Archive for the ‘Virginia’ Category


Thursday, September 17th, 2009

This is one of those days… one of those really good days!

After lots of angst & drama, resolution on a couple scores-

  1. I have decent health insurance, that even covers pre-existing conditions, and I can actually afford it! Virginia can be my home base, although I still plan to be mostly nomadic. (And yes, I still believe strongly that we need a national single-payer system. I would not wish these last few months of uncertainty on anyone.)
  2. We finally got rain, after a REALLY long dry spell. We could use some more, but at least it’s a start.

So, thanks to all who have been so supportive thru all my whining & moaning. I appreciate all the hand-holding (& patience!) Once again, things do have a way of working out.

And now I’m going to take a nap…

Neighborhood grocers, redux

Sunday, September 13th, 2009
George Bowers Grocery, Staunton, VA

George Bowers Grocery, Staunton, VA

Staunton (that’s “Stan-ton,” not “Stawn-ton”) Virginia takes pride in its blend of reverence for the old, with modern twists. Like the trolley car buses that minimize downtown traffic, while allowing easy access to landmarks and shops.

Not far from Downtown , New Town Staunton is also experiencing a renaissance. As old mansions and homes are being restored, so are some of the storefronts that served their original owners.

One of these is the George Bowers Grocery, originally founded in 1881. It’s been reclaimed to service by a young duo- Brian Wiedemann and Katie McCaskey- who stock the shelves with a variety of wines/beers, including many from Virginia and locally produced foodstuffs. They also grow some of  the produce they sell, in a rented city lot a few blocks away at Lush Farms.

Katie says that while they aren’t a one-stop shopping experience, the neighborhood has been very supportive of their efforts. And why not, when each item is carefully selected by the owners, who cultivate relationships with both their suppliers and patrons, and serve as a knowledgeable link between them.

In Downtown Staunton, there is another neighborhood grocery, with a slightly different slant. Cranberry’s is a natural foods grocery and deli (with juice bar, and gluten-free choices.) Like George Bowers, the accent is on local, and healthy.

While neighborhood groceries may not supplant the supermarket chains, the idea of a local grocery as a link, more accessible than a once or twice a week farmers market, and a gathering place for the neighborhood, may be an idea whose time has come- again.

Starting the Fall garden

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Gabalot Gardens

Gabalot Gardens

Well, I’ve been clearing out a couple beds for fall crops, in between peeling & freezing peaches. So decided that today I’d go get some stuff to plant in them. Fall things, like broccoli, spinach, radishes… the usual suspects.

So first I went to Southern States & messed around for a while. I did get some seeds there- lettuce, daikon radishes, etc. Also got lots of mouse & ant killer. (Whole ‘nother story…)

Then I headed for a little nursery the mater had told me about- Gabalot. As warned, Janet DOES talk a lot. But unlike many people, she actually imparts a lot of info. She’s “only” been running Gabalot Gardens for 16 years, and says she’s still learning.

Many of her seeds are heirloom (non-hybrid, which means you can save your own seed for next year) which is exactly what we’re up to here @ Mt Pleasant. Her two main suppliers are Landreth Seeds in Pennsylvania, which she also sells in bulk and Renee’s Garden.

I got some gorgeous broccoli & brussel sprouts seedlings, and then some things to dress up the planters a bit. But also got rainbow chard seeds, b/c I like them so much. (For those of you in PT, check the window boxes of the Silverwater Cafe. Those are Bright Lights chard)

What’s really exciting is that I asked her about whether she starts seeds for others in her fancy greenhouse. Not only does she, she has an interesting way that she does it. If you buy seed & send or take it to her to plant, you tell her how many plants you want. She keeps the rest of the seeds & gets the income from selling those seedlings. That’s it.

I don’t know if other greenhouses do that, but it sounds wonderful to me. Growing seedlings is really pretty labor & equipment intensive (My lettuce seedlings were a total failure… I was hardening them off & a thunderstorm hit & washed them all out. Starting over…)

Anyway, a very fun & productive day… and a new friend.

Virginia update…

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

I guess the reason that I’m gypsying around is to learn things. About myself & about the world. So I’m thinking it’s time for an update on what I’ve learned while in Virginia. I reserve the right to come back & edit this post.

  1. I’ve learned a whole lot about gardening. Weird stuff that’s not in books- like to not plant hot peppers w/sweet peppers.
  2. I can tell the difference between a sweet potato vine and a weed
  3. Ditto potato bugs and lady bugs
  4. Praying mantii mantises ( thanks, Brad!) BITE. They’re not all cute like Zorak
  5. I can make yogurt & granola
  6. Know how to freeze green beans & raspberries
  7. Can make juice in a steam juicer
  8. Can make myself understood (kinda) in Spanish & can kinda understand what’s going on.
  9. Have quite a collection of pink shirts, most of which cost less than $2
  10. Can name 3 places where I can get a double Americano in less that 20 minutes. But have to get out of the car.
  11. Started taking yoga- like it a lot
  12. Flea marketeers fear me
  13. Can shelve books, check them out & also do the dreaded vacation check-0ut.
  14. Am the most wired person in Shenandoah County (both senses.)
  15. Can eat out for years on my story of getting new tires in Maurertown (pronounced- Maurytown.)
  16. Know how to hang clothes on a line.
  17. Know that oriental carpets can only be vacuumed every 10 days.
  18. I may have a career in killing those spider-things w/the webs that feel like hair. Ugh! Ugh! I want them all DEAD. I am on a mission!
  19. Know that they don’t know what to do ’bout hippies @ Food Lion. They sell recyclable bags, but aren’t quite sure what to do if someone actually uses one for the 2nd time. Especially if they’re wearing clogs. Not sure whether to call me ma’am or call 911.
  20. Know that if I say “slippah chayah” instead of slipper chair, my mama will slap me upside the haid. That is not why she sent me to Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. (Strange, but true.)
  21. Know that they are serious about drinking & driving here. 1/2 the natives have to drive the other 1/2 around, b/c they’ve lost their licenses. I want to be the 1/2 in the driver’s seat, thank you.
  22. Realize that I may never spell the word license correctly the first time.
  23. Yes, I can make a wicked garlicky hummus. I have personally evicted all the vampires in Shenandoah County.