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Saturday, August 4, 2012


This past weekend, we did FloydFest.  It was an extended family vacation of sorts.  We set up Wednesday in the Healing Arts Village, which is a little cul-de-sac on the main drag of FloydFest.  We butt up to the Children's Universe and are just over the way from the Main Stage. The Healing Arts Village is sponsored by the Blue Ridge School of Massage and Yoga.  It is a peaceful oasis in the midst of a rapidly growing world music and arts festival held annually near Floyd, Virginia.

We call ourselves HomeBase.  We had to write a little bio/blurb for the FloydFest schedule brochure so we came up collectively with the following:   "Homebase:  a gathering place where people experience real relationship with each other.  A non-denominational place of sanctuary, celebration, peace, love and healing."
Pretty lofty, huh?  Somehow my name got associated with the whole thing and they called it Lynne Florin and Friends.  They chose a picture of a statue of the mother Mary in head covering and prayer hands for my bio.  Haha!  I guess that's what happens if you neglect to send in a picture of yourself.  The powers-that-be pick one for you, and then holy mother, you are supposed to live up to that gig. People that know me find that particularly funny.  I sometimes have a sarcastic tongue and the mouth of a sailor-in-training.

Oh, but how I typically digress and stray away from my point here.  From our vantage point in HomeBase and our wanderings out into the "real world" of FloydFest, there was much commonality in theme.  We were celebrating life in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of SW, VA.  Time and time again I heard people comment how beautiful our little section of the world is:  from the stage, in passing, from vendors, from the myriads of great people we met.  As night fell, 12,000 people shared the unbelievable night sky that we sometimes take for granted around here.  One couple I met couldn't believe that a short hike over the hill from the Main Stage and they could see clear into West VA, dozens of mountain ranges and hundreds of miles away.

So sometimes it's good being a tourist in your own neck of the woods.  Sometimes it takes the eyes of another to recognize your own blessings.  And it is good to be content on this beautiful Blue Ridge Mountain morning.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


I'm looking for a little blog fodder this morning, keeping in mind that I am unashamedly trying to allure you into packing up your tent and heading to our neck of the woods in SW VA.  I may be folksy or sometimes even a bit too familial but you should realize that my main objective is to entice you with my words and to sell you a little bit of heaven here in Floyd, Virginia. You can readily get that done at www.floydvirginialand.com.  Our own little family business.  

So, this morning as I am facing a bit of writer's block, I cheated and googled Floyd, VA.  And then just for giggles, I added the word "hippie" to the mix. Do you know that there were 1,400,000 google results?  HA!  So for fun, I'll throw out a few of reasons that Floyd has been designated one of the friendliest places in the country to foster your inner hippie.

1)  As of this writing there are six Floyd County listings on the Fellowship for Intentional Community listing page.  That translates to at least six communes in a county with a population of 15,279.

2)  Organic farms and farm stores abound in Floyd County and include Seven Springs,  Waterbear Mountain Farm, Riverstone Farm, Sweet Providence,  Full Circle Farm, Good Food Good People,  Harvest Moon Market and a whole bunch of other yummy locavore and eco-friendly farm type places.  Restaurants that serve organic and local fare include Mickey G's Bistro, Oddfellas Cantina, Natasha's Market Cafe, The Pine Tavern Restaurant, The Blue Ridge Cafe and Chateau Morrisette Winery.  There is some good eating in that one stop-light town.  And, it's next to impossible to get lost.

3)  FloydFest.  Our own little family friendly music Festival featuring roots and progressive music from around the world.  With some killer performers on the 2012 lineup.  www.floydfest.com.   Need I say more?

Well, I'm getting a little hungry right about now.  Funny how everything quickly turns around to the yumminess of the regional food.  Wonder if Mickey G's is open for lunch on the 4th of July?

Thursday, June 21, 2012


We turned on the AC last night on the mountain.  If you follow me or know me, you realize I'm somewhat of a windows thrown open, sheer draperies stuck to the screen, anti-air conditioning purist. Since I'm not very political, I tend to protest dumb stuff, like air-conditioned air.  I don't quite trust it.  I just don't like being cooped up.  I like to breathe real air, feel breezes, listen to birdsong.  That's a large part of why I live where I do, where we somewhat pridefully recount that "we are 10 degrees cooler up here on the Mountain."

So, I'm trying to look at air-conditioning as a luxury, not a necessity. And not get too claustrophobic here.  After all, I can go outside.  And even here from my writing table, I can SEE the breezes blowing the big tulip poplar leaves outside the side yard window.

