Friday, November 4, 2016

Building a Home and a Country Roam

On Saturday, I drove down to Warrenton where I was helping Habitat for Humanity build a house. It was a blitz build, the whole home being completed over the weekend, and they had plenty of volunteers to help. I got there by 1pm and was impressed to see that the walls were up and the roof being installed. They had some groups helping them who were very experienced in house building and had manged to get a great start on the property. I hoisted my tool belt onto my hips and sauntered down the hill towards them, the weight of the tools making me walk like John Wayne.
It was a wonderfully warm day and everyone was in high spirits. I teamed up with another lady and we headed inside the house looking for jobs that needed doing. I had my tool belt on with my hammer, and was especially looking forward to slamming a few nails into wood. But there was nobody in charge and we were told to walk around and offer help to anyone that appeared to need it. A few messages were being written on the the walls so we added our own messages. And then we walked about, and walked about, and stood about and stood about. We asked so many folks what we could do to help, it became tiresome as we were constantly declined.
Here, a large group of volunteers were hammering nails into siding, each person likely only slamming in one or two nails before the job was done. We missed this opportunity as we got to the wall too late but up the front of the house we found we could help move some large sheets of plywood with a handful of other folks also eager to help out. There were many volunteers just standing and watching like us; there was evidently a core group of folks who were really building this house with the occasional help from us volunteers. I managed to help carry some pieces of siding for some workers up on the roof and then struggled to find another way to help, again being refused, although very politely, but I got tired of walking round and round and round the house trying to find a job. After 4 hours I gave up and decided to leave. I heard that the build was ahead of schedule so felt no guilt at abandoning the house and its numerous helpers.
As I climbed the hill to my car I looked back, the house already looking very different to when I had arrived. I later found out that it had been fully completed on Sunday afternoon, they had actually started on Friday. It looked awesome!
I had planned on going back to the house the next morning but the heavy lifting combined with the weight of my tool belt had left my back and hips feeling really sore. So I decided to explore down Route 11 instead, one of my favorite routes.
Some doorways in Staunton.
It was great bumbling round the empty country roads. I stopped to take photos and chat with some of the farmers I met, one of whom was on his way to deliver a bull and gave me a brief introduction on the birthing of calves. I had no idea that like humans, the sex of a calf can be determined before birth, usually around 3 - 4 months before it's born. Folk are so friendly out this way, more than happy to stop and shoot the breeze. One farmer grinned as I stopped in his driveway to photograph his Trump sign. I didn't want to discuss politics but he was evidently very proud of his masterpiece!
I found these old farm buildings and hoped the owner would come out so I could ask to see inside and find out if they were as interesting as on the outside.But nobody emerged from the house and I wondered if it was abandoned. I'll check back at a later date.
I turned onto even more remote lanes, some of which were no more than unpaved tracks, and found more beautiful countryside, an old farm with long forgotten tractors peeking out from beneath rotten rafters, and a crystal clear creek with signs nailed to trees informing me how it's stocked with trout each year.
The road narrowed even more and suddenly I came upon a small wooden homestead painted and decorated with Native American artwork. Totem poles, bald eagles, masks and bird houses, all crafted from wood and metal signs, were facing the road, so abundant in their numbers that it was like an actual reservation. I stood for a while taking it all in and once again hoped to see the owner who could tell me more about it, but to no avail.
I later ended up at the flea market in Edinburg, and enjoyed a stroll round, but didn't make any purchases. I found an interesting use for the bullet casings that have been sitting on my kitchen window ledge for years but then looked at the price tag, $12. Not much of a reward for all that work. I liked the old Monroe adding machine but it wasn't something I remembered from my office days.
I stopped at a few Halloween displays along Rte 11 and then turned off to visit the Woodstock lookout tower.
Before I entered the George Washington National Park this beautiful water scene was at the foot of the mountains. While I was there taking photos every other car that passed had to stop too, all with cell phones, to quickly lean out and snap a shot or race across the road, leaving their car door open and engine running as they pressed a button and then tore back. I was the only one to stop and enjoy the sound of the falling water and feel the warm sun on my back. I spotted a couple of blue herons that slowly flapped across the river, honking at my invasion, no doubt.
I zig-zagged my way up the mountain, the dusty road leaving a plume behind me, and gradually getting narrower as I climbed. At the very top I chatted to a couple of road workers who were finishing their work day. They sent me up a small trail where they promised the vista would be just as, or more, beautiful than going to the lookout tower. I thanked them and strode up the trail, soon walking out onto a cleared area with a spectacular view.
There were a few tree stumps and I sat on one to enjoy the valley. Looking over my shoulder I could see the tower crammed with people, chattering noisily and was glad of my quieter little spot. As I enjoyed my personal view the cool breezes stroked my skin while tossing leaves that bobbed and twirled in front of me. The emerald green of the Shenandoah snaked through the valley below me and golden aspens shimmered as they clung to their few remaining leaves in the rising winds. Later as I drove home through small villages, I smiled at spotting a sign outside a church, warning their Halloween attendees to 'beware of Satan's web'. I got home as the weather was turning grim. While walking to the house, the winds were rapidly growing stronger, whipping up the brown fallen leaves and stripping more down from the baring branches. I stood watching as they swirled across the meadow then with a shiver went indoors. Winter is on its way.

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