Sunday, December 30, 2012

Nearly Over

Today was a pretty good day, I spent the first 3 hours of the day chatting with Gina, then had a nap and got up and had a 7 mile walk.  On the way home we FINALLY dropped off  the recycling.  It was practically the entire hatch of the van crammed full, more than what we take on a 2 week vacation.  Ack.  More stuff, not more recycling.  No one takes their recycling on vacation, that's freakish.

Today we hit Bean...something Road over on the Refuge property.  Keep in mind-cause I had NO idea-that they allow hunting right there by the freaking hiway, but not on Sunday.  Gina asked if it had to do with Jesus and I imagine it does, as we are in the South and that's a consideration when making laws.  WWJD?  Not hunt on Sunday, I reckon.

It's 3.35 miles to the dead end, I was hoping for a full 5 miles.  There are no roads that branch off it, either.  Just one long winding road and then you long and wind right back to where you parked.  Matt parked us on a ravine with one tire hanging off the edge.  I was pretty sure the van was going to flip and he scoffed, I am telling you all now-when I die from a flipped van, I WILL have told him it was about to flip and it will be his fault.  I don't think he feels the pull of the earth the way I do and therefore is immune to gravity. 

We met Gina at the Refuge Visitor Center and ran in to verify that we are hiking on 'okay to hike on' roads.  Our last walk, there were some signs saying no trespass and we verified they were to keep us out of the fields, not off the roads.  They had been turned sideways.

Them's fake ducks!

This creepy guy was following me and Gina around ALL DAY.

I was playing with the different filters and still had it set to sepia when the sunset came into view.

Matt went off to find a cache and I took about 20 pictures of myself.  I thought I should post at least one of them, the rest are in sepia.  hahaha
On the drive home, we got to have a good talk, clear the air about a few things that had been knocking around in my skull.  After we got in, Matt heated and seasoned the leftover turkey (some of it anyway) and we had turkey taco salad and I had a long bath.  Tomorrow we are headed to Cane Creek Canyon.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Christmas went well, I think everyone was happy with their goodies.  We never go overboard, this year was a little more plump than in the past, though.  It's been a few years since we did stockings AND gifts.  The kids asked if next year we can skip Christmas and let everyone have 2 birthdays.  So, we are trying that.

No news to speak of, it's been quiet around here and we have been firmly at home all week other than grocery-related errands.  We discussed a few ideas for things to do this week, but the weather has been awful.  Not just cold, but cold and wet and not just wet, but windy as well.  The kind of weather than cuts into your bones and makes you want nothing more than a warm place to be dry.

Tonight Matt is making our turkey, I tried it one year and it put me off dead bodies for good.  That year it was a 20 pound thing, this year it's just 14 pounds, but it was still awful enough for Matt to spend the whole prep time screaming 'gross' from the other room while I hid out and read and pretended what I always pretend-that meat comes fully cooked and on a bun.

We had big meal plans, but the longer the turkey took to thaw, the more we piecemealed the meal pieces.  The pie went first, of course.  I actually ate my slice while walking on the treadmill at 9 in the morning the day before Christmas.  I think tomorrow other than turkey, we have dressing beans.  And cranberry sauce, though I keep cans of that around all year, I love cranberry sauce.  I will eat it with no provocation needed.

I have been reading.  I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  I rarely fall in love with characters, but Lisbeth is fucking awesome.  I was SO glad to discover it was the first of a trilogy, I must be WAY behind the times as once I started looking around, it appears everyone loves the series and there are movies in Swedish and English.  I don't want to watch the movies yet, I finished The Hunger Games and watched the movie in the same day.  HUGE mistake.  I can't even pick up the next book, the movie was so awful it dashed my interest against the rocks of the young adult franchise money machine.

Do John Green books as movies, gah.  No brainer, people who make movies!  They are practically screenplays and no special effects needed, just good actors.  Oh...that is probably the problem right there.  *sigh*  They are out there, but the movie casters can't seem to find them.

