Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Pride of Accomplishment

I swear that a finished cabled sweater would not make me happier than this does:

From the mess I showed you yesterday, I now have two marginally ugly washcloths, and that makes me super happy. (Sorry, Ni Hao Kai Lan is rather popular in our house right now.) There is nothing cooler than taking a mess of crap someone else would have thrown away, and making something useful. I will be honest and confess that I threw out a hand full of scraps that were about 6 inches long. What with tying on and off, that would make about 4 stitches. I may be crazy, but I'm not that crazy. I don't even have a pic of the first one I finished because my sister was visiting and stated some interest in it, so I bound off and threw it to her. "Sew in the ends and it's yours." Heck yeah, that's how we do it around here. Give it away as fast as we can. Frankly I think all that wonderful yarn my husband bought me for Christmas was a bribe to get me to keep some of the things I knit. There's something wrong with me that I just can't hold on to the stuff, and hubby cannot believe I put so much time into my knitting and then hand it out like penny candy. All I can say is there's just something great about people using and appreciating items you made yourself. (I don't think he minds me giving away ugly washcloths however.) So, all that remains of the mess is this:

Three colors that do not remotely go together, and might not make a whole washcloth between them anyway. So (I will repeat this until it is burned into my brain.) it is totally nuts to go buy yarn to complete a project that was conceived to use up yarn. Completely batty. I'm not that wacko. Really. I'm not.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Cleaning Up

First, an update: the turkey is disposed of, the kitchen is marginally clean, and the dining room, well the dining room could have used another sweater mistake. The sweater is completely frogged and the yarn returned to the stash, to fight again another day.

Today I am cleaning up the stash. You see several months ago, I unwisely accepted some yarn from a patron, sight unseen. No yarn is bad right? Right? Well, not to offend anyone, but wrong. Some yarn is bad bad bad. And yet, I can't quite give it away or throw it out. The result, I am trying to use it up as fast as I can so as to be able to deny all knowledge of its existence. My mission, turn this:

Into this:

What do ya think? My theory is that it is a washcloth. I don't even fold my washcloths,so why should I care if the colors even remotely match? Yeah, I don't care. The only problem that remains is that while several peaches and cream ball bands were found in the bag of scraps, I'm not at all certain that everything in there is cotton. Wish me luck.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

How it's done

In honor of this season of giving, I decided to share with you my secret for accomplishing hideous and unloved household chores. You can thank me later.

Scenario: For the past week, I've been cleaning my house. By that I mean doing all the basic cleaning that most normal people do weekly, but that I avoid until sheer mortification and the coming of my mother forces my hand. Then, for Christmas, we had 15 people, including my mom in the house. To give my family credit, most of the dishes were washed before they went home that night, but the rest of the mess created by 15 people in a small place remained. There was also the remains of a 21 lb. turkey to pick.

My reaction: (with great feeling and appropriate whining tones) I don't wanna!

Solution: *Cast on a sweater, knit for five rounds. Discover resulting sweater would fit a rhino. Go clean kitchen to avoid frogging sweater. Wash dishes until frogging becomes more attractive that cleaning. Frog sweater and cast on again. Knit until it becomes clear that there is not enough yarn to complete this sweater. Yarn is discontinued. Go and clean up dining room to avoid the realization that sweater is croaking again. Clean up new Christmas toys and attempt to find places for them while three year old acts as though you are throwing out her new treasures instead of rescuing them from the jaws of the dog. Continue until you realize that frogging sweater is preferable to one more discussion about whether or not Mommy is trying to impersonate the Grinch and ruin the little who's Christmas. Repeat from * until house is clean, sweater is finished or you give up and go knit washcloths, or a quick santy clause hat and a coat. He he he.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

'tis the season

Christmas is tomorrow and my daughter is nearly desperate for presents. I have tried my best to remind her that Christmas is about giving, not getting presents, to the extent that she helped me buy and wrap nearly all the gifts for others that we purchased this year. The little trooper even survived a trip through Toys 'r us without begging or crying when nothing went into the cart for her. Pretty good for an almost four year old. So, in that same vein, I present ways to give this Christmas season:

Neck Warmers for Solders:

Information and pattern here.

Red Scarf Project:

Information here.

Knit for Kids:

Information and pattern here.

