musings in mayhem

writer, mom, tutor, superwoman

Archive for the category “beauty”

spiders and bugs and shrooms, oh my

I’m not certain I’ll ever get used to south coastal Virginia seasons. We have long stretches of no rain, but threatening rain, but nope, still no rain, and just when we give up and water the garden after all, rain. For days and days and then muggy muggy muggy still in the 80s, and it’s fall.

I’m from New England: I just want a dreary rainy day, a bright day, a chill breeze, a sweater and trees full of yellow, orange, red and purple right about…..now.
So, in the past week or so, there has been a lot of drizzle then sun then drizzle drizzle when there was supposed to be major storm. The local news is giddy about all the mushrooms and no, people, please do not eat those mushrooms in your yard, even if they do look like gourmet chanterelles or oyster shrooms. 
It’s also a big spider season. Grandma says there are tons of tiny black spiders in her room. I am finding big orb weavers and other strange large spiders and – things on the deck, on the front of the house and in my gardens. A silverfish strode cockily across my desk this morning, too.
One day, a couple of weeks ago, we had a big yellow and black garden spider building a web on our deck. Toots misses her. I do, too. Then, a couple of days ago, I stumbled across a giant orb weaver a pace away from the other’s web, building a gorgeous enormous structure. After I yelled, “Holy Crap!” to my friend over the phone, I checked it out pretty well, then later, it disappeared before I could get a picture. 
We still have at least remnants of both webs on our deck.  I love spiders and their handiwork, so I haven’t removed them. They are big. Toots joined me on the deck briefly as she ran around the yard with her preschool class frog, Freddie, who is visiting this week. She looked up at the webs, and said very sadly, 
“Oohhh, where did our spiders go?”
She was quite forlorn. 
So was I.
But I wasn’t when I saw a giant Giger art looking bug on my garage the other day. After some unsuccessful googling, a friend sent me a link to Wheel Bugs. Bingo. 
And today, I went out to do some gardening maintenance to discover where that giant orb weaver took up residence: right between my bean poles that I wanted to remove. She was very active and pretty ticked off that I watching her work. She ran at me, and Mom didn’t raise a fool, I ran, too – away. 
So we’ve entered the season of creepy crawlies and mysterious mushrooms, and I may just grow to like it down here pretty soon because of this…but the leaves will never be like in Massachusetts. 
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pardon me

……while I realign, please.

Thank you. 

oops, i did it again

Remember das boot?

And the lesson I wanted to pass on to you?

Yea, I haven’t quite learned it yet.

Yesterday, I sang the Brahms piece in both Sunday services for a remembrance of 9-11 on its tenth anniversary. Our little choir had worked very hard on it, and for some reason, the music just looked foreign during first service, even though we had just had a really good last rehearsal of it prior to that service. I wasn’t the only one who had that experience. Our RE director (an alto) remarked between services that she had the same experience. In that conversation, she mentioned that it seemed the person who was supposed to lead the youth group during second service was not there yet. I replied, I’d be happy to go over there after we sang in the early part of the second service. The middle school leader was happy to get them started in the discussion, but had her own class to cover.

Second service’s rendition of the Brahms went much much better. It was beautiful.

Then I trotted over to the other building, stopping at my van to switch from the cute new heels (first pair I’ve worn in ages because the ankle finally felt like I could for a few hours) into my everyday flipflops.

Funny enough, I did great in the heels. I owned those sassy little pointy burgundy fake alligators.

Well, I got all the way to the other building, across a lovely grassy field peppered with spiky horse chestnuts to discover that the scheduled youth leader was there after all. I made a cheerful speedy exit to head back and join Honey for one of his rare appearances, having brought the kids for second service while I was on choir duty since earlier in the morning.

Just as I stepped onto the grass from that little parking lot, my ankle collapsed under me. I dropped and rolled, purse flying, travel mug of tea arching in a totally different direction. I remember a thought process along the line of I better just go with this, because if I try to fight it, I’ll re-injure the inside tendon.

I found myself lying in the grass, assessing damages and and realizing first, I was covered in yard scrap, there goes the outfit (I’m not much of a fashionista, but dang it, I’d put in some effort that morning), and then the pain kicked in. I had saved the tendon, but the entire rest of my foot was taking my breath away, briefly. Then I looked around for someone to laugh this off with, and discovered, not a single person had seen my stupendous pratfall. It was youtube worthy – an AFV winner.Then I wondered if I can or should get up and walk. Yes, I actually thought, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up! I did get up, but maybe I shouldn’t have.

The choir director and a smattering of choir members were chatting in the lobby as I hobbled back in the door. I confirmed, no one saw a thing. I went in to service, and joined Honey in the back row. Next thing I knew, choir director was leaning into the sanctuary to hand me an ice pack. He’s also a kids’ soccer coach, he knows about first aid.

