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Happy Birthday Grandpa





Happy Birthday to Grandpa

Originally uploaded by barneykin

~*~ 8 August 2008 ~*~ He really is not as old as he looks, nor is he as old as the candles say. I couldn’t find our birthday candles, except for these.

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From My Own Farm Bell

Edna’s Farm Bell at the Edge of the Wildwood

I’ve never lived on a farm, nor had any connection with farming, although, of course, many of my forebears did. However, I have always wanted to have a farm bell mounted in my garden as a remembrance of those bygone days of simpler times. What a surprise it was last Christmas when my son’s family gave us an old farm bell that they had found in Warrenton, Virginia.

Well, good Captain Cliff does not like to work outside when the weather is cold, so the old farm bell sat, packed and boxed, all winter long in the garage, where we bumped and crashed into it whenever we were entering or exiting our vehicles. It was in the early Spring, when we were visiting a home on the Eastern Shore, that I was captivated by another old farm bell. It was so charming and I took photographs of it and even blogged one of them: Old Farm Bell

After we returned home, and I posted my pictures, Captain Cliff became a bit eager to install my Farm Bell. He opened the box and unpacked it, and to our suprise, it was identical in every way, including the manufacturer’s name, to the one that we had see at the Maryland home. How delightful! So we tried to copy that one, including the new black paint.

My son suggested that we not paint it; that we leave it in its original patina, as it is in this photograph. I think now that we should have heeded him, but we didn’t. This photograph is how it appeared before the paint job. We have not yet been able to find proper cotton roping for the pull cord, but we are still looking. This synthetic rope is not quite right, but it is all we have.

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The whole idea of it makes me feel much OLDER. Having a thirteen-year-old grandchild cinches it; now I must certainly act like the senior adult that I am, or am supposed to be. I have to make better decisions about my life, and on my choices of things that really matter.  What am I saying? That is advice that would be better for my granddaughter, whose thirteenth birthday is today. Yes, once upon a time, a long while back, I turned from twelve to thirteen, and I remember it being a milestone of my life. Seemingly, all at once, I was expected to behave like a young lady, and no longer like a little girl.

I am sure that today my thirteen-year-old granddaughter feels much older than she did yesterday. She is now more responsible. She is a young lady and no longer a little girl, as I remember her. From this moment on she will need to ponder each and every decision that she makes. She will need to think about her choices of all the things that really matter, like friendships, family, life and God. Although it sounds burdensome, it is the way that life is for young women. Instead of thinking “what a burden,” young women think “what a joy to be a woman.”

I try and look back upon the days of my own childhood, but it is mostly forgotten. However, I remember a few fleeting moments of the arrival of my first grandchild, and of the joy she brought to her grandfather and me. When we first saw her, she was five months old, and we immediately carried her to Balboa for her first carousel ride. I remember her beautiful innocence at the age of three.  By age five, she was considered a princess by her mother and father. At age ten she was an accomplished athlete, and by eleven her many other skills and talents were delightfully manifest to her world. Those days of her life were like the gentle rains from heaven, with each raindrop falling slowly to earth. Then, much too quickly, the drops turned into rivulets and flowed away, down to the River of No Return, never to be seen again.  Those soft delicious raindrops exist now only in the memories of her loved ones who were with her then.

The gentle summer rain is over. Now we watch the morning sunrise, as it proclaims to the new  adult: “This is the day of your responsibility. From now until life’s end, you leave your footprints in the sands of time. Tread carefully. Bid adieu to those carefree days of frollicking in my warm sunshine. That was yesterday. Today you are grown up, and in control of your own destiny.” 

Visit Neddy’s Archives for more of Edna’s writings.

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Lyda Rosebud


It has been just a few weeks since I planted my eensy-tiny rose sprig that was shipped all the way from Oregon. See “My Thornbury Castle.”  It is barely one foot high now. I could hardly believe my eyes this morning when I examined it. There is actually a tiny bud forming.  How amazing, and it is really in the shade, too, under trees.

