Great Balls of Fire!

People here in Northern Virginia are way different from the ones I grew up with in Connecticut.  Folks here just can’t seem to get away from the Civil War.  And now, I guess I can’t either.

Now, I can understand the interest.  That war is still all around us.  After all, Richmond, Virginia was the Capitol of the Confederate States of America.  The first battle was fought here in Manassas and the last battle and surrender took place here too, in Appomattox.  There are hundreds of known and marked battlefields where you can touch history, where you can learn the details of the battles and who did what to whom.  All is laid out clearly, respectfully.  We Americans do a great job at battlefield parks.

Throughout most of the year there are also reenactments of battles.  From what I’ve gathered, though, this mostly involves men dressing up in gray uniforms and blue ones and hanging out in front of a campfire.  They shoot the breeze — instead of each other, which is modern life for you — being a Civil War participant is much better in this century than it was back in the day.  Nowadays you can avoid the bullets, the bayonets, the cannon fire, the dysentery and, and, and ….

Recently, the Civil War got even closer.  You see, a history buff bought the land across the street.  And he really wants to feel the history at home.  And of course, that means history is at my doorstep.

Now, the property across the street includes about 10 acres. John and I thought that no one would ever buy it.  It’s just a weird piece of land.  It’s a triangle, with woods on the left, woods on the right and an open, grassy area in the middle, where the owner may not build.

When we ran into Beau, our soon-to-be-neighbor, he introduced himself.  “I’ve always wanted property with a ‘meadow,’” he told us, with misty eyes and a ramrod straight back.

“Actually, it’s a natural gas pipeline,” said John helpfully (because that’s what it is.)  It is a potentially explosive piece of property.  We told him that before he bought it, mind you.  When he still had time to change his mind.

But Beau has a dream.  Now we have a nightmare.

Beau didn’t specify just what his dream was.  Perhaps we should have known what was in store for us by his pronounced drawl.  Or maybe by his military bearing.   Or maybe when he didn’t know the difference between a peaceful meadow and a grassy knoll.  Can you say “Stonewall Jackson”?  Can you say “Great Balls of Fire”?  Can you say “Rhett and Scarlett”?

You guessed it.  To our surprise (horror?), Beau built Tara, right across the street.  Or maybe it’s Twelve Oaks.  I can’t quite decide.  Maybe it’s Tara Oaks, but that sounds like a new flavor of oatmeal.

OK, I cheated. The real one is (thankfully) hiding behind trees from my Yankee camera. (Google Image)

To be fair, well, the house isn’t like the McMansions that surround our more modest house.  It isn’t quite as large as I expected either (apparently they skipped some of the wings found in a real southern plantation).  But Tara Oaks is from another era, one that ended in 1865, also here in Virginia.

More visible to me and folks driving by, the property is surrounded by Civil war-style stockade fences, just right for the boys in gray to hide behind while shooting Yankees.

The real fence. It surrounds the property.

But the thing that worries me most is that there is one spot on the side of the meadow where they leveled the ground and put in a rectangular bit of asphalt.  You can see it in the upper right.  This spot is suitable for only one purpose:

And I just know it will be pointed towards the Yankee across the street.  Especially if Beau ever reads this piece.


Filed under Humor, Real Estate

45 responses to “Great Balls of Fire!

  1. Pingback: Got History? | FiftyFourandAHalf

  2. Now that neighbor, hopefully, is one of a kind! Right???? LOL!! Great piece! Glad he’s not on my street.


    • Thanks! Well, he’s one of a kind on my street, but Virginia, and the South, are full of folks who dream that “The South Will Rise Again!”


  3. Yup, enjoyed this one too. My biological father was a Yankee from near Boston and and re-married to a Virginian Bell. They moved to Appomattox and lived there for the last 20 years or so of his life. But he never stopped being a Yankee or Damned Yankee to the Virginians!

    I’ve been to the surrendering grounds several times and each time stood on the threshold of the small room where Lee and Grant met to end hostilities between their armies. I hold that place in awe and reverence, and can almost hear their chairs squeak on the floor and their pens scratch across that precious paper paper as the two war-weary Generals respectfully worked out the details.



    • My, my, Russ. Have you read all of my posts today?! Thanks so much for all your comments/reading.

      John and I have yet to get to Appomattox, and it is one place I’m really looking forward to visiting. We were just back at Manassas last weekend and I’ve been working on a post about it. Stay tuned!


