Beach Report

Wow.  I knew the week was hectic and I didn’t have a great grasp on things, but I was truly surprised to realize this morning that Thorsday came and went and no post happened.  The girls have a bit of a post on their blog, but really, they’re just annoyed because the humans have been busy, walks haven’t happened to their satisfaction (no walks twice this week due to Sissy’s upset tummy, rain, etc.) and they don’t like ANY changes to their routine.


We saw our first sea turtle last week, but I’m rather sure it was dead.  Still, I didn’t risk it and didn’t get close enough to confirm, because their jaws are quick and powerful.

UntitledDespite the wind, rough seas and Sissy’s issues, we still logged quite a few miles on the beach.  Gretchen in particular loves to chase birds on the water’s edge, but I haven’t been able to convince her that perhaps she shouldn’t mess with the larger gulls.  They just glare, soar and land out of her reach, but seriously… my sometimes timid, sometimes snake hunter really is a JRT at heart!

I’m very grateful for a place to retreat and recharge, but I’m most grateful for a man who will go out after midnight to buy his dog children’s chewable Pepto with the hope that she’ll get comfortable enough to let the rest of the household sleep.  I’m also thankful for the kindness of strangers… particularly the waitress at the Knight’s favorite seafood buffet who was more than willing to allow us to break the “no to-go boxes” rule to take shrimp tails to the same spoiled dog(s).

And really, I did knit (and gave away one of the cloths yesterday without taking a photo) and I did read, and I will share more about that as soon as I have a spare moment.

Is giving thanks part of your Thanksgiving traditions?

National Lighthouse Day


My only photo of an OBX lighthouse

It’s National Lighthouse Day!  And before you ask, I found this one because I follow something Outer Banks on Facebook, and when I saw photos of my beloved lighthouses, my eyes went straight to the post.

I love lighthouses.  There’s so much symbolism wrapped up in each and every lighthouse, but they also serve(d) a critical purpose on the dangerous coastlines.  I thoroughly enjoy too that each one takes on the flavor of its community and no two look alike.  Most are protected by some sort of foundation and/or are part of a state or national park, so they will be preserved for future generations to enjoy, as long as the funding continues.  (Hint, hint… if you visit or wish you could visit, even a little donation helps!)

alexismurphyfbFor some reason, Lighthouse Day also seems to be the right time to share that a friend’s 17 yr. old niece is missing.   She also works for another League-friend, so to say that this is too close to home is an understatement.   I know most of you are far, far away, but the family does appreciate prayers, good vibes, or whatever sort of positive force you might send their way.   If you are local, please visit my Facebook wall, find the most recent post, share, and keep your eyes open.  Her car was found in a Charlottesville parking lot, when her last known destination was in Lynchburg.

Lean In …

… to the beach.

Happy Thorsday, little friday, thankful thursday and end of the week of silence.  I didn’t mean to fall off the face of the earth, but …  I warned you it might happen.   I don’t even know where to start!  Knitting 101 for the League happened last Thursday night.  I’m not nearly as comfortable teaching beginners as socks on circs or moebius or dorset buttons, but it *IS* fun to share a passion, isn’t it?  One League member is a knitting prodigy.  She brought her knitting to book club last night to ask me how to count rows.  I love it!!

I also need to follow up with the lefty in the class.  The popular answer seems to be … teach her to knit continental.  Yes?  I need to know…  another southpaw friend wants to learn, so I need to get this right.

photo.JPGFor those of you here for the canine cuteness, there you go.   DIVA requires not one, but TWO pillows upon which to rest her head.  (Yes, the alert, loyal reader might recognize that as beach house furniture.  We did retreat for a few days!)

It’s also the anniversary of Fred’s birth.  Fred was our first basset, if you’re new around here.  He’s been gone almost six years, but he’s on my mind today.

So… about Lean In.   It was a great inaugural book for the new JLC book club.  We are a diverse group, with virtually every phase of membership represented, and we span almost 20 years in our age range.  Two members are moms, and some members are single.  And we all signed up knowing Lean In would be our first read.

I think most of them liked it more than I did.  Honestly, I skimmed more than I read.  Oh, there were passages I highlighted (worth discussing:  I won’t dog-ear a paper book, much less write in it, but I have no trouble highlighting and tagging pages when reading electronically), sections I re-read, but all in all…  meh. 

