Ganesh Chaturti on the Shenandoah

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Sometime last summer (during the height of the pandemic), “the shrine” on my property was designed by Allen Kitselman and implemented by Claudio and his brother.  On 9/12 it was properly initiated with a Ganesh Chaturi ceremony led by Karthik.

Here’s how that went down.

First, Karthik shared the significance of Ganesh Chaturti, read some ancient text, and made an offering.

Ready for the ceremony


Karthik leads the reading




Ganesh at the shrine (and everywhere else in the universe too)


In the verdant woods of Virginia


A gift for the mantle


Then it was off to the river for part two of the ceremony, a small prayer with an earthen Ganesha moorti which Jackie immersed in the Shenandoah river in a traditional way (plus kayaks).

We kayaked several miles together.  Had lunch. Saw eagles. Reveled in nature.  There was a cheeto sighting.

When we were getting ready to depart, the truck failed to start.  But we persevered (with some help from Skaggs and a trusty hammer).


And then some fabulous food and conversation.

All in all, an excellent day.  The shrine is consecrated and new friendships blossom.

Bindi people


Today, the light

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Three views from the corner.

Trio one


Trio two


Trio three

The walk.



Mogli blends










Tree fire

Shenandoah Bluebells 2019

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The bluebells are peaking in mid-April this year (a bit early), so we are outta here, headed to Norway for more winter. Because we, um, actually we think we’re nuts.

Here are some pictures from the daily walk.

Willie likes Spring

Bluebells by the river (this is our home loop)

The dogs have lost the trail!

The greening of the Blue Ridge has begun

This field smells like honey

Pollen leg is a thing

Footbridge on Wheat Spring Branch

Eagles and Econolines: The Shenandoah River in July

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Back in May we paid a visit to the eagles lining the Shenandoah just north of our house. They’ve all grown up and are now flying around. On our latest trip down the river (it flows north, so just how to put that is kinda tricky), we saw 7 eagles. A few of them were captured on film.

The day itself was majestic and crystal clear.

The Shenandoah River

All of the eagles’ nests we know how to find along the route (three) were empty this trip, but there were lots of eagles flying around up and down the river.

spot the eagle

the view

spot the eagle

Oh and we ran across an Econoline 360 too. No doubt left by the big 2018 flood. This is perfect for our friend TC Boyle.

Econoline in the river

Amy paddled over to check it out

But really, the eagles.

turns out there were two in this tree

fly away

Shenandoah Flood of 2018


Puck senses danger. Tail up!

We started flood preparation in earnest the day before the flood crested (assuming that it crests today, that is). Fortunately, the great people at NOAA have a hydrograph that is extremely helpful for flood preparation. Here is the sensor nearest us at Millville.

The Millville hydrograph was wrong this time

Predictions said that the river would crest at 7am on June 4th at 15.6 feet. The prediction was off by 2 feet so far, but as far as we can tell from observation, the crest will happen soon.

We moved the boats up and rescued the submerged tables.

prep time minor flooding

the garden still above water

river peninsula already under water

truck full of table

Amy took out her kayak. The dogs followed.

Then it was time for a cocktail. The Last Word…hmm.

Last Word, hopefully not appropriately named

mogli got a workout in the flood

The flood in earnest started overnight. First major indication of prediction error was that the car bridge submerged around 10pm. Jack and Eli arrived from DC (Jack came down from NY) around 11. We ignored the road closed signs, drove in the back way to our car bridge and forded the now lake-like creek in the dark.

In the morning, we woke up to discover that the crest had not yet happened. Time to move the cars!

getting close to the cars

The river is getting very close to the house now. About 2-3 feet of vertical elevation left before the basement floods. This calls for some kayaking.

the new lake house

garden down

solstice fire spared

driveway or boat ramp?

road sign

visiting the neighbors by kayak

solstice fire, from the new lake

checking the fence line

garden swampland

the house

the new driveway

Sweet Sycamore Cradles Both Eagles and the Moon.

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On this day I knew the shot, the reason I brought my camera on the expedition. The day before there was a magnificent scene of the moon high over an eagles nest along the river. I wanted to capture it on “film.” This next day, I got that shot, but did not. Over the 24 hours the moon had moved more than I knew, and was beyond the nest when I arrived at the spot shown in the last photo here. That was good luck! I took photos of this and more, and as I headed home an eagle soared over me, and as I turned to watch, did 3 large 360’s over the *other* nest mounted along the river nearby. The eagle drew me back to a high perch above the nest and tree to take the first 2 photos here. It’s in there!

DSCF0636 2

moon moving to super, eagle nest 90′ high




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Shenandoah by Helicopter


Today was a good day for a helicopter ride.

Morning field with amy

Morning field with amy

It was all Hollis’s idea. His helicopter too.

