You’ve Got This

  For those of you who follow this blog, you may remember a post titled, Above and Beyond:  An Everyday Hero.  Last year, a major water pipe in our home broke, and a very kind and determined person rescued us. We thought he was just our plumber, but he turned out to be much more.  He was our hero…answering an emergency call late on a snowy, Saturday night, problem-solving a difficult situation, and working undeterred until, once again, we had water.  During this dire situation, our plumber, Mike Walker dug five gallons of dirt out of a tiny access hole, and then, climbed into this small, dirty space. He ignored his own safety, well-being, and comfort to repair our out-of-reach pipe, but also to preserve the hardwood floors in our 200-year-old family home. He did all of this, unselfishly, to save us from a significant amount of stress, inconvenience, and heartbreak–a true hero. Since that night, I’ve been thinking a lot about this concept of  “everyday heroes.”  And, here’s the thing:  Heroism lies within all of us.  Each of us has the power to make our lives and the lives of others better.  Sometimes we may feel that life is always trying to “start something” by throwing a challenge or a truly dark situation at us.  However, it doesn’t matter if the problem is “too high to get over, too low to get under, and we’re stuck in the middle,” […]

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Tuesday Tunes: A Girl Like You

Birth of Venus  by Sandro Botticelli, 1486 Uffizi Gallery Florence, Italy         Liberty of Poetry by Pio Fedi, 1870 Santa Croce Florence, Italy   Atop playwright Giovanni Battista Niccolini’s tomb in the basilica of Santa Croce is a statue remarkably similar to New York’s Statue of Liberty. Both depict a woman in neoclassical robes with a crown of rays, standing on a broken chain, her right arm uplifted.  Pio Fedi started to design the Florentine statue, known as Liberty of Poetry, in 1870.  It was the same year in which Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, designer of the New York Statue of Liberty, was in Italy, fighting alongside General Garibaldi during the Franco-Prussian War.   The Coronation Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I by Unknown English artist oil on panel, circa 1600 National Portrait Gallery London, England   Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss Front view Marble by Antonio Canova (1757-1822) Musée du Louvre Paris, France   Venus Bordeaux, 2001 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte by Jim Dine (American, b. 1935) Bordeaux, France   The Kiss Bronze by Auguste Rodin Outside the Musée de l‘Orangerie Paris, France  

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Tuesday Tunes: Brave New World

The chicks are about 7 weeks old and looking more and more like miniature chickens these days. They’re finally ready to come out of the coop and explore the outdoors.  Although it will be a while before they’re free-ranging in the pasture, these little guys have plenty of room inside the safety of the aviary for now. Today was the first time the chicks have felt the warmth of the sun on their faces and bodies. They were a bit uncertain about leaving their cozy coop, but it wasn’t long until they were out and frolicking in the sunshine. Welcome to their “coming out” party!  Here’s a little music to get the party started.  😉  

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Tuesday Tunes: Here Comes Santa Claus…

Farmgirl with Santa–Circa 1975   The calendar just rolled over to December, and I can now officially start listening to Christmas music. Growing up, it wasn’t Christmastime at my house until a certain LP or 33 1/3 rpm vinyl record hit the turntable:  “The Elvis Presley Christmas Album.”  The lovely sounds of Elvis crooning festive tunes, both rock and gospel, was an integral part of my holiday experience, and thank goodness, I was able to find it on CD a number of years ago.  All I can say, is this music completely takes me back–way back. I remember listening to these songs year after year at Christmastime:  while wrapping presents when I was a little child, dancing around the kitchen while making cookies with elementary school friends, decorating the basement for a slumber party as a teenager, having a cup of hot chocolate after marching with the band (Drill/Dance Team) in an evening parade, opening presents on Christmas morning, driving home for winter break while in college, decorating the first Christmas tree in my own home, and now, sitting by a cozy fire with a glass of wine. I absolutely love these songs and memories. And, I have to say, EVERY song on this album is either fun, beautiful, or moving. If you’re not familiar with the “Elvis Presley Christmas Album,” it’s on YouTube.  In my opinion, it’s a true treasure.  I can’t imagine the season without it. Here’s wishing you […]

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Tuesday Tunes: Caledonia

Scotland 2012   Every day, I walk/run on the dreadmill–I mean treadmill and listen to all kinds of music; however, lately, I’ve been listening to Pandora’s 80’s station. And, the song, “In the Big Country” by the Scottish rock band, Big Country kept popping up.  I liked it, especially the bagpipes, so here it is along with some of my favorite quotes by Scottish novelist and poet, Robert Louis Stevenson. 🙂   “Make the most of the best and the least of the worst.”   “You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.”   “Wine is bottled poetry.”   “Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm.”   “The saints are the sinners who keep on trying.”     Wishing everyone a beautiful day!   *Many thanks to friend and talented photographer, Doug Frassa for his lovely photographs.