I do agree with Ms. Sandberg that young women should lean in and lean in hard, until they have to make decisions.   It’s great advice; don’t get so busy planning your life that you forget to live it.  I don’t know that one can REALLY decide whether she wants to be a stay at home mom or not until she gets there.  I have too many friends who were sure their careers would carry on, until they held that little bundle and knew nothing else was as important as being a full-time, hands-on mom.  Likewise, one of the best moms I know (now a grandmother) quickly realized that she was a better mom, wife, friend… woman when she found great childcare and returned to work.  It’s a HIGHLY personal choice!

photo.JPGWhile reading, I had the feeling Ms. Sandberg was judging me, and wouldn’t think much of my choice to quit blazing trails for female firefighters.  I am sure I am where I am supposed to be right now, even though my career definitely has almost nothing to do with defining me.  I am told I am a good friend, a good leader, and I enjoy being surrounded by brilliant, strong women who are making a difference in our community.  

We’re reading Tough Cookies next.  Why yes, there *IS* a women in leadership theme here.  Awesome, no? 

I’m so thankful for all of the strong women in my life, but this morning, I’m really grateful for this new book club.  I’m not the only goober who actually enjoys reading motivational books.  I’m also thankful that there’s talk of a League “knitting” group or some sort of craft and chat group forming.  Again, I’m not the only one…

What common ground are you thankful for today?

Fat Mardi Shrove

Yeah.  That ’bout covers it.  Mardi Gras is Fat Tuesday, or the day before Lent begins.  Shrove Tuesday is just another way to say the same thing… 

photoRather than getting spiritual on you, I have a question.  Have you ever had a love at first sight experience with a place?

I have.  New Orleans got under my skin almost as soon as we deplaned.  Yes, I was there during Mardi Gras two years ago.  (Photo from the airport)  I didn’t have much time to be a tourist, but the locals were warm and welcoming, the food was some of the best I’ve ever eaten, and the whole cultural vibe – architecture, local flavors, etc. – was just different enough from my norm that I was fascinated… and in love. 

So it’s natural that today, as Mardi Gras comes to a screaching halt at midnight, my thoughts turn to shrimp and cheese grits with a fine wine, beignets, purple, gold and green…

Cathedral_Rock_Sedona_2010The Knight and I had the same reaction to Sedona, AZ.  Those red rocks are rumored to have mystical properties, but regardless… we were instantly smitten with the small town and those red rocks.


OBX fall 2011

Likewise, we both routinely leave our hearts in OBX.  We’re past due for a trip, and I hope we can squeeze one in VERY soon.

Be sure to catch my favorite OBX restaurant on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.  It premiered last night, and I’m counting on the Knight and our DVR to have captured it for me.  I believe it is the third OBX dining spot to be featured on that show, but I might have missed something…

I suppose that’s a hint as to how I bond with a spot.  It’s the food, the environment and the memories made, and then those undefinable qualities that bind me.  I mean…  I’ve made great memories in other places too, but they aren’t on my heart list.  For instance, DC is my college town and I love visiting, but it’s not a HEART place, nor is Chicago, even though I’ve had some of the best food ever in that city.

Where are your special places, and what gives them a hold on your heart?

Early Fall?


Gg around 6 mos.

Happy Thorsday, little friday, thankful thursday and Champagne Toast day!

Gretchen thanked everyone for her birthday wishes, and shared our family’s “treasure hunt” item over on their blog.   Does your pet have a VERY FAVORITE toy?  Is it one of a kind?  If not, do you have a spare?

So, tonight’s the League‘s Champagne Toast, where we welcome our newest members into the fold.   I have two dresses hanging on my bathroom door, and we’ll just have to see which feels most right this evening.  What I wear isn’t nearly as important as what we’re celebrating.   It’s the kick-off event for fifty some women’s League careers… or at least I hope so.  I hope that each and every one of them will get half as much from their League experience as I continue to get from mine.   I invite you to explore our website’s Who Are We? section and learn more about the organization that really is my passion, because chances are, we’ll (pleasantly I hope) surprise you.

But today’s post is about how we celebrated Gg’s birthday.  No, I didn’t make the cupcakes I mentioned yesterday, because the Knight got a little carried away.  There were peach cider donuts from Chiles Orchard, and then he picked up a half-dozen pumpkin muffins too.  Hem.  More than enough for our little four-pack to celebrate with, through, etc.


