Thursday, January 30, 2014

photographs at 50 mph

My oldest is excited about her photography class.  It should start any day now.  As soon as the kids go back to school.  Which may be tomorrow, if it warms up enough today to melt the roads...

Leaving Wintergreen last weekend she opened the window and tried to take pictures on SR 151 and SR 250.  Mind you, the car was traveling at 50 mph most of the time!

The above are all photos taken by Kathleen Yates.  I look forward to seeing what happens in this photography class!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


took this photo a few weeks ago on my way to a dog trial in Palmyra Va.

Fountain Service photo 2014-01-18164949_zpse55adccc.jpg

linking this to a Southern Day Dreamer's Outdoor Wednesday

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Weekends at Wintergreen

some shots from a weekend of ski training at Wintergreen Resort:

We arrived on Friday, just as it was getting dark.  On the way I had stopped in Charlottesville at Plow and Hearth (I could just buy out that entire store) for "fat wood."  The house does have heat, but the heating system has a hard time keeping up and so we rely on the wood burning stove to make up the difference.  When we arrived at the house the thermostat read "44" degrees F.  Luckily, the bathrooms each have a built in heater in the ceiling fan, separate from the HVAC system, and they produce beautifully.  So the kids piled into different bathrooms and turned on the heaters and stayed warm!  To add to the situation the fan that pushes the warm air from the wood stove out into my house had shorted out.  The weekend before a spark literally flew out of the top vent on the stove and then the fuse blew.  It happened 3 times.  So we left it off for the rest of the day, and the kids had a race and Tim helped with the computer systems for the race and we just left it to deal with later.  Well, Friday it was later.  So I'd gotten a fire going, and the oven on to cook dinner, and 2 hours later the house was still at 47 degrees.  Brrr... and then my husband blew in around 9 PM from work and immediately pulled out tools and cut wires and rewired and fixed the blower and we had heat from the fire helping the heater out.  By Saturday morning the thermostat was reading mid 50s.

Saturday afternoon after race practice Wintergreen sets up a NASTAR course.  Click that link there and you can find out all about NASTAR.  This is Bitsy and Tiger in line waiting to race.  Bitsy's first time on a course of any kind.  We had root beer floats to celebrate.

Mlyons and ski buddy

K and friends photo bombing cracks me up.  The ski team girls are lots of fun!

Saturday afternoon I took the dogs out for a long walk and took my phone to take some end of day photos.  I love the sky up there at Wintergreen.

view from the Highlands Express

Friday, January 24, 2014

Thalia in Snow

German Shepherd dogs are breed to be impervious to the weather. My girl loves the snow.  She will sit, down, and do a full training routine in the snow as if it were a sunny day out... and then when released bound about in it like a puppy.

sit & stay on a park bench in the snow

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Ski Lessons at Wintergreen Resort

The "Treehouse" at Wintergreen Resort is what we call the ski school and child care building.  Last year my little guy hung out in the child care room a few times.  He loved it!  This year he is learning to ski at the ski school.  The husband taught the oldest 4 to ski.  He had a job as a ski instructor in college (?) and has a whole program he puts the kids through to teach them to ski.  But these days he is one of the coaches for the race team so I'm letting the Treehouse instructors teach my youngest to ski.

Last weekend was busy busy at Wintergreen Resort and I did not get our reservation to the Treehouse in in time for Saturday and Sunday.  But he went on Monday which was good as I was watching my racers and it would have been difficult to do with my little guy in tow.  When he walked out to the snow Monday morning three of the instructors called out his name at once to say hello.  And when I picked him up he was happy as lark, riding up the magic carpet and then skiing down on the little bit of snow they have set aside for the ski school.  He'd over turn and end up skiing backwards.  It looked like he was doing it on purpose.


I tried to capture a little bit on video with my phone, but I didn't want him to see me so I didn't get very close.  He is in the yellow ski pants and the blue jacket.  His turns are coming along.  But he stops by either running into an adult who he expects will catch him or by skiing to one of those green carpet squares and letting the square stop him.

He has his instructor wrapped around his little finger.  "He can do everything," she said to me laughing "but he just likes to be on the ground."  Little Hawk is a very sweet little guy and he told her he loved her.  She was delighted.  I didn't tell her that he loves everybody.