Knit for good. Knit for all. Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A prince among men

I came home from work yesterday expecting to deal with a messy house, and grumpy spouse (he's got the flue, you can't blame him) and a precocious three year old. And, indeed I did have to deal with all of these, and yet it was all OK. Here's why...

My prince of a guy bought me a selection of knit picks finest for Christmas, and he didn't even make me wait until the 25th to get my hands on it. I'm so pleased I can't quit hugging him. And to top it all off, I finished this...

I finished a scarf for The Red Scarf Project. So, in one day, I dispensed with 3 skeins of acrylic from the stash and replaced it with a load of quality wool blend. Definitely moving in the right direction.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By George, I think they've got it!

I'm the one who always says that we don't need presents. Until three years ago, I was usually the youngest one at family gatherings, and it started to be downright silly that we still bought Christmas and Birthday presents. Seriously, I'm a grownup and I don't need all this stuff. Really. And now there's a little girl who is more than happy to benefit from presents. She so much fun to watch tearing into gifts, what more do we need. So this year, when my parents came back from their yearly Canadian vacation, I expected only this:

And maybe one of these:

Cause they are the best Canada has to offer in the way of souvenirs right? But mom came home with this:

How could I forget about Patons?
And then my lovely aunt was at a craft show and I became the proud owner of this:

Alpaca Yarn Co. Classic Alpaca. Dude yarn can be a present? I take it all back. I'm never too old for presents. Bring on the presents. Do you have a present for me?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Not My Fault

So, I have a lot of yarn. I'm not in the running for stash of the year or the stash that ate Ohio or anything, but I've got lots of the stuff. My mom bought me a plastic bin in which to store my yarn last year for Christmas and I might have laughed in her face at the idea that my yarn would fit in one bin. I've only been no collecting yarn for about two years, and I only...mostly....sometimes buy it for specific projects, so there shouldn't be extra lying around right? Well, anyway, the upshot of this situation is that I have way too much yarn and way too many projects waiting for my knitting needles. I have no reason to buy more. None. And yet.....

But it totally wasn't my fault, I swear. I met my friend at the store to pick out yarn for a project she wanted to start. I admit this was a tactical error where yarn purchasing is concerned, but I had my defenses in place. I carried my knitting bag with me, so that I was physically lugging around three actual unfinished projects in the store. What kind of nut would buy more yarn with that kind of albatross around her neck? Plus I'm kinda cheap, and I really have developed a resistance to cheaper yarns, so I figured I could depend on my skinflint nature to protect me from the more expensive stuff. But then....

It was on sale. And my friend really wanted to do this project with a friend. And it was really pretty. And it was wool. Washable wool. And the project was in my queue to do one day anyway. And.....crap.

These are now stashed in my ravelry account under "Jens fault". Honestly, I did everything I could.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Nothing Sadder

Recently in a meeting for work, a tech guy stated that there is nothing sadder than a blog that hasn't been updated in months, so... in an effort to be somewhat less sad, here's some stuff that happened recently:

Basket Extravaganza!!! We attended the annual Trumbull Mobile Meals Basket Extravaganza last night. It's a fundraiser for a great cause and a fantastic excuse to buy stuff you really don't need. I bought this. 
It's a gardening basket...for me. Stop laughing, I love to garden, I just don't do it very much as evidenced by my flower beds. Maybe this stuff will motivate me next year. What do you think?

Also in the vein of personal motivation, we bought this. I gave it 40 minutes of my life this morning and it had the nerve to tell me I am 10 years older than I thought. Not a shining start to a relationship, but I shall persevere for now.

On the knitting front, I'm a bit stalled out. Several smaller projects have been completed, like this. Just some simple mittens to use up some donated acrylic yarn. Probably will only be worn by a snowman or two, but what the heck.

