The Sights and Sounds of Spring

Irene's tulips and my Iris

Irene’s tulips and my Iris

I think Spring is finally here. As I venture down the hill, the View is wonderful.

The tulips and daffodils and forsythia were rather short-lived but certainly were bright and colorful for a while. My favorite trees, the Red Buds, provided a brilliant display against the dark evergreens.

The Iris this year are absolutely beautiful, and such an array of colors – pale blue, deep purple, bright yellow, stark white, bronze. And then there are the multi-colored ones – deep purple with white fringes, pink and white, brown and yellow and reddish purple. My favorites are the ones that are such a deep purple they appear black.

The ones in my back yard are at least three feet tall, I’m certainly going to miss them when they stop blooming. The lilacs were not only beautiful to look at, but were super fragrant this year and I’ve seen about three different shades, from deep purple to pale lavendar and white. The roses are loaded with buds and a few more sunny days will bring them into full bloom. The heather and Russian Sage provide different shades of purple – the official color of Strasburg. Almost every house is adorned with red and white geraniums and various shades of pink and red petunias and other annuals.

After having my hostas and day lilies eaten to the ground by the deer for two years in a row, they appear very healthy this year and I can hardly wait for the day lilies to start blooming.

My view is not limited to flowers. The children are enjoying the pleasant weather and the streets, lawns and sidewalks are full of bikes, scooters, skate boards, electric cars and ball game and squeeling, giggling boys and girls.

And I must not forget to mention the birds. They sing and chatter from early morning to nightfall. A pair of finches built a nest behind a shutter on the front of our house and I can see two tiny heads in it. Every time Tiger goes outside, the parent finches get very nervous and follow him around fussing loudly. And I can hear a woodpecker working in the woods behind my neighbors’ house. Unfortunately, the black bear is still making occasional appearances, so we can’t have bird feeders out to attract more birds. And with the destruction of our small woods last fall, there are fewer squirrels. I miss their chatter.

Anyway, life on the Hill is great and I wish Spring could last all year!


It Pays to Start Early

It Pays to Start Early

Today it’s not so much a “View” as it is “News”. on Wednesday, April 30, I became a GREAT GRANDMOTHER And not just any great grandmother – but TWO. Yes, TWINS – a boy and a girl. That is doubly exciting for me because so far I have only been presented with BOYS! Five of them. Finally, I can enjoy looking at frilly little dresses and bonnets. Don’t worry, Charlie, I won’t go overboard.

As I was patting myself on the back and thinking of all the joy those five boys have brought me, I realized that at my advanced age of 76, I won’t be able to do a lot of the things I did with the previous generation. I’m not so naive that think we can have over-nights and week-long visits, go sight-seeing and on picnics, to concerts, etc.

My next thought was why is being a GREAT grandparent so special? Perhaps it’s just that four generation families are somewhat of a novelty. I was partially raised by my maternal grandparents and occasionally visited their parents (my great grandparents). But they were “old” and they passed on before I became a teenager.

After pondering all of this, I reached the conclusion that, sadly, if young couples continue the trend of not starting their families until they are nearly 40, they most likely will not ever reach the “great”grandparent status. I think it is sad for the potential great grandparents and sad for the children who will never know them. I want my great grandchildren to remember me – even if it’s only that I sat in a wheel chair and worked on quilts or listened to strange “ancient” music.

So my advice to young couples is not necessarily to get married younger – just don’t put off starting a family too long if you want to experience what I am today by those two little bundles of joy, Brently and Mackenzie.

Three Quarters of a Century – WOW!

