitedly said hello to him and told Barb about Lori’s attachment last year. As I wandered through the aisles looking at the holiday goodies, my eyes kept seeking out Mr. Candy Corn.

And that’s how he went home with me. I just had to get him for Lori, and so he rode back to Staunton with Barb and me, sitting on the back seat like a proper Candy Corn, excitedly watching the view out the window.

When my sister, her husband, and daughter Emily went to New York City for a week in early September, I loaded Mr. Candy Corn in the car to take him to his new forever home.

Here he was at my front door ready to go!

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He paused on the steps for me to take pictures …

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A Little Girl Named Katy

1 Wearing Pappaw’s hat – age 3.

Happy Birthday to my sweet girl!

In 1987, October 3rd was a Saturday, and just as it does every year, today has opened a flood gate of memories that take me back to thirty years.

It had been warm in Iredell County, NC, that fall — typical for our western Carolina location — but a cold front was expected to pass through on Friday night, October 2, that would significantly cool down our area located at the Brushy Mountains, the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Even though I was nine months pregnant, we were preparing to attend the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival on Saturday just as we did every year, located thirty minutes up the road in North Wilkesboro.

The expected cold front came through that Friday night, and Saturday was overcast and cool but instead of attending the festival, we began the day with the newest member of our little family. Katy. Three-year-old Matt was at the hospital with us, sleeping on my bed and watching Saturday morning cartoons as he waited to find out if he had a baby brother or sister.

We had two names picked out: Katelyn for a girl, and Andrew for a boy. We got our Katelyn and her dad promptly wrote “Katy” on the name card located in her nursery bassinet.

Katy & Colin at Millie's wedding 2011
Katy and ColinKaty & Matt Braves 9-10Katy and older brother Matt at Atlanta Braves game in D.C.

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Katy and Colin on their wedding day at House Mountain Inn, Lexington, Va.

Katy & sheepBonding with a Highland County sheep.

Katy and Colin 1 year anniversaryAt the beach house in Florida

Katy and Colin at VaTechVirginia Tech game

Katy at Nags HeadOBX

Katy and Emily

Toes in the James River, RVA.

Katy MBC photo 2011My sweet Mary Baldwin College girl.

Beach 2 Katy, Emily 063Cousin Emily and Katy at the beach house on the Gulf.

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From that day on, our family was complete. Katy and Matt formed a sibling friendship that continues to this day. Ever the big brother, he was helpful with her from the beginning, and she gravitated to him before she could walk. Homeschooled from kindergarten through 12th grade, she graduated from Mary Baldwin with honors, and then married in a beautiful ceremony overlooking the mountains of western Virginia, bringing a young man into our family who was loved not just by her but by us.

Today my fun-loving child is a bubbly, organized, and adventuresome young woman who loves the beach and hiking and baking and flowers and autumn, and sheep and cats … and so much more.

She is definitely my traveling child, perhaps best captured by one of her favorite quotes from Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Today we celebrate the day a little bundle of love entered our lives and we were blessed with a little girl named Katy.  Love you, Katy Bee!

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If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart. I’ll stay there forever.” -Winnie the Pooh

Katy Lord 22Sharing a book.

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Katy 2Gatlinburg

Katy 3The cousins … Shenandoah Valley

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Katy Lord 10Studying

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Katy Lord 18Scott Stadium 2009 for U2

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Katy Lord 23The Homestead, Republican Advance, 2009.

Katy Lord 24Katy with cousin Emily, and all the others were homeschool childhood friends.

Katy, Colin magazine cover

At Duffs’ maple barn during Highland County Maple Festival. The tourism magazine asked to use my pic of Katy and Colin listening to the sugaring process.

 

Katy and Colin … Five Years Later

???????????????????????????????It hardly seems like five years have passed since that sunshine-filled September day when we gathered for the wedding of our daughter at House Mountain Inn west of Lexington in a beautiful setting among the western Virginia mountains. They sealed their vows with a kiss as seen from this “Mom Cam” … photo taken by mother-of-the-bride from the front row during the ceremony. What? You thought I was going to leave my camera behind? LOL.

