Haikus along 81

Just back from a visit to my son in Virginia for a few days.  Mommers had  loaded up the car with frozen Shepherd’s‘ Pies, Turkey Soup, Beef Barley Soup & Pot Pies for college-kid’s freezer, a few birthday presents & a cake(well, it was actually a trifle.)  Headed south for 11 hours of driving with Abe and bestowed the goods upon the birthday boy. Had a really nice visit, got to guest-star on his & Jesse’s Schultz’ podcast show, took a great hike up to Cascade Falls of Western Virginia, laughed our heads off watching Seinfeld episodes (a requirement for a class he’s taking), and outfitted his kitten, Smallie, with a halter to train him for potentially being walked on a leash someday.

Doesn't everyone bring their stand mixer to visit their son?

Doesn’t everyone bring their stand mixer to visit their son?


Into the Mountain Laurel Grove – this must be gorgeous in the springtime


Jody & Abe alongside one of the pools on the hike to Cascade Falls


Smallie with his new halter -conditioning him to wearing it so that Jody can take him on walks eventually.

On my way north again, I seemed to be churning out the haikus.  If you follow me on Facebook, you may know that I’ve a penchant for haikus and often craft them to describe our latest happenings.  They’re not necessarily great haikus -none to compare to my friend Kelly, a haiku-goddess, that originally inspired me. Nonetheless, here they are:

  • Bluebird morning skies
  • Crisscrossed tic-tac-toed contrails
  • Short term graffiti
  • Skyscraper-tall poles
  • Posting roadside signs aloft
  • Shout “Pick me! Pick me!
  • Weigh Station ahead
  • Big Rigs line up for the scales
  • Keeping their shoes on
  • Tri-Cross plantings grow
  • South of the Mason Dixon
  • Wait…where’s Calvary?
  • Silos, corn cribs, cows…
  • Rude billboard interruptions;
  • “Adult Store Exit”
  • Cop must be ahead
  • Brakes light up like dominoes
  • Pious drivers creep
  • Lebanon, P A
  • Cow pond with basketball hoop
  • I’d like to see that!
  • Road food makes no sense:
  • Chai & pastry breakfast, lunch,
  • “Bugles” for dinner.
  • Turbine sentinels
  • Spinning Schuylkill County breezes
  • Coal Miner Angels
  • Adirondacks rise
  • 2 & a 1/2 hours North,
  • then east to V T
  • Familiar north woods
  • Relief replaces fatigue
  • Snowy, colder, Home.
  • Billboard pollution:
  • You don’t miss it at all if
  • Home is in Vermont.
  • Heart Warming Welcome Home

    Heart Warming Welcome Home



Thought I’d throw 33 photos out there to catch you up on the past month around here.  Thanks for visiting the farm!

Son Jody and some little fans: He took 3rd place in the FLW Northern Regional Conference Bass Fishing Tournament at Philpott Lake in Virginia.  He has qualified for the second time, now, for the National Championship in his 4 years at Virginia Tech.  He is excited to represent Virginia Tech, with two other teammates, in April, 2013 for the FLW National Championship.  Some adorable youngsters brought their t-shirts to him to autograph after Day 3 in Martinsville, VA.  He was speechless!

Freedom Rangers ready for processing -this was their last day of the good life before we put them in the freezer.  We sell them as meatbirds, and they are also all the chicken that we eat throughout the year.  It’s a good feeling to be able to put your own food on the table, especially knowing that they had a great life running around, foraging, comfortable and clean.

Turkeys are constantly getting themselves trapped in the garden.  They know how to get themselves in, but then they forget out to get out.  This is a daily thing.

Some intense cobwebs in the rafters of the barn.  We did a BIG clean this past week to prepare for an annual barn party.  It’s so much more satisfying to clean when you can really see the difference, don’t you agree?!

Morning Glories still blooming in October.  They certainly do make us happy going in and out the front door.  Sadly we will get a killing frost sooner than later and it’s difficult to cover them when that happens.

