The Ghost of Tom

 

 

“Have you seen the ghost of Tom

Long white bones with the skin all gone.

Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh,ooh, ooh ooh, poor old Tom,

Wouldn’t it be chilly with no skin on?”

 

The other evening I turned on the lamp on my night stand in the bedroom. No light. I replaced the bulb.  No light. I took my shower and attempted to use the hair dryer.  It didn’t work. Hum!

Gene checked the breakers and all were on.  I had a thought and checked the lamp on his side of the bed. No light. That made no sense at all.  Three things in one evening just don’t go bad. We plugged and unplugged, and reset the switch on the hair dryer. Still no luck.

We plugged the hair dryer into a socket in the living room. No luck.  Gene took a lamp that was working in the living room and plugged it into the bathroom socket. It worked. So we established that the socket was working, but not the hair dryer. But why two lamps and one dryer? He took my lamp to the living room, no luck.  I started singing a little chant that popped into my brain from childhood days. “Have you seen the ghost of Tom…” I have no idea where I learned that creepy little tune but I probably learned it in grade school. It certainly wasn’t at home as we didn’t have TV and listened to very little radio. I remember singing it as a kid, slowly, over and over, with strong emphasis on each word whenever it seemed to fit a “needed situation”! Tonight was one of those “needed situations” even though Gene could see no connection!

I noticed that the alarm clock on my night stand and the little fan on his worked. That meant both of the sockets were live, just not the lamps. Gene suggested I change the light bulb in my lamp again.  Much to my surprise it worked. How unlikely is it to have two blown out bulbs. One problem solved.

What works for one lamp might work for the second, right? Wrong. Replacing the bulb in his lamp didn’t help. I looked behind his night stand and the lamp was unplugged.  Now, how in the world did that happen? We have no children in the house and I certainly didn’t do it.  It had to be the ghost of Tom! Gene informed me his lamp hasn’t worked for a long time. For some reason I hadn’t noticed. Apparently it never got plugged in when we redid the bedroom two years ago.  Second problem solved. At least we now have light!

Back to the hair dryer. I plugged and unplugged, push the reset button fifty times and turn it on and off fifty-two times. Nothing. About half hour later we were sitting in the living room and the hair dryer started running. In turning it on and off, I hadn’t turned it off.  I have no clue what ailed that opinionated thing but it’s attitude must have been adjusted as it has been working ever since.  It had to be that illusive, stupid, Tom ghost with no skin on!

Three problems solved in one evening. That was a good night’s confusion workout.

 

The Ghost of Tom

Out of curiosity, I googled the phrase “Have you seen the ghost of Tom” and actually found the words to the song. It was only four lines long though I remember it as much longer. I had forgotten the last two lines.

This reminded me of another song we sang as kids, “Guess I’ll Go Eat Worms”.  I found it on google also. When we were sent to the garden to work or shooed out of the house, we would sing this crazy little song.

I’m curious how many of the rest of you will admit to singing these goofy little songs?

 

 

Gardening-Raised Beds

Several years ago, I built several raised beds in my garden.  I love them for some of my gardening.  Because I am an avid gardener and depend on my garden for eating and preserving  vegetables for the months of nongardening weather,  I can’t grow enough of the main vegetables (beans, sweet corn, limas & tomatoes) in 5’x10′ raised beds to meet my needs.

I really like my raised beds for radishes, lettuce, onions, cabbage, broccoli, and squash.  In the spring, the soil in the beds drains better so I can plant my early spring items before you can even dream of planting in the main garden. If a late frost threatens, they is easy to cover with old sheets.

In the fall, when the weeds have taken over the main garden, I can quickly work up the soil in the raised beds and plant my fall crops. I can winterize the main garden without the fall planting being in the way.

I have never, in all my years in Powhatan, had trouble with deer in my garden until the last two years. My yard and garden was far enough away from the woods and they just did not come this way. Last year they found my strawberries.  They ate the plants as if it was a buffet laid out just for them.  Their tracks revealed that perhaps they gathered around the raised beds and blessed the food before partaking! Bless their hearts!!!

I put hoops over the beds and covered with netting. I used one large piece of netting and hooked it around the sides with nails tilled slightly downward. It worked, but was a little difficult to work with.