Fur-girls in a fall Atlantic 11-29-09

I’m not a huge fan of peach, but the donuts were cake-style, moist and reminded me a lot of the apple cider donuts that will soon be a local staple.  And while I’m glad I’m not the only person who needs pumpkin year ’round, don’t ciders and pumpkins scream fall to you?  Ironically, it’s supposed to be in the mid-90s tomorrow, and here I am hoping for an early fall. 

I’m thankful for a husband as into our dogs as I am, for local produce and fantastic bakeries and such, but in case you can’t tell, I’m really grateful for the inspiring women already making a difference in our community through their work with the JLC, and for the new women, some of whom I’ll meet for the first time tonight, who chose the JLC as the non-profit where they’ll devote their time. 

Our community is RICH with non-profit opportunities.  We have many of the big names you’re sure to recognize, such as one of the JLC’s community partners, the Boys & Girls Club.  We also have some incredible local agencies, and while we share common goals, we’re also competing for the same volunteers.  It’s an honor to have 50+ women choose the Junior League of Charlottesville from all the rest, and I have great faith in our leadership’s ability to train them and guide them through a meaningful year that will assuredly change lives – both in the community and in our own membership.

Has a volunteer experience changed your life?


Happy Thorsday, little friday and Thankful Thursday!   I won’t even link to the girls’ blog this time, because frankly the post was more for my own records than for public “consumption” and the topic is … not lunch-friendly.

June 2012 008

Gg’s also out of sorts; I believe the girl is depressed after enjoying her week as a working girl!

I’ll give you some fur-girl cuteness since it is Thorsday and all, but whether it was from the uninspiring factual record post mention above or from being earlier the past two mornings, I’m foggy and … 

While I’m an early riser by nature, I’ve never been a morning workout fan.  Oh, I’ve spent plenty of dawns in the gym.  Back in my firefighter days, I got off work around 7am, and it made sense to just drive the few blocks to the gym, do my thing, then get on with my day, but I never loved it.  On weekends and holidays, or while we’re at the beach, the dogs and I do generally do our long walk after breakfast and before lunch, but that’s not the same as rolling out of bed, stumbling into appropriate attire and hitting the road before the sun does.


A post-lunch walk with a beach friend 2010

Don’t think for a moment that I take it for granted that my life is so easy-breezy that I can whine about being less than alert simply because I got up early to walk with the girls because it will be hot this afternoon.  I am indeed thankful that in these difficult times, my life is on an even (enough) keel.   My life is pretty charmed and I know it!

On the fitness front, I need to start figuring out what to do on cool mornings.  It was in the low 60s this morning, and short sleeves weren’t really comfortable, but a jacket would have been overkill, and my the second mile, a long-sleeved shirt would have been annoying me.  Does anyone wear arm warmers?  I could seriously knot each one on a dog’s leash when I warm up…

Oh — and that’s a BIG thankful!!  I love the cooler mornings and look forward to being able to walk the girls when it doesn’t get above 70. 

Next up… tackling the cool weather walking sock search.  Do they make wool compression socks?

And is there a chiggers remedy?  I’m thinking that’s what has gotten Gretchen and me.  She has one under her front “leg pit” that is clearly a chigger bite…  Why isn’t our regular pest deterrent routine keeping those awful red menaces away?

Spring Break?


OBX spring view...

It’s been a long, LONG time since I’ve had a spring break, and even back in the day, I never went on any of the usual trips.  I went home, hung out, played with the dog, did my laundry, etc.   So when The Blonde Duck asked what I was doing for spring break, I began to ponder…

In reality, there is no break.  More than likely, we won’t get back to the Outer Banks this spring.  This is a hectic time of year for the Chief – er, Knight – and for me.  The firehouse annual meeting is next week and officer – minus the Chief and his assistant – elections are the following week, and you really don’t want to hear the 47 reasons this is chaos in Leagueville. 

So instead, I’m wishing I could grab my iPod or iPhone and build an appropriate list on Pandora.  You know…


Fur-girls headed home after a great walk in the woods

Where would I go?  Well, at the moment, Florida and spring training sounds good.  A delivery guy was sharing stories about his trips with his elderly father, a Detriot fan.  Love me some baseball… but I also love the ocean – OBX, baby – and I find my zen daily on those wooded trails I keep sharing with you. 

I guess my trip in late March to Scottsdale and Phoenix one year counts as a spring break, but that too was YEARS ago, and I didn’t take a single photo.  I’d never turn down a trip back to Sedona or Phoenix!

