Thursday, June 25, 2009


Day 1 of our trip to where ever, we had no clue, except that we were heading south. Let's see if you can guess. You have more clues than we had! You actually have pictures! Dennis watched road signs, but we still had no clue till we got there about 4:00 the first day. It was hot and muggy as we headed through a tunnel in the rock and then up an elevator through solid rock to the top.After a little more climbing of steps...what a view despite the high humidity.
Then as I looked at what needed yet to be climbed, I made the decision to save my knees for ladder painting and look at the pictures Dennis, Jess, and Drew would take once at the top. This is one of the few pictures they got before a deluge of rain started to obsure their view.Before getting very far, a thunderstorm came in quickly and trapped them in a cleft of the rock. I was safe and dry in the gift shop watching as the rain just gushed outside, worrying about them getting soaked. I called them on the cell phone to inform them that they'd shut down the elevator back down to the parking lot as the electricity was going in and out. The gift shop employee said she actually had been trapped in that elevator for 4 hours once! They finally decided to make a dash back down to the gift shop. It was perfect timing because it only got worse, if that is possible! We decided to buy a deck of cards, and Jess & Drew got another one and we settled down to a game of 3-13 to pass the time as the thunder and lightning continued to crash right over us. As the clouds started to lift about 6:30, they said we needed to get down quickly as another thunderstorm was coming right on the heels of the last one. As we rode the elevator back down, we noticed a barrel in the corner. The elevator operator told us it contained food and water for the times when it got stuck in the rock! Nice to know! I have to say looking back on that afternoon, it was actually enjoyable...and very memorable! It's all in the attitude!


"Boy! Oh boy!! Oh boy!!! Oh boy!!!!"
For those of you who are familiar with the movie, "The Private Eyes" starring Don Knotts and Tim Conway, you'll have no problem guessing where our destination was.
Jess and Drew had been here before for their anniversary soon after they moved to Virginia and they couldn't wait for us to see it.

We decided to view the gardens first as the weather looked pretty iffy and we didn't know what the rest of the day would hold weather wise.
There just aren't words to describe what we were seeing!
Can you imagine living in a house like that?
Oops! Here comes the rain! So it's back up to the mansion for the house tour.


Well, it's back up the steps from the water gardens to tour the first floor of the mansion while waiting for the rain to abate. The massive front door.
The stairwell. You should see the inside!
Just look at the stone work!
Jessi looked out one of the ground floor windows and saw sun, so we decided to take advantage of the break in the weather, and tour the rest of the gardens. The sunshine lasted until late in the afternoon before the rain returned with a vengeance. I guess you can see why it's so muggy in the south! And...why they don't have to water anything!


The ConservatoryThe Walled Garden

As we walked through this arbor in the Walled Garden to the Conservatory, we couldn't help but photograph the beautiful vignettes visable through the lattice. What a beautiful place.


If you still can't guess where we are or even what state, I'll post it in a few days.There was also a car show with a lot of the classic cars motoring through the gardens. "You missed the lagoon!" One of our favorite quotes from the movie "The Private Eyes" couldn't help but come to mind as we walked through this arch which was used in the movie. But instead of the lagoon, which is quite a ways away, you walk into the old stable area where we had a wonderful lunch...and ice cream for dessert!

After lunch we toured the other 3 floors of the house, which we were not allowed to photograph. Sorry! But besides absolutely gorgeous rooms and awesome architectural details, the basement actually had a bowling alley and swimming pool! Before leaving the estate we drove past the lagoon to the winery, where we participated in a wine tasting. It was interesting and a lot of fun.

