Monthly Archives: March 2017


Recently, Motor Man and I took off for a day trip to the Outer Banks. It’s wonderful being semi-retired.

The beach could not have been better for a drive. The sand was packed down hard,  so for much of the time, we weren’t even in four-wheel drive.

Tree stumps are proof of just how far the land has receded over the years. (Notice the difference in color in these two photos: the one above was taken through the windshield, and I was out of the vehicle to take this next one.)

But sometimes, in search of horses, we have to go “off road”. Let’s just say that we were up close and personal with some tree branches along here.

The horses are usually more difficult to find in the winter months, and this time was no exception.  We only saw one, but what made this especially interesting was the song playing on our radio when we spotted him….

A Horse With No Name“.

~These Days Of Mine~

From The Shore

Motor Man and I can say one thing with certainty: we never know what we’ll see when we look out our windows.

Saturday afternoon, I noticed a few deer in our yard, then noticed them heading toward the water.

We’ve rarely seen deer swimming, so thankfully, I was able to quickly put my camera in video mode. (sound on for a little Acker Bilk)

They certainly were not synchronized, but apparently somehow communicated with each other and decided to quickly return to shore.  Water temp is around 45 degrees right now, so I’m guessing it’s a little too chilly for a swim.

~These Days Of Mine~

Monday Morning Mews

Good morning, efurryone, and welcome to this week’s Monday Morning Mews…brought to you by me: Sundae!

Yesterday was a WINTER day here…spring may “officially” arrive today, but you’d never know it by our weather yesterday.

First, this is how I spent most of the day:

Curled up on a cozy quilt inside an old wardrobe that my pawrents use as a tv cabinet.

Ahhhh…. who cares if it’s snowing and blowing outside? I’m quite comfy right here.

Wait, what’s that?

Hmmm…. looks like Motor Mommy is heading to the kitchen to make lunch.  I need to go check that out; I think there’s turkey in the fridge….

 You know, sometimes cozy is overrated.

~These Days Of Mine~

And Then There Were None

My mom was one of twelve. And each of those twelve took a spouse. So I had lots of uncles and aunts.  Those who married into the family jokingly called themselves the “outlaws”.  We didn’t think of them as in-laws, though, they were all our aunts and uncles.

Tuesday evening, my Aunt Betty, the last surviving member of that generation passed away.  She was the widow of Mom’s youngest brother, Stanley, who died in 2004.

Uncle Stanley and Aunt Betty lived in Pennsylvania their entire married life. But every summer, they returned to Uncle Stanley’s hometown, which was also my hometown, for a week’s vacation.

Aunt Betty embraced her husband’s family as her own.  His maternal genealogy had already been extensively documented, so she took on the task of researching his father’s side of the family.   In doing so, she stirred up quite the hornet’s nest when she learned that, apparently, his grandfather was illegitimate.  (Some in the family insisted that she just had NOT looked in the right place to find the marriage information, as well as the father’s name.)


One of my fondest memories of Aunt Betty took place the summer that I was seven years old.  It just happened that, while they were in the area on vacation, my mom took a bad fall and severely broke her ankle.  She was rushed to the hospital, underwent surgery and remained in the hospital for three days.

My mom and I were practically inseparable at that time, and it was just unheard of for me to spend the night anywhere else but with her.  But, that incident required that I stay the night with my grandmother (and the next couple of nights with my sister).  Since Uncle Stanley and Aunt Betty were visiting Grandma, Aunt Betty helped me get ready for bed that night. They had a daughter my age, so I’m guessing that she, too, probably spent that night with Grandma.  I just remember how kind Aunt Betty was to a little girl who was missing her mom and scared that she was hurt and in the hospital.

My mom’s family had an annual reunion (also here in our hometown in Virginia), and Uncle Stanley and Aunt Betty were always there.  Aunt Betty kept a “guest book”, and at each reunion, she went around to every person there, hugged them and had them sign the book.

