Friday, June 30, 2006

Pass Me The Pop Tarts Wouldja?

The problem with stocking up on high-energy backpacking food is that you eat it before you're actually backpacking, and this inevitably leads to, as Bill Bryson said of hiking partner Stephen Katz after an extended break in their hiking, "starting several score pancake breakfasts to the wrong side of square one."

This is why I probably should not have purchased that large bag of peanut butter stuffed pretzel nuggets at Costco last week -- or at least should not have opened it and propped it up next to my laptop.

Crunch. I just ate one. Yum.

But there's no way around it. Backpacking's hard no matter how lean you are, and I'm not entirely sure why I do it. No, that's ridiculous. Of course I know why I do it. Because even though it's hell, it starts to feel good after a bit. The ascents get easier with every day (even as I get grubbier) and then there's that whole being-out-in-nature thing, which is the whole point.

But it's also a compulsion to see what's around the corner. Just go around this one curve, and then stop. But maybe just one more. There's always something you can't see, just around the bend.

Crunch. Tomorrow's gonna hurt.

A Tale of Two Heads or, Wherein Your Blogger is Shorn Like a Poodle at Petco



The hair's not lopsided. My head's cocked to one side, though you really can't tell from this. Anyway, the long shag had to go, especially for this hike. There are now two ten-inch ponytails winging their way to Locks of Love. I've been growing it for that purpose. I'll probably grow out the current buzz cut a bit more after I get back, but it serves my purpose for now.

Blech. Look at those ends. This is what I get for being too lazy to care.

Dear Abby, Backpacker

Dear Abby gave this backpacking letter writer the perfect advice. Let her carry it. Experience is the best teacher.

I'm washing sleeping bags and finishing up work today. TK awoke this morning with what I'm really, really hoping is not a summer cold. EJ's schedule is far less flexible than my own, so if I want a hiking partner (and I do, for a number of reasons that crystallized for me this week), the train leaves tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Two TK-isms

A new word: Bugbird. I bet you didn't know this is "a kind of bird that wants you to hold it."

Also, from tonight while doing some yard work: "Mommy, on Monday when I grow up, I'm going to buy a movie with eggs on it."

No, I have no idea. Except I suspect it may have something to do with the Easter episode of Dora The Explorer involving cascarones, or Easter eggs.


I've really been enjoying the hundred-degree temperatures. But I just went out and was shocked by the chill. It's now only 65, with a forecast high of 81 for the day. Yes, I know all you lovers of moderate temperatures appreciate this sort of thing, but give me the damned heat back, please. I'm freezing my ass off.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Friday (Baby) Skunk Blogging on Tuesday

Because these guys are too cute to save for Friday.

National Parks

This is a welcome development, though I must say I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. To resort to great understatement, let us just say I am unaccustomed to receiving good news from the Bush Administration, and so I'm wary of kicking that football Lucy's holding. But we'll see.

While it's true that there are wonderful places outside the national park system -- the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness in Montana comes to mind, as does the Eagle Cap Wilderness in eastern Oregon -- I have a particular fondness for our national parks and the philosophy behind them, if not always their management. Mr. T and I have a goal, in fact, to visit every U.S. national park in our lifetimes.

What's your favorite U.S. national park(s)? Mine's Glacier, though Everglades and Olympic run closely behind. (And I say this with the caveat that, appallingly, I have not yet visited Hawaii's or Alaska's national parks.) Alas, Mr. T and I would be making a lot more progress on our national parks goal if we weren't so frequently drawn back to Glacier.

I bet I can guess some of our commenters' faves: Rose's is Joshua Tree, and cayo loco's is Dry Tortugas. Bloggerdad, being the contrarian he is, votes for Big Sur, which isn't a national park at all.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Knock, Knock

During the "Nothing But Noodles Dead Car Near Fiasco" Wasteland Kid could sense my tension. He tried reassuring me.

It's okay, Daddy. We'll find a way home.

I thanked him, but he could still sense that I was on edge. So, he tried humor. It worked; however, I'm not sure he even understood his own punch line. Our colloquy follows:

Wasteland Kid: Hey, Daddy, wanna hear a joke?
Wasteland Fan: Sure.
WK: Knock, knock.
WF: Who's there?
WK: Mr. F.
WF: Mr. F, who?
WK: Mr. F-you!

