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Monday, December 31, 2012

The Last Sunday Stroll of 2012 -WARNING: Photo Laden

We take a stroll around the place almost every Sunday. On weekdays I get my exercise at the gym and on Saturdays I figure cleaning TheCastle is enough of a workout. But Sundays are my days to reconnect with home. 

Yesterday was the most beautiful Sunday I've seen in a whole month of 'em. I almost always take the camera because ... you never know ... maybe something special will happen. But the day was so gorgeous I longed to capture it and took over 100 photographs! That's enough to chronicle the walk and I thought perhaps you'd like to join me on my Last Sunday Stroll of the year.

We started out going down the rim path that skirts the north end of the property and I wasn't yet thinking about taking pictures - Our vistas were just the usual thrillingly gorgeous view of terrain. That path puts us out, though, on the old farm road that RE built when he took over farming here - way back before we moved down. Here we are walking towards Robert's Landing to see just how far out the tide has been blown - we're not actually on our own place at this point - but I wanted to be sure I was in the picture too. LOL
This used to be Sock's favorite place to have a drink and take a dip in summertime. It's really just a drainage ditch and today it was way too cold and windy to swim. Only Callie was thirsty. But just look at that sky! 
We're coming up on Farmer's Hall Creek. We could hear the geese muttering to each other and if you had telescopic eyes you could see them swimming in that patch of blue in the middle of the picture. I love the soft brown and grey of a winter landscape, especially on a day as full of blue sky as this.

And there they go - wave after wave of them flying off into the wintry air.

The wind was fierce out of the north - then later the north west. BD took his wind gauge and measured a steady 8 knots per hour with gusts up to 12! I had on So Many Clothes - turtle neck, vest, fleece jacket and second fleece jacket, plus hat and gloves. (Yes. I did knit that hat) I was never cold and never hot, the whole afternoon!

When the wind blows hard out of the N or NW we get what is called a blow-out low tide.  You can see the wide mud flats of Farmer's Hall in these pictures.

I caught Callie in a pensive mood - I wonder what she's thinking of right now. (food, probably)

Or maybe she was thinking about how nice she smelled now that she'd rolled in something nasty. Note the streak on shoulder and belly. This is the true Labrador - even more than this retriever pose. And yes. She did go out in that icy water and bring back the stick.
This is my favorite picture of the whole walk.

And this is the one I'd like to crop and then try painting - I took half a dozen pictures of this glistening white sycamore tree but could never capture the excitement it threw off. But I love the curves and arches of this picture.
Way across the field was a perfectly beautiful walnut tree looking like its tickling the sky

We wanted to end up in what we now call The Deer Park - the plot of forest across the tar road from us - where BD planted cypress trees so long ago. So at the mile point we turned right and headed towards John Allen's old place.

If I owned this I'd call it Seven Cypress because there is a row of them along a little low spot to the east of the house. We didn't go all the way to the old house, though, but turned off on the lane that just skirts the western boundary of our place. It puts us out right opposite The Deer Park.

This little spot of heaven has the most amazing effect on me. I first noticed it 20 years ago, long before there were paths and copses or even cypress trees. To get into this thick jungle you had to brave more greenbriar and holly than my delicate skin liked but once I'd get in the middle of it the most amazing calm would come over me. It has to be some sort of ancient sacred spot to still be able to comfort this 21st century, post-Mayan Apocalypse girl just by existing and letting her stand upon it.

This speckled bird dog is Buster - boon companion to LD. He can't ever figure out why his master wants to leave this place but he sure is glad he comes home often.
This is a tree that has been marked by three generations of the same men. When the whole flats was divided back in the 1920's BD's grandfather marked the lines on this hickory tree. Seven decades later BD marked it himself before we had the timber cut. In 2007 LD painted the lines once more as a birthday gift to his dad.

Last week I told LD he couldn't take Callie on a walk longer than 5 miles. I thought she was too young to be worked that hard. He left her at home on his marathon trek but we'd already gone 5 miles when we turned around to go home and Callie doesn't look like she's too tired to me. I guess she's a big girl now. And how I love those teeth of Jack's.

This is the most interesting pine tree - note how that branch on the right stretches out - and the dead portion of it arches all the way to the ground. We aren't on our own property here - but those pine trees in the background are ours.

This is just a lovely view through to the north east.
Back on our own place once again we're beginning to think about hot tea - and maybe some lunch.  The sun warmed our backs and it was casting long enough shadows to tell us the afternoon would soon draw to a close.

