Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Random Pics

Front row at the drive-in

The moon Sunday night

The Webkinz I had for a couple of hours, until Ben saw him.
I think of him as 'Temp'.  *sigh*

 Below is a little cemetery that is falling apart, it's off Six-Mile Road, we stop in a couple times a year, yesterday we stopped because there's a new geocache outside the fence.

We miss thee from our home dear mother,
We miss thee from thy place,
A shadow o’er our life is cast,
We miss the sunshine of thy face. 
We miss thy kind and willing hand,
Thy fond earnest care,
Our home is dark without thee –
We miss thee every where.

One by one earth’s ties are broken,
as we see our love decay;
and the hope so fondly cherished
brighten but to pass away.
One by one our hopes grow brighter
as we near the shining shore,
for we know across the river wait
the loved ones gone before.

With the recent logging, there's a view from the road down to the valley.
It's a pretty drive, but steep and winding. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Down the Rabbit Hole

The kids tried out for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Saturday and did very well, we got news they had been cast late Sunday night.  Chandler will be the Duchess, Ben is playing 2 smaller roles, an animal and a Spade and Jake has been cast as the Gryphon, but they have asked if he would consider the larger role of the White Rabbit if their first choice could not do it.  The casting is not settled at all, it might change by the time they start rehearsals in June, but that's where things are for now.  Matt might or might not be the Knave of Hearts.  I will not be doing any of the roles, it's another musical.

In other news, this weekend has been busy!  We were out all of Saturday then last night until 2 and ALL dang day today.  I plan to stay home until Thursday night, it's too hot and I am ready to be here a while.  I am sure June will not be my favorite month with rehearsals 4 nights a week and then Show Week.  July looks nice.  August will be a little crazy with 8 performances spread over 3 weeks, then September off and October-vacation for a couple of weeks.  We are kicking around camping at Disney or maybe just along the Atlantic Coast.  Maybe still going out west.  It's all balancing on basically house repairs and how much all of that will end up dipping into the budget and Matt's job.  Nothing is happening to his job, but he's traveling more and has more responsibility which means we can't just leave town at the end of the quarter or other busy times for the project he's on.  If we can't plan a 2-week trip until mid-October, it could be snowing in the Rockies already. 

At any rate, things will work out, I am sure of that much. 

Griping About Movies

I am sure there are bigger Joss fans than myself out there, but I consider myself pretty enthralled and have thought of him as a major talent for many years and I have watched everything he's been involved in, most things more than twice.  I was thrilled when he did Avengers and Matt and Jake went to see it opening weekend and were like squeally 7 year olds about  how great it was.

I finally got the chance to see it last night a the drive-in along with Battleship.  I have to confess, I was not as taken with it as I imagined, several points confused me and did not seem to go along with what I had come to believe about various characters.  In no order, here are most: Black Widow had more upper body strength than what was implied with her stick-like arms, still...a human female can hang on to the exhaust system of a speeder flying through the air.  A speeder that just came into the atmosphere from outer space somewhere.  I mean, the used a portal, so it probably wasn't THAT hot.  Maybe it was not hot at all, maybe they used non-fuel to propel it.  By 'it', I mean the ships that could travel through space, yet be taken down by an arrow that made them explode like fireworks.  That makes me think there's some fuel involved.

The battle between the heroes.  Is it so much more important to beat the other guy to a pulp and take back your prisoner-who got left on a mountain somewhere over that way while you have a three way with 2 other guys fighting to keep Loki under lock and key.  The same Loki who sat down to wait to be recaptured.  I know the whole Thor vs Iron Man and so on is fantasy material pissing contest, but...the bad guy was just sitting there, not in any kind of restraints.  If he had not planned to get put on the ship, he could have just strolled away and stolen himself a diet Dr. Pepper and sat at the park looking at the little picture of Hawkeye on the side between sips while plotting his next move.

Next thing, I understand Mjolnir is magical/enchanted, whatever.  Like Excalibur.  Like Tetsusaiga.  But Hulk could not pick it up.  Too heavy.  For HULK.  Then later, he saves the day by smashing a big dragon ship in the nose and stopping it dead, presumably killing everyone inside it...or maybe it's a living ship?  I never was clear on that, there did not seem to be landing gear.  Okay, so that makes me think that Thor could have done the same thing with Mjolnir and Hulk's smash attack is just redundant.

I just sat there feeling horrible for Manhattan.  They wrecked SO many buildings and it was so needless.  I guess the tornadoes were more psychologically damaging than I realized because all I could think was how long it was going to take before the area was back to normal-and how HUGE the pile at the landfill would be.  Or maybe they can reopen the portal and Hulk can throw the trash through the hole.  Or, jump up there.