This spring I discovered deer tracks all over the garden, up in the raised beds and around my blackberries. I worked up the beds and planted my spring plants and seeds. The next morning the one of the lettuce plants was totally gone and their hooves had exposed some of the onion sets as they danced across the beds. Rascals. What they don’t know is that now they are on my bad side. That is not a good place to be.  I am like my dad in that such a situation. I have to come up with a creative plan and it needs to be clever, neat and easy to use. After much deliberation, I finally had my plan. I am very pleased-so far-with what I came up with but time will see how it works.

Here is my solution.

I have three 5’x10′ beds for my spring and fall plantings.

For my hoops, I used 1/2″x10′ PVC pressure water tubes (Outside diameter of tube is 3/4″). I drilled holes in my railroad ties and simply stuck the ends into the holes. The tubes are sturdy but also bend into a nice hoop.  I used three hoops plus one tube across the top of the hoops and fastened using a single screw through each hoop to make them sturdy and not tilt over.  It took a total of four tubes for each bed.

I made panels from 1″ square vinyl deer barrier fence (this is heavier that netting) by weaving a 1/2″x10′ Flowguard tube through the fencing.  The flowguard tubing is a little smaller in diameter than the PVC and worked perfect with the fencing.

We screwed J-hooks into the hoops near top of the hoop for the top tube of the panel to rest on.  I wove another tube through the bottom of the fencing to hold it down. Because of the horseshoe shape curve of the hoop, the top tube only needed to be 4′ but I used the 5′ piece and just let it stick over the side at the top.

The bottom tube of the fence panel is just lying on the railroad tie. To pick my vegetables or work the bed, I can either lift the bottom panel up and rest on the J-hook with the top rail or simply take the panel off and lay on the ground. The 10′ tube worked perfect for the sides and by cutting the tube in half, the 5′ sections worked great for the ends. It took four of the tubes and ten J-hooks for each bed.

Because my strawberry bed is longer, 20′ long, I used a coupler to connect two 10′ pieces together for the side fence panels. It took a total of seven 1/2″x10′ PVC for the hoops and twelve 1/2″x10′ Flowguard for the fence panels.

Ok, deer friends, I hope I have you beat!  But now my worry will be the main garden and my blackberries, which they have already been feasting on.

And in case you are wondering, deer friends, there is a penalty to pay if you try to beat the system. Just ask Mr. Groundhog. Ooops, you can’t!!!  The Scoundrel.

 

 

 

I Can Help You!

Even with prescription inserts, my feet have hurt for years. I have blamed it on genetics and my lot in life. An everyday pair of shoes last me about six months. By that time, the sides are blown out and it is obvious that I walk on the outsides of my feet. In the last number of years, I have become more and more aware that I am getting very knock-kneed and have wondered if maybe my feet issue are a result of a larger “structure” problem. When I am sitting in the lazy boy chair with my feet straight out, it is startling how crooked my legs have become. I have developed an unnatural gait that is uncomfortable and frankly very unbecoming. Try knocking your knees together and roll your feet to the outside as you walk.

I finally went to see an orthopedic specialist last week that looked at my feet, knees and hips.  One of the first things I said to Dr. Kerr was, “I’m not sure you can help me but this is what i am dealing with.” After listening to me and looking at my x-rays he said, “I can help you!”  I had prepared myself for the worse; that there was nothing they could do. How do you fix such a mess?

I was ecstatic.  He. Can. Help. Me! There is actually something that can be done.

My Problems:

  • The tendons in my feet burn, especially in the arch area.
  • My feet always hurt. I can’t go barefoot and have to wear good shoes with prescription inserts. I am always aware I have feet. I only have one style of shoe that is comfortable for me to wear– my “granny shoes”!
  • Knees are larger than they should be and it often feels like my knee cap could give out.
  • When I get down on my knees,  I have a very difficult time getting up.
  • It is very difficult to stand for long periods of time such as waiting in line, standing at the kitchen stove or standing in church for singing.  I need to sit. It is much easier to keep moving. Long walks, particularly on concrete or uneven ground kill my feet. Running is out of the question.
  • My hips ache and often my lower back bothers me.
  • Coming down stairs, I like to use the handrail and it is right foot down, then left foot; not a continuous stepping action.

Diagnosis: Osteoarthritis.