Saturday, June 24, 2006


I think every time I've ever been stranded by a malfunctioning automobile it's been within a week of having the car in the shop for an oil change or tune up. Coincidence? Or the mechanic's equivalent of planned obsolescence?

While we're on the subject, a big shout out to Rafael who works the kitchen at Nothing But Noodles in the Lockfield Commons on Indiana Ave. in Indianapolis and his lifesaving Ford F150's battery! Let's just say that today provided the positive connotation of the following phrase: "a burly Latino man with tatoos and a scar above his left eyebrow jumped me."

Friday, June 23, 2006

A Long Post About The Long Trail

In May, 1998, I backpacked for the first time.

I went with my sister-in-law (Grasshopper) and a friend of hers, Invisible Woman, to hike the Long Trail in Vermont. We were to start in Rutland, and hike to the Canadian border. I brought my golden retriever, Whiskey. Grasshopper brought her dog, Bailey. Bailey had wandered into my driveway the autumn before, a feisty black puppy wanting to play with Diva Dog. Her owners wanted to find her a new home. Grasshopper wanted a dog. It was a good match.

It was a drizzly late May afternoon when we arrived at a trailhead (almost capitalized that) off a highway outside Rutland. I hoisted the heavy pack I'd borrowed from Grasshopper, picked up Whiskey's green nylon leash, and stepped onto the trail.

It was late when we started, so we camped at a shelter a mile down the trail. It was cold, and despite his thick brown coat, Whiskey began to shiver. I dragged the tent fly out of my pack and covered him up, tucking and arranging until he was a big blue mound next to me. I burrowed back into my sleeping bag and scooted closer to the dog. I was firmly awake, flooded with the awareness that by sleeping in a three-sided shelter in the forest, I was abandoning myself to the many mysterious sounds out there. Come get me. I'm right here.

I awoke early. The tent fly was now shapeless and draped over the edge of the shelter. I looked around for my dog, my gaze landing at the fire ring. Whiskey lay there next to Bailey, his head turned up to the sky, sniffing the air. He was very happy.

We only made it five miles that day, and the last mile took us three hours. A series of massive storms had battered the area the previous fall and winter, and the trail was hopelessly lost amid the blowdown. Eventually it became completely impassable. Grasshopper had read that some blowdown was to be expected, but this was far more severe than anticipated. Whole trees had been uprooted and tossed like candy wrappers across the trail. Everywhere. And it was too early in the season for any trail maintenance to have been performed.

We stopped to consider the situation. We were deeply disappointed. Ultimately, we decided to head back to the shelter from the previous night. The decision made, I looked down and saw that Whiskey had fallen asleep. I attempted to rouse him, but he refused to get back up. I knew what he wanted. I took a Power Bar from my pack and fed him half. Five minutes later he hauled himself up and began wobbling back down the trail.

As we approached the shelter, we saw it was already occupied. Three hungry and enterprising college guys had purchased a pizza and beer in Rutland and packed it in, and they immediately offered us a share. Twenty minutes later another man arrived, bearing a heavy pack with tools attached to it here and there. He told us he was there to do trail maintenance. We laughed and told him what he had in store. In turn, he told us it he'd heard the trail was impassable all the way to the border.

The next day we stuck around, doing trail maintenance with our new friend, and tried to decide what to do. The inevitable conclusion was that our hiking plans were irretrievably botched. But Grasshopper and Invisible Woman, who had both done significant long-distance hiking, found the notion of turning back deeply unsettling. They were trained to keep moving steadily forward, never looking back, and certainly never going back. On the other hand, we had made a mile in three hours the day before. At that rate, we wouldn't reach the border till Christmas.

This was, in a word, a pisser.

A new plan was formed, involving trails in upstate New York and waiting another several days for another friend of Grasshopper's to join them. I was obliged to bow out of this, as the timing of the plan conflicted with one of my principal goals for the summer -- namely, getting admitted to the bar and not getting fired from the job I'd been hired to start in September.

