A little Southern Hospitality

I needed this break. Call it a reunion or homecoming or gathering of the clan. It was time again for a sibling get-together and the most logical location these days is Richmond, Virginia where 4 of the 6 surviving sibs live. A sister drove from Wisconsin and I hopped aboard JetBlue for a nonstop to Richmond, always a full flight and normally an uneventful and pleasant flight to my home state. All began well.

JetBlue

That is until my young seatmate began to get settled… first by taking off her shoes! Sniff…sniff.¬† She reached up and turned on her air full blast. She was wearing a heavy sweatshirt. I wore a light tee-shirt and the air was cold. ūü•∂

While I was contemplating what to do or how to ask her to aim the air her way, she pulled up her hoodie to cover most of her face and was asleep. And within two minutes, she was leaning her head on my shoulder. I had forgotten to lower the arm rest between us so our seats were like a nice comfy couch. Yikes!

So what did I do? Not a thing. She slept on my shoulder until we landed and when she awoke and sat up… she said not a word.

No Shoes!

Once on the ground, things greatly improved. We usually bunk at one or more of our 3 brothers’ homes for our stay but for the first time, the 3 sisters decided to secure a small conveniently located airbnb. And what a good idea that was. No one had to feed, entertain us, wash sheets and towels, and so forth. The first night all sibs and spouses gathered at the rental and we ate pizza and burned the midnight oil catching up, retelling family stories with greater embellishments and louder laughter than the previous year.

During the day, we played musical houses from dawn to dark visiting the homes and gardens of family members. This trip differed in that we, the senior generation, were invited to homes of the younger generation for visits, a potluck cookout, and even attended a Compline, a monastic evening service lit only by candlelight with a small group of singers, a niece being a member of the a capella choir. What a wonderful dimension the younger generation added to our annual homecoming.

compline, St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Richmond VA

All week, we ate  and laughed and ate more and laughed more. Brunch at one home, lunch at another, cocktails at a third, and restaurants, too. Southern hospitality is definitely alive and well.

Always a highlight is the garden of our most senior sib who is a wizard at architectural rendering and building. He has designed and constructed three garden buildings that are marvels. Every blogger has one or two posts that folks visit more than others. My blogs of his gardens and outbuildings are the most visited and the most copied photos of my simple blog. Yep… by far.

Garden Building

His newest garden addition is a garden structure he built to contain his whole house generator.  I was glad to finally see it in person after a year of photos.

Generator Building, Richmond Va

Back home again in New Hampshire, renewed, refreshed, and eating a lot less, I’m in the garden again.¬† Fall maintenance…. the dividing, deadheading, and transplanting needs to happen now. Before we know it, alas, this scene from yesterday will soon be the scene from last February.

 

 

There he goes again!

A brother in Virginia emailed this fall that he was beginning to build another outbuilding that he designed. He’s the brother who designed and built two other outbuildings in their beautiful landscape. If you’re interested in checking them out, I boasted posted some words and photos about this one and about this one in earlier blogs.

The original one is the largest and has a pull-down ladder to an attic large enough to stand up in. He designed it after seeing one like it in Williamsburg VA, our hometown. The second one, built to mirror the first one, is smaller and houses his lawn mower, trimmer, and other gasoline powered equipment. Not too long ago he said he needed an even smaller outbuilding to house the whole-house generator he purchased after going through Hurricane Florence. Really? Another outbuilding?

generator outbuilding

It seemed to me that with one emailed photo he was starting to construct the building and the following email a couple of weeks later was full of photos of the painting of the finished product. He designed the smaller generator shed to match the other two on the far side of the home with his ‘signature 8/12’ roof.

Richmond 2018

The louvered doors taken from a large estate were found at a local salvage dealer… a dealer who knows him by name by now as he’s been a steady customer through the years. I have not seen this latest outbuilding in person and was a little confused where the heck it exactly sat on their property. He answered that it’s located right where a 40-year old boxwood was located…. a huge shrub I do remember…. that he dug up and moved to a spot front yard. Oh my!

generator 2018

He just shared a photo of his new generator outbuilding from his window after a mid-Atlantic snowstorm blanketed the area. The generator outbuilding is the showpiece he hoped for and truly looks as though it’s been there since colonial days.

Generator building snow 2018

I’m proud of this talented bro and boasted posted about him and my sister-in-law here and here, too. I’m a lucky gal.

Just south of the Mason-Dixon Line

Oh boy, was it fun to connect with my “roots” in Virginia for several days. My adorable niece was married last Saturday in Richmond.  mister gardener and I flew down for the lovely event and extended our stay to catch up with family (and plant life) just below the Mason-Dixon Line in the Piedmont area of Virginia.

The horizon was totally green under hazy skies as we descended for landing, trees fully leafed out, green, green, green, way ahead of the landscape in New Hampshire. That always amazes me. It’s just an hour and 20 minutes by plane.

Richmond VirginiaWe generally drop our luggage at the home of one of my brothers and wife in Richmond…. a couple who always make us feel right at home in their beautiful 19th century home that they have lovingly restored… all by themselves for the most part!

Richmond VA

Richmond

Edwards Virginia Ham

And first things first…. the most gracious Virginia hospitality includes what we have been craving…. Edwards Virginia Ham on warm buttered biscuits!

Edwards Ham is the salty type, a country ham that perhaps will seem too salty if one hasn’t grown up with it as a staple in the home. As for me, this wonderful ham has spoiled me for any ham I’ve tasted since.

Sadly, this unique Surry, Virginia ham company burned to the ground a year ago. While the insurance is being settled, the ham is being prepared and aged at other ham facilities across the country. Lucky for us!

Another priority in the south before you are unpacked and settled is a garden tour. This is a brother and wife who love and live just to be in the garden. I blogged about their gardens a few years ago. This is also the brother who saved the crow and that was quite an exciting story! Those blogs are two of my most read blogs and most ‘lifted’ photos from my blog… (that I willingly share if given credit for them).

The garden house my brother built from his own design (and where he hid from the attacking crow) always receives a lot of interest. For sure, he missed his calling as an architect. He is amazing and that’s no exaggeration from this sister!

The garden house looks great from any angle, even our bedroom window.

It’s fun on each visit to see what’s new in this fabulous garden. I told a blogging friend who photographed a door in another garden, that I knew a person with a garden door and this is the place! The fence and an old door were added to stop the deer from nibbling the azaleas. What a great garden accent! I love the RED.

Garden Door, Richmond VA

Everywhere you look there is nature looking back. I loved this sweet scene beneath the pergola he built last summer. It is covered with a lovely purple wisteria where wrens live in the house and robins are raising young practically on top of the wren house…. sort of condo style.

Wrens and Robins!

What will we look forward to on the next garden tour? They are planning another outhouse in the garden. This small one will be for the mower, weed eater, and blower. He’s already begun the foundation using discarded lumber from a neighbors deck. “What will it look like?” I asked. It will be a chip off the other garden house and he sketched it for me in a flash. The roof will be tin and atop the weathervane will be a copper bird dog, our family’s favorite pooch.

I can hardly wait for my next visit….

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