Friday, October 21, 2011

Tar Heel Love

Note: To all of my blog friends who have sent emails or left comments for which I am most thankful and adore you for, and to my family and friends (some of whom tell me that I stink as a blogger even!)...I am really sorry that I haven't been around much lately! Things can only get better, right?

Maybe it's not the most glamorous of names ~ The "Tar Heel" State.  But I sure did love North Carolina!  I had to look up the meaning of it's nickname.  As with anything, there are several theories with the most notable being pine tar derived from it's vast forest being used to seal up the Navy ships from leaks, worms etc.  Later, during the Civil War, many would go on to say it was because North Carolina held their ground; as if they had "tar on their heels".  Held their ground in bloody battles, held their rank, held out on secession further gaining them the name, "The Reluctant State". 
Knobby tree at Aunt Diane and Uncle Richard's.  Can you see the heart shape?
Regardless of it's true origin, as you are about to see, it's no wonder they love their land:
Pasture leading up the road to their house.
Remember when I said their home/land/utopia was the most beautiful piece of property I have ever had the privilege of touring?
Riding in style!  OK, not the most flattering of photos!

I am a sucker for streams and creeks.  These next few are just part of "Puzzle Creek" which runs thru their property like a puzzle.  It's here, it's there...I wouldn't use it to find your way out.  A bag of bread crumbs probably wouldn't help with all the critters around, but Pig Pen didn't seem to have the same problem.

Flower growing in the stream.  Rhododendron???
Aunt Diane said there are mornings they take coffee out to walk and listen.

They also like to imagine things that "once were".  Tales of the original homesteaders carrying rock to build small walls to avoid wash out (true actually), Indians, love stories etc.  I found a rhinoceros:
Uncle Richard and Pig Pen discussed what "we" might do with a place like this, seeing as how we are a bit younger (his words, not mine!).  I think the better question would be, what wouldn't we do -that you haven't already done???  And by the way are never too old.  Especially you guys!

The joke was that we needed to "write the check" and buy the place.  A very bad check, nonetheless!  Panning for gold in Puzzle Creek didn't get us very far either.  :(
Livestock waterer...never seen these before!

The debate...would they fit my brother????
The other joke during our stay was that Aunt Diane fed us sooooo much because she was trying to get Pig Pen to grow into his nose...Uncle Richard finally has!  :o}

It's no wonder that Aunt Diane and Uncle Richard love The Tar Heel State...we sure did!!  Thank you for having us and showing us around!  We can't wait to come back!  Uninvited or not, you are stuck now!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Boilers and Burners and Barns, Oh My!

First impressions count, right?  I sorta hope not actually!  The first leg of our trip brought us to Hard Work Homestead where Jane and The Ice Man met us out front with puppy dogs and hugs.  I always appreciate a good hug.  Not the spaghetti-arm-hold-a-person-away-from-you type.  I hate those.  Why bother?  Hug it like you mean it!  Jane and I did that the right way! 

And then I promptly spilled coffee down her back.  MmmHmm.  That be me.  But what farm girl doesn't have stains on her clothes from hard work or in this case, good friends?  Ah yes, I made a great first impression!  Not.  Hey, I was excited and caffeinated!  :o)

First order on the agenda was a tour.  Pig Pen was in love immediately!  With so much ground to cover, so many cool things to see from off-grid systems to boilers, and burners, and barns, oh my!  What should have been a relatively quick peek and then breakfast of french croissant toast out on the town; quickly became the grand tour instead! 
But that was ok, it's not like Jane didn't have plenty to show me either!  Yes friends, her boot collection really does line the front pretty (sigh)! 

They took us for a countryside tour as well.  We were able to meet her Mom (wonderful woman!), go to the local Flea Market for good deals, visit the Strip District in Pittsburgh to see where Jane goes for local fare, see the Ice Mans "shop" which was most impressive to Pig Pen since he really appreciated all the fabrication and ingenuity. 

Now let me tell you, the Ice Man is pretty darned smart.  Granted, I don't "get" all that mumbo-jumbo man talk, but these two magpies did.  Two guys and gears...It was non-stop talk.  Which was a huge relief actually!  I knew Jane and I would have zero issue, but with guys, one never knows.  So us girls were simply able to leave them behind...which we did.  Often.  Well, that and Jane walks pretty fast ;)
Of course we went into the mountains for ya know -boots and belts! 
Where else in the country can you travel (literally) an hour into the mountains for boots and belts???  And see these right out the back door? 
Seriously!?  I would get lost hunting all these places down!  But Jane knows her stuff and where to find it!  Here at home, we have malls.  (blech!)  Out there, they have...longhorns???

We also went to her local dairy where I finally got to sample non-homogenized milk with the cream top!  We had homemade brick oven pizzas made by Jane herself!!!  That was a real treat......if only I had a brick oven!  I did pick up some of the pizza dough flour she uses just in case an outdoor brick oven should mysteriously arrive at my house someday.  Even Pig Pen agreed they were darn good, so maybe!

And....I got to try her Elderflower wine!!  I think I finally nailed the comparison for you:  have you ever had Squirt?  The pop, that is.  Ok, soda?  It is somewhat like that but smooth.  Not watery like soda pop though.  Smooth and sweet.  Oh it was really good!!

Of course we went to the Mother Earth News Fair also.  The weather barely held out for this one!  With all the rains the East has been getting, we were lucky to have dry days.  The nights, when we were driving-  whole other story!!! 

The Fair was at a ski the mountains.  Can you tell we come from flat lands?  Every time we'd hit a teeny-tiny hill, Pig Pen would say despairingly, "I think we are out of the mountains."  I kept assuring him we weren't.

With so much ground covered in such a relatively short amount of time, it's a wonder we had any giddy-up left for the next stretch of the trip.  But remember...I was highly caffeinated the entire time.  Pretty sure I'd have to be if I lived at The Hardwork Homestead. 

I now know firsthand the Homestead is appropriately named.  Jane and The Ice Man are very hardworking, humble and good.  Their hospitality far exceeded anything we expected.  It was an honor just to have met them let alone come home with a goodie basket the size of a truck bed!  We both agree that someday we will be back.  That's what friends do.  They come back.  And they say, "Thank You!"

Thank you, Jane and Ice Man...we had an awesome time!

I know you are all waiting for this one - here she is!!!
Hey, us girls gotta stick together!  ;-P 
The road out...

Eek!  The fog encountered onwards, in the rain, in the mountains!
Upon leaving the great state of PA, it was on to NC...where we visited my Aunt and Uncle and what I dubbed:  The most beautiful piece of property I have ever had the privelege of seeing.  Gorgeous!!!

Ok, more of your posts to catch up with!  You guys need more bon-bons!

Monday, October 3, 2011

What's Up, Jack?

Hello, Hello!
This is my friend Jack.  The handsome fella belongs to my Aunt Diane and Uncle Richard.  :o)

Maybe it was all a dream, or maybe it was a questionable mushroom (ya never know!) but it hardly seems real that after 10 days, three main states and all those in between (nine to be exact), over 2,500 miles, putting faces to new lifelong friends and visiting with family...we are home!  Pinch me!  Or send me back at least!

I have lots of stories and pictures to share and lots of catching up to do with your blogs also!  But first, I had to can 14 pints of green beans today!  Yippee!

Looking forward to what will surely take me a week of reading posts!  I am sure not one of you sat on your rumps eating bon-bons!