Archive for August, 2010

Vacation adventures

This is a post to document the main events of the grand vacation to the Grand Canyon and Colorado that we will soon be wrapping up.  It has been fabulous, beautiful, memorable, sometimes challenging, and very fun for each of us in different ways.

I had created a nifty vacation summary post, but it was lost to cyberspace, possibly because laptops and I don’t get along very well, but probably because the unsecured, nearly-out-of-range wireless network I had logged in to from our wonderful vacation home here in Georgetown was not reliable and disconnected me without warning.  In any case, this is the second attempt (created in Word for safe-keeping.

The Grand Canyon and Colorado jaunt was, naturally, Scott’s idea.  With Jessica overseas since late June, and knowing that Katie would go back to school in early August, he thought it would be fun to take a vacation with just the boys – we could make some fun memories with them and also take our minds off of missing the girls so much.  So, in less than a month, he and Katie put together a whirlwind schedule, reservations and some key purchases were made, much packing ensued, and we were off!

Although each of the events listed below is well worthy of its own blog post, I regret that I don’t know if or when that will be possible.  I suspect that when we do arrive home, we will hit the ground running, so to speak, with a full slate of housekeeping, academic, and ministry responsibilities for Walnut Shade Mom.  Not only that, I also have untold hundreds (yea, possibly thousands!) of pictures to download, organize, upload to Flickr, and label in my “spare”time.  All that to say that if I can carve out time to write a blog, I will probably just pick one vacation experience and write about it; thereby causing my posts to be totally out of order and maybe confusing both for current readers and for anyone who goes back and reads this blog years from now.  Therefore, I will now simply list what all we have seen and done in the past ten days.

Painted Desert

Petrified Forest

Grand Canyon (including Scott and Josiah hiking to the bottom, spending the night, and hiking back up!)

Four Corners

Mesa Verde

Great Sand Dunes

Garden of the Gods

Focus on the Family

Royal Gorge (including Scott and Andrew white water rafting through the gorge!)

Mt. Evans

Georgetown, Colorado (one of my very favorite small towns)

Guanella Pass Road

Georgetown Loop Railroad (Patty and Andrew)

Gray’s Peak (climbed by Scott and Josiah)

Lebanon Silver Mine (Patty and Andrew)

In addition to the above, we have driven some 1750 miles, eaten a variety of greater and lesser complimentary continental breakfasts, and shopped at a number of finer Safeway stores.  Jessica, I got the card this time.  = )

Just now, Andrew and I have returned to the Georgetown house from our train ride and mine tour.  We bought ice cream at the “End of the Line” soda fountain, and Andrew is now off biking around town.  Scott and Josiah just returned from conquering Gray’s Peak!  We have sloppy joes in the crockpot for supper, and we’ll be packing things up to begin our two-day drive home tomorrow.

It has been a grand adventure!

Albuquerque or bust

We are here, and it’s been a long, but good day.

Slept three hours the night before leaving, departed at 5:00 AM, and drove some 14.5 hours to get here.  I drove all of Oklahoma and Texas.  = )

Realized we left the DC to AC power adapter for the computers at home, but found a Best Buy and was able to obtain another one.  This let Scott work, and the boys watch a couple videos.

Had supper at Subway on a deep discount.  Yummy.

Boys went swimming tonight at the La Quinta outdoor pool.

Ready to sleep well.

Charlotte’s cousin, Jack

Or, would that be Jacqueline?

Jack’s gone, and that was a source of some angst yesterday morning on Andrew’s part.   He was near tears, but I told him that while it was possible that Jack is no longer among the living, it is equally possible that Jack had gotten so fat and happy (Andrew’s been feeding him/her on a regular basis) that he was ready to move on to his next adventure.  Andrew considered all that for a moment and decided he would choose to believe the latter.  I thought that showed some mature reasoning.

Jack was a spider who had built an impressive funnel web in the corner of the playroom’s back window.  Andrew was intrigued by Jack, and that is a good thing, because he (Andrew) is typically and irrationally terrified of spiders.  Each day he’d spend lots of time watching Jack, checking his web, and noting the numbers and types of tasty morsels that had been trapped and which ones had been carried below for safekeeping – or safe eating.

He took to feeding Jack ants – large juicy black ones.  He’d drop an ant on the web and excitedly give us the play-by-play as Jack darted out, injected the ant with his poison and then retreated while the ant agonized.  After that, Jack would return to (in Andrew’s words), “suck out the ant’s blood.”  Andrew found that fascinating.