So I went home. I attended bar review classes that summer, planted tomatoes in my new garden, and took (and passed) the two-day bar exam. Meanwhile, I had placed my hiking boots in the corner of our bedroom, and pondered them occasionally. I felt stymied by the aborted trip, and wanted to follow a trail. I'd had a taste of the wilderness, and I wanted to go back.

The "Real" Father's Day

A week has nearly passed since we celebrated Father's Day, the official holiday. This weekend, however, I'm getting down to the real business of fathering. Wasteland Spouse is on a much deserved and much needed weekend away. I have Wasteland Kid and Wasteland "Toddler" to myself this weekend.

I'll have fun. I enjoy spending time with them.

I will admit, though, that getting the three of us around by myself always takes about 325% longer than I anticipate it will. This morning WK was late to swimming lessons despite my effort to start getting us ready about an hour before we had to leave.

I haven't had to do much of the getting-us-ready-by-myself, because WS has been nursing W"T" for the past 16 months. (The final nursing occurred two nights ago, much more to mom's dismay than child's, apparently -- and understandably.) So, W"T" and WS have not spent much time apart from one another, which means that I haven't had many experiences getting the two kids ready to go anywhere by myself.

I want to be clear that this weekend will not "teach" me anything that I didn't already know. WS is amazing -- much better than I when she's gone -- at keeping life going when I'm gone. I have known and appreciated that all along. Furthermore, I'm an active parent. We share the load. So, this is not a situation in which dad makes an appearance for the weekend, only to retreat to parental obscurity on Monday afternoon when mom returns. Nevertheless, the reality of the last year -- when WS was on maternity leave from work and was nursing W"T" -- is that WS has spent more time with the kids than I have. In fact, she has not spent more than half a day away from W"T" for roughly the past 500 days. She deserves time away.

While this weekend won't be an "aha" moment for me, because I've known all along what a great mom WS is and how much work she does for us, what this weekend does for me is reinforce how much work it is to take care of the kids alone for a few days. Because of the situation this past year, WS has done that on a number of occasions.

This weekend makes me appreciate her all the more. And makes me feel more guilty when I leave, like I will for 10 days in October when I chaperone 60 twenty-year-olds on a trip to New Dehli. And makes me realize how important it is to give WS time away, like this weekend.

(And, if I were to let my selfish nature take over, it could make me less likely to help her plan that time away. So, I have to fight my selfish nature, just as she would for me.)

Thanks, WS. You're a great mom and partner. You deserve some time to yourself. We'll be thrilled when you get back, but we'll be hoping you have a good time while you're gone.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A New Blog

JLB from Arboreality has started a new blog. Brainripples will be a place for discussion of "writing, art and other pertinent topics."

Take a peek.

Evidence of a Relatively Easy Move to Negotiate

In post #2 hailing the triumph of the relocation of Trailheadquarters, it appears that flying between Portland and Indianapolis is a relative breeze when it comes to airport security.

Post hoc rationalization at it's best folks.

Now, the important question: Why do I feel the need to rationalize the TH move? Two reasons: (1) I'm just that kind of supportive friend and (2) I'm still smarting from my loss related to the TH move, so it helps to point out all of the good aspects.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Evidence of a Smart Move

Current Weather, 8 p.m. EST, June 21, 2006

Portland, Or: 71 degrees, sunny, 35% humidity

Southern Indiana: 88 degrees ( tells me it "feels like 96" -- no joke!), hazy, 70% humidity

Never look back, TH. Never. Look. Back.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Wherein Trailhead Discloses a Whacky Summer Plan

Last October I was sitting at my kitchen table with Mr. T, his college roommate EJ, and EJ's wife, YJ. We were playing euchre, a card game with a central place in the lore of my marriage. In the middle of a trick, EJ put his cards down and spoke.

"I'm thinking I'll take a month off next summer and hike the Oregon section of the Pacific Crest Trail."

I froze, my hand suspended over the table and clutching some unlucky card, probably a 9. I looked at EJ. Things remained that way for what seemed like the length of one of Bill Clinton's speeches, but was really only a second or two. EJ smiled at me. Pavlov's bells were ringing.

I've long nurtured the dream of a long distance trail, but this circumstance or that always seemed to get in the way. Way back in the mid-90's, I started law school at the University of Florida during the January term. That meant I would graduate in December, while most legal employers take on newbies in September. I had been eyeing that tantalizing nine-month gap with a mind to taking a stab at the Appalachian Trail with Mr. T.

