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Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Little Time With The Family

My brother and his wife came for a visit from sunny CA.  Drawn by the need to spend time with an aging mother, they have come to VA once a year for the last few years.  This is their first visit since our mother passed away. 

Steve and Moncy were here only a few days this time, but I was fortunate enough to make dinner for them, which has become a traditional part of their visit.  Cynthia joined us. As usual, the entree was an experiment.  Stevie pointed out that I have never had any fear with experimenting on my dinner guests.  What is the point if you cannot try out something new on others?  I served Swai, scallops, corn, salad, really good bread with optional butter or olive oil and balsamic vinegar (of course) and some fine wine. 

Timmu and Sara hosted the summer family get together.  Some of us had pool time...
 and talk time...
and lots of laughter.

 Steve shocked us with his presentation of a family history project he worked on for over a year. Each of us received a large notebook filled with the results of his geneology research. 

I was astounded by the volume of information he had collected.  Steve also gave each of us a hard bound pictorial family history.  Every time I look at it, something new is revealed about someone in my family.  Some of these tidbits and stories shock me, some beg more information, some make me laugh and some make me cry. This book is the best gift I have ever far.  Thank you, Stevie, for your dedication and hard work in putting this together for us all. I need to make you a nicer dinner the next time!

The following weekend, I went to Roanoke to spend some time with my sister and niece.  I occassionally show up with movie options that I hope the three of us will enjoy so I arrived with an arsenal of films.  To change the visit up a little, I suggested we explore the downtown Market area on Saturday afternoon and Mill Mountain after dinner.  So off to market we go...

 We loaded up bags with all kinds of vegetables that would become dinner.

We had lunch at On The of the best sandwiches I have ever had! After lunch, we explored a couple of shops.

After lunch we drove around town as I had not been in that part of Roanoke in years. A little depressing, but hope floates in renovation efforts.

We made our way to Green Valley to see the house my nephew recently purchased and then picked up Marsha's dear friend Cricket. We went home and everyone did their part in making dinner with all those wonderful veggies from the market. 

Cricket was very fond of our mother and has known the family for years.  Sharing Stevie's family history books with her was very touching.

Marsha, Cricket, Kristen and I drove to the top of Mill Mountain after dinner. The night sky was so beautiful.  I could not resist a separate blog about the Mill Mountain Star...check it out. 

Cricket loves the vanilla ice cream at Sonic so we all had that treat to finish off the night. Alas, too late for a movie.

Miss Dolly and I drove home Sunday after I filled myself up on Mike's pancakes.  I was tired when I got home and decided I would be lazy that evening.  My friend Harold is always up for a movie, so I invited him to watch Hemingway and Kellhorn. Never heard of this 2012 movie featuring Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen?  It got terrible reviews.  Someone wrote that Clive Owen could have called in his performance. Still, Harold and I did not complain as we watched all 155 minutes.  Thanks, Harold.  You are always there when I need ya. 

Wow. This blog took a while.  What shall I do now?  Dolly seems to be contemplating the same thing. 

Mill Mountain Star


Last weekend I drove up to the top of Mill Mountain to see The Star up close and pesonal and to take in the view on the night of the-reallhy-big-moon. . My sister, Marsha, remembers going up there when we were children because the train ride up scared her to death.  I do not remember that ride. My older brother, Steve, does not remember a train ride, but remembers going up to the star several times. He assures me I did, too.  But their memories are not mine. I do not recall going to Mill Mountain at all. If I had those memories, my visit last weekend would have stemmed from wanting to see how the top of Mill Mountain had changed or stayed the same.  With no memories leading me up the mountain, I went to see what I could see...fresh and for the first time. The night was spectacular all on its own and made a wonderful backdrop. I was not disappointed.

A lot of you reading this blog know Mill Mountain Star eiher from current visits or from childhood memories. Whether you know The Star or are just learning about it, I offer itshistory, which is taken from Wikipedia.  The photo was taken by me.

The Roanoke Star, also known as the Mill Mountain Star, is the world's largest freestanding illuminated man-made star, constructed in 1949 at the top of Mill Mountain in Roanoke, Virginia.   It was the largest star ever assembled until the El Paso Star was completed I El Paso, Texas.  However, the Mill Mountain Star still holds the claim to world's largest illuminated man-made free-standing star, as the El Paso Star lies flat on the ground. After construction of the star, Roanoke was nicknamed "Star City of the South". It's visible for 60 miles from the air and it sits 1,045 feet above the city of Roanoke
Initially, the star was illuminated in all-white. Later, the star's color would change from white to red to indicate a traffic fatality on that day. As part of the bicentennial celebration in 1976, the design was changed to an outer single star of red encompassing inner double-stars of white and blue. Generally all the colors have been lit at once, but occasionally the colors have been lit in a repeating sequence: each color shows exclusively for a second or two, or in succession. To commemorate a tragic event, the red outer star has been used alone, in a manner akin to a lowered flag. Such commemorations have been made for national and local events. After the September 11, 2001, the star was kept in a red, white, and blue configuration for nearly six years, until April 2007.
On August 12, 2006, the star was turned off for eight days for the city to perform significant electrical upgrades. Outdated junction boxes, transformers, wiring, and conduits were replaced. Many of these devices are from the star's original 1949 construction.
On April 17, 2007, the star had to be turned off because one of the power lines had been heavily damaged by a tree. When the star was relit on April 22, 2007, officials changed the color configuration to all-white "as a symbol of hope" after the Virginia Tech massacre.  Red, white and blue colors were restored May 24, 2007  and remained that way until returning to all white on September 12, 2011.