But what's this I see, up there on the left - across the last bit of the lane? What's in the field - at the very edge of my view?
Oh la! A dead tree down across the lane. Looks like we aren't going anywhere any time soon. LOL! And I know what BD will be doing on New Year's Eve day. This wood will warm him twice 'cause I have to go back to work on the 2nd.
And look! There's another dead tree just waiting to come toppling down in the Next Big Wind.

But not today, thank goodness. We're ready to take it easy with the Sunday paper and a hot cuppa. I make a last exploratory peek beneath the cedars to see if the daffodils have begun to poke their heads up.  They have. It's as if they're wanting to assure me that though the cold winter days are upon us - spring is not far away.

I love my house. I love it any time I'm in it. I love it when it's cluttered. I love it when it's ship-shape. I love it when I'm puttering around outside and I love it when I welcome guests inside. It is always beautiful to me - but I believe it is at its most beautiful when I'm walking up to its front door.

The last thing this beautiful day gave us was the low setting sun, golden in the sky and lighting up the porch. This is what I stared at as I sipped hot peppermint tea, with my legs stretched before me and the dogs on the rug. A fitting goodbye from Old Sol, to the last Sunday Stroll of 2012. Thanks for coming along.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

What, Huh? December 29 Already?

I feel a little Ripp Van Winkle-ish these days. A-buzz with the fat saturated, alcohol fueled sugar high of Christmas I just haven't had any literary oomph this month. No doubt about it - December has been a blur and suddenly I'm looking around at the filled up 2012 calendar, the blank notebook, and wondering ... what about New Year and it's resolution writing? I am not ready for 2013. I have no plans!

Remember, I am a Virgo

Love me some plans you know.

"But isn't this supposed to be a knitting blog?" the faithful ask? Well. Yes. and No. It's really just an ego trip for TheQueen.  I do still knit - a little - there is a single sock almost finished on the table by the couch - and a lovely blue hat that will go in the window of Sew News at the corner of  Prince St. and Water Lane come next week. Here is a sneak preview:

The popcorns were tedious to knit but I love how they look. Plymouth yarn. I have the label around here somewhere .... sugar high again.

And there will be more knitting in the New Year. I've got some issues with a sweater and with an overstuffed closet full of clothes I don't wear enough already. But there will be knitting. And spinning. And creativity. I promise.

But.before the New Year is upon me, with all its promises, here's a little bit of what Christmas is like at TheCastle.

For such a sluggish start to the month, December has turned out to be surprisingly sweet. LD got in early enough to get in a visit with my sister, his Aunt B. He can stay long enough to see the new year in. We've had lots of cozy snuggles by the fire - with arms full of dogs.

My guys found the absolutely most beautiful tree ever, the Friday before Christmas. We decorated it that weekend and have kept it lit almost constantly.  

Our Christmas eve dinner was the same delicious oyster stew it always is. This year, like last, we were able to have the real thing - Rappahannock River oysters  which we bought from the local butcher shop - thank you Pat. He assured me they'd been shucked that very morning!

 The only photos I got on Christmas day were the ones we took while circumnavigating the farm - where we found even the tree stumps were wreathed for Christmas!

We are great walkers. All of us are in love with the idea of legs as transportation. LD takes the prize for the longest trekker but BD is out every day and TheQueen is no slouch either. I was thinking about distances the other day as we strolled about 5 miles on a windy Thursday - wondering just how far I could walk to work if I had to. Mind now - 26 miles a day might cut into my knitting time if I had to make the present commute - but could I walk 2 miles a day? 4? I wonder. Ah well. I'm glad right now all our walking starts out like this.

On Boxing Day LD and I got over to visit mama - who is living now in a very nice skilled nursing home. She's going to be 90 in 3 weeks - and though she's bed-ridden, she can still keep up with the family and absolutely loves it when we bring photos of our lives or stories and letters from years gone bye. Love ya mama! 

Since then the days have been full of playing with Christmas presents ...

 and cozy evenings admiring trees.

The last big festivity on the schedule was a retirement party for my assistant - here she is looking altogether too gleeful about getting away from her now-former boss...

Honestly - we really do like each other and worked well together.

And here she is with the rest of the female staff - somehow the guys were not around at photo op time.

And so - that's what's been happen'n at TheCastle and in the Life-0-Bess. 
Just in case you were wondering.