musings in mayhem

writer, mom, tutor, superwoman

Archive for the month “August, 2011”

aftermath

Hurricane Irene came and went, and left a lot of damage in her wake. My family hunkered down, battened down the hatches, took naps, did puzzles, read by candlelight for just a little while. Overall, though the house sounded threateningly battered and buffeted, in the end we really had no damage. Just had to clean up a lot of little branches in the yard. some not so little, but still we could carry them.

I wish I could say the same for everyone. A mother lost her child in Newport News, near us. Old college friends’ family in upstate New York had to evacuate their house by rescue boat. Within twenty-four hours prior, they had an epic battle to remove a squirrel from their house. It has not been a good weekend for them. They are okay, but their driveway and basement are awash.

Many others had it much worse. A fabric artist’s studio in Shelburne Falls, MA, picked up from its foundation and took a ride down a raging river that had formerly been the street. There is impressive video of that pink brick building before and after its journey floating around the internet. My apologies for the wordplay.

Back in our vicinity, Southside, at Sandbridge Beach area of Virginia Beach, again, there is impressive video and photography of houses ripped apart there around the internet.. It’s my family’s favorite beach to day trip to. The little low lying town next to me was under mandatory evacuation, but a friends of mine stayed while the husband volunteered for Community Emergency Services.

In the meantime, here, I am amazed that Mother Nature can go from this:

The night before Hurricane Irene

To this on the day of:

Taken early on. Later those birches were bending in half like a Cirque du Soleil acrobat. I did not want to be that close to the windows when she was at full strength.
To this the following day:
Solid blue, grace of an egret.
My hopes and wishes are that you and yours are all well, and survived to pick up the pieces as we did. 
Blessings.

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he’s a teen

It’s hard to believe sometimes that 12:31am thirteen years ago and today are part of the same lifetime.

But it is, and constitutes the whole life so far of one of the most interesting, funniest and challenging people I have ever known.

At 1, 2.5, and with his brother at 1.5 years old.
Mom: Smile.
Capt. Comic: I don’t want to smile. At least I’ve got a thumbsup.

Mom: Don’t you dare laugh.
Capt. Comic: Pbbpbpb!

Capt. Comic: C’mon, Mom, I don’t want to smile. I can do what I want now that I’m a teen.
Mom: Pikachu!

Seriously, Mom. Just take the picture.
Mom: Then give me an old movie star smile, like Clark Gable.

I love this kid.

I usually post a birthday blog in which I list a number of things about the kid whose birthday it is equal to their age. This time, it took three days to get Captain Comic to come up with a list himself, and in the end he drew it in about 10 minutes. Click to zoom, they’re fun drawings.

Just in case you can’t tell what he is representing:

1. Making movies.
2. Godzilla.
3. Drawing.
4. Making people laugh.
5. If you don’t know, you’re lucky. (oops, mom’s commentary) Pokemon.
6. Other people singing hurts my ears, “it’s like my Kryptonite.”
7. Videogames.
8. Star Wars
9. Need I say more? (mom again)
10. Pugs are my latest obsession.
11. The Hill (really a berm at the back of our neighborhood baseball field)
12. Jaws
13. I like fights in movies, like Jackie Chan.

Captain Comic is becoming a teen.

I wonder if that’s why Mother Nature is bringing this epic Hurricane Irene?

He’s a great kid. He’s big, he’s loud, he’s talented, he’s an original and the next handful of years of my life will be epic indeed. I love him.

Happy Birthday, Kiddo.

that kid’s got talent

Please click to blow up. It’s worth it, really. 
It also grows funnier, the expressions more distinct the more I look at it. 
In the words of King Crimson, The more I look at it…The more I like it. I do think it’s good.


*As I proudly showed the kid that he was getting laughs all over various places, he admitted he riffed it from a ‘Cyanide & Happiness’ strip.

safari morning

I am trying to cull from the many things we did on our first true family vacation all together, all others involved shooting all over to visit people. I have made a few posts about this one already.

The day of our safari park adventures, we also visited the deepest caverns east of the Mississippi. As you can imagine, pictures were a bit tough, but I will post about both the Natural Bridge Caverns and Luray Caverns in another post. We had a very big day between the cool caves and more animals and ways to see them than you can imagine.

