Holiday in Atlanta

As I sit here on New Years Eve, enjoying a wee dram (or two) of single malt whiskey and writing this blog post, I think how differently I now spend the final hours of the year. Between the fullness of life and an overly packed schedule, it is a joy to spend a quieter evening at home, catching up, relaxing, and oh yes, watching college football.  Whereas I used to stay up until midnight, I am now content to meet with friends on New Years Day.


The past three years have found me recovering from a motorcycle wreck, running for state delegate, starting a new business, and just two months ago, starting another.  Even my time on WP the past few months has been limited.  No wonder I’m content to be still.

Many people will ponder 2016, and put into beautiful words what the year has meant.  Others will plan for the coming year and all that they hope to accomplish.  Me?  I’m about a week behind and am still glowing after a wonderful 48 hour trip to Atlanta to see my son and his family.

We enjoyed an incredible tapas style Christmas Eve meal at the Iberian Pig. Oh my goodness, the food and drinks were incredible!  This was our effort to take a selfie afterwards.


I awoke the next morning to this lovely site.  What is it about a lighted tree that brings such a sense of peace?


We spent the day opening gifts, enjoying our traditional breakfast souffle and Bloody Marys, and playing games.  My granddogs, Wilson and Tela, were never far from the action, or the food.


Oh my gosh, I love these dogs!


 The cheese plate was almost to pretty to eat.


Another family tradition is the Cracker, and I was glad to have it continue in Atlanta.



What a joyful visit!

On a personal level this coming year, I’d like to think that I will make an effort to volunteer a little less (doubtful) and exercise a little more (probable).  I also hope to spend more time with family and friends, and of course with my camera, and riding the bike.

What I definitely know is that I will do all that I can to join the resistance against bigotry, misogyny, racism, and hatred.


Despite the fact that national and international politics have me entering 2017 with caution, I do know that there is much good in this world and I believe that goodness WILL prevail.

Welcome to 2017!  Thank you for the light you bring to my life, and for your friendships.

The Best

That’s what Thanksgiving is to me.  The Best Holiday of the Year.


Family.   Friends.   Food.   Football.


Enjoying the traditional Bloody Mary and Mom’s braided bread while watching the  Macy’s Parade, and the National Dog Show.



No Gifts.   No Shopping.   No fighting over Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas.


Just the colors and beauty of the season.


Remembering the blessing of good health, and the opportunity to give to those less fortunate.


Cheers, and Go Hokies!

It All Adds Up





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It all adds up to a fantastic family vacation at the beach, one where I used the cell phone more than the camera (but you already picked up on that, huh).  Blessed beyond measure!


I spent a total of two non-consective weeks in North Carolina, a state I have boycotted since the passage of HB2.  What do you do when plans have been made for over a year, and deposits were paid before North Carolina decided to pass such a controversial law?  You keep your plans and contribute to Equality NC.  From here on out, like the NBA, lots of musicians and corporations, I will continue to avoid spending money in NC.


And now, I’m off to visit all of you!


As you view these images, I am off to see my parents for some Mother’s Day / Father’s Day celebrating.


Following that, I’ll participate in a Saturday Board Meeting for the Virginia Council of Nurse Practitioners.


Then I’ll get to spend the evening with a long time friend and fellow photographer.


And hopefully, all of that work and play will be followed by a belated birthday celebration with my sister.


These images were taken during an evening with friends last week.  Life, and all it’s gifts and challenges, has prevented this group of women from gathering lately.  On Friday, we finally got to sit around the fire, enjoy delicious food and drink, and the company of folks who know you well and love you despite your, shall we call them, less attractive, traits.

Enjoy the weekend, everyone!  I’ll catch up with you when I get back.

Crackers: A Family Tradition

This re-blogged post is about a beloved family tradition, and as you read this, I am traveling to Williamsburg to spend a few days with the whole fam damily (thanks Jan for that fun description!).  Not a day goes by that I do not reflect upon the fact that I am fortunate to have such a great family, and the most amazing parents.

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Life on the Bike and other Fab Things

For as long as I can remember, my family has celebrated the holidays with Crackers.  They adorn the table, and ultimately our heads, for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.  While crackers have become all the rage these past few years, my family has been celebrating with them for decades.


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According to Wikipedia, crackers are part of Christmas celebrations primarily in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Commonwealth countries such as Australia, Canada, NewZealand, and South Africa. 


So how did my American family come to embrace the Cracker?  My Grandfather hailed from the Isle of Wight, and I am quite sure that he and my Aunt Christine brought the tradition to us.

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The Cracker was created in 1847 by Tom Smith ( ).  In its simplest form, a cracker is a small cardboard tube covered in a brightly colored twist of paper. When the cracker is pulled apart, a chemically treated card strip, similar to that…

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Gratitude II

It was a long time coming, but I finally had the chance to say thank you to everyone that helped me out after my motorcycle wreck.  Bad things happen, but good things can come of them.  For months I was showered with love and care and it has been a goal of mine ever since, to say thanks.