Control console

Control console

Sycamore Ghost

Sycamore Ghost

Beautiful day for flying

Beautiful day for flying

Visibility high

Visibility high

Shenandoah River

Shenandoah River

Fall colors from the sky

Fall colors from the sky

Incredibly fun. Now we want a helicopter again for the first time since 1993. Thanks Hollis!

The 2016 Leukemia Cup is Yours! Team Tartan Sails Again


We’ve been sailing the Leukemia Cup for 8 years in a row now as Team Tartan and raising lots of money to fight blood cancer. We’re super pleased and proud to report that because of you, our 106 donors, the 2016 Leukemia Cup is yours!

Together we raised $59,729 this year. Just wow.

Team Tartan Takes the Cup

Team Tartan Takes the Cup

Extra special thanks is due to Phil Venables who donated an incredible $40,000 this year. Phil has been our major supporter for four years running and has a collection of red hats to prove it. Thanks Phil! You can sail with us anytime!

The Leukemia Cup Trophy

The Leukemia Cup Trophy

Many of our steady supporters were kind enough not only to donate again, but to raise their 2016 ante. Andy and Heather Steingrubl are a prime example. They doubled their donation this year to a whopping $2000. Everyone should emulate that behavior next year.

Kilts!  We Sail in Kilts!

Kilts! We Sail in Kilts!

Together as Team Tartan we’ve all raised $186,053.60 since 2012. Here’s how that stacks up as a bar chart.


We certainly love to break fundraising records, but we also like to win in the water as well. This year we took 3rd place in our class (non-spin)! So we’re back in the big league standings which is not bad for a bunch of sailors in kilts.


Here’s what Commodore Chris had to say about the 2016 race itself.

Team Tartan on the Water

Team Tartan on the Water

We sailed this year with one new crew member. Amy Barley took Eli’s place as Eli is off at college now. There were four of us on board, Chris captaining, Esther, Amy, and Gary grinding and acting as rail meat. And there was Stretch, our one-year-old rescue puppy mascot, who either scampered along the deck, tail wagging and jogging from sailor to sailor in search of dog treats or curled up in the jib sheet taking a nap between races.

Stretch the Team Tartan Mascot

Stretch the Team Tartan Mascot

With only moderate 5 knot winds and temperatures in the 90s, Team Tartan lumbered out to the start line for the 2016 Regatta in the weathered 25 foot Catalina Rebecca. It was hot, and a far cry from last year’s soggy race.

Race 1: Not Fast

Race 1: Not Fast

The first race was as tight as the winds were moderate. On the two mile “course D” we took around 40 minutes to pull in third across the finish line. We were only seconds behind our on-the-water nemesis Captain Bill. The general rule of thumb is if you beat Bill you can actually win the regatta. So we were feeling pretty good about race 1, but we knew we had to do better.

Race 2: Real Winds

Race 2: Real Winds

As the winds picked up well past 7 knots for race 2, the members of Team Tartan found their groove. Winds hit a day long maximum of 12 knots during the race, and creaky old Rebecca found enough uumpf to pull ahead of the fleet. Team members were straining hard on each tack keeping as much weight on the windward side to keep the boat’s keel under her. The tactic worked, and we won the bullet in race 2! Yep, we even bested Bill. Now things were going our way.

Team Tartan 2016

Team Tartan 2016

Sadly as the gun for race three sounded, the winds died down and so did our boat’s speed. Unbeknownst to us, as we traveled through the shallows, our keel and rudder snagged long green masses of hydrilla grass from bottom (something we only discovered after we limped across the line in 5th place). Race 3 was devastating to our overall ranking.

Pro Tip: Attack Grass Slows You Down

Pro Tip: Attack Grass Slows You Down

Attack grass and lame winds aside, as race scores were tallied in full, we won third place in the fleet! Go kilt sailors.

Commodore Chris Sails Team Tartan to 3rd Pace

Commodore Chris Sails Team Tartan to 3rd Pace

Team Tartan 2016

Team Tartan 2016

We celebrated with dark and stormies as we were reunited with Faith, Anna, Chris G, Gary Sr and Laura (the land bound part of Team Tartan) after sailing. During the race, Faith checked in visitors to the spectator boat, and Team Tartan members and supporters Gary Sr., Laura, Anna, Carly, Maggie, and kiddos all loaded up on a packed spectator boat to see the races.

There Be Pirates!

There Be Pirates!

Your Faithful Crew and a Bunch of Burgees

Your Faithful Crew and a Bunch of Burgees

BTW, donations are still being accepted for the 2016 Leukemia Cup. Want to put Team Tartan over $60K? We’re all for it! Donate here.

Joe Pye Photobombs River Scene!

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