Monday, December 17, 2012

December? Not possible!!!

As I sit here rejoicing in the quietness (on this last day of finals there are very few students on campus), I started thinking about all the things going on in my life.  I decided I needed to write a new post, and hit the highlights of the last few weeks.


::shamed face::

I noticed that the last post I made was in September.  SEPTEMBER!!!!


I have been busy, I admit.  But I shouldn't be so busy that I don't have time to write a little!  Deepest, abject apologies to my one or two readers.  Erm... hello?  ::crickets::  Hello?  Given up on me as a bad job?  How can I blame you??

So... highlights.

  • We paid off our car!  Our only debt now is our (very small) mortgage.  No credit cards, no nothing.
  • I started working full time on "my" campus - no more long commutes!  (This, of course, does not mean I actually have a library yet.  I'm working in a computer lab, and Still Waiting for them to start the courthouse renovations for the real library.)
  • We ate lots of late-harvest greens, and I rediscovered my southern heritage by making vats and vats of collards and freezing them to serve up this winter with joy and deliciousness.
  • I celebrated the 25 year anniversary of "Princess Bride" - the Best Movie Ever. "As you wish!"  (The philosopher gave an appreciative nod to the special occasion, but declined to watch it yet once again....  Inconceivable!)
  • Discovered a new favorite librarian quote from Neil Gaiman: "Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one."
  • Said goodbye to the Ponds as Doctor Who (Season 7) came to an end. 
  • Hiked Horn Mountain in the Chattahoochee National Forest.  Remembered the boots.  Forgot the camera.
  • Had my deepest hopes dashed when Florida State lost to NC State.  (Boo, hiss!  But we still won the ACC Chanpionship so Orange Bowl, here we come!) 
  • Made huge headway clearing the brush and bramble (and trash) on the back of our property.  Goodbye old tire!  Goodbye dead stump!  Goodbye prickly thorny nastiness!  Hello, poison ivy.  (sigh)
  • Did some work in our front shrub bed - moved the unhappy plants to better locations and replaced them with nandinas and gumpo azaleas.  What?  You want pictures?  You'll just have to wait until spring!
  • Started my Christmas shopping.  (No, really.  I did!  Really!)
  • Of course, said Christmas shopping actually involved filling up shoeboxes for Samaritan's Purse and Operation Christmas Child.  (But that counts, right??)
  • Experienced an earthquake.  In Georgia.
  • Actually beat the philosopher in a game of Scrabble.  (This will likely be a highlight for the year!)
  • Celebrated Thanksgiving with my mom (we did Cornish hens instead of a turkey)
  • Celebrated Thanksgiving Saturday with my dad, watching football and eating black bean dip.  We did have a bird, tho... wait, what? Don't buffalo wings meet the criteria?) 
  • Fetched our Christmas tree from Sleepy Hollow Farms.  It's beautiful.  And we haven't taken a single picture of our lovely decorated house.  Boy, I really AM a slacker!
  • Celebrated the start of Advent at Trinity Anglican Church.  (Your humble blogger is the webmaster so maybe that's where all my online time is being spent, rather than here with you good folk?)
  • Planned our Christmas vacation - three days of peace at Navarre Beach! 
I also taught 30 classes, participated in a hiring committee, did a gazillion other things for work, repainted the living room and dining room, and even washed the car once or twice.

And over break we're actually going to tackle the front foyer.  You know how the door only opens halfway because of the banister?  Yeah.  That.  We're going to fix it, and put in a new floor, and replace the carpeted stairs with oak treads.  And if we're Very Very lucky, we'll get it done before Christmas! 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Keown Falls and Johns Mountain

Sunday was a gorgeous day.  Highs in the 70s, low humidity.... a *perfect* day to get out for a hike!  So we packed up the car with our hiking boots and poles, and a backpack stuffed full of all the important things you might need on a trail.  Peanut butter sandwiches.  Water.  Chap stick.  Hand sanitizer.  Compass.  Pocket knife.  And the camera!