Family and friends gathered on the new porch this past weekend, and Tim captured the scene beautifully.





Friends and family came from far and near.  For once it didn’t rain, and the sound of laughter was the only music we needed.

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Thank You.  Two simple words with a whole bunch of love all wrapped up in them.



When I think of Easter, I think of my Grandma.  Actually, I think of both of my Grandparents and the rest of my family,too.


My sisters, parents, and I would travel to Pinehurst, NC for the holiday.  We’d participate in all the usual Easter things.


Decorating eggs for the Easter Bunny to hide (and somehow, Grandpa always found the last one!)


Attending services in the Chapel on the Village Green (where all the children received a potted Easter Lilly)


Enjoying an incredible meal, which always included lamb and homemade mint sauce.


It somehow just doesn’t seem right to not be with family this weekend, so I’m thankful that I have years and years of memories to make me smile.

Have a lovely Easter weekend!

Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in Pictures

For those who don’t blog with WordPress and may not know, the Daily Post offers a Weekly Photo Challenge.  Each week, the Daily Post provides a theme for creative inspiration and the blogger is supposed to take photographs based on the interpretation of the theme.

The theme for this week?

Pick the best pictures from your 2012 and have those pictures tell everyone about your year.

I wonder if this Challenge was as hard for other bloggers as it was for me.  At first I was intrigued, then overwhelmed and finally resigned … resigned to the fact that I would never be able to narrow a year’s worth of pictures down to a few.

This exercise helped me to remember what a great year it has been and just how fortunate I am.  Fortunate to have amazing friends and family, and to live surrounded by beauty!  No doubt there have been challenges and some heartache, but the positives won the day (er … year).

I decided to share my year in two ways … life and beauty through photography and then life and beauty through family and friends.  A few of the pictures were taken with my Blackberry (yes, I still use a Blackberry).  You’ll be able to tell the difference.

Life and Beauty – Photography

Claytor Lake, Pulaski County, Virginia

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The Booker T Washington National Monument, Franklin County, Virginia


The Ride of Silence, Radford, Virginia


The New River, Radford, Virginia


The New River Valley Fair, Pulaski County, Virginia


Fall and The Virginia Tech Hokies


Labor Day and rain in Floyd County, Virginia


The Scarritt Bennett Center, Nashville, Tennessee (from the 2012 Solo Bike Ride)

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Shooting Creek Road, Franklin County, Virginia


Somewhere in North Carolina


Along the New River in Pulaski County, Virginia


Foggy Morning, Radford, Virginia


The Home of John and Mabel Ringling, Sarasota, Florida

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Just another lovely field in Montgomery County, Virginia


A train trestle over The New River, Pulaski County, Virginia


Life and Beauty – Family and Friends

Andrew’s Farewell Party before his move to Charleston, SC (in Blacksburg, Virginia)

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Mothers Day / Fathers Day with the best parents EVER (Williamsburg, Virginia)


Sisters Celebrating 50 (Roanoke, Virginia)


The Annual GOA Gathering (Bath, North Carolina)

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Hanging with the SoHos! (Dublin, Virginia)


Gathering with the BGs in Grayson County, Virginia

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The annual Road Trip with Ruth to see the Hokies (Chapel Hill, North Carolina)


Mumford and Sons Concert (Bristol, Tennessee)


Some of my favorite Biker Chicks (Elkin, North Carolina)


Bikers riding for a good cause (Draper, Virginia)


“Divas” raising money for another good cause (Radford, Virginia)


Time on the farm with Bill


And time on the bike with some of my favorite guys (Philpott Dam, Bassett, Virginia)


I’m always ready with the camera while riding,


whether at the beginning of a trip with my good friend, Tim,

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Or during the pouring rain on my annual solo bike ride (somewhere between Nashville and Knoxville)


And best yet, reconnecting with lifelong friends (not a quality picture but a quality friendship) Richmond, Virginia


So there you have it … how lucky am I?

Onward to 2013

Layne Creed Part 2 – The 2012 Memorial Ride

When Billy Nunn says be there at 9:45, kickstands up at 10:00 or get left behind, you’d best get there on time.

We met on a cool, cloudy morning, 17 bikes, most with riders on the back, pulling into the parking lot two or three at a time. Considering that we’d had an unplanned party at Sharkey’s ( the night before, more than one biker was feeling the after effects on Saturday. Just like the carb loading pasta dinners that cyclists have the night before a big ride, this group of bikers enjoyed a slightly different type of pre-ride carb load.