Then, for various reasons, I transferred to Duke University and got back on track for a May graduation. Instead, we squeezed in three weeks of backpacking after the bar exam, in the Adirondack mountains in New York and on Washington's Olympic peninsula. I started work at the firm on September 1, 1998, while Mr. T took off for two weeks to canoe alone in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota. He had been working extremely hard during my legal education, and had just moved from North Carolina to my home state of Indiana. He had that time in the Boundary Waters coming to him.

Most of you who know me -- and what I've been doing for the last four years -- know where this is going.

Without boring you with another three paragraphs, let us just say that between that time and now, there have been two other epic journeys I've plotted -- another AT thru-hike and a cross-country bike trip -- that have been scotched. (In one case for a very good reason -- the arrival of Trailhead Kid.)

And in the last four years, the tables have been turned. I've supported Mr. T through his second graduate degree, and a move across the country that I was reluctant to make for a variety of reasons and was very difficult for me. This move has turned out to be richly worthwhile, but it has also forced me to undertake some deep consideration of what I want to do with my career in the future.

And I also need a break. The China trip was part of that. But there's something else.

And so I sat on that autumn evening, 9 of diamonds dangling over the table, thinking. Since September, 2002, conjuring up journeys had taken on a challenging new element: how to do whatever thing without staying away from TK for too long. Kayak the Inside Passage? Nope. Trek around Annapurna? Nope. AT thru-hike? Ditto.

But a month on the Oregon section of the PCT -- now that had promise. If Mr. T hoarded his vacation, he could support us for a series of three or four day weekends, and I'd never go more than three or four days without seeing my family.

EJ, a sheriff's deputy here in Oregon, has secured thirty days off from busting meth dealers and other miscreants. My situation is less certain. I will definitely be hiking for the first ten days, then I will bop back into society to a) make certain Bloggerdad isn't underwater because of my absence and b) make sure all is well with my family. If either of those areas of my life require attention, I'll get off the trail.

For the first four days (which helpfully include the Fourth of July holiday weekend), Mr. T and TK will be supporting us, and meeting us each night via a road crossing. (There are many in the first part of southern Oregon.) If I decide to hike longer, Mr. T will take a spot of vacation time to make sure I don't go too long without seeing them.

EJ's ten-year-old daughter has signed on for the trip as well, and will accompany us for as long as she feels like it. Knowing this kid, it might be the whole way.

There are 498 miles of trail from the California border to Washington. So it's unlikely that even EJ, hiking for thirty days straight, will get it all done.

But for me, the point is just putting one foot in front of another for as long as I can.

I always hesitate to make these grand pronouncements to the world, because before you know it, you're David Blaine in a ball of water with your skin peeling off because, like an idiot, you told everyone you were going to stay in that ball for a week and then not breathe for nine minutes while you worked yourself out of a bunch of chains to escape it. And then you feel like a doofus because a bunch of divers had to bail your pruny ass out of the chains because you passed out.

And that crap never works for me. I always sprain an ankle or whatnot. So here's the most I can pronounce at this time. I'll be backpacking for the first ten days in July. I have no idea what I'll be doing for the rest of July, but we'll find out, won't we?

And Now For Some Cute

This is as cute as a barrel full of kittens.

Monday, June 19, 2006


This is from a tiny western town. At least it's a recycling pile.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

In Light of the Day, Let's Talk Bloggerdad

It’s that time of year again. Most of you who participate in the comments here recognize Bloggerdad, who is, as you might astutely guess, my father. Since he’s always up early, he’s generally the first on the statcounter in the morning, having opened the place up and put on a pot of coffee and a couple of comments first thing.

Since it’s Father’s Day, I thought I’d tell you some of my favorite things about him.

1. He’s a political moderate. When he was in grade school in the 1940s, one of his teachers called my grandmother to school to express grave concern about the young Bloggerdad. Was it disruptive behavior? A tendency to chatter? Laziness? No. The conference was called on account of my father’s inclination toward particular political opinions. He was, in the teacher’s words, “a budding communist.” For what it’s worth, there are probably a few people around Indianapolis today who might still agree with that assessment.