Well, after service, we hung around for a bit, I chatted with another mom at the playground, who is also my belly dance teacher, and then we got into the two separate vehicles to head home. I did think briefly about having Mr. Cynic drive the van home, but he’s not comfortable on the main roads yet. So I drove wincing all the way home, stopping and hopping for gas. Only Captain Comic joined me for the ride in Bertha.

I put my foot up when we got home and took some naproxen with the sandwich that Mr. Cynic made for me. A couple of hours later, bruising and inability to walk finally made me admit the need to go to Urgent Care, while Honey called me a wuss and Captain Comic slapped him upside the head for the name-calling. Note to self: quit joking like that with the literal kid.

After a few hours there with Honey, and two rounds of xrays, I walked out with a latex free wrap, latex free crutches, and having given my info and Mr. Cynic’s to the xray tech because her son is a 16 year old drummer looking for a band, and mine is a bassist and songwriter whose band never gets together to rehearse. But they go to rival high schools, so we’ll see what comes of that. I also walked out with orders to get back in das boot and see my podiatrist (the one who gave me the steroid shot back in June). Oh, and  diagnosis of spraining all the ligaments across my metatarsals and a possible break in the second metatarsal.

I twisted that ankle like a pro. I do it often enough. I broke the 5th metatarsal doing so in three inch Mia clogs back in 1980 in my high school’s linoleum hall.

I think I just have to admit, that with all of the mayhem that is built into my life with three spread out kids, one with Asperger’s, and my attempts to write, take care of myself, help others out, like being in rotation as a youth leader, being in choir, etc, that adding something on the fly, literally takes me down for the count, and beyond.

My appointment with the podiatrist is in a couple of hours. Thanks goodness he could squeeze me in. I hope he doesn’t have the same results from spontaneity as I do.

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.

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.

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.

gardening

I think my favorite thing about growing okra (besides frying it up and eating it) is these beautiful blooms. They bloom for one day, then the next you have the beginnings of a pod and within 48 hours, you have an edible delight. I tried my best to capture the deep buttery yellow petals and burgundy center. Temporal nature of beauty at its best. Tough to do the other day, even making some digital adjustment. I’ll get one soon with a better than cellphone camera. Macro that baby up.
Tonight I’m frying up a batch with my grandmother’s recipe (but I sub peanut oil for her bacon grease.). I can’t wait.
Blurry Cucumber Babies

A Green Pepper

Yay Tomato!

But this is what I am most excited about. Right now that striped beauty is about the size of a large grape. Soon enough, it will grow to the size of , that’s right, a watermelon! After the squash bugs decimated my beautiful bevy of squash, I was really worried they would get the cukes and watermelon, too. But both waited to fruit until after I got rid of the hordes of death. At least, I hope so while crossing fingers. 
I have also been picking quite a lot of beans and basil, two kinds. I think tomorrow night’s dinner will be pesto. 

walkin the dog

It’s hot.
I walked the dog.

What’s that?

Get in for a closer look, but not too close. Sorry, only had the cell phone, again.

 Egret!

Yesterday, on my fence, a lizard skittered. By the time I got the yes, cell phone, out of my pocket, he was replaced by this dragonfly.
And then I found these Kentucky Wonder Beans under the tangle of vines covering my posts. I found quite a bit more than those. I think I’ll cook them tonight. If Toots hasn’t eaten them all in refrigerator drive-by snacking.
Today, I spent a few hours at the library, editing another chapter and a half. I hope to make more good headway tomorrow. I am making good, if slow, progress. 
Kinda like walking the dog in muggy Virginia mid-July.

my other boys

I stayed up way too late last night.

The Red Sox went into a 0-0 16 inning game against Tampa Bay. My endurance gave out in the 15th, before Dustin Pedroia made the winning RBI and then Papelbon’s and Gonzales’s close.

But in the 11th inning, Josh Reddick made a thing of beauty catch against the wall and rolled, keeping it in his glove. That’s just darned good baseball.

I’ve been watching Pedroia play since he was a pup. He still kind of looks like one beside his teammates, but no one in the game has played with more heart and fire than him in the past several years. If anyone was going to bring that endurance match home last night, it was my boy Pedroia. Ellsbury comes close, and now Reddick, too.

And you know what? That is why I love the Red Sox. These guys are highly fallible guys, prone to injury, because they put everything they have into the game. Each moment matters to them in a way you don’t see with some of the other teams. The Red Sox players, individually and as a team, have more heart even than their deepest loving fans of any sport. I give my kudos to Terry Francona for keeping that kind of spirit alive in them from game to game. It’s not just the skill, the talent and the know-how, the calculations and the play. It’s the pure love of baseball.

I love these guys like they’re my own.

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