An Icy Battlefield Hike

One of my goals for 2021 is to get outside more and do some hiking. I used to really enjoy hiking, but in the last few years, I’ve become something of a cave creature. It’s time to change that. Movement is good. A dose of sunlight every now and then is healthy, so I’ve been told.

At any rate, this weekend we met up with our friends Liz and Anthony for a low-key hike at Manassas National Battlefield Park. I’m a little embarrassed to say I’d never visited the battlefield in Manassas before Sunday. It was Liz’s choice. She and Anthony can always be counted on to join outdoor adventures and find the best hiking spots.

Here we are, back in 2016 in Alaska, after rowing out to the Mendenhall Glacier.

It’s good to have outdoor friends, I think.

Since Graham and I are pretty out of shape, we opted for an easy hike on the First Manassas Trail. Or, it would have been easy. See, we didn’t anticipate that the trail would be an ice rink.

We didn’t bring our trekking poles or our ice cleats. But with some caution and some borrowed gear from our friends, we did pretty okay.

Over the course of the five-mile loop, there are lots of historic sites and markers.

It’s a pretty good combination of field and forest, with a river and some wetlands.

It’s a really lovely trail, honestly.

And there aren’t any super steep hills. Until the very end, anyway.

I confess that by the last mile, I was ready to be done. My hips were killing me and my knees were pretty sore, but I made it to the end. Fast forward to today, and I’m hobbling around the house and muttering “ow” every third word. But, I have no regrets.

And there are more hikes in my future.

Found Friday #21: Where’s Gatsby?

I had a whole post written and ready to go for today, and it was not about Gatsby (my wonderful Maine Coon, in case you missed the post about him). But then, this afternoon, he disappeared.

Seriously, I went upstairs to brush my teeth and I couldn’t find him anywhere.

Now, Gatsby’s been known to pull the occasional vanishing act. When he was a kitten, his favorite hiding spot was tucked into the box spring under the mattress. Now that he’s older, he favors the little cubbies and crannies in our master closet.

So, I checked all the usual spots. He just wasn’t there.

And then, I heard a meow. Just a quiet one, from the vicinity of the bed.

So, where was Gatsby, then? Well…

And he’s still there. Hasn’t moved. Sleeping and purring away.

For reference, he has, for the very first time in his fifteen years of life, snuggled in under the blanket I drape over the duvet every morning so that it doesn’t get covered in fur.

I guess he got wise to my game. Cats, y’all…

Q&A! What do you want to know?

At the end of last year, I wrote a post about my goals for 2021. I’m normally pretty shy about sharing goals, but I figured putting them out there would help to hold me accountable this year.

Which brings us to today. One of my goals for 2021 is to start a YouTube channel. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while now. I don’t love seeing myself on camera, despite years of being completely and totally comfortable acting and singing on stage. But I do love the idea of sharing stories about old house living, days in the beautiful Virginia countryside, writing poems and stories, music and singing and songwriting, and eventually, when it’s safe again, some bigger travel adventures.

I’m planning to start putting together some content in the next several weeks, once it starts to warm up a bit outside. In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to reach out to all of you, wonderful readers and fellow bloggers, and see what kind of content you’d be interested in.

Like, I know my everything about my very old house is fascinating to me, but what aspects of living in an older home would you like to explore? And though I love driving down dirt roads in the country and sampling craft wine, beer, and cider, what would you like to know about Virginia’s historic and scenic countryside?

And as part of the fun, to get started, I thought I might do a Q&A here, so you can all learn a little more about me. I’ve seen other bloggers do this, and I love it. 😊 So, ask away! What would you like to know?

I’ll plan to post some A’s to your Q’s in the next couple of weeks.

A Sort of Love Poem

*I had planned to post a sweet song for Valentine’s Day yesterday, and then a poem today. But time got away from me yesterday, as it so often does, and well, here we are. So, here’s a sort of love poem, and a video of me singing some Gillian Welch by the fire. I hope you enjoy both! And if you’re in the US and in the line of fire – er, ice – with this latest winter storm, stay safe and warm!*

Dear Someone,
I don’t need you, but
I’d like to meet you
nonetheless.

It might be fun, Dear Someone,
to see where things could go,
but no, I’m not waiting for you.
See, I’ve got other things to do.

