Monday, June 29, 2009

Urban Legends

To ease back into academic life, I started reading a collection of ghost stories and local legends to the kids today with the theory we will keep reading things together and have some discussion time while we read. Like my own captive book club!

We read a few this morning and picked out 'what was wrong' with that story, such as the sitter who never showed up and the little girl was called by her dead grandfather during a storm, or the one about the baby who was buried alive and after 3 days they finally dug her up and she was fine.

We discussed 'what's really going on here' with the tales of teenagers being stalked on lover's lane and women who travel or live alone being targeted.

Finally, I ended the day with reading about a legend from Hawaii about the lava rocks from the Kilauea volcano being cursed and if you take one, you will have bad luck-but people do it anyway. Sounds simple enough. What got me was that so many people sent the rocks back, hoping to end their luck. I looked it up and found this piece by Jim Winpenny at :

You may have heard about it. There’s a legend that says Madam Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire who commands the volcanic action on Hawaii’s Big Island, lives in the fire pit in Halemauma’u crater, at the summit caldera of the Kilauea volcano.
You may also have heard that Madam Pele doesn’t like to have lava rocks purloined once they have cooled and settled. It is said that anyone who removes a piece of rock from the Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park will incur her wrath. Bad luck is certain to follow.
Well, visitors take them anyhow. They’re nice souvenirs and they travel well.
But there’s no question about this: Visitors who have taken rocks from Pele’s land have returned them in hopes of ending scary streaks of bad luck. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and most of the hotels are inundated with packages containing rocks from guilt-ridden vacationers who are intent upon reversing their sudden spates of misfortune.
Pets die. Jobs are lost. Houses burn down. Sudden and devastating illness strikes loved ones. Marriages break apart. These are actual quotes from former Big-Island vacationers:

Please take this rock and put it back somewhere on your island.
I have had very bad luck since it came into my life and I am very sorry I took
it. Please forgive me and I pray that once I send it
back where it comes from, my bad luck will go away.

Ever since we have taken items, we have had nothing but back luck and
medical problems. We apologize for taking the items, so we are returning
same to Hawaii.

We placed the rock last fall on a cast iron chair in our garden; this
spring the chair’s leg had fallen off. That’s the least of the problems
we have had since we’ve taken the rock.

Please return these rocks to their rightful spot. I never had so much
bad luck as I’ve had since I returned from Hawaii.

I picked up a small piece of lava somewhere, (we are rock and crystal
collectors), never dreaming of what might come. Since then we have lost
half of our retirement savings to a scam artist and will have to go back
to work. Please work your magic on
the enclosed piece of lava and
hopefully nothing worse will happen.

There are thousands more like those. The Volcano Post Office, Volcano National Park and lots of hotels find the returned rocks a nuisance (although they faithfully dispose of them by tossing them onto a big pile right behind the Volcano Visitor Center.)
The Volcano Gallery on the Big Island gladly accepts returned rocks. Once they receive the rocks they carefully wrap them in ti leaves and return them to a special location in Volcano close to Pele’s home, along with an offering of orchids to ask for her forgiveness. For the service, the gallery asks for a donation of $15, but will perform the service in any case.
What, you’ve been to Hawaii and have a lava rock? You can still return it. Here’s the address:
Rainbow Moon Attn: Lava Rock Return P.O. Box 699, Volcano, HI 96785

COOL! A legend with a curse and some form of proof!

09/10 Academic Year

Tomorrrow, June 30th, marks the end of our 'school year' and the first of July is the start of the new year. Our cover school runs 365 days, though we are only responsible for keeping records for the state-mandated 180 days. But you show me a child who does not learn something every day and I will show you a child who sits on their ass watching too many reruns.

In honor of the start of our 9th official year of homeschooling, I thought I would share pics of our first day 6 years ago. The kids were 3, 5 and 7.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunny side up!

I have been a little disgruntled by my severe tan lines. So today, I grabbed my book and the blanket tarp and headed out into the pasture a ways and proceeded to try to get some color in my cheeks.

After about 10 minutes, the dogs had headed for shade, I was covered in sweat, half-blind from the bright book pages and itchy from every tiny thing that stuck to me from grass seeds to gnats. It was not sexy or fun or even particularly effective. I lasted less than 20 minutes total. It's 6 hours later, my rear end and sides are bright pink and I feel sort of chapped. And I think my shoulders and arms are even darker. I have no idea how to even up a tan. Or if I should even expose swaths of naked skin to the sky, what if someone flew over in a plane? The sun flashing off my hiney could be interpreted as a signal for help or something.