???????????????????????????????On that day it was sunny and warm and perfect. The mountains of western Virginia made a stunning back-drop.

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Total Solar Eclipse on the Day My Grandparents Married in 1904

There’s a narrow gold wedding band I wear on my left hand along with my own. It is my grandmother’s wedding ring that was left to me when she passed away many years ago.

Inside is engraved my grandparents’ initials and the date of their wedding … August 21, 1904 … 113 years ago today.

John Francis Osborne was from Grayson County in southwestern Virginia. Mollie Beatrice Kennedy lived just across the state line, on the other side of the New River, in Allegheny County, N.C.

The two young lovers met at an all-night dance, a tradition during those days in the mountains where the young people would meet at someone’s house for a dance party. The social gatherings would last all night because folks lived such long distances from one another and it was difficult and dangerous to travel through the mountains after dark.
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First Day of Summer and Shrimping in South Carolina

Today is the first day of summer. As I enjoyed the morning breeze in the Shenandoah Valley, my mind drifted back to another first day of summer when my husband and I took our 16-month-old son and visited with friends who were living at the time in Charleston, S.C.

On June 21 during our stay, our friends took us out in their boat to explore Charleston Harbor and visit historical Fort Sumter on a small piece of land in the Atlantic Ocean. We spent the morning walking its pathways, exploring fortified areas, and absorbing the history of it all.

After leaving Fort Sumter, we pointed the boat toward the South Carolina coastline and made our way into one of the delta inlets for some shrimping, a great pastime for our friends, and something that was about to become a new experience for us.

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‘One More Day’ … with Dad

It’s another Father’s Day without Dad. We lost him to cancer when he was 51, and so every time I hear Diamond Rio’s “One More Day,” it makes me ache for that kind, easy-going, quiet, simple man who taught Sunday School, was a deacon in our church, and chased us kids around the yard as pretended to be the big, bad wolf from the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale.

His was not the life of a high-powered CEO or politician or world traveler but he was the world to us. The oldest of five children growing up in Amelia County, he was a child of the Depression who quit school after eighth grade to help support his financially-strapped family before enlisting in the Navy as a teenager to serve during World War II. Trained as a gunner on the USS Wisconsin, he traveled to exotic places around the South Pacific while the world was at war and, when it ended, he came home to Virginia, settled in Richmond, married, and raised three daughters.

One of his joys throughout the years was traveling to southwest Virginia to attend the Galax Fiddler’s Convention to listen to hours of bluegrass music, a genre I didn’t fully appreciate until long after he was gone.

His other joy was camping in Shenandoah National Park. We could not afford pricey vacations so our parents took us to the mountains from the time we were very young where Dad was a naturalist before it became fashionable. He was mindful of those protected surroundings, teaching his girls to leave the flowers for others to enjoy, pack out our trash, be respectful of the animals who lived there, and most of all to enjoy the beauty that is Virginia.

Diamond Rio’s song sharpens the realization that if I could have just one more day with him, it would be sitting around a campfire in Shenandoah National Park as the sun lowered behind the Appalachians … one more time.

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Virginia Soldier Died in Battle at Germany’s Siegfried Line

??????????[Editor’s Note: On March 21, 1945, the uncle I never knew was killed just six weeks before the end of World War II in Europe. He was 27 years old, my mother’s oldest brother. She was a student at Thomas Dale High School in Chester, Virginia, when her brother Clarence, the oldest of nine siblings, paid the ultimate sacrifice. She still remembers her mother’s reaction that fateful day when the official government car drove up the driveway of her parents’ Chesterfield County farm many decades ago, and how her mother’s knees buckled as she realized the presence of that car meant her son was not coming home. Mom says her mother, who lived into her 80s, never got over the loss.

After retiring from her job, Mom spent hours researching to fill the void of not knowing exactly what happened to her brother and, through her research, eventually found Clarence’s sergeant, Dock Roberts, living in Texas. Another soldier buddy, Emelio Albert, lived in California. She traveled to both places to talk with them to learn about her brother’s journey as a U.S. Army soldier through war-torn Europe, and his final hours, and she documented the treasured research for our family history. This is her story. I have edited and included links to more detailed historical accounts.]

