Thursday, April 28, 2011

Danville Wine Festival, 2011

The Danville Wine Festival will be held this Saturday, April 30 from 11:00 AM until 7:00 PM at the Farmer's Market, Downtown, Danville. It is presented by the Knights of Columbus. Admission is 21 and older with tickets going for $12 in advance and $15 at the door. I. Can't. Wait.

The festival is held inside the old train station on Craighead Street. There will be several Virginia wineries represented. Many local vendors will be on site as well, offering a range of products such as art, jewelry, canned goods, and other "can't live withouts". There will be two bands at the 2011 festival this year including All Mixed Up and Backstreet.

I'm looking forward to relaxing with my favorite wine, Our Dog Blue, from Chateau Morrisette Winery on the Blue Ridge Parkway. If you're in the area, stop in, have a crisp glass of wine, and say hello!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter Lunch With the Family

My family had their cookout for Easter on Monday this year. We ate at my mother's and were joined by my dad, son, sister, nephew, aunt, and uncle. There was tons of mom's home-made fried chicken with all the fixin's (southern eating at it's peak).
(I've always loved my mom's fried chicken. KFC has nothing on her)

I'd like to introduce you to my family, if I may:

My nephew, Layne, entertains himself while waiting on guests to arrive. He also insisted that my mother make a sign to put on the door to his room to keep said guests out. (He's too cute.)

(My aunt, Mickey with my son, Brandon. She couldn't believe how tall he had gotten)

(My baby sister, Adrienne, playing Cityville on Facebook-Her natural habitat.)
(My uncle, Philip)
(Dearest Dad)

(Mommy Dearest - yes, intentional. One of mine and my sister's evil terms of endearment to her).

The husband had to work Monday, so he didn't get to join in the lunch with the family. I did, however, bring home a huge plate of chicken, green beans, potatoes, corn bread, and my sister's eclair pie for him. He didn't complain.

It was wonderful to spend Monday afternoon with the family. I can't wait until we get to do it again!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Weekend

I hope all of you had a wonderful Easter weekend. I know I did. I stayed busy pretty much from the time I got out of work on Thursday at 3:00 until this morning (back to work). I did a lot of shopping, got a little riding in on the hubby's Harley, got to have some fun with friends and family, and did a little too much eating!

I started Saturday off with a little shopping (read: a LOT of shopping) at the Piedmont Mall in Danville. I picked up several pair of shorts, a few tops, a couple of dresses, some shrugs and two pair of ballet flats. I'm not sure which is worse: finding absolutely nothing that you like or that fits, or having everything you pick up fit the bill perfectly. Saturday it seemed as if everything I picked up was meant to be taken home with me. After shopping I stopped in at Starbucks for a Mocha Frapaccino. Delish.
After shopping and Starbucks, I made my way to my friend Boots' house. She was grilling out because it was such a beautiful day. She prepped the chicken, turned on the grill, and the burners just wouldn't ignite. Enter my husband, Stump, to save the day:

He managed to get the grill working again, and Boots was ready to cook... and cook she definately did!
We were joined at this cookout by Bear, Moma Boots, Boots' brother, Jay, Kim, Jim, and Andrea. We had it all: good food, good drink, and great friends sharing a beautiful Saturday.
(Jim, Stump, Jay, and Bear)

(Andrea, Moma Boots, Boots, Kim, and me)
Good eatin'

I'll be back tomorrow with pictures from our Easter Monday lunch with family. Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


 I just stumbled on a website that made me shake my head in disbelief. RentAFriend is a "social" website (social is in quotation marks for a reason) where people can find other people who are willing to rent themselves out as a friend. According to the website, one can browse potential "friends" for free, but in order to contact these people, registration is required - along with a "small membership fee". The website says the general fee to rent a friend is ten dollars per hour "but almost all of them are willing to negotiate or even waive their fees depending on the activity you are planning with them."

The website emphasizes that " is NOT a dating website, and NOT an Escort agency. Services on are strictly for FRIENDSHIP purposes only."  I'm sure that there are some folks that go on despite the aforementioned disclaimer, in hopes of finding a "cheap date", but I digress. Assuming that everyone that signs up on this magical friend machine is actually looking for platonic companions to share a movie or a cup of java, and according to the counter on the website that boasted over 417,000 registered members, my calculations say that there are WAY too many people out there who need to get out more, meet people face to face, and learn some social skills.

There are so many things we spend our money on to make our lives easier. We hire people to clean our homes, make our meals, walk our dogs, wash our cars, and cut our grass. These tasks can be justified for the most part. What I can't seem to justify is that true friendship is something that can be sacrificed for nothing more than a body sitting in the next chair? Have we really come to the point that we are either too busy, too lazy, or too crass to find, develop, and maintain meaningful relationships with other humans? 