In another similarity to a big cycling event, we had our own SAG support, the term the cycling community uses for “support and gear”.  These are the folks who ride in vehicles and are prepared to offer aide to a cyclist in trouble.  Jerilyn provided SAG for our group.  By following the motorcycles in her car, Jerilyn was certainly there for the fun, but also to offer space for a rider and as a place to stow over night gear.  While waiting for everyone to get there, Jerilyn made a new friend and I set up the tripod in preparation for a group shot.


In spite of the late night, we were a happy group that morning.


Soon enough it was time to pose for the group shot and get on down the road to Mt Airy, NC to ride in the 2012 Layne Creed Memorial Ride ( )

The ride was chilly as we progressed slowly down through the mountains on Rt 52.  The slow pace was not purposeful, I guarantee (the pictures show the problem) but it allowed for the photo capture of our line of bikes.


Pulling into 13 Bones ( on a day threatening rain, the crew from Virginia was a welcome site to the team of organizers of the Layne Creed Memorial Ride for the Rescuers.  This was the 6th year of the ride and monies raised get donated to local rescue squads, fire departments, a children’s home and to support 2 scholarships. The owners of 13 Bones, in addition to being regular contributors to community events, were close friends of Layne Creed and they provide a great place to start the ride.

As soon as we got there, we lined up to get wrist bands, purchase T-shirts, pull a card for the Poker hand and buy tickets for the corn hole raffle.  This year, TW Signs (, the company that makes the annual ride T-shirts, also made a Harley Davidson corn hole board that was donated and put up for raffle.


(photo: Velvet Creed Leonard)

It was 11am and everyone enjoyed wings, sausage biscuits and beverages at 13 Bones.


Meanwhile out in the parking lot, riders checked out Layne’s old truck,  and got ready to ride.



Folks looked at other bikes, reconnected with old friends and listened to pre-ride instructions.





60 bikes and many cars and trucks pulled out for the ride that honors the memory of Layne Creed.  Stops along the way included Dodge City in Elkin, the Yadkin Moose Lodge in Mocksville, Cooper’s Sports Bar in Pilot Mountain and finally the Elks Lodge in Mt Airy.  Each break offered food, beverages, and another card for the poker hand.

I’ve ridden in this Poker Run 4 times, but have no experience with any other rides.  All I ever hear from more experienced riders is that this one is the most organized that they have ever been involved with.  Every stop sign and intersection is monitored by someone from police, fire or rescue.  Traffic is stopped when necessary and the bikes ride on by.  In a few instances, folks in cars pull over out of respect for the ride and what it represents.


(photo: Velvet Creed Leonard)

We rode in pouring rain and chilly temps, but never lost the purpose, spirit and fun of the day!  Once wet, it really doesn’t matter … you just keep riding for the cause.



(the previous 5 photos courtesy of Velvet Creed Leonard)

Somewhere along the way, a key became embedded in Josh’s back tire and caused a flat.  Thanks to good friends on the road, the bike was safely loaded on a trailer and the ride continued on.


(photo: Velvet Creed Leonard)

By 5pm, a long line of wet riders pulled into the Mt Airy Elks Lodge.  Those who had them, changed wet clothes for dry ones and it was time to enjoy good food, door prizes and a silent auction.

Many pictures were taken, dancing was done, and in the end, $5500 was donated to the Children’s Center of Surry and Yadkin and scholarships were given to two Surry Community College students.



Even with a flat tire, a broken peg, and a couple of wrong turns and a dropped bike or two on the way to the hotel, it was a great day … rain and all!  The next morning dawned beautifully and it was a perfect day for a ride back home to Virginia.



We’re already looking forward to the 7th annual ride in 2013!

Layne Creed Part 1 – The Reason Behind the Ride

Velvet says that those who didn’t know her brother Layne “would have loved him if they had. Everyone loved Layne”!

(photo credit: family of Layne Creed)

Layne Creed was evidently such a “people person” that  everyone loved to be around him.  He was quiet until you got to know him, but once you did, he was a man that you wanted to spend time with.   His sister Renee says he was “just amazing” and had a great smile.  He was a giver of time and self and was always willing to lend a hand. He never had children of his own, but he frequently gave time and attention to everyone else’s.  When he wasn’t operating his paving business, Layne loved to spend time on the boat, and to ride horses and motorcycles.

In keeping with his habit of helping others, he spent the day that he died working at the family home on Lake Norman.  After hours of working on the roof, Layne went out on the pontoon boat with 9 others to cool down after the day.  He left his cell phone, wallet and knife with his mother Nancy, and headed out on the boat.  Velvet says that she could hear in his voice that he wasn’t quite himself but when she called him (using his own phone) he said he was just tired.  From the shoreline, she could hear Layne and the others out on the boat, laughing and carrying on.

