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Imaginary Tess helped me waste far, far too much time. has unleashed a monster in me…

And look, I’m my mom!

And maybe my dad…

And I think the most important part of information here is that I actually went and made myself up for these…And you know I could do it some more, too.


Packing for camping is a hassle.  UNpacking is just…well apparently it’s impossible b/c there are still two tents and some other crap in my trunk.  I DID manage to unpack the clothes and do 20 loads of smoky laundry yesterday.  I still haven’t found my contact lens solution.  But I brought back the same number of kids that I left with and didn’t pick up a stray baby, so it’s a wash.

We went camping with Brent and Andi last weekend in Ohiopyle.  They have this big whitewater rafting trip scheduled every year, but I’m askeered of water so I don’t go.  We decided to do it for the camping this year.  And, of course, the nomming of Hazel‘s feet.  Everyone says “Oh Hazel is so photogenic!” but the truth is, she’s really that cute.  And sweet natured.  And, apparently, part monkey.  good luck with that, Andi!  Brent, my brother, could scale most anything well before he could walk.  Luckily the athletic gene was not in my DNA.  Sure, we gain weight by looking at a cookie (please, like we ever just LOOK at a cookie), but we don’t scare our mommies.

We stayed at Scarlett Knob Campground (snicker), which was a mixed bag.  Really nice sites, not too close to your neighbors.  However, there was no bathhouse and the porta-potties were not distributed in a generous fashion.  If I have to walk a quarter of a mile to the john, a) it needs to be emptied frequently enough that I don’t fear actually sitting on the waste of my companions and b) I shouldn’t ever even HEAR other campers.  the sites were nicely spaced, but if there’s no flush toilet, I want wilderness.  I’d totally go back, though.  We hear tell that there are “family” sites that have earlier quiet hours.  Which might have been nice…

First, here’s our site:

I got a second Hobitat 4 for us from REI, so that I could recreate The Shire:

But in the 3 years since I got my first one, they’ve redesigned them and I kind of hate the new one.  I may return it.  Cute co-ordinating tents be damned.

Now, I didn’t get photos, and I’m sad about that, but the site next to ours provided entertainment.  When we first arrived, we noticed that there were bongos.  Big ol’ professional drumming circle bongos.  We didn’t get there until about 5:30 /quick aside–on the way in, we stopped in Hancock, MD at Weaver’s Family Restaurant.  It has the best pie in the world.  Fabulous fries.  Grilled cheese as good as the hospital’s and I’ve said I’d almost have another baby to get one of those.  AND while we were there, there was some sort of high drama hostage situation going down across town.  Steve thought–great pie, waitresses from the 50s, crime drama– maybe we were in an episode of Twin PeaksSo delicious that we stopped again going home.  Seriously, if you have to go on 70W to 68W, stop.  Eat. Come for the pie, stay because you’re being held hostage./ and the Bob Marley was wailing.  Andi said that earlier it had been Rage Against the Machine, but that a “sweet, funny, smoky smell” had wafted through the trees and then the reggae came on.  Over the weekend, I found that most campsites were playing Bob Marley.  The whiter the folk, the more likely it seemed that they’d be playing Legend.  Always Marley, Always Legend.  No Peter Tosh, no Jimmy Cliff.  Now, the fact that I knew all the words and the order of the songs suggests I’m not one to judge, but still…it’s funny is all.  White boys love them some angry black men.  On records, of course.  And preferably dead since before they were born.  ANYway, we figured we’d get some right-up-until-the-midnight-quiet-hours drumming.  But no.  Just the occasional pitterpat on the drum, jingle of the tambourine.  And a HUGE ass pallet fire.  They had a bonfire that tickled the tree tops.  Which is always good if everyone is stoned and/or drunk.

That was Friday night, though.  Now SATURDAY night, THEN they can party.  Still not so much drumming.  But the drinking and the fire-making.  Oh yes.  The fire was so big it scared the kids. And the guys were so drunk someone had to call the management.  Did I say “guys?”  I meant “guy.”  He was the blonde one that didn’t wear a shirt all day and liked to put on the hat with the fake dreads attached.  Shocking, I know.  Around 2 am, he staggered, lost, into our campsite, announcing that he was “so F*CKED UP!”  he told us that many, many times.  Which really, showed a remarkable self-awareness for someone who was so very, very drunk.  The manager came and very gently guided him home and tried to tell him that “We don’t have a lot of rules here, but our #1 rule is, don’t bother other people.”  To which our Marleyfan replied, “Well MY #1 rule is to HAVE FUN! Woo!”  Which yeah, of course.  Dan, our sitemate who, amusingly, teaches anger management, was quite eager to smash the guy’s head in.  The really odd thing, though, is that there were about 20 people at that site.  Some had kids.  Why did not one person say “Jim, I think you need to calm down.  C’mere”?  Every little t’ing is not going to be all right if you let your drunken idiot friends rampage around at 2 am.  I will get up, stand up, stand up for my right to a decent night’s sleep.  It would satisfy my soul if you would stop trying to stir it up…Okay, I’ll stop.

