Thursday, May 31, 2007

Philadelphia story

Well, those goofy rodents missed the flight to Philly. We were halfway to the airport last Thursday when we realized that they weren't with us. We assumed that they had opted to spend a quiet weekend at home. Fortunately, Snickers was along and was willing to work extra hard.

I had indexing meetings Thursday afternoon and all day Friday, so Fred took the kids (and Snickers) around to see the sights:

Thursday night we planned on making our obligatory visit to the local Hard Rock Cafe, but alas, when we got there it was closed for a private party. The kids were pretty tired, having spent the afternoon hiking all over town, so we just headed for the Olive Garden and called it a day.

Friday night we went out to dinner with some of my indexing friends. We asked the concierge to make reservations for us, and we wound up at this really cool Mexican restaurant called Tequila's. We didn't actually HAVE any tequila though, as we opted to share a pitcher of sangria.

I blew off Saturday's meetings so that I could play tourist, too. We started off at the Liberty Bell:

From there we moseyed over to the Betsy Ross house, where we met a gentleman in period dress. I asked him if he would hold Snickers for a picture, and he said, "Well, we're really not supposed to, but I will." I said no worries and asked instead for a picture of him with the kids while Annabelle held Snickers:

Afterwards Mike was asking why the colonial dude wouldn't hold Snickers, and I said that I thought it was probably because it would be an anachronism, like George Washington with a cell phone. "Maybe," Mike sniffed disdainfully, "but I am pretty sure that if somebody had offered George Washington a stuffed anteater, he would have accepted it."

Here is a bloggy bonus for you! I don't often post pictures of myself, mostly because I am usually the one holding the camera but also because I seldom see a picture of myself that doesn't make me cringe. But Fred took this one of me with a stone cat in the courtyard of the Betsy Ross house, and I think it's kind of nice:

After the Betsy Ross house, we stopped at a t-shirt shop so that Mike could get a shirt in some color other than black in hopes that it might help him stay a little cooler in the sweltering heat. He chose the anti-black, Pepto-Bismol pink:

Saturday afternoon we were joined by my friend Gretchyn and her daughter Alex. (You may recall that Gretchyn and Alex visited us in Europe in November 2004 while Fred was deployed.) We grabbed a bite of lunch and then went to Independence Hall for a tour:

Gretchyn is one of a number of moms I have been communicating with for years via an online message board. These are my "invisible" friends, and I love having them as close as the nearest keyboard no matter where in the world I may go. We had a real-life meet-up of some of these friends Saturday night when we went to City Tavern.

We were quite a crowd! Besides the 4 of us and Gretchyn, her husband Troy, and Alex, we had Deana and her husband Steve, Evey, and Laurie. We sat girls on one end of the table, men and children at the other, and laughed all night long. Unfortunately there is no photographic proof of this meet-up in which everybody looks reasonably good, so you will just have to take my word for it.

Sunday was our last day in Philly and the day that we had saved to visit the anteater at the zoo. We had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe and then took the bus out to the zoo. I got to spend more time with my invisible friends, as Deana joined us with her kids and so did Jodi and her family. I was able to get a decent picture this time (that's Julianna--Deana's eldest--making bunny ears behind her mother's head):

Naturally, the first exhibit we visited at the zoo was the noble anteater. Unfortunately, he was nowhere to be seen. This could have put a distinct damper on the mood, as not every zoo has an anteater and we make it our business to see them whenever possible. Julianna's favorite animal, the red panda, was also MIA, and after the initial jolt of disappointment had worn off, the girls were able to make jokes about how the animals had ditched the zoo and gone to the mall to get out of the heat.

At the end of the afternoon, we made one last visit to the anteater exhibit, where Snickers was thrilled to meet up with one of his Philly relatives:

In fact, he was so thrilled that he didn't want to leave, even though the zoo was closing:

We were halfway across the 34th Street bridge when the bus we needed to be on pulled away from the bus stop. Fred got hustled for some bus tokens and a few dollars, and I decided that I really didn't want to hang out on this street corner waiting 45 minutes for the next bus. So we did the only logical thing and started walking. We passed by the playground that was in the intro to the TV show "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," and Mike wanted to stop for a picture. About that time though, I stepped over a used hypodermic syringe, and the urge to stop for photo ops drained away.

We made it to the Museum of Art before the next bus came along. If you're not familiar with Philadelphia, let me just assure you that that is ONE LONG HIKE!

From there, we went back to the hotel, grabbed our bags, took a cab to the airport, ate supper, and then sat on our plane for over an hour waiting for the thunderstorms to go away. Needless to say, it was very late when we finally arrived back at Fort Knox. It had been a wonderful trip though!

