A Season of Thanks

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I really hesitated when trying to decide whether or not to write a post about Monday night – but since I use this blog not just for others to read but to put down my own thoughts as a sort of digital journal, I figured I might as well.

It also serves to let anyone who is curious as to what happened read my account – it gets a little stressful recounting it over and over and over…I’ve had far too many people telling me how close a call it was and how much worse it could have been and honestly that is still really unsettling to hear. I am well aware (and will probably always be) of how much worse it could have been. So….

On Monday night, I was on the way home from work and I was hit by an 18-wheeler. I was in the right lane and the 18-wheeler was in the left lane…but he decided to move into my lane, while I was still right beside him. I ran off the road a bit to avoid being completely side-swiped, ran over some gravel that caused me to wobble and drove back onto the road, where the back end of the 18-wheeler struck the front end of my car, sending me back off the road.

Part of my front end was on one side of the median and myself and the rest of the car were on the other side. The 18-wheeler did not stop; they did not look back and so it was classified by the Virginia Highway Patrol as a hit and run. There were cops involved, a report was filed and my Dad and I hung out on the side of a highway until almost midnight on Monday night. There were marks on the frame of my car made from burnt rubber…where the 18-wheeler’s tires came up onto the frame of my car when it hit me.

The cops seem to think the driver of the 18-wheeler may not have even known he’d hit me – I don’t know that I believe that but it doesn’t really matter at this point. I’m more than alright even though my car is not. We still don’t know whether it will be totaled or not, so while we play that waiting game I’ll be driving a rental.

A few pictures from the night of the accident.

It’s amazing – in the lighting of this picture, the car almost doesn’t look damaged…

Just a couple bumps & bruises…that’s all I ended up with. 

So – now I wait and see what will happen. I’ll cruise around in my rental and may or may not be shopping for a new car for Christmas.

I know that I’ll remember this for what will most likely amount to forever and know that the Lord was watching out for me on Monday night.

Wintry Weather

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What a week – Monday dawned rainy and cold…and the wind would just about cut you in half when it whipped around the corner of the house! Happily, I was off on Monday so I battened down the hatches and bundled up because I did not want to blow away! I have to say, I don’t know why but Watson seems absolutely invigorated by the cold and as much as I don’t want to be out in the cold, he seems to want to run wild through the 15 degree breezes…

I can’t wait to see what he thinks when there are a couple feet of snow. He might think again…

The only pretty part of Monday…the glorious sunset.

The real deal hot chocolate – so delicious on a frigid Monday night.

On Tuesday evening, our sweet little Jimmy visited with us after school and when I came in from work, even though I only got to spend about thirty minutes with him…we had a grand time. We watched the lights on my Christmas tree twinkling and talked about all the different ornaments hanging on the tree. It’s so much fun to see the wonder that Christmas trees inspire in kids – as soon as Jimmy saw the sparkling lights on my Christmas tree, he softly said “oooohhhh”. Christmas is always magical but seeing it through a child’s eyes makes it even more filled with wonder. After playing some rounds of Fruit Ninja, it was time for Jimmy to head home.

In between rounds of Fruit Ninja…I didn’t actually play, I just got to watch. Ha-ha!

A new favorite spot to nap? Up against my leg on the recliner.

Some frosty fronds of grass! 

Some Wednesday afternoon cat-baiting…cats just make him come unglued!

See? A good place to nap; in the middle of the recliner. 

One of the things that I’ve gotten involved in as an extension of my parent’s and the church I attend is something called Kitchen of Hope. Four area churches feed the homeless people in the area on each Thursday; our church has the third Thursday of every month. It’s always interesting to bustle around in the kitchen and this past week was no different. My friend’s baby girl, Amelia has been coming right along ever since she was born and this past week she decided to help me serve the chicken – ha-ha! Okay, so she obviously didn’t really help me serve the chicken but she did hang out in her carrier and try to grab the tongs I was serving chicken with and try to grab pieces of chicken….she couldn’t help it, she just wanted a bite!

Ready to serve up some chicken, mashed potatoes & green beans!

Bundled up in her car seat, with the new car seat cover. She was pretty amused…

As always, begging for a bite of something yummy!

Apparently this is par for the course in Winter when you make a supply run to Lowe’s.

We decorated our house for Christmas on Saturday because we’ll be out of town the week of Thanksgiving. I spent the day in and out of the house, helping when I could. I went for a job interview on Saturday morning (fingers crossed…actually, everything crossed) and I had to work Saturday night but when I came home, the house had been transformed into an absolute Christmas wonderland filled with trees (four so far) and snowmen and penguins. There was even a little hoot owl touch that I added to the windows above the front door…because every house needs a little extra hoot owl.

Some Happy Holiday hoot owls to greet guests.

The Christmas miracle that I returned home to after work on Saturday!

Someone helping with the decorating….sort of.

Well – that’s all for this week. I can’t believe Thanksgiving is this week! How does time pass so quickly?

A Haze of Greeting Cards, Glitter and Upheaval

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Time doesn’t ever move the way you expect it to – I was more busy this past week than I’ve been in the past several weeks…which you would think would make the time fly by, but last week seems like it was longer than usual. Even with time moving a bit more slowly last week, things are starting to build to the rush of the holiday season and I for one couldn’t be more excited.

A rear-view mirror sunset on the way to work on Monday night.

Veteran’s Day – flags flying all over the place.

Tuesday provided a bit of adventure in the form of a little bit of a road trip through the small towns of Upperville and Middleburg en route to Dulles International Airport to pick up my Mom from her weekend jaunt to Nashville. The ride was a nice chance to see some Autumn color, we had some delicious BBQ for lunch and we had a chance to wander the aisles of Wegmans to grab some groceries. The real adventure was as we headed home and got a little too up close and personal with a buck that I have labeled as Bambi’s Dad on Steroids. As we drove up the road toward the Interstate, I happened to look to the right hand side of the road and saw a deer that was so close to the car that my Mom could have reached out the window and tapped it on the head. I was fairly certain that it would keep right on walking towards us and into the road…but it just stopped and stood there. Regardless, it was enough to make me let out a yelp!

Wegmans is one of my favorite places in Virginia….ha-ha!

A certain little beggar wanted a bite of my Wegman’s cookie.

I don’t know what he kept hearing but on Wednesday morning, he kept looking out the window with these wide, shocked eyes!

Chestnut Praline Latte – it’s no joke. It’s delicious.

Bible study is always better with a sweet baby snuggled against you.

As my title suggests and my earlier writing references, I spent a LOT of time at work this week. I was selling cards and Christmas spirit 6 of the 7 days this week. I would have never imagined that there was so much glitter involved in greeting cards but I swear, I feel like every time I left work I was covered in a thick layer of the stuff. While I’m grateful to have my part-time job, I am also diligently praying that a full-time job will make itself available pretty quickly…preferably one that doesn’t involve glitter.

A throwback to the weekend in the National Park.

Cold weather is becoming more prevalent every day; it’s only a matter of time before the first snow falls. Watson says he’ll be fine as long as he can hang on to this blanket….

Delicious hot tea….one of the many ways to combat the chill in the air!

I spent Saturday having lunch with my parents and some friends we have known since…well, since before I was born. We had lunch at Hunter’s Head Tavern which is one of my new favorite spots to eat in the area; it’s a tavern that serves traditional English fare and is housed in a building that is almost as old as the great state of Virginia itself. The food is always delicious and we enjoyed walking around Upperville after we ate. I spent my Saturday evening at work, getting regular football game score updates (so sad…oh well…) from my family. All in all, a nice Saturday.

Not quite a marshmallow world, but it’s certainly getting frosty…

Hot brown – toast topped with slices & bacon, covered with a beer cheese sauce. Yum!

Just a pretty site in the sweet little town of Upperville.

Bundled up for a brisk Saturday night walk!

Sunday morning goofiness!

My 5 foot tall, in perfect condition $18 Christmas tree. Love it!

So – that’s all for now. I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather (where does that saying come from??) today; maybe it’s all the drizzly rain and cold we’ve had these past 24 hours. Either way, I’m going to cozy up and hunker down for the rest of this Monday.

Seven Weeks

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Another week…another week. These weeks always pass so quickly; there are only seven and a half weeks left in 2014!! Can you even believe that? While you’re wrapping your head around that revelation, I’ll share some photos from the past week.

Did you vote? I did – first time as a Virginia voter!

My first red cup of the season…Peppermint Mocha to sip during Book Club.

Long Branch by night…only slightly spooky.

The season has passed for ghost stories and spooky tales but I suppose I have a little anecdote that is slightly creepy. My Mom and I went to the first meeting of the Long Branch Plantation book club and I am thoroughly convinced that almost all the houses in this area that aren’t brand new are most likely haunted out of the wazoo! There is far too much history and blood shed in the state of Virginia for most of the state not to be haunted…but I digress.. While we were all sitting around the table in the elegant and historical dining room of Long Branch on Tuesday night, from somewhere in the house came the sound of a door shutting. As we were the only people in the whole house, my eyes got big and I whispered to one of the employees of the house “is this place haunted?” She grinned and looked at her fellow employee and said “did you hear that?” and the girl just smiled. So…who (or what) closed the door? No clue but there are thirteen more meetings of the book club…so who knows what else I (we) might hear?

