Revisiting the (maybe) most haunted house in Loudoun County…

Around this time last year, I posted about what some believe to be the most haunted house in Loudoun County.

I wrote about it last year because I’d been reading a book of ghost stories my friend gave me , and I connected some dots and came to conclusion that the house in a story I’d read that day was very likely the same house.

Can I be certain? Well, no, but I’d like to think I’m right, because it’s a pretty cool connection. See, this house is just a few minutes away on the outskirts of our village, and Graham and I drive by it frequently. Of all the gin joints, right?

I’ve always been a fan of both ghost stories and old houses. I love walking into a space knowing that it has a history, that others have come and gone and loved it and built their lives there before me. And honestly, I think it’s just a fundamentally, very human thing to love ghost stories. Something in our primal makeup, in our DNA and our bones and the very oldest part of our brains tells us to be afraid of things that go bump in the night, and to ponder what happens to us when we die. I grew up in a town full of ghosts and legends, and I live in an area rife with them now, too. And this house is just one small piece of that larger puzzle.

Or, it was. Which is to say, it still is, but for how long is anyone’s guess. It was a ruin last year. It’s in worse shape now.

Graham stopped by yesterday and snapped this picture. Sad, isn’t it? Soon enough, the house will be gone, and the stories will be all that’s left. Then one day, they’ll be forgotten, too. But for now, the house is still here, crumbling away on the roadside, taking its secrets with it.

P.S. As I did last year, I’ll add this disclaimer:  This house is on private property, and there are no trespassing signs posted, so please don’t go poking around where you’re not welcome. It’s easy enough to take a picture from the road.

A Friday in the Fall

September is the month of gold –
the leaves,
the light,
the hours.
And there’s nothing quite like
a September night,
when the magic of
the harvest moon makes
lovers and poets of both
the young and the old.

I always feel a little melancholy seeing September come to an end. And yes, I know we’re not quite there yet. I’m thoroughly enjoying the slant of the light, the slightly cooler temperatures, the way the leaves have just started to turn… I love it all. And I just had to share this moment.

This is the sunset today, on the (small) mountain behind my house. I can’t get enough of it. And I know that soon enough, it will be dark at this time of day. But with the winter comes the stars, so I’m not complaining. I always have loved winter best. But for now, I’m soaking up this special September magic.

Found Friday #40: Spider Writer

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not particularly squeamish about bugs and other creepy crawlies. (Except snakes.) I find them pretty fascinating, actually. (Except snakes.) So when Graham snapped a shot of this colorful lady while he was out doing some work on the house yesterday, my first thought was, “What a pretty spider!”

And she is, isn’t she?

I did some research today, and it turns out, this giantess is an Argiope aurantia, sometimes called the writing spider. They’re known for the patterns they weave into their webs, which often look like X’s and Z’s. They’re not aggressive, but they will bite if provoked, and they tend to stay in one place throughout their lifetimes. And an interesting bit of folklore: It’s been said that if you tear down a writing spider’s web or try to harm it, the spider will build a new web the next day with your name written in silk, thereby cursing you with bad luck.

So, I’ll leave her alone, then. Which is my general rule of thumb anyway, when it comes to spiders.

But it does feel sort of appropriate to have a writing spider close by. I certainly don’t plan to bother her, but I think it’s pretty likely that I’ll check on her every now and again, if only to see what new patterns she’s created.

(Sort of) Found Friday #39: Not Quite Fine China

I more or less inherited these little decorative plates after my grandmother died. My dad’s mom, that is.

I don’t remember a time when these weren’t hanging over the stove in her kitchen, and I always liked them. Graham had to be convinced to hang them in our house, but I put my foot down. Fond memories make a house a home.

I hadn’t really thought much about them for years until I saw a post over on Suzassippi’s Lottabusha County Chronicles, talking about her fondness for fruit motifs and small town variety. Yet another thing we share, it seems.

I don’t really know much about these plates. There’s no maker’s label on them, other than a sticker that they were made in Japan, and I don’t know where my grandmother picked them up or how long she had them. But they certainly have a place in my house.

Funny, how little things can become beloved heirlooms, isn’t it?

Found Friday #38: The Gift of Time

It’s been a really busy year so far. I’ve not had a lot of time to just sit and do nothing, and neither has Graham. We’ve both been working hard, trying to balance our own goals and personal projects, time with friends, volunteer work, actual work, taking care of Annie and Gatsby, house stuff… It’s been a lot.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m fulfilled, and very happy, and I generally enjoy being busy. But sometimes, it’s just nice to take an afternoon and slow down.

Graham hasn’t had the chance yet, but I took advantage of my small to-do list today and used this afternoon to just relax.

I took a long nap, watched some TV, did a face mask, and ate snacks. It was amazing.

I’m feeling sort of guilty about it now, because there are certainly things I could have been working on, but I think it’s so important to give yourself time. It’s a gift many of us struggle to allow ourselves, though we tend to dole it out freely to other people, to work, to things that make us unhappy or stressed.

But our time is finite and valuable, and we deserve to have some of it just for ourselves.

My to-do list will be there tomorrow. Until then, I’m taking it easy.

Found Friday #37: New (Old) Things!

I try not to stop into antique shops very often. Very much like bookstores, I can’t seem to leave them without an arm full of stuff and with a much lighter wallet. But, I made an exception over the weekend. And I’m proud of myself! I only came home with two things.

This darling little glass jar with a monogrammed lid:

(I wonder who it belonged to, what they used it for, and how it came to be in a shop for sale…)

And this:

Yes, I know it’s an ashtray, and no I don’t smoke, but I love the floral pattern and the colors. And it goes nicely with another cut glass ashtray I got as a gift many years ago. (And I’ve just realized that it seems I’ve accidentally started an ashtray collection…)

I love collecting old things. I love the stories they tell, and their little chips and imperfections. They remind me of people, I think. Imperfect, but valuable and beautiful nonetheless.

Found Friday #36: Grandmother Memories

This picture popped up on my Facebook memories earlier this week.

I’ll admit it’s not a great photo. But I remember this day well, because I’m fairly certain it was the last time I had my grandmother’s chicken and dumplings.

I was visiting my parents in southwest Virginia, and my grandmother made a batch just for me. I insisted she didn’t need to do that, that I just wanted to see her and not to trouble herself over me, but stubbornness does run in the family, and she’d already made up her mind.

Looking back on it now, I’m glad I took the picture, and glad she did trouble herself. And very glad indeed that I ate almost the whole batch.

Found Friday #35: Summer Daze

It’s a beautiful, warm, sunny day here in my little corner of the world. The birds are happy and singing. The breeze is gentle. The leaves are green and lush. The clouds are few and wispy.

Makes it hard to focus on much of anything except being outside and taking it all in. And you know, that’s just fine.

Found Friday #34: A most welcome visitor!

You guys! Look!

I’d lamented last week that I hadn’t seen a single cicada in my yard, and who should stop by shortly after but this little weirdo! I didn’t see him in person, sadly. He was hanging out on the bush that Graham can see from his desk, and Graham snapped a picture before he flew away. Not ideal, sure, but I’ll take what I can get!