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Jeopardy question: What is 20?

Answer: The number of orange tomatoes I picked from our plants upon arriving home after having been gone for a mere two days. 12 of them were from one plant!


I think I’ve seen it all now. At the Blair-Shannon dining hall at MSU, the massive buffet in the first floor of his dorm where Andrew eats most of his meals, they no longer provide straws for drinks. He says he now carries his own metal straw (which came with his Yeti) to the dining hall. And yes, that means he has to – at least periodically – wash his own straw.

Why do they?

I’m thinking of starting a collection of sorts. It may become a new tab on my blog. It would be called “Why do they?” and I’m thinking its first entry will be something like this.

Why do they package band-aids in such a way that it is impossible to extricate one when you need it? What body part is most likely to need a band-aid suddenly? A finger, of course. But when one’s finger is bleeding all over the place, and you have to access a band-aid with something less than two full hands, (A) you can’t separate the two little paper tabs to even get to the thing, (B) once you do get the paper off – probably by biting, ripping, and/or saying words that are not fit to print – you can’t peel back the little waxed paper tabs, and (C) should you ever get those waxed paper tabs out of the way, you can’t lay the band-aid down flat because it will stick to your finger. . . so you will have to hold it down with some other body part in order to lift your finger. . . but then with the band-aid stuck to your other body part, you will have to use your free (hopefully not bleeding) finger to get it off your other body part. . . and this process will continue ad infinitum while your sliced finger bleeds all over Kingdom Come!

Really, who designs this stuff? Because really, who ever casually goes to the band-aid box with both hands and all ten fingers free just because it occurs to them that today would be a nice day to leisurely apply a band-aid to some portion of their body? “Not I,” said the Little Red Hen Perky Pelican.


So happy!

I just have to say that when I posted my “Back left corner” blurb, I saw that it is SNOWING on my blog!!!  It does this every December – all on its own –  and that makes me so very happy.

Lewis and Clark have nothing on us

One of the many nifty things about spending time with Katie is that we have similar habits where food is concerned.  In short, when we are hungry, we eat something we like, and we don’t care what time of the day or night that might be.  I am typing this in the Dallas airport on the way home, but I have enjoyed several very tasty breakfast burritos recently, including one this morning, and one after church on Sunday.

Church was interesting.  We attended a church Katie had visited once before.  She said the worship had been good and long, but that the pastor had been gone, so his wife had preached, and she had been seriously unimpressed.  When we attended on Sunday, the worship was good and long, the pastor was there, and we were both seriously unimpressed.  On a good note, the people there were very friendly, which is a definite plus when one is church seeking.

I had taken a walk around the neighborhood earlier that morning, and what a super place it is!  I had meandered along all the streets in that development and had seen some very interesting things:  a bin on Katie’s landlord’s porch for milk delivery, really big magnolia trees, a bunch of newspaper delivery slots on mailboxes (does anyone really get print newspapers any more?  They do near Lake Powell!) a mysterious unmarked brick building at the end of her road, lots of older homes with “character,” and a blue noodle tree.  I then decided to check out the little trail that led from the back of her back yard up into the woods, and just over the rise, I found a grove of holly trees, numerous other very large trees that had been down for a good long while (wind? rain? bulldozer?), and a few glimmers of. . . was it water?. .. down through the trees.  Was that perhaps Lake Powell?  It looked more like a swamp, but I couldn’t tell for sure, and, as I needed to get back and get ready for church, I chose to leave that particular exploration to be shared with Katie later.

So, after church and lunch, we began our trek, first on foot over the rise and back toward the swamp.  We were jointly confused by all those large trees down and disappointed to find no easy access to that curious body of water at the bottom of the hill, but as werewe made our way to the left, parallel to it, we were stopped by a fairly deep and wide ravine.  My hip was not inspired to climb down or across it, so I stood on the near side gazing up at some really odd trees across the way, while Katie climbed down to explore.  On the other side, I could see a really big grove of straight, tall trees that were growing very, very close together, sort of like aspens in Colorado.  All their leaves were at the top and they were swaying in the breeze.  They weren’t like anything I’d ever seen before; they didn’t have any branches.  They were extremely tall, and I was trying to figure out how to take a picture that did them justice when Katie called out from the bottom of the ravine, “It’s BAMBOO!!!”


“Yeah!  It’s got joints, like the bamboo at home.”

“That stuff along the creek at home is actually rush, but these are so huge.  These would be rush on steroids!”

We both stood there for quite a while, totally amazed at the size and scope of those “trees.”  I’m sure they were well over 40 feet tall, and at the base, some of them must’ve been a foot in diameter.  I’m guessing there were maybe a hundred of them, swaying gently like couples slow dancing, some (maybe too tall to support themselves?) leaning against others, and up the hill from the bamboo grove, through the “normal” trees, we could see the edges of a house.  Maybe the folks who lived there were raising pandas for east coast zoos?

Well, since we couldn’t solve the bamboo mystery on our own, and since several more curiosities were waiting to be explored – namely the odd, unmarked building at the end of her road, the terminus of Neck-O-Land Road, portions of Jamestown Island, and a ferry(!!!) over the James River – we walked back to Katie’s house and turned right toward the mystery building.  It turns out that the bamboo grove is in the deep back yard of the house only two doors down from her.  We know because we recognized features of it that we had seen through the trees.

