Blue Ridge, Two Kids: Tales of a Roanoke Dad

Virginia’s Native Allspice

This fall we noticed, for the first time, some bushes with bright red berries dotted across our nearby woods. Thanks to the reputation of hollies, poke berries, and other brightly colored inedible wild plants, my first thought was “poisonous!” But after doing some research, we have made quite a contrary discovery. Say hello to spice…
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Wet and Wicked Weather in Western Virginia – Part 3

We are now entering Virginia’s season of uncertain weather – hurricane season. While our state (particularly the idyllic western side) often avoids the brunt of the East Coast hurricanes, there have been plenty of brutal exceptions that have ravaged western Virginia. I’m especially remembering one that struck almost exactly twenty-five years ago: Hurricane Fran. In…
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Virginia’s Earth-shaking Events

This August marked the 10th anniversary of a rather striking Virginia occurrence. On the morning of August 23, 2011, I was having a conversation with a coworker at my desk when a rumbling noise began – it sounded a lot like an air conditioning unit starting up. Rather than dying down, however, the rumble increased…
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Roanoke – the Star City Game

Recently, our family stumbled upon a rare find at a yard sale: a mint condition board game called “Roanoke: the Star City Game.” This 25 year old collectible is (in the experience of our family) a fine way to have some family fun while affirming our identity as Roanokers. So this board game is, in…
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Saving the Planet, one Semi-Immortal Toyota at a time

I’ve recently been intrigued by the growing popularity of electric vehicles (EVs). Pushed along by federal policy, lots of automakers are jumping onto the EV bandwagon – some of them in the extreme. While I agree Teslas are pretty nifty, I have some serious reservations about EVs. So, as a consummate technological and environmental expert,…
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Chic(k) Lifestyle – Part 1

After a hiatus of a few years, our family decided that this was the year we would jump into chicken owning again. Chicks were pricey and hard to come by this spring, so we belatedly coordinated with some homesteading family friends to get a dozen fertilized eggs and a loan of their incubator. Next came…
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Books to Read Aloud – Caddie Woodlawn

Another of our recent read-alouds that could go into a family’s literary portfolio is Caddie Woodlawn. Somewhat in the vein of the Laura Ingalls Wilder series, this book is also loosely based on the life and experiences of a pioneer family (set about 20 years earlier than the time period of the Ingalls series). And…
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5 Random Items We No Longer Want To Do Without

Navigating a pandemic isn’t for the faint of heart. That seems to hold true no matter your age; I’ve watched both my kids and my parents wade through the various difficult experiences and emotions of the last year just as I myself have. Here are a few stress relievers we’ve stumbled across (that have been…
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What to Do with Visitors in Roanoke, Part 1

In life, there are some conundrums that never go away. What’s for dinner? Who’s in charge here? Does money grow on trees? Why is a raven like a writing desk? While each of these would make a great blog post, the age old question I wish to address now is, how do I successfully entertain…
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Nixtamalization (or, Learning from your elders)

I think about food a lot. This may not be surprising, since food is reputed to be one of the two major preoccupations of males. But I have an extra advantage in the time spent thinking about food, because I’m trying to hone my gardening skills. Recently, I’ve learned some interesting stuff about how many…
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