I have severe arthritis in both knees, a bone spur, and the knee caps have gotten off center. It is bone on bone. I knew there was probably some arthritis in my knees, my little fingers show “Uncle Arthur’s” presence,  but I had no idea my knees were in that bad of shape!  It is truly amazing but I do not have pain in my knees. They ache and bother me, but no pain. My lower back actually bothers me worse than my knees.

He asked me if my knees clicked. I said, “no”, but as he moved them around you could hear, “click, click, click!” When I left the office and walked down the hall I could feel my knees clicking away! I simply had not picked up on it. He also noted that I have developed a little bit of a “squat” stance. When standing straight, my knees bend slightly forward so I am not really standing straight.

The good news is that it is not rheumatoid arthritis.  Dr. Kerr looked at my hands and said, “See how the end joints of your little fingers are affected. That is arthritis.  If it is the first joint on your finger and goes back into your knuckle, it is rheumatoid arthritis. That is worse”

I Can Help You:  Robotic Double Knee Replacement.

I was stunned as I had never even considered the knee replacement option in my brain.  The first thing I have to do is six weeks of physical therapy to strengthen the leg and knee muscles. The middle of April he will see me again and we will talk.  One thing he did say was that he needed to do both knees at the same time; it is the only way to get my knees and legs straight.  He said, “When I am done, I am going to walk out to the waiting area and tell your family that you legs are straight!”

How Do I Feel?

I have been doing lots of reading online and talking to a few people trying to gather information so that I know what I am facing. It is daunting to think of doing both knees at once and not having a good leg to stand on. I will admit, it is a little scary, but I am also very excited. I have to get through the busy spring months in the store before I can schedule this ordeal. It is a bit overwhelming to think about and at this point I have lots of unanswered questions. I feel this is something I have to do while I am still healthy and “young enough” to prevent more severe and untreatable structure problems later on.  After all, I have a surgeon who says, “I can help you” and I know a “Great Physician” who can help the surgeon.

It is very distressing to me to see pictures of how I actually look and how far I have slipped.  I think, this can’t be me.  I want you to see why I am so excited for surgery! The video is a very short “now” picture of me walking. In a few months I hope I can post another one that I can title, “Look at me now. He helped me!”

I will be writing my journey as it unfolds; I am hoping for surgery in June. I would love to hear from others who have had the same experience.

Gentle

A good name is to be chosen than great riches

Loving favor rather than silver and gold.”

Proverbs 22:1

 It was at my husband’s birthday lunch that we found out the news.  It took a moment as we read the card for the reality to sink in.

“Dear Grandpa, you don’t know me yet, but the doctor says you will around March 6th.  I’m looking forward to meeting you.  Happy 50th birthday!  Love your Grandkid.”

Suddenly we joined the club of other smiling “older” folks called grandparents. We didn’t have any pictures to show yet but we did get to see a glimpse of our still unknown offspring through a grainy ultrasound photo. It was fun to see its head was shaped just like my babies. Our first grandchild!    It was so exciting and so much to dream about and anticipate.  Would “it” be a boy or girl?  What would “it” look like?  What kind of personality would “it” have?  As the days and weeks crept by I began to bond with and pray for this little one being created in seclusion by a loving heavenly Father.  I found myself praying that this little one would have a gentle spirit and a heart for God.

One day Viv, Jill, and I were having lunch together and Jill and I were trying to weasel out of Viv what the “its”  name would be.  Finally, I said, “whatever you do, if it is a girl, just don’t name her Emily!” I just did not care for that name.  There are times when it is best to not say out loud what you think! Unbeknownst to me, I created a real problem for the expectant parents. After seeking counsel from several other people, they decided to stick with their name of choice.

I have made it a habit through the years to pray for my children, even before they were born.  When they were little I started praying for their spouses.  As the children’s personalities developed, I prayed for specific personalities for each of their spouses. It was so neat to see how God answered each one.

It is interesting to me to observe people’s names and to see how often their personalities reflect the meaning of our names.  Is it by coincidence?  Maybe.  Maybe not. I choose to believe that godly parents who seek God’s favor are given divine guidance in naming their children.  In the Bible  God sometimes told parents what to name their children and what the life mission of that child would be. God’s eyes see and know our substance being formed.  (Psalms 139:16)

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”  Psalms 37:4

When tiny, precious Emily was born, her mother, unaware of my prayer for a spirit of gentleness said, “We like the name Emily because it makes us think of a gentle, sweet person.”  As I watch our oldest granddaughter develop, I am grateful to God for her gentle, sweet nature.  And guess what?  I immediately loved the name Emily! How could I not, God had smiled with delight as he answered my prayer!

