Fall woods

Fall woods

Monday, December 5, 2016


Yeah, it's been a long and eventful week...I still haven't gotten around to posting about last Saturday's exercise in insanity!  Time to fix that.

I've been working on a particular geocaching challenge sporadically for about three years now.  There are 81 caches in this particular series, one each of all the difficulty and terrain combinations.  I only have a few of them left to do, and the ones I haven't done yet are all evil beasts for one reason or another.  Hence the not-done-yet part.

The night before Thanksgiving, I was texting a friend about his plans to meet up with some other cachers who are experienced climbers--he was hoping to finally be able to get a cache on his bucket list that is about 50 feet up a tree.  I jokingly asked him if his friends were willing to travel one state over, since two of the caches in the series I'm working on are totally unreachable without climbing gear.  (One is high in a tree, the other is at the top of a sheer cliff face.)  To my surprise, I got a note back within hours saying "Absolutely; what about Saturday??"  Gulp.  Troops were assembled, logistical arrangements made, and five of us met up Saturday morning near the cliff cache.

Up by the cache container

The experts had decided in advance that we were starting at the top of the cliff and rappelling down rather than trying to climb up from the bottom.  Now, I haven't rappelled since a summer camp in high school, so I was basically starting at square one.  "This is the harness, this is a carabiner, this mechanism is how you lower yourself," etc.  The experts were lovely people, had top-notch equipment, and were as patient and thorough as you could possibly want people who are the only thing standing between you and death to be.  It was still quite nerve-wracking to climb down over the top edge of the cliff though...the best advice I got at that point was, "Don't look down!"

Rappelling down

Three of the five of us rappelled down, and the female half of the climber pair actually made the find while doing so.  The other newbie and I were just happy to get down safely...hanging in midair while searching was not in the cards for us and that hide was really evil anyway.  One down, one to go!  On to the tree.

Catapult in action

The second hide was about 35 feet up a tree.  Not too bad except that there are no branches below the level of the cache container...if you have no ropes, forget it.  The guy half of the expert team broke out a giant slingshot and easily catapulted a weight at the end of a long line over a fork high in the tree.  Then they attached a heavier rope to the end of the lightweight line, used the line to pull the rope over the fork in the tree, anchored the rope to the harness, and all of a sudden everyone was looking at me.  Double gulp.  I get to be the guinea pig on this one.  Attach the harness, put my foot in the stirrup, get a quick lesson in how to climb ropes (much more complicated than rappelling down, probably why we did the other one first!) and up the tree I go.  Very slowly, but surely.

Almost there!

All the way up!

Luckily, the coming-down process is a lot like rappelling and took way less time.

Two for two and such an awesome day.  Talk about an adrenaline rush.  (Technically two of them.)  And no injuries at all.  The most amazing part??  The guy climber is so phobic of heights that he can't look down while he climbs, but he does it anyway...talk about a serious badass!  Two caches I never thought we'd get, two new friends and so much fun...that was a day for the plus column in a big way.  YEAH!!!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

...But On The Bright Side For The Walking Wounded

Because of the broken collarbone, Thing One can't get shirts without buttons over his head, which knocks out his usual wardrobe of athletic performance t-shirts.  To keep the kid in clothing for the next month or so, we went out Sunday and bought him a bunch of soft flannel button-down shirts.  Which don't go at all with his usual soccer sweatpants, so we also picked him up a few pairs of comfortable khaki pants, since he has categorically refused to wear jeans since second grade or so. Instead of his usual rumpled-jock-who-just-got-out-of-bed look, he is now rocking this total-prep look.  Purely by circumstance, of course, but apparently the girls approve.

Yesterday, one of the "cool" girls told him that she's sorry he's hurt, but that his injury has done wonders for his fashion sense!  I laughed out loud when he passed that along to me.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Not Dead Yet

Seems that I blinked and it's been over a week since I posted here.  Ugh. All is well, unless you are Thing One's left collarbone, anyway.

My boys were playing pickup soccer with their cousins Thursday afternoon in my in-laws' yard.  My boys are the biggest and oldest of the cousins.  Somehow they managed to get their feet tangled together (an accident from the perspective of all who saw it) and when they fell Thing Two landed on Thing One, breaking his collarbone.  Luckily there was an open Urgent Care with an X-ray machine in the vicinity, so there was a brief detour for scan and sling before we all sat down to turkey.  We were able to get him in to see an orthopedic surgeon Friday and no surgery is required at least, but he will be in a brace for weeks.  He's in no pain but is absolutely bored out of his mind!  No physical activity probably through December...torture for an active 13 year-old boy.  

