Thursday, April 29, 2010


This was supposed to be a post about SERENITY and CALM THINGS and KITTIES and PINK PONIES and PINK MARTINIS and SATIN and other HAPPY STUFF!

But Holy Cow, things change fast.

I almost thought I'd never see you again. I thought my blog was gone from me forever. I tried to log in and it didn't know who I was. It was like I had fallen into an alternate universe. I freaked out. My office called while I was freaking out. She said "you sound weird, what's wrong." I said "Oh nothing." How do you tell your office that your blog disappeared while you were trying to post and jam Wheat Thins in your mouth before a 1:00 conference call? You don't tell people that because that just sounds kooky.
I am trying very hard to be calm and not shake someone's teeth out. So I thought, I'll post something happy and nice so I can think of something serene rather than driving 100 miles to shake the teeth out of the skull of someone who is, well, doesn't matter. I'm being serene.
Peace out.
P.S. The picture is my backyard pond. Isn't it DIVINE?! I can hear the waterfall. The splish and splash keeps me from wanting to SHAKE PEOPLE's TEETH OUT!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lunch Break

Here's a snapshot of what is floating around in my head (if you watch South Park, I'm probably a bit like what Cartman sees when he closes his eyes). It is nearly noon as I type this. Where does the day go?

I am inspired by the following two things today (beware, things are going to get sappy around here)...

  • A quote from Moulin Rouge "The greatest thing you will ever learn is to love and to be loved in return."
  • Time spent serving and preparing a community dinner for people who need it on Sunday.

First, the quote... it's just a great quote. I am going to give my boys and the kitty and Timmy and maybe the guinea pig (Not all at the same time) a big squeeze. Peter really needs a big squeeze. He was feeling a little low yesterday. So, if you see him before I do, squeeze him until he squeaks.

Second, the dinner... A&P and a friend needed some more service hours for school so off we went to the community dinner. The boys all worked very hard and made me very proud. They worked for four hours straight to help get dinner on the table for about 50 people who come off of the street once a month for a meal. Some of the people leave prayer requests behind.

I should tell you that Sunday was a miserable rainy day. People came in dripping wet and cold. Some smiled anyway.

I have to tell you about these prayer requests.... if I was homeless or downtrodden and needed a meal... I would be miserable. I would be a pill and a half. I would be pulling my hair out and I would pray for indulgent things like a job and an income and a place to live. This is because I'm selfish and I have too much to learn about how to live my life. Do you know what these people left prayers for? Not a single prayer that I picked up was for something indulgent.

They prayed for...

  • the missing oil rig workers
  • miners in West Virginia
  • peace
  • beauty
  • happiness
  • some signed their names and said thank you
  • some didn't say anything at all

Remember, give Peter a squeeze.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Worms: An appreciation

This is a post about worms. If you think worms are icky, you should probably not read this. Although I think worms are icky so I probably can't type anything too gross or I'll make myself sick.

Shall I explain the picture? In preparation for a newsy little post of vermicomposting or some such thing, I decided to find a picture of an earth worm. Instead I found this lovely photo of the Nibelungen Bridge over the Rhine at Worms, Germany. Obtuse? Indeed.

Curiousity got the better of me so I turned to google to find out some more stuff about Worms. Did you know it was founded by Celts and that the people of Worms fight with the people in Cologne about who has the oldest town in Germany? The only thing I ever knew was that Worms was where Martin Luther had his temper tantrum.

Now get this about the name... the Celts back in the olden times before calendars named their little town Borbetomagus which means "settlement in a watery area." How nice and direct of those Celts. Anyway, the Romans came along and started calling it Vormatia and that's just a fancy way to say "worms." I'm not sure the Romans did them any favors with the name change but with Romans stomping around, I'm not sure that the Borbetomagusians had any room to argue.

So there we have it, worms.

I bought a composter. I don't know anything about worms, but I'm going to compost my coffee grounds and my black and white inked junk mail.

All Hail Mighty Worms.