All my life I’ve marked my age by the decade or quarter century. The first Quarter was pretty exciting. I was a working mother and life was good. But when I reached the Third Decade, I suddenly felt I had somehow left “Young” behind me. By the Fourth Decade, I was a stay-at-home Mom with three kids – busy but not much excitement.
Then came the Half Century. A single Mom, a new career, a college degree and a grandchild. Life was still good but the body was beginning to show the wear and tear and required some tune-ups.
The next two decades were filled with good and bad events. Happiness and sadness. Lost my father and a son, but gained a daughter-in-law and more grandchildren. Enjoyed some traveling in the U.S. and Europe and entered into retirement and a second marriage and some miscellaneous post-retirement jobs. Also acquired a new son-i n-law. A new cycle of life began when I took on the role of parent to my mother and moved to the Shenandoah Valley.
I love the Valley – the pace of life is slower and the people are genuine – once they decide to accept you. Also, the Valley is so full of history, especially of the Civil War and I have become interested in reading about it. It’s so much easier to understand when you can identify places with the facts.
The Seventh Decade brought the beginning of a steady decline in health, requiring many repairs – 1 ear surgery, 5 eye surgeries, and 2 back surgeries. My pace of life became much slower. Now as I have completed the Third Quarter Century, I am finally beginning to feel more like my original self. I am looking forward to a more active decade. My body is slowly regenerating and my mind is racing ahead. Many dreams, many projects.
First on the agenda will be to complete the crib quilts before the birth of my first great grandchildren – yes, twins! I can’t begin to predict what will follow, but I feel I am ready for it. There’s painting to do in the house; there’s more landscaping to do outside; the church’s thrift store has expanded and requires lots of attention and there’s always the opportunity to volunteer at the local Library and meet many interesting people.
Keeping up with the family is almost a full-time occupation: one grandson is on the police force in Warrenton, Virginia and about to be the father of the twins; another grandson is an honor student (a junior) at Shenandoah University; another grandson is employed by Fairfax County Public Works, following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and great-grandfather; two more grandsons are excelling in sports (baseball and football).
My daughter and son have become mature, responsible adults and I am proud of family.
In my leisure, which is not abundant, I still enjoy reading, quilting, gardening and now, writing. Gardening is a bit of a challenge and I have to pay to have some of it done at my direction.
So three quarters of a century is not bad. Look out eighties, here I come!


February is the shortest month of the year, most years having only 28 days; it could also be considered the strangest month of the year because every fourth year (Leap Year ) it has 29 days. Frequently, especially in this area, it is the coldest and snowiest month. February, in spite of its shortness has many Holidays or days of special observance:
February 2……………..Ground Hog Day
February 6 ………….Ronald Reagan’s Birthday
February 10…………..My Birthday
February 12…………Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday
February 14………Valentine’s Day
February 22………George Washington’s Birthday

Christians begin the observance of the 40 days of Lent on Ash Wednesday, which sometimes is in February.

February is also called Heart month and the emphasis is on Heart Health – important to all of us. Red is the unofficial color for February – red – the color of blood which sustains our hearts and our lives.

By some, February is considered the “Love” month, symbolized by the exchanging of sentimental greetings, candy, and flowers on Valentine’s Day. Red roses are considered the symbol of love. And that cute little guy, Cupid, is believed to go around shooting his arrows of love into the hearts of young adults; thus many wedding engagements occur in February.

February’s flower is the Violet, the lovely little purple wild flower that hugs the ground and blooms very early in the year, and the birthstone for February is Amethyst, a beautiful clear purple stone mined mostly in the mountains of South America. In ancient times, purple was considered the color of wealth and royalty.

Some February Challenges:
Love the Lord God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your being;
Love your Neighbor as yourself;
Count your Blessings and share them with those less fortunate;
Live a heart-healthy lifestyle – exercise and eat wisely;
Donate blood if you are able;
Donate to the Heart Association for research;
Respect and Honor our forefathers and our current leaders;
Appreciate and love the beauty of our World.





A Winter View

snow on treesSome love it and some hate it. Maybe it just depends on where you are in Life. If you are young – or just young at heart, it’s a wonderful sight and spells “play”. But if you’re more mature and it interferes with what you want or must do, then it spells “trouble” and it’s a force to be dealt with.

I guess I’m on the “mature” side of “young at heart” because I love to look at it but am annoyed by the inconvenience it causes.

Snow! Undisturbed it is a beautiful sight. Like the frosting on a cake before it is cut – or like the flowing satin of a wedding gown. And what is more peaceful than watching the flakes gracefully falling from the sky, unhurried and seemingly without purpose?
Without purpose? I’m not sure. The landscape becomes transformed when the bare, ugly tree limbs become outlined in soft white, and a long row of drab board fence gets a white cap. Evergreen trees bow under the weight of a new white cape. Whether you’re young at heart or mature, it is a beautiful sight.
And then the rest of the world wakes up and begins to change the landscape again to suit their purposes. Out come the shovels and blowers and trucks with blades as they attempt to restore normalcy. The children build snowmen and snow forts and just make tracks in the snow – because that’s what kids do.Image (2)
One of two things happens next. Either the sun shines brightly and the beautiful snow turns to slush and sometimes creates new problems, or it remains cold and the piled up snow turns grey and ugly from the dirt and exhaust which we create. And the former beauty is forgotten.

Where are you in Life? Are you? Young at heart or Mature? If the wooly worms, squirrels, and deer are any indication of what lies ahead, we may have plenty of opportunity in the coming months to experience the wonder and beauty of SNOW!