I am reading The Lost Songs now, I finished Fifty Shades of Grey some time last week. Not what I expected, I did not care for the whole plot and the characters were unbelievable, there is not a 21 year old American female college graduate who does not have e-mail.  And if I read another book with a male lead so beautiful to gaze upon that angels weep, I will throw up.  Seriously.  It's as done to death as girl meets supernatural boy.  Or girl is gorgeous and thin yet never exercises at all and has no clue-and is clumsy.  Hey, that was a major plot point in Fifty.  More like Fifty Shades of Yawn, I did not like either one of them and I probably would have hit her myself given the chance.  But he just needed to be neutered. Seriously?  A man who 'needs to punish' things he views as transgressions (like that 11th commandment: Though Shalt Not Roll Thine Eyes if Thy Possesseth a Pudenda) and totally control a woman's every move is both hot and romantic?  It's a trilogy, but I am leaving off at the end of book one, after she hobbles away from him to nurse her strap marks.  No doubt, she takes him back first chance at the start of the next one.

I read A Million Little Pieces by James Frey in one go.  I started reading when I woke up and read the bulk of the day, on the treadmill and sitting in the bed and in the kitchen, just toted that book around.  Wow.  It's a book about his time in rehab, but it's also a peeled-back look into addiction and his insight is brand-new.  With no belief in God, the 12 steps are useless, so he forges his own way through and his need to shoulder the blame and not excuse what he has done had me cheering.  I hate people that point at others and say, "you are why I am poisoning myself".  I have never been drunk or done any type of drugs, but I have laid plenty of blame for other behavior and all it does is detract from what you can do with what has been done.  Trading your own future to wallow in your own past.  Everyone is capable of being better, everyone, everyone, everyone.  Even you.  Even me.  Be better.

Okay, I guess my soapbox is flat, I have read some more books, but nothing amazing, just time-fillers or self-help like I Can Make You Sleep by Paul McKenna that I got at a bad time because I am sleeping fine and reading it puts me out.  So, I guess it's true, though in a month or two when my cycles change and I am manic, I will be wide awake at 3 a.m. trying to remember what he had to say.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

It's Not the End of the World...

First, happy/sad news!  Famous has been adopted by a wonderful furever family!

On Friday, we had everyone over for lunch and a dirty Santa gift exchange. 

We opted for a Mexican themed lunch this time, I actually have a huge turkey and all the trimmings but it was agreed that everyone was going to at least one traditional holiday meal, so let's do our own thing for our holiday gathering.  There was so much food, I go overboard all on my own and then everyone comes with drinks and snacks and sides and so on.  We had more desserts than dishes, I made a pumpkin pie dessert bar that never made it out!  We found it today, but no one was hungry.  hahaha!


 I did not take pictures of the food or...anything else.  I did snap a couple during the gift game, trying to get everyone in a shot, but there's no way.  See Chan's aqua hair?  We redid it Thursday night so it would be darker, the color fades really fast!

 I won this hat, and I was so excited to get it, despite the fact that I have crocheted about 60 this fall.  Then, Jake saw it and suddenly it was HIS hat.  I did get 5 redbox rental codes out of the deal, but I liked that hat...

These guys are HUGE!  Where did our kids go?

Inde and I get struck by the same thought.  Likely "Gosh, I'm so adorable!"

Gina and her kids stayed over last night (along with scruff dog and rat dog) and we attempted to stay up all night, but crashed sometime around 1.  Matt woke us up at 4:30 and we stumbled around getting ready and headed out the door just after 5 with both girls.  Cody totally denied knowing anything about this crazy plan to get up and see the sun rise, so Jake said he would stay home with him.  Turns out he had an easy run of things, Cody was back asleep before we left and still sacked out when we got back 5 hours later!  hahaha!  Ben had gone home with Alex the night before.