To me, this isn't about finding friends online. We all have busy schedules. Some of us aren't exposed to as many people as others are. Finding real people to date or friend on the Internet isn't a problem. It is becoming the norm. The problem I see is actually PAYING someone to spend time with you. On the other side of the computer screen, what about the people who are charging for their services as a friend? Are they not exploiting the friendless? Are they earning the hourly fee by pretending to like the restaurant or listening to what you have to say? Isn't this the same as prostitution (sans potential STDs)?

I have a simple solution that may save you ten dollars an hour plus your "small membership fee":
  1. Speak to someone. Say "hi". Smile. Call someone you haven't seen in a while.
  2. Get to know what you have in common with that person.
  3. Listen more than you talk. Only advise when asked. Support them when they need it.
  4. Ask someone to go with you to the movies. Invite someone over to play cards (or whatever).
  5. Don't badger them if they can't at a particular time. Respect their other plans AND privacy.
  6. Don't cancel on them or show up late unless it is an emergency.
  7. If minor things they do annoy you, look over them. YOU have flaws too.
  8. Don't always be the one asking for help. Be available to help them too.
  9. Be ready to give them their space. We all need private time and other friends.
  10. Settle differences quickly. Don't let little things destroy what you have worked on.
Those are my ten easy steps to friendship. As long as I do those steps I will never have to pay someone to grab a beer with me. 

How do you feel about RentAFriend?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Meet My Boss!

(I actually work for the Easter Bunny)

Easter came a little early at Swedwood in Danville, Virginia. Yesterday, the managers at the Swedwood plant donned bunny suits and greeted employees throughout the plant, handed out Easter eggs, and then waved their goodbyes as we left for the day. This was in celebration of meeting a ten million dollar goal in March and breaking a previous record. (So, maybe ten million doesn't sound like much to you, but hey, we're a new plant! It's a big deal to us).

How does this fit into the "My Friends With Benefits" theme? Well, I consider some of the people I work with to be great friends (yes, including my floppy-eared boss above). I spend more time with the folks at work than I do with my family during the week, as I am sure you do as well. Some of the people I work with have been there to support me, encourage me, challenge me, and yes, even party with me. To me, those are friends with great benefits.

I'd like to extend a furry hug to all my work friends. Thank you guys for being you. And thank you guys for putting up with me.

Now, before any of you reprimand me on making my workplace public, I have already given this some thought. In the first place, I have not identified anyone shown in the above pictures, although it is apparent that their names could include "Flopsy", "Mopsy", "Cottontail", and "Peter". In the second place, I am not one of those people who live in fear of being stalked, kidnapped, or robbed. What I am is a southern raised Republican female who believes in her right to bear (and discharge) arms, and who does exercise such right. Point number three? I believe that anyone stupid enough to abduct me will no doubt bring me back within fifteen minutes. I can be that annoying. Just ask my friends :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Sutherlin Mansion - The Last Capitol of the Confederacy (Plus food, drink, and poker)

Saturday afternoon, my son Brandon and I were going to meet Boots and Bear for a tour of the Sutherlin Mansion in Danville, VA. The weather was terrible, for lack of a better word. There were severe thunderstorms including heavy rain, heavier lightening, and high winds. There were also tornado watches for our city as well as tornado warnings for the areas just south of us. Boots called and invited me to meet her a few doors up from the Mansion at a friend's house in the Danville Historic District.

I arrived to find Boots, Jeff, and Jennings under the cover of Jeff's garage. There were two smoking grills just outside of the garage. One waiting to be filled with the most delicious looking racks of ribs, the other already smoking a couple of pork butts. You can't tell by the photos, but the rain was beating down pretty badly on Jeff and Jennings as they adjusted the heat in the grill.

We relaxed in Jeff's garage and enjoyed a Crown and Diet Coke while we waited for the storms to pass. A radio in the garage crackled at each flash of lightening, and the Emergency Broadcast System siren interrupted the radio station's playlist quite frequently as the warnings of more severe weather were delivered.

After a couple of hours passed, the sun finally showed itself and we made our way to the Sutherlin Mansion. When the storms moved out, you could barely tell it had even rained.

(My son, Brandon, in front of the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History)

The Sutherlin Mansion served as the Last Capitol of the Confederacy where President Jefferson Davis and his full cabinet met for the last time April 3-10, 1865. Today it is the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History. The house is filled with many pieces of the Sutherlin's original furniture, paintings, and even two of Mrs. Sutherlin's dresses. I took several pictures of the inside of the mansion, but all of them turned out rather blurry. There is a tour of the museum as well as the story in the following video courtesy of Visit Danville.

After an educational tour of the Sutherlin Mansion we retreated to my house for a few games of poker in my basement. We were joined by Sage who was just getting off of work. We had a few drinks, a few snacks, and a lot of laughs.

