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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Blackberry Season Begins and a Weird Creature (Blog 301)

Today began Blackberry Season here in Botetourt County, Virginia.  The wild raspberry crop had fizzled out a few days ago, and there's always a few days between when the raspberry plants finish bearing and the blackberries begin. I wandered over our 38 acres visiting old patches and looking for new ones and found both kinds. I ended up picking  1 1/2 quarts.
Elaine and I froze them for winter pies and cobblers.  We picked three quarts of raspberries during the two weeks they were in, which doesn't sound like a lot and it isn't.  Wild raspberries are never abundant on our property as blackberries and wineberries predominate.  Any year when we can gather three or four quarts of raspberries is above average.

As always, time outdoors is filled with fascinating sights and sounds.  I heard a white-eyed vireo at one blackberry patch, both favor young forest/edge habitat.  But the most interesting thing I came across was a type of caterpillar which I could not identify.  It was working its way along a blackberry vine.  If someone can tell me what it is, I would be appreciative.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Locavore Dinner at Home (Blog 300)

Yesterday evening for dinner, Elaine fixed a wonderful locavore meal of scrambled eggs (courtesy of our Rhode Island Reds) and cheese (courtesy of the local farmer's market). For lunch we had venison burgers from a deer I killed last year.

Earlier yesterday, I gathered raspberries and checked on the progress of the blackberries and wineberries, both of which are ripening but aren't quite ready to pick. During the morning and afternoon hours, I worked on several magazine articles.  And after dinner last night, we played a scintillating game of Scrabble.

Nothing epic happened yesterday, but all days spent with Elaine are good ones.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Anniversary Night Spent Babysitting (Blog 299)

This past Friday, June 10 was Elaine's and my 38th anniversary.  It was also the anniversary of our daughter Sarah and her husband David, so we volunteered to babysit their boys, four-year-old Sam and two-year-old Eli.

The night started off well with Sam and Eli being very enthusiastic about dinner - their stuffed cheeks in the picture below indicate thusly.

Next on the agenda was a rousing game of hide-and-go-seek.  Neither boy has all the basics of the game yet as Sam always hides in his room and always shouts out where he is.  On the other hand, Eli just hides, no matter if he is supposed to be looking for me or actually hiding. The pictures below show the boys counting, they are good at that skill and hiding, both, strangely enough, hiding in the same box in the middle of the floor in, of course, Sam's room.

We then finished the evening with baths (my pants were sopping wet when this activity was finished) and story time, Elaine reading to Eli and I reading to Sam, then putting our respective young men to bed.

Although Elaine and I did not have a romantic night out, we wouldn't have changed places with anyone.  It was a wonderful anniversary.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Running a Rapid Wrong on the New River (Blog 298)

Yesterday, friends Doak Harbison and Tim Wimer took the Peppers Ferry to Whitethorne float on Virginia's New River. As the author of a book on the waterway, The New River Guide, I should not have trouble negotiating Class I and II rapids. Tim and Doak, when we go on river excursions, trust me to make the plans on how much time to allot, which trips to take, and which rapids to be careful of.

However, I confess that I let Doak down yesterday. Just above the Class III Arsenal Rapid is another rapid that is considered part of the general whitewater in the area. There is a  slot down the river right side; and with me in the bow, I missed the slot which resulted in us crashing into a large rock at the end of the upper rapid.

This led to the boat overturning and Doak and me tumbling into the water.  Fortunately, we were not hurt and no gear was lost. But still my snafu was very frustrating, and I couldn't apologize to Doak enough.  By the way, we had no trouble going through the heart of Arsenal Rapid, as we took the large slot on the far right as my book says to do.

On the New or any river, you never know when something could go wrong. The picture below shows Tim fishing below the Arsenal rapid.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Simple Summer Joys (Blog 297)

I have worked hard on the writing front, finishing two magazine stories and writing a third, plus having a book signing this first full one after the end of the school year. I think I just may take the rest of the day off except for a few chores around the yard.

After finishing my writing work and with school out for the summer, I like to stop being so goal oriented for a while and enjoy the summer.  This afternoon, I plan on picking the last of the North Star sour cherries and weeding the garden.

Elaine has already make cherry bread (see below)
 with the fruit from our tree, and I think we have enough cherries left for her to make either cookies or muffins.  Cookies or muffins...that is the big decision for this afternoon - a nice situation after a hard week of  writing.