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I planted my Thornbury Castle rose early last spring. It was a mere sprig of a twig and I had doubts that it would survive my rugged garden. However, thrive it did once I transplanted it to a sunnier location, and by September it  had grown in height to a couple feet tall and had produced a few lovely blooms. It went through the northern Virginia winter without a bother.

~*~The Slide Show ~*~

This Spring, each morning and evening, I have been watching my one-year-old Thornbury Castle rose continue its growth, as I relax on my front porch rocker. Although there was a slight bout with aphids early on, which I sprayed with “House & Garden”, the plant has been doing well. Today there are eight buds sprouted upon it, with color showing, and I snapped a portrait.

A Picture from Edna

I have been so pleased with the progress of the little rose, that I ordered four more this spring from the same nursery. They seem quite expensive, especially with the hefty shipping charges, but I am having fun enough, so far, to justify the steep cost.

For my sunny front garden, a few yards away from the Thornbury Castle, I planted Margaret Merrill. Then on the side of my house we (me and my helper – Captain Cliff) dug up a climbing Queen Elizabeth that had never bloomed in the ten years since I planted it, and replaced it with Zéphirine Drouhin, a rose-pink large flowered thornless climber. Here’s hoping that Ms. Douhin lives up to her name. She is now less than a foot tall – so has a long way to go to climb that trellis that is now being encroached by honeysuckle. Then at the border with the woodland I planted Lyda Rose; it has apple-blossom-like flowers and will bloom profusely in the shade, or so it is promised. We will see how Miss Lyda likes it there at the gateway to the Wild Wood.

Yesterday, I lost control, once again, of my plans to stop creating work for myself, and ordered another rose. This one is said to do well in a container, so I thought that I might give it a try in front of my garage. I usually plant a Mandeville there each Spring, but then in the Fall it is a bit of a chore to remove it and all of its woody vines. I decided to go for a rose that I can leave in the pot year after year. So now I am awaiting “Cream Abundance.”

The image, Rosebuds, was originally uploaded by barneykin. It is posted here from Barneykin’s flickr account.

Visit Neddy’s Archives for more of Edna’s writings.

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Yesterday – believe it or not, the earth moved in Northern Virginia.

We had a mini earthquake in Virginia and the event even has a name. It is “The North Springfield/Ravensworth/Annandale Earthquake” of May 2008.  The epicenter of the quake was at one of the warehouses on Port Royal Road in Springfield, Virginia: 38.806° NO, 77.220° WE.

I was digging in my garden along the side of the house when there was a sudden muffled boom that shook our dwelling place. Captain Cliff came running from his downstairs office looking for a fallen tree that he expected had crashed upon our roof. That was his first reaction. To me it felt like the earthquakes I remembered from our days living in California. That mention by me of an earthquake in Virginia caused the good Captain to immediately guffaw the idea. Our next door neighbor, Mary Elizabeth, came running out of her house, so we knew it was not only our home affected.

The USGS Earthquake Center on the Internet first listed it as a 1.8 Magnitude “micro quake” that occurred at 1:30 pm with an epicenter in Annandale, south of NOVA Community College, off of Route 236/Wakefield Chapel Road, and west of Interstate 495.

By evening, the USGS had slightly updated the epicenter and magnitude, based upon more data they had gathered. The newly identified epicenter is now located between Port Royal Road and Queensberry, just to the west of the Port Royal Road warehouses and businesses.

You can learn more about our rare earthquake by going to this USGS site:
http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/recenteqsus/Quakes/ld1022071.php

If it had not been an earthquake, I felt it could have been caused by some sort of detonation at the Army’s nearby Fort Belvoir. Apparently the Army has reported to the news media that there had been no explosions or detonations at Fort Belvoir on that day.