Then I upped my difficulty level with this. The Yarn Harlot's most elegant solution to a really beautiful, really small skein of yarn. I bummed this alpaca off of my grandmother and didn't know what to do with it. The Pretty Thing worked out well, especially when I gave it to Grandma. All other knitting is currently in the swatching stage. Boooooring. More when there is actual knitting to show.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Why I Missed It

Below, you can be in awe of the reason I have done so little this summer. I have been madly knitting on this afghan to finish it by tonight, and low and behold, it's done. Still a little damp from it's final wash, but put in the gift bag anyway. The bride-to-be knows me. She will understand. Also, all outsiders are now banned from my house until I can forge a path through the mountains of dirt, grime and dirty dishes that have accumulated on my shores during the final days of this project. I really did have to push to finish it, but also, this project gave me an excellent reason to ignore all adult responsibilities and knit instead. "Sorry honey, you'll have to buy some new socks, I don't have time to wash some for you. I have the knit." "Sure dear, you can have a pop tart for dinner. I don't have time to cook. I have to knit." You get the idea.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Saturday, September 5, 2009

What else I missed

So this summer kinda flew past me. Early in August, we went on our second annual Pymatuning Vacation with my husband's whole family and my parents. It was a little less stressful for me this year, as the Bug was a whole year older, but as a family, we added two infants to the roster, so it was kinda nuts. Kate and her cousins (also 3) had tons of fun. We swam in the lake. (By we I mean that I totally let my sisters-in-law go in the cold water with the kids while I sat in a beach chair and took pictures.) We took everyone up to Linesville to feed the fish. If you don't know about this, it's a huge deal at Pymatuning. These carp are born in fishery waters, and therefore can't be fished. There are millions of them, and the gather at the spillway where people throw them bread. It's actually kinda freaky, but a tradition, so we had to do it.
Where the ducks walk on the fish.
We took the kids to a little festival where they got to go in a bounce house.
And down a big slide.
Down This was my first experience with letting my kid go into something without me and actually trusting her to behave and not to freak out. It would not be the last time this summer, and she did very well. (Yes I have let her play at the McDonald's Play Place, and yes, I did have to climb in there and get her the first time, so it doesn't count.)
We also visited the Pymatuning Deer Park where she enjoyed her second pony ride, something she really seems to like, but always wears a very serious face for. We also took the kids on a train ride where Bug enjoyed everything but the noise.
Too Loud
The biggest hit of the trip was the water park. I really didn't want to do this, as I assumed she would be too scared to participate, and there would be a big fight, and tears and lots of public embarrassment. Instead she watched her cousins go down the slide one time, and decided there was nothing bad about that, and all three of them didn't stop sliding for about an hour and a half. They LOVED it, and since there were 5 adults with them at all times, we didn't have to worry about anybody being out of sight or getting hurt. It was great, and I think the thing that cost us the least on the whole trip. Definitely worth every penny. However I was not stupid enough to take my camera to the water park, so there is no photographic evidence.
Then we did something she didn't enjoy quite so much:
sea sick
Last year we rented a nice slow pontoon boat and puttered around the lake. This year the daddies decided that was boring and rented these little boats with outboard motors and took us all the way to the dam. Granted it would have taken a week to get there on the pontoon boat, but the ride in these little boats was not what you would call smooth. Bug and I had to sit in the front to balance out the boat, and we felt it hit every single wave. Trust me when I tell you that I was making the same face she is in the picture.
Despite the teeth jarring boat ride, we had a lovely vacation, and Kate got to spend lots of time with her cousins. What could be better.
Ice cream for 2

Here it is...

Quite some time ago, in my last post, I promised to show you something else that was hiding in my jungle of a garden. So, first the story: Last spring, when we first put in this flower bed, my grandmother gave me some Asiatic Lily bulbs, and I planted them. I didn't however, tell my husband where I planted them, so he tilled up that spot and planted basil. So, goodbye lily bulbs. I didn't really forget about them, but the package they came in was gone, so I did forget what they were supposed to be. Then, this year out of the blue, 4 plant spikes came out of the ground, odd because only three bulbs got planted last year. I guess the hubby divided one of them with the tiller. Anyway, they got these giant buds on them and then apparently entered a time warp, because they froze like that for at least a month. We'd been having a rather cool summer, and apparently they didn't like it. The weeds however, loved it, and I didn't have the time, the energy or the will to clean them out, so the flower bed became a feral jungle, full of weeds trying valiantly to strangle out everything else. Then one day it got warm, and from my living room window I noticed some white and pinkish color in the garden. I thought, "man that clover's out of hand, I should really get out there and weed." And I walked out and found this...
stargazer surprise
And this...
stargazer surprise 2
Holy crap, those are stargazer lilies. The same things my grandmother adores so much she frogmarches the whole family out to see every bloom. And they were just hiding there in my garden. I can't wait to tell her I grew them. I'll leave out the part where I didn't even know they were there. If I pretend to be a real gardener, she might give me some more bulbs like that.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Unknowns: A Mystery The Unknowns: A Mystery by Benedict Carey

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Interesting plot for a mystery involving lots and lots of math. For reasons I am unable to define it felt very dark and kinda gritty for a kids book. Not in a bad way, just an odd feeling for a kids book. Also, I didn't feel the characters were very easy to connect with. I didn't really care about them much.