A photo of Aunt Betty was shared by her family on Facebook this week, following her death. And this comment was left by one of my cousins: “Aunt Betty is now passing around her little book in heaven, getting the Ellis family’s signatures recorded for their reunion in heaven.”

Yes, indeed: sign in, all you Ellis family members.  Aunt Betty has arrived with the guest book.

Aunt Betty & Uncle Stanley
Family Reunion, 1998

~These Days Of Mine~

Speak Softly And….

Last week, I learned that installation of the new roof at Bacon’s Castle had begun. Since I was in the neighborhood Saturday, I stopped by with plans to take some pics of the work in progress.

But, once I drove down the lane, I discovered that the work was being done on the back side of the house. Since it was cold and windy, and I didn’t have a good photo shot from the comfort of my car, I decided to just make a circle and leave via the other drive.

I spotted a couple of visitors walking across the property, and then saw this:


The couple saw me taking the picture of their pooch and smiled, so I stopped to chat. They had just finished a tour of the house. Of course, I shared a little of my family history at Bacon’s Castle with them. And I learned that this is”Browser”.  Browser was looking mighty proud.

And, obviously, he subscribes to the theory: “Go big or go home”.

~These Days Of Mine~

Monday Morning Mews

This is Gypsy, bringing you this week’s mews.

And let me just say that I was not a happy kitty last Thursday.

Motor Mommy very unceremoniously shoved put me in that plastic box-thing that she keeps over in the corner.  She took me out of the office, and the next thing I knew, we were at “that place”.  You know: that place where kitties get poked and prodded and stuck with sharp objects and……and….well, I don’t really need to go into more detail.

Yes, it was time for my annual check-up.  I was a good girl, though, and efurryone there was very nice to me. I just love Dr. Betty, my vet.

I weigh 10.6 pounds, and Dr. Betty says I’m a healthy kitty.

Motor Mommy took these pictures of me when we got back to the shop.

Is my displeasure showing?

(Pee Ess: I quickly forgave Motor Mommy for taking me to the vet. She explained to me that she had to do it because she and Motor Man love me so much and want me to stay healthy. It’s all part of having a happy furever home.)

~These Days Of Mine~

Making (And Testing) Horsepower

If you know Motor Man and me personally, or you’ve followed my blog for very long, you know that he is a professional engine builder.  He builds race engines. High performance engines. FAST engines for race cars and hydroplanes (race boats).  He’s been doing it since he was a teenager and he’s very good at it.

Several years ago, he added a dynomometer (“dyno” for short) to the equipment in his machine shop.

A dyno is a diagnostic tool that provides invaluable information to engine builders. Once Motor Man finishes building (or re-building) an engine, it’s placed on the dyno, which is connected to a computer.  He “makes a pull”, revving up the engine to simulate what the engine will endure on the straight stretch of a race track (or race course, for hydroplanes). The dyno shows horsepower, torque, fuel-to-air ratio, oil pressure and water temperature. A print-out is available for every pull.

If the numbers are good, he may not make any adjustments. But the information enables him to try different carburetors, timing, rocker arms or, in extreme cases, a different cam shaft.

The dyno also lets him know if he has any problems, such as an oil leak,  and the problem can be corrected prior to delivering the engine to the customer.

Long before I met Motor Man, I had an interest in racing. So it’s exciting to me to be at the shop when Motor Man has an engine on the dyno. It’s so loud…and powerful.

Wednesday, I did more than just watch. He needed to check something (during the test) that he wasn’t able to see from the dyno console. So he had me make a pull. And he wanted it on video. (No smiles because, although exciting, it’s a little frightening to hear that much power in the room beside you.  Granted, it’s a cinder block room, the window between the console and the dyno has safety glass, and there’s a sprinkler system in place.)

This engine is for our local short track, and that season begins on April 1.

The hydroplane race season began last weekend in Florida. One of our engine customers won both qualifying and actual races in his division both days.

To paraphrase Darrell Waltrip: “Time to go racin’, boys”!

~These Days Of Mine~