We headed north up I-75, and went to the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest (about a hour's drive north).  It's near Resaca, or Armuchee, or Calhoun, or Dalton... depending on which direction you want to drive.  This is from the top of the mountain looking back towards the east (towards Dalton, I think).

Keown Falls is actually near the top of Johns Mountain, so there's a 700 foot elevation change from the trailhead to the observing point.  Not nearly as bad as our last steep hike (these trailblazers at least appreciate the notion of switchbacks) but it was strenuous nonetheless.  And there was a section of stone steps going straight up... Indeed, if it had not been a bright, cheerful, sunny day, images of Cirith Ungol would have easily spring to mind.  The steps were twisting and uneven, slippery with loose stone and alternating from bring in bright sun to the deep shade of enormous boulders.  Fortunately (again, three cheers for the trailblazers) a rough but steady rail has been added to the side nearest the dropoff.  In fact, the National Forest Service added signage to some of the more treacherous areas: "Danger - Do not pass beyond this sign.  A fall from this area could be fatal."  And they weren't joking!

Had the rails not been there, it would have been a terrifying climb, and even more horrifying on the descent, with tired, rubbery legs!

Also near the top it was obvious a fire had raged sometime in the not too distant past.  Perhaps five years ago?  It wiped out a swath of trees, and left barren crags like this near the crown.  Beautiful, but also desolate.  Does that make sense?  Yes, it was lush and green with all sorts of wildlife, but there was this deep sense of loss because of the fire, and the mountain was struggling to regain its canopy.  It allowed us some beautiful vistas that would have been tree-filled several years ago.  Maybe that recalls another Tolkien reference - Treebeard's lament.

The path up the side was windswept indeed, because of the fire.

Once we got to the top, we took the 3.5 mile trail that essentially looped the mountain.  On the far side, facing west, we snapped this:

This is looking southwest towards Rome.  Living close to Atlanta we forget that the north part of Georgia is beautifully mountainous!   The loop trail was deeply shaded and often overgrown.  It stood in stark contrast to the area around the falls, with its scraggly pines and exposed boulders.

It was a most excellent day!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Life Got in the Way

Oh, my.

June?  That's the last time I posted?

Abject apologies to my one or two readers!

Let's see... what's happened since then?

We visited our biologist friend and our Tallahassee friends in Jackson Tennessee over the 4th of July holiday.  Our biologist friend took us to Cypress Grove Nature Park, where we saw

 a bald eagle

 a snowy egret

 an owl

and a very creepy spider web

The rest of July and August has passed in a daze, though we did get to go hiking this past weekend at Sloppy Floyd State Park.  Alas, the camera did not get to go hiking with us, so there is a distinct lack of photos from the trip. We took the Jackson Gap trail up to the Pinhoti Trail, and the Marble Mine trail back down to the valley and the lakes. Suffice it to say, there was a 800 foot change in elevation over about half a mile both going up and coming down.  WHEW!  There was a sign on the trail going up that said "Warning. 30% grade ahead."  And it MEANT it.

But it was a lovely time, and it felt great to get back out into the woods again.

The semester started last week, so of course that has consumed the rest of our time.

But Doctor Who (Season 7) starts this weekend, and the philosopher is playing in a real Magic tournament next weekend, so life won't be all drudge and work!

Monday, June 25, 2012

West Palm Beach

So, I just got back from a library conference in West Palm Beach, Florida.  (I know, I know - it really stinks to have a conference in Florida, but somebody's got to go!)  It was held at Palm Beach Atlantic University, a short stroll across the causeway

to the beautiful Palm Beach coast.

I'd like to tell you I spent my days lounging on the beach (reading a book, of course) but that was not to be.  The philosopher, however, came back to our room with sand in his shoes more than once!  Instead of beach-bumming, I spent several days here,

in the Warren Library, soaking up information on video tutorials, marketing e-resources, customer service initiatives, embedded librarians, the role of Christian universities in the academic marketplace, teaching critical thinking, and networking like crazy.

It was exhausting.

But there were some fun times, like seeing an Edward Gorey exhibit at the Norton Museum of Art, and enjoying the absolute lushness of south Florida.