2. He appreciates celebrity. In 1949, Clark Gable married his fourth wife, Lady Sylvia Ashley. Sometime thereafter, the pair visited Indianapolis (if I recall, while Gable was filming the 1950 film To Please a Lady), where the new Mrs. Gable was greeted by the catcalls of a randy teenaged, uh, budding communist.

3. He’s diplomatic. Like many other teenaged females, I used to get severe period cramps. They’d hit me like Ann Coulter on a 9/11 widow, torment me for a few hours, then go. When I got them at school on a day when my mother was out of town, I had to call Dad to come get me. When he arrived, the (male) school principal, who was apparently in the mood to pick a fight that morning, decided to hassle Dad about whether I really needed to go home or not. Dad leaned across the counter as if to beckon him closer, and said, “Lemme ask you something. When was the last time you had menstrual cramps?”

4. He can really turn a phrase. This is the guy who is responsible for my then five-year-old nephew calling his fellow kindergartners “shitbirds,” and who refers to certain kinds of tedious legal work as “picking rat shit out of a pepper barrel.”

5. He’s a careful driver. When I was a kid, Dad used to drive this big, gold, convertible Cadillac. One winter, he had planned to drive to Florida to visit his parents, but a snowstorm had turned I-65 southbound into a parking lot. Never one to be stymied by a little bit of snow and traffic, he pulled onto the shoulder and drove through the snowdrifts till he got to Kentucky.

6. He’s loyal. Dad bought his current house in 1980. On the wall in the entryway was wallpaper with a bicentennial theme (you know, from 1976?), which was replaced only about three years ago. On Christmas Day, 1999, my brother stood in the entryway with a thoughtful expression and observed, “Hey, Dad. Only another seventy-seven years till this wallpaper’s in style again.”

7. He’s decisive. But unlike George Bush, Dad can admit a mistake and reverse course – at least with respect to a Christmas tree. Only problem is, when he decides he doesn’t like the first Christmas tree and buys a second one, the first one sits in the driveway for almost a year.

But seriously. This is also the guy who saved a twelve-year old from the death penalty back in the 60s; who invited me to bring my newborn son to the office with me every day, and would sometimes hold TK with one hand and talk on the phone with another (remember that time he crapped on your shirt sleeve, Dad?); who makes a rad holiday stuffing and a wicked cranberry sauce; who took me to a Jimmy Carter campaign rally in Garfield Park in 1976 and to hear Geraldine Ferraro speak in 1984; whose relieved first impression of my now-husband was “I like him; he’s an employable beatnik”; and who got his three-year old grandson a harmonica.

You’re a good egg, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.

Friday, June 16, 2006

More China

My THI post of the farming village in South China has been updated with comments from one of our friends from that region (the gentleman I dubbed "Jacques" in my earlier China posts).

(Technorati) Search of the Day

"Barack Obama," from the U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms. That landed our searcher on my post about Jon Tester.

At least it wasn't about vultures.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Form RSVP: A Service to the THC Readers

Dear "Home Business" Sales Rep (a.k.a. someone I thought was my friend):

I recently received the invitation to your candle/make-up/scrapbooking/basket/jewelry/kitchen-utensil/storage-solution/craptastic-waste-of-my-time-and-money "party." Please accept my sincere apologies. I will be unable to attend. I'll be busy that evening filing down the calluses on my heels and cleaning the gunk out of the grill on the bottom of my refrigerator. As much as I would cherish the opportunity to (a) calculate how little I can buy from you and still maintain our relationship; (b) figure out what, among the useless shit you're selling, I can immediately throw out while doing the least damage to the environment; (c) fret over whether I should point out to you that you've miscalculated the sales tax; and (d) dodge your suggestions that I sign on as a rep "under you," the calluses and gunk really require my attention.

In fact, I'd like to propose a compromise. If you promise never to invite me to another of your "parties," I promise I won't ever send my kid to you begging you to buy second-rate, overpriced, PTA-sponsored candy in "decorative" aluminum "tins." Deal?

