on 30 August 2010

Will you look at that.

I said to myself, "M, you are going to try to post every other day for the month of August.  You are going to try to get back in the saddle of writing and putting it out there on the internet for the 3 people who still check your blog."

And I did it.

Let's all just take a moment to sit and sip some diet coke and enjoy this moment.

Ok.  We're done.  You can go back to whatever it is you were doing before we shared this little moment.

On Comfort

on 27 August 2010

I was chatting with my sister last week and I blurted out my latest opinion.

Comfort is highly over-rated.

Now, don't get me wrong, there are DIScomforts that shouldn't be forced.  Having been one of those girls who kept a different standard growing up, who refused to drink or smoke or run off to get high, or participate in other questionable behaviors--there are some discomforts that are uncomfortable because they are BAD--bad for your body and bad for your soul.

The comfort of which I am speaking is the comfort that can only be found in a self-absorbed and coddled life.  The kind of comfort that is nurtured by people afraid to get their hands dirty, afraid to discipline their children; people who avoid certain choices because it cramps their style or interferes with their personal recreation.  I find myself irritated when people deny themselves opportunities because there won't be running water, electricity, they don't speak the language, their body might not return to its previous shape, there may be blood and GOO, it could be gross or painful or (oh NO!) BOTH.  When people make excuses for their own selfish choices, they don't have the time, or the money, or a house or a nicer car.

Chris and I had had a related conversation earlier in the day regarding doctors and the treatment of cancer.  We were listening to a program on NPR about unconventional cancer treatments and I was expressing my befuddlement at doctors' total unwillingness to TRY something different if the conventional treatment isn't working.  Chris said, "It's about comfort.  This is what they do all day every day.  This is what they know.  This is what's been tested and tried for 20 years and so it's what they trust.  It's about comfort."  What made it all the more interesting was that not 10 minutes later the researchers they were interviewing said the EXACT same things.  That the doctors are unwilling to step beyond their comfort zones, even when it MIGHT help the patient.

Sure, we all have our pet comforts--mine is conditioned air.  Every single summer I wonder why the early female settlers of the American southeast didn't rise up in rebellion against corsets, petticoats and long sleeves.  I am STUNNED that the area was a successful settlement at all, given the almost inhuman summers.  Chris' pet comfort is the internet.  My man gets the DTs when he's without access for longer than a few days.  Everyone has their own, and I am not devoid of understanding for those comforts.  My point is that we should never let our love of comfort come between us and Opportunity.  

Having just spent a year totally and completely outside of my comfort zone, this kind of attitude now makes me crazy.

Here is M, standing on the other side of a YEAR outside of her comfort zone.  I come from the Land of Discomfort to testify to YOU that you can be UNcomfortable and it will not (in fact) kill you.  You will adapt, you will even (perhaps) find things that are exotic that you enjoy in the Land of Discomfort.  You will grow as a person.  And you just might come out the other side, convinced as I am that Comfort is highly over-rated.

What we've been up to lately

on 25 August 2010

Chris is job hunting.

The Boy is learning new words and requesting POPPER'S HOUSE!

I have been doing a lot of freelance work which leads me to the following list:

Things I like about Freelancing:

  • The money's good.
  • I get to work in my pajamas if I want to.
  • No one cares if my hair is frizzy.
  • I get to listen to my music without headphones.
  • It's good to use your brain.
  • It's nice to feel like I know what I'm doing.
  • My Boy can play with his cars on the floor next to me while I work.
  • I can take off my bra when it bugs me.
Things I don't like about Freelancing:
  • The work becomes monotonous after a while...which I used to like until I got used to parenthood where you just never know what you're going to get.  Now it's like I have daily ADD where I expect things to be different every single day and when you're editing, that's just not the case.  So boredom becomes an issue.
  • Having to tell the Boy that I can't do something right now because I'm working.
  • The Boy eats by himself, watches TV by himself, plays by himself.  It makes me SAD.
  • Feeling like my time is not my own.
  • Deadline pressures.  I've been out of grad school and away from deadlines for a while, but when you're editing for other grad students their deadlines become your deadlines and the stress!  Oh the stress!  Is awful.  Send chocolate.
  • Feeling like people only like me because I'm helping them (for money) and not because of my effervescent personality.  Not that I mind that much, because dude, the money is good.