Happy 19th birthday Emily!

Tomorrow

Sometimes simple questions have very hard to understand answers.  It was one of those times when 4-year old Emily ask me, “When is tomorrow?”   My first response was “tomorrow never comes.”  I could tell by the puzzled look on her face that I needed to come up with a more sensible answer.  As I tried to intelligently answer the question, I found myself stumbling over a jumble of confusing words.  “Tomorrow is the day after today except it never comes so when tomorrow comes the next day is tomorrow.”  Fortunately for me the answer satisfied her desire for more knowledge or questions!

My mind began to ponder the elusive tomorrow.  If it never comes, why do I fret and worry so much about it coming?

Jesus preached a little sermon on worrying and being obsessed over the basic needs of life.  He said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about it’s own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  (Matthew 6: 33-34)

James said we should not boost about our plans for tomorrow, what we will do, where we will go or the profits we will earn.  “You do not know what will happen tomorrow.  For what is your life?  It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’” (James 4: 14-15)

The Preacher in Ecclesiastes struggled with the vanity of life. He too fumbled for words, “Nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come by those who will come after” (Ecclesiastes 1:11) and “that which is has already been, and what is to be has already been; and God requires an account of the past.” (Ecclesiastes 3:15).

In 1950, Ira Stamphill very eloquently penned the words to the following song.

I don’t know about tomorrow, I just live from day to day.

I don’t borrow from its sunshine, for its skies may turn to gray.

I don’t worry o’er the future, for I know what Jesus said,

And today I’ll walk beside Him, for He knows what is ahead.

Many things about tomorrow, I don’t seem to understand;

But I know who holds tomorrow, And I know who holds my hand.

Maybe I will wait until tomorrow to worry.

 

Written: April 11, 2004

 

 

 

An Evening in Victoria

Let me tell you a story.

This past Saturday evening we decided to go to Victoria, a small town nestled deep in the heart of central Virginia, about an hour’s drive from our farm. It was a spur of the moment decision. Gene came in from feeding the cows and asked if I wanted to go. He had heard about a country bluegrass group singing at Victoria Restaurant that evening on WSVS,  a small town station located in Crewe at 800 AM that plays country and bluegrass music. The afternoon DJ each day is Bobby Wilcox from our hometown of Powhatan.

It was a cold, dreary, rainy evening but what we found in small town USA was a warm and welcoming reception.  We arrived one hour early thinking we had plenty of time for the buffet supper. Actually we were about the last to arrive and most had already eaten.  We didn’t realize we needed to make reservations but we were welcomed in with the assurance that they would find us a spot in the already packed room.  They first found us a table in the side room where the musicians were eating and preparing for their performance, to eat our supper.

The buffet was a true southern feast: fried chicken, meatloaf, mash potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans,  white navy beans, macaroni and cheese, hot homemade rolls, banana pudding, and blackberry cobbler. The musician in charge of the group interacted with us, asking where we were from and what brought us to the event. When he discovered we were from Powhatan, he made the instant connection to Bobby Wilcox and mentioned that he was in house that evening. It was obvious that Bobby was a well-known and loved radio celebrity in that part of the country! He went and found us a spot to sit…. at Bobby Wilcox’s reserved table.

The opening band was “First Time Around”, a local group who sang country gospel music for one hour. They did an excellent job and were very open in sharing their faith through testimony and singing.

The feature group was “Appalachian Express”, a well-known country bluegrass group with a list of credentials and awards to fill a book. They entertained us well for almost two hours.

At one point during the evening, they expressed appreciation for all the musicians and singers in attendance that evening, and there were quite a few.  Most we didn’t know (except for Rusty Yoder), but those mentioned were well-known by those who follow bluegrass music.  We discovered that seated beside us was one of the extended Clark family who has personally preformed on Hee Haw.  Victoria is in the area of Virginia where Hee Haw’s Roy Clark, now deceased, lived. As they wound down the evening, they raised the roof with the foot-stomping “Rocky Top Tennessee”. Then they asked all the veterans to stand. As the 50 or more older men, out of the group of 125 or more, rose to their feet their faces showed emotion as they were thanked and the audience clapped their appreciation. The leader of the group, the man in red in the picture, asked one of the veterans to retrieve the flag in the side room. As he stood straight and tall off to the side, they sang “America the Beautiful”.  The audience instantly rose as one, hats came off and right hands were placed on hearts in respect and honor for our great nation for whom many had fought and suffered. The “man in red” closed by saying, “Thank you and good night to everyone. Tomorrow, attend a church of your choice.”