Very truly yours,

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Perhaps Realizing She Will Never Have Confirmation Hearings to Worry About, Trailhead Comes Clean on a Pressing Matter

Kristy has queried in the pocket Constitution post below whether I have a favorite amendment, and suggested that this should be the test by which we ascribe hopeless dorkitude. I've no doubt she did so with an expectation that such a thing would be so bizarre, so unutterably ridiculous, that it couldn't possibly be so. But I live to disappoint those with any sort of hope in the essential rationality of my character, and so we shall proceed.

The good news is that this is a matter of some struggle for me; I have no clear favorite. I like the Ninth simply for providing the foundation for Justice William Douglas' clearly fuckit-esque pronouncement that its "penumbra" allows us any number of rights, including the use of birth control. It's difficult not to like an amendment that inspired the introduction of a word like "penumbra" into our constitutional discourse. Hehheheheheheh, you said penumbra.

But as you can imagine, I'm somewhat fond of the nineteenth, as well as the post-Civil War amendments. Without all of those amendments, this country would have fulfilled not even a whisper of its true promise. As it stands, I'm not sure we've achieved much more than a soft but conversational tone.

So cough it up. What's your favorite amendment (and justice, if you have one) and why?

(T Bro, I already know yours.)

Mid-June Wildlife Report

Hey, not too bad:

1 6-point whitetail buck
1 coyote
1 mama robin
2 ground squirrels
1 loon
1 osprey
a billion tadpoles
2 salamanders

TK liked the tadpoles the best, having entirely missed the salamanders.

Trout and Strawberries

We dragged the canoe up to Frog Lake this weekend so Mr. T could go fishing, and so I could paddle him around the lake while he did so. Frog Lake is a pleasant lake lined with evergreens and situated in the shadow of Mt. Hood. We arrived Saturday afternoon, set up the tent and immediately put in.

Approximately three seconds after shoving the canoe into the water, Trailhead Kid piped up. "Didja catch a fish yet, Daddy?" Mr. T began to assemble his tackle. "Not yet," he chuckled. I paddled further into the lake, skirting the shore, and Mr. T threw his first cast.

"Didja catch a fish yet, Daddy?" Mr. T turned and gave me The Look. "Not yet," he replied again. "Why?" TK demanded.

A man fishing on the shore began to laugh. "Tough crowd in this boat," I observed, paddling into deeper water.

"Didja catch a fish yet, Daddy?" Mr. T, a man of ample patience, decided to take the sarcastic route. "Yeah. Didn't you see it?" This did not flummox TK in the least. He giggled and asked the question again.

At length, there was a hit on the line, and a lake trout duly hauled in, dispatched and placed on the stringer. (Yes, I do feel guilty. More on that topic later.) He only caught one on Saturday, but on Sunday morning he caught his limit (five) in about ninety minutes.

This allowed us to break down camp early, and head to Albeke Farms in Oregon City to pick strawberries. Is there any more lovely a scent than a fully ripe strawberry field on a hot day? I think not. We picked nine pounds of strawberries, and went home. (It sounds like a lot, but not really.) Last night I made a strawberry pie, and today I'll whip up some strawberry ice cream. We're also eating them raw. The boxes are stationed at a central location in my kitchen, convenient for grabbing while walking by.

June is good.

Monday, June 12, 2006

What I'd Rather Not Hear From The Next Campsite Over

"Cujo! Come!"

Reason #536 that I prefer the backcountry.

A Question (or two), Upon Reorganizing My Office

How many pocket-sized U.S. Constitutions can one have without being a hopeless dork?

Are there allowances for being a lawyer, or does that just make it worse?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Only Two Months Later

So I finally got off my lazy ass and processed and posted a few pics of a South China farming village over at THI. After you've taken in all the skunkly cuteness you can handle and want to switch gears completely, go look. I'll probably post some more here later on.

Friday Skunk Blogging

Full Moon's ex-husband, J, has a professional background in wildlife and plant biology (and ecology and conservation matters in general, really). By some sort of radar, the orphaned babies always seem to find him. A few years ago it was baby opossums, and a year or so ago he rescued a baby squirrel, which he still sees from time to time, I understand. This year it's these guys, whose mama was killed on a busy road near J's workplace.

Fortunately, he lives on a farm north of Indianapolis, a place well suited to these types of activities. According to J, they trust him, and he has not gotten sprayed. Their eyesight is poor, so the right approach is essential. But in any event, their scent glands are not yet fully developed.