It's that time of year, when the world cooks up SALSA

on 23 August 2010

Back at the beginning of July Chris asked me if we were going to make Salsa this year and I laughed at him like a crazy woman.

I reminded him that

  • We currently have no job.  It costs money to make salsa.
  • It's hot.  I don't cope so well in the heat.
  • We were MOVING at the end of July, which is prime Salsa season.
So all of you are not the least bit surprised to hear that last week we purchased 3 boxes of tomatoes, mess of onions and peppers and bottled up 4 batches (or 24 quarts) of Salsa.

I found myself thinking A LOT about the last time we made salsa.  The Boy was barely 4 weeks old.  I was exhausted and hormonal and stressed and trying so hard to be the perfect little new mother and sad.  Sad, sad, sad, that I was failing at that attempt at perfection.

I went back and reread what I had written and hugged and smooched my Boy for being so patient with his Mom.  I said a quick prayer of thanks for tender mercies and learning opportunities and for just plain ol' growing up.

This time around the Boy watched Cars with his Popper and read books with his Nana.  I worked on some funky socks for myself in between batches.  And Chris sliced a chunk out of his thumb.  He's ok.  And luckily he found the chunk of thumb and removed it from the batch of peppers he was chopping so our Salsa remains vegan-licious.


on 20 August 2010

This Sunny Day is brought to you by This Windowsill.

Agnes, The Boy and Leike spent the whole of the day "taking turns" with this particular sunny spot in Burnstopia.  Hence the Cars cars.  My Boy takes them with him to his favorite spots and the Cats will use just about anything for a pillow in a warm and sunny spot.

Digging through the digital files

on 18 August 2010

So July sort of passed by in a blur and here it is the second...no...maybe third week in August?  And I'm just getting around to cleaning off our camera.

I found this picture of my child and it was too funny not to share with y'all.

The unsightly floors and pile of coke don't belong to me.  We were in Savannah at a favorite restaurant establishment called Angel's.  Chris was participating in an INSANE eating challenge--you have to down a pulled-pork sandwich doused in some crazy hot barbecue sauce in 5 minutes.  My man doesn't eat so well when he's nervous or on the spot so naturally he didn't complete the challenge, but I did get this awesome picture of our progeny.

In other Boy news, he's still awesome.  He's funny and smart and charming.  He's not much prone to fits, he's just learned how to say NO but he doesn't say it rudely, it's more of a sing-song (no-no-noooooo) which is just hilarious.  He's developed his own sense of humor which is positively engaging to watch him laugh and find things funny for himself and not because everyone else is laughing.  He still loves for me to sing to him and will wander through the apartment "singing" in imitation of our tunes.  He adores his Nana and Popper and his Daddy but lately, I have become the favorite which is just fine with me.

He calls me Mommy.  Not Mama, which is how Chris and I have always referred to myself with him.  Again, he came up with it on his own.  When he wakes up in the morning, his feet hit the floor and he begins his sing-song/chant of Mommy-Mama-Mommy-Mama-Moomy-Meemee--EAT-EAT-EAT!  It cracks me up.

Cast on, Cast off

on 16 August 2010


I'm a-coming out of the knitting closet.

For I have finally, FINALLY completed a wearable garment--which is sort of my yard stick for being able to say, "Sure!  I'm a knitter."

Voila.  Chunky wool socks for keeping my Boy's edible tootsies warm.  I finished them up just after we moved in and as soon as they were paired up and off the needles he picked them up and climbed up in my lap and insisted they be put on.  I'm guessing they're pretty warm because he began shedding his clothes fairly soon thereafter, opting for the ever popular look: Diaper and Wool Socks.