There are kids on the ski team who were taught to ski by the Instructors at the Treehouse, and then graduated to a program called Mountain Ex, and then they tried out for ski team.  I've been told that the Ski Team coaches work with the Mountain Ex instructors to make sure that the kids are learning what they need to know to try out for ski team.  If you are looking for a place for your kids to learn to ski, the Treehouse has a good track record and they work hard to keep it fun.  Call ahead. Preregistration is a must on weekends.

Mama Kay's Gnomes

Last time I was in New Jersey was for my grandfather's funeral.  While we were at my grandparents house someone was trying to write something and then pen didn't work and one of my aunts exclaimed, "throw it out! throw it out!" and something about not waiting till we have to clean out and organize the house.  And that prompted me to ask permission to have a Gnome.  These Gnomes have lived in my grandmother's yard for as long as I can remember.  I've been fussed at countless times for moving them.  I found them fascinating as a child.  And they are the reason I loved "Gnomeo and Juliet"

I did receive permission to aquire a Gnome and so of course I took two... strike while the iron is hot and all that right?

yesterday it snowed.  My grandmother loved snow.  She would tell us stories about how there used to be really good snows when she was a child and they would close off streets so the kids could sled, and about ice skating on the lakes... in fact she loved it so much my aunt commissioned a painting of the house covered in snow.

So, I know the Gnomes were happy.  These are the two I relocated to Virginia from New Jersey:


somebody named "ianthegnome" found my photo on Instagram.  He has a shop on Etsy with some disturbing zombie style gnomes, some funny athletic gnomes; the wresters are humorous and there are NFL teams and so on.  And some really cool sugar skull style gnomes.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Snow Day!

I got out for a walk around 8 AM. I love how snow makes the everyday world seem magical.  I didn't get too far, my hands got cold around a mile from the house, probably because I kept pulling them out of my gloves to take pictures on my phone!

I love the patterns that snow makes.  And I am fascinated by early morning light creeping into shadows.  it is one of my favorite things about walking in the morning, seeing the world wake up.

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I love snow on leaves

walking path in Kingsmill, Williamsburg, VA photo 2014-01-22074641_zpsa8cb7a13.jpg
the walking path

Sun on Snow photo 2014-01-22075928_zpsa2d10da6.jpg
trying to catch early morning light

Sun on Snow, morning walk, January 22 photo 2014-01-22080626_zps08545ba0.jpg

I'm linking this post to A Southern Daydreamer's Outdoor Wednesday Linkup.  Her meme frequently attracts wonderful photography, much better than mine. I invite you to take a look if you have time for a little blog hopping today.
Another good spot for wonderful photos is It's A Small Town Life

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Weekend Races

yesterday, Martin Luther King Day, Wintergreen held a GS race and my kids participated.  One of the dad's takes pictures and posts them on SmugMug as "Purple Sage"

here are a few:
Tiger, U14
K, U16
She doesn't think she looks intense enough. 

MLyons, U10

He didn't get any pictures of Dragon, maybe next time.
They had a good race, Tiger placed 6th, Dragon brought in 3rd and MLyons 3rd but she's pretty sure they recorded the wrong time.  We are a competitive bunch :)
My husband didn't get to race yesterday.  He was keeping the computer and the timer on track in the ski shack and recovering from a rough night.  Sunday his buddy was up skiing with us and took a fall, compound fracture to the wrist.  They left the ski house around 4 to drive to the medical center in Charlottesville, about 25-30 minutes away.  They waited until almost 9:30 until he was seen by a doctor.  My husband said 6 ambulances pulled up while they were waiting.  The center was crazy busy.  They guys got back to the ski house around 2 AM. 