Back in the day, many big city folks had small cabins up here on the Creek.  A few of the darling houses still line our road, picturesquely tucked among the abundantly blooming wild rhododendron.  A couple of the houses have burned, leaving only stone steps leading up to old chimneys.  Wild looking.  Some of our neighbors still commute up on the weekend, escaping big city work weeks for mountain cabin life.  

I love the stories that circulate around my creek.  At one point some entrepreneur cemented in the creek and built a good sized swimming pool.  I'm thinking that didn't last long.  All water originates up here on the Bent Mountain/Floyd County line, and that sweet little boulder strewn trout stream can pretty readily morph to raging river strength after a heavy rain or two.  Rumor has it that back in the 40's Big Band Orchestras would come up and play alongside the creek and some great parties would ensue.  I kind of long for those days, pre-heat pump, when driving up Bent Mountain with anticipation of the Bottom Creek swimming hole was all the climate control you needed on a hot summer Saturday.  

Saturday, April 14, 2012


If you, gentle Reader, permit me a sweeping generalization, honour me thusly.  (Oh, my.  Don't ever let me read 17th century English poetry early in the morning and then try to blog.  I don't want to be the one to give you just cause to upchuck your oatmeal.)

But the word is this.  American vacations have evolved.  Coming from an ex-travel agent, these are fighting words.  The days of the $13,000 "Grande Tour" are pretty much done for.  Trends are currently post "simple living", and a couple of decades past extravagant living.  It is not a popular choice to spend too much money, even if you have it.  Whereas I used to adhere to the concept of "selling up", (after all you get what you pay for) now I would go directly to selling "smart".

Don't get me wrong.  People still want to retreat.  We all work hard and hopefully are wise enough to store up a bit to reward us for our labours.  (oh I warned you)  But we do that differently in 2012.   And there you have it.  Finally, the reason for this post.  The Small House Movement: Floyd County style.

In case I haven't mentioned it lately, we sell land.  Not just any land, but drop dead, slap-your-mama, crazy beautiful Floyd County land.  We believe that an investment in unique and spectacular land is probably more important than in whatever abode you decide to place on top of all that beauty.

A few years ago we (well Larry, and I added my two-cents usually just late enough to make the job difficult) built a cabin in the woods.  Electricity runs off a generator and we "take our toilet" in an old fashioned outdoor privy.  We warm our french pressed coffee kettle on the woodstove. We were pretty much off the grid, before that was mainstream cool.

And, did I mention it's also beautiful?  Lots of found lumber and some gorgeous wormy chestnut trim board that we were lucky enough to discover in an old tobacco barn that sits on some property that we have for sale.  We used the beautifully hewn and seasoned tobacco slats for railings in the loft.  Well, in this case words don't do the place justice.  So I've added some pictures right here.

We've also discovered a lot of like-minded folks who are looking for land in Floyd County to build their dream cabin.  Not a dream mansion, mind you, like some of that stuff that goes on in the gated communities in western North Carolina.  We've found that most of the time we spend at the cabin is outside anyway.  We wanted something comfortable, smart and affordable.  Did I also mention that it's beautiful?  Oh yeah, just last paragraph.

Please indulge me once again.

"Ah, yet, ere I descent to the grave,
May I a small house and large garden have;
And a few friends, and many books, both true,
Both wise, and both delightful too!"
Abraham Cowley

Go enjoy your Saturday!  What the heck are you doing inside anyway?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


I've traveled a bit in my life.  I was born in the mid-west, which may surprise some of you that automatically tag me Yankee because I didn't grow up in the South.  (Also, please notice how I've learned to capitalize South, but not any other region.  That should make you happy and excuse me for the fact that I'm a Yankee.  Or not.)

When I was about 9 years old my dad got a job in NYC and we moved to Westfield NJ until I was a freshman in high school.  Another job opportunity and an inbred wanderlust uprooted our family once again and this time we ended up in Bad Hamburg, Germany, a suburb of Frankfurt.  We stayed about a school year and then landed in La Celle St. Cloud, a suburb of Paris.  (Actually I'm seeing a trend in this musing already, I was a kid of the burbs.  Funny, cause I've spent most of my adult life on Bent Mountain, not a suburb at all.)  Well the journey continued and we landed back in NJ for a year or so, and then off it was to college for me.  I chose Roanoke College.  Reason number one being that when I first started looking at schools I realized that the Southern boys I had met in Germany and France were much nicer and more polite than the boys I met up north. Now I realize that was something that their mamas had instilled deep in their souls, teaching them to yes ma'am as they were lying through their teeth.  Reason number two was it was the prettiest place on God's green earth.  So much for going to college for an education.  That's kinda overrated anyway.