Sorry no pictures of that one.  I'd like him to still love me when he's grown.

And now?  I'm working on a funky and colorful pair of cushy wool socks for me and a soft neutral sweater vest for Chris.  I'm hoping to have them all done by the time the cooler weather gets here.  It's all wool that I accumulated before we moved.  Chris was darning some socks last week and digging around in my Bin 'o Yarn and came across this pretty, simple, sort of rustic looking wool and requested that I make him something out of it and since he's NEVER shown any kind of interest in my acquisition of useful skills (baking excepted), I quickly hunted up a pattern and knitted up a swatch.

And yes, I said, Chris was darning some socks.  He's pretty useful himself, my man.  He can take apart the dryer and fix it right up, cure my Ruby Red laptop of a vicious virus, and darn a sock. 

One of my goals for next year is to knit a pair of socks every month--12 for the year.  And given the stuff I've read about what women USED to do--that's totally reasonable.  Besides, socks are a quick bit of work which is perfect for my crafting ADD (I like to start and finish projects quickly, I don't like a lot of crafty stuff just loitering about).

Now, it's your turn (you too, Mona), what are you all working on?

An Inconvenient Life

on 13 August 2010

I was in the shower the other day and I was thinking about convenience.

See, sometimes Chris and I don't communicate very well, and much of that boils down to the fact that sometimes communicating well with the other person involves quite a lot of inconveniencing the other person...and this pride, or excessive politeness or whatever it is has led us to some marital doldrums.

But it did start me thinking...

Here's my theory, Life can be either Good or Convenient.  Seldom is it both.  And it works with all facets of life.  Food that is convenient--prepackaged, frozen, take-out, fast food, it's all convenient--it's fast, requires little thought and makes few dishes--but none of it is really good and neither is it good for you.  A convenient life has neither spouse nor children for all of them make life remarkably INconvenient.  Come to think of it, a convenient life has few friends and no family as well.  A convenient life would involve only leasing and never buying; on-line bill-pay, shopping and communication; copious amounts of television viewing and the microwave would be the most frequently used appliance in your kitchen.

I was thinking of the things that make life GOOD and here's my list:

  • Family:  be it parents and siblings or husband and child, they make life sweet.  And no, they aren't particularly convenient, it all takes time and there are misunderstandings and miscommunication and a marriage takes a lot of time away from personal habits of time-suckage.  But when Family is Good it is very very good and very worth the inconvenience.
  • Real Food:  I'm a big promoter of HOMEMADE.  Homemade bread, real dinners cooked on the STOVE with real ingredients, many times involving vegetables.  I also prefer organic stuff because it tastes like real food.  Are any of these things convenient?  Nope.  Ask an organic farmer.  It's hard work, it's smelly and messy work.  But the rewards are so very GOOD.
  • Real Life:  Life is messy.  But it sure beats it's unreal cyber counterparts.  I'd rather have social awkwardness with 4 friends in real life than no awkwardness and 592 friends on Facebook.  I'd rather have a stammering and inelegant but REAL conversation than write an eloquent blog post.  (As I think you can probably tell by now...)
  • WORK:  I know.  An incredibly unpopular subject right now.  But work is actually a GOOD thing.  As long as it's GOOD work.  And I think about the things that I classify as good work:  cloth diapering, knitting, homeschooling, sewing, church callings, study and service--they're ALL inconvenient, splendidly so!  But they're the kinds of work that make you feel GOOD while you're doing them--and ok, once they're done.

Life is Messy.  But it's a Glorious Mess and well worth the making.

Dude was having a bit of a day...

on 11 August 2010

Can I just say that if you want to meet with some...interesting people...you should call your local cable internet provider and have them send someone to your house.