Monday, April 19, 2010


How much would you charge me to lock me in this tower?

TCWICRN (The Child who is crazy right now) made me so mad yesterday I could have locked myself into this tower forever. He was ranting and raving and hollering and exhibiting various kinds of buffoonery. I had been secretly congratulating myself for a week that I had not jammed him into a UPS box and mailed him to Russia with a note that said "I know he didn't come from Russia, but it seems like a good place. Thanks."

I tried to wrap my head around the insanity. I said supportive things like "this will pass"; "you are great", "I sure do love you and would never sell you to gypsies." But after 7 days of this nutso wackiness, all I wanted to do was climb into a tower and grow my hair for 25 years.

So I hollered "you can't be crazy anymore! you are driving me bananas! pick a different kind of crazy! if you're going to stay crazy, make it different every time for goodness sake!"

He stared at me. He regarded my red face and snarl. And, he stopped being crazy. I called out the crazy and he left, just like that and in his place was the regular kid.

What did I wait 7 days for?

I still want to be locked in the tower because I think crazy will come back sometime before high school graduation.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Short History of A & P

There's a lesson in everything. Today's lesson is: never leave children of any age unattended. This was the story of my life for about 10 years. Then, you get complacent and when you find your kids smoking cigars you slap yourself for not remembering your lessons. Don't worry, A&P don't smoke cigars. They're too busy beating each other up. Peter told me the other day that they only fight in the back yard so that no one sees. Seriously, if you have the forethought to beat the crap out of your brother and plan to do so in the backyard, perhaps you have the brain capacity to engage in some problem solving. Just saying....

While we were on vacation we ran into some new victims who had never heard any of our crazy A&P stories before. While regaling the new, hapless, trapped listeners, Andrew burst out in a guffaw. "You got to write this stuff down, Mom."

Dateline: April 15, 2000
A&P: Age 3
Me: Clueless

I was on the phone with my brother. The boys were locked in the backyard. I could see them as they pushed their toys around the driveway. They were behind a gate. I was 10 feet away, albeit in the house, but I could see them and jump to their aid should an alien space ship land on the lawn.

Suddenly, they were gone.

Seriously. Gone.

Where the heck do two little boys who were happily pushing molded plastic toys two seconds ago, go?

Really? Freaking out.

I slammed down the phone and ran outside in complete panic.

There they were. So cute, so short, so standing in the middle of the flower beds holding handfuls of landscaping rocks. Whatever, I removed the rocks from the boys and the boys from the rocks and scooted them in the house.

It was April in Ohio. It gets cold at night. Our house got really cold that night- inexplicably.

The next morning, Tim ventured to the basement to figure out why if we had it set at 80, the house was 58. The furnace was flashing alarmingly. Yellow and red. "No clue," Tim said. "You should call someone."

Within the hour, the furnace people appeared. Within 5 minutes I had my answer.

My lovely children had, in the 15 seconds I could not see them, stuffed our furnace flue with handfuls of landscaping rocks. About 75, one inch landscaping rocks to be exact. They had completely crammed the flue. Thankfully, our furnace had the good sense to shut itself the heck off or we would have had a serious issue.

I put a squirrel cage on the furnace flue. Days later, I found the boys standing again in the flower bed, one with the squirrel cage and the other with a handful of rocks. I probably yelled. Really loud.

Several years later, we had to replace the furnace. Imagine that? Not sure why a furnace would have trouble when stuffed with stones. When they unhooked the old furnace, more rocks fell from the piping.

Now they just pummel each other in the backyard. Progress? I'm not sure.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Walk in the Woods, Final Episode

Greetings Sports fans! Sometimes there's victory and then there's the agony of defeat. If you followed my instructions and read "A Walk in the Woods" then you'll know the agony of the Appalachian Trail (AT) approach trail. Anytime there's an approach to more trail (2,100 miles of it) you may want to think twice. Andrew reminded me that the characters in the book discarded most of their food (Little Debbies and the coffee filters too) in the 7 mile hike on the approach to the terminus of the AT.
We left the Len Foote Inn with some packed lunches and our spirits high since we knew our trail out, although longer, was more down than up. I guess it all depends on your knees whether you like the up or the down, or neither. Me, I'll take any of it because it's not a day bashing my head against a wall at the office (I like that sort of thing, though.)
The picture above is, finally!, what it should be with Andrew on the left. Seriously people. It's not hard.