The Virginia Safari entrance was right with the KOA where we stayed and was only a couple of miles down the road from the zoo we visited the day before. I am a bit link happy today. Of course, for proximity alone, we had to go. We safaried in the morning, caved at midday then safaried in the afternoon.

This post is morning only. I really did choose judiciously from the over 500 photos I took that day. Promise. It was HAARD! Okay?

I am not overwhelming you with these like the llamas overwhelmed our vehicle when we tried to drive in….

There were many wondrous horned creatures from around the world.

Eland, from China

Zebras were on the no feed list, but this guy bullied away a fallow deer and stuck his head into the vehicle, past my lap and stole the bucket of feed from between my feet! Later, a guide chuckled when I told her, and said the only reason zebras are on the list is because they’ll bite, not because they are grass fed only like the Bison and Watusi. Well, I’m happy I didn’t feed him something bad. *slight eyeroll*

Rules forbid people from more than opening windows to feed. This was very clearly stated when we entered, and in the packet they gave us. These dummies had kids hanging out of the open doors. They were the same loud mouthed gaggle of tourists that made the Luray Caverns less pleasurable for the rest of us when we were there a couple of days earlier. They were a bit zealous and I will give them linguistically challenged, maybe they couldn’t read or hear the rules in English.

Rocky Mountain Elk really bonded with Honey and me. Or our feed buckets.
Honey quit shaving before we left for our camping adventure. When we got home, he swore off shaving until his coworkers and boss asked if he was going for the homeless look. Then his mother and I threw our two cents worth in and he even shaved off his precious goatee.
Hello Emu. 
I admit I was a bit creeped out when the Ostriches, Rheas and these guys pecked in the bucket in my hands. Later when Captain Comic sat in front in the afternoon…well, I’ll tell you in a later post.
Stunning. Impressive. Getaloada those antlers!

And then I fed him.

I will love him and feed him and call him George!
(please tell me you remember Warner Bros cartoons)

Bactrian Camel, not from the Middle East, like Dromedary (one hump) cousin, 
from Mongolia and China.

Bison roaming free! (inside a really big park)

Smooch! 
Actually, this was taken just prior to his ripping the feed bucket from my hands.
Later the guide said, “Nobody wins again Omar!” 
Really big bird. Ostrich. 

Scimitar Horned Oryx, North Africa (closer shot next post)
Correction: these are Arabian Oryx! or Oryxes, both are plural forms are correct
Oh wait, third try: Some of both – the whiter ones with straight horns are the Arabian kind

Do the Watusi! (I had to, okay?!) Those are some mighty big horns. 

Near the exit and (entrance) were Vietnamese potbellied pig mama and her babies, and a wholotta Llamas.
I found the Llamas particularly pushy and opportunistic, positioning themselves at the gates, and crowding every vehicle as they entered.

By the exit, they stuck to the shade, my guess is after stuffing their faces.

Wha…?

I could have played around with the shots in the computer and enhanced color and contrast, but choosing was challenging enough…all of my vacation posts’ photos are straight out of the camera and cell camera.

first this

I am still playing catch up on the vacation blogs….really I am, and we had an earthquake today – in Virginia. But first, this:

Please watch and understand that this man is talking about my family. Asperger’s Syndrome is a form of Autism that makes me feel like one of the lucky ones in the club Parents of Autism. It took a lot of work to get Captain Comic where he is now. I did it, do it, because I love him and will always have his back, even when it can be really hard. And everyday there is a little of that.


Thank you, 
Cathy



























panther falls

Poor Big Bertha barely made it down the winding switchback steep downgrade dirt road to the falls, but she did. Her brakes got rather worn out, and I clung mightily to the passenger door, staring down into beautifully wooded pits of death for my entire family. Apparently, the concept of guardrails has not reached the lesser roads of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Excerpts from our day at Panther Falls:

I know, I know, a lot of photos and I promised I wouldn’t, but Panther Falls was my favorite adventure of the trip.