We had originally planned to forgo internet service because we are unemployed and CHEAP.  But when I informed my client (I have a long-term editing client that is finishing her dissertation and feeling a little...unraveled) that I would have limited internet access she offered an advance and a big, fat, obvious hint that I should get internet access NOW as she was going to want to be able to reach me at all times.

So we did.  We got a decent deal on the first 12 months and hopefully by the time we have to renew our contract we'll have more than my little freelance operation to fund us.

Chris called and scheduled a time for the Time Warner guy to come out and install a modem and connect us to the internet.  Can I just say that I'm pretty sure the guy was "new" and to say that he was having a bit of a day is maybe an understatement. 

It started off with he couldn't find us, and then he did find us but he was late.  Now, Chris HATES dealing with these people, it doesn't matter who the provider is, or where we happen to be located, he has a deep and abiding distrust for all internet providers and installers so starting off lost and late was not the best beginning.

I was working, working, working, on my laptop and hiding in our bedroom through most of this, but Chris vented to me A LOT so I'm pretty sure I know what's going on.

The guy fiddled with his phone the entire time, he seemed to be text messaging or checking some other data of some sort on his little touch-screen telephonic device.  He installed the modem, he called someone, no idea who and whoever it was it wasn't with Time Warner, and they assured him that he did NOT need to call Time Warner.  He walked around outside quite a bit, he came back IN and lounged on our living room carpet waiting for the modem to work.  He asked to borrow Chris' phone because his had "died."  Chris was nice and hoping to expedite the situation so he loaned it to him.  After TWO HOURS I kicked him out.

I realize in retrospect I shouldn't have done that.

Anyway, I was just desperate to have him OUT of my house.  I needed to feed my child lunch and put him down for a nap and those are things the Boy was not about to do with a stranger in his house. 

Then of course, I received an exasperated lecture form my more than peeved husband about how the modem wasn't working and I needed to track the guy down and bring him back here.  Which is what I did.  Because if Dude was dumb enough to ask us for directions to his next appointment, he sort of deserved to be tracked down and informed of the angered and agitated state of his previous client.

So 2 and a half HOURS later he came back to fix the problem.  It took another 30 minutes.  And again he tried to borrow one of our phones to call Time Warner.  I smiled at him and said, "Um.  No.  I think the rental office might have a phone you can use."

Hi.  We haven't met.  An awkward situation doesn't scare me.  I've moved 400 times, NOTHING scares me anymore.

Anyway, suffice it to say that hurried him up a bit.  He was clearly uncomfortable, but he got the thing working and I told him I hoped he had a better day tomorrow.  Clearly, he wasn't having such a good day today.  He agreed and went on his merry way.

And with that, we're hoping we're done with cable internet contractors for a good long while.

Moving in...aaaaagain.

on 09 August 2010

Imagine your best Eeyore voice there.

In 6 years of marriage, Chris and I have moved 5 times.  I'm exhausted.  But well organized.  I pine for those lovely people who get to live in a place for more than a few years.  I admit that I'm grossly jealous of them.  I will even go so far as to admit that when I married Chris, I felt certain that he would be the kind of man to settle down some place.

I haven't really seen evidence of that, but I will admit that I still find him interesting and I have hope for the settled aspects to come out in time.

How's that for blind optimism?

Anyway, as for the move...

We loaded the truck in suffocating heat, relief came in the form of ice cream and popsicles provided by my lovely friend Brett.  Once most of it was loaded, we sent my folks off to the air-conditioned relief of a hotel room and Chris and I bunked up on an airbed for the night.

We got up early (6am, anyone?) and cleaned and loaded up the last odds and ends.  And then we all piled up and drove NORTH.  We stopped at my folks, let the Boy loose and Chris and I headed over to the apartment complex to sign the lease.  We were both exhausted and fried but this quick turn-around would enable us to UNload the truck in the relatively cool morning hours rather than waiting around 'till noon.