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  7. Firstly, thanks for subscribing to my blog. I hope to get to knw you over the coming months.
    What a great post. My neighbours are very dull and pedestrian compared to yours so I shall enjoy reading more about Beau. BTW I loved Gone With The Wind and thought all southerners were called Scarlet and Rhett when I was growing up in foggy London.


    • We’ll see how much fodder Beau gives me. Just by building his house he has given me quite a bit! Now that I am surrounded by southerners (and married to a “Unionist” Virginian to boot) I have been disappointed to never having met a Rhett, and only one Scarlett!


  8. Fun and instresting. A touch of history to blend with the present times. I think It’s actually great that there’s a gllmpse of the past as long as their safe. Great post.


    • Thank you, Island Traveler —
      I saw your comment, hit “approve” and then it went away — to this spot I now see. I wanted to check out your blog and find just which islands you travel to. It sounds wonderful!

      Welcome to my blog. Now, I’m off to your island(s).


  9. Great post…love your sense of humor and writing style. And as a Canadian I must confess that I share your fear that you may be attacked one day while getting the latest bills and fliers from your mailbox…even though we won the war of 1812-1814 and sent the foe back across the border to the good ole USA I have dreams (nightmares) that one day soon they will be back in droves… Oh, wait a minute–that has already come true–they’re called tourists now and like to drive up to Canada in July with skis loaded on the tops of their SUVs and not believing us when we try to explain that Canada actually does have a summer season (albeit sometimes a rather short one)! So we finally make up directions and send them on their way to search for the “big hill covered in cold white stuff–you can’t miss it–just keep driving.”
    Then I pick up my mail and head home, safe again for the moment.


    • Thanks, Sylvia, for the comment and the history refresher. I’m pretty sure that the Virginia history textbooks don’t cover that particular era. Nothing before the Civil War, and nothing after.

      I keep my head down whenever getting my mail since Beau moved in. Or send my husband, a native Virginian. Or wait until dark!

      Thanks for stopping by!


  10. Pingback: Reblog: Great Balls of Fire! (via FiftyFourandAHalf) | Renovating Rita

  11. I’ll never forget the summer I moved to Atlanta (I am from NY/CT) and went to a picnic at a place called Stone Mountain. There was a laser show (should have been my first clue) that commemorated the Confederate Army’s efforts. Then several (not just one) person shouted “The South Will Rise Again!”

    Then I slunk my Yankee self out of there.


    • We displaced Yankees need to keep our heads down and speak softly so nobody shoots us. Or builds Tara Oaks across the street. Or brings in a Cannon. Or elects Rick Perry. There are so many things for us to fear!

      Thanks for stopping by — I’d lost your blog along with a zillion others. Sorry I haven’t been there in a bit.


  12. Oh, boy. Oh boy. I’m glad I got here in time to witness the neighbor wars. If they put in a cannon, I know a place you can get a bigger one. Nothing says zip it like a lot of artillery. Thanks for the tour of the south.


    • I will be in touch. Perhaps you can locate a machine gun turret for me. That way I can take care of the rebs across the street AND the guy next door who lives in a forest but who can’t stand the sight of a single leaf on his lawn. We call him “Leaf-Blower Man.” I’m looking forward to hearing him work during our feast later today!

      Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks for visiting! Now it’s my turn to check yours out.


  13. RVingGirl

    Hi there. I have named you for the Leibster Award. I love your style and variety of topics so go ahead and post the award for yourself. You just have to follow the usual rules so I am told.


  14. And his name is Beau??? Who would’ve guessed?

    Very funny!

    BTW, RVing Girl is my little sister!

    I’ve subscribed to your blog and would like to add you to my blog roll. Hope that’s okay.


    • Well, not EVERY southerner is named Rhett or Ashley, you know …

      How cool that you and your little sister are both blogging. Are you in the islands, too?

      I’ve read your blog and subscribed, but Word Press does not want me to follow anybody — all my subscriptions vanished and I followed folks so that I didn’t need to remember their names (and there is a piece in that!). It is making me crazy.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Happy Turkey Day!


  15. What can you do, right? All is fair in blogging and neighbors. I have often thought about writing a post or two about mine BUT I have nothing good to say EVER. And since I am from the south, the old saying, If you have nothing good to say… (well you know the rest), prohibits me from expressing my view from my back porch. One day I might just breakdown and get it all out. Until then, I will enjoy reading your posts about your neighbor.