This weekend should be fun at the resort.  They are getting snow today.  And it should stay cold all week so we shouldn't loose any coverage.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Waiting for the Alpine Team to be announced for Sochi - and they say "we don't have a story"

I believe the United States Ski Team will announce the Alpine Team for the Sochi Olympics by the end of the month.  I think I read someplace that January 24th is the big day.
There is of course speculation.
And announcements have been coming out in the last few weeks regarding skiers who are stepping back and refocusing on next year.
Lindsey Vonn is of course one of the skiers that the media and many fans were looking forward to watching compete in Sochi, but her recovery from her injuries have caused her to reconsider her goals for this year.
Alice Mckennis is another speed specialist who had decided not to compete in the Olympics this year.

quick side note:
there are speed disciplines (downhill and super g) and there are technical disciplines (slalom and gs) and most racers fall into one specialty or another.  As not every race offers all of those events, in fact many only offer one event, the racers and the team have to decide which events each participant will focus on.
For example, young star Mikeala Shiffrin is currently ranked number 4 on the World Cup circuit (that is a freaking big deal by the way) and she is a Slalom Specialist, I don't know if she competes at all in the speed events.

I think it is interesting that after Lindsey Vonn's announcement there was some "oh dear what shall we do without Vonn?" sentiment in the media.  "We don't have a story without Vonn"

What nonsense!  I'm so very irritated with that conversation.
First of all, we haven't lost Julia Mancuso.  We expect her to participate in Sochi and if she does this will be her 4th Olympics.  4th!  In the past she has brought home 3 Olympic Medals, one Gold Medal.  I follow her blog, her twitter, and her instagram.  This girl does a great job managing herself as a brand, putting out fun and inspiring messages for her fan base and offering photos regularly of herself climbing a tree or ice skating with friends or hanging out at the top or bottom of a mountain.  She's a competitor and she's accessible and she's fun. Maybe the media could introduce her to the rest of the country that only pays attention to skiing once every four years.

And we have Mikeala Shiffrin who is busting out.  She is 18 and setting records.  A quick google search will lead you to several articles about her because she is winning and winning and winning.  People all over the ski world know her name, maybe America should too.

And there are several other stories.  Resi Stiegler has been competing since she was a teenager, she made the Olympic team in 2006.  She too keeps a blog filled with truly artistic photos and as an added twist there is family legacy.  Her dad is an Olympic Skier.

Leanne Smith and Stacey Cook are both placing in the top 50 on the FIS-SKI rankings.
Leanne competed in the 2010 Olympics (not that the media noticed) and Stacey Cook competed in 2006 and 2010!  And really, they are so boring that the news outlets can't create a story here? I'm sorry, I dare to disagree.

And what about the independents?  My personal favorite, Megan McJames is tenaciously holding onto a top 100 placement on the FIS WC list, without any support from the US Ski team.  She is on her own.  [Think about that.  She has to make her own travel arrangements and figure out how to pay for them, and I'm assuming pay to enter races (I don't know) and pay room and board and pay a technician to travel with her and... to me it sound overwhelming.]  And in her discipline, GS, she is ranked 41. Behind American's Mikeala Shiffrin and Julia Mancuso.  (I think that is one of the things about Mancuso that is fascinating to me, she pretty much ranks no matter what event you look up.)  Megan's fight to keep skiing despite a variety of set backs is a great story and very much the stuff of "American Spirit and Determination."

And I haven't even gotten to the men.
Bode Miller is looking at his 5th Olympic Games.
Ted Ligety is currently ranked number 3 on the FIS rankings. That is number 3 in the world.

Hello, we don't have any stories?  I am not a reporter.  This took no digging.  Surely those of you "covering the Olympics" for us on T.V. can top this and offer us something that is entertaining but hopefully actually of value as well.

from the US Ski Team Website, Olympics 2014
who is going for Alpine Skiing:
Stacey Cook, Mammoth, CA (7/3/84) *
Julia Ford, Holderness, NH (3/30/90)
Julia Mancuso, Squaw Valley, CA (3/9/84) *
Megan McJames, Park City, UT (9/24/87) *
Laurenne Ross, Bend, OR (8/17/88)
Mikaela Shiffrin, Eagle-Vail, CO (3/13/95)
Leanne Smith, North Conway, NH (5/28/87) *
Resi Stiegler, Jackson Hole, WY (11/14/85) *
Jacqueline Wiles, Aurora, OR (7/13/92)

Downton Abbey - the idea of having options

I am still (!) coughing up stuff out of my lungs. It is less and less and color and thickness are showing signs of improvement but I am tired of being ill.  Nasty bug whatever this is.

