Tuesday, July 15, 2014

So Maybe Just One More Swim Meet

Neither Eion nor I really wanted to go to the swim meet. It was all the way across town you know.But I was bored and wanted to see grown ups. When I told Fiona this, at the swim meet, she said we both could have skipped it and had wine at her house. Where was that idea 45 minutes ago!

Luckily, it was a short meet and the menacing weather from earlier in the day had passed. It was unprecedented, six Mondays in a row without thunder or rain delays! Eion attempted the 50 butterfly again.

And dqed again. He can make it for 25 meters, but the way back is too much and he falls apart. It is almost better this way because he won't be swimming it at City County.

The 50 backstroke went much better. We bailed before the  results were posted but I know he beat at least one guy!

And as ever, where he really excelled was the pre-race show!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Happy 225th Bastille Day!

Today is Fete Nationale in France or as it is known here, Bastille Day. This is the 225th but we're going to go down memory lane to what was going on in my life on the 200th anniversary.

We were living in France and I was not shipped back to the states for the summer, mostly because my cousin Kelly was coming to visit. In those first days after school let out, I received a call from the school secretary, Mona, about the parade for Bastille Day. Seemed they were going to have an American themed float and they needed cheerleaders. As I was one of the captains that year, I got the call!

Kelly and me

I was set loose with some girls, some I knew, others I didn't, to come up with "American cheerleading routines." If memory serves correctly, we had some very unproductive practices and ended up designing our whole gig in the few days before. 

But no matter! The whole thing came off without a hitch! Our float was six cars. They each had stands built on them, containing spectator, and we cheerleaders were at the top. The stands were in two lines of three, facing each other and a marching band from Florida was in between. The effect was supposed to be like a football stadium.

I have no idea why we are with an elephant. 
Must have been from another float!

There was a big day of dress rehearsals and then July 14th, the big day!

I think this guy was in charge of the whole parade.

So there we were, in the parade, in Paris, for the 200th anniversary of Bastille Day. Even as a punk teenager, the enormity of it all was not lost on me. We had so mush fun. The parade itself was a blast. We were right on the Champs de Elysees for the final fireworks. Amazing. And after it was done, there was a giant party in the Tuleries Garden for parade participants and big wigs. Our float drivers were very interested in an after party with Kelly and me. Sure they would never find us in all the melee, we said sure - just find us after! Wouldn't you know they did.

But these guys, from the band, saved the day and we hung out with them all night.

I think we made it home sometime as the sun was coming up on the 15th. It was one of those once in a lifetime experiences and one of my favorite Paris memories!

July South Roanoke Circle Article

As I have been told by several friends, this article is old news. And it is - I got bumped from the last issue for a time sensitive piece. But I thought you might enjoy it anyway!

The Peepers Have Come Home to Roost

Tim loves to read about urban homesteading. Sometimes, this research leads to container gardening on the deck. Mmmm, organic arugula. Other times, it leads us to own a flock of chickens. He and Morrigan cooked up this idea a while back and part of their sales pitch was, “It will be great. And if we don’t like it, we can kill them and eat them!” Really, with that kind of plan, how could things possibly go wrong?

Soon we were the proud owners of six chicks. As luck would have it, both Morrigan and Tim were gone when they arrived, leaving me to stress about their brooder and its heat situation. The whole chicks in the family room situation was quite unsightly, involving a stepladder, a large plastic box, and never-ending dust. But by the time they arrived home a week later, the rest of us were in love with the chicks. These babies were never going to be dinner.

As they grew over the next few weeks, I found out I really knew nothing about chickens. They all had little personalities, the strongest of which was the bird we named Putin, as she was the bully of the bunch. They would play games, stealing a feather from another bird and then leading a chase around their box. And there was the constant, soothing, peeping chatter, which led to their group name, The Peepers.

Just when the dust and mess were reaching critical mass, the weather turned warm and all the birds were fully feathered, meaning it was time to move into their coop.  Being nervous new fowl parents, we checked on them often and worried the transition would go poorly. But they took to their fenced-free range life easily and were a happy bunch.

Until tragedy struck.

After being out for the morning running errands, I came home and found there were only five birds. They were all huddled in the coop, which was unusual for daytime, and had what appeared to be blood on their beaks. We never found any remains of the vanished bird, ironically named Lunch, and had to come up with theories about what had become of her. My official party line was that some predator took her while the other birds valiantly defended her, injuring the guilty party in the process.

But in the dark recesses of my mind, I always worried that the flock had turned on poor Lunch and had killed or maimed her. It seemed we would never know the truth.

A month passed and we had no further attrition. We convinced ourselves it was an anomaly. But then came what we refer to as The Hawk Incident. I was with the birds in the backyard, cleaning out the coop, when they seemed to all be in a noisy scuffle. Now they sometimes have little tiffs establishing their pecking order, so I didn’t think much of it but admonished them saying, “Ladies, let’s all get along.” But the noise level rose and the interaction suddenly seemed quite violent. I yelled much louder and to my surprise, a hawk emerged from the sea of moving feathers and flew away. Four chickens dispersed and one limped back to the coop, bleeding.