Well anyway, I spent four years in Salem and in the midst of all that fell for my northern next door neighbor who still shares my Southern abode.  When we married Larry bought an alternative energy store in town and we moved back to Virginia.  After marriage and before kids I took a job selling travel and got to see more of the world I so dearly loved to explore.  I went to London for the weekend and spent 10 days with a bunch of crazy travel agents in Singapore and Hong Kong.  Went to Bermuda a half dozen times.  Cruised through the Caribbean, jetsetted to Switzerland.

So the gist of this musing is thus.  I've spent a near lifetime flying in and out of the Roanoke airport.  And each time, EACH TIME, I am blown away by that descent.  Every season of every year.  What glory!  What beauty! I'm home!  

Saturday, March 3, 2012


I started a new interim ministry job a couple of months ago which has proven very lucrative for my mental health aside from putting a little folding money in my pocket. Unfortunately said employ has cut down a bit on my unlimited time for introspective musings.  So I enlisted the gentleman of the house who will now duly impress you with his manly pursuits. 

Harvesting Trees:  a Floyd Virginia Tradition

One of the great benefits of owning your own forested mountain land is the ability to harvest and mill lumber for various projects from woodworking to home construction. Recently, I found myself in need of a little more storage space around our farm so I decided to enclose one of the existing sheds attached to our barn.  A simple enough project in itself, however, finding rough sawn lumber to match the existing barn siding proved to be difficult.  While studying my shed project I noticed a tall straight white pine about 28. inches in diameter.  The tree had very few limbs, was easily accessible, not more than a hundred feet away from where I was standing.  A number of larger trees surrounded it; in fact the white pine seemed to be crowding out the more valuable hardwoods. 

How do you get from a standing tree to a pile of lumber ready to be used for your project?  I called the local Floyd County Forestry Department who gave me a number of saw mill operators that might be willing to take on the task.  I found a great sawyer by the name of David Slusher who lives on Black Ridge Road on the way to Chateau Morrisette Winery.  David operates a portable band saw mill and is highly experienced. All he needed was a list of lumber sizes and some logs and he’d “get started right away”.  

So, out the door I went, cut down the tree, sawed it into lengths 6 inches longer than the finished boards I would need, loaded the logs onto a one ton dump truck and it was off to Black Ridge.  A few days later David called to tell me my order was ready.  Within an hour, I was back at the barn with a load of freshly sawn lumber ready for my board and batten project. 

This was really the first time I had ever harvested my own timber for my own lumber demands. It dawned on me that people have been doing this in one form or another since the earliest days of colonization.  Of course with time and progress, techniques may have changed, but the end results remain the same.  If you own a timber rich tract of land, no matter what the size, with a little knowledge and careful consideration you can harvest enough lumber for your own needs, save money, support local tradesmen, steward resources and carry on a sustainable lifestyle richly steeped in SW Virginia tradition.     

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Floyd recently got a big time write up in the National Endowment for the Arts magazine.  The other articles in the November 2011 issue were about the Telluride Film Festival and summer theater festivals in the Berkshires.  Heady but strange competition for "A Place Out of Time:Virginia's FloydFest is Where the Music Pops".

One of the things that makes FloydFest so super intriguing is the eclectic Blue Ridge Mountains location.    People caravan in expectant of great music; but the unbelievably beautiful mountaintop location is many times a welcome surprise.  Festival founder Kris Hodges attributes a lot of success of FloydFest to the fertile artistic soil inherent to Floyd County.  "The community supports people with fresh ideas and living.  Since it was first settled, it has had such a strong foundation of creativity that it really affords the opportunity to create your own life."

His wife, co-founder Erika Johnson elaborates "With the Appalachian musicians, organic farmers, potters, timber framers, yurt makers, midwives, and even a doctor who does house calls and runs a barter clinic, you really do have a place out of time, where the outside world doesn't dictate how people live, think, or create.  We pride ourselves on having a unique haven from the rest of the world.  And we were able to take FloydFest into this mix and represent that."

So, on this first real blustery cold day of winter, I am pining for the warmest days of the year which  usually surround the week of FloydFest.  But just like we Floydians don't do things quite like the rest of the world, we also do summer on Floydtime and with a Floyd thermostat set at about ten to fifteen degrees cooler than the rest of Southwest VA.

PS  have you checked out the 2012 festival line-up?  Ahhhh....a welcome summertime musing for another blustery winter day.