Don't stare at them too long, or the cuteness might burn your eyes.

Blogger Back on its Meds

Like Trailhead Kid, Blogger was uncooperative all day yesterday. Not only was I unable to post, but there are comments that still aren't being represented in the front page numbers. As you can imagine, I am starting to suspect that Kristy's feelings toward Blogger may be spot on. Which is funny, really, because I went a good six months on Blogger with nary a problem. But the last few weeks have been a nearly constant trial. On the other hand, you get what you pay for.

I've been nurturing embryonic thoughts about knocking this place down to the studs and doing a bit of renovation. But that would require me to learn some blog design skills, and summer is not the season for that. And I'm not interested in paying someone for what is clearly just a vanity project. It's far more likely that I'll do a little tinkering on the existing Blogger template, and then make more extensive changes once the winter winds have confined me to the fireside.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Dance of the Soda Fizz (UPDATED)

This is nuts!

Do yourself a favor and view it.

(Alert: It's work safe, unless your employer is a fun-squashing ogre with no imagination. There is music though.)


YouTube saves the day. No need to click through to the link!


The nuts have been interviewed on NPR. (Note to TH: They wasted no Diet Coke in practice.)

Clearly TH Knoweth Not Who She Mocks!

Watch out TH!

Looks like payback could be a bitch.

You might get leg pressed into oblivion.

I'd start preparing for the confrontation with diet and exercise.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I Heart Jon Tester

I had my fingers crossed, and it happened. Jon Tester won in Montana's Democratic primary today. In the fall he'll face Conrad Burns in the 2006 race for one of Montana's U.S. Senate seats. I had noticed a number of Tester yard signs in our fair corner of northwest Montana during my visit this weekend (though Morrison did win the county), and was eager to hear the results of the primary.

Jon Tester is a farmer from Big Sandy, Montana, and his victory pokes a finger in the eye of the Democrat establishment. And let's face it, the Democratic leadership needs a few fingers right now, if you know what I mean.

Of course, it may only be a matter of time before the putative Senator Tester becomes establishment himself (see Obama, Barack), but for now I shall rejoice.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The South Asian Vomitorium, Briefly Revisited

The wifely half of the couple that lives down the road from the house in Montana is a physician specializing in internal medicine. I described to her my encounter with foodborne illness in great detail (as I do to anyone who will listen, and some who only pretend to.) She advised me that, because of the rapidity with which I became ill, my illness was likely the result of consuming "preformed toxins." My understanding is that this means, in laymen's terms, that I ate something that had been sitting around long enough to form said toxins. I believe this bolsters my suspicion that it was the buttery lobster sauce. Because let's face it -- the seafood was nothing if not fresh.

Anyway, I have a keen but vulgar interest in these things, so I listened carefully to this lecture. If I could only isolate some long and exotic name of the offending microbes, I would be thrilled.

I've been waiting for a chance to use this picture.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Amen To That

From a print on my father-in-law’s wall in the Montana house:

“Well sir
this past year in the Rocky Mountains
has been of a customary nature
the Bonnacks stole my traps
met a grizzly that took half my ear
The Blackfeet shot my horse
Went thro the ice on the Gallatin
The Blackfeet stole my cache of beaver
Lost my mules to the
current on Henry’s Fork
The Crow took to
give me a musket ball in the thigh
broke thro a limestone crust and
boiled my horse in Yillowstone
and beavers gettin scarce

But thank God I’m not in St. Louis.”

The Last Best Place

Well here I sit at the Libby Cafe. This establishment has earned my affection for its good coffee and free wireless internet. I have not yet received my food, but if its as good as the aforementioned coffee and internet, this will no doubt become a favorite hangout.

It's raining today. We're going to spend the morning doing those minor chores required when you arrive at a house that has just spent a long cold Montana winter unattended. Then I'm going to go photograph the wildflowers on the mountain.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Over The River and Through the Woods

Well, we're off to Montana this morning, our Memorial Day trip having not worked out for various reasons. Posting may be light. It used to be that internet access in this tiny northwestern Montana town was hard to come by indeed -- we would have to go to the library and beg for a visitor password for fifteen minutes of internet access. Or, in the summer when the house phone is on, we'd have to plug the laptop into the phone jack and pay a jillion dollars in long distance fees for access of the most glacial speeds imaginable. But with the increased prevalence of wireless internet, those days are thankfully over. I'll head down to the cafe in town on Monday with my laptop and check e-mail. Now if I could just get cell phone reception, I'd be set.

