My precious sisters and me – Betsy, Julie, Lynn

Aren't they lovely, my sissies?

I think I look a lot like my mum in this picture.  It was taking at the wedding last weekend in Norfolk.  It was a fun, sweet wedding.  I was very happy for my cousin and her whole family.

I miss my brother, David, his wife, Sarah (who is like a sister!) and their kids.  Haven’t seen them in months.  I’ll add a pic of my lovely sissie, Sarah, and the kids in a bit.

Did I mention today is the birthday of one of my favorite musicians, the brilliant, earthy John Prine?  I love his song “In Spite of Ourselves” because it’s so silly and cute.  I love it when he sings it with Iris Dement.  I don’t want to mention her too much because she’s my little secret muscial brilliance.


Orange Salamander


In March of 1973, when I was 9 years old, my family moved from Hampton, VA, hamptonto Beaverdam, VA.beaverdam

It was a bit of a culture shock.  We moved from a small city to the boonies almost in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  In Hampton I could ride my bike through the neighborhood, visit friends, ride my bike or walk to the Rich’s convenience store for a candy bar.  In Beaverdam, the roads were narrow, a little hilly, and didn’t have shoulders.  You couldn’t ride your bike anywhere.  I could walk up to Francisco’s store for a candy bar, though. 

The lack of mobility for a kid was the hardest part.  However, a deciduous forest surrounded our house, and I spent many hours wandering through the woods, playing around a little creek, and becoming accustomed to the red clay that was the soil in this area.  I always loved rocks, though, and sometimes I would find wonderful quartz rocks or bits of mica in the clay.

Anyhow, my younger brother was 3.  My older sisters were 11 & 13.   I loved the basement in the new house because it had stairs, and I had always wanted to live in a house with stairs.  One day my little brother was in the basement and he  became hysterical with fear.  We had no idea what had scared him so much.  At that age, I guess we couldn’t understand what he was describing.  I can’t remember what he described, but I know he tried to describe it. 

A few weeks later he became hysterical again and was able to point out what had scared him so.  It was an amphibious creature none of us had ever seen before.   It looked like this, and I believe it’s called an eastern newt, and it’s in the same family as frogs and salamanders.  There’s also a long tail salamander which looks a lot like it, but this was short and I remember the bright orange spots.  Isn’t it beautiful?  It’s a tiny thing, about 2-3″ long.

newt_7401orange salamander

 My mother researched it and pronounced it a salamander.  I discovered that salamanders didn’t move quickly like lizards do, so I wasn’t afraid of it.  I thought it was beautiful.  Sadly, I think we laughed at my brother (all 3 years old of him!) for being so afraid.  We did that a lot in my family.  When anyone was upset we laughed.  Lots of time it was me who was upset.

I hope these little amphibians are still around.  I heard frogs are disappearing, and I’ve noticed there are fewer now.  I hope these guys aren’t disappearing, too.