Lucky for Char & I, the Virginia Tech botanical gardens are gorgeous any season.  These Calla Lilies were all abloom in front of the water garden.  We try to take the gardens in every chance we can when we are in Virginia.

Char & I were very much rewarded in a quest for ice cream one evening while college-visiting in Asheville, NC.  Here is the menu at Ultimate Ice Cream.  I had the Brown Sugar, Bacon & Maple +  Piney Branch Pear ice creams.  Amazing!

Loved these container gardens outside a cute cafe in Asheville, NC

Puppy prints on the tile of “Three Dog Bakery” in Asheville, NC – We asked the lady at the counter if they actually sold all of those decadent dog biscuits.  She astonished us by saying that one woman orders $200 worth of biscuits each month!  It was a very fun store to visit for pet lovers like ourselves.

Piggies were our fave at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, NC.  Sadly, the class that Char was going to visit was M.I.A..  We still don’t know if it had been cancelled or what, but we sat around waiting for the teacher & students to show up for about 15 minutes before someone came and told us that for some reason, the class wasn’t being held that day.  Well, we did enjoy the campus and most especially, the piggies!

Abe gets the whole backseat to himself.  This dog has had an amazing month, fighting a nasty infection that had him pretty seriously set back.  In spite of the slew of meds he’s on now, it was all worth it for him – he is on his feet in a flash when you say, “Abe, do you want to go see Jody?!”  Visiting his boy in VA was the reward for quiet riding in the backseat for 2800 miles.  You may notice the wet window behind him – rained almost non-stop for the entire journey.  Yay.

Apple, Pear Ginger, Pumpkin, Raspberry Currant, Cranberry Apple, Blackberry, & Blueberry Pies were happening and happening and happening!  We are now at a pause for the season as the market that carried our pies is now closed for the season.  The pies will be back on the “shelves”, so to speak, for Thanksgiving CSA shares.

“The Park” in our backyard -Ruger is glad to have been freshly shod, everyone heading out for afternoon grazing.

Trunk full of Mums

Shaftsbury, Vermont is a beautiful part of New England – sometimes we feel like hobbits.

3 week old hen chicks in their new coop – settling in for winter.  Sold about 60 hens this past year and am replenishing our flock.

Schilling likes to type – hence, I don’t get around to it sometimes.

Iz had a salon visit with Char one afternoon – pretty girl!

Big sister SJ & her friends’ motivational posters for Char before her SAT

Caramel Apples – SJ & her crew of college friends made a batch this past Columbus Day Weekend.  They were delicious.

Martha, the indispensable personal assistant, taking a breather after helping me to prepare for the Myers Road Pumpkin Party.  It was so much fun, without about 100 neighbors & guests, and this gal is my amazing sidekick to keep it frolicsome!

SJ gives Caroline, a college friend & Floridian, a lesson on Ruger Jac.

The turkeys attend the Myers Rd. Pumpkin Party – and yes, I did have to hose everything down after shoo-ing them away.

Giles, experiencing his first autumn.

Jackie & Cricket in the front seat on the way to their vet check – they were fine but they act like they’re going to die every time they get there.

Azalea blooms in October!

Char’s comfort food choice on a sick day.

My choice for lunch – energizing Minestrone that I’d made the day before.  It’s so delicious I eat two bowls at a time!

Kitties curl up

Shaggy Shetland Sheep, day before shearing!

Goats mug the camera!

Turkey time of year – they are underfoot everywhere you go outside

Apple Crisp Cookies for choir night – made up this recipe myself!

Sunday Churchin’

Pies are happening around here.  Though I’d dropped the Farmer’s Market this summer, I picked up a retail market called “Clearbrook Farm which is conveniently 5 minutes away for deliveries.  Lovely folk to work with and the feedback is so far positive.  I’m organizing our schedule and pantry to provide 3-5 days a week’s worth of fresh-baked fruit pies for the summer and exploring potential pie shares as part of their CSA program.