There was a nice meadow nearby that the kids enjoyed.  Ben zoomed down a hill on his scooter:

Lily gamboled about

And they stood close together without bickering for about 30 seconds.

As I said, we didn’t go on the rafting trip, so Steve and I took the kids into Ohiopyle and visited the Natural Waterslide and Cucumber Falls.  The waterslide is a spot where there’s a narrow river rushing through the rocks.  Here’s Ben’s reaction to being thrown downstream against stone:

The water level was low, though, so it was more of a waterscootch for most of the way.  Julianna could really only slide for a short section and then had to just scootch or get up and walk:

See those rocks?  They’re crazy slippery.  I aged at least 5 years watching my kids skitter along, allllmost falling and cracking their heads.  It was treacherous.  I cannot believe there wasn’t an ambulance just sitting in the parking lot.  Surely there’s about a death a day.  Nice place to buy the farm, though:

Once my nerves were totally shot, we moved across the road to Cucumber Falls, which used to have a better name:

This, of course, led to calls of “Park your kiester!” all the way down to the falls.  Pretty, but again less dramatic because there hadn’t been enough rain:

Lily and I climbed up behind the falls.  It was almost like getting a shower:

After playing in the falls, we went back to camp to rest and eat and then we went into the town of Ohiopyle to score some ice cream.  It was the day of the Over the Falls Festival, and we got to watch kayakers going over the big falls.  It was very cool and I was very glad I was not trapped in a wee capsizing boat going over a waterfall:

I spent the afternoon feeling like a big ol’ suburban slacker schlump.  Everyone in the town was perfectly toned and athletic.  I really want to be that Xtreme sports chick, but I don’t want to actually have to learn any of this stuff.  I prefer the Athena method–spring fully formed from the brow of Zeus, ready for action.  Learing?  practicing?  Meh.  that’s for mortals.

Back to camp for yummy campfire chili (thanks, Andi!) and a night of getting up to pee every hour and listening to the ravings of drunks.

Oh, and babies.


And the very yummy Hazel:

Julianna had a couple of girls over for a summers-almost-over sleepover last night.  Easy-peasy, they just disappear into her room and play or plot the over-throw of matriarchal society or make fun of classmates.  I have no idea.  They seem like nice kids, but they always do, don’t they?  Time for pick-up nears, so I go get dressed so that I’m not greeting parents in my jammies. Standards of decency and all.  I’ve just gotten on a skirt and T when one girl’s parents come to pick her up.  Mom and Dad come up the walk, friends of ours, nice folk.  Grandpa’s in the truck.  I wave to him.  The girls all come out onto the porch.  We chat about gardens and lawn services.  I see a bee/bug of some sort on my knee. I give my leg a shake and continue chatting.  And feel something sting me uncomfortably close to my lady parts.  The brain, in such times, does not really care about modesty (to which my pantsless trip to the ER to give birth to Ben will attest).  I yank my skirt up and do the bee-in-my-pants dance.  The sting was momentary.  The look on the face of my 11 year old daughter’s friend’s dad is forever.  “oh, hey Don.  Just, um…well.  Sorry ’bout that.  Bee up my skirt…Hey, we’re all friends here, right?”  “Don’t worry, I never saw your pink underpants.”  “Excellent.  That’s what I thought.”  And THEN the wee bastard bit me AGAIN, on the belly, having just crawled a bit higher up my skirt when I thought I was flushing him out.  I excused myself to go strip, dancing all the way.  The kids were able to breathe again no more than 10 minutes later.  I didn’t think to see if Grandpa had enjoyed the show.  We’re a welcoming people here in Braddock Heights.  Unless you’re a bitey bug.

And THIS is why we bought this house (Really?  We thought you wanted substandard wiring and no subfloor):

It’s the view from our back porch.

Okay, now we’ve watched the bonus material DVD and it’s official–we really like “Walk Hard: the Dewey Cox Story.”  We saw it in the theater by chance.  “Sweeny Todd” was sold out, so we went to “Dewey Cox” instead.  We laughed ourselves silly.  Disclaimer: As often happens, we were frequently the only people laughing.  We KNOW we have superior senses of humor, so it’s the fault of everyone else for being lame.  But consider yourself warned.  You could be lame, too, and not think it’s funny.  But it is.  The music is actually really good, the acting is terrific and…well, did I mention it’s funny?  It is.  Rent it.