I was not enthralled with the movie.  Hawkeye has barely any kind of back story, I felt like he was the little brother someone got stuck watching, even if he was cute and played well with the rest of the kids, I did not have any feel for him.  Black Widow was nearly as unfamiliar, though there was much chatting about her back story and she's kind of one-dimensional.  Female spy who uses her wiles to get information, has a heart of gold under that leather-clad bosom and can fight dirty though always seems to be searching for redemption.  I did like that she seemed actually afraid of Hulk.

And that brings me to the Hulk.  Okay...when did he start playing well with others?  Was it that he had a real enemy to focus his anger on?  Then why did he punch Thor?  The same Thor who had a tiny little knife thrust into his belly that weakened him enough to make his landing shaky and his arm all wobbly and then just went away.   And, finally, though not Avengers-specific, I don't like that Hulk jumps.  He's like a big, angry green flea.  I find it freaky and since this is my blog and my opinion, I am adding it.

There were moments I liked, of course.  Even the parts I am griping about, I still enjoyed watching.  I just hoped for...more.  Or something else.  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Fishy Morning

Oh, my children do not like to be woken up and if they are woken, they want a road trip.

When I came around at 6 this morning, there were general dismayed sounds among the whining and groaning.  And that was mostly just me.  They got up and dressed themselves, then milled around.  Ben sat on the foot of his bed for 15 minutes staring blankly at his shoe.  He did not eat breakfast and had to make do with a banana.  There were complaints about getting into the car, about who got to sit where.  It was like having sit-com children.

We arrived and started fishing, Daddy caught a turtle, Chan caught 3 fish, the boys and I caught nothing.  Everything was put back in the pond more or less unharmed.  We put in our best effort for over 2 hours, not the WHOLE 2 hours, but here and there some effort was applied.

The boys squabbled, Ben pestered me until I made him move elsewhere.  Jake gave up and began sighing.  I kept chattering away and likely scared off all the fish.

When we left, Daddy invited us to breakfast, so that cheered the kids right up.  Jake drove the van and as we turned on to the main road, Chandler rolled down her window and yelled, "HEY EMILY!" toward Emily's house, about a mile or so away.  Jake thought Emily was standing in the road and promptly forgot to drive, he was so excited.

I kept us out of the ditch and we kept going toward town.  About 5 minutes later, Jake announced someone was following us and proceeded to make a quick turn.  The red truck-containing my father-turned right behind us, which freaked Jake out even more.  By the time we got to the restaurant, I was VERY glad when he finally turned off the engine.  I was even more glad when he put the van in park before trying to remove the keys, even though I think I have told him 60 times at least to put it n park, THEN kill the engine. 

Daddy remains convinced that fishing is the very thing that all kids love and is already planning to go with us again, though other than running back and forth keeping hooks baited, he did not actually fish himself. 

There were about a dozen red-winged blackbirds making a HUGE racket all morning

Chandler gets her fishing ability straight from me.

Ben was his usual charming self...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Speddy-goes and other losses

I have enjoyed the kids at every age, even as teeny squirmy people who screamed and were 'difficult'.  I like them now, with their troubled skin and changing voices, with the propensity to still sleep with stuffed animals yet stay up until 1 in the morning.  I like their independence as much as I enjoyed being needed for everything from lid removal to fixing owies.  I still get asked what's for dinner, so I know I am not obsolete just yet.

I miss certain things.  Morning snuggles that have been abbreviated to quick hugs or just a head in the door hello.  Watching Little Nemo at least once a day for over a year.  Walking around toys in every room.  Nowadays, if it's not slobbery and squeaky and belonging to the little dog, there ARE no toys.

But mostly I miss the way they used to talk.  Speddy-goes for Spagetti-os.  The 'moke went uppa chivney.  The couch had squishions.  The middle of the alphabet was Elmo Inno Pea.  Helicopters were hob-copties.  We ate at Chachie Bell.  Jake picked shobbie shobbies instead of flowers.  A fork was a bean, they loved to get fin fies with their kids meals and eat them dipped in cats-cup.  Dozens of other words, lost.  We still make up words, our own vocabulary mixed with favorite quotes from books and movies, inside jokes and references only we and our close friends ever get.  But it's not the same as those spontaneous mispronunciations of the single-digit years, when we drove a car via starting the bengine by putting keys in the bignition. 

The other day, we were crossing a busy parking lot and I reached for Ben's hand-which is bigger than mine-and it wasn't there.  He was already ahead of me, crossing safely all on his own.  Is this what being a mother is really about?  After nearly 17 years of assisting, am I destined to cross all future roads alone?  Maybe the chicken was lonesome for her chicks.