    • Did you mean the saying “If you have nothing good to say, come sit down right here by me”? Was that Dorothy Parker?

      So write about your neighbors. Who knows, somebody might learn something about their own behavior, idiosyncrasies, bad taste (can you say “Beau”) and STOP!

      That said, would have been far more reluctant to write about Beau if I had a zillion readers in case he was one of them. But by the time I get that many, this post will be history!


  16. RVingGirl

    “Suffering Succotash!” watch out
    Great blog and I think maybe Beau (such a Southern moniker too) will become very well known by many of us in the blogging world.
    Last night my daughter called late in a kind of a whisper telling me about her 80yr old neighbors fighting. Only, as a Bermudian, she said, “Mom Mr and Mrs X are HOOKIN’ like crazy. The forks are flying and it is hilarious. I think I could start my own blog about this neighborhood” ha ha The funniest part of this is, WE are her neighbors on the other side. Oh Oh!
    Excellent post!


    • It’s hard writing about your neighbors; although easier since I only met Beau once, when he told us he’d bought “the meadow.” My husband was very concerned when I told him I was writing about Beau: “We DO have to live near him!” But it’s ok, because John rarely reads it …

      You should write about the neighbors if they’re funny. Just move soon.


  17. I’m reading alone having no idea how this would end. Heck … I even thought “helicopter pad” for the asphalt. Meanwhile, good luck … and if you suddenly disappear, we have an idea of what happened.


    • That’s exactly why I felt compelled to write it. I’m afraid. I’m very afraid. Maybe Miss Demure Restraint is right and I should capitulate … nah!

      We honestly can’t think of what else that asphalt could be for, because it is much too small for a helipad. And if my new neighbor would share an occasional ride, heck I’d welcome a helipad! Nope. There will be a cannon there. Perhaps he is mixing up his American wars and having it walked down from Fort Ticonderoga.

      Thanks for writing!


  18. JSD

    As soon as I saw the picture of the cannon, an image came to me of Yosemite Sam getting ready to fire it upon you (or Bugs Bunny). But in my mind, I’ll have to add a southern drawl to his hysterical, raspy voice. Looking forward to more about Beau.


  19. I suggest you hang a Confederate flag, swear allegiance to General Robert E. Lee, start saying y’all and hunker down. In other words . . . convert!


  20. I sincerely hope Beau doesn’t read this blog.


    • Me too. He might not wait for the cannon. He might just pull out his Whitworth rifle. I’m pretty sure my husband John, a native Virginian (with Yankee sympathies) will be getting the mail from now on.


  21. Funny that you should say that these things only happen to me. Thirty years ago, a friend of mine said something similar after I was late to work after being held prisoner by a newspaper vending machine. Another story for another blog!

    My father once confessed that weird things like this happened to him, too. Apparently it is genetic.

    But I pray I am wrong about the cannon. Sometimes I have to get the mail, you know!


  22. This could only happen to you. Seriously. Only you. There’s something about you that just attracts great blog topics right into your life, your neighborhood, and soon your home. Oh, it’s coming! And whatever it is, it could only happen to you. Thank heaven you have a way of sharing with the rest of us because this kind of crap never happens to me, and it’s so damn funny. I’m counting on you being right about the cannon!


  23. Can’t help but smile reading this. I used to feel secure in Wisconsin, but we are also being invaded by a southern influence these days. Where do Yankees get to go to feel at home?


  24. Count yourself lucky. I have a friend who lives down the street from the Lender’s Bagels family and they have a big bagel family on their lawn. Really! My friends kids think it’s a hoot, but the grownups aren’t quite so impressed.


    • That’s hilarious. Which side did the bagel family fight for — North or South?

      I’ll say it three times for luck: I am a lucky woman, there isn’t a giant bagel family across the street. I am a lucky woman, there isn’t a giant bagel family across the street. I am a lucky woman, there isn’t a giant bagel family across the street. And then I’ll duck when I go for the mail!


  25. You are fast at commenting tonight! Thanks.

    I will try to play nice with Beau, but I would rather wax lyrical about the open land. Oh well. At least I can laugh! Or maybe turn that cannon …


  26. Beau sounds like he will be providing you with plenty of material for your blog.


Play nice, please.

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