Being ill I'm watching a lot of t.v. and catching up on Season 3 of Downton Abbey - in episode 4 we revisit the story of Ethel.  Ethel was a maid at Downton Abbey during the war while they were housing war officers there.  And she caught the eye of one of the officers and had his child.  He was not interested in taking on responsibility for the child, she was fired in disgrace, and then he died.  She introduced the child to the paternal grandparents and it did not go well.  In Season 3 she asks Isobel Crawley (she is the mother of the man who will inherit the estate. It is a complicated relationship if you don't know the story.) to help her contact the child's paternal grandparents, the Bryants, again.  She has decided that it will be best for the boy to ask the grandparents to raise him.

It is very interesting to me.  Isobel Crawley is a middle class woman who feels that this drastic step is unnecessary and although she does make contact the Bryants she encourages Ethel to reconsider.  Mrs. Hughes is the head housekeeper at Downton and was raised on a farm.  She feels that Mrs. Crawley misinterprets the options available to Ethel and is wrongly optimistic in encouraging Ethel to keep the boy.  Mrs. Hughes instead supports Ethel in her decision to send her son to live with his grandparents.  I found the exchange between the three woman very interesting because as an adoptive mom I find people often judge my children's birth mothers.  Especially when the children were babies.  But in my opinion those who sat in judgement could not wrap their heads around the idea of a life where letting a child go is in fact the best decision for the child.  And I agree with Mrs. Hughes, it is because the life of those who sit in judgement has afforded them options that the children's birth mother did not have.

It is a very small side story, quickly overlooked in a season where other babies are born and Lady Sybil dies in childbirth.  But it is one that stuck with me because in my world I still see stories like these.  I am not particularly socialist and I am a "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" kind of person, but I am also self aware enough to know that I was given many opportunities simply because I was born where I was born and into the family I was born into.  For various reasons I was always very aware of the potential for unplanned pregnancy and was careful to keep myself out of that situation, but even if I had found myself unexpectedly pregnant I would have had choices.  Simply because I am a middle class American, with an education and job prospects and lucky for me a family that would have helped me out.  I am always sad when people feel the need to judge my children's birth mothers.  They do not know what choices were or were not available to them.  They do not know what life for these children might look like if the birth mother had made a different choice.  

In my perfect world a mother would never have to choose to let her child go and children would always be wanted. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Bitsy went to the dentist and

last summer I posted about Bitsy's teeth. She had to have general anesthesia to fix them and I was pretty freaked out about it. That post is "Metal Mouth"
I was questioning how Bitsy's teeth could possibly be so awful and wether our diet had anything to do with that.  While I wouldn't say Bitsy is vegan (she eats meats and dairy if she can get her hands on it) we eat significantly more plant foods and significantly less animal foods than most people.  We don't drink milk.  And there are days when Bitsy's entire diet actually is vegan. (my husband is vegan. He has been for 2 years. That post is entitled "The Diet" and for anybody who thought it was a phase; he had to apply for new life insurance for a small business loan recently.  The insurance company gave him some money back because he is in such good health. Seriously.)
I did suspect that the tooth decay might relate to my husband buying sweetened almond and soy milk instead of the unsweetened option and I insisted he stop at once.  He did.  For your reference the sweetened soy milk has 8 grams of sugar, the unsweetened has 1.
I was very anxious to see how her teeth would fair after the big dental work up.  Her 6 month check up was yesterday and her teeth look awesome.  Absolutely awesome!  So I'm thrilled.
Her dad suggested I get her some frozen desert to celebrate - but Bitsy heard desert and fixed her mind on cake.  She said "cake" so many times that I made her one last night.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Downton Abby

So I usually wait for the season to be out on Apple TV and simply purchase it- but season 4 started last week and so of course there has been so much buzz. (And there was the time my cousin sat on an airplane across from the man who plays Matthew... )

Something stuck in my craw a bit over the show.  I've a family member who is a bit like the mother-in-law "Isobel Crawley" in that she is a professional middle class woman who feels it is her duty to speak her mind and takes it personally when people disagree with her.  And somehow it came up at some dinner that her friends were all great fans of Downton Abbey and she just didn't understand it.  She for one couldn't fathom what those people did all day and could one really be happy when it seems that their biggest problem centers around changing for dinner.  And she went on and on about Sybil and Branson the chauffeur and how pleased she was for Sybil and really the woman and her opinions just make me want to disagree on principal of not agreeing with anyone so self righteous.