I snapped this picture just before the veteran removed his hat and handed it to his wife.

It was a special evening and as we traveled home we talked about the evening. Not one person used the venue to mention politics, speak an unkind or vile word, make a crude or belittling insult towards any person or group. No one stomped on the flag. In fact, it was quite the opposite. There was respect for the flag and honor for our veterans who gave so much for our freedom.  There was love for our country with no resisters or jeers of protest.  And most of all, faith in God was openly expressed without shame or fear. God’s redeeming love was proclaimed and no one was threatened with hate.

Rural hometown USA is different than how the media portrays in the news. This was “God and country” territory; the America we know, love and cherish.

A little bit about Victoria Restaurant…..

They are located in the heart of  a little city with 17 streets. They are located 1411 8th St. Victoria, VA 23974. On Friday evenings, locals play and sing as you dine and there is no charge for the entertainment. On Saturday evenings, they have scheduled groups and there is a $10 per person fee plus the food.

They also have a facebook page where you can follow their schedule of events.

Homemade Doughnuts

When it snowed, my mother often made doughnuts. A low pressure system along with a toasty warm house makes perfect conditions for extra light yeast breads. When it snows, I always get the itch to make something using yeast. I just have too, it is in my genes! Today broke cold with freezing rain, sleet and snow. Even though the mess only lasted for the morning and didn’t amount to much, it was enough for me to want to make doughnuts.

After lunch, granddaughters Emily and Lauren came over and helped me with the project.

 These doughnuts are so light and soft you can hardly handle them!

While the doughnuts were rising we played Mancala.

Lauren did the frying.

Oh, yes, we always make the “holes”.

Doughnuts fried and ready to glaze. We always glaze immediately after frying while they are still hot.

Emily did the glazing.

And I made the batches of glaze and packaged the doughnuts.

When we were all done, we sat down and had a feast.

The recipe I use came from a dear friend, Gladys Harman. I have never found a recipe that I like any better. This is also my mother’s favorite. So, when I make doughnuts, it is a fun trip down memory lane.

Doughnuts

Dough:

Mix together in my large Kitchen Aid mixer bowl: Let set a few minutes until mixture is bubbly.

  • 4 c. warm water
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 6 T. or 6 pkgs of instant yeast

Add:

  • 1-1/2 cup (3 sticks) melted margarine
  • 3 tsp. salt
  • 3 tsp. mace (This is a spice. It is optional but we love the flavor-it’s what makes these doughnuts so special)
  • 4 beaten eggs
  • 14 c. bread flour (approximate)

I start with 6-7 cups of flour and beat on high for several minutes until the dough gets very elastic.  Slow the speed and gradually add as much flour as your mixer can handle. I dump the dough into a very large metal mixing bowl and finish by hand. Cover with several tablespoons of vegetable oil. Cover with a cloth and let rise 1 hour or until double in size.

Divide the dough into 4 or 5 pieces and roll into a rectangle about 1/2 ” thick on a floured counter top.  I use my card table (so I can move it close to the stove when I am ready to fry), covered with a cloth sprinkled with flour to lay my cutout doughnuts on. Let rise until double, approximately 30-40 mins.

Fry the doughnuts in hot oil (375 degrees) until golden brown, flip, and fry the other side. I like using my cast iron skillet.  Lay the fried doughnuts on a tray covered with paper towels to help absorb the oil.

A tip to help fry the “holes”… do not fry with the large doughnuts, fry the small ones by themselves. Put as many in the skillet as you can and stir constantly while they are frying.  You can not fry one side and flip them. They will not stay flipped.

This is a large recipe and makes about 10 dozen very soft doughnuts-depending on the size dough cutter you use.

These are my two favorite doughnut cutters:  Either one can be purchased on line.

This one is 2-5/8″ diameter and I have used it for years. Makes a small nice-size doughnut.