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Tuesday Tunes: The Grapevine

Meadows of Dan, Virginia  Blue Ridge Parkway   Recently, Farmguy and I participated in the grape harvest at a local winery just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Southwestern Virginia.  Located in the Rocky Knob American Viticultural Area (AVA), Chateau Morrisette Winery sits at an elevation of nearly 3500 feet.  Boasting spectacular views, it’s amid one of the most rugged and mountainous parts of the state.  Although the winery is at 3500 feet, most of its vineyards are down the mountain at 1600 feet. Chateau Morrisette Winery was founded by David Morrisette in 1978, making it among the oldest wineries in Virginia.  It has 13 acres of land and produces approximately 70,000 cases of wine each year. Chardonnay, Viognier, Chambourcin, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Petit Manseng, and Vidal blanc are among the varietals used in making Chateau Morrisette’s wines.  Besides growing many of its own grapes, the winery also buys grapes from other vineyards in Virginia.  Due to the state’s climate and growing season, Viognier and Cabernet Franc are some the winery’s most successful varieties. In the photos, Farmguy and I are harvesting Niagara grapes—a variety of the North American grape species Vitis labrusca.  Niagara grapes are one of the few grape varieties that can grow at such a high elevation. These green grapes are table grapes and are also used in making jams, juices, and wines.  They are mainly used in Chateau Morrisette’s sweet/dessert wines—Sweet Mountain Laurel and Red […]

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Tuesday Tunes: Jerusalem

The Cotswolds   Unofficially, the beautiful hymn,  “Jerusalem” is often seen as a national hymn by many English people.  “Jerusalem” was originally written as a poem by William Blake in 1804.  The lyrics, written by Hubert Parry, were added to music in 1916 during the gloom of WWI when an uplifting new English hymn was well received and needed.   “Bring me my bow of burning gold! Bring me my arrows of desire! Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold! Bring me my chariot of fire! I will not cease from mental fight, Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand, Till we have built Jerusalem In England’s green and pleasant land.”     After visiting a number of wonderful art galleries in the Cotswolds as well as spending the last week in England’s “green and pleasant land,” I was inspired by this country’s many breathtaking landscapes to pass an afternoon painting.  Here’s the result. 🙂 “Sea Dreams” 8.5 x 11.5″ acrylic on canvas. by Tonya Rieley Hengerer   Enjoy your day!

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Tuesday Tunes: You Learn

Sunrise on the Blue Ridge Parkway Meadows of Dan, Virginia   “You may encounter many defeats, but you must NOT be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” ~Maya Angelou       Happy Tuesday!

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Tuesday Tunes: Drops of Jupiter…And a Little Bit of Heaven

Fattoria della Talosa–Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Ornellaia–Super-Tuscan, Cordella–Montalcino   Last month, I spent a delightful week in Tuscany.  I wasn’t alone, though.  Melody, author of the blog, Meals With Mel accompanied me on this little adventure around Florence and the Tuscan countryside.  We had a fabulous time wandering around the beautiful city of Florence and marveling at the many masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture—including the Duomo, a cathedral with a terracotta-tiled dome engineered by Brunelleschi and a bell tower by Giotto. We visited The Galleria dell’ Accademia which displays Michelangelo’s, “David” sculpture as well as the Uffizi Gallery which exhibits Botticelli’s, “The Birth of Venus.” Once in the countryside, we enjoyed lots of sunshine and blue skies while truffle hunting at a beautiful farm and vineyard called, Fattoria Santa Vittoria.  And, of course, we had some of the most beautiful wines in the world—mainly, but not entirely, comprised of the Sangiovese grape, an Italian red grape variety that derives its name from the Latin sanguis Jovis, “the blood of Jupiter.” For those of you who may not be familiar with the wines of central Italy, The Apennine Mountains, which run the length of the Italian Peninsula, dominant the wine regions of this area. Grapes are planted in the hills and valleys of this mountain range with altitude providing a moderating influence on the hot climate.  It’s also important to mention that the coastal areas on both sides of the country benefit […]

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