Fall Newsletter 2016

Hello ol’ friends
It seems that the dog days of summer are here. In my retired life, I get up and try to be outside to work by 7:00, then by lunch time it’s so hot and muggy I spend the rest of the day inside. (Usually working on my history and genealogy projects.) I do tend to mow grass late in the afternoons a couple of days a week.

“Candy” the mule and “Lizzie” the horse spend the days under the shelter in the shade, too. And, Lord knows there’s plenty of grass for them to munch on all night long. Lizzie is getting pretty old now and seems I can’t get her to gain any weight. Candy, like me, shows that she eats too much. We have a new bantam rooster; of course named “Bill Johnson”, and….a brand new updated chicken pen to keep the night critters out. It’s great to hear a rooster crowing again, and hope to have some little chicks next spring. We’re still holding on only one bee hive. I was hoping to catch a swarm or two this year to increase our hive number, but I didn’t get any calls, and our one hive either didn’t swarm, or I didn’t see them, (which I usually do). We decided not to take any honey this year, but leave it in the hive for them to eat over the winter.

And we have a new dog!! “Highball” was born on Feb. 14th, and is ¾ Beagle and ¼ Boston Terrier. He’s black, white, brown and into everything. He’s an outside dog and he’s been dragging anything he can find into the yard, and then tearing it all to pieces. Don’t dare lay anything down around him, or it’ll be gone. And he’s starting to chase rabbits! I’ll probably get a cat eventually, but not in a hurry.

This spring, we cut down 21 pine trees in my front yard, and yes, it was a HUGE job. But….no more pine cones!! We cut the trees into 16’ logs, which most are still waiting on my buddy with a portable saw mill to come and saw them up into boards. I am going soon to get 6 cypress logs from farmer friend Joe Boy Harrell to cut into siding for the old 1765 Rountree house I’m putting back together. The saw mill will come here to cut the boards and we can slide them right under the shelter to stack for drying. BTW, the last house I moved here spring before last is really looking great. It’s the only one I’m gonna fix up for friends to stay over in. It was the detached kitchen and dining room from the old Hollowell house. The last person to live there was Little Joe Stallings, and we of course call it “Little Joe’s House”. And now that Little Joe’s is about done, I can concentrate on the Rountree House.

We’ve really been working on the barn this summer also. We built a new “church” façade up front inside the barn, where most of the girls whom have weddings here get married. It created a large closet behind it and now we can roll that HUGE 9’Christmas tree inside every year and not have to take the 2000 lights off of it. It was a 2-3 day job to put the tree together and decorate each year. Along with this, we had to move electrical receptacles and wall lights for this new facade.

We had a 2nd breaker box put in this summer and ran lines to a new heat/air system and electric range in the kitchen. (the new heat/air system is in the front of the barn, the original one is still in the back part of the barn) We also put in more replacement windows on the pasture side. The old windows were ones given to us by square dance friends Francis and Kathy Lang when they replaced the windows in their home. Those windows really did their job over the years. And I saved the old window panes to be used in other projects around the barn and old houses. The work here never seems to end.

I continue to work on history and genealogy every chance I get. There are about a dozen files I keep switching back and forth on. Last winter, I finished a big project on the Riddick family of our community following them from 1725 to present. I also did a LOT of work on connecting my Casper family to the Chowanoke Indians of our area and I’m about ready to print it and share it with my family. I could do that kind of work every day, all day long.

We had five wedding/receptions here at the barn in the spring, and four more to go before the end of the year. It seems getting married in a barn is the going thing now. And I have to say, the decorations they use are fantastic! The barn dresses up nice. Who would have known years ago when Bob Hess and Nick Sanadis built those stairs, so many brides would come down them. Wish you all could see a wedding here. And we’ had several other reunions and parties here this year, also.

Gene and I took off for California this summer. We flew to San Diego to meet up with old square dance caller friend Ron Nelson and wife Carolyn and spent a couple of great days visiting with them, and of course some awesome restaurants. We rented a car and drove the coastal highway up to San Francisco for a weekend stay. Boy those redwood trees sure are tall……would only take one of them to finish my old houses. We drove through the Tioga Pass in Yosemite National Park and boy was that beautiful! Once on the other side of the mountains, we drove down to Las Vegas. I spent $3 on the quarter slots and Gene spent $2. Of course we lost it all. We stayed at the Flamingo Casino, and went into many other casinos just to gawk. At New York, New York Casino we saw Cirque du Soleil’s “Zumanity”. We took a day to drive to the Grand Canyon to be awed by such a sight. More great restaurants, and after 3 nights in Las Vegas, we drove back to San Diego to have dinner with Ron and Carolyn before taking the red eye back to Norfolk. We also were able to spend 4 days in Orlando under the palms this summer. And, a couple of weekends at the OBX. Quite a summer for sure!

We have all our shows lined up for the coming season. We’ll begin Oct. 22nd with our “Classic Country” show featuring Luke Willett and the “Show Me Band”. They are a great band and we’re looking forward to them, along with Connie and hopefully cousin Ricky Casper. The Christmas show this year is Dec. 3, 9 & 10th. Our friends from Charlottesville will be back along with Connie, Jo White and a few others. This year we will have a New Year’s Eve show (it’s Saturday night) with “Kudzu Junction, Connie, Phil McMullan and others…. at our regular time. And Valentine’s brings back our friends “Out-N-The Cold” for another great show Feb. 10 & 11. We’ll end the season on April 8th with those three beautiful sisters “Eyes of Emeline”. They were here last year and did a SUPER job. Adam Nixon will do the music for them. The enclosed tri-fold has all the info on the shows too. Hope to see you at one or all of them.

Several good friends left us this year. I have to mention my old square dance friend Bill Johnson. What a sweet man he was. He and wife Dot started my very first square dance club in Gates County, and they became part of me. I loved them dearly, and Dot, I’m coming to see you soon.

And this week we got the sad news that long-time square dance caller friend Tim Marriner left us at the age of 53. Tim and I became great friends while we were both learning to call square dances in the late 1970’s. He was good enough to make his living as a caller, traveling all over the country and overseas for many festivals, along with his home clubs in South Carolina where he had lived for many years.

The summer is about over, so good bye to those great tomato sandwiches, fresh vegetables and cooking on the grill. Guess now we start looking forward to good ol’ vegetable soup (with tomatoes Gene canned this summer). We have plenty of wood for the wood stove on the weekends, so I guess I’m ready. And another season of great shows here at The Onley Place.