 I just got this one and it is 3.5″ diameter and makes a doughnut about the same size as a Krispy Creme. I love the larger size but you have to be careful when frying this one that your oil is not too hot or they fry too quickly and the inside of the doughnut is doughy-not quite done.

Glaze:

Mix together In a pint size glass measuring cup and let soak at least five minutes: (I like to use my hand beaters to mix it together).

  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 pkg plain Knox gelatin

I use by double boiler pan to dip. When the water in the bottom pan comes to a boil I turn it down on  and add:

  • The water/gelatin mix
  • 1 box (1#) of XXX sugar
  • A few drops of vanilla flavoring
  • A few shakes of salt from the salt shaker.

Mix with hand beaters until mixed together and smooth.  You can start dipping the doughnuts immediately. I lay the doughnuts on a wire rack on a cookie sheet to dry.

You will need to make the glaze about 3 times to dip all the doughnuts and “holes”. As soon as I put the first batch into the double boiler pan, I get the water/gelatin mix started for the next batch.

A doughnut secret:

Always freeze the doughnuts after making even if you are going to eat them the next day, as the glaze tends to soak into the doughnuts making them stale. When ready to serve, remove from freezer, and zap in the microwave. Fix yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy.

The Denbigh Farm-Now and Then

Last weekend (February 2, 2019) when we went to Norfolk, we came home through Newport News, or more specifically, Denbigh.  It was with dread and curiosity that we turned down Colony Road and approached the home place. It is no longer home, just a place where home used to be. A memory, with all the reminders gone.  No longer family, just strangers walking the sod. As we approached the once familiar spot, we stopped by a large entrance sign welcoming us to the neighborhood.

I guess it made the developer feel better to call it “Meadows”. The meadow is long gone-only a throw back memory of horses grazing in the pastures. Instead, pristine houses have been planted and paved streets laid where stately, productive pecan trees, daylilies, irises, asparagus, and peonies once flourished. The squirrels, songbirds and woodpeckers have found other nesting places as only one lonely pecan tree still stands. The meadow of wildflowers and native grasses is now a sea of houses.

We always knew where to turn into the drive circling the old farmhouse, it was obvious, but now suddenly we didn’t know. We looked at the row of houses and wondered which one sat on THE spot.  And then we spied the one lone pecan tree that stood as a sad memorial to bygone days. It really looked pitiful and out of place. No longer was it a tall, stately tree; somehow it seemed to shrivel in size and demeanor. Gene finally decided it was the tree at the back left corner of the house where it cast its shadow over dad’s car.

Paved streets, concrete curbs and sidewalks have now replaced overgrown hedge rows. There is a street named after Dad Hertzler. Dad knew this time would come. He fought hard to protect and preserve the farm where he, and his father and grandfather before him tilled the soil.  In the last few years of his life, Dad reconciled with himself that he was the end of an era. It was time to let go. Even though he set the plans in motion,  he didn’t have to see it actually happen. With Dad’s passing, the last parcel of the original 1,200 acre Young Plantation bowed its head and ceased to exist as a farm.

We drove down Colony Road, turned left on Hertzler Road. The old swampy, algae covered pond on the backside of the farm is still there. It is on protected wet lands. We turned left on Miller Road completing the block as we quietly cruised by the cemetery where Dad and Mama Hertzler along with many other patriarchs of the Denbigh Colony rest in peace under the boughs of huge shade trees.

The Before…

Sign welcoming us to Quarterfield Farm Stables.

1994: Daddy and Mama sitting in the yard under the pecan tree. One of my favorite pictures.

The farmhouse: rich in history, full of memories.  It survived the fire in but not the bulldozers! (See blog post below, “Fire”).

 

Dad’s favorite iris.

The garden plot with the row of pecan trees beside the driveway.

No paved driveway.

Horses grazing in the meadow.

Horses instead of bicycles.

Time moves on, the old gives way to new.  We treasure the memories and hold them dear to our hearts.

Gone, but not forgotten!

Other blog posts about the farm:

Battleship Wisconsin-Norfolk

 

Yesterday (February 2, 2019) we took our family to visit the Battleship Wisconsin (BB-64) who is berthed at Nauticus, in Norfolk, Virginia at the largest navel base in the world.  It was fun, educational and very interesting to visit this majestic battleship who, in her day, was queen of the ocean.

