Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Our trip to The Virginia Military Institute in Lexington Virginia

Welcome to the oldest state supported military college in America.

VMI has graduated more army generals than any other ROTC program.

Believe me, no one goes to VMI for the creature comforts.  The accommodations, if we can call them that, are sparse.  Cadets sleep on cots which they roll up every morning and "air out" every Monday.  "Rats", or freshman, are allowed no t.v., no music, and no unsupervised phone calls.

VMI and Washington and Lee University are very close neighbors, if you've ever been to Lexington you know what I mean by that.  The term for new cadets, "rats", was actually first used by W&L students to describe the marching cadets in their gray uniforms.  In turn the cadets referred to W&L students as "minks" because most came from wealthy families.

Unlike all other service colleges, VMI graduates are free to pursue civilian careers or join any military branch.

The Virginia Military Institute was the last military college in the U.S. to accept women, in fact they didn't accept females until the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional for a state supported institution to discriminate against women.  VMI briefly considered becoming a private college in order to avoid having to accept females, they wisely changed their minds and the first female cadets entered the school in 1997.  Trust me, this was a  big deal in Virginia at the time!

VMI has a strict single sanction honor code: "a cadet does not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate those who do."  A violation mean immediate expulsion. Period.

And on a lighter note, this is my sad attempt at a selfie.  This is how it's done right?  Send help if you must.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Our trip to Mabry Mill in Meadows of Dan Virginia

Welcome to the most photographed spot along the Blue Ridge Parkway!

Mr. Mabry (Ed) began construction of his water powered mill in 1903.   Once it was completed in 1905, is was in turn a blacksmith, a wheelwright shop, then finally a grist mill.

The water which powered the mill was carried along this wooden race.  Over time is has sprung quite a few leaks which create waterfalls.

One of the many lovely pathways.

If you get a chance to visit during mountain laurel season, you won't be disappointed.

There was a park ranger demonstrating basket weaving techniques.  This one is called a rump basket .  If Mrs. Mabry needed to carry something with her when riding a horse, this basket fit nicely on the horses rump.

A gorgeous spinning wheel.  Apparently Mrs. Mabry didn't actually spin because, as the ranger told me, she was more of an outdoor girl, in fact she preferred to work in the mill along side her husband.

One of the park rangers made this lovely piece using the loom which is inside the house.  Unfortunately the buildings were too dark inside for photos.

 A whiskey still in the woods.  Welcome to the mountains y'all.

The Mabry's neighbors in the community would bring their corn to be milled.  The payment to Mr. Mabry was 1/8 of the ground meal.

The restaurant at Mabry Mill is quite rustic.  By rustic I mean it isn't air conditioned, which this charming fellow wasn't happy about.

The famous sweet potato pancakes tasted like Thanksgiving!  So good.

Every Sunday afternoon in summer their is live blue grass music and if you're there in the fall you can watch them make apple butter in a cauldron over a fire.  You can smell the scent for miles!
 The next time you're heading south on the Blue Ridge Parkway, check out Mabry Mill in Meadows of Dan Virginia.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Our trip to Washington and Lee University in Lexington Virginia

Welcome to the classical, and oh so southern, campus of Washington and Lee University.  It truly is beautiful, and on a day as lovely as this, one could definitely imagine living here.
 Washington and Lee wasn't always Washington and Lee,  it began as Augusta Academy and later was known as Liberty Hall Academy.  It wasn't until a certain first president of the United States gave the  financially troubled school a generous donation in the form of stock   that it was renamed after George Washington.  Then, after a brief five years as president of the college, former General Robert E. Lee died in 1870 and the school was once again renamed, thus becoming Washington and Lee University.

Lee Chapel, where General Robert E. Lee, his wife, their seven children, and the Generals father are all buried.  Lee's horse, traveler, is buried on the grounds.  The chapel and the row of buildings across from it are all National Historic Landmarks.

 W & L, along with William & Mary and UVA, issued a public apology in 2014 for "participating in the institution of slavery".  In the early 1800's, a local merchant left his estate to the university, including 70 to 80 slaves.  After much research the university board concluded that the institution had indeed benefited from the labor and eventual sale of slaves.

 Washington and Lee is the second oldest college in Virginia, William and Mary being the first.

 Yes, those are rocking chairs.  I'll be right here if you need me!

 When you come visit W&L, and please do, you will eventually need lunch.  Anyone for the best fried chicken, ever?  Seriously, the Southern Inn on Main Street in Lexington has really really amazing fried chicken, you'll want to check it out.

If for some crazy reason you're just not in the mood for fried chicken (what is wrong with you?) Braxton says the meat loaf is excellent as well.
Please come and visit one of the most beautiful campuses in America.  You won't be disappointed.
I will eventually do a post on Lexington.  The photos I took on this trip do not do justice to this adorable town.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Let's talk about tofu, hot flashes, and menopause! Are you still with me?