It’s a big universe, after all,
Dear Someone,
and who can say who meets who
and when.
Though I hope we do,
eventually, some time, someday,
maybe.

And so,
Dear Someone,
whoever you are,
if by chance we stumble across each other
at some party or in some bar,
I’m open to the possibility.

Found Friday #20: A new camera lens and an alien creature on a strange planet…

My husband got a new camera lens a couple of weeks ago, and he’s been getting used to it. Graham is a wonderful photographer, though he won’t say so, and he’s captured some really amazing images in the last several years.

I really like this one from Iceland. I just love the quality of the evening light.

And this one, from Bath.

This one’s an old favorite, taken from our balcony on an Alaskan cruise.

And I love this one, which he took while we were sitting with some friends on the beach one day. I don’t even know how he spotted this kid, since it was a really crowded day in the ocean.

The movement, the sunshine, the joy – he just nailed it.

Graham doesn’t often spend money on himself, and so when he said he wanted to buy a macro lens, I told him he should go for it. We should all feel empowered to pursue the things we love, and that includes setting ourselves up with the proper tools.

He’s not quite happy with the quality of the images he’s gotten so far, but he’s enjoying learning his way around the new lens. He spotted a good opportunity a few nights ago to get some practice.

It’s a Japanese beetle (they invade our house every winter) on a piece of volcanic rock, but it looks like an alien creature on a different planet.

I mean, sure, these images are a little blurry, but I still think they’re really cool. I’m looking forward to seeing what he’ll do once he’s a little more familiar and comfortable with shooting with a macro lens.

And in the meantime, I’ll keep encouraging him, and reminding him that perfection doesn’t exist in this universe. 😊

Gatsby the Gentle Giant

Since I’ve written a couple of posts now about Annie, my crazy, wonderful Australian Shepherd, it feels only fair that I should also feature my big, beautiful Maine Coon cat, Gatsby.

Gatsby is almost fifteen years old. I got him when I was a senior in college, and he was just a scruffy little kitten.

Boy did he grow.

I didn’t know when I adopted him that he was a Maine Coon. I just figured he had a little extra fluff, and really, don’t we all? But here we are, all these years later, and he’s grown into a gentle giant with a huge personality.

He has a knack for always finding the sunniest spots.

And the best angles to show off his handsome face.

He and Annie are…not friends…but we’ve managed. Gatsby makes it easy, honestly. His favorite thing to do is nap, so they don’t see much of each other.

At fifteen, I know he’s an old man, but I’m so happy I found him, and I cherish every moment with him. He really is a special animal.

Annie’s First Day Home (Bonus Post!)

Just a quick bonus post today, since I wrote about Annie yesterday and I’ve gotten so many sweet comments about her. When I was looking through pictures yesterday, I came across this one and just had to share.

This was taken the day we brought her home, almost eleven years ago. We look so young! And Graham is wearing a Bob Ross shirt. And I have bangs. And Annie’s eyes are closed, but she’s still cute as ever. Look at those little ears!

I remember this day vividly. Annie sat on my lap the whole way home – a four hour trip from North Carolina to Northern Virginia – and when we were about ten minutes away from our house, she vomited all over me. It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

No, really. It was. I can’t imagine my life without my favorite furry weirdo.

Annie the Snow Dog

She loves the snow as much as I do.

Annie is an almost eleven-year-old Australian Shepherd. She’s been with us since she was just a little puppy.

Though I would not recommend an Aussie to an inexperienced dog owner, watching her experience the world is one of the great pleasures of my life. She’s smart, spunky, friendly, curious, quick to learn, and easily the most energetic of all of us. She loves Graham best, and she’s happiest when they go for walks on the path along the mill race.

It snowed Sunday morning, and while I sat by the fire with a cup of coffee and a book, Graham took Annie out for some playtime and a snow day stroll.

It snowed almost as much in six hours as it did over the course of two days last week, and it was just beautiful.

I’m glad Graham got some good pictures before it melted. Which it did, by Sunday evening. But as always, I enjoyed it while it was here to enjoy. And Annie did, too.

It looks like we’ve got more winter weather to look forward to this week, though there’s apparently a chance for some significant ice, so, we’ll see. I was worried, back in the beginning of December, that we’d see a winter with barely any snow. How lovely to be wrong.