So money was paid, keys were acquired and we returned to my parents house.  I shall admit that I was beginning to feel less than healthy at this time.  I brushed it off as severe allergies because DUDE--I do NOT have time to be sick during a move.  That much is certain.

We got up relatively early and Chris took the truck and headed out.  I lingered over breakfast.  I loathe unpacking in all it's varieties.  I loathe it after a trip, I loathe it at the beginning of a season requiring different clothes, I loathe it especially after a move.  I am not exaggerating when I say that I could have happily set a match to the entire contents of that truck in that moment.  Alas, Chris had already taken off with the truck leaving me no choice but to follow.

So I left the Boy cheerful with his Nana and Popper (HIS nomenclature, all his.  It's indescribably adorable) and drove down to face the music.

(I should note here how much I love, lurve, LUUUUURVE my family.)

Chris had left a message with one of the guys from our ward that we would be unloading the truck at 9am.  Normally, under normal, usual circumstances this would have been sufficient for 2-3 guys to show up and help out.  But the guy didn't answer his phone because his wife was havin' a baby.  So...um...yeah.  Not so much with the help from guys at church.  BUT!  My ultra-awesome nephews came and schlepped and helped and were every bit as awesome as their DNA and parentage could promise.  AND to top it all off, my awesome sister dropped off a cooler of drinks and some lovely snacks to see us through the day as well.  It was the best of omens.

So the men, my awesome men-folk, they schlepped and I organized and tried to keep things relatively orderly so that the unpacking could go smoothly.  Meanwhile, I'm feeling less and less like I'm suffering from severe allergies and more and more like I'm suffering from some mutant summer flu.  But I soldier on, because that's what WE do, we soldier on.

The nephews finished their work and took off and Chris and I got started with our work.  Mostly, we worked in the Boy's room which had sort of become the repository for everything that didn't currently have a home.  Which was A LOT of stuff.  But we worked steadily and by the time we left for the evening, the Boy's room was essentially set.  We still had to put a few odds and ends away, but by in large, it looked like the Boy's room.

The rest of the apartment was another matter.

I was now willing to admit that in spite of the move, I was indeed sick.  Sick, sick, sick.  And in urgent need of some laying around listlessly.  So that's what we did.  We went back to my parents' house, we ate, I blew my nose about 400 times and we laid around like cheese on toast.

I had fully intended to work on Sunday, feeling that my ox was in the mire and I needed, NEEEEEEDED my house to be in order, but I found myself sick, sick, sick.  So we skipped church in favor of more laying around listlessly.

Monday dawned and the Sick had shifted at some point during the night.  From being camped out in my sinuses to being camped out in Chris' sinuses!  Lovely!  The family that is sick together, stays together, right?  So we packed up some tissues and headed out to the apartment--determined as we all were to make it habitable.

My parents joined us.  My family were very much the heroes of the day--can you tell?  Dad went off to Home Depot for a different cord for our dryer (the one we had didn't reach), Mom helped me unpack and set up the kitchen in addition to playing with our Boy.  They both reminded us to stop and eat occasionally and also maybe drink something.

By the end of the day we had things down to a much more manageable pile.  It was just figuring out what to do with our piecemeal furniture that proved problematic.  We don't have much, but we are coming from a much more spacious apartment into a much more...shall we say...efficient establishment.  So it required all of my considerable wits to make things functional.

By Wednesday we were unpacked and by the time I went to bed there were pictures on the walls.  I am in desperate need of my orderly little nest.  I've been feeling unsettled for quite some time.  It took us another week to get internet service, but that's a whole other story.

How we came to be right back where we started.

on 06 August 2010

Chris and I have approximately ZERO patience with the search for housing.

But I had this theory.  It was a good theory.  The theory was that if we rented from an independent landlord, instead of a large complex, then we could maybe get a bit more space for the money.  If we didn't have to pay for pool maintenance and a work out room and grounds keeping, then maybe we could get a bigger space.

It was a nice theory.