Just pretty country on a beautiful day.
 The path to the falls was as treacherous as the road.
This part was about as wide as Toots’s tootsies and very slippery dirt.
 Beware of hazards and falling trees.
 Then we reached the top of the falls.
 Captain Comic was in his element. I can’t keep Godzilla boy from water.

Jumpers, though they are forbidden. See my Captain below?
 Below these falls, what looks like two tidal pools is connected, a water-bored tunnel below the surface. Some kids were all over it, Captain Comic said , “No way! I’m not taking any chances!” The rope is a guide line to swim through the tunnel.

Meanwhile…Mr. Cynic just wanted to go home that day. We had swimsuits back up the mountain in Bertha, and he did not want to change. Thankfully this one has mastered suffering in silence.
 Slippery when wet
Oh no, he’s not taking any chances…Even if he was all over these rocks and water far from his parents.
Treacherous but beautiful. I admitted defeat.
I’m just too unstable on my bad ankle for any sudden slippery corrections.

But Captain Comic was all over the glacial anomalies.

I was happy to stick my toes in, and watch fishies swim between them.
Honey and Toots also did not have their suits, but they went in, too. 
Toots hung onto her daddy for dear life, and went in in her undies.
She loved it. I loved these legs and shadows.

Captain Comic may not have gone through the tunnel, but he assisted others with the rope lead.

Meanwhile….Nope, still not going in. 
 Bathing Beauty after her swim.
 Another jumper. 

This young man talking my Honey’s ear off has been coming to the falls since his daddy threw him in when he was two! He helped guide other jumpers to the deepest parts, where they wouldn’t slam into rocks and die. “The sign up at the road is false advertising, saying last death was in 1998. Four people died here last year. But don’t worry, it mostly happens when the water is higher and has a stronger undertow than it does today.” I was grateful for the info, but I was scared for his life as he did back flips from high up.

We stopped here to get some drinks and the people were very helpful,
even if they do make “HOMEMAOE BBQ EVERYOAY”

natural bridge, va

Sorry for delays. I am pooped and I have been having a busy week since our return, blogging fell down the priority list. 
Fun things to do at the modest KOA:
Pool, always a favorite for Captain Comic

 And Honey and Toots.

An old school playground

 This was a giant slide with the old metal steps made of the letters: AMERICAN, like the slide in my old neighborhood as a little kid. It took her about the whole week for Toots to actually descend the giant slide without my climbing up the ladder and walk her back down in my arms.

 Toots and Captain Comic playing together and having fun.

Meanwhile, back at camp, Mr. Cynic being so very very Mr. Cynic, plugged in and all. That’s my old van, Big Bertha behind him.

And the Natural Bridge itself, carved out of the mountains by glaciers.

That’s not dirt on the photo, it’s a hawk that swooped under the bridge.

I love him even if Mr. Cynic does not want his picture taken.

 Captain Comic takes a cue from Mr. Cynic.

 At the end of the trail, we found a nice cascades area that was quite calm and relaxing. We actually didn’t make it to the end where The Lost Springs are. We decided our end was here.

We were surrounded by butterflies, lots of kinds, but mostly various Swallowtails. This was a Red-spotted Purple Admiral, even though it was black with blue like a Black Swallowtail. I looked it up at the gift shop in a book of butterflies after our hike.

 Toots was so happy to have her big brothers back, and she wanted to keep up with them. But she fell on her way to this little cave tunnel in the mountain side that Mr. Cynic found.

Finally, the Natural Bridge on the way back…

More adventures next week, I’ll keep the shots to a minimum.  Panther Falls and Crabtree Falls were big ones that almost did in poor Bertha.

We are rearranging the boys’ room again this weekend, taking the giant shelf beds out and moving in some bunks. A lot of furniture disassembly and assembly to ensue, right after I take a landscaping class at our local garden center.

feeding beasties

Our Grand Family Adventure started with picking up the boys at the halfway point between their father’s home in Rhode Island and ours in Virginia  – Wilmington, Delaware. Hugs were given, things were stuffed in the already packed to the gills van. Then we made a last minute decision to side trip to the DC area to visit Honey’s cousin who just moved back into the house he grew up in after living on the west coast and other parts of our country for most of his life. He bought the house from his mother and plans to tear it down and rebuild a new one. He told some stories of he and his brother growing up there, and I think Honey had fun visiting where he used to visit as a kid. It was nice to have one more night in a bed before my family slept in tents on the ground for the rest of last week. He and his long time girl friend were lovely hosts and it was good to see them.