Italian Campaign
The Italian Campaign was one of the most difficult of World War II. Some of the most exhausting battles for foot soldiers took place in Italy with its rugged mountains, and heavy snows in the winter of 1943 were followed by extensive cold rains in the late winter and spring of 1944. The ground turned into a quagmire and foxholes were filled with water. Mud was so deep it was nearly impassable for vehicles as well as men on foot. By the summer of 1944, the dry weather turned the earth to dust which swirled at the least disturbance. The Division veterans’ most vivid memories of the Italian fighting were the weather and terrain.

Clarence was sent from Virginia to the Texas National Guard as they replenished their ranks, and spent 15 months as a First Gunner in the Mortar Squad. Their Division played a big role in the war, joining other American forces in the liberation of the little town of San Pietro, located in southern Italy, from the Germans.

From there they battled their way to the Riviera in southern France, and onward to the northern border of France plus one day in Germany. Clarence was killed in the last great battle of the 36th Division of the 1st Battalion, Company D, 143rd Infantry Regiment of the Texas National Guard.
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Bear Under the Deck

A bumping outside the window woke me this morning around 4:00. Edging over to the open window, I listened to the bump and then heard the snort.

Bear.

Our garbage cans are kept under the deck. Only one had trash — one bag — but the full-grown black bear was in the process of knocking them all over to be sure there wasn’t anything more than what he was able to drag out and spread all over the ground.

I shined my small flashlight out the window and caught the shadowy outline of our woodland visitor. Padding across the carpeted floor, I gently shook a sleeping Mr. Mitchell.

“Hmm?” he responded, groggily. Guys sleep through anything.

“There’s a bear in the trash,” I whispered. I wasn’t sure what he could do about it but it seemed only reasonable that I should share this pre-dawn moment by disrupting his sleep.

He stumbled out of bed and disappeared into his man cave, coming back with a handheld spotlight. Did I hear him say it was a million watts? Whatever it was, it was bright.

Positioning himself at the widow, he pointed the spotlight in the direction of the bumping and snorting. There it was … a full-grown black bear pawing through our discarded water bottles, empty cans, used paper towels, and all the other assorted odds and ends found in the family trash.

With iPhone in hand, I snapped some photos but the combination of darkness, the screen on the window, and distance made it difficult to get a clear picture. The bear ate. I took pics. The bear pawed through the pile. More pics. More pawing and eating.

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The mountain was calling: when the first child makes you a mother

Mount Mitchell, North Carolina. Highest peak east of the Mississippi River at 6,684 feet elevation. Record snowfall during winter with some form of snow observed every month of the year. One snowstorm in January 2016 dumped 66 inches of the white stuff. Extremely high winds have been clocked … wicked lightning storms. Extraordinary views. Named after Dr. Elisha Mitchell, a professor at the University of North Carolina, who determined Mount Mitchell was the highest mountain in the eastern U.S. … Dr. Mitchell, who tragically fell to his death in 1857 when he slipped at the top of Mitchell Falls located on the slopes of the mountain …  and is buried on the peak of Mount Mitchell.

That was the place I chose to spend my first Mother’s Day in 1984. Our son was three months old. Near the summit was a picnic shelter where we spread out our lunch. Nearby a visitor center, a restaurant, and a trail to the top. It was our first visit to Mount Mitchell, but it was by no means our last. Throughout the twelve years we lived in NC, we often visited.

Today I thought of that day and our time on the mountain where we explored, dined on picnic food, and enjoyed the serenity of the highest peak in the east surrounded by the Pisgah National Forest. Because we chose to spend our day in the clouds, it made for a memorable first Mother’s Day.

Visits in later years provided more adventures as we picnicked in June in snow flurries, watched lightning dance and streak along the mountain top, wore coats to ward off the chill on rainy summer days, hiked, soaked in the sun, saw the mountain socked in by fog, and enjoyed the sound of the wind blowing up through the stunted spruce and pine forest.

The last time we were on the mountain was three years ago. It is time to return.

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Mother’s Day 2017

Remembers all the moms out there including my mom and sisters.