But today at breakfast, he sadly announced that Jack was gone.  As mentioned above, I did my best to comfort him, discreetly omitting the probability that Jack was a girl and possibly dead.  After all Elwyn Brooks White told that story much better than I ever could.


Despite its being my dad’s birthday month, which is a very good thing because my dad is a VERY good dad, August is my least favorite month of the year.  In my opinion, it just has too many strikes against it.

1.  It’s hot.

2.  It’s humid.

3.  Children leave for college.  (also a good thing, but sometimes a challenging adjustment for those “left behind”)

4.  Some of the trees begin dropping their leaves.

5.  Spiders begin building webs.

6.  It’s humid.

7.  It’s hot.

The heat and humidity remind me to be thankful for A/C.

The return trips to college remind me that God has blessed us with special kids who have much potential and bright futures.

The leaf dropping and web building kindle dread in me, because they foreshadow that dead and depressing fall season that I dislike.   It’s not as bad as August, but it lasts a lot longer.  However, they also make me thankful that we can live where there ARE seasons!

The humidity makes me thankful that I don’t live in a desert like my friend, Danette.

The heat. . . can I think of anything positive about the heat?  Well. . . it makes for great swimming in the creek!

Typos, anyone?

Seen on the sign at Culver’s:  “Rapsberry. . . ”  Would that be a fruit that chants rhythmically?

Seen on the architectural site plan for the Altom Construction project on the other side of Casa de Luz:  “Existing entry to be remain.”  Does that mean it will be main again?

94 at 7

It was 94 degrees in the shade at 7:00 PM, and it’s all the way down to 88 at 9:15  PM.  Thank you, God, for Willis Haviland Carrier, who in 1928 developed the first residential ‘Weathermaker’, an air conditioner for private home use.


A few weeks ago, the Coffee Road street sign that has always stood in the corner of the Casa de Luz property next door mysteriously disappeared.  The base for the sign is still there, and a very small segment of the pole does remain, but it looks like it was sheared off a few inches above the base by an enormous beaver who gnawed it for a while and then gave it a violent twist.  I have been eagerly waiting for MODoT to replace that sign, as the little metal stub is unsightly in such a luxurious neighborhood as ours.  Ahem.

Next, as you know, that little pink MO “dot” appeared in our yard, along with some hot pink text in the street adjacent.  We, of course, had no clue what that was about.

Then, about a week ago, a (sign?) base appeared in OUR yard, at the location of the aforementioned pink dot.  Hmmm. . . maybe the Coffee Road sign was being moved to our yard.  Now, I didn’t much care for that possibility; I don’t even drink coffee.  But what can one do?  The recent August 3rd primary ballot emphatically did not seek my input on the positioning of replacement street signs in our fair county.

I walked this morning and then watered everything, arriving back inside about 8:15 AM.  30 minutes later, as I went to shower, Andrew hollered, “It’s a stop sign!!!”  He was looking out the boys’ bathroom window.  I had sent both boys in there to straighten up.  Josiah had cleaned that bathroom after supper last night and it looked neat and tidy.  This morning, it was a wreck again.  How DOES that happen so quickly?  So, while they were remedying the damage to the bathroom ambiance and decor, Andrew noticed that within the past half hour a stop sign had appeared on the base at the pink dot location in our yard.

We all wonder about our tax dollars at work on this one.  Coffee Road is a dirt road that tees into Highway 160 at our house.  We sit on the corner facing the highway.  I say it’s a dirt road, and usually it is, but sometimes it’s a mud road, and occasionally, when a neighbor buys a load of gravel (or lifts it out of the creek – shame, shame!) and spreads it in front of his house, I guess parts of Coffee Road could be considered a gravel road.

There are nine houses on Coffee Road, plus three houses on a side dirt-and-gravel road (Irene’s Lane – she evidently died before we moved here) that runs off of it over by the creek.  The restaurant is defunct – although we’ve heard that some businessman from India is buying it to re-open as a gas station and convenience store (yuck) – the trailer park is no more, and the sheet-metal-building-turned-automotive-repair has been vacant for years.  So, there’s not a great deal of traffic on Coffee Road.  Most of the folks who live here drive slowly on the road.  You have to if you value your suspension and front end alignment.  The only person who goes in and out of the neighborhood with haste is Mr. Ipock, who is a volunteer fireman and EMT type.  When his alarm goes off, he tears out of here like a bat out of hell, but I’m sure he’d do that whether there was a stop sign at the highway or not.  And frankly, if I were the one with the emergency, I’d want him to drive 45 mph down his dirt road, turn on his siren, and swerve violently into the highway ignoring the stop sign, too.