Next stop:  the windowless brick building at the end of the road.  There was a power line to it, and after a bit of discussion, we decided it must be either a well house or a pump station, but what was next to it was even more interesting:  the site of what we think in a former life must have been a road bed, a bridge approach (complete with railroad tie supports and remains of a metal guardrail), and the bed of a creek of some size and depth.  The ditch contained only a few trickles and puddles of water and was now almost completely overgrown.  Tree saplings were growing in it, and slabs of concrete were strewn about it in that characteristic way of washed-out low (or high) water bridges.  And once we climbed down into it and up out of it on the other side, we found a matching approach with even some intact asphalt roadway.

Now that was all very fascinating and curious, but it was nothing to compare with the shock we had as we walked forward on the old roadbed a mere 100 feet into the woods.  Suddenly, the road ended in an extreme drop-off, and there we stood on the very steep edge of a swiftly moving stream!  To our left was a decent-sized lake, probably Lake Powell, and we were clearly standing at the near end of what used to be a dam, probably the very dam that created Lake Powell.  On the far side were the remains of a concrete spillway.  Wow!!!  What a wonderful find for two exploring history buffs!  We were so curious.  We had so many questions with no answers.  We decided what we really needed was a James City County docent, someone who knew the history of the Lake Powell area and could explain to us what had happened when and why, but neither of us knew how to locate such a person.

Thrilled with our discoveries to that point, and, as it was only mid-afternoon, Katie and I walked back to her house and got in the car, ready to begin the vehicular phase of our Sunday afternoon exploration.


Big yellow bus

Or little green car.

Today was Andrew’s first day of school.  In fact it was the very first time I have ever sent ANY kid to school, except for college.  Handsome guy, eh?

Andrew's first day of school - 10th grade at TCA, August 19. 2015

Andrew’s first day of school – 10th grade at TCA, August 19. 2015

He’s been living for this day for many years, but ever since the open house two nights ago, he’s been kind of nervous.  Throughout the summer, I’ve tried to give him a few tops and pointers.  Things like, “When you go to school, you probably won’t be able to sit in a recliner and coffee while doing your mapping assignment,” and, “Racing through a test and picking the first multiple choice answer that seems right without reading the all the options carefully may adversely affect your grade point,” and, “In school you can’t suddenly leave a room without permission.”  Stuff like that.  But he never wanted to hear any of it.

Last night he was concerned that all the other kids who have been in school for years will know what to do and where to go and how to act, and he won’t, and it will be obvious that he is inexperienced.  This, of course, is true, but he’s concerned about how he will appear.  I can understand that.

His alarm did go off on time (6:00) but I let him off his two-mile run because it was pouring down rain, so he got to sleep till 6:20.  He showered, dressed, ate (and I wish you could see our sparking clean, totally re-organized fridge and freezer), practiced piano, and tolerated the one pic above and one hug before he headed out the door at 7:50.  He had strict instructions NOT to speed, not to pick up any one for any reason, and to text me when he was in the school parking lot.  He has to be in the gym at 8:15, and he texted me (“at school”) at 8:12.

I did not cry when he left, or any time thereafter.  I told him that departures of a few hours usually don’t generate tears; departures of several months do.  I will see this guy again at 4:00, and I warned him that he would be required to tell me at least a little bit about his day. . . seeing as how it’s kind of “my” first day of school, too.


Branching out

Our friends, Shane and Georgie, have floated with us a time or two, and after those adventures, they decided to get kayaks for themselves and their kids (son 16, daughter about 13, and daughter about 6).  At church on Sunday, they surprised us by saying that they had had a fun family float the day before on. . . are you ready? . . . ROARK creek!

Now seriously, who’dda thunk?!?

Roark?  Really?  Has anybody every floated Roark?!?  Right through the middle of Branson?!? Well, Shane and Georgie have, and they said it was good.  They did this unheard-of thing on the day before our own fiasco in the deluge on Sunday afternoon, and they said the scraped a little, but not too bad.  Evidently, while Bull Creek is gravelly, Roark is rockier, with bigger rocks to steer around and some significant drops of a foot or more.  But Georgie, who hasn’t done a huge amount of floating, said it didn’t scare her, and I could see the gleam in Scott’s eye.  In fact, we discussed trying it ourselves – the two of us – that afternoon, but since God already had Ethan Moore ready to grill burgers in the rain on Bull Creek, it really wouldn’t have been right to expect him to move his whole deal to Roark on short notice.

I thought Shane told Scott they floated from Salem Road to the mouth at Taneycomo, but in looking at a Taney County map, I’m thinking I must’ve misunderstood; it must’ve been Sycamore Church Road.  He said the water was somewhat below the slab when they started, and it would have been a better float if it had been just a few inches over the slab.

Well, let me tell you that all it has done this whole week is rain and flood the creeks, so I’m sure it’s over the slab now!

