Way last January, our oldest friends dropped by with some important information. SAVE THIS DATE for their daughter's wedding, the first weekend in October. Not 2 months later we got news from beloved cousins to SAVE THIS DATE for their daughter's wedding, the first weekend in October. With deep reluctance, we let family trump friendship on Saturday but we made sure to spend Friday evening up at the farm (a different farm) with P&T and their brideful daughter, D and all their new (and old) family. Our hearts were so filled with long ago memories - T bringing P over to our house on his first date. Playing the music at their wedding 2 years later. T's dog Clancy going crazy at the spring, as we flipped gourdes of water over his head. P taking me to VaBeach during a hideously difficult period I had to plow through in the 80's.
This is an old friendship - a sweet strength in my life. There was a softball game and there was fried chicken. There was a bonfire and there were oysters. This is, after all, Tidewater Virginia. And though we couldn't be at the wedding I've seen pictures. It was adorable and the bride was beautiful. Just the way it should be.
For us, though, Saturday meant an early start to Bedford where COUSINS live and where another wedding was gearing up. This is the family of cousins whose little girls came every summer to Bess's Girls Camp - to play with my big girl art toys and swim down the red moon path. The bride was the great granddaughter of our precious Aunt Anna - the family matriarch who never abused her power but who also made her thoughts known to all, even if she didn't drive and lived 200 miles away.
We are just one thread of this vastly woven plaid of a family - the Tidewater thread that glides under and around the Arkansas thread, the Tennessee thread, the South Carolina thread, and all the other Virginia threads - glimmering and winking our own colors to blend with the beautiful cloth that is family.
The drive is one I've described a number of times - because it's one of my favorite pathways across the state. At least a quarter of the way is down Rt. 60, a long steel-blue ribbon of highway that shakes itself out over the rolling landscape of Piedmont VA, through Powhatan, Cumberland and Buckingham counties. We got to the motel in good time and ran straight into the bride's Uncle R, in the lobby watching the Arkansas/Auburn game. So yes. I took the clothes upstairs - a dress, a small overnight bag and a suit (I thought).
Only. It was not a suit. I had taken BD's suit coat to the cleaners that week, along with some summer things of mine that needed to be prepped for winter storage, but not the trousers. I packed the overnight case for us both but assumed someone else had gotten his own suit together. Teach me a lesson, right? There at the motel I discovered that while I could take the top half of my husband to a wedding, the bottom half was not going anywhere with me. Not in those ripped dirty jeans.
"I'll just have to go as I am" was his first flippant effort to mask panic.
"Not with me you won't," was my reply. "There's at least a Walmart in this little town - we can find you something that's at least clean"
So off to the tiny shopping center we went to discover a Goodwill store right next door. A very nice Goodwill store with a pair of size 38 grey suit trousers that were as close a match to his jacket as anybody could wish - certainly a closer match than anybody looking at us would notice. For $3.50. See?
With that kind of luck I should have bought a lottery ticket!
The wedding was just about the happiest, smiling-est, hugging-est wedding I've ever been to. I took lots of very fuzzy photos - the bride's were the worst - but I got some good snaps of huggin' cousins and while the rest of my pictures aren't worth displaying, they're sure fun for me to look at.
Sunday dawned rainy, grey and cool and the low slung clouds hid the Peaks of Otter but the drive home was a delight. We puttered and poked and meandered down all sorts of back roads. I finally got to drive through Rustburg, county seat of Campbell Co. and for some reason, stuck in my mind as a place I wanted to visit. We drove down one long dirt road to cross the Appomattox River where it is barely 50 feet across, to find there was no bridge, only a ford - a ford in flood. We've done that before - unsuccessfully - another funny travel story for another post - so we backtracked and found our way to Rt 60 again. This time we stopped in Cumberland for potato wedges - definitely not on the diet plan, but delicious anyway. There was one more stop at Kroeger for the hard to find groceries and then we were picking up dogs and hurrying back to home comforts.
Monday was a holiday - one of autumn's many treats - a chance to swap out winter clothes for summer. We're promised 70 degrees tomorrow and 80 degree weather next week, so there is still a call for short sleeves, but the sandals are up in the attic and there are jackets and hats in the front hall. Before I could do that, though there was housecleaning werk werk werk to do. I really have to chase my menfolk out of the house when it's cleaning time and while I was vacuuming the living room I noticed a little puppy, looking all dark with mud, running around the back end of my car. I was pretty ticked to think they were back already and in no condition to come indoors when that little body turned sideways and I realized it was not a puppy. It was a FOX!
I made a dash for the camera but it was already trotting around to the side of the house. It could tell I was looking at it, too, so when I dashed through to the den I made sure I was far enough back that it couldn't see me through the French doors. It's tail is as long as the rest of its body! I know we had a mother fox who raised a litter down the north edge of the big field and I'm guessing this was she.
She found something to eat and started chewing when the battery died on the camera.
Speaking of something good to eat - I made a batch of vegetarian chili from a recipe in the Nov/Dec issue of Cooks Illustrated. I have loved every dish I've ever made from their recipes so I was hoping this one would satisfy BD's chili lust. I think it was a delicious recipe and it made something like 4.5 quarts of chili - but it was a fiddly tedious recipe and Himself was not impressed. I can get that reaction by dumping onions, canned beans and TVP in a pot and leaving it overnight. If you are seeking the perfect Texas Chili from some little hole-in-the-wall in Washington D.C. that shut down in 1971, you will be disappointed but if you just want a really delicious vegan chili, you'll love this. As for this cook, with this picky eater? She won't make it again. In fact she won't try to satisfy someone's chili lust ever again. She will Let Him Eat Meat.
My GF and I are working on watercolor Christmas cards and are sending each other photos of our efforts, if not every day, at least on a regular basis. Here are two examples from the drawing board.
And that's what's been going on at TheCastle this first week of October.