The Wisconsin, affectionately nicknamed “Big Whisky,” is 887 feet, 3 inches in length and 108 feet, 3 inches at the beam and could reach speeds of 33 knots. Her crew complement was 1,921 officers and enlisted men.  Despite its mammoth proportions, the Japanese had three battleships that dwarfed the Wisconsin.

This ship was actually the second ship so named. The first was called the BB-9 and was decommissioned in 1920 after over two decades of service. The second Wisconsin was built at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1941 and launched on December 7, 1943, the second anniversary of Pearl Harbor.  Battleships are no longer used by the navy and have been replaced with Air Carriers and Destroyers.

Big Wisky enjoyed a service that spanned six decades, surviving two typhoons and participated in three major wars:  World War II,  Korean War, and Operation Desert Storm where she fired the last shot of the war.  In 1991, least than a month after returning from Desert Storm, she was decommissioned and relieved of active duty. In 2006, the US Navy deleted the Wisconsin and Iowa battleships from the NVR and made arrangements for the battleships to be donated to a museum.  The United States Congress was very concerned about the loss of battleship firepower and stipulated that the Wisconsin had to be maintained “battle-ready” for deployment if needed.   In 2009 all rights to the battleship were relinquished as it became apparent that $500 million was needed to reactivate the aging vessel and $1.5 billion for full modernization.  The battleship was then stripped of usable parts be used on other ships. She fought with distinction in three wars and is now enjoying an honorable retirement as a tourist attraction. An interesting tidbit…. it cost $1 million a year to keep the Wissonsin in retirement. In her active days, it cost $1 million per day to maintain her duty.

For Christmas this year, we gave our kids and grandkids an experience gift-a tour of the Battleship Wisconsin.  You can take a self-guided tour or take advantage of two guided tours: Command and Control Rooms and Engine Room.

  • Command and Control Tour was a 90 minute tour that covered four “decks” and included the Captain’s cabin, Admiral’s cabin, Combat Engagement Center, Flag Bridge, navigation Bridge and Quartermaster’s space.

Here we are sitting around the table in the Captain’s cabin. This was a very important place where meetings and decisions were made with some big name military personnel.  Norman Schwarzkupf Jr. a United States Army General who was Commander of Central Command sat at this table. We just don’t know who sat in his chair!

Pictures of the tour……

Boarding the ship

The Captain’s Quarters.

The captain is in command of the ship.  No one can tell him what to do. He is the final word.

Our tour guide was well-versed as he had served on the ship. Those numbers are very important and these signs are posted everywhere.  It tells emergency personnel the exact location of that room on the ship with each number or letter giving specific important information. I remember that the second row (89-95) refers to the numbers on the metal i-beams in the ceiling of the room.

In the Captain Cabin is this photo of the Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri and New Jersey Battleships at sea.

The Control room where commands are given to “fire”. The brown chair is the captains chair.

A simulation of what it is like in that room during battle. The blue light was used to produce a calming effect during the flashing lights, voice commands and intense release of firepower.

 

Navigation Table where they mark and keep track of their location at all times.

This bubbles on this Clinometer tells us that the ship is floating level. If the bubble was at the top of the U-shaped curl on the far right,  we would be upside down-capsized and heading for the bottom of the sea! Incidentally, he said that divers always look for this meter as it tells them a lot about what happened.

These steep ladders were everywhere. For some of us it was easier to go down backwards.

And others preferred this way!

There were valves, levers, gauges, pipes, and equipment everywhere.

This door to the Control Room that is on top on the ship weighs 10,000 lbs. The solid steel and iron security was incredible. Attacking missiles can not penetrate it.

Sometimes it just feels good to “be captain”!!!

A view down a long walkway-over 300 feet.

  • Engine Room Tour was a 60 minute that took us seven “decks” down in the depths of the Battleship Wisconsin, where we learned what was required to power this massive city at Sea.

Pictures of this tour……

There were four engine rooms where huge broilers made steam to produce electricity and power the ship. We were in Engine Room #1.

The organized maze of electrical wires and pipes was beyond comprehension.  I can’t not fathom the engineer planning that went into producing such an incredible ship where everything fit, had it’s place and worked. And they knew what it all meant!