Blacksburg Millennials Share Tech-Savvy Talents With Non-Profit Community

Colin Lord

Saturday was a mild, early spring day in Blacksburg but inside, hunched over computer screens, a 12-hour giving-back-to-the-community design and development marathon was unfolding as more than 50 tech-savvy millennials donated their day to team up and pool their creative abilities.

The result when it ended was newly designed and updated public relations resources for 18 non-profit organizations, tools to utilize and help them promote their groups.

Welcome to the third annual “Make a Mark,” an event that brings together a wide-ranging pool of talented professionals from within the local technology community in the shadow of Virginia Tech University, known for turning out countless computer gurus. Reporter Paris Holmes at VirginiaFirst.com wrote:

54 different local web developers, illustrators, videographers, and other creatives  divided up into teams to make new websites, mobile applications, logos and other marketing materials for 18 different local non-profits.

This group of millennials, all too willing to help the world around them by sharing their biggest assets of time and talent, shows the generous side of an often-maligned generation.

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Grandma’s Wedding Band

My wedding ring along with my grandmother’s thin gold band.

A friend recently lost his grandmother which made my mind drift back to memories of my own grandma who passed away when I was 14 years old. In her 80s, she was the first person to die who was close to me.

Her name was Mollie, and when she was in her late 60s she lost her wedding ring. My mom, who was in her 20s at the time, bought a replacement ring, a thin gold band that was larger than usual to fit over my grandmother’s gnarled fingers and knuckles. They were hard-working hands, hands that had raised 10 children, worked in the farm fields and canned the rewards from those fields; washed, ironed, and cleaned; snapped beans and made dumplings. I was an infant at the time but Grandma said that when she passed on she wanted me, my mom’s oldest child, to have that wedding band.

Engraved inside the thin sliver of gold were their initials, “JFO” for John Francis Osborne, and “MKO” for Mollie Kennedy Osborne, along with the date they were married: August 21, 1904, which was a Sunday.

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My Great-Grandfather’s Kennedy Country Store … Alleghany County, NC

My mother’s family has deep roots in Alleghany County, North Carolina, where they settled in the mountains just over the state line from Virginia and outside of Sparta, NC. Drive the back roads and you’ll see lots of Kennedys.

Cross the New River from Grayson County, Virginia, into North Carolina and follow the winding country roads to an area called Turkey Knob that has been inhabited for generations by my relatives. This is the location of the Kennedy Country Store, started in the 1880s by my great-grandfather, James L. Kennedy.

James L. Kennedy was my grandmother’s father, and he established the store in the Potato Creek Community in the late 1800s selling peanuts and coffee. He and his son, Carl M. Kennedy, took weekly turns working the store and going home to Turkey Knob Community to farm. This great-grandfather had 24 children … but that’s another family story for another day.

Around 1907, Kennedy Store was moved to a wooden building in Turkey Knob Community across the road from its present location at the intersection of Mount Carmel Road and Turkey Knob Road. Part of the old store stood in its original place until 2008 when it became necessary to tear it down from years of wear. The existing store was build in 1937.

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‘Beauty and the Beast’ … Hypocrisy Personified

Disney’s latest much-anticipated movie, “Beauty and the Beast,” is set to open March 17, 2017, and already there is controversy. As news makes the rounds that there is a fleeting gay related moment at one point, the church community is freaking out.

Really?

Now Franklin Graham weighs in, again, with his opposition to the film. I’m seeing people on Facebook changing their plans to see the movie because of this news. Wonder if they have seen the dozens of other children’s movies throughout the years that have had adult references.

But more than that, 81 percent of the evangelical community voted for Donald Trump who famously noted that he could grab women by the p***y and get away with it because he was famous. And they were okay with that, okay enough to not only not boycott that but also tolerate other crude behavior and language from a presidential candidate, now president, who stood in front of a rally and used the *f* word.  Who bashed a Vietnam POW. Who is no shining example to hold up to our children.

But these easily-offended Christians cannot see “Beauty and the Beast.”

Spare me the hypocrisy.

Update: An article in USA Today saw the same hypocrisy with boycotting “Beauty and the Beast.”

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