Blueberries, Cherries, Peaches -just some of the fruits we put in our pies.

Pitted 329 tart cherries for 2 pies, yes I counted.

This is the strategy for Pie-Lady. She maps out the locations for about 20 different pies so that she doesn’t forget when she removes them and labels them for market. It is extremely high-tech.

Pies in the oven

Baby pies. (Awwwww!)

Meanwhile the turkey poults and Freedom Rangers are growing like little weeds.  They are happy and healthy, each and every one of them, and for this I am grateful.

Fifty Freedom Rangers – these are our favorite type of meatbird to raise. They really enjoy free ranging and have a great health track record.

Two week old Turkey Poults

Yesterday I celebrated in upstate New York with some of my family on Lake Champlain because son-one had a successful FLW College Fishing tournament with his team-mate and they placed high enough to move onto another tournament held on Lake Philpott in Virginia this coming September. Char-the-fantastic turned our cell phone footage into this great little video.  You will hear my enthusiastic fan-mom sounds in the background.

Virginia Tech teammates David Bryant & Jody White place in the FLW College Fishing Tournament on Lake Champlain. In spite of boat difficulties and white cap waves, they pulled enough Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass to make the Top 5. “Yay!” says a proud mama.

This morning I trundled off to Landgrove, Vermont to sing with my church choir in a wee country chapel that hosts us every summer.  There is neither electricity nor plumbing in this summer sanctuary and it is in my Top Ten of Places to Visit in Vermont if you feel like experiencing New England culture.  A wedding from the day before had it bedecked in white calla lilies and an urn of 600 (!) white roses on a pedestal of marble in front of the building.  Following the spirit-raising, song-filled service, we were invited to help ourselves to a bouquet as we left.  Oh extravagant!

Having been a florist, I completely appreciated the simple beauty and elegance of the floral choices.  I imagine the wedding was divine.  However, I’m partial to indigenous and in-season botanical displays as ironically, this morning, I had picked a large bouquet from my own garden, arranged it and dropped it at our family church en route to Landgrove.  And interestingly enough, also en route, I paused to take in the gorgeous road-side alpine wildflowers that were in bloom.

However, I’m not beneath this beautiful bunch.  I hope this day is good to you and yours. Lastly, if you’re an animal lover like I’m an animal lover, will you add my friend Megan’s kitty “Greta” to your prayers for a safe return to her family?  It is heavy on my mind, of late.

Some of the 600 Roses arranged in front of the Church at Landgrove

The Church of Landgrove

Great Big Windows to bring in the light

Callas from the wedding the day prior

Some pretty morning sky


the pond

It’s like this: one day you’re strolling down your driveway to take the littles to picnic and fish at the pond, untangling Mickey Mouse rods and reels, helping small hands to fashion daisy chains, and the next you’re motoring down the Blue Ridge Parkway with the last of the three kids to take in college visits and to cheer on your eldest’s college team in the 2012 BASS Carhartt College Series East Super Regional tournament.

A peek at the world of college anglers will have you curious.  I’m willing to guess that they are a misunderstood lot, imagined as not more than camouflaged and spitting and gassing up guzzling motors that belch exhaust.  My son is trying, as President of his Bass Fishing Team at Virginia Tech, to help promote the image of college fishing in a more positive light.  He’s working as a high school mentor, he’s writing and speaking when and wherever he can, all in an effort to share his passion and find support and recognition for a growing sport.  His dream is to be a Professional Bass Angler and if I worked as hard and as long as he does at this, I’d hope to be rewarded some day.  But the odds against the elements, the blessed science of fishing in itself and the fierce competition against excellent fishers nationwide makes it an extreme challenge, as well as the not-so-small matter of the required resources to support such an endeavor.  Attracting sponsors is nearly a full-time job to help keep you on the water, doing what you love.