On the other hand, it was nice to be able to get away and be utterly unconnected. Fortunately, the house itself remains securely apart from the larger world, both electronically and geographically.

There is much to look forward to on this trip. Our neighbors down the road have a three-week old foal. We've been crossing our fingers since last summer for this to work out -- the mama lost one pregnancy already, the year before. TK is beside himself wanting to see the "baby horse." Plus, I always enjoy when the neighborhood dogs trot up the road to visit. The goofy, year-old Newfoundland is a little too big for TK, but I love him.

Well, every second I sit here jawing away at you all is one second I'm not on the road. I'll probably be around periodically until we get back Tuesday night.

I must go breathe the evergreen air now. I'm afraid it's been too long.

Friday, June 02, 2006

An Rare, Offhand Thought About Celebrity

When is everyone going to stop pretending that Angelina Jolie got the better deal? Vince Vaughn is hot, full stop.

To each her own, I suppose.

Why Chromosome

We have entered the Why Phase.

Real conversation last night in the car:

Trailhead Kid: Mommy, I can't see in the car.

Me: I know. It's dark.

Trailhead Kid: Why is it dark?

Me: Because it's nighttime.

Trailhead Kid: Why is it nighttime?

Mr. T: Why do you ask "why" all the time?

Trailhead Kid: Turn on the light so I can see.

Me: We can't. You're not supposed to drive at night with the light on in your car.

Trailhead Kid: Why?

Me: Because the driver can't see the road with the light on in the car.

Trailhead Kid: Why?

And so it goes, with everything. I wonder why.

Seven Minutes

Keith Olbermann is something of an oddity in the mainstream media that's otherwise populated with the fawning, obsequieous power whores who, recently, have had nothing better to do than sniff the Clintons' underwear (I know, guys, there's not much else going on in the world right now), and the pugnacious right-wing blowhards like Limbaugh and O'Reilly.

Olbermann had apparently had enough of O'Reilly's fact-free schtick the other night, and brought O'Reilly's perfidy to the attention of his audience. Crisply. And it's a good thing, too, because the depth of O'Reilly's vileness in the piece is astounding. It's clear to me that, like the Bush administration, concrete and your average housefly, Bill O'Reilly is entirely incapable of learning.

If you've ever despaired for the state of the "liberal" media in this country, these seven minutes are like a tonic. It's sublime. How could it not be, with its use of the phrase "Sisyphus of morons?" Go watch.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Six? Only Six?

So Kristy has tagged me with a meme that involves me coughing up six strange facts about myself. Hmmm. Part of me is tempted to kick this over to the commenters who know me and see how they do. But who am I kidding? Y'all are gonna chime in anyway.

1. I have a freakish memory. I can remember in minute detail conversations and events that took place years ago, and they play themselves in my mind like video. I can remember where they took place, what people were wearing, what was said. This drives people crazy, especially my husband, who feels himself at a distinct disadvantage in this respect. It does tend to come in handy in my legal career though.

2. I can rotate my arms almost 360 degrees. Most people find this disgusting. So of course it's fun to do it as often as possible.

3. Something about me, and I have not figured out what it is yet, encourages people of sometimes very short acquaintance to spill their guts to me. I don't know what makes people share with me some of their most intimate secrets, but it happens. My boss at the firm got me a button that said, "Do I look like Dear Abby to you?" I suspect he was just tired of coming into my office to find me counseling other attorneys instead of working.

4. I rarely burp. I try, but just can't make it happen. About once every six months or so a tiny one will pop out and it will be a big event for me. "Hey! I burped!" I'll say. "Congratulations," Mr. T will say in a dry tone.

5. I love the smell of wine, but not the taste. I know, that's a little weak, but I'm starting to realize I'm rather boring, and not all that strange.

6. I used to own a hedgehog named Oscar. I know, that's really reaching for strange, isn't it?