We lived in Miami for three years, long ago, and I must say I still enjoy the beauty of a sub-tropical climate.  Um... that's not to say I enjoy the climate itself!  Phew!  All in all, I'm very glad I went, and I feel like I came away with lots of good ideas I can put into actual practice.  It's Very Good to be home, with quiet places I can retreat to when things get crazy and a more moderate climate.  (Though alas, no royal poinciana trees will ever bloom in Georgia!)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Hiking at Pickett's Mill

So, the philosopher and I went for a hike at Pickett's Mill Battlefield a few weeks ago.  It was a lovely day, and I got to try out my Easter shoes (the most comfy leather hiking boots EVER)!


 These two are of Pumpkinvine Creek, on which the old mill used to stand.  It was amazing seeing all the Civil War history that surrounds the area.  It's also hard to believe that our house sits in an area that was part of a huge battle.  (Pickett's Mill is only about 5 miles from our house in New Hope/Dallas.)

There's something wonderful about a spring day in Georgia.  The sky is blue, and there's a verdant smell in the air.  Of course, in the back of your mind you know that summer is on its way, with its terrible heat and humidity.  So I'll take all the spring days I can, and enjoy each and every one of them!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Tale of Two Gardens

So, there were two gardens in my world this past weekend....

The Yummy Garden

Our veggies are growing like crazy, and we're already feasting on lettuce and chard.

 This is our square foot garden.  Sugar snap peas, Sweet 100 tomato, Romaine lettuce, Bibb lettuce, eggplant, carrots, ruby red swiss chard and lots o' Georgia sweet onions.

 It's amazing that it's been so warm (erm... make that HOT) but our lettuce hasn't bolted yet.

And in some other happy planter boxes, we have zucchini, crookneck squash, peppers, tomatoes, and one huge tub filled with cantaloupe.  YUMMMMMMMM.

The Beautiful Garden

The other garden we visited was Smith-Gilbert Gardens, a local collector's garden that is simply stunning. 

 Lots of walking trails.

 A rose garden.

 A conifer garden.

 And really funky plants everywhere! (This is a Jack-in-the-Pulpit)

 A pond with some of the largest koi I'd ever seen. (And I caught a picture of a philosopher in the wild, too - a rare sighting indeed!)

 And my favorite thing EVER - the speed limit sign!!!

If you're ever in Kennesaw, GA, and need to spend a few hours doing something low-key, I highly recommend stopping by Smith-Gilbert Gardens.  Even in the winter it's a lovely place, because they have a camellia garden too!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Shopping extravaganza!

Well, it's been 6 years since I bought a new dress.  So after we got our tax refund the philosopher talked me into going shopping.  (And those of you who know me well understand what a challenge that was... generally I loathe shopping!)

So we went to the usual suspects: Kohls, Penneys, Belk.  Nothing.  Then we hit The Avenue, which is an outdoor mall with small shops like Coldwater Creek, Talbots, Ann Taylor Loft and my favorite, White House Black Market.  I told the philosopher that I refused to spend big bucks for a dress, and he made me *promise* to try on anything I liked, regardless of price.  (Of course I was thinking to myself, "Sure.  I'll try it on.  That doesn't mean I'll BUY it!")

So after some "meh" attempts, we ended up at the aforementioned WHBM.  I tried several dresses on, and absolutely fell in love with one.  THIS one, to be precise.  And with a cute little white shrug, it will be perfect for Sunday!

Then we drove up to Kennesaw to another fun store.  And guess what I found there?  SHOES!!!  But the philosopher absolutely won't let me wear them with my new dress, and for the life of me I can't understand why.   

And that is the tale of my shopping extravaganza.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Curtain call!

My mother-in-law is AWESOME.  She does custom window treatments and pillows, and also all sorts of cool stuff that she sells at her Voncile's Originals storefront on Etsy.

Over Christmas she and I went fabric shopping to finish out our living room.  (Up until today we've had the wrong size curtains hanging on bent spring rods, just so folks couldn't see in at night.)  She offered to make us new curtains for our new house!

And today, TODAY, the philosopher and I received our amazing gift in the mail. 