I happen to have the distinct pleasure of being an insider, knowing the teammates on a personal level and learning about their finer traits.  They’re considerate and polite, helpful and conscientious.  They’re hard-working and intelligent, many of them working part to full-time jobs in addition to studying History, Economics, Pre-Med, Wildlife and Fisheries Science, and Environmental Science, among just a few of the disciplines they devote to when they’re not on the water.  They’re outdoorsman, all, and spend their time on the water, in the woods, kayaking, hiking, hunting, farming, building.

I had a babysitter come when Jody was 3 years old and my other two children were an infant and toddler, so that I could spend some one on one time with him and do something, just the two of us.  He only wanted to go outside and walk in the woods.  That told me everything I needed to know about what was special to him.

Abe doesn't mind an 11 hour car ride to see his boy fish!

When you’re following the tournaments, you’re up at 4a.m. scrambling eggs, pouring coffee, throwing sandwiches in sacks.  You arrive at the lake at 6a.m. to hold your hand over your heart with a hundred college kids doing the same while the “Star Spangled Banner” is broadcast across the marina.  You wave homemade signs and yell “Go Hokies!” as the boats “blast off” from the launch, heading out across the water for 8 hours of fishing.

devoted sister cheers the team on at 6a.m.

Evan and Mike usually kayak, but they rigged this aluminum boat up with a cooler for a live well, complete with aerator

as soon as dawn breaks, the launch begins

And it’s an old line, but an accurate line, when they say “it’s called ‘fishing’, not ‘catching!'” because after solidly casting for that long, these anglers are thrilled to have 4 or 5 fish in the boat in their live well.  The fish are in a LIVEwell, too, which means they are meant to be kept alive and well until after the weigh-in.  Then they are released back into the lake.  If the fish die, they lose points.  This conservation practice is important to the anglers and my son has been catching and releasing his entire life.

Weigh-ins are anxious times.  You’re looking to see that everyone got off the water safely.  You’re checking their expressions as they stand in a long line under a canopy with special bags for holding their fish. Your heart is in your throat while they’re at the staging, lifting their catch out to be scaled. You’re cheering for your team when they’ve done well, you’re disappointed for them when they’ve had a tough day.  You’re curious and intrigued to hear them as they’re interviewed. You’re excited for them when they’re posing with their ‘lunkers’ and grinning for the cameras.

coming in off the water on Day 2

Abe gets to jump on board at the end of the day while Jody & Pat take their fish out of the live well

lining up for the weigh in

Jody and his teammate Pat with their Day 1 bag

David & Mark for 2nd place

Nick & Clay for 3rd

After these regional events, the teams go on to national events where the competition is stiffer, the event is longer, and the winnings are bigger.  Last year they’d been represented by Jody and his teammate to fish in the FLW Nationals, another college bass fishing tournament sponsor, on Kentucky Lake. This year, running concurrently with the regional tournament, Virginia Tech was again represented and placed 5th overall!

Jody was 4 years old when we stopped at Dailey’s Pond in Shaftsbury, our home town, to fish for trout on a June afternoon.  This little pond is stocked by the gravel company strictly for kids 12 and under to fish in.  He prepared to cast his lure into the pond and an unfortunate backlash had a treble hook firmly entrenched in his little noggin.  I tried not to create too much of a fuss, though I was plenty concerned, and we dashed to the doctor’s.  It was Dr. Judy’s first fishing lure to remove and she ended up having to borrow pliers from the janitor!  Nurse Ellie gave Jody a nice shot of Novocaine in the top of his skull and that was more painful than anything for him.  It made for a great story, but from then on we instilled the “hats on for fishing” rule.  Ironically, when he was in Kentucky last year, within 15 minutes of setting out, his partner, Carson, promptly caught him in the side of the head with a full steam cast that knocked Jody to the deck of the boat, all caught on film from the camera boat riding alongside!  He saw some stars, that I recall, but in a few minutes, with a little Neosporin, he was back on his feet and the two of them brought in a bag large enough to place 4th that day.