The problem being the aforementioned two ends of the spectrum.  Everything is either luxury and super nice and a HOUSE, or it's...you know...a crack den in the slums.  Bad.  Very bad.

So for 4 days Chris and I searched for listings, plugged them in to the GPS and drove past them.  Crossing them off the list for a variety of reasons--too small, too big, no cell phone reception, too far away, too, too, WAY too slummy, or too expensive.  We walked through various places, we fell in love with a small house that was on the market to sell but which we had on good authority the owners would consider renting.

We thought we had that one...for a little while.  And then the owners sort of flaked out on us.  They had told us one price originally and then when I called the wife back she quoted me a different price, and was all wishy-washy and not wanting to make a decision for WEEKS and then when her husband emailed me, he quoted me another different price and again with more wishy-washy.  And that was when we cheerfully washed our hands of them.  But we were still really disappointed.  We really loved that house.

We took the 5th day off.  Chris was discouraged and I was exhausted and nothing was working so let's just take a break and regroup.

The next day, Saturday, we headed out to look at some complexes.  I gave up my theory, nice though it was, as a monumental failure in Durham.

Now, you should know that Chris had looked up our old apartment complex, but they were under new management and weren't getting very good reviews.  So he had said, NOOOOOO.  We weren't going back there.  But there was another complex just down the road.  Let's go look at that one.  So away we went.

We walked through the 2, 2-bedroom units that were available.  They were beautiful.  Fireplaces and open floor plans and...huge windows facing WEST--afternoon sun.  And they were spacious, but it wasn't really usable space.  They were do-able.  But we were looking for somewhere we could settle for a few years while we save for a house and neither of these apartments would be that.  We would pay through the nose for rent and then pay through the nose to cool the places off in summer.

So Chris suggests we just drive through our old complex.  Just to see what it's like.  So we drive through.  Then Chris says, "I just want to see what they're charging for rent now."  So he pops into the office and he's gone for a little while...and then he comes out and shows me a map of the complex with 4 or 5 units highlighted as the available 2-bedrooms.

I notice that one of them is in our old building.  It is, in fact, the apartment we had formerly...perhaps...occasionally....coveted.  It's on the groundfloor in the back so it looks out over woods and a green space.  We drive over there.  We notice that our old apartment is occupied and I ask if we could maybe look, just look at the ground floor unit.  We drive back to the office, ask to see the apartment and go in.

I look at Chris and he looks at me and we both grin and we sigh and agree--it just feels like home.

But for reason's sake, we tell the manager, we're going to think about it.  We drive over to Wendy's, sit down to share a frosty and crunch some numbers.  We do a side-by-side comparison of the two complexes.  And it's a no-brainer decision.  We would save THOUSANDS of dollars by going back to our old complex.  The space is imminently more functional and it's on the ground floor--something that neither of the other units at the other complex were.

We head back to start the paperwork.  We chat with the management.  They're not bad like the on-line reviews had suggested, it's just a very different style from the previous management.  They're friendly enough and are tickled pink that we're back to rent there again.  Some of our neighbors are still in the building and our mailman hasn't changed.  We're both excited to still have access to a pool for the Boy and recycling for us.  It's not huge but just enough space for us for a little while, and it will enable us to save for the much desired house.

And at this point, you're just about caught up.  We have the Tales from the Move to get through and then we shall resume your regularly scheduled programming.

The Day of his Birth

on 04 August 2010

I used to watch Gilmore Girls.  And in it, Lorelai used to begin her daughter's birthday by recounting the gory details of her birth.

I like this tradition, and so I try to keep it up with the Boy.

I don't put in the details that would scar him in any way.  I don't want him to end up on Oprah's couch, but I like to recount the general events surrounding the day of his birth.

And so, when he woke up that morning, I pulled him into bed with us and cuddled him close and told him all about the day he was born.

He pinched my nose and sat up saying, "G'OOOWWWN.  G'OOOWWWN.  G'OOOWWWN."  Which is Boy-ease for Get Down.  So I let him Get Down and we went in search of breakfast.