This afternoon, Andrew and I were in town for an appointment, and I had told Scott we’d be home around 4:30.  At 4:24, he called me and asked when I’d be home, and I said in about six minutes.  When we got here at 4:28 – with Scott it’s always best to exceed expectations – he was out loading kayaks.  It seems that he and Shane had decided that they and their respective 16 year-old sons were going to leave in 15 minutes to float Roark.

So they left at 5:00, and it’s now 7:30, and I’m expecting them back any minute.  They were going to float from that same slab to the basketball court area on the far side of the creek at Stockstill.  I’m sure they will have stories to tell!

Popping out

For the second year running, our little dogwood tree out front is “flowering!”  The bracts (which aren’t really the flowers, but which are the fun, showy parts) still look greeny-creamy, but in a few days, I am sure they will be whiter and even lovelier.  Andrew has now mowed twice, the first time being on Easter (4/5), and I am so enjoying the lovely lacy green of spring.  It’s my favorite season, and it comes around every year.  What a blessing!

Jeopardy question: What is 111?

Answer:  The number of ladybugs removed at one time from two windowsills in our kitchen.

And yes, they were all dead, which proves that Wal-Mart’s battery-powered bug-killing juice really does work!

To the little mountain

I do so love to blog, but there are seasons when life seems to fly by too quickly to allow me time to write, and it seems that almost by definition, those “speedway” times are always packed full of the very experiences that make excellent blog fodder.  Sigh.  It’s just too bad that I have to choose between living life and writing about it – the frequent result being that I only find myself with time to write long after a noteworthy event occurred, and thus have a hard time remembering all the details and piecing them together in a fairly coherent manner.  Ah, the challenges of being a writer who lives fully!  However, this definitely beats the alternative:  itching to write, but having nothing interesting to say.

And now, because I don’t ever want to forget how wonderful it was, I shall at least give some highlights of my visit with Katie a couple weeks ago.

Friday night, I got to see Josiah, and it was so great!  I do miss that guy.

He was sporting casual garb (shorts, T-shirt, one crew sock, one ankle sock, and tennis shoes), and since this meeting preceded his most recent shearing, he did indeed look rather llama-like.  We ate at Subway, endeavored to play ping-pong (a sport that is especially good for conversation) but found the lights off and folks watching a movie in that lounge; attempted to play racquetball (a sport that is fun but unfortunately totally precludes conversation) but found the court closed due to a recent floor re-finishing project; and so took our borrowed equipment (one racquetball, two racquetball racquets, and one tennis racquet) out to the tennis court(!!!), where we conclusively proved that, when unimpeded by walls and launched at dusk with either a racquetball or a tennis racq1uet, a blue racquetball will bounce to an impressive height, travel a great distance, and be virtually impossible to see with the naked eye.

It should be further noted that just prior to that conducting that proof, somewhere in the bowels of BHC, we had met Dr. Spinney who had just completed his workout.  He was gracious as always and appeared quite pleased to see a quorum of the Roberts family all at once.  He was speaking highly of his recently-acquired indentured servant, our very own Stingray, who is providing some teaching assistance to him this semester.  I do respect that man.

I slept on a perfectly inflated air mattress on the floor of Katie’s room with a small blue fan blowing directly onto my face, and despite the fact that warm air does indeed rise from a first floor to a second floor bedroom, the whole arrangement was delightfully comfortable.  I enjoyed reading myself to sleep with The Phantom Tollbooth.

We were well-prepared to head out early Saturday morning for our mystery day trip.  Now, I was very curious about this, but I had not figured out our destination.  I knew it was a two-plus hour drive away.  I knew we would be both outside and inside.  I knew we wanted to get there (wherever “there” was) early enough to have time to wander around before our commitment at 2:00 PM.  I knew I was supposed to bring a small bag of no larger than certain very specific dimensions.  Other than that, I knew nothing, but I knew it was going to be great!

However, even before we could get on the road, I saw a long metal pipe and a big stick on the ground next to Katie’s car.  someone had vandalized several cars in her complex’s parking lot, and Katie’s rear view mirror had been smashed.  For no reason!!!  Aarrgghh!!!  There was no other damage, the car wasn’t broken into, and nothing was stolen, but it looks to be about a $350 repair, and that truly makes like a vacuum.

Leaving the mirror for the police and leaving the scene of the crime, we refused to be deterred.  We drove and drove and drove through the lovely countryside that is northern Virginia, and at long last I saw a small sign with the word “Monticello” on it  Oh, my!  I was so stunned and so overwhelmed that I started crying!  We were going to Monticello. . . and a few minutes later we arrived at The Actual Place!

It was all quite amazing.  I learned a lot about Mr. Jefferson, including why he was at one point in his life temporarily without books.  I loved the grounds, the garden (WOW!), the flowers, the house, the furnishings, and the amazing inventions.  What a mind that man had.

We had a very full day, and just after arriving back home, it rained like crazy while we played “Ticket to Ride,” and don’t even get me started on that!  That game is certainly worth its own blog post.

I got to go to church with Katie, and then I began my somewhat challenging trip home.  That trip – at least the part in the Dallas airport – is also worth its own post, but that shall have to wait.  So many words; so little time.  = )





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