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World by Anthony Doerr

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I picked this up after hearing the author on NPR. A good read, the prose got a little over the top concerning nature now and then, but the twins kept it all grounded in reality.

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Missed one...

My garden is not producing much this year, so far. The tomatoes remain stubbornly green, the broccoli keeps blooming before it's remotely big enough to harvest and the peppers are this close to being ready. But zucchini and squash, that we have. I try really hard to pick them when they are small and tasty and use them up. By me, I mean Rick who goes out every so often and brings in armloads of things from the garden. The other day he and I shredded and froze about 6 quarts of zucchini. But he apparently took a few days off and....

We grew a fat baseball bat. That's my dad helping my three-year-old hold it. After the photographic evidence, it went home with Dad to feed the chickens. Not really fit for human consumption. I know it's not the biggest one you've ever seen. I just think it's hilarious that I didn't see it in the garden until it had reached such proportions. Also, more proof that zucchini are nothing but liquid green, Rick picked it last night and laid it in the kitchen, and it spent the night leaking water onto the counter. Tomorrow, if time allows, I'll show you some pictures of something else rather spectacular that snuck into my garden. That's the joy of being a really bad gardener, I'm always surprised when anything survives.

Lastly, for anyone who actually reads this blog and remembers my fluffy dog Buck (think part collie) check this out...
Can't be Buck!
Now that's a haircut.

Hocking Hills- Last Day

I got up early to pack up everything, so Rick could wedge it all into the car, leaving room for the gigantic dog crate. (He doesn't actually ride in the thing, so it's fill with other stuff.) Spent the morning dealing with the usual mess of trying to pack while the rest of the family is still using the stuff I'm packing. Nothing like plucking wet toothbrushes out of people's mouths. We really wanted to get in another hike today, but we had to return our key by 11:00 and all the hiking was in the opposite direction. Hiking is no fun on a deadline, so we dropped the key and went to see Lake Logan instead. Not the most beautiful stop we made, but we walked everybody up the beach to a floating dock and back. At the end Karl got to have a good run back and forth between the three of us, and he burned off a good amount of energy. Then everybody was into the car, settled down and headed home. We got their really early. Early enough to catch my in-laws replanted a bare spot in our lawn. They meant it to be a surprise, but we came home early and surprised them. Ooops.

Last note on Hocking Hills...on Friday we saw the ambulance pull into Old Man's Cave just after we had been there. Didn't think much about it. Then, at work on Tuesday, I heard about this....very scary to think about. We probably passed this kid on the trail, and not an hour later...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hocking Hills- Day 3

Oh the aches and pains. Woke up this morning feeling every step from the day before. The knee was screaming, but we came here to hike, and hike we will. We took our time this morning, easing into the day with a good breakfast prepared by the patient husband. Basically, I haven't the patience to be a real cook. Unless it's ready in a hurry, or I can toss it in the oven and walk away, I'll burn it trying to make things go faster. So we agreed a long time ago that he's the chef, and I wash up. I packed up the backpack, in which I attempt to carry something for every single eventuality. Our goal today was to get Kate to do some hiking on her own, and to see Rockhouse, which I was pretty sure I'd never been to before. We started there. It was quickly clear that weekends are MUCH busier around here than weekdays. We saw more people this day than any other. This was also probably the steepest descent, and the Bug did it on her own two feet. One of us was always holding her hand, and the other had the dog. It was a bit treacherous, and we had to stop and most of the major sets of stairs to let people go up past us. Several people stopped to compliment Karl on his good behavior. We also saw more dogs this day than any other, and few were as well behaved as ours. After a rough descent, we finally reached the Rockhouse. Oddly enough, we almost walked right past it as we were so intent on keeping everyone on the path, and passing other people. It's such a steep rocky place that there are no signs or anything. You are expected to look up from the path and see the giant cave to your left. Duh!
Here is a picture someone else took on a day when the place wasn't quite as crowded as our visit:

During our visit the whole place was packed from end to end. Kate and I left Daddy outside with the dog and explored the cave, and then we switched off. Daddy took some pictures of Kate in the cave that scared the crap out of me when I saw them later.
Daddy dangerous
Yup, that's my kid sitting on a rock shelf inside a cave with NO ONE anywhere near her to keep her from falling. I am assured that the picture is an illusion and her feet were only a few inches from the rock below her. I am trying to believe this. Anyway, all four of us made it safely to the gorge floor, where Kate decided she was done walking. Into the backpack she went, and we hiked ourselves back out. At the top of the path we sat down at a picnic table for a short snack, and then packed up for one more cave. We wrapped up our park visits with Cedar Falls. Oddly enough on our first day, we took a wrong path and started toward Cedar Falls before realizing our mistake and turning back. On our second day we intended to hike to Cedar Falls but our stamina was flagging and we turned back, so one would think finally reaching the largest waterfall in the park would be kind of a big deal.
Cedar Falls
Yeah, that's barely a trickle. On the plus side, Kate hiked all the way down and all the way back to the car on her own to feet so we were pretty proud of her. In this picture Kate and Daddy have spotted a bee in the water. Buggy insisted they stayed there until the bee paddled itself to the shore and climbed out on the sand to dry his wings.
Our afternoon activity for today was a flea market which included a used book store/coffee shop: my version of perfection. Unfortunately, the place was not exactly as advertised. The flea market was packing up as we arrived and the permanent shops were shutting down and when we finally reached the used book store I discovered that there are more books in my living room than in this store. We even skipped the coffee shop part and had ice cream instead. I also bought a wooden train engine for Kate as her daddy had mentioned something about toys at the flea market, and I didn't think we could get away with driving home without one. After that we went home and Rick made dinner. The dog was much happier with a short stay in his crate.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Hocking Hills- Day 2

We slept in a little today, this being a vacation and all. We ate a small breakfast, packed up the gear and headed out for Old Man's Cave. Several years ago, I had been to the Hocking Hills with my family, so I was pretty sure I'd been here, but didn't remember much. We decided to hike to the cave and then on to Cedar Falls, a different section of the park, have a picnic lunch, and then back to the car. This should have been about 3 miles. (Yes I said "should have been.") Old Man's Cave seems to be one of the most popular portions of the park, with lots of parking, a big visitors center, and lots of stone bridges. We were glad to have hiked here on Friday, when we drove through on the following Saturday and saw the crowds. We hiked down into the cave, always being careful of the knee of course, and then back towards the upper end of the gorge to see this cool bridge:

Cool bridge

Then we went around again, through the cave and on towards the lower falls. We made a slight wrong turn and found a place where the trail had been decimated by falling rock, and had to turn back. The intrepid husband wanted to blaze a trail on through, but I thought that a bit unsound seeing as we had a kid in a backpack, a dog on a leash and an invalid mommy with a bum knee. He said I was a wuss. I said tough luck.

We paused for a bit at the lower falls, and I spotted a family from my old library in Stow. I didn't introduce myself, as I'm sure they didn't remember me. Kate enjoyed the beach.

Upper Falls, Old Man's Cave

At the lower falls we met a couple who said the trail to Cedar Falls was somewhat longer than advertised. Our energy was flagging and we thought it best to turn back. Then, we missed a turn and ended up going on toward Cedar Falls anyway. At this point an unkind person might point out that we own two, count them two, GPS systems and both can read, so how the heck did we mistake three trails in two days. An unkind person might point that out, but I'm sure you are not unkind.

It became clear after a mile, that we were, in fact, on our way to Cedar Falls, which, you may remember was the original plan, so in accordance with our standard operating procedure (never admit you are wrong and never admit you are tired) we pushed on. The trail was fairly tame compared to others we encountered, with only a few ups and downs over trees and roots, but when we checked the GPS and found we had gone 2 miles and seemed no nearer our destination, we decided to turn back. Kate complained a bit that her rear hurt, so we got her out of the backpack to walk, and then stopped at a small bench for lunch. Kate only dropped 1/4 of her sandwich on the ground, (and let's be honest, if we had waited for her to finish, we'd still be there) so we threw it to the fish and continued back. Then, it started to thunder. Have I left out the part where the weather forecast said scattered showers? Well they were scattered over us. We got soaked. Seriously soaked. Kate was unhappy until I gave her a hat to keep the raindrops off her face, and then seemed to accept the situation. We passed several groups of people who had found a dry spot and were waiting out the storm, but standing still is not our way. We pressed on through the downpour, me using an umbrella as a walking stick because opening it would have been silly in all those trees. At some point during the rainstorm I abandoned the whole "be careful of your knee" thing and just plowed on through the wet. I am still paying for it today. It did not help that the rain made my glasses useless, so I was hiking with about three feet of clear vision before everything went fuzzy. It finally quit raining after we reached Old Man's Cave trails again, but we were still soaking wet when we reached the car. The dog also took the opportunity to lay down in some dry sand and pick up the lot in his wet coat. I do not even want to think about the state of the van at this time. We bugged out pretty quick and headed back to the cabin where dry clothes and showers were had by all.

We then reached the point in the vacation where we were to make use of the dog crate. This was purchased not so long ago, and despite spending some time in the thing of a evening while we are watching TV, Karl had never been shut in the crate on his own before. I was worried that he might do any number of things from make a mess, to eat the thing whole and then tear up the cabin. Once again, I worry for naught. He slept the evening away, and apart from some lingering resentment, seems no worse for his stay in the crate.

We headed to Logan for gas and a Wal-Mart run to replenish supplies and pick up the things I'd forgotten. We tried to get gas, but the gas station was "experiencing difficulties." They gave us bad directions to another gas station, which we eventually found, then went back to the cabin because we'd forgotten something rather important. (hint: I had to pay for the gas.) Then we went to Nelsonville to the Rocky Book Outlet. Rick needs new waterproof boots. Alas there was nothing in his size. There was however several things in my size. And while I shopped, Rick and Kate discovered the children's section, wherein they selected a variety of utterly useless things to buy. They also picked up a backpack that will apparently fit much better than the cheap one I bought for her last summer. (It is, I have been informed, a "real" backpack, rendering the one I bought to some lesser status. Hunchback costume presumably.)

On our way home, we stopped at "World Famous Jack's Steak House". There was some discussion concerning how the heck a hole in the wall like this could be called "would famous" but the food and the service were very good. (Perhaps it is the existence of a website which I was somewhat shocked to find.) Unfortunately Kate started to complain about a belly ache on the way home. I was somewhat worried until everything resolved itself in another bought of digestive fireworks at which my child seems to excel. We returned to the cottage, released the hound, and found our beds. End of day 2.

Hocking Hills- Day 1

This weekend we rented a cabin at Ohio's spectacular Hocking Hills. I had some reservations about such a trip as we have a very nervous dog and a terribly opinionated three-year old. Either or both can ruin your day very quickly with a quick screaming fit or a well placed digestive episode. But my intrepid husband has no fear, or at least pretends not to. He loves to make fun of my fears, and in this case he was correct. (He often is, but I don't like to point this out to him too often.)

We rented a nice little cabin on a quiet back road in South Bloomingville, very close to several of the best hiking trails in the park.

Crooked Creek Cabin

It was more of an old farm house than a cabin, but it fit all our needs, including a yard for the dog and wifi and dish network for the husband. (Kate and I are somewhat less picky about accommodations.) After unpacking the van and the cooler, we set out for Ash Cave for a short hike. Being, again, somewhat nervous, I carried a backpack filled with drinks, snacks, diaper stuff, extra clothes, hats, bug spray and various other items. Rick carried the Bug in a backpack and walked the dog. The main trail is handicapped accessible, and so fairly easy to hike. At the end, we find:

Ash Cave

The Bug was quite taken with the stairs, so we left the "easy" trail and climbed to the top of the cliff. We then made a navigation error that would become the hallmark of this trip. Most of the hiking trails in Hocking Hills are a mile or two, but several of the parks are connected by longer trails, and instead of heading back to our car, we inadvertently set off for another park entirely. We discovered our mistake fairly soon, and headed back the other way. We worked our way around the top of the cliff, my husband being extra careful about me and my bad knee. (It doesn't like downhill work.) We thankfully reach the parking area without me damaging myself to badly and put all the gear back in the car. Rick then suggested we go back to the cave on the easy trail and let Kate walk. Aside from some sand in her shoes, she did just fine.