We had a great time, the bonfire was perfect-we kept warm enough in the 20 degree air to stay out and watch the breaking dawn.  Katy had about 20 different kinds of breads and juice, Matt and Gina loaded up on coffee, but that stuff will stunt your growth.  I had 2 glasses of OJ in an attempt to wake up.  And some doughnut holes.  After the sun was up, we all visited for a while and hung out in the toasty living room.  Then it was time to head home!  We stopped by the library on our way through town and by the time we pulled into the yard, I was zonked.

Matt went to bed as soon as Gina headed home with her sleepy crew, I stayed up a little longer, with some delusional but still grand plans to 'do something' before I realized, nothing NEEDED doing.  I crashed hard for a few hours, Matt slept nearly the entire day, over 9 hours.  He's mad at me for letting him sleep.  Gah.  I told him to get a snack and brush his teeth, we are going back to bed.  The kids are sound asleep, it will be interesting to have them up and bushy-tailed tomorrow, maybe we can get in a good hike!  I need to burn off some Mexican food and doughnut holes!

Alex is smaller than Ben, but not THAT much, it's an illusion, he's downhill and further away, here it looks like he's at least a foot shorter than he really is!

Cathy and Lakota came over, which was a nice surprise.  Cathy is heading off next month to do travel nursing and while I am really happy she's going to see some new things and new places, I got all weepy as she left today.  I told Matt he better go hug her again, he may not see her after this!  It hit home, one of 'us' is leaving, she has no long-term plans to come back, either.  We have not seen her much at all this year, but for the past few years we have camped together and had such good memories, I hate that she won't be part of those any more, I miss her already.  : (

We are headed back to bed, who knows what tomorrow brings, for once I have not planned all of our time.  Matt is off until the 2nd, we have to be here the 27th for him to be available to work from home for a few hours to finish out the shipping for the year, if there are any issues that crop up that is.  Other than that-wide open.  Hurrah! 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Winter Skies

 Matt and I had a couple of errands to run in town today, so after that was done, we went on to try to get a hike in.  First we went to Smith Lake Park, but there are no trails, just an old road to the lake and the wind off the water was brisk, so we headed back toward town when Matt remembered seeing a cache that said something about an overlook, so we went off to find it.

There it is!  That's hardly hidden, yo.
 We found it at the second highest spot in Cullman County, photo at the top of the page. 
The reason we wanted an overlook was to see the sky, there are so many trees around these parts, we can't really SEE the sky very often.  I think that's why I liked Arkansas so much-sky was half the view.

While we were in Cullman, we saw a dog adoption set-up and stopped in.  Matt immediately saw 4 dogs he would have left with, but my heart still yearns for small black and scruffy.

I had a dog when I was a kid, her name was Klover.  I had her for years and then my parents divorced and she was lost in the split, left behind at our old house with my adult-aged brother when my mother hastily remarried.  My brother was supposed to be looking out for her, but he didn't, she started chasing cars and was run over on my 15th birthday.  I did everything with that dog, I spent more time with her than I did doing anything else and she had this look she'd get when we were about to head off on a long ramble-this was when little girls could go all over the countryside without fear.

After she died, it was as if my childhood was over, I had lost every tether to my previous life, I felt undone and it was many years later-maybe even after I was pregnant with Jake-before I felt like I was actually LIVING my own life again.  It's hard to explain.  But let's fast forward a few more years to 2006 and a certain dog adoption day where we met Jessie Bear, who at the time was called Cheyenne.

We took every dog there out for a look before finally getting to Jess, I did NOT want her because her feet were HUGE and I knew she was going to be a giant.  The kids were 6, 8 and 10 at the time!  I did not want more than I could handle, we'd had a bad experience with another lab we adopted and had to rehome because he had decided that Ben should be lower in the pack than he was and did all he could to make that transition.  I was not really interested in her, but wanted to take her out anyway to be fair.

We walked down to a little grassy area and sat under a tree to pet her and see how she interacted with the kids and us.  She sat down and looked over at me, kind of over her shoulder.  And it was Klover's look.  I was sold and she has been THE best dog ever.  A year later when she picked Kuma for her best friend at the same adoption event, we did not hesitate.  And he has been the best dog ever, I love those two so much.  I feel safe with them out there.