What a pleasure it was for Charlotte and I to host some of the team over the past few days and then to get out on the lake with my son Jody & his tournament partner, Pat, for our own glimpse at some of their favorite hot spots from the 2 day event.  There is nothing quite like drifting about serenely when the temperatures are in the 80s and the breeze and water keep things comfortable.  The guys kept us entertained as they coaxed their fin-ny friends out of the beds and stumps and onto their hooks and into the boat.  I cannot even begin to write technically about the art and sport of bass fishing, never mind angling in general, but I have learned a lot through the years and Jody puts it all out there in writing for his blog following on Jody White Fishing.  He and Pat had a tough tournament, personally, though the team was represented really well with two Virginia Tech duos placing second and third for this particular event.

Being a fan of my kids means that I find myself in concert halls, hockey rinks and mountain lakes a mere 11-14 hours away, by car.  It means chaperoning in South Africa and Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania.  It means hours spent over the cookstove, frozen feet on winter ponds for ice-fishing birthday parties, road-trips to pick up pet hedgehogs,…I am a blessed mom and though I don’t always know the answers to parenting, I have never regretted my vocation.  Let the good times roll!

Two great fishermen, Jody White & Pat Snellings, President & V.P. of the Virginia Tech Bass Fishing Team on Smith Mountain Lake

The bass were fairly flying into the boat on the day that we went out just for the fun of it!

Pat with a good-sized largemouth on one of his first casts.

Just a few of the tools of the trade.

Osprey nests were everywhere at Smith Mountain Lake. It was so much fun to watch them fishing, too!

Jody & Pat, showing us where the lunkers were hiding.


I’m preparing to head south in a few days to visit my son for his birthday.

Soccer-moms have got nothing on me, but I’ll report more about this upcoming trip on another day. 

this kid is gonna be 21

Tickled to be able to share a special time together,  I am readying the wagons for the journey, thinking of what baked goods I’ll be spoiling his Virginia Tech Bass Fishing Team with, organizing the farm/family for my absence, and of course, deciding on my music for the road trip.

I came upon this old draft from when I’d last hit the highways, obviously from a previous visit to son-one, and instead of dread at being on the road for 13 hours one way next week, I am inspired and rejuvenated to hit the highways.

 I’ll appreciate your travellers’ blessings, but in the meantime, enjoy my  past tale:

I started the day driving in the dark, pouring rain of Tropical Storm Lee in Blacksburg, VA.  Captain & Tenielle, Chicago, Carmina Burana’s “Il Trutina”, Copeland’s “Fanfare for a Common Man”…just some of the “C’s”, mind you, of my road trip soundtrack.  It is about 11 hours of driving and I decided to just go for it.  I stopped twice for gas and coffee, but with two hands on the wheel, mostly, and my eyes on the watery windshield, I forged ahead to get home again, home again, jiggety jig.

Now when you are headed up Highway 81 in the midst of the Blue Ridge ranges, you have got to listen to Bluegrass.  I didn’t turn off my favorite  XM radio station until I got to Pennsylvania.  I’m crazy about Balsam Range and Nickel Creek.  There is something very energizing about the tempo, the rhythms and those strings. Yes, I know there are other instruments that play their part and I enjoy them all, but, oh my, a banjo is what I dream of learning.  And I’m not sure which, whether it is that the speed limit is 70mph through Virginia or that the music has your head and your heart racing, you can really cover some miles.  Even with the windshield wipers flying across the glass and a deluged roadway.

Pennsylvania-driving is my least favorite part of the journey.  It tends to drag on for me.  But that is when I tuned into my own playlists and decided I would take a trip through my entire library, shuffling the genres to make it interesting.  Here is where I inadvertently photographed myself while trying to keep my eyes on the road and make an adjustment to my phone/iPod at the same time:

Happy Travelling!

at the top of her lungs!

I have to laugh at myself and recognize that I’m one of “those” people that you’ve seen driving past, oblivious that they are publicizing their private concerts!  Well, no harm was done, I arrived home safely, and the next time I have one of these solo-rides, I’m sure I’ll sing through my miles as eclectically.