It was hard to get many pictures in the bowel of the ship. The spaces were so small and the equipment so huge. Some of these areas get so hot when in use because of the steam broilers.  The men worked in 130 degree temperatures with 100% humidity and no air conditioning. They can only work four-hour watches. There was one room that had crucial gauges in it that would get up to 150 degrees. That is the limit a human body can stand and they can only be in that room 30 seconds. Two go in and quickly read the gauges and come back out. No one is allowed to go in alone. Some of the pipes are 800 plus degrees. You do not accidently touch them or you deeply regret the moment.  We were down seven decks and saw the bilge-the floor of the ship.

We learned the ship has it’s own language: some examples.

  • Deck means floor
  • Hatch means door
  • Chow means food
  • Ladder means steps
  • Berth means bunk bed
  • Gallery mans kitchen
  • Scuttles means portholes
  • Speed is measured in knots
  • Bow is the front of the ship
  • Port is the left side of the bow
  • Starboard is the right side of the bow
  • Bilge-the very bottom of the ship

A destroyer always traveled with the battleship to help protect her from enemy attack and submarines. The battleship was incapable of detecting or destroying submarines. The destroyers were smaller, not as noisy, more agile and equipped with sonar equipment.

Our self-guided tour pictures….

 

Tomahawk Missile Launcher

They told the story from several years ago, when a man was visiting and touring the ship, and he asked why they didn’t raise the hatch on the launcher so people could see what it looked like. They had to admit, no one knew how. He said, “I did that job, I know how.” The next day the man returned and he took them to the right control, push the button, and the hatch raised.

The fire-power of this ship, the accuracy it could hit and the distance the missiles could go was fearsome and state of the art.

 

Berths were stuck in every available nook.

Dentist office.

Chapel.

 

Several times during the day we were referred to as “the large family”.  As we purchased our tickets, they became aware that this was our Christmas gift to the family. When we left the building, walked across the bridge to the ship where our tour guide was waiting for us, he said, “Are you the large family”?  The word was passed around!  When we were leaving in the late afternoon, one of the staff was standing by the door and wished us a “Merry Christmas”!

Sources of Information:

Most of the facts were spoken to us by the Wisconsin tour guides but I checked the following websites to fact-check as many as possible for accuracy:

 

Super Blood Wolf Moon

I was totally unaware of the rare “sky phenomenons” last evening until my brother called and said, “got your camera ready”? I had a busy weekend with numerous things going on and if they had it on the news, I missed it.  In case you didn’t know, there were several spectacular things happening in the heavenlies.

First, it was full moon, not just any full moon, but a Wolf Moon. Wolf Moon is the name given to the first full moon of the year. I didn’t know that!  When the moon is at the closest possible distance to earth it is called a Super Moon which makes it seem extra large.  So now we have a Super Wolf Moon.

But wait, there is more. There was also a total lunar eclipse, making it a “Blood Moon”. This is a rare event only happening every couple of years. The next one is due in 2021. So now we have a “Super Blood Wolf Moon”!

Often it is hard to see “sky phenomenons” because of cloud cover, but last night’s eclipse happened on a clear, cold, windy, star lit evening. It was visible for several hours from start to finish in all 48 states in America and Europe.

But wait, there is even more.  One hour before sunrise on January 22,  Jupiter and Venus, the two largest star-like points of light in the sky will be lined up, passing within a mere 2.5 degrees of each other.  This occurs only once every twenty-four years.

(The above information was taken from the article by T.W. Tramm listed at the bottom of the page).

My camera usually takes really cool moon pictures but of the ninety I took before and during the eclipse and only six are worth posting.

 “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.

Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make Him known.

They speak without a word or sound; their voice is never heard.

Yet their message has gone out throughout the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.”

Psalms 19:1-4a

Jesus disciples asked him one day when the end of time would be.  For twenty-eight verses in Luke 21, Jesus speaks about the “signs” of his return.

“……And there will be strange signs in the sun, moon, and stars.

And here on earth the nations will be in turmoil, perplexed by the roaring seas and strange tides……”.

Words of Jesus in Luke 21:25

There is a fascinating article written by T.W. Tramm, “January 20 Lunar Eclipse: The Last Blood Moon of the Church Age?” that gives one pause.  Mr. Tramm has a fb page where more of his writings can be read. The Lord is coming again, and scripture gives us many signs that signal it is drawing near. We must remember that no one knows the day or hour, only signs. God has proclaimed his intent and workings throughout history. There are many prophecies pointing to the future.

 

 

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