I have never seen 'the look' again, not in the 6+ years we have had her, she has very much her own personality and quirks, but that one look...I knew she was the right dog, Klove still has never let me down.  I need to trust that I will know when the right one comes along again and not fall into thinking I need to 'rescue' a dog, Matt and I both would take in every stray we could coax into our cars, our hearts get in the way of our common sense.

Anyway, I am not actively looking any longer, I honestly can't get past hoping Zep may still be out there somewhere, that I may find her yet.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Walking at Wheeler

It's Matt's day off, we slept in until 9 and dinked around the house a while, getting beds stripped and bedding washed, playing with the dogs, running the vacuum and so on.  At noon we headed out with Ben and Chan to check out a spot at Wheeler we noticed last time we were there, but did not have time to explore. 

We parked on 67 just east of the Visitor Center road at the gate to Airport Road, which is a gravel road closed to vehicles but open to walking, wildlife watching and biking.  This is a nice long walk within half an hour of home, we were happy to have discovered it!  There is a second road we will be heading back to check out soon.  It will be nice to have 10 new miles of hiking without the long drive.

 These are all different dandelions, even though it may look like we all had the same plant in our mouths, that's SUPER gross. They are loaded with all kinds of good stuff, we eat them pretty often when we can be reasonably sure they have not been sprayed.

Photo by Matt.
I am not being cheeky, he had me facing the sun.

The road curves around to a second road called Dinsmore Slough Road.  While we walked down it, we saw a man ahead of us go around a curve and when we got there and went around, he was gone!  We made up a long story about him being Denny Dinsmore and a ghost and got ourselves all worked up, it was creepy!

Where's Denny?

He's not in either direction!

No one was home!  We think he was eaten by a raccoon, the back legs were chewed off.  UGH

It's Dinsmore Slough!

Anyway, we walked at a decent pace, stopping here and there to look at things or watch the birds.  The sandhill cranes are out in full force, if you ever get a chance to be close enough to hear them call, do it.  I can't imagine anything more alien, it's eerie to hear.  It sounds like...not birds.  Go listen to some.

We had a great afternoon, got in just over 5 miles in a couple hours, saw about a million cranes.  Chan and I made up horrible songs about all the ways to fall, we skipped and danced and held hands and jumped around, Ben got the hiccups and we tried scaring him, which made him mad and he had a good frump.  He seems to have about 4 modes these days: sulky, sullen, embarrassed and mad.

I have not had much angst from Jake or Chan, they are both so steady.  Ben has long been very volatile and changes moods frequently.  It's usually easier to wait it out instead of trying to get to the root of the problem, but I think that's not the best approach any more.  He needs some help figuring out why he feels the way he does and putting it in perspective.  We are going to work on that more...

After our walk, we went to get groceries and tried to stop for some food on the way in, but everywhere was packed to the rafters, between payday, holiday shopping and general Friday night, we opted to just come on home and make some pasta.

We found some pasta made with carrot and squash, it's pretty good!  A serving size is also half a cup of vegetables, add some chunky sauce and it's painless to get in some extra veggies!  We picked up stuff to make a big salad tomorrow, we are trying to eat more fruits and veggies, so far we have just been putting away the bananas and avocados like mad.

When we got home, Facebook was slammed with the news of the school shootings.  I feel SO lucky to have the kids with me, the whole day we just played and ate weeds and enjoyed the fall sunshine.  It was such a senseless tragedy, the holidays ruined for so many people-a time when those little kids should have been full of giddy greed and sugar plums.  I can't imagine-all those levels of pain the parents will deal with.

I am lucky, lucky, lucky.  I want nothing more than what I have-the freedom to continue homeschooling, to have Matt come home safe every night, to have friends to join us for food and play, to have a new path to explore, our dogs in the yard, a van with a few more years of travels ahead and always to carry in me a hope, a wish, a dream, a plan.  I try so hard not to take any of it for granted, I am grateful for every ordinary day.