But it wasn’t too long before all she heard was the panicked calling of Layne’s name.  He had picked up Travis’  wife, Angela, with the intention of playfully throwing her into the water but he ended up going in too … and he never came up.  Velvet frantically called 911 using Layne’s own phone, while friends desperately tried to find him.  They called his name over and over and jumped in to try to find him, all to no avail. It seemed to Velvet that within minutes the place was swarming with first responders.  During this same time, Renee and a carload of friends were on their way out to the lake for the evening.  They ended up riding right in behind all the rescue vehicles and were horrified to find that it was Layne the rescuers were coming to help.  Rescue Squads, Police, and Fire vehicles kept arriving and they all seemed to have come so quickly … even though in her shock Velvet had had trouble remembering the correct address.

For two days, they searched for Layne.  That first night, they searched until it was no longer safe to do so, and then they came back early the next morning and started all over again.  Finally after 48 hours, his body came to the surface and he was found. The family stayed awake for two days … in shock, sadness, and disbelief that he was gone.  How could a man who spent so many years of his life in and around the water, have drowned?  It turns out that he’d had a heart attack and drowned as a result.  It was August 19, 2006 and the year was now doubly devastating.  Joe Creed, the father of Velvet, Layne, Scotty and Renee, had died just 7 months before.


(photo credit:  13 Bones wall picture and Layne Creed Memorial Ride FB Page)

Velvet says that she, her mother Nancy, and Renee and Scotty never wanted to have another family live through the horror of those 48 hours … and soon the idea of a Ride for the Rescuers was born.  The many, many tasks that had to be accomplished in planning such a big event gave the family “something to do and it was a way to try to manage the overwhelming grief”.  Over $7000 was raised that first year and was given to the rescuers in Sherrills Ford Fire and Rescue to help with the purchase of an underwater camera.  The donation of that money inspired the rescuers to seek grant funding and ultimately the underwater camera was purchased.  Because of that the Creed family knew that no other family would suffer the way that they had during the long 2 days of searching for Layne.

(photo credit:  Layne Creed FB Page)

According to Layne’s sister, Renee, “That was the most horrible feeling, because we knew where he was, but we had to wait for that sonar a whole day to find him. So that’s why we were so passionate about helping them get their sonar. After we helped them, we wanted to put the money back into our community, because there’s always something that needs to be purchased and you never know when you are going to need help”.  The family just wanted something good to come out of the tragedy of losing Layne.

(photo courtesy of Dale Sands)

There have been 6 rides in memory of Layne since that first one in 2007.  The committee has regular planning meetings that start 4 to 5 months before each year’s ride.  Velvet says that there are so many friends who attend the meetings and help to plan the ride and the Creed family is grateful to each and every one.  The planning has gotten a bit easier each year as the committee has learned how to manage the work load involved in pulling off such a big ride.  The whole family pulls together to plan the ride.  In addition to Velvet and Renee, Layne’s brother Scotty, mother Nancy and brothers-in-law, Ken Ross and Chris Leonard all help with the event each year.  They believe that the large volunteer force, and the many folks who ride, is a testament to the person that Layne was.

The  2012 Layne Creed Memorial Ride raised over $5500, despite the fact that the ride took place in a driving rain.  This year’s money was donated to the Children’s Center of Surry and Yadkin, which provides support services to strengthen family relationships and prevent child abuse.  The Children’s Center received money from the 2011 ride as well.

Velvet says her “heart is overfull” and the family and the committee are grateful that so many people came out to ride even though the weather proved to be such a challenge.  They say that the many hours of work required to ensure a successful and safe ride year after year are worth it when so many people come out to celebrate the life of their loved one, and in his memory, donate money to a variety of causes in the surrounding communities.  Over the past 6 years, more than $34,000 has been raised in the memory of Layne Creed with donations going to Fire and Rescue Departments in Surry, Booneville, Yadkin, and Fall Creek.  In addition, in each of the past 4 years, 2 students have received $250 scholarships to help with expenses at Surry Community College.

(Photo credit Mt Airy News)

The Creed Family recently posted the following statement on the Layne Creed Memorial Ride Facebook Page:

We are so THANKFUL to have so many people help us with all the hard work!  We can not thank you all enough!  You all mean so much to us.  Taking time out of your life to help us organize, and work the ride, and raise money for the Children’s Home of Surry and Yadkin in MEMORY of our beloved LAYNE CREED. Thanks to all of the people and businesses who donated!

Again we greatly appreciate anyone who helped in any way with this event!
(photo credit Layne Creed FB Page)
Of the six Layne Creed Memorial Rides, two have been held in significant heat, one on a very cold day, one in the rain and two in perfect riding weather.  Rest assured that no matter the weather, the 7th Annual event will be held in 2013.  It will be a time to honor Layne Creed, beloved family member and friend, and it will be an event that will provide financial support for the community  in which he lived.