Over the next few days while she recovered, the uninjured Peeps became her caretakers. Putin would walk slowly with her across the yard in the morning, rather than be a part of the coop exodus, always a flurry of flapping and run-flying. If you approached the hurt bird, the others would all position themselves between you and her, dishing out some stink eye to boot.

I felt terrible ever having even contemplated the idea that they could have hurt their own. Here were some birds who, in the face of mortal danger, banded together to try to save their sister. I tell you, it makes a Mom’s heart ache. As silly as it sounds, we were so proud of our chickens.

Birds of prey are protected, so we had to stick with non-lethal deterrents. Since The Incident, Part Deux, we’ve added some very menacing looking plastic owls to our deck, hoping they will scare the hawks away. [Maggie’s response was “Really?”] Reflections also, according to the chicken blogs, tend to freak out hawks. So I hung several old cds under the deck to let them know I really meant business. [To which Maggie then added, “Really?”] Admittedly, I did go a bit overboard – several in this case really means about 30. Thank goodness no one can see my backyard. It is sixteen shades of crazy and looks like some kind of low-rent homemade disco down there.

It has been over a week and we’ve had no further attacks. Clearly my ferocious maternal instinct and hawk repellent system are having an impact. Or luck is with us. We’re just enjoying our flock, so much so that we’ve expanded it. But that’s another story.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Trefoil Academy - The Most Magical Week of the Year

After being packed for a week, today was finally the big day, Hogwarts Camp! I managed to get a few shots of the girls before I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I was no longer needed. See you in a week ladies!

Accessing their Gingott's account


The happy wizards are ready for a week of fun!

Hike to Dragon's Tooth

One of the best things about living in Virginia is the abundance of beautiful hiking trails that are close by. Friday, we decided to hike Dragon's Tooth. Actually, we gave the kids the choice of swim practice or hiking and they quickly chose the latter, thinking it was easier. Little did they know…

Maggie's friend, Megan, and her sister slept over the night before and they were up for adventure as well. Five kids and a five mile hike, what could go wrong?

Morrigan generally sees hiking as a race. She darts off as soon as we reach the trail head and we usually don't see her until the summit.

And she's off!

 The rest of us stuck together and there was some, but little, complaining. Having friends was working out great. The trail starts off fairly easy and then progresses to much rougher terrain quickly with a fair bit of rock climbing needed.

It was around the time we hit the rocks that we found Morrigan. She had never encountered a hike requiring the technical skills needed here. She was a bit dejected that she got stuck and even more upset that she wasn't going to beat us all to the top.

But we all soldiered on and reached the gorgeous peak!

I generally find the way down is always easier. Not so here. Scampering down the rock formations proved as challenging as the way up. When we got down, we were all ready for some lunch and a trip to the pool. An A+ day if there ever was one!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Happy Anniversary to Us and the Last Monday Swim Update!

Today is our 19th anniversary! As Tim so aptly said this morning, "Boy are we old!" In case the numbers don't prove that on their own, here is some photographic evidence of how young we used to be:

As neither of us thought to have Tim take the day off, he is at work and I will be taking the kids to the dentist. Good times!

With Maggie at camp next week, yesterday marked what might be the last of this summer's Monday swim meets. (There is one next week E can attend but seeing as it is all the way across town, I'm not making him go!)

The night was a roaring success by all accounts! My job went smoothly and mistake free. Morrigan helped out at clerk of course and was happy to earn a water bottle and lottery scratcher for her third volunteer night. (She won a dollar too!)

Eion and Maggie both swam the 50 free and 100IM. Maggie placed 5th gold in the 50 free and, her very favorite position, 1st silver in the 100IM. She came within 2 seconds of a year round swimmer on the 50 free and was delighted.

Eion was 2nd bronze in the 50 free. Sadly, he dq-ed as soon as he dove in for the 100IM. After the 1st 25 (butterfly,) I asked if he wanted to get out, but he just said "NO!," as if I were crazy and went on to finish his four minute race. 

When he got out of the water, he asked if his disqualified. I told him he had, at which point he paused, then asked if he could have a ring pop. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that he was able to shake the whole thing off and move on. He is a trooper!

I don't know about you, but I can't believe summer is almost half over. 

We Braved the Salem Fair, and Survived!

It seems almost all of our peeps were out of town this past weekend. If they were home, they were working. Faced with several days needing activities, we branched out and went to the Salem Fair. The last time I went to this event was somewhere around 15 years ago. Since then, we heard reports of its general skankiness and never ventured back.

While still a fair, home of overpriced festival food and rigged carnival games, it was not nearly as bad as we had heard.

It could have been that we were there on what might be the prettiest day ever. And it was early in the day - I think things get sketchy at night. The kids went on a few over-priced rides (Note to self: next time just get the wristbands.) and enjoyed high fructose corn syrupy slushies.

Our favorite parts were the animals though. The kids fed and pet a wide variety of domestic and exotic animals.

In the end, a thumbs up day! Don't let the reports of dank keep you away!