I can't think of a better way to cap off a long work week than to enjoy it with my closest friends!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Forgotten Slave Cemetary in Danville, Virginia

After work yesterday, I met up with my friends Boots, Momma Boots, Bear, Kim, and my husband, Stump for dinner and a few drinks. We ate platters of shrimp and fish and enjoyed margaritas and bahama mamas at Kickback Jack's in Danville, Virginia.   

While we were dining, Kim reminded us of an old slave cemetery that Stump had promised to show us. He had discovered it as a boy, playing outside with his friends. The graveyard was just behind his house. He and the other boys knew, even as children, that the unmarked rocks that were scattered throughout the property were the headstones of slaves. The stories from the "old folks" who lived in the area confirmed what they already knew to be true. This was a place of history, and Stump, Kim, and I were going to see this for ourselves.

We headed down Edgewood Drive, onto Dula Street, and then onto Still Street in Danville. The houses that lined the narrowing side roads had been there for many, many years, and had a history all to themselves. We pulled over in front of an empty lot between two homes. The lot was overgrown with ivy, thorns, and Virginia Creeper. Even from the road, you could see what appeared to be headstones in front of a hollowed out tree stump.

We walked toward the stones and as we drew closer we knew for certain that this could be nothing other than the graveyard of Danville slaves. The stones that sat erect in the cold, black dirt were obviously "placed". I felt a chill spread through me as I imagined the tears of sadness that were shed by the families of these slaves as they were laid in the ground. I imagined the sorrow on the tired, work-worn faces of family members as a simple rock, without even a name, was placed on the soil as a marker. I stood right where those family members stood to say their final goodbyes at least a hundred years ago. At this point, I began to think to myself, death is ultimately the liberation of the oppressed.

We found four of the graves that my husband had told us about immediately. He said that he remembers stones "everywhere". He even pointed out where a few that he remembered had been, only to find a small hole in the ground where the stone once laid. We decided to venture deeper into the wooded area, where he was convinced there would be many more.

The three of us split up and walked through the thorns and brush searching for stones. with no luck at all. It was apparent that someone had bought the land and had cut down trees, and had even started building a fence toward the back of the lot. I am also convinced that neighborhood children had moved some of the markers, not knowing their significance.

We headed back toward our vehicles, and I was taking a few more shots of the property with my camera when an elderly lady emerged from a small grayish house adjacent to the lot. She didn't look very happy as she approached us. "What are you doing?" she wanted to know.

"Taking pictures of the slave graves". I responded, and gave her a smile of sincerity.
"You are absolutely right", she chirped, "Most folks around here don't know it, but that's exactly what it is", she continued. "My momma grew up in that house", she said, as she gestured toward the small frame house from which she had just emerged. "Momma was ninety years old when she told me about the last slave that was buried in that cemetery. She was six when it happened. She said it was a child, a little girl. There's hundreds of graves in that lot, and they go all the way back". She gestured back out into the wooded area of the lot.
Stump, Kim, and I listened as she told about the neighbors that lived in those homes in the past, about horses that fell into open graves in the cemetery, and about the missing headstones. She told us one of the neighbors had somewhat cleared out the area where we found the four preserved graves, and concluded that someone else should clear part, and maybe someone else even clear out another part. "That's history", she said. And I have to agree with her.

I don't think very many people are left that are aware of this small historical landmark on the south side of Danville, Virginia. I don't know if any of the decendents of the slaves buried on Still Street are even around. I don't think that even if they are, they would ever know because none of the graves have so much as an initial to identify the person buried there. I don't know that the younger neighbors who are moving in as the older ones pass away will even care. I do know that I felt something for those people who rest in that cemetary, and that it has given me reason to stop and think, to mourn, and even to ponder the future of this small piece of seemingly insignificant land.

I would say this to the slaves that rest in that cemetery: Although your names were never marked on your grave, and even though you thought that no one would ever look back after you were gone, you are not yet forgotten. There are some of us who do care that your story lives. There are people like my husband, my friends, and even the neighbor who lives next to your grave, that want people to know that you were here, and don't want them to forget that. You still live on.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My Friends With Voices

One of my friends posted a note on Facebook yesterday titled "About Me". I clicked on the note and read a very well written, open, and candid message. The note focused on things that even close friends likely did not know about her. I really enjoyed reading what Sasa (pronounced Say-say) had to say about herself, and it sparked a new idea to incorporate into this blog.

(Sasa, seated on left)

I asked Sasa to write a guest blog, and she received the idea with what I felt to be excitement. I know guest posters are by no means a new concept, but under the heading of "Friends With Benefits", I feel that this is a new spin on an old idea. I'm thinking of having my personal friends write guest posts on occasion to give more insight into the people that I love and why I love them. I also believe that these posts will allow my readers to connect with them as well.

What do you think? Would you like to hear from the people that I post about? Would you like to see the "About Me" type posts, or would you rather see "The other side of the story"?

I would LOVE to get your feedback! Leave a comment at the beep!