This weekend I took a solo trip out to see my sister and her husband in Bedford, Va.  It was a sunny, but very cold (by VA standards) weekend.  I'm embarrassed to say that it has been 8 years since I have visited.  My father had a couple of health issues, so she has come here somewhat often.  One reason that I had not been out for so long is that they were undertaking renovations.  My sister says, "Well we've been done with our renovations for 3 years!".  I say, "Well, you told me that you would tell me when I could come out, and you only just now said yes."

My sister made a pot of chili for Friday that had deer sausage in it.  I stopped at the Food Lion on 460 before turning onto the back roads to her home.  I picked up some shampoo/conditioner as I did not have any travel sizes of anything.  I used to travel quite a bit, so I had a constant replenishment of travel-size bath accoutrements.  Not so anymore!  And when my daughter moved out, she took my last extra tube of toothpaste. I picked up a 12-pack of Red Stripe to go with our chili.  It was a good choice.

Such a treat it was to see everyone, including her three dogs--none of whom I've ever met.  Here are Savannah and Ruby (fore) in full ball chase mode. Ruby was the beneficiary of a vigilante dog nabbing.  She was chained to a tree, starved and without water on a 90+ degree day.  It was the last day that she suffered from that situation. She's a sweet rottie-pit, with nothing but a heart full of happiness.  I think something more ominous was in store for her had there not been an intervention. She also was the pillar that got in my way as I awoke and was making my way to the coffee maker. She stepped in front of me, and I hit her with my foot.  I believe that it broke my next to last toe on my left foot.  It is horribly bruised--on the front and back, and quite painful when touched.

On Saturday we set out in my car.  We had lunch at a Mexican restaurant prior to visting a winery, Hickory Hill, where we had a tasting and bought some wine.  It was a very cold day, and the wine tasting room was inside of an old house.  It was slightly less cold inside than outside, but there was a gas log stove in the corner that offered respite. 

We went to a few shops, the last of which was an Antique Mall.  I was looking for drop leaf tables as I gave Hannah my English Oak, Queen Anne style, table and chairs.  It was my original dining table cum overflow seating once I purchased my Stickley table.  I found a very pretty (and small) drop leaf table in solid cherry.  The proprietor saw the name on my check and said, "I know someone with the last name of  ____".  Surely enough, it was my father in law's notorious half brother.  She knew him as a generous and "last of the big spenders" man.  He is dead, and I never met him.  But over the years, I bump into several people who knew him.  He was one of those larger than life people, who seemed to touch the lives of many.  Among the three of us, we managed to get the table into the back of my Aurora.

With my sister's three dogs around (only Shelley was not amenable to belly rubs or any other touch unless it involved transferring food from your hand to her mouth), I did not feel any separation anxiety from my three vermin.  It was nice to sleep in a bed that I didn't have to share with man nor beast!

We did not run out of things to talk about, and our visits also center on pulling out the family album.  Our mother and all of her side of the family are dead (except for my cousins with whom we've lost contact).  So it is always wonderful see the pictures.  We looked at my sister's wedding pictures.  She looked so beautiful, and it is hard to believe that we were ever that young.  To see pictures of our parents who were then, younger than we were, was a bit strange. Suddenly we are older than our parents at a point in time that we remember well.  I surely builds perspective.

Other four legged friends included Pepper and Cody.  Cody is very skittish, and did not like my taking pictures not one bit.  To be fair, his eyesight is limited. My sister had a very long 3-4 month vigil with Cody.  He had 'poked' his eye.  They had to do all sorts of stuff (procedures, drugs, worry) to rehabilitate him.  Though his eye was saved, he has impaired vision.  He is a sweet, sweet boy.  Pepper is his beautiful, evil sister!

I remember riding Pepper about 16 years ago.  She was a spirited horse, reminding so much of Max, my mustang/quarter mix.  The ride engaged all of the muscles that were long dormant.  Walking comfortably over the next few days was a challenge. Like most of her ilk (horses who will take advantage of inexperienced riders), she started off trying to show me that she was boss.  I was a very experienced (though very dusty experience) rider, and I showed her, "what-is-what".  With a shared understanding we had a thrilling ride that she and I enjoyed immensely.

I am unused to having dogs who are uncomfortable around me.  Shelley was such a dog.  I respected her discomfort and gave her the space she needed.

On Saturday night we had chicken smoked in a vertical cooker.  I have to say that it was the best chicken that I have ever eaten...and I'm pretty keen on obtaining a smoker.  However, since writing that, I realize that I can modify my own grill.  I'll write on my success (or not!) with that endeavor.  I'm still thinking of that smoked chicken--it was that good.  We've had other smoked items, turkey and pork, and we always enjoy them.  However, too much smoke is not appealing to me, and the chickens were just so awesomely balanced.

(I started this post last evening and did not finish. Now for the wrap up).

I elected to take 460 all the way home (to get to 295).  There are many ways to get to Bedford from New Kent, and I've not been 460 all the way.  It was a lovely drive, and mostly 4 lane highway.  One thing about traveling east to west (when the beach is not a destination), is that the roadways are uncrowded.  Traveling out, I took 60 to Mt. Rush and then 24 to Appomattox.  That route takes you by the battlefield and place of Lee's surrender.  The pastoral view belies the historic (April 9, 1865) battle.  There is something that causes you to catch your breath when you pass through these places where our countryman battled head to head.  There is a solemnity that I always feel in the quite solitudes of the forest and fields that were once engulfed by the sounds, sights and smells of war.  In that solemnity, I honor their courage and, for many, their deaths with my rememberance.

As I took pictures, I realized that I have too long neglected using my new (old) camera. 

I came home to my sweet Ella joyously barking my arrival.  Look at that happy face! The men-folk got along fine without me.  A pot of beans and beer gets lots of mileage particularly when accompanied with football playoffs.

I will look forward to visiting the mountains of our beautiful state again.


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