But for the first few minutes, laying on my blanket in the warmth of the sun was bliss. Like eating good chocolate or diving into a warm pool on a cool day, a total immersion in comfort. I can't say I am interested in making a habit of it, but like skinny dipping-everyone should sunbathe nude at least once.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Dead Center

Me, Buford and Randy J went to the center of Alabama today, which is near Calera and the old train station.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Back Home

The trip went well, I wish it had been longer.
I have always wanted to set up and leave, go see what's nearby, hike and do stuff. Lately, I have been wanting more to sit at the campsite, to hang out and read or talk and stay put once I get set up. I think this has as much to do with the AC in my camper as anything else. It's so comfy to have climate control, beds and a fridge.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Gearing up

I always like the day before a camping trip. The house is clean, laundry done, we make lists and stacks of stuff we think we will need.

This is our 3rd trip of the season and since the first 2 were several days each, I have culled many things we have been bringing. The camper makes a big difference in comfort and so several tent-camping standards have fallen by the wayside. Going with friends each time has ensured I am more lax about going over my lists-if I don't have it, Gina will, or Cathy. Is it lazy? Communal thinking? Either way, when I had a pan full of pancakes somewhere in South Carolina and not a spatula to be found, Cathy came to the rescue.

I love camping, it's a glorified version of my favorite game as a child. I had 2 versions, an indoor one where my room flooded and I had to live on my bed and an outdoor version where I would pile toys and gear into a wagon and head west, in any direction. Blanket tents under the fig tree, stockpiling pine cones and twigs for a fire 'later', eating the rarely bought fruit leather that sometimes appeared in the cabinet during my provision-stocking raids.

As I got older, I would spend the week at school making lists of what I needed and early Saturday morning, get up and load an old rucksack with rope, water, a sandwich, a book, a knife. I ranged several miles a trip, once I came across a red dirt wash filled with slash pines that grew right through the tops of several abandoned cars. As I walked through the cars, I heard a moaning voice call, "Little girrrrllll, help me little girrrlllll." Of course I ran. I had spent most nights reading ghost stories and knew the signs.

Years later, I would think back and wonder what that really was. My idiot older brother trying to scare me? Someone dumped for dead in that place of abandonment calling for help? An actual ghost?

There was a pasture a couple miles from my house with a huge tree in the middle. Vines grew around it top to bottom, in a swirl, swallowing the whole trunk. I would head there and climb to the lower limbs and push through the vines where a natural nest was formed that had ledges and spiraled up the trunk higher than I wanted to go. It was cut down one day when I went to seek refuge there, that haunts me more than the voice in the pines.

So tomorrow we head of to camp, just 2 nights this time, but with dear friends again-who will have a cup or a spatula or a lighter if I don't. I wonder what my childhood self would think of my latest version of the old game. Making lists and throwing toys and gear into my 'wagon' and heading west. In any direction.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ears a Story for Ya

Benner has swimmers ear. We went to the doc today and he gave us the prescription for drops to knock it out. I went and got it filled at Wal-Mart since I needed breakfast foods anyway. They did not file with my insurance company because I did not have a prescription card-something I have not needed the other...3-4 times we have needed a prescription in the last year or so. I have never used the WM Pharmacy before.

When I said I wanted the prescription back to go to my usual pharmacy, I was told they had shredded it. I said I would just call and have the doc call in the prescription at my pharmacy. I realized it would be tomorrow before I could pick it up due to the late hour and Ben was in a lot of pain.

So, I paid full price for it, which was $2.64 more than it would have been with co-pay, or $22.64. I still am not happy about it and will not be using Wal-Mart Pharmacy again. But that's not the annoying part...

We got home and opened it for his first dose and I discovered this:

No, not 2 bottles, the one on the left is Ben's prescription for swimmers ear.
The one on the right is Jessie-the dog's-prescription for HER ear funk earlier this year.

The price for Ben- $20 office visit co-pay and $22.64 for the meds.
The price for Jess-$10 office visit and $5 for the meds.

I am not sure what the moral of the story is, but I do know what to do next time one of the kids get swimmers ear!

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Trimmed up the Channa today. She was getting unruly like.

Bath Day!

Mochii and Tanuki got a bath today! There is not much cuter than a piggie in the sink.
They all 4 got nail trims, too.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Only Child

Since my elder two have defected from the family and have been living 'in town' since Tuesday, Ben has been my only child. For the most part, he has been bored and lonesome as I am not much company and cleaning the house has zero appeal for a 9 year old kid.
Yesterday, I let him off the hook and we played on the Wii at Suzette's house for a couple hours. I offered to take him out for lunch today, apparently that is yet another indicator of how very boring I am. 'Lunch' is something you do WHILE you are doing something fun, not a destination within itself.
Thank goodness Jake and Chan will be home this evening, so he won't actually die from the boredom of it all. And, in the meantime, I found a recipe for goo on the side of a can of corn starch.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Thompson Creek

Yesterday was a nice day, we went to Bankhead for our first group wild swim of the summer. Well...5th really. Devil's Den Falls and Cheaha Lake in April and Long Shoals and Turkey Creek in May. There are 8 more group swims planned for the summer.