Oh, remember the rodents and their nice, quiet weekend? Apparently it was one nonstop party:

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Taking our rodents on the road

We're off tomorrow for Philadelphia. I'm going for the annual meeting of the American Society of Indexers, and Fred and the kids (and the rodents) are going to play tourist. Saturday night I'm getting together with a group of my invisible friends for supper, and on Sunday we're going to the zoo to visit the anteater. (Not a lot of zoos have them, so we like to see them wherever we can. Snickers looks forward to seeing his extended family.)

That's all I've got for you right now. Some idiot booked us on a flight that leaves at 6 a.m. (oh, wait--that was me), so we need to get packed and get to bed.

Why don't you go to Rodents on the Roof instead? I hear the Rodentia Red Carpet Awards were a scream.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Shortly after we moved to Kentucky, my mom gave us her piano. It sat in our sunroom, mostly unnoticed by all, until sometime this past winter, when Annabelle decided that she wanted to learn to play "Für Elise." Interestingly enough, this was the same piece that sparked my interest in piano back in junior high, and just as I did all those many years ago, she worked it out over the course of several weeks, measure by painstaking measure.

A few weeks ago, she came home from school with big news. Her school was going to have a music recital at the end of the year: Fourth-graders would play recorders, fifth-graders would play xylophones, and she--she explained excitedly--was one of a handful of sixth-graders who had been asked to play piano!

Last Tuesday was the big night. She looked so grown up in her new dress and shoes (heels!) bought just for the occasion:

She did a wonderful job on her piece and enjoyed the applause immensely:

Thursday, May 17, 2007

End of the trilogy

I have mentioned on here before the kitty-cat hospice my parents had found themselves running over the past few years when most of their cats got old all at once. We figured up the other day that Mom had been shooting insulin into one cat or another twice a day for the better part of 2 and a half years. The kitty hospice closed its doors last week with the passing of Lucy.

A couple of days before my wedding, almost 17 years ago, Mom and I drove over to Ormond Beach to pick up her second mother-of-the-bride dress from the tailor's. On the way there, Mom (who was NOT in the market for another cat) just happened to mention that her next cat was going to be an orange one. Well, the tailor's shop just happened to be next to a pet shop that just happened to have a fresh litter of kittens, and one of those kittens just happened to be the cutest little ball of orange and white fluff we had ever seen. One thing led to another, and the next thing we knew we were taking Lucy home to join in the wedding festivities.

Lucy truly had one of the most pleasant dispositions of any cat we've ever had. In her younger days, she was also quite spry, and if you listen to the laughter in this brief video clip, you can see that she brought our family a lot of happiness:

Rest in peace, sweet Lucy.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The forgotten celebrity

Last week I forgot to mention the one famous person we saw at Derby. I have to admit that I didn't know who this person was and had to ask the girls in the next box, who were fairly writhing with excitement. I'll post the picture here, and we'll see if any of my readers can identify the mystery celeb:


Weekend(s) update

I was so busy last week getting Derby and the talent show blogged that I completely forgot to mention what we did on Sunday. And now here we are at the end of another busy weekend, and I'm just getting further and further behind, so I think I will just do one long post to get you caught up.

Last Sunday we took the kids down to Bowling Green to see a production of the play "Wait Until Dark," performed in a tiny community theater that maybe sat 100 people. It was almost like being right there in the apartment with poor blind Suzy Hendrix and her psycho friends! We made the journey because "Wait Until Dark" is one of Annabelle's favorite movies, and she wanted to see the play, which just doesn't get performed that often anymore. The cast did an excellent job, and it was worth the extra hour we had to wait since I had forgotten that Bowling Green is in Central Time while we are in Eastern. Duh!

This weekend began for me yesterday at the crack of dawn, since I had to be at the Red Cross at 7:00 to help out with registration for their road race. I had lots of fun hanging out with my friends and handing out numbers and T-shirts. During the race itself I got to ride around in a golf cart, first with my friend Cathy and then with Fred (after he and Mike finished the 5K), handing out water and checking up on runners. It was kind of like disaster relief except that while the people receiving our assistance were terribly grateful, they really weren't that bad off in the grand scheme of things.

Fred and Mike did the 5K together in 26 minutes and change. After the race, the Shoney bear was hugging kids, so Mike got in line. I'm sure that sweaty 6-foot tall teens weren't what the Shoney bear had in mind, but the bear was a good sport:

After the race, we had to run home to shower and get presentable for the OCSC scholarship ceremony over at the Leaders Club. A couple months ago, I applied for the Mary Cherry scholarship, which is given to an OCSC member who is active in the club and in the Fort Knox community. I was deeply honored to be chosen to receive the award this year:

Late yesterday afternoon, Fred and I took Ginger up to Louisville to watch a disc-dog competition put on by the Flying Houndz of Louisville. I was eager to take advantage of a socialization opportunity for Ginger, who can be somewhat of a doofus when she meets new people and needs all the practice she can get.

Ginger seemed to enjoy herself. She sniffed a few butts and played with a Yorkie named Max. This picture is very blurry yet strangely accurate, as this is indeed more or less what their encounter looked like:

If you prefer a brief video clip of the action, you can click here.