I am excited for the future, I want to see what they do, who they become.  But, some days, I get nostalgic and all too aware of how quickly the time is going by, how much is gone already, changes I never agreed to, growth spurts that have left me behind, interests that are private and activities that are never preceded with a "MOM!  Watch THIS!" anymore.

It's hard being outgrown.  Probably the hardest thing I've ever done.

Monday, May 21, 2012


I stumbled upon Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series kind of backward.  I saw the TV series via Netflix, then read a couple graphic novels (Welcome to the Jungle and Storm Front) and FINALLY found the science-fiction section at the library where I discovered a whole row of the Dresden Files!

Granted, I read 80% non-fiction and the fiction I do read is nearly all from the young adult section, my only delves into adult fiction or specifically, science fiction tend to revolve around Charlaine Harris and my love-hate relationship with her heroines and inability to NOT read the next book in the series.  It's like brain candy.

Jim Butcher, in creating Harry Dresden, has fulfilled a need I was unaware I had.  I love Harry, he's so stupidly optimistic and so brilliant and yet unaware, each book is like a ride.  My buddy Suzette has a thing for a cheesy series involving a MacGyver-like hero who can overcome anything in his path, rescue the girl and magically maintain his solid good looks.  Harry bleeds, he doubts, he wonders, he makes seriously bad puns, he falls down, gets beaten up, he has relationship issues, gets preoccupied with sex, he relies on magical items and other people to help him, he contemplates having a nap instead of saving the day.  He's more real, even written as a wizard, than most action heroes.  Even when he, unfailingly, saves the day.  There could not be a series of books if he did not prevail.  But he doesn't make it look easy.  I would not want to actually meet him.  Kind of like Buffy.  I am glad they are out there in some universe, but I don't want to cross paths with either of them.  Although a Buffy/Harry fanfic that was well-written would be SOOO cool.

I have read several reviews, most scathing, about the series.  I thought two things when I read them, the first was that the reviewers were being SUPER petty, picking out factual inaccuracies in a book written about a magic-using man who fights demons, vampires, ghosts and lycanthropes to name but a few.  The second was that they were lying about how much they did not like the first seven books they read all in a rush over a single giddy weekend.  If your profession/job is to write about good books, you can't really go on about how Harry is so awesome you could not stop eating humdingers and gulping chocolate milk during the fight scenes.  Or how your kid came in with a bleeding knee and you flapped your arm toward the band-aids and after glancing at him, said it was 'barely a scratch' so you could get back to the next page.  Or how you wondered just what was chasing him while you stood in the shower, only after your spouse said you HAD to "use soap this time, so don't just jump right back out to start reading again".   Killjoy.

The bottom line is, that for escape reading, The Dresden Files are perfect.  Lots of fun, action, enough explanations that you are not confused with terminology, but usually not so much that you feel talked down to.  He does kind of really fill in the backstory a bit on occasion, not quiet as much as Harris, who sometimes retells a previous plot line in such detail that it feels like re-reading the previous book. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Clear Creek

 Clear Creek Recreation Area
8079 Falls City Road
Jasper, AL 35503

We really enjoyed our time at Clear Creek this past week, pros would be location-less than 2 hours from home. The price, $20 a night for electric and water is about average, $40 for a double site. The sites are a mix of spread out and close-together along 4 loops of about 20 sites each, nearly 30 of the sites were doubles, so 2 families could set up in one spot. We camped in Fox Loop in sites 18, 20, 21 and 22. 

I should have checked out the other loops to see if there were any nuggets in those, but 20 or 22 are the best 2 sites in the whole campground. I stayed in 20, it had a great view of the lake, it was right across from the bath house and the camp host is behind the bath house. There were no other sites right near it and from there, I could see most of the field and play area that backed up to the lake where the kids spent most of their time running around. During the week (before school was out) the traffic was so light the kids rode all over on bikes and scooters. 

There is a playground on the lake, large field, basketball goal, volleyball net all spread out in a communal area. There are hiking trails winding all through the woods to some pretty lovely spots and there is one bike trail from the Fawn Loop to the swim beach, which was closed during our visit because the lake had been high and the grounds crew had been unable to get the beach area cleaned and groomed. There is a $2 a person public beach at Duncan Bridge, about 15 minutes from the campground. 

Sites 20 and 22 have a great view of the lake and the play area.

The 0.8 mile bike trail meanders around the edge of the lake and is a very pleasant and shady ride.

There are several hiking trails leading between the swim beach and various campgrounds as well as along the edge of the lake and around several very pretty bluffs, some that show evidence that in wetter times, there are falls and streams.

