Interlude – Reunion, Road trip, FLW & Augusta

So when last I wrote, I was telling you all the horrible news, just before taking off on my wonderful 3 week vacation. Instead of writing tons, I think I’ll do mostly pictures.

First let me say that I had my first chemotherapy treatment which made me WAY groggy for the first 4 days-just in time for the family reunion. There are few pictures that I took and all of them are blurry, so here goes:

Karaoke – Elizabeth singing; James’ legs. I sang “Midnight Train to Georgia” – I always do.
from L to R: the Force of Nature, the Duke of Curl, me, Studmuffin. Wish I could remember what I said to tease the FoN…..Please note that we are holding the frame upside down

So that’s about it for the reunion. It was fun…when I wasn’t sleeping.

The Duke of Curl has been getting into….wait for it….blacksmithing. Yup. He’s joined a local group and wants to get his own forge.

Duke of Curl in Action
Making hooks for Grandmother

So he decided to take a week of blacksmithing classes at Augusta – which originally was scheduled the same week as Blues week. However, when we got the final schedule, it had changed so that Blues week was the week after. Studmuffin thought that we should go ahead and drive the THIRTEEN HOURS back home to Silicon Holler and then, in another week, drive up to WV another THIRTEEN HOURS and then drive back home again THIRTEEN HOURS . Nope nopity nope nope, says I. I decide we are going on vacation in PA & NY state, visiting friends, family and tourist sites for that intervening week. Yes, there will be driving involved, but only in stretches of an hour or two and mostly not highways. I need green and lots of it.

So we visited Studmuffin’s brother and kids in PA as they weren’t at the Reunion. I hadn’t seen the kids in YEARS – we’re gonna make a much greater effort to see them more frequently. Studmuffin & his brother definitely need to see each other more often. I only took pics of the kids so I won’t be posting those. Coming soon – FLW!

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright

Before I go there, I read a book recently by Dr. Joan Vernikos called “Designed to Move” She’s retired now, but her whole career involved the biometrics of the human body as it relates to gravity – regular and space conditions. Basically, sitting so much is killing us, so stand up every half-hour. Even if you run 2 hours a day, if you sit for 6 hours, you’re still sedentary. I tried to implement this on our trip, though I changed the time period to 35 or 40 minutes. Fortunately Studmuffin went along with this gracefully. I think it helped me anyway, and we stopped at some very interesting places we wouldn’t have done otherwise. Pictures later.

So Studmuffin is a huge fan of Frank Lloyd Wright and over the years we have visited several houses and building he designed. Back when I was maybe 6 or 7, Mr Rogers visited Falling Water on his show and I have wanted to see it ever since. While on their website, I found this other place called Polymath Park. You can read all about it on the site – I made a reservation for lunch; all the other reservations were filled and that night we stayed overnight in the Balter House.

Designed and built by one of FLW’s apprentices – Balter summer house
Living room/great room. The skylight also is over the kitchen so one doesn’t have to turn on the light in the morning. The acoustics in here were just wonderful!

Time & money permitting, I would love to build a nearly exact replica of Balter House for us to live in. I Loved It!!

The food was very good. Studmuffin always wants to take photos of me in places – I dislike that so I have started doing “dead selfies” (see the backstory here – I think she’s hilarious), so here’s me in the lovely restaurant:

It was deadly but delicious….

Others in no particular order:

Previous lunch in WV
In Knoxville
Inside the Balter summer house
someplace in PA
My absolute favorite so far in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

We visited in our stops the Flight 93 crash site & memorial, and the Fred Rogers Center. Mr. Rogers was hugely important to me in case you did not know. They had a little museum and I took pictures:

Queen Sarah Saturday
King Friday
Prince Tuesday
Daniel Striped Tiger
Lady Elaine Fairchild
X the Owl – unfortunately my pic of Henrietta Pusycat didn’t come out. Meow me meow meow sorry meow.
Mr. Rogers taking a selfie…..
The famous trolley
Fred Rogers…a truly great man.

The 2 main FLW houses we went to were Graycliff on Lake Erie and Falling Water near Pittsburgh. Their websites have really good photos so I won’t take up space here with my poor attempts. I loved both houses and they are very different. I had not heard of Graycliff til a NY friend mentioned it and I am so glad we went to it. Not as celebrated as Falling Water but equally as interesting for me. I’ll share just 1 Graycliff photo – the flower arranging sink. So unusual!

You should go and visit these wonderful places…..

Falling Water surprised me in several ways – you could barely hear the water in most spaces, the overall scale of the house is small – it isn’t a grand space, there’s a freshwater swimming pool…… There’s so much to really should go – though not if you have difficulty walking or climbing stairs….I got a sassafrass walking stick by joining their club and they have a simply MARVELOUS gift shop.

We stayed at several AirBNB places – all of which were wonderful in their own ways. Studmuffin let me choose whatever I wanted….once he realized we weren’t going to go visiting various battlefields and disaster sites (Johnstown Flood for instance). I told him I didn’t want to visit all the death-filled places on this trip.

I think I’m gonna have to write a part 2……..I hope by the end of the week.


  1. Thanks for sharing a wonderful trip (although I confess Lady Elaine scared the hell out of me when I was a kid)! Sorry I haven’t been in touch, but you have sure been on my heart. Miss you!

  2. Quite the Blog! My Great Uncle was an architect and built their house heavily influenced by the FLW style. He actually knew him! The dining area was TINY, so when my Aunt and uncle took it over, they built on to it in the same style. They’re in their 80’s and are talking about moving to FL to be where it’s warmer and to be by their two boys, and granddaughter.

    I too love the Smokies and Blue Ridge mountains (Appalachian mountains) It’s one of the main reasons I moved back to east TN!

    Glad you are getting to travel and see beautiful places and family. I haven’t seen my brother and his family in a while now. I did get to see them briefly at my Dad’s 80th birthday celebration last year, but even though we stayed in the same cabin, I didn’t get to spend much time with them. I was only able to be there for one day. (Work and had a quick bout of a stomach bug) He’s talking about hopefully bringing the boys here next year, so they can see where we grew up. I REALLY HOPE SO! It would be awesome to have them on my turf rather than being the one that has to travel. I LOVE the San Francisco area, but still!

    Take care of yourself! Love you! Cindy

    On Tue, Aug 20, 2019, 12:20 PM Knitting & whingeing in Abalama-ding-dong wrote:

    > helenkosings posted: “So when last I wrote, I was telling you all the > horrible news, just before taking off on my wonderful 3 week vacation. > Instead of writing tons, I think I’ll do mostly pictures. First let me say > that I had my first chemotherapy treatment which made me WA” >

  3. Hi Neeve! So glad to hear from you. I always found Lady Elaine funny because my mother’s name is Elaine but nothing like Lady Elaine’s personality – but my grandmother was VERY like Lady Elaine. I would love to get together again and sing together more – even on a regular basis somehow. Thanks for all the good heart thoughts – it means SO MUCH to me! Miss you too.

  4. What amazing adventures! Was the class DoC’s first exposure to blacksmithing, or had he already been exploring? You all visited so many cool places, and it looks like you had a lot of fun. Playing dead sure is a different spin on dealing with not enjoying having your picture taken! Do you think you will want to see the Mr. Rogers movie, or will you want to keep your experience and memories of him as they are?

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