We were staying with my parents and I had given my mom free reign over the birthday festivities.  We were going out to Durham to do some preliminary apartment hunting and so wouldn't be around much during the day.

We headed out around 9 or 10 and drove around checking out various listings and making an early discovery that when renting in Chapel Hill or Durham you have two choices--luxury or slum.  There isn't much that's in between those choices.

We paused for lunch, and went to Twisted Noodles of course.  We got to sit near the fish tank which the Boy LOVED and Chris and I fed him off of our plates.  He loved it.  I reminded him that his love of Thai food was natural since I ate a metric ton of it while pregnant with him.

We drove around some more and finally gave up for the day and headed back to my parent's house.  The Boy napped in the car and Chris and I talked scenarios and options.

Once home, I helped mom make up the Boy's favorite foods--chicken fingers and FRIES.  Mom had made a beautiful marble cake and frosted it and decorated it and all things that I would not do because he is a TODDLER and will not care.  But it was lovely and sweet.

There were even presents!  Not from his parents because we were looking down the barrel of a MOVE and the child has enough toys to supply a 3rd world country for LIFE.  But his grandparents got him presents and his auntie and cousins brought him presents!

We lit the candles and my sweet cautious child was a little scared of them.  His cousins showed him how to blow them out and then we practiced 3 or 4 times.  Even now, if I ask him if he wants some cake he puffs out his cheeks and blows.  It's adorable.

He got his very own piece of cake--I took A LOT of grief for not giving my child a proper birthday cake for his first birthday so, just know--he got a HUGE piece for his second birthday!  Although, my funny Boy much preferred the ice cream.

Anyway.  It was all lovely and fun and a little bittersweet from my end.  I asked my mom if she ever felt bittersweet on our birthdays and she said, "No, why?"  And I said, I feel like I'm aging in an accelerated fashion.  Before I had the Boy, I felt like I was perpetually 25.  Things just seemed frozen there.  And now...I feel like every month ages me more and more, and watching him grow so fast is like watching myself get older and older.  Some days I feel 30 and some days I feel like I'm maybe 100.

My mom is my mom.  She smiled and said, "Yeah.  But he's worth it."

And she's right.  He is.

Looking Glass Rock

on 02 August 2010

And, the moral of this story is Always Plan in Advance.  Also, maybe tell your spouse about any existing family curses.

We had climbed Chimney Rock on Wednesday so Thursday we just sort of futzed around.  We drove out to Cherokee in the hopes of some living history but what we found was lots of cheese and expensive cheese at that.  So, somewhat bummed but not out of the ball game, we headed back to the camper to think about Friday.

Now, before we ever got to the mountains we had talked about what we were interested in seeing.   Chris wanted to see waterfalls, I love me an old growth forest.  So on Friday, not really having a plan, we drove out to the Pisgah National Forest ranger station to browse some trials.

Chris had wanted to hike to Looking Glass Falls, but it's really just a sidewalk by the side of the road down to the falls area.  It's easy-peasy and a little boring.  So in looking around I came across a postcard for Looking Glass Rock.  It's a big beautiful rock in the middle of NOWHERE.   Perfect!  So I may have sort of talked him into hiking it.

I will admit that the hike was listed as moderately difficult.  I will admit that I took note of the distance (a little over 3 miles one way--not very long) out and BACK.  But in my defense, I saw the POSTCARD.  I thought for sure the hike would take us through the woods and into a nice little clearing where we could SEE Looking Glass Rock, in the far DISTANCE.


That thought is not quite what we experienced.  And in some respects that's a good thing because at one point Chris said that if we came out the trail head and all we saw was a big ROCK he was going to be very mad at me.  And that's NOT what we saw, so by rights he shouldn't have been upset.

Of course, at another point he said that if the view didn't make fireworks shoot out of his eyes he was going to be really upