Friday, January 13, 2012

Another Day, Another Walk

So in a previous post we walked over to the cemetery and the LeFerve house. Today's walk is in a Wetlands Preservation Area. We see this area several times a week ~ it's across from our local grocery store and keep saying we really need to check it out...
So last weekend we did just that. It was a beautiful day, almost warm. The kids were not happy about it but despite that they actually enjoyed themselves.
Lots of what we call "laughing ducks" because the sound they make, especially en mass sounds like they are all having a great party and laughing. There are actually several species of ducks in this pond. It's fun to watch them, especially when they go under water with just their butts in the air.
Everything looks so different in the winter ~ I think it's kinda cool (literally!). It'll be interesting to see what it looks like in the different seasons.

It's not a very long walk ~ but lots of benches to sit and platforms that go out over the water to watch the ducks and the fish. It's really very peaceful and something I'm sure we will do again and again.

Of course we offset the peacefulness of the walk by going to the movies to see Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. I really liked it, as did the rest of the family ~ even Nate, who really did not want to go! Without giving it away, the end of the movie was really an "aww!" moment. If you are a fan of the Mission Impossible movies, they really are best on the big screen rather than waiting for them to come out on DVD.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Nothing better...

I am one very lucky lady... My husband cooking dinner and my son setting the table. It doesn't get better than this!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Christmas Music

But No, I'm not talking so much about "Christmas Music", Jingle Bells and all that as I am about music I got for Christmas. Along with so many other goodies I also got 6 cd's for Christmas. Six totally different cd's and I really like all of them ~ guess I just have really eclectic taste in music.. so I figured I'd share with you...
I swear this is what angels sound like when they sing. Can't even hear them doing "Danny Boy" without tearing up.

Ah, what can I say about Daryl. Just love him! Remind me sometime to tell you about spending my birthday with "Daryl & John."

I do love me some "Spanglish" music and Enrique knows his stuff. Now, his father on the other hand... Ugh!

The least known for me ~ and honestly I haven't listened to the whole CD yet, but if it's as good as the parts I have heard, it's a keeper.

What can I say about Maroon 5 except ~ sigh ~ Adam Levine. Have ya'll seen the pic of him wearing nothing but tats and his girlfriend's hands? It's not to be missed. But aside from that ~ I do love their music. Always have!

Shuester from Glee! Both my girls hate him ~ but I love him and his curly hair. He has an amazing voice. Did you see the episode of Glee when he and Neil Patrick Harris did "Dream On?" Legen ~ wait for it ~ dary!

So, what are you listening to these days? I'd love to know.

Friday, January 6, 2012

History right here in my own backyard

Not long after we moved in to the new house I realized that there is a little cemetery right behind the house next to us. You can see from the picture taken from the cemetery how close we are. That's Richard's little yellow car in our drive way. During the summer it's mostly hidden by the trees and bushes but now that it's winter it's a pretty clear shot.
If you take a walk around the neighborhood you'll find lots of history and fortunately lots of information as well.
The cemetery (built in 1750) is called Broad Run Hillside Cemetery and it has gravestones dating back as far as 1834. Peter Oatyer holds the honor of being the oldest stone. He was born in 1751. From what I can gather Peter Oatyer's daughter married a man with the last name of Caylor and they had a daughter who married a Lefevre.
The majority of the stones are from the Lefevre family. Samuel Lefevre (1828-1904) was a Civil War Veteran. His brother John Lefevre (1829 - 1903) and John's wife Elizabeth Howser Lefevre (1835 - 1911) are also buried there. According to the plaque, "From 1750 to 1911, 35 family members and friends were laid to rest here. Among them are farmers, a possibly Revolutionary War Veteran, A Civil War Confederate Prison-of-war and a local postmaster."

The cemetery is pretty run down but several of the graves are still visible.
If you take a left from the cemetery you come to this tunnel that runs under the street. Coming out of the tunnel you come to "The Lefevre House." This house was built in 1874 and while it is closed to visitors, local elementary schools still visit the house, teaching valuable history lessons about the building and it's owners.
So you see, it's an interesting walk in my neighborhood. Along with the cemetery and the house, we have a great club house, pool, and walking trails that include butterfly houses, playgrounds and tennis courts. So, if you are ever in the neighborhood, stop by .... I'll fix you a cup of tea and we'll take a nice walk. You just may learn something.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Arlington National Cemetery

The kids started back to school yesterday and since Richard had the day off we decided to take advantage of the quiet. Not in the way you'd think get your head out of the gutter.

We decided to drive to Arlington National Cemetery for the day. Richard has never been and it's been close to 10 yrs since I've been. I think we absolutely picked the wrong day though. It was so frickin cold... with the chill factor it was 18 degrees, and if that wasn't enough the wind coming off the Potomac was killer. Still, going to Arlington is amazing. I just think the next trip will be in warmer weather though.

If you've never been all those headstones lined up perfectly is even more impressive in person.

There are other headstones that are very large and impressive. Seemed to us that it was more of a "rank" thing. Seemed the bigger stones belonged to Brigadier Generals and officers of much higher rank.
Of course, one of the most visited places is the site where President John Kennedy is laid to rest. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is also laid to rest there now ~ as are a son, born premature and a still born daughter.
Son John Kennedy Jr had his ashes scattered off the coast of Martha's Vineyard.
I found it a bit unusual that Jacqueline would be buried there after her marriage to Aristotle Onassis but because she was again widowed at the time of her death, it was decided she would be placed next to her late husband by the eternal flame. A site she helped to design.
It is very sobering for a gal like me, raised in the Catholic church. While I was only 7 (and in the 2nd grade at St. James Catholic School ~ a school with primarily Irish priests and nuns) when the President was assassinated I so clearly remember being in class when another nun came in to tell us the news. Even at that early age I knew the world had changed.

I have to admit though, I was much more devastated when Bobby Kennedy was killed in 1968. Maybe because I was older and understood more, what was happening.
I don't know what happened to them, but at the time I kept a pile of newspaper clippings. I think maybe I used them in a school report a few years later.
As I stood at his burial site yesterday I couldn't help but cry. Maybe for what could have been. He most certainly would have won the election and been our president for the next 8 yrs. I think the country would have taken a much different turn. Who knows where we would be now? I guess we'll never know.

Jennifer actually met and spent the day with Ethel Kennedy while she was working for the Naples Daily News.   I was so excited for her.  Apparently Ethel took a shine to her and they walked arm in arm, chatting all the while.  Sure wish I had a picture of that!

Did you notice how unassuming his stone is. Really, that's all there is ~ a stone and a cross. Same for Edward's plot just a few feet away.

I believe both Robert and Edwards' children that have passed away are buried in a family plot in at Holyhood Cemetery in Brookline, Mass.
I think the most popular site though would have to be the "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier." Did you know it is guarded 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It is a great honor to be one of the "Sentinels" They patrol this 21 steps back and forth, night and day, rain or shine. Guarding of the tomb began in March of 1926 ~ during daylight hours only.  Too many visitors were using the original crypt as a picnic table!   In July of 1937 the patrol was changed to 24 hrs a day.  The original orders can be found here.

The soldiers who stand guard at the Tomb are hand picked and rigorously trained. Both men and women are eligible for this duty however only 20% of the soldiers who try out for this duty actually make it.
Another interesting fact is that there  are three Relief's assigned to the Tomb Guard Platoon, each consisting of 9 enlisted soldiers. The heights are equal on each Relief, with the tallest assigned to the 1st Relief.
1st Relief  6'2" to 6'4"
2nd Relief 6' to 6'2"
3rd Relief 5'11" to 6'

They do change guards every hour on the hour and that is not to be missed. There is something about the solemness of the ceremony ~ honoring those that not only have given their lives for our country, but remain unknown ~ it's a privilege to be able to pay homage by being there. And believe me, the guards take this duty very seriously.
The tomb bears the inscription "Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.

This is me waiting for the ceremony to begin ~ at this point I don't think I could feel my face anymore. And no, I don't normally wear my scarf (doncha love the orange?) over my head but it was seriously the only protection I had from the crazy wind that was going on. To say I was not prepared was an understatement. Silly me didn't even have gloves with me!
This is the view of DC from the cemetery. Beautiful isn't it.  I think it's one of my favorite places to visit.  To be able to see so much history first hand is amazing.
We did drive through the city before we came home. Richard had not seen the new Martin Luther King memorial so we wanted to see that.
One last thing I thought you'd find interesting were these stones we saw on several of the gravestones.  When we got home I did do a little research on this.  It's primarily rooted in the Jewish faith although, like most customs, has run over into other cultures as well.  It's a Mitzvah ~ or an act of kindness.  They are put there by family or friends as a sign of respect, signifying that the site is being cared for and the deceased, honored.    Very touching.   All in all a very peaceful day ~ spent with the man I love. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Day To Celebrate

32 years ago today I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. It's hard for me to believe that beautiful baby girl, while still beautiful, is now a mom herself with her own beautiful baby girl.
Happy Birthday Sweetheart !  I love you!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Where Two Blog Posts Collide ~ Part Two

Living in Virginia has had lots of advantages. The best thing is that we now live closer to family and friends we haven't seen in a while. One of them is my friend Judy. Actually she was my sister Joey's best friend for many years while we were growing up and even lived with us for several years so she's more like a sister than just a friend.
Judy lives just about an hour west of us so a couple of weekends ago we decided to take a drive over the mountains and meet her and her son John for lunch. It was great to see them again. There is nothing like family.

In any case while driving up in the mountains I noticed quite a few trees with some very strange fruit on them. From a distance they looked like grapefruit. Now, I know there are no grapefruit trees in northern VA ~ and these trees, while bare of leaves had tons of these big yellow fruits on them. We didn't have time to stop on the way there so while on the way home when we saw tons of this fruit on the ground, Richard took a detour through the neighborhood full of farms ~ most of which seem to have these trees.

We found one farm that had a tree close to the fence with lots of these fruits on the ground so Rich pulled over and I had Nate run into the yard and grab me a fruit. He did it for me but not before asking if sending the black kid out to steal the fruit was a good idea! In any case, we got the fruit to bring home. Here's a close up for you..
It is about the size of a grapefruit ~ only wrinkly and it does have a citrus smell to it. Got it home and cut it open. The inside has the consistency of a pineapple. Now it was time to do some research.
After a bit of digging it's called an osage orange (also called hedge apples). While they are not poisonous, they really aren't edible. Cows and other large animals will eat them but are also prone to choke on them when swallowed. Most of these trees are planted as wind breakers as they can grow up to 60 feet and are very thick around. They do have large thorns though so care should be given when walking around these trees.

So here's where this blog post collides with the previous post... These fruit also happen to be a natural bug repellent! And more specifically they repel camel crickets! Apparently people pay good monies for these fruits and put them in and around their house to keep out all sorts of bugs and rodents. Now I wish I had gotten a lot more of these fruits. We took the one we grabbed and put half in my sewing room and the other half in the "utility room" in the basement and voilĂ  ~ no more spider crickets! Let's hope they keep on repelling until we can get some more.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Where Two Blog Posts Collide ~ Part One

Isn't that just a lovely picture? It's a camel cricket ~ or more commonly known around these parts as spider crickets. Which ever you call them, they are the bane of my existence. They live in my basement and I am NOT happy about it. At first there was just one, Honey killed it. A couple of days later there was another one, Nate came and took it away.

We still had tons of boxes in the basement aka my sewing room. Guess who likes to hide under boxes? Yep ~ saw several of them under the boxes, some stuck to the underside of the tape. I'm not a fan of bugs of any sort really but these things really really creep me out. They can jump up to 10 feet. The good news is they don't see very well. The bad news is that they jump TOWARDS a perceived enemy.

I've done some research on these nasty insects and it says they are harmless. Now, if one of these things jump on me and I have a heart attack ~ are they really harmless? I think not!

I was on a mission to get rid of these things. My first mistake was looking up info on them. I ended up on a discussion board reading hundreds of horror stories about these things. Talk about nightmares! The advice I read ran from bug bombs, sprays, sticky pads, and the ever popular Bugzooka. Actually Richard ordered me a Bugzooka but it's going back ~ you pretty much have to get right on top of the damn bug to "humanely" catch it. First of all, I'm not getting that close to one of these things and secondly I really don't give a crap about being humane! There was also something about some weird fruit that naturally repels them but I had never heard of that. I did consider a cat though. Says cat's love to eat them ~ eww!

So off to the store I went. I bought bug bombs ~ yes bombS. I got spray for the outside of the house that says it kills both spiders and crickets so killing spider crickets should be no problem. Got some sticky pads too. Guy at the store said I looked like I was ready for battle.

The bug bombs worked really really well ~ but it was a bit disturbing finding upwards of 20 dead crickets. We also sprayed around the house and put out the sticky traps. Unfortunately a little over a week later we started finding a few again. In the mean time I got rid of all the boxes in the basement ~ felt good to get them unpacked ~ less places for those demons to hide too. We think they are coming in from one of the windows so we put lots of sticky pads in the window and it seems to be working for now.

I've actually started sewing again in the basement ~ without fear of being jumped on. And the good news is, I haven't seen a cricket in a couple of weeks now.. wanna know how we did it? You'll have to tune in for the next blog post to find out!