Always begging for food. 

And sometimes getting lucky enough to get a bite…

The week itself was by in a flash and I apparently was busy applying for jobs, reading, taking part in general busyness and working…I didn’t take very many pictures. The weekend was where I really got into taking the pictures. My Dad and I spent Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon in the national park and quite a few pictures came out of those explorations. I don’t suppose I have too many stories from that, but I do have the pictures. So…enjoy!

Cinnamon Roll pancakes – basically the best thing ever.

Sticks in the ground for measuring the depth of the eventual snowfall…

The color was already gone at higher elevations…but the view looking into the valley…

A selfie with Dad at Skyland Lodge.

Getting much too cracked up posing with a statue of Harry F. Byrd at Big Meadows Lodge

A screech owl! How cool is he?

Slightly uncomfortable being so close to the edge…

Icicles on the edge of the tunnel….it’s getting quite chilly in the mountains!

Amelia was not feeling the Sunday morning selfie…

She was very interested in all the people at church…& Jimmy was interested in photo-bombing us with his He-Man…

Getting in a quick cat nap during the sermon.

We hiked to Fort Windham rocks on Sunday afternoon. Watson is an excellent hiker…

Amazing views, everywhere you look.

Oblivious to the stunning view right behind him – sniffing leaves is far more interesting.

The King of the log, patrolling his log kingdom!

Inspecting the crack in the rocks…

Sunset in the Shenandoah National Park

Pumpkin cheesecake – the perfect end to a wonderful week!

So – only a few stories this week, but plenty of photos. Also, a reminder…there are only seven and a half weeks left in the year. Which means that there are only about six weeks to Christmas; you’d better get shopping!

A Book Club

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Have you ever been a part of a book club? I am a voracious reader and yet I have to confess that I’ve never once been a part of a book club….until now! 

Shortly after my arrival in Virginia (as in, less than 24 hours) I went with my parents to visit Long Branch Plantation for a Sunday afternoon outing and while we were there, we found a pamphlet talking about the many events that would take place at the plantation through the end of the year and I know I saw that a book club was starting in November but as these past five months have passed in a haze of job applications, job interviews, working at my part time job, going to church and Bible study and actually reading, ha-ha; I totally forgot about it.
My Mom didn’t though! She sent me a text message on Tuesday morning asking me if I wanted to go to the first meeting of the book club and see if it was something we’d be interested in. Luckily enough, the first book on the list was The Help and my Mom and I had both read that book. So, on Tuesday night we went to grab ourselves some Starbucks and check out the book club!
The most fascinating thing about the book club…at least to me, so far…it takes place inside the mansion! I mean, how often do you get to go into an antebellum mansion over and over again for no cost? How often do you get to sit in the dining room of a house that has years of history within it’s walls and drink coffee, eat chocolate and discuss a book? That for me was enough to inspire some intrigue! 
I thoroughly enjoyed the first meeting of the book club – it was fascinating to talk with other ladies about the story that The Help tells within it’s pages and there was something even more special about sitting inside the walls of such a gloriously historical home while doing so! I’m already looking forward to the December meeting, although I’ve got some reading to do before then. I’m so glad my Mom and I took the time to try this out and I’m already looking forward to the books to be read and the discussions to be had. 
The Book List
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruis Zafon
The Professor & the Madman by Simon Winchester
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Wind Done Gone by Alice Randall
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
1776 by David McCullough
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Property by Valerie Martin
A Voyage Long & Strange by Tony Horwitz
The Big Book of Virginia Ghost Stories by L.B. Taylor Jr.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
Have you ever been a part of a book club? What about the books on this list – have you ever read any of them? I can’t wait to share more of my experiences with the book club; I’m sure they’ll be delightful!

Stalagmites & Stalactites

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Do you struggle to remember what the difference between a stalagmite and a stalactite is? Lord knows that every time we used to go into a cave, I’d struggle to remember the difference and even though I listened with rapt attention to each and every tour guide, I didn’t have the difference firmly implanted in my brain until a tour of Tuckaleechee Caverns in the early 2000s.

Our tour guide was one of those extremely country, Tennessee mountain backwoods young men who had a Southern twang a mile wide (or maybe deep is a better way to say it since we were touring a cave?) and he happily explained to us that the way to remember the difference was simple: a stalactite always hung tight to the ceiling of the cave while a stalagmite grew up from the floor. Why you ask does this stand out so well in my mind? Simple – the young man’s accent – he pronounced the word tight with such an extravagant twang that I hear his voice in my mind every time I tour a cave.

Enough about all that though – I thoroughly enjoy touring caves; I find them to be absolutely fascinating! Luckily my little sister shares my love of cave diving and so we manage to always coax our parents into crawling underground to check out the underworld. Having said that, this post is mostly pictures of the cave – which I think are awesome but may bore you to death, ha-ha!

A sign outside the Old Mill restaurant in Front Royal – the site of our lunch!

En route to Mt. Jackson to go explore underground!

These two goofballs – no one told me it was wear blue day…

Shenandoah Caverns has been open since 1922 and apparently (according to their website) they are the only caverns in Virginia with elevator service. Who knew? The caves were discovered by little boys who stumbled upon a hole in the ground and decided they’d grab rope and candles and see what they could discover! Leave it to little boys to decide that climbing into a pitch black dark hole in the ground is a good time! I do love exploring caves but I also love that you can explore them with the modern convenience of lights. On with the pictures…

Cave bacon – anyone want a bite?

A set-up inside the entrance to the caverns; I guess they’re insinuating that if you follow the elves, you’ll end up in Rock City?

Flowstone…the limestone gives it the white color…

I just think this all looks brilliant….

Hey look – it’s a stalactite, because it hangs tight to the ceiling…

Slices of wavy bacon.

It’s so tempting to reach out & touch everything….

However, there are signs that say in VA touching cave formations is against the law…

So I refrained. 🙂

We weren’t actually so far under ground – I think we were only about 65 feet into the Earth. I’m not a huge fan of being in small, tight spaces but touring caves doesn’t really bother me in that aspect. I guess they just don’t feel that closed off to me, for whatever reason. There was a woman in the elevator with us that was not okay with it…we barely made it out of the elevator and into the caverns before she announced rather loudly that she needed to get back up and out of the caverns immediately. Yikes – bless her!

A massive collection of flow stone.

Curtains of rock…it’s amazing how something made of rock can look so fragile…

Just smiling like a goof ball, that’s all…

I’m running out of ways to describe cave formations…ha-ha!

Oooh – rainbow colors. Lovely.

Where there is light & moisture, bits of green are bound to spring up!

Backlit cave formations…

In one of the larger rooms of the caverns.

The Air Force parents – as evidenced by their awesome sweatshirts.

The Diamond Cascade in multiple colors…

Posing like a cheeseball with the Diamond Cascade. 

Spoiler alert – not real diamonds. Ha-ha!

Fascinating formations….

Everywhere you look…fascinating formations…

Soda straws…aka baby stalagmites & stalactites…

The goof balls in blue coming out of the tunnel we took to the lake…

The lake, lit with beautiful rainbow lights.

This is also one of the alternate exits out of the cave…although I don’t know that I’d be keen to take it.

Mom & I heading back through the tunnel & towards the surface!

The largest stalactite in the cavern – although I think it’s called something else when a stalactite & stalagmite grow together….

The Shenandoah Dome…because it resembles a certain domed building in our Capitol.

A very large slab of cave bacon on the way out….

Looking up…up…up & out of the caverns!

And looking down…down…down into the caverns once we reached the top!

After we finished touring the caverns, we went next door to a museum called America on Parade. The museum was fairly small but it was “free” with the ticket you purchased to the entrance of the caverns. The museum was filled with parade floats from the Rose Parade, Inaugural parades and even Thanksgiving Day parades. It was pretty interesting to see some of the floats; especially the parades from the Rose Parade that at one point were made of nothing but flowers, grasses and natural objects!

Look – I found an owl on one of the old floats! Yes!

Some bears from an old Rose Parade float!

Of course I had to jump in the phone booth…

A float from one of the many Mardi Gras parades that take place in NOLA every year!

A float from one of the many Rose Parades…which is where most of the floats were from…

An Inaugural parade float – lovely.

King Neptune & his comrades on a float from the Rose Parade.

I very much liked this float!

Anyone care for a ride on board this ship?

Yet another float from on of the Inauguration parades – very impressive.

A little dragon if you’d like.

So – that’s all about all that. There are still three more caverns in the area that I still need to explore, so maybe there will be some more rocky posts in the future. Rocky…get it? Ha! I know, so lame. Oh well, that’s all for now!

Sweater Weather

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I can’t think of a title for this post – I am sitting here on a Monday afternoon, having just applied for three jobs (three on a list of the at least 100+ that I’ve applied for since I moved to Virginia…but that’s no matter, right?) and watching an old episode of Sherlock (because it won’t be on again until the end of next year…) while I eat leftover Halloween candy – and I just can’t think of a title for this post. Maybe I’ll think of one before I get to the end of the post? Only time will tell…

Gorgeous Autumnal color….it’s everywhere you look!

Watson being completely uninterested in anything beyond lying on the rug in a patch of sun…

My ticket to the “theatre” on Monday night. 

I had one of those spur of the moment things happen this past week; well, it really happened on the weekend previous and unfolded on Monday night. I was scrolling through a Facebook news feed last Saturday while on a break at work and saw that the National Theatre’s production of Frankenstein was showing for two nights only – October 27th and 29th – and that a theatre in Leesburg, VA (about 40 minutes away) just happened to be one of the places that it was showing. It took me all of five minutes to snap up a ticket and on Monday night I scooted over to Leesburg to watch a play…in a theatre…but not quite. You see, it was the play Frankenstein recorded during it’s run of showings in London back in 2010 and then shown at a movie theatre. Either way, it was lovely and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

See? Autumn colors everywhere! 

Whispy clouds on Tuesday night…in the near 80 degree weather. A last blast of summer? I think so.

Watson in a Wednesday panic!

Wednesday was an interesting day – especially for Watson. My parents have oh so kindly taken me in and with me came my sweet little dog. My parent’s landlord okayed that Watson was here but the company that actually comes to inspect the house once a year states that there should be no pets on the premises – oops! We found out about a week ago that the home inspectors would be making their yearly visit on the 29th and so once the morning started, my Dad and I had to hide all signs of Watson’s existence…which naturally made Watson nervous. We hid all of his treats, tucked his bag of food behind a box in the storage room, put his food bowls into the pantry behind some food and broke down his crate…and then we waited. Around 12:45 a strange car drove up and Watson and I quickly ran down the stairs, through the basement and out the back door into the back yard and away from the house. Only five short minutes later my Dad sent me a text to let me know that the home inspector was gone and by 2 o’clock, Watson had all his things back in place. Ha-ha!

Heavy clouds rolling in on Thursday…the last patch of blue sky!

Yes – I got another mug! I can’t help it…I have a mug addiction. It’s alright.

Friday night was….Halloween! Our church went on it’s first foray into the land of Trunk or Treat and after many idea were tossed around, our family decided to make the Emerald City at the end of the yellow brick road. I tried to find a Dorothy costume so that I could be Dorothy and Watson could be Toto…but apparently if you’re an adult then the only Dorothy option is to be a slutty Dorothy and well, we just weren’t having that. Yikes! We put Watson in his green coat and he made a wonderful little Wizard of Oz while the three of us just bundled up and watched the little trick or treaters come by the car – my personal favorites being a little frog, Merida and Rocket the Raccoon! I’m only slightly partial to my three sweet kiddos! After the Trunk or Treat was over, Halloween night was ended on a perfect note: watching It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and eating leftover Halloween candy!

Three of the sweetest little Hallo-weenies I ever did see!

This little pumpkin wasn’t sure about all these pictures!

The Great & Powerful Oz says “welcome to my city!”

Rocket Raccoon is ready to take all your candy!

Such a sweet little froggy was hopping around the parking lot!

A sweet little strawberry came to see us too!

All of the festivities wore this little frog out!

The many faces of this funny little froggy!

A belated but still beautiful birthday present from my sweet little sister!

Have you asked Siri who is number one in college football?

I was finally off on Saturday this past weekend and we spent the day in front Royal and the nearby town of Mount Jackson…having lunch, shopping and taking a walk about 100 feet under the mountains in Shenandoah Caverns; which I loved! I’ve got a post dedicated solely to Saturday, so I’ll save anymore about that for when I post that. Saturday night was spent at a surprise birthday party for a sweet family friend – there was the surprise, good food, fun and time with wonderful people. After the party we watched MSU (barely) squeak out a win against Arkansas and I decided if I am going to keep watching these games, I’m going to have to take up heavy drinking to make it through the games. Just kidding…but man, wow.

Stalagmites, stalactites…formations everywhere!

Beautiful rainbow lights make the caves come alive!

The America on Parade museum, right down the hill from the caverns…

Poking around underground on a rainy Saturday afternoon!

Trying to will MSU toward a win – so frustrating!

And here we are…at the end of the post…and I still have no clue what I’m going to call it. Oh well, another week has come and gone, so I leave you with a picture of Watson all ready for sweater weather. And…there’s my title!

He’s not chilly.