It turns out I'm not 21 anymore y'all.  Like we all eventually do, I seem to being going though the change.  So far it's really not that bad, cue Braxton laughing his head off.  My main symptom, other than the obvious, has been hot flashes, and perhaps a leeetle irritability and of course the 40 lb weight gain.  Just Kidding!  It's only been about 3 lbs. and holding.

I've always been very health conscious.  I exercise daily and eat well, but man oh man, those hot flashes were killing me.  Not really wanting to take HRT, yet, I thought I'd add some soy to my diet and see what happened.  I know that the jury is out on soy's health benefits, I'm just sharing my experience with eating tofu.

Y'all it works.  It took a week or two of eating soy every day;  tofu one week, edemame the next, to notice any change.  Slowly the hot flashes became less severe and came less often.  I still have the occasional hot flash, mostly at night, but they are nowhere as severe as before.

Obviously this may not work for you, but give it a try.  Let me know how you're doing.  We don't have to go through this alone, right?

Oh yea, I promised you a recipe....

Chicken fried Tofu.
Put corn meal 
and whatever spices you like into a bowl.  For this pic I just used salt and pepper.  May I recommend garlic, old bay seasoning, fresh or dried herbs, in whatever combo sounds good.

Dredge sliced  tofu in mixture.  I always dry off the tofu with a paper towel first.  Also, I use extra firm tofu packed in water.  I keep the rest of the block of tofu in a plastic and lidded container which I fill with water.  Keep in fridge and change the water daily and it should keep for 3 or 4 days.

Heat a tablespoon of real butter over med heat in an iron skillet.  When the butter is bubbly and smells like heaven add the sliced/seasoned tofu pieces.  Now go do something else.  Seriously, don't touch it for 4(or so) minutes, let is get brown and crusty.  Turn over and fry the other side.  Lunch is ready!

Sorry about the old lady post but hopefully it helps someone.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Our trip to Mill Mountain in Roanoke Virginia

The view of downtown Roanoke from the Mill Mountain Star overlook.
 I have heard it said that Mill Mountain is the only mountain in America that resides within city limits.  I cannot confirm this, but let's just say it's true.  I can confirm that the views from the overlook are spectacular.
Mill Mountain is not only home to The Roanoke Star but there is also a small zoo, flower gardens, several hiking and biking trails and plenty of picnic spots.
Roanoke viewed from another direction.

Atop Mill Mountain sits The Roanoke Star, the largest man made star in the world.  Hence Roanoke's nick name The Star City of the South.

Some rather eerie stone stairs along the hike up Mill Mountain.  Why are they there?

Braxton and I love to walk the paved road up the mountain.  Years ago this was the only way to get to the Mill Mountain Zoo by car.  Now the road is closed to traffic unless you  happen to live in the gorgeous stone house that sits half way up the mountain.

Another spectacular view from the overlook.
Y'all come for a visit!


Monday, May 15, 2017

Our trip to Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest

The drive leading up to the house is magical.
 First up; the elephant in the room.  Thomas Jefferson "owned" as many as 600 human beings in his life.  I am as repulsed by this as you are.  As Virginians we are frequently called to reconcile the beautiful architecture that surrounds us and the great minds which made this possible, with the horror of slavery.  It can't be done.

This blog post is about a beautiful home designed by and lived in by one of our founding fathers, third president of the United States, Vice President, Governor of Virginia (I'll stop there) Thomas Jefferson.
 Thomas Jefferson designed two homes for himself and his family, the other being Monticello.  While Monticello became a place he would receive countless visitors, and I do mean countless, Poplar Forest was his retreat from the world.
These doors are actually pine painted to look like mahogany.  Trust me they are gorgeous!
 Poplar Forest is about 90 miles from Monticello which took Jefferson three days of travel by carriage.  The best tour guide in the world, thank you Bill, told us that on as least two occasions slaves made the trip by foot in order to lodge a complaint to Jefferson about his overseer.  Imagine how long that took!
In classic Jefferson and Palladium fashion, the house is actually an octagon.  Jefferson was inspired by the classical architecture he saw in Europe and was completely self taught.
 Brilliant though he was, the house has some serious mistakes.  There was no logical way for the slaves to bring food into the dining room from the kitchen which was underneath the house.  His initial plan was for the slaves to walk around the outside of the house and bring the food in the front door, which allowed for plenty of time for everything to get cold.  His remedy for this was for the slaves to enter in a side door, walk though his granddaughter's bedroom, and on to the dining room.  Awkward to say the least!
This guy follows me everywhere!  Good thing he's so cute.

Mr. J. loved light, fresh air, and open windows.  Something we have in common.

Yep, even the privy is eight sided.  

 There are actually only two bed chambers for the family.  One for Mr. Jefferson, which had the only indoor plumbing in the house, and one for his two granddaughters.  If you've ever been to Monticello, you probably remember the bed alcoves he so loved,  he continued that tradition  here.
The wine and beer cellar.

The "hall of offices" which were actually the kitchens and laundry room.

Poplar Forest is open daily from
mid-March through December 30, and winter weekends for self-guided tours mid-January through mid-March.  Admission is $16.00 for adults.

It is truly breath taking!

Lunch as trio was wonderful.


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