So … we probably had a “real” earthquake, something of a rarity around here, but never an impossibility. Considering that our earthly abode rests upon the crusty surface of a swirling sphere of molten rock, we are lucky to have the peace and calm that we usually enjoy. Virginia Quakes

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Old Farm Bell


A Picture from Edna

We had the pleasure of visiting a lovely home on the Eastern Shore of Maryland last weekend. A classmate from Captain Cliff’s Naval Academy days had built a home on a peninsula on Harris Creek of the Choptank River. The location, previously a corn farm, was beautiful, with osprey and bald eagles soaring above. The owners are continuing the farming tradition, albeit, with much more variety for the use of themselves and friends. At the corner of his home I spotted this old farm bell and I photographed it with an ulterior motive in mind.

Our eldest son’s family had given us an antique farm bell last Christmas and it has been in a box in the garage since. I was hoping that this picture would inspire Cliff to buy a post for our bell and install it in our garden. So far, it has inspired him to make a trip to Home Depot. Perhaps not too distantly in the future I will be able to show a picture here of my own farm bell.

The image, Farm Bell Poster, was originally uploaded by barneykin. It is posted here from Barneykin’s flickr account.

Visit Neddy’s Archives for more of Edna’s writings.

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A Picture from Edna

The cheery cherry tree that we planted in our front garden about four years ago is in full bloom today. It is beautiful! My memories of it shall never vanish, as I have captured them with my trusty Canon point and shooter, which I love, for just that reason.

This tree is the Yoshino, Japan’s favorite cultivated cherry tree developed more than one hundred years ago. More than 3,700 of these trees grow around the Tidal Basin, at East Potomac Park, and on the Washington Monument Grounds. Can that number be true? I got it from the National Park Service.

I planted this tree because my husband has always exclaimed over one whenever it blooms on a property that he owns in Burke, Virginia. My neighbers on either side of my house also have cherry trees. The one on the south side has a weeping cherry which blooms after mine. The neighbor below us planted a double flowering Kwansan cherry tree, so that we can delight in even more spectacular cherry blooms when the weeping cherry is finished. We love our cherry trees here, and they love being here too.

The image, Cherry Blossoms, was originally uploaded by barneykin. It is posted here from Barneykin’s flickr account.

Visit Neddy’s Archives for more of Edna’s writings.

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Broken Cookies


Are all the broken cookies that are packaged in bags of cookies, provided for free because they are broken? Or is it that the broken cookies are actually charged for at a much higher rate than the whole ones? We always eat them first which means that the broken cookies must be the best, the superior, the most sought after of all the cookies. Why do we do this? It is not because they are calorie-free, as everyone knows that is merely a joke. I think it is because we are perfectionists and cannot bear to view the imperfect cookies. So we eat them as quickly as we can.

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The new year has come and Annie is gone. She has greeted so many, many new years at my home, but this one comes to find that Annie no longer lives here. My husband and I have spent the last months of the last year trying to de-clutter our home. Not totally mind you, as I know better than to do that. If I were to remove ALL clutter from my home I would feel myself a stranger in a strange house, and I would forthright begin a tireless quest to replace the missing clutter.

Raggedy Ann Doll

That is how Annie has come to be absent, along with hundreds of LP albums that we no longer used, photography developing equipment, stacks and stacks of saved magazines that I have treasured through the years such as “The Magazine Antiques” and assorted miscellany. Annie was a big girl, a big ragdoll and a big bit of clutter, so she was tossed.

However it is only Annie that I miss. I knew it would be like this and that is why I photographed her smiling face, just before I tossed her. Now I am regretting that I did not photograph her heart also, just to verify that it was yet stuck to her chest. But I didn’t. I just tossed her into the bin destined for the local hospital’s Thrift Shop. She had been here so long, played with by so many grandchildren, that she had lost some of her clothing and, most horribly, her right foot. Her cotton batting innards were spilling forth. I am weary of mending and fixing, so I pinned her detached parts to her and said good-bye. She is such a delightful creature that my heart felt certain that another clutter-loving Thrift Shop shopper will find her appealing and restore her lost dignity. Annie has been recycled to another home, I hopefully tell myself.

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