The boys have grown. Captain Comic may have surpassed me or is about to, but we are not telling him.  Please don’t tell him. I will ne’er hear the end of it.

We took a spontaneous approach to this vacation, and the following day as we head toward the Natural Bridge area of Virginia, our campsite destination, we made another detour to Luray Caverns. I’ll post about  about those sites later.

After the caverns, we traveled the rest of the way and made it by evening to the campsite at the KOA. I have mentioned before that I like the KOAs. This one was more modest than the Super KOA where we stayed with just Toots and Lucy about six weeks ago, in Harper’s Ferry, WV. Anyway, we set up camp, and basically collapsed after campfire.

The first morning we decided to go to the Natural Bridge Zoo. They had a lot of exotics there: baby tigers, lemurs, DeBrazza monkeys, etc, but mostly we enjoyed feeding the animals we could feed. All the kids really got a kick out of it. So did Honey and I.

This is Abigail. She is a five week old dromedary camel. She loved us. 
Toots later got to hold her baby bottle for her to feed. 
She loved when I scratched her neck and behind her ears, like a cat.
Mr. Cynic feeding pygmy goats.

This little guy was pushy.

Captain Comic and Mr. Cynic feeding fallow deer, they are indigenous to Eurasia. 
A lot have been introduced to Texas for hunting, apparently. Sad.

Feeding giraffes is fun. Their tongues are very long and… adept.

Mr. Cynic took this one of a giraffe and me.

We rode an elephant! Her name was Beautiful, and she was. 
Honey opted to take pictures of the rest of us riding.

I think Toots wanted to ride the fallow deer after her ride on Beautiful.
This was probably the hottest day of the trip, and we largely spent it walking around in the sun and looking at a lot of different monkeys. I’ll spare you more the pics, but for the baby tigers.
And this guy – we think this cage was full of a type of black spider monkeys. 
They were fun, like a greeting committee.

Okay, one more of a DeBrazza monkey. These guys seemed very forlorn.

But that’s it, today, I swear.

oh the adventures we had

I don’t even know where to start.

I have a lot of photos. A Lot.

I have a foggy head, an achy back and a lot of laundry to do. A Lot.

I have my boys back, and my memories of jampacked days of hiking, swimming holes, zoos, safaris, caves and old diners and a drive-in movie under a nearly full golden moon. I hear crickets, peepers and cicadas all the time. I see mountain vistas, stone stair cases and rocky trails up and down to waterfalls. I see a natural bridge carved by glaciers through a mountain, and lots of cascades.

I see Toots twirling ballet in the middle of camp, at the edge of a waterfall and wiggling her hips to oldies pumped from 61 year old speakers and finding perfect marshmallow sticks. I see Captain Comic building first fires, begging to just go home please, between swimming and hiking and caving that wasn’t quite spelunking. I see Mr. Cynic pretending to not be interested in anything, while secretly enjoying the facts of long ago Monacan people, weird geological things and bizarre animals. I see Honey setting up camp, grilling, breaking down camp loving the kids, laughing and finally saying, “I love an adventure!” in other words, relaxing.

I still smell of campfires.

I promise I will not inundate you with a family travel slide show over the course of the week, but I will share highlights of the past week over the coming week or so.

Honey, breakin’ the law and putting his feet in Crabtree Falls just to cool off after climbing up and down the mountain.

And somehow finish my book in a two day Writing Camp that my writing group is holding tomorrow and Thursday.

time out

I have a lot to do.

I have a lot on my mind.

So this morning, Toots and I took a breather, and just played in the sunshine. I think it helped me to not obsess quite so much, sort things out a bit.

It’s also our last day of Toots only. Tomorrow, we retrieve Mr. Cynic and Captain Comic. Mayhem will return to its usual full capacity.

“Don’t take my picture, Mommy!”

“I said, stop taking my picture.”

So for now, some quiet girl time.

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