Thanks Jess and Drew for a great surprise and wonderful 34th Anniversary gift. As for it being a reward for all our hard work, it was much appreciated, but not expected as we would help just because we love you. We are so proud of you both.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


We had 10 days. Our goal was to finish the porch, make a sidewalk, wallpaper, make curtains, and go on a mystery trip midweek. Well...
Jessi doing the hard work of cutting in next to the mahogany stained decking with the white. And yes, I helped! Jessi and I did most of the inside of the porch railing sitting on the floor after Dennis and Drew stained the decking. It took us all week because of thunderstorms coming in every afternoon about 3:00. We would paint as long as we could, watching the sky and as the sky got dark and that first clap of thunder came, we'd scurry to put away the paint and after a few delays because of wet steps the morning after, we'd also quickly cover the steps.

While the guys were staining the first couple of days, Jessi and I wallpapered their downstairs half bath in a beautiful red Damask above the white bead board wainscoting. Wish I'd taken a picture. Maybe Jessi will if you all beg her enough!
This is the guys starting to work on the retaining wall so the brick sidewalk can be layed. We were hoping to be able to help with that before we had to leave, but because of the thunderstorms, it took longer than we'd hoped to paint the front porch.

However, we weren't idle during those thunderstorms! The guys hung the wrought iron curtain rod in the living room so that we could put up the curtains Jess & I had gotten at Bed Bath and Beyond our first day there. Look closely and you can see the corner of one of the two beautiful red rugs that came while we were there. Moving furniture and laying them in the dining room and living room was another thunderstorm well as a game of Trivial Pursuit! We also got a shopping trip in to get fabric for some window valances for the kitchen, master bath, and utility room. Sadly, no time to make them and the kitchen fabric had to be ordered.
How would you like that view out your living room window? It might be kind of hard to make out, but there's a beautiful weeping willow tree in the middle that Jess & I just love!

Sunday lunch after church was the first meal on their freshly painted front porch! I'd told Jessi before coming out, that I couldn't wait to sit on their front porch...well I finally did! A very nice reward!


Zion of the Shenandoah!

All of our hard work painting the front porch pays big dividends! I should have taken a before picture so you can see the dramatic transformation. Also notice the new rock to each side of the driveway, which had to be put down after a 25 minute downpour during the Tuesday evening thunderstorm which washed part of their bank down across their driveway. We also had to take time out from painting to put mulch down to help keep the soil in place for all those future thunderstorms to come this summer.

Their beautiful view from the front porch looking to the west. This was taken when the humidity wasn't as high and you could actually see the Blue Ridge.

Swinging to the left and facing Southwest.

Across the street facing south are a couple of empty lots and an old house with trees and neatly mown lawn, which of course you don't have to water in Virginia because of summer rain. During the time we were there, there were thunderstorms and heavy rain almost every afternoon and evening, and sometimes all night, but the next day would be in the 80's, very muggy, but with a nice breeze on the porch.
This is the view from the back of their house. It's nicely wooded with honeysuckle growing up several of the trees. I loved waking up each morning to the sound of the birds happily singing outside our guest room window which faces these trees. Just a little plug for those of you who would like to visit Jess and Drew. You'll even have your own bathroom!

Monday, June 01, 2009


Welcome Shelby, our new hound dog! We adopted her from the Humane Society two weeks ago and she is fitting right in. She is a 2 year old hound mix, very sweet and amiable. She loves children and cats. It's the cat's that aren't too sure yet that they like her. By the way she took over my chaise lounge, but willingly gives it up when it's my turn! The refinished wood floor is beautiful and I finally got to move into my kitchen this last week after 4 long months! Dennis was given permission to fix the rough finish on the cabinets by our State Farm adjuster. They even paid him to do it! So with the long Memorial Day weekend he got it all done, and it feels wonderfully smooth, just like our old ones were!
We managed to get around not having a kitchen and still entertain by having a Quizno's picnic with Grammy & Grandad and Tom and Sherri. We played croquet afterwards.
We celebrated Jeremiah's birthday Friday with some bowling after initiating our new kitchen with a meal of BBQ chicken, baked beans, corn bread, and wilted lettuce, with brownies and ice cream for dessert.

And finally...2 of the 4 kittens that Sheba adopted and is nursing as her own. But we must find homes for them, so if you know of anyone who wants a free kitten?