She managed to make beautiful roman shades out of a sheer fabric, so the room is still nice and bright during the day, but not a fishbowl at night.  And the faux roman shade valance is a perfect fit.

Even the cat approves of the matching new pillows (and trust me, that's saying a lot).

Thanks, mom!  We love you!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

High Point Hike

We ventured back to High Point Trailhead (the Alabama one, not the Georgia one) of the Pinhoti this morning, and were amazed at all the spring flowers.  See?

I told you they were pretty!  8-)

And because most of the trees were still bare, you could see the ridgeline across the valley.

And yes, the philosopher finally managed to get a photo of me near the end of the hike (usually I'm quick enough to avoid him!).  But this time I'd found a comfy spot to rest, so rather than move, I just decided to grin and bear it. (But rest assured, no bears were harmed in the making of this photograph!)

I can get used to 70 degrees in March, because the humidity is still low.  Yay for Low Humidity!!!  We managed about 6 miles altogether.  We stopped for lunch near the place we saw the snake last time (we call it Rattlesnake Ridge, though the USGS calls it Wolf Ridge.  Hmph.  What do they know??) Then we headed back in order to avoid the forecasted showers/thunderstorms. Maybe we'll have another good weekend soon and head out for yet another adventure!

Monday, March 12, 2012

My Spring Break (Vacation?)

So... spring break is over, and boy HOWDY do I need a break!  It was a crazy busy week, and the philosopher and I got lots of projects accomplished, and we also saw some interesting things, and even had a few fun adventures!

Here's the run-down.

On Tuesday, we SOLD OUR HOUSE in Alabama!  There was much rejoicing, and celebrating, and high-fiving, and wiping of the brows.  ::WHEW::
On Wednesday, we started a major outdoor project.  We dug in a herb bed to the back yard, using old retaining wall blocks and a load of happy dirt.  We also went on a quest to my new favorite place, Pike Nurseries.  We bought several shade plants for the shrub bed on the north side of the house, and some happy herbs to go in the new digs we built.  (Pun *so* intended!)  You can't really tell from the picture, but it's on a hill so we had to do a lot of digging on the back side to get it level.

On Thursday, we added a square-foot garden next to new herb bed.  (And I plotted and schemed about all the lovely veggies I'm going to plant, starting with sugar snap pea seeds going down in two weeks!)

On Friday, we took a trip to another favorite place - Harry's Farmers Market in Marietta.  We were continuing our house-selling celebration and got all kinds of tasty things: locally raised steak, Mississippi sweet potatoes, hummus, brie, and lots of other yummy food.  We don't go there often, but it's a real treat when we do!

We also finished the side bed, planting my grandmother's sweetshrubs, a hydrangea, an azalea, a Pieris, and some coreopsis.  Here's a great before-during-and-after comparison:


Saturday I went on a treasure hunt, armed with nothing but a map with no measurements.  ::heh::   The back edge of our property is a tangled piney, viney, woodsy mess.  We didn't know *exactly* where the property corners were, and wanted to know how far back we could clear into the woods.  So I took the old survey we had (from when the house was built) and made some rough estimates to find the scale.  I then put on my work boots, grabbed my hoe, and headed out, armed with my trusty tape measure.  After a few rough starts, I actually found the pins!  And we have a lot more property than was visibly apparent.  Score!!

We also got to pull out the telescope and enjoyed an early evening clear sky.  I got to say "hello" to some of my favorite objects  - the Pleiades, the Orion nebula, and the Beehive cluster.  Even better is the picture the philosopher took of the moon.  Yup - I took the first one, and he took the other one standing on our back deck.  Near Atlanta.  With the neighborhood sodium arc lights beaming bright.  Beautiful!  (Click on the second one and admire the detail!)

Sunday after church the philosopher did some major wiring in the garage, in preparation for the New Garage Doors we ordered earlier in the week.  He did a great job - it was shocking!  ::snicker::  I did a pile of laundry (we got every bit of grubbies dirty during the course of the week) and then collapsed in exhaustion.  Can I take a vacation now?  I'm too tired to be at work!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Not Much to Say (but I'll say it anyway?)