We had our regularly scheduled Atkins family breakdown about half way down the mountain. This time there was no aggravating incident just some frayed 13 year old nerves. This turned Andrew into a melted mess and Peter into a hiking machine- apparently in an effort to get as far away from the other 75% of his family as quickly as possible. He's a gazelle when motivated like this. We saw him again somewhere near the stream below.
Oddly, I wasn't as worried as I would be in Montana that something would eat him. Either it's that I didn't think something would eat him because we were in Georgia or maybe I was secretly wishing that he would be carried away by a family of wolves. Is that so wrong?
Six miles later, here is the Amicalola Creek that feeds the waterfall. Yippee! We could almost see the car from here! Nothing had eaten Peter and he was perched on a rock not far from the creek with a look on his face that said "I wish you would melt into spring rain sloshed in mountain mud." What a bonus.
Did you make your reservations yet? What are you waiting for? Seriously, you have no excuse.
Did I mention that I would LOVE to do the entire AT through hike? I read everything I can about the AT and through hikers and I met a through hiker named Catfish on this trip. I've been trying to decide what I might name myself- so far the only thing I can come up with is Cosmo (after my favorite drink). I think I can do better than that.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Stay in the Woods

Oh my Golly. Why can't we get this picture taking thing right. Peter is again, on the left. No one listens to me, ever. I'm not sure what Peter is doing with his finger and I probably don't want to know.

On Friday afternoon we arrived at the inn. Our legs were a little wobbly since we're flatlanders, but we made it in pretty good time. (Less time than predicted on the trail signs- take that trail!)

We had a great tour of the grounds including their worm farm and the composting toilets. If you really want to know, I can fill you in. I still have the willies.

After a fabulous dinner, we settled in for an evening program because there is no TV!

Folks around these parts come to the inn to volunteer. This particular volunteer developed a completely awesome ultra light camp stove out of a pop can. We were riveted. And screwed up because again, despite my best intentions, Peter is on the left.

The inn can accommodate 4o folks in 20 rooms of 2 bunks. Above is the bunk house. The face peeking out was our neighbor bunkmate who hails from Atlanta.

To the left is the dining hall and to the right is the bath house. If you keep walking into the picture you'll fall off a cliff, so don't do that. And there's snakes. Did I mention snakes? Yuck.

We survived the night in our bunks. I'm going to get a bit personal here so if you're squeamish, skip ahead. I don't get up at night to go potty. I just don't have to. Somehow at the inn all night long, all I could think about was the climb down the ladder, out the door and to the bathroom.

The inn was awesome, you should totally go. Do it.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Walk in the Woods, Part One

I think I have a loose screw in my skull. Before you go judging me and trying to figure out which screw is the loosest, lest you are one of those folks who believe that I have more than one loose piece of hardware, I know just which one. The problem I have is that I have to live some place flat. Clearly we could have picked someplace else that was not as flat. Really, I can't dwell on that. So here we are.

Do you notice a problem? Yes, I am the shortest. That is a problem. Do you notice the other problem? Peter is on the left. That is about the wrong-est thing that can happen in one of my pictures. Ten years from now I will be totally screwed on who is who. Andrew is always on the left- except in this picture because no one listens to me anymore. I think I'm going to have a short snit about that. OK, I'm done.

Anyway, here we are at the top of Amicalola Falls in the state park of the same name, Georgia. We were ready to start our walk into the woods. (If you have not done so, you must read, MUST, I SAY MUST READ, A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson. Indeed, required for this blog.)