Not a pic of him but this is the brace type.

Ironic since he had a personal best in the 5K Turkey Trot he ran that morning!!  All three kids did, actually: Thing One ran 7-minute miles, Thing Two 8-minute miles, and Petunia 9-minute miles.  Himself ran with Petunia since she's too little to run a road race alone.  Me?  Hey, I ran my first race in at least ten years, didn't have to stop, didn't hurt my bum knee, and had fun, so I'm calling it a win even if my nine year-old did finish a few minutes before me.  :)

More to come later...a few other adventures over the holiday weekend involving cliffs, trees and climbing gear!

Sunday, November 20, 2016


Thing Two's soccer team had their end-of-year party tonight, immediately following the last tournament game of the fall season. (They came in second in their age group!!)  It was held at a pub that has a large glass-walled interior room full of those loud, colorful, token-operated, ticket-dispensing games beloved by children everywhere, which I suspect had something to do with the choice of venue.

Fueled by pizza, the kids ran into the game room with their cups of tokens and emerged an hour or so later with fistfuls of tickets. Literally thousands of them, all told.  Which, one fistful after another, and unprompted by any adult, they all proceeded to hand to their trainer for his two little kids.  The big kids left the pub empty-handed, but the two tiny ones took home two or three big prizes each.

This trainer has a full time day job and trains them two nights a week on top of that.  I'm sure his wife is tired with the two little ones and would much prefer that he be home more often than he is! But when he showed her the tickets and explained what happened, she told him that she understands why he coaches this group of boys.  And then every adult in the room suddenly developed a case of the sniffles.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

You Know What? I'm Still Mad.

I live in a very white, very conservative area.  I'm not surprised that Trump took more votes here than Clinton, and I'm also not surprised that a number of people I know voted for him.  What I am finding interesting is the defensive tone that many of them are taking about their vote on Facebook.

I get that many of them are voting their wallets and their hatred of all things Clinton.  I get that many of them are what I would generally consider good folks who carefully considered their options and then came down on the other side of the political line from me.  That's their prerogative in this fine country.  

I also think that deep down in some small corner of the psyches of some of these people, they are ashamed of their association with Trump.  Or worse, that they know they *should* be, but they aren't.  Because deep down, they care less about people who aren't able and straight and Christian and white and male (don't even get me started on white women here) than they should, and they know it.  So when they get called out for voting Trump, they get disproportionately offended.  

Here's how I see it: you may not have voted Trump because you agree with all of his loathsome personal beliefs.  You may have supported him because of his economic policy or smaller-government leanings or outsider status or whatever.  But YOU SUPPORTED HIM.  That's the bottom line. You helped put that man in office.  So, now, here's what you need to do.  Assuming that you actually care about people who aren't ablebodied Christian white males, anyway.  

You need to actively, vocally stand up for the immigrants, the people of color, the women, the LGBTQ, the nonChristian, all those whose enemies have just been validated and invigorated by these election results.  Otherwise, no matter why you voted Trump, the generalizations apply to you too.  

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Touch Of Post-Election Levity

Yesterday was parent conference day at school for our younger two kids.  Believe me when I tell you that I was not in the mood for that AT ALL, but I put on my big-girl pants and went anyway.  (Fortunately, all is well with both kids.)  While I was waiting in the hallway outside Petunia's classroom pre-conference, I started reading the bulletin boards to entertain myself and came across this poem she had written.  I am sharing it with her permission.


If I were president of the United States,
I'd cancel Sesame Street, Elmo and Barney,
Pokémon GO,
Gray, and also
Math on Tuesday morning.

If I were president of the United States,
There'd be pizza for lunch every day,
Three days of weekend, and
A jungle gym at everyone's house.

If I were president of the United States,
You wouldn't have six hours of school.
You wouldn't have parents that yell.
You wouldn't have embarrassing nicknames.
Or cursive.
Or mean people.

If I were president of the United States,
All women and men would have the same rights,
All siblings would be nice,
And a person who sometimes forgot their homework,
And sometimes forgot to study,
Would still be allowed to be
President of the United States.

I like her platform. Petunia for President in 2020!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


I am ashamed.

Of my political system.  Of my nation.  In some cases, of my family.

We have elected a bigoted, xenophobic, homophobic, ableist ignoramus.  We should all be ashamed.  And yet I see celebrating on Facebook.

The 1950s called.  It wants us back.  And we listened.

I'd say God help us all, but God had nothing to do with this.