Really though, I’d like to rent an RV, grab the fur-girls and the Knight and visit our friends spread out all over.  (Sorry Kiwi relations…  maybe another year?)

Do you get a spring break?  If so, what are you doing?  If not, where would you go and/or what would you do if you did?

Beach Babies

Happy Thorsday, little friday, thankful thursday and December 1. 


We escaped to the beach for a little vacation.   That’s my favorite photo of the bunch.  The glare of the sun, the warmth of the sand, the foam on the shoreline… 

photo.JPGGretchen shared her thoughts on our beach time.   I’m pretty sure Sissy’s thoughts center around shrimp tails with every meal and DON’T LET THE WAVES TOUCH ME!   She loves to walk on the shore, but she tends to stick to the dune side while Gretchen likes to be right at the water’s edge in pursuit of the birds.   Sissy does enjoy sand crab hunting with the Knight, but he didn’t join us for beach walks this time.

photo.JPGWe’re very thankful to have a place to retreat, relax, recharge and restore our bodies and spirits.   I know some of you don’t understand why I don’t travel, but maybe there’s something to the zodiac stuff; I am a Cancer and I am a homebody.  We have a rather perfect little get-away spot that feels rather like home, so… that’s where we go to get away.

I’m also very thankful for the private, unexpected doggy lesson a nice lady gave us on the beach.   Gretchen’s anxiety breaks my heart, and clearly… we aren’t doing so well at managing it on our own.  The time spent with the nice lady and her gentle, patient pack was well-spent, and Gretchen wasn’t so yappy and insecure for the rest of our stay.  She’s even doing better on our walks at home when one of the neighborhood dogs with no sense of boundaries rushes at us. 

Today marks the start of the holiday party season for me.  I love a cookie swap, don’t you?  Maybe I’ll remember to take photos at home and can tell you what I baked another day…

What are you thankful for today?


Reba McIntire’s “The Greatest Man I Never Knew” has been running through my head since I got the news yesterday afternoon.   Our hearts broke when we learned that the biggest, gentleman-dog of our doggy bloggy world crossed the bridge. 

Photo borrowed from Thor's mom's blog

We never got to meet Thor, but we met some of his people last year, and we loved him as though he really was the dog next door.  Please pop over and wish his grieving family well.   

We’ll miss you, Thor, so much so that we’re going to call Thursdays Thorsday indefinitely. 

And yes, we did still have cupcakes for Gretchen’s birthday, and there were presents, but everything was rather subdued and there were no pictures.

DSC01972In happier news, there’s a still a spot in OBX waiting for us.  My relations confirmed yesterday that the damage is minimal, so much so they’re staying there and regret leaving their own dogs at home.  Our hearts go out to those not so fortunate, up and down the east coast. 

At home, Gretchen was NOT amused that Dadaw bought a new back door on her birthday, but that too is a story for another day…

For the Love of Dogs


Happy girls on their OBX beach, spring 2010

Happy dogs on thursday, little friday, thankful thursday and National Dog Day eve!   Sissy has been on a roll this week, so don’t miss her two recent posts.  Who knows when the DIVA herself will post twice in one week!?  No wonder we’re having all kinds of natural disasters over here.

It does look as though Irene isn’t going to be a huge issue in the Woods, but we’re still worried about the Outer Banks, and we’re still having significant aftershocks.  Thanks too for all the kind words and reassurance; while even Gretchen is getting used to the rumbles, I do hope they’ll stop completely soon.

Anyway, tomorrow is National Dog Day.  The founders seemed to intend that we focus on rescues, but in the Woods, we’re going to celebrate the wonderfulness of dogs in general.  I happen to think we celebrate the fur-girls just about every single day, so I don’t know that we’ll deviate from the routine tomorrow.   There will be liberal treating, a long walk as the weather allows, snuggles and/or playing in the evening as they each desire, and more cuddling as we sleep. 

Will you be doing anything special to celebrate?

Thankful?  I’m very thankful that we had no damage from the earthquake.  I suspect a lot of you are actually seeing the same footage I am of some of the more serious damage here in Central Virginia and beyond.  Compared to the damage – both personal and community-wide – my Kiwi relations had with their quakes, we are sincerely fortunate.   I am also blessed to have very compassionate, supportive friends!

Now, to see what Irene is going to do…

What are you thankful for today?