Ash Cave

Only once, on the way back, did she asked to be carried, but we told her that hikers don't ride, they hike, and she went along. Back at the cabin, we had supper and settled down for the night.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Pictures to follow

So we've packed up the kitchen sink again, and taken off for parts unknown. The drive was tolerable, with the bug taking a nice long nap, and the dog waiting until we were with a few miles of our destination to toss his cookies. I think it was the hills and curves. Found a nicely appointed rented cabin, set appropriately off the main road to not worry about the dog much in the yard. It was better set up than we expected, with washer and dryer, so I could rescue the blanket which caught the tossed cookies. We unloaded the van, spent a few minutes settling in, and then went for nice hike to Ash Cave. The main trail is handicap accessible, and very flat, but beyond the cave there are stairs, cliffs and steep grades. We had to be a bit careful because Rick was carrying Bug in the backpack, and we had the dog on a leash. Either or both of these loose cannons can throw you off balance without really trying. After we got back to the car we let Bug walk the easy trail again under her own steam. Back at the cabin Rick made up some fried summer squash and brats while I convinced Bug that a shower was really OK since there was no bath. Then we watched a movie until we all fell asleep. That's day one in the Hocking Hills.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Stealing again

My lovely friends Christina and Diana came for a visit yesterday, and because Christina both takes better pictures and updates her blog more often than I, I'll direct you here for stellar pics of my kid and dog. Don't forget to click on the pics to access Christina's flickr page for more photos. I call this stealing again because I did the same thing last time with these pics. Thanks for such a wonderful visit guys. Come again anytime.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Seeds of Destruction

Tempted by a lush garden last year, and unduly influenced by authors like Barbara Kingsolver, I planted several rows of seeds this year, where in years past I put in mostly plants. After a number of days filled with desperate hope (I refuse to admit how many days) I am finally forced to the conclusion that the seeds are not going to sprout. My plants are merrily enjoying the rain and sun, while just a few feet to the north....scorched earth. Was it the cold, the dry, did some dastardly creature eat them, or was it the fact that I hung over the garden fence watching for them incessantly, and they are shy? Whatever the reason, I have given them up as lost, and moved on to a most important question: What now? More seeds, or shall I accept that seeds are too delicate for my brand of black thumb gardening and find some plants to fill in the empty space. Something large and lush that will make me forget the lovely pictures in the seed catalog that made me go mad and try this in the first place. Maybe a zucchini. They never fail me to produce. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

All the Broken Pieces All the Broken Pieces by Ann Burg

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I love this book, and I love free verse novels. Using such spare language makes every word important and packed with meaning. Burg gives us a very balanced portrayal of the affects of the Vietnam war on a variety of characters: a boy who was airlifted out of Saigon, Veterans returning with physical and mental wounds, men who did not join the service, and families of those who were lost. My only qualm is the fact that every single aspect of Matt's life, from his baseball team to his piano practice has some very strong connection to the war. I want to think this is a little odd, but then, perhaps during that time period, it would not be out of place for a family to know that many people directly affected by the war.

View all my reviews.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Anything But Typical Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I've read several books like this one written in first person, and this one is the most surprising, and the most satisfying. Jason is very believable, and his descriptions of his behavior give the reader a very clear understanding of his feelings. The most amazing part of this story for me was the depiction of his parents, both doing everything they can to help him, and yet dealing with their own insecurities and issues (his mother especially). The characters around Jason are very balanced between those who genuinely try to help him, the who try to "deal" with him, and those who are outright hostile to someone who is different.

View all my reviews.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Take that Bunnies!

We are high class with the garden this year. My husband tends to go overboard with any construction project, so the garden that was surrounded by chicken wire last year, this year looks like this:

Take that hungry bunnies, you will have to be satisfied with the clover growing in the yard.

This is also my first good year for returning perennials. I highly recommend gardening this way. I have not planted a single flower and we have this:

It's Dame's Rocket, actually a biannual, but still, didn't require any work this year but to unearth it from the surrounding weeds. And we have this:

It's blue speedwell. Thanks Gloria!

Currently only one problem remains. I planted my herbs outside the fence, and the dopey dog keeps eating my row markers. (They are made of PVC pipe.) He's not so bright about gardening. I think he stepped on and broke my new Rosemary as well. He is a little harder to control than bunnies.