Thanksgiving – Past and Present

Thanksgiving was always my favorite Holiday.
When I was young, my family always travelled to West Virginia to spend Thanksgiving with my grandparents. There were plenty of aunts and uncles and cousins to visit with.
After becoming an adult with a home of my own, things changed. I love to decorate and cook and enjoyed having the whole family come for dinner. There was no stress about gifts and everyone pitched in with the clean-up and there was time to relax and visit. For several years my sister and her family (husband and three daughters) came down from up-state New York and stayed for the week-end. Sometimes the weather caused some anxiety, but we always prevailed. I miss those days – the girls are all married with families of their own, scattered along the East Coast.
My daughter’s husband and son are hunters so they are never available for Thanksgiving dinner and my son’s work schedule frequently causes him to miss the festivities. I’ve been known to host a big Thanksgiving dinner on the following Sunday or even a week later to accommodate everyone.
A couple of years ago my daughter and daughter-in-law got together and brought the entire Thanksgiving dinner to us – turkey and all. What a treat! This year my husband and I are going to my son’s house and I only have to take cornbead.
I hope there is some left-over turkey I can bring home.
But other aspects of Thanksgiving have also changed. The emphasis seems to be on which department store can open the earliest on Friday – some even opening on Thanksgiving Day. Have we lost focus? Is a tradition dying? I certainly hope not.
It is true that this has been a tough year – natural disasters, mass killings, terrorist threats, and family violence. Even so, we have much to be thankful for. The newspaper today was full of announcements of organizations providing free Thanksgiving meals for the needy all over the area. We can be thankful for the compassion of those who are reaching out to others. We should and can be thankful if we are not classed as “needy”. I know am.
I will not be joining the throngs packing the parking lots and racing for bargains. I will be content on Friday to relax at home and enjoy the view from my spot at the top of the hill and reflect on my blessings and memories of Thanksgivings past. Maybe next year I can realize my dream of being the “grandmother” presiding over a bountiful feast with my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren filling the house with laughter. If not, maybe I’ll join a group feeding the needy.
Stay tuned.

Time Consuming Losses

It must be old age – so many of my friends complain of the same ailment.  You’re right on schedule and ready to go out the door,   BUT you can’t find:  (take your pick)  

        * car keys 


        *sun glasses

        *cell phone

        *map and directions

And the search begins.  Obviously they’re not where they belong or you wouldn’t be going through this frustrating search.  So you try the next obvious place without success.  Where/when was the last time you used them?  What were you wearing?  A thorough inspection of every jacket, skirt, coat, and pair of slacks turns up nothing.  Now a slight bit of panic starts to creep in – but you’re not ready to give in.  After all, you built  a five minute emergency contingency into your schedule.

So sit down, take a deep breath and THINK!   Can you just forget the search and go without the lost item?  Not if it’s the car keys or your glasses.  Do you call and make apologies?  No – the phone number is on the paper with the directions.   Suddenly you realize that five minute bonus has expired and panic sets in full blast.  You  glance  around and the house looks like the aftermath of a drug raid.

It’s time to take another deep breath and begin the search again – this time more slowly and methodically.  Start with the purse – there are your keys,   It’s almost dark so don’t worry about the sun glasses; and yes, here’s the map and directions – which are useless without your glasses.  In utter frustration, you run your fingers through your hair . . . uh-oh!  There are the glasses, perched on top of your head!

Decision  time!  Do you call and cancel or do you make an attempt and blame your tardiness on traffic?  You choose the latter and as you traverse the strange roads, you berate yourself for the time wasted.  You must get more organized.

And then you draw comfort from remembering that most of your friends can tell of the same experiences.


I hate being late, but I am, frequently. Usually because I can’t find something I need. One of the worst offenders is the matching earring. So I spent 2 hours recently re-organizing my jewelry chest. We’ll see how long that lasts. The next item is my cell phone. Sometimes it can be located by calling it from the house phone – provided the battery is properly charged. But recently, after trying everything else, I went to my neighbor’s house, and asked permission to look in the back seat of her van because I remembered that my purse had upset on the way home from the restaurant the night before. Sure enough, there it was. My husbands’s glasses are another problem. But I have almost conquered that. When I get up in the morning I look for wherever he may have left them the night before and place them with the morning paper on his place mat at the kitchen table. They are his responsibility the rest of the day.
Do you suffer from this syndrome? Is there a treatment or a cure? I don’t think “sticky notes” are the answer – I’d soon have my whole house papered with them.
Of course, organization is the perfect answer, (a place for everything and everything in its place) but I think I received a flawed gene in that department when I was assembled. My last resort is to build in a longer “emergency contingency” when preparing to go out.
Happy Hunting!

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