But it occurred to me today as I was watching season 3 (yes, I'm catching up) the reason I find this person's self righteous outrage so intolerable:
the woman loves a cruise. She finds deals on cruises and takes a cruise vacation two or three times a year.  I don't begrudge her the vacation (until she starts in on how her retirement benefits are not what she expected) but I find it odd that her version of relaxation involves a floating hotel with staff intent on making sure her stay is enjoyable and she is comfortable.  Further, it has been said to me by people who work on cruises that American's are rarely employed on a cruise ship because they do not "serve" well. Cruises hire professional staff.  I went on a cruise on my honeymoon and the man who looked after our cabin was a professional.  He had a family that he supported through his work and he intended to work on a ship for years to come.  Where he was from it was desirable work and very good pay.  I don't see how that is so different than some of the men jockeying to be footmen or valets in "the big house."

If you do not know what I'm talking about here is a link to Downton Abbey
the characters are so well done.
the costumes and the home are so well done.
Apparently you can go and stay at the home, the family (I believe it is a family that owns it) rents out rooms. I believe it is called Highclere Castle  I should like to go just so I could send a post card to my irritating relation!  Better yet, there is an online gift shop! Highclere Castle Gift Shop perfect.

and 1928 is a jewelry shop that has a Downton Abbey Collection as well!

random side note:
I was browsing the website and did you know:

The Egyptian Exhibition

The Golden Mask

The Castle was the seat, 100 years ago, of the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, who famously discovered the Tomb of the Egyptian Boy Pharaoh, Tutankhamun, in 1922 with his archaeological colleague, Howard Carter.
Today, the 8th Earl and Countess have opened a new Egyptian Exhibition throughout the cellars of the Castle to celebrate the 5th Earl’s achievements.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Christmas Holiday recap

Saturday December 21st I had my husband's parents, his grandmother, his sister and his uncle all over for Christmas Dinner.  That morning I booked it down to Carrollton to say hi to my dog people and have a club meeting and then that evening we packed up and drove to Wintergreen to begin our Christmas Holidays.
Reindeer Games at Claire's photo 2013-12-22122627-1_zpsb9aa6b03.jpg
Reindeer Games at Claire's in Charlottesville
K had received some money from her grandparents.  She was supposed to give it to her dad for her ski team fees but somehow that message wasn't received and she wanted to go buy herself make-up with it. I was equally clueless and I drove her to the mall!  We had the most lovely day - we started at BareMineral and she had her colors done and bought a foundation kit and some eye color and then she wanted to stop in at Claire's for somethings for her sisters and then we just sort of strolled around.  Left to find a craft store so we could purchase ribbon and beads and then bought a Christmas Tree.  We were gone all day. Just the two of us. We arrived at the ski house in time to see the sunset, magnificent!

Sunset, Wintergreen Resort, Virginia photo 2013-12-23170437_zps24a1f02e.jpg
Sunset in the Mountains
On Monday the weather was still warm and Tiger and I went for a 2 hour long hike along the old AT trail within the Wintergreen resort area. 

Overlook, old AT trail, Wintergreen Resort photo 2013-12-23101136_zpsa59402c4.jpg
old AT Trail

View, Dec 23, 2013. Wintergreen VA photo 2013-12-23101115_zpsb98031b0.jpg

K and I were adamant that we wanted some crafty ornaments for our tree sprinkled with a collection of ornaments the kids have acquired for me at various ski resorts.  I was pleasantly surprised to see my husband join in the beading.  I just left it all open to interpretation and the kids strung beads and used piper cleaners to add shape and we had fun and I loved the end result.