Putting a stop sign at the end of Coffee Road makes about as much sense as putting one at the end of YOUR driveway!  I’m already thinking about how I might spruce it up a bit.  Of course, it is technically installed on the highway easement, but shoot, we mow that strip of grass because it looks like it’s our yard.  In fact, my mailbox flower bed is on the easement, too.  Hmmm. . . I wonder if I might at least try a little bed of marigolds around the base of the stop sign next spring. . . ?  Or would the sheriff STOP me?   = )

Us four and no more

With Jessica on a mission trip on the other side of the world and Katie back at college on the other side of the country, we are down to moi plus three males.  that would make for a family of four, which is fine, but just very strange.

For instance, I have no idea how to cook for four.  Do I cook for six to eight and have leftovers; leftovers that won’t feed us a second meal?  Or do I try to alter all my recipes to only feed four?  Who knows!

Then there’s the matter of chores.  They all seem to be coming back around to Mom.  I haven’t done this much housework in YEARS!

Scott’s also threatened to do away with the van, since we only need four seats now.  I’m pretty sure he was joking, but I strongly vetoed that idea, just in case.

I kind of miss the hub-bub of having more warm bodies flying back and forth and in and out of the house all the time, but I’m guessing that with effort I can adapt to this new, smaller mindset.  Trying to look on the bright side. . . maybe the grocery bill will go down.  Or maybe the electric bill.  The washing machine should be happier, as it shouldn’t have to run EVERY day.  Shouldn’t four people make fewer messes and less noise than six? Hmmm. . . so far that one is definitely not happening.

I am terribly proud of both of our girls.  After several weeks of training, Jessica will begin the outreach phase of her mission this weekend; and after a week of R.A. training and a week of freshman orientation, Katie will begin her life as a junior and an R.A.  I have to remind myself that although I do really miss them both, their absence is not a punishment of us.  On the contrary, they are able to do what they’re doing because  we have succeeded in training and equipping them and sending them out to make a difference.  Their journeys are our rewards.

Hot and getting hotter

It’s hot and humid here.  It feels like Arkansas weather.  Today’s high was 98 and the heat index was supposedly in the 105 range.  I am thankful for air conditioning.  The air in the house is working well, but the air in the van is not.  The van’s at Branson Muffler and Wade’s Automotive, where it is awaiting an A/C pressure switch to be delivered from the dealer tomorrow.  Wade is “99% sure” that the part will be at the shop before he gets to work, and since the van is parked crossways in his lot, I am hopeful that he will be able to unite the two successfully tomorrow.  Josiah will then take me (in the non-air conditioned ’86 Toyota) to pick it up, and no matter how hot that ride is, it cannot possibly be any hotter than the trip to take the van to the shop at 4:45 PM today!

I am watering most of my containers daily now, and the beds and barrels every other day.  It’s so hot that it’s hard for me to even tolerate being out in it, so I am trying to do my walking at 6:30 AM, start watering by 7:15 AM,  shower and run any errands right after breakfast,  and try to get back home by 9:30 AM.  By which time the mercury is pushing 90 and climbing rapidly.

In order to walk at 6:30 AM, I really need to get up at 5:45 AM, and in order to get up at 5:45 AM, I really need to go to bed by 10:00 PM.  That never happens, but maybe if I stop typing and hit the shower, I can give it a shot tonight.   Therefore, good night.

Awesome Amy

Katie’s roommate, Amy, was here with us for several day.  She flew down to have fun with Katie and also to help her with the two-day drive back to school.  To say that we all enjoyed her visit would be a vast understatement.  Here are some special memories for various ones of us.

> Silver Dollar City in the rain – Wilderness Church service, Homestead Pickers, meeting their college friend from Florida, KATIE ON WILDFIRE!!!

> swimming in soup-warm water at Big Rock

> Golden Glazed Chicken with Noodles

> painting faces at the Reeds Spring school readiness fair

> teaching Amy to play Bridge

> riding behind Miriam on the four-wheeler

> the Ernests’ totally amazing tree!!!

> riding home from church in a sweltering van

> Apples to Apples

> Amy’s ankle  = (

> the meteor shower on the playroom roof

Now Katie and Amy are back in Virginia, and I am officially registering my vote for paper maps.

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