Off we went. Normalcy was achieved as above you will find Andrew on the left. Phew. I thought Mercury was in retrograde there for a few minutes. This picture was taken right before the half way point Atkins family meltdown, a.k.a. fight. This time it was about a dented metal water bottle. (Sigh. It's not worth repeating.)
A&P recovered from their mutual hatred and found company on the trail somewhere way ahead of us. They tell us we're old. We tell them they hike too fast. Whatever, I'm right.

We arrived late afternoon at the Len Foote Hike Inn. It's fabulous and I will tell you more about it tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

To the Moon Alice

If I were going to send someone into space, I suppose the Saturn V rocket would serve as an appropriate vehicle. As we saw at the Kennedy Space Center today, this thing is GIANORMOUS. (That's a very technical NASA term.)

Guess who I might like to send to the moon? You would not believe who I literally ran into today at KSC. Never. Don't even bother guessing. I had this boss one time who was horrid- fairy tale, wicked stepmother, except he was a man, horrid. He personified everything that anyone ever might hate about corporate life working for "the machine." Anyway, he was always slightly clownish, and I have not seen him since I left for greener pastures- UNTIL TODAY. There he was, with his pants hiked up to his armpits in line for some food. How on Earth did I end up at KSC on the same day as this Evil Corporate Tool?

Anyway, that's who I would like to send to the moon. No, I am not one bit bitter.

It was a good visit (except for being shadowed all day by the Evil Corporate Tool) with the space stuff as evidenced by A&P and the lunar node thing . I think they used this node thing on Apollo 11. We were all pretty happy today and our only meltdown involved Mountain Dew at lunch. We did see another family with kids about A&P's age having their own very public meltdown. I wanted to hug them all and thank them for being human.

Tomorrow is another beach day and I'm pretty sure that I need a lobster for lunch. Late in the day we'll work our way up to Atlanta. Friday is when we hit the Appalachian Trail for a hike and an overnight in the mountains with no cell phones, TV or computers. Heaven!

A&P keep asking when we can take a normal vacation like everyone else.

Define normal, then we'll make our plans.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Love, Exciting & New

Avert your eyes. This is us on vacation. Aren't we sweet? It's a small miracle that no one was thrown from a precipice today. There's always tomorrow.
I made the boys pop a squat on the sand for some pictures. This is how it went.
Me: I want to take your picture on the beach. Sit here.
Them: No. That's dumb. You know what we look like.
Me: Not for long.
Them: We don't care. Pictures are stupid.
Me: I can wait here until dark. You choose.
Obviously we didn't wait until dark. Aren't they sweet?

For this picture at the Fort in St Augustine I said, Hey stand in that door way for your picture. They were trying to make me look like a fool. It worked. Aren't they wonderful?

At the end of all of it, there's the peaceful lapping of waves on the beach. The waves wear the shells down to dust over several million years. Just like my children are doing to me, however it's taken a mere 13 years. Surely that makes me lucky.
Until tomorrow....

Monday, April 5, 2010

More Picture Obstruction & The Beach

Whilst attempting to pose for a family photo at the UGA Botanical Gardens, we again find ourselves obstructed by an interloper. The raised hand has been used to terrorize A&P since they were very little. Uncle Adam, the obstructionist, used the hand to threaten younger versions of A&P by telling them it was a brain sucker. And, the brain sucker was apparently starving. A&P have often told me "Uncle Adam scares me." Ah yes, he scares us too.
But our visit in Athens was short and we were soon off to sandier places outside of St. Augustine. It's amazing how easy A&P are to spot in the water. They're a bit pale after an Ohio winter.

Cousins make good beach pals and we spent our afternoon digging in the sand for shark's teeth and tossing about in the waves.
We'll report again as time permits and without the interloper, I suppose, unless we can find another one.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Athens, GA

Family Picture, obstructed. Again.
All Hail, UGA. Or something like that. We're from the North, so we just don't really understand.

A&P at the famous double barrelled cannon of Athens, Georgia. Ingenuity, inspired.

We'll report again from St. Augustine.