And weclome to Barbara Warren!  yay!  I’m glad you came over and hope you enjoy.  The unexamined life is not worth living, so I need lots of people to examine mine.

The weather is just fantastic.  You just don’t get cool days in August here in Maryland, so I took advantage of that cool weather/abundance of food at the farmers market combo and did some canning this weekend.  I felt like I was working my butt off, but since I only ended up with about 24 jars of stuff, I think I am a pretty huge wimp.  It’s a few jars each of many things, which is what slowed down my production.  That and having to run to the store because I ran out of lids!  I need lemon juice!  Crap! Garlic!  I doubt my granny had to do that.  Which is good, because dashing to Safeway involved crossing creekbeds and packing a lunch.

My mom used to can great piles of food.  Not without complaint, mind you, and she finally pointed out to my dad that she was perfectly happy to purchase food from one-a them newfangled supermarkets and if he wanted to continue planting 10 acres of garden he could damned well can it himself.  But for quite a while there, she slaved over that August stove.  Tomatoes, green beans, cantalope…I can still feel the sticky fingers from cutting corn off the cob into that huge metal basin.  I’m quite certain I vowed I would NEVER choose to do this.  Eh, throw it on the pile of other vows (never grow a garden, have a child, drive a car when horses are perfectly fine).

I strapped on Granny’s apron.  I’m not sure which Granny, honestly, but since I could get it around me, I’m guessing Caldwell, not Whitaker.  It looks like Granny Whitaker, though.  Really, if you can’t make good pickles wearing your granny’s apron, you should just give up.  Sadly, I won’t know if they’re any good until October or so.  Let’s just assume they’re amazing, right?  I canned both sweet and dill pickles, pickled roasted jalapenos, salsa, and tomatoes.  If the long nuclear winter lasts more than a few days, we’re toast, but we’re set for a good 72 hours.

Hey people, this post is from Allie and Dink.  Mostly Allie, because Dink is an imbecile. HI, I’m Maggie.  I live here. Why a post from the cats?  Because the humans here don’t seem to understand subtlety.  Honestly, we weren’t all THAT subtle, but they’re missing the message anyway.  According to Dink, if she can be believed (and seriously, she’s too stupid to lie), the people try to bring stupid dogs into the house now and again.  Dink says that they used to bring this big black stupid dog in and call it Maddie, which was a bit confusing for Dink.  For obvious reasons.  Hi, I’m Maggie.  I live here. She claims that she was Very Fierce and the dog was scared away.  It wasn’t here once I arrived, but she said it came back sometimes and she’d have to scare it away again.  I was Fierce.

Then, a couple of years ago, they brought one in and it stayed for too long.  We were clear that it was Not Okay.  Dink is…the scout.  I send her down first when things are Wrong, so that she can bring back information.  If I went down and something were to happen to me, the humans would be up a creek.  Dink can be Fierce, but I’m the brains here. Mean Girl is smart.  I’m Maggie.

She reported to me that there was a stupid dog in the house.  I told her to proceed.   That I’d…protect the food bowl upstairs.  Mean Girl is brave. She tried to hit him with the Hate Lasers we cats have in our eyes.

And when that bounced off his stupid skull, she wisely retreated to behind the couch to Hate.

The people thought it would be best to bring in my skills to scare the dog.  But I was very clear that I needed to stay upstairs to protect the food.  Big Guy just picked me up to bring me down.  Not. Cool.  I tried to use my Hate Lasers, but was too far away.

It took us a long time.  It wasn’t easy to bring in stupid dog poop from outside and put it on the people beds.  It was surprisingly easy to lure the stupid dog onto the roof. But he wouldn’t jump.  Even when we put treats on the ground.  And Big Guy–whom we thought to be on our side–resuced him.   Finally, we just had to hire some moron to run over the stupid dog with a car.  So unsubtle.  But clearly that’s what it takes.  We thought they’d learn.  But this is what we found this morning:

Shooting his Stupid Rays out of his eyes, but missing me, luckily.  We’ve seen this one before.  He shows up with the human kittens that live down the hill.  This time the human kittens did not bring him.  The Big Girl did.  Which is not good because she is the traitor who brought in the last stupid dog.  The one that stayed so long.  She calls him “a visitor.”  This had better be so.  Because we know a guy we can call.  So if you other humans have some misguided affection for this stupid dog, speak to our humans.  Because Ceiling Cat knows they don’t listen to us.  Who are you talking to, Mean Girl? Shut up, Dink.


August 2008
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