The playground has several play options including a playscape that I did not get a picture of.

The view from site 22, it's more shady, but closer to neighboring sites than 20.

In all, I would camp here again, the campground host is a revolving position and the 2 that were here while we were staying left plenty to be desired.  The bathhouse ran out of toilet paper twice and needed to be cleaned every day and was not.  The no-smoking in the bathroom went so un-enforced that there was a lighter and several used cigarettes in the single shower stall.  The hosts dog got loose and beat up on Dixie and when it was tied, it barked and barked.  We were not happy about that.

I would suggest going mid-week or not in the summer season, it filled up by Friday night and was packed to the gills.  Also, even though the website says they sell firewood and ice, they don't.

You can reserve a site in Bear Loop via reserveusa.com or drive up and get a site on the lake (Fox Loop) or the other 2 woody sites, Hoot Owl and Fawn.  There is a group camping area, 2 boat ramps, a dump station (no full hookup sites), swim beach with bath house and rest rooms, 2 group picnic pavilions, and a picnic area.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Leizengon Structure or, How I Spent Monday Morning

That is the term I was trying to remember the other day when I took the photo below, over in Bankhead.  The photo above was taken in Arkansas and is an example along a nature trail with a sign right in front of it, so I am pretty sure that is Leizengon Structure, which, according to the sign, is simply what happens over many years as the sandstone wears away and veins of much-harder iron are left behind.  I would have named it Iron Vein.  Well.  Really, I would have named it 'Fabulousestherosis Rock', so I can't really blame Leizengon for anything other than having a really hard name to spell.  Or maybe it's not named after anyone...

Is the above a Leizengon Structure?  It's not veiny, so I am not sure.  I am not so great with rocks, at the risk of sounding horribly prejudiced, they all kind of look the same to me.

I did more research in which I could only find references and photos of the SAME dang rock and sign I had taken a picture of.  I found this article in the January 2012 T Town Rock Hound newsletter:

The Leizengon Obfuscation: Scott Robb, TRMS
Sometimes geology takes on characteristics of pornography. In this case, the problem of defining something that you will know whenever you see it. Petit Jean Park, in Arkansas, seems an unlikely place for this to happen, but once again reality has defied probability.
Much like Plato and Atlantis, Petit Jean proudly displays two geology exhibits which seem to only refer back to themselves, as do all other Google search results mentioning them, the infamous Leizengon Structures. Signs at each exhibit proudly show pictures, announce the name and provide mutually
supporting, detailed conjectures as to how they happen to exist.
While the signs are nicely done, they claim that water seepage has allowed iron to organize itself into something akin to broken Dairy Queen chocolate crusts, covering humongous, intersecting sedimentary blobs of soft serve ice cream. Possibly all dropped off of some missing 8-gallon metamorphic waffle cones? Once organized the iron apparently began a resistance movement to frustrate the forces of erosion. Plausible, but if true why not name it something meaningful, like “giant frothy iron bubbles”? Why hide behind “Leizengon”?
Extensive research took fifteen minutes to guess that “Leizengon” may derive from some German or Dutch terminology or name, an obvious ploy to entrap further searching in the dreaded morass of Germanic compound noun formation. Babelfish finally coughed up that “lei” translates from Dutch to “slate” in English. “Zen” and “gon” remained unchanged, evidently with some undisclosed meaning common to all languages.
Looking back, it seems probable that the Park founders were involved in a discussion similar to this:
“It‟s kind of neat and you don‟t see it a lot anyplace else, maybe we could use it as a park attraction?”
“Sure, but we'd have to call it something unique.”
“What about "big iron bubble froth‟?”
“Would you drive out of your way to see "bubble froth‟ or buy a postcard with a picture of it?”
“We need a name that sounds authoritative but is short on actual meaning, like "political responsibility‟.”
“My kid got a new game called The Nine Gozel of the War Dogs. If you mix the letters, we get "Leizengon‟. People will think it's something official that Werner coined.”
“Okay, but what do we say it is?”
“Just say its "iron bubble froth‟ but use petrologic terminology to do it. If you take more than two sentences to describe what happened, people will recite it as fact.”
Speculation of this sort leads to further curiosity about whether or not they came up with the name and signs then built the geology to prove everything was true. The magnitude of the possible deception can give a person sleepless nights and a quavering uncertainty about the stability of roads running up to the exhibits. Better to adopt an accepting philosophy. All in all, the signs and exhibits are well done and seem quite durable, in fact rather massive. I would have no qualms about sending Leizengon postcards to announce the superb vistas and unique features enjoyed on my trip there, but failed to acquire any.