After Max moved on, Ginger just hung out with us on our blanket and enjoyed the compliments from passersby who wondered "What kind of dog IS that?" Here she is (along with Fred's feet) just chilling out:

Today we have enjoyed a very laid-back Mother's Day. We started off with blueberry muffins for breakfast and then spent the rest of the day taking care of piddly little chores that sit around for ages without getting done, like wrapping up a gift that needs to go to the post office and finding a place to recycle the bazillion and one run-down batteries I had accumulated in my desk drawer. It feels good to get a lot of little tasks scratched off the to-do list!

I hope you have all had an enjoyable Mother's Day!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Proud mom of one-tired boy

Fort Knox High School had a student talent show today. Mike entered with his madd juggling and unicycling skillz . . . and won first prize!

Some parents save for college. And some of us prepare our offspring to run away and join the circus:

Let's talk Derby

WHAT a weekend! Derby surpassed all my expectations and will go down as a high point of our time here in Kentucky.

As you know, I had anguished quite a bit over my choice of hat. A week before Derby I had settled on the fourth hat I had bought, but I knew it needed to be jazzed up. I happened to go into Dee's Crafts in Louisville and found myself in hat-making heaven. Dee's has a full staff of designers on hand to give assistance ranging from selection of materials to actually assembling the finished product. I selected my hat decorations and took them home to assemble myself, but I have glue gun anxiety, and it took me a full week to get up the nerve to start sticking stuff to the hat.

I wished that little birdies would come help me out like they did for Jennie in the Ezra Jack Keats book Jennie's Hat:

Alas, no birdies came to help. AND as it turned out, my flower was impervious to glue, so I wound up stitching that sucker on at the last minute. All in all though, I think it came out well (the green feather was a perfect match for my shoes):

We arrived at Churchill Downs in time for the first race of the day (the Derby is actually the tenth race). We were worried about the weather, which had been threatening rain, but it turned out to be perfect. In fact, without the cloud cover, we would probably have all fried to a crisp!

Here is our happy group in front of our box:

We spent a pleasant day, munching on our box lunches from Heavenly Ham, watching the hats, and betting on the ponies. Fred figures we won about $40, which sounds great until you factor in the $60 we wagered.

Derby, for me, was all about the hats, and I had a great time watching some of the brilliant creations people had put together:

If there was one Derby disappointment, it would have to be that I found mint juleps to be one of the most vile concoctions ever created. I wanted to like them--they're so attractive and have such a pretty name--but it was not to be. I did, however, pose with one, which Fred gamely drank for me:

It was a stirring moment when the crowd stood (on their chairs!) and sang "My Old Kentucky Home." Churchill Downs was kind enough to provide lyrics for us out-of-staters:

Derby Day was long and leisurely, but the Derby itself flashed by in the blink of an eye. Before I knew it, it was time to go collect our car from the lawn of some enterprising folks who lived near the track and head off to make our 7:30 dinner reservations at the Napa River Grill. I had the Thai curry scallops on a bed of rice noodles, and Fred had rack of lamb in some sort of marinade that featured Maker's Mark, his all-time favorite bourbon. The food was amazing and was the perfect end to a perfect day!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Best birthday ever

Today is Fred's 46th birthday, and he celebrated with all the usual fanfare: Cake and ice cream. Presents. Tandem jumping with the Golden Knights. You know, nothing out of the ordinary.

We were expecting rain this morning, and Fred was a horrible grump last night, worrying that the weather was going to mess up his jump. The weather gods smiled on him, however, and the jump went off without a hitch.

The Golden Knights presented Fred with a DVD of the experience that is of much better quality than this, but this is what I captured on our camcorder. He is the fourth tandem jumper in this video:

Happy birthday, Fred!

UPDATE: This is the official video they gave him. Each tandem team jumps with their own personal photographer who goes out first and then freefalls face up so that he can shoot the team. They deploy a little chute, which slows them down so that they don't plummet past the photographer. He is underneath them until they deploy the real chute. At that point, they go head up, feet down, and there's really nothing more to see from below. So the photog lands and then shoots their landing. I think Fred's photographer is lucky he didn't get run over:

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Bits and brags

Some of my favorite people have been achieving great things over the past few weeks.

For starters, at the track meet a couple of weeks ago, Mike got his mile down to 6 minutes, 6 seconds. It takes me longer than that to DRIVE a mile, once you factor in the time it takes to find my keys.

Last week, Annabelle's school had an art show. Below is a sampling of some of her work:

The biggest news though is about my father. For the past few years, he has been working diligently on a novel, and now it is finally ready! To quote his website, "Medusa's Daughter (2007) is a suspense novel with a sense of dark humor. If you like tales of exotic places, open-cockpit flying, military history, bumbling bad guys, strong women, or the occasional psychic first-grader, you might want to give it a try." Go here to read more about Medusa's Daughter. Way to go, Dad!