Wow.  How did it get to to be February already?  And not just February, but *mid* February?  It's a dreary, cloudy day, and both the philosopher and I are fighting bronchitis and a sinus infection.  ::sigh::  At least we have a quiet weekend in front of us to rest and recover.

The big news of course, is Selling Brown: if all goes according to plan, we will close on our house in Alabama next Saturday.  The buyers are doing a final walkthrough this weekend, so we are extremely hopeful that by the end of the month we'll no longer be property owners in Alabama!  (And yea, verily, that is a Good Thing.)

In tasty news, I have discovered a crazy-sounding but absolutely yummy soup recipe involving red lentils, sweet potatoes, and an apple.  Before you turn up your nose, you should try it.  It's reminiscent of butternut squash, but with a savor and spice that is just delightful on a cold winter night!

In gardening news, I have finally transplanted almost all the plants I dug up around Brown.  My grandma's roses, bulbs, irises, canas, hostas, and lily of the valley are all in the ground now.  The only thing left are the sweet shrubs, and since I haven't quite decided where to put them they'll have to wait a little while longer.  It's been so warm that the daffodils have already come up, so now we're hoping there's no deep cold that comes through to kill them off before they bloom.  Crazy weather, indeed!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Birthday Present

Yesss, my precioussss.....  it's my Biirthday presssent, yess it isss....

OK, enough Gollum channeling.  Today is my birthday.  I've decided to call this my "Douglas Adams" year, since I'm turning (of course) 42.

My dear philosopher cooked me *homemade* french onion soup this weekend, and tonight I will feast on shrimp and grits.  (Nota bene: Ladies out there, if you plan to marry, here's my bit of advice.... marry a man who likes to cook!!!!)

But an EVEN MORE EXCITING present was emailed on Monday afternoon... a signed contract on our house in Alabama!  (And there was Much Rejoicing... yaaaaaayyyyy)  Now we're just waiting on the home inspection. Here's another tip - if you're selling a house, do not watch Holmes Inspection on HGTV.  Even though our house is in decent shape, I'm having nightmares about having to redo plumbing and electrical and dig up the foundation and replace the roof and.....  well... you get the idea.  (sigh)

There is even more news on the horizon, too.  You may know that I've been waiting since June for "my library" to be renovated so I can work at the campus on which I was hired to work.  (I'm currently driving 2 hours a day.)  My school just installed an interim president, and last week he sent an email listing the critical projects that needed to be done even before the permanent president is hired this summer.  Number three on his "git 'er done" list?  MY LIBRARY!!!!!!!  And it may be that it is a bigger space than previously anticipated, and yea verily that too is a Good Thing.

So I have lots to be thankful for in this new year, and I'm hoping that my 42nd year is a good one.  And on that note, I'll leave you with a couple of my favorite Douglas Adams quotes:

“We have normality. I repeat, we have normality. Anything you still can't cope with is therefore your own problem.”


“There is a theory which states that if ever for any reason anyone discovers what exactly the Universe is for and why it is here it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another that states that this has already happened.”

May the force be with you, my friends!  ::grin::

Monday, January 2, 2012

Ringing in the new year

Happy New Year to my faithful readers (both of you)!

2011 was a good year, by most accounts.  New job, new house, new city, new church.  The philosopher has work for the spring, and while that isn't ideal, it is sufficient for now as we pray for direction in his career.

So, a few photos to sum up the year....

Good friends.

It's always good to spend time with friends, and a delight to have visitors from afar.  Our favorite biologist came for the weekend, and much fun was had by all.

Interesting wildlife.

Our new feeder is visible from our living room, and we have lots of pretty birds come for dinner.  This woodpecker is a new arrival, and we're a bit baffled why he prefers the seeds to the tasty bugs in the trees!


The year was full of challenges, indeed.  But none quite so tricky as this puzzle the biologist and I put together on New Years Day!

Unexpected gifts.

For Christmas my father built us this beautiful mission style tv stand.  He knew I wanted a new one, and he surpassed all expectations when he showed up with this on Christmas Day.