Stringing beads photo 2013-12-22204908_zps9d302c70.jpg
stringing beads

string of beads for the tree photo 2013-12-22211006_zpseee1a50b.jpg
one long string

Ski House Tree photo 2013-12-23143413_zps67e98ce6.jpg
decorated tree

K snuggling with the dog and enjoying our tree photo 2013-12-23193713-1_zps9b10af4f.jpg
enjoying the tree
Stockings stuffed and placed under the tree photo 2013-12-24230434-2_zpse0805fc6.jpg
Santa duties complete

Sweet and Spoiled Lab photo 2013-12-24180957_zpsad6f0a17.jpg
the black lab prefers to spend his time at the ski house snuggled up
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Thanks Santa! We've joined the Rainbow Loom craze!

glass art photo 2013-12-27205332_zps3bf28836.jpg
K bought some Martha Stewart glass paints and up-cycled our recycling

Sunday, January 5, 2014

starting off "right" hah

This always happened to me in college. I'd focus on making it through to break and I'd get home and the next day I would be sick and I'd spend a day or two in bed.

This year has been *crazy* and my husband has pushed himself and everyone around him hard to get things accomplished both personally and professionally and if a few places that has over lapped.  And then there is the three ring circus of 2 kids on travel soccer teams, and 1 kid running high school track, and 2 ballerinas prepping for Nutcracker and I'm pretty much doing it on my own as the husband has been focused on his stuff. And of course working the dog. And not neglecting the other dog. And so on...

And I had a BLAST over Christmas and took all these pictures and kept stealing everybody else's phone to take pictures. And then New Year's Eve Day I drove back home from the ski house and walked through the door and started shaking. I was freezing. And the kids decorated the table and my husband picked up some Italian food from an awesome local restaurant (he'd spent all day moving furniture into and out of storage - long story) and I ate dinner in a hat - still shaking and still freezing but hungry so I'm thinking I'm not sick - but I was in bed by 9:30.  The next morning there was evidence in the kitchen that the kids had stayed up late and played with baking soda and vinegar maybe (?) blowing up balloons and getting a sugar high on sparkling cider. I made it to the kitchen, looked for a drink of water maybe and didn't get out of bed again for 2 days.

You know that sick when you were a kid where you shook and were hot and then cold and coughing up nasty green stuff and your mom put you to bed and brought you soup? Yeah - I had that. Have that.  Two days in bed. Day three out of bed for short amounts of time. Today I actually got dressed.  I still haven't left the house and I cannot laugh or take a deep breath without coughing and darn it my ribs feel like I took a beating from all the hacking.  But there is less junk, and the color is clearing so I know I'm improving it is just taking for freaking ever.

My kids brought me breakfast in bed one day- and then M kept checking on me and asking if I needed anything (and she had a milder version) and I kept saying no.  But what I really wanted was my mom. "Mommy!"  Totally wanted my mom.  Because she'd have made me tea every hour, and brought me that nasty apple cider vinegar & honey concoction (that stuff works) and reminded me to gargle with salt water (tastes nasty but makes your throat feel way better) and best of all, she'd have cooked up some killer chicken soup.  Man I wanted my mom.  But I was pretty sure we'd make her sick.  I talked to her today.  Unfortunately since she was with us for Christmas, we did make her sick.  She was in the bed the two days I was hobbling around.  Yeesh.

So I figure - this is my big illness for 2014 and once I'm recovered I'll feel awesome.  I must have looked pretty bad though - because the vegan husband actually brought me home some Cambell's Chicken Noodle Soup yesterday.
I asked for soup on Thursday and he brought home Amy's Lentils.  Normally I am a big fan. But not when I'm sick.  So when Tiger got home I sent him across the street to ask our neighbor for soup and all they had was Cambell's Cream of Chicken. That worked fine. Friday my husband brought home some Chinese take-out with soup for me.  That was perfect! But the kids went with him to pick up somethings for dinner yesterday and they picked out Tortilla Soup without cheese (who knew) and fixings for guacamole (which I couldn't eat. so sad!) and they also bought me the chicken noodle soup just in case.  I ate it today for lunch.

Weirdest thing. I cannot drink coffee. Can't get it down.  Haven't had it since New Year's Eve. Normally I drink any where from 2 to 4 cups a day.  This is so weird. Thankfully, hot toddies taste just fine.  Off to fix myself one now.  Happy New Year!