Scott seems like someone I would get along with, really well, despite the fact that he knows about different rocks and I am barely able to decide if something is concrete or natural and have made Matt sigh more than once by telling the kids a chunk of concrete in a creek is a conglomerate.  Which, I want to point out here, by definition it IS...just...not the actual sedimentary rock kind which apparently happens naturally and not in a truck.  So, while Scott used a word I had to look up (petrologic which has nothing to do with British gas or logic, but is the study of the origin of rocks) over-all, his write-up eased my mind.  It's okay that I can't tell if the photo at Bankhead is Leizengon or not.  Only the founders of Petit Jean know for sure.

I will call the Bankhead rock type...chippy.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Chan made me a lovely drawing of us from our camping trip in Kentucky a couple years ago.

We have spent the weekend running local errands and recovering from either a cold or the worst allergy attack ever.  Since no one felt much up to doing anything, our mothers day celebration has consisted of baking a German chocolate cake with coconut pecan caramel icing, quite quite yummy.  Then I walked 3 miles at the track.

I have slowly been gearing up for the camping season.  Today I sorted out the first aid kit and we bought more sinus meds, since we seem to be going through them like tictacs.  I want to camp more this year, last year we camped 5 nights the whole year.  In 2009, we were out 5 nights a month 6 months of the year and camped the entire month of October. 

Play practice starts this week.  I am excited this time, I think it will be a fun play.  I hope, anyway...

That's all the news from the castle for this weekend, a very low-key affair for which I am very grateful. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Planning Lunch

We had our camping trip planning luncheon today, Karen and Kei had to leave before we got the group photo.

I found the earliest 'kids in the front yard' photo so far, taken back in 2008.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


We finally remembered to buy a cheap soda today to use our Mentos geyser!
It did not disappoint, we screamed and dodged the spray, it was very impressive.

Later, the kids had a water battle to prepare for showering since earlier, they helped me paint the trim!  There's more left to do, but I need Matt to help, as it involves the rose bush and balancing on a ladder above said roses.

We've had a fun few days, I hate for our extra kid to go home!
Yesterday the kids had a marathon Wii afternoon followed by running so much outside that I thought they were going to throw up.  We watched the new Underworld movie last night, which felt like the whole movie was just a set-up for the next movie.

We made a menu last night so we could eat like Hobbits today.  By 11, we had breakfast (cereal) 2nd breakfast (fruit) elevensies (cinnamon rolls) and for lunch we had ramen.  Tea was fun, we mixed up all kinds of different teas and herbs into 3 pots to see how that turned out and ate mochii-which was sweeter than the tea and it all ended up tasting weird.  For dinner we have perogies and bedtime snack is cocoa and chocolate cake.  mmmm!  If we can still lift a fork by then!

The weather is perfect today, a nice cloudy and lazy morning, cool breezes all day, warm and sunny afternoon. That sun feels amazing coming in the windows on my arms.  I am 100% solar powered.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

More Walking

We headed out today to walk at the Refuge and ended up at the Richard Martin Trail again because it's shady.  We did 13.25 miles, after taking last weekend off to work on the house, it was harder than usual to push through to the double digits. My left leg in particular was opting to just come off, I had to slow down and the pain would go away, then it would come back and I'd slow down again...ugh.  At least my feet were no bother today!

On the way home we went to Captain D's.  We have never eaten there before, but I was in the mood for fish.  Matt got the extra 12 shrimp for $1.49 and has complained ever since about the size!  They were more like breaded fingernail clippings.  hahaha.  I was quite happy with my fish and cole slaw!

The weather was lovely, if a bit warm.  Each breeze was marveled over and we loitered along the old trestle because the air coming up from the creek below was very cool.  When the breeze left off, it was muggy and of course, buggy.  I think I could be happy forever if I always had a comfy spot to sit, if no insect came within 2 feet of me and if it would not rain while I am out of doors.  That's not too much to ask!   Should be darn easy, what genie would pass me up? 

At the halfway point, Matt was off taking pictures and I went to the little playground area and swung on the swings.  I like a good swingset that you can get going really high on like that.  I love peeking over the top of the bar, it's that combo of knowing if you go OVER the bar, you'll turn inside out, like Inside Out Boy.  The other is from something I read a long while ago about girls living in restricted societies swinging as high as they can so they can see out over the garden walls.  Only the bravest girls would dare try and they would report back what they saw.  I only saw the same red brick church with colorful windows that I could see from below the bar.

One day soon, grapes.

This guy decided we'd seen enough of his scaly hide and played 'rattlesnake' with his little tail tip in the dry leaves, it was impressive and effective!

Hitchhiker the Mouse