Why Did The Turtle Cross The Road?

It’s that time of year again, when our shelled neighbors are on the move. Usually they are females seeking a nesting site. They may be males scouting around for that special someone.  They may be early hatchlings leaving “home” for the first time.  Whether they’re on their way to a specific destination only a turtle can know, or just looking for love in all the wrong places, many of them will never complete their journey if a stretch of it puts them in the path of oncoming vehicles.


Nobody should ever put themselves or other motorists in danger for wildlife in the road; it’s sad to see an injured animal, or one about to be, but sometimes there’s just nothing you can do. Sometimes, however, there IS, and if you find yourself lucky enough to be able to intervene:

DO pull safely off to the shoulder, well out of the way of other traffic.

DO put on your hazard lights.

DO move the turtle in the direction it was already heading.

DO handle the animal with care, by the edges of its shell, and wash your hands thoroughly as soon as you can.

DO NOT ever pick a turtle up by its tail. This can cause the turtle serious injury. If it’s a snapping turtle, it could also cause you serious injury: snapping turtles can stretch their necks long enough to bite clear to the rear.

DO NOT take the turtle far away from where you found it.  If the animal is injured, contact a local wildlife rescue.  Resources for our area can be found in this directory: http://wildliferehabinfo.org/Contact_N-Z.htm#VIRGINIA

For more information on how to handle traffic and turtles, check out the Mid-Atlantic Turtle and Tortiose Society:   http://www.matts-turtles.org/helping-turtles-cross-roads.html

As our Boxy Babe would say: share the road, folks, and be safe out there!

Introducing Our Boxy Babe

This is Scout, our rapidly growing baby Eastern Painted Box Turtle. We are actually owned by three resident rescue turtles, and lucky enough to share our property with a colorful wild turtle population of several different species.

Scout House

We’ll be sharing more from our walks on the wild side. Scout just had to be the first one here – it’s simply how she is. :o)

Superlative Spuds

These recipes from one of our favorite magazines are simple yet sublime. They also look to be easy enough for Peg to handle, and we do have a slow cooker. We therefore decided to post them here not only to share, but to make sure Peg can quickly find them again. :o)

Three Simple Slow Cooker Potato Recipes


USDA Loans: Don’t wait until the cows come home.

From the Realtor news wire come this heads up on the dwindling availability of USDA loans for rural homebuyers in the fiscal year 2016:


The article does point out at least one other option, and for folks who aren’t going to be needing a loan during this fiscal cycle there’s no need for a stampede of panic.  However, if you’re planning a transaction soon that may involve USDA funding not yet secured, don’t count those chickens before they’re hatched.

Yes, We’ll Take Cheese On That

We haven’t been to downtown Norfolk for quite some time. On a recent excursion of rediscovery, we were directed to a new taste treasure that will definitely stay on our list of reasons to return more often: The Grilled Cheese Bistro.
Grilled Cheese Bistro facade

We happen to like grilled cheese sandwiches, and if you do too, the only problem you’ll have with the menu is choosing just one from the unique variations available. And it had better be just one, unless you are a competition eater, as the sandwiches are quite generous. I ordered a smoked salmon and Brie creation that just about melted in my mouth. Russell W., being a braver and bolder foodie, went with a black truffle mac & cheese combo that could satisfy the cheesiest of cheeseheads. The cheese on both was perfectly melted and toasty, and the bread – that key component of any sandwich – was simply delicious. The menu is great fun to peruse, so we won’t include any further spoilers other than the chimichurri fries, which are just about over the top.  A single side order is plenty to share with a friend (or two).

Speaking of sharing, be ready to share space as well – GCB is a bistro by design as well as name. The space is modest and seating is tight, but if you’re the gregarious type you may well find yourself striking up new friendships, especially if you sit at the bar, as we did. This was not by choice, as on a Saturday evening there was a line to get in and we were glad to take whatever spots became available, but the cheerfully social atmosphere inside made sitting anywhere an enjoyable experience. The Grilled Cheese Bistro is a friendly place, and it attracts a friendly crowd.  Warning: crowd IS the operative word here.  This is not an ideal spot for an intimate dialogue, and if you are already part of a trio or larger, you may wait longer than the 15 minutes we did to get seated.GCB_Menu

The footprint of the GCB may be modest, but its décor is as snappy and pleasing as a high end pair of dress shoes, and at the same time as comfortable as a pair of favorite house slippers. As befits a bistro, it has a European flavor, with a streamlined, modern accent. Thick candles on the bar and tables lit after sundown add to the congenial ambiance. All in all, the Grilled Cheese Bistro is a great place to drop in, sit down, and strike up a conversation, with a one-of-a-kind menu that is a conversation starter in and of itself. If you haven’t discovered it already, we recommend checking it out. You’ll likely be happily chatting with fellow grilled-cheese fans before you even get in the door.

Website: The Grilled Cheese Bistro.

Fond Farewell to Yanni’s Casual Greek

It’s with a mixture of happiness and sorrow that we bid farewell to one of our favorite dining spots, Yanni’s Casual Greek Restaurant. Happiness because the owners, John “Yanni” and Rita, will be able to enjoy a retirement richly deserved and long overdue; sorrow because Yanni’s has been to us so much more than just a place for fabulous food, and we will miss the warm, wonderful people and the serene, welcoming atmosphere they all made possible. We clearly aren’t the only Yanni’s patrons who feel this way. During our last visits there, it seemed every person who came through the door had the same heartfelt message for John and Rita: “We are so happy for you, but we will miss you so much!” We were amazed by the turnout of “Yanni’s Graduates”, former staff members, who returned over this past weekend to work at Yanni’s one last time. It was a deeply moving tribute that spoke volumes about the kind of establishment John and Rita built and the environment they nurtured.

As the song says “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone”. Paradise will not be paved over for a parking lot, and we certainly wish the new operators success, but there’s no denying a beautiful and beloved era has come to a close. We join the many other fans of Yanni’s in thanking the “Yanni’s Family” – all of them – for the great meals, great times, and wonderful memories.



Introducing Russell W.’s Culinary Corner

As some may know, Russell W. Harris is more than just a good cook. He is a great cook, so much so that he has been asked to chef at many events, and offered more than one restaurateur opportunity. It has followed that he is often asked for his opinion of local eateries, from pick-up counters to the highest levels of five star dining. He also gets queried about the best places to find everything from nuclear-hot sauces to fresh vegetables. We will be posting some of those opinions and recommendations here, so be watching for updates to Russell W’s Culinary Corner.

Please note, these are not formal consumer reviews, nor are we affiliated with any venue discussed. We just like good food, and would like to share our more noteworthy experiences – as well as being able to put the answers to repeated questions in one place!

We also just might post if Russell W. is making chili, both when and where, so if you are a chili lover, you should really be watching. :o)

Bigger Waters

The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 gained further ground recently when it passed the Senate by a sizable margin. However, if you’ve been holding your breath on this one, you need to hold it a little longer – the bill still has to pass the House.

If you’re not sure if you should hold your breath, or even why, you probably ought to spend a little time on this website: http://rfris.nc.gov/fris/ ; especially if you live in the Hampton Roads area. FEMA has been in the process of updating flood zone maps nationwide, and some of the boundaries have changed. Even if you’re in an area that has never had an issue with flooding, your property may (now) lie within a defined flood zone.

This remapping project is one of the provisions of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. Intended originally to keep the swamped National Flood Insurance Program from sinking, Biggert-Waters burst forth with other not-so-intended consequences. Among them are premium surges that could make it difficult, and in some cases impossible, for affected homeowners to stay afloat. Enter the HFIAA, which may or may not wind up pulling the plug on Biggert-Waters altogether, depending on how many of its provisions get passed – and for how long.

Both Biggert-Waters and the consequent HFIAA have implications for homeowners nationwide. For those of us living in the Hampton Roads area (also known as Tidewater), the full scope of these potential impacts are still a matter of conjecture. That they will have an impact, one way or another, is certain.

July 2014 UPDATE: The waves from Biggert-Waters were high, and it would seem the fingers that aren’t plugging the leaks in the dam are busily pointing in various directions. Once again, there may not be time to do something right, but time can be found to do it over.

Lovin’ that home equity line? Maybe not so much!

Got a heads up about what at least one news article has dubbed “The Ten Year Trap”, and it’s an article worth reading.  Check it out here: http://hamptonroads.com/2014/01/10year-trap-primer-home-equity-lines-credit

We weren’t the only ones in the discussion group whose eyes widened over some of the key points.  Phrases like “monthly payments could more than double” and “balloon payment” can get your attention, even if they don’t relate to your own situation directly.  It might not hurt to have a pad of paper and pen handy to take a few notes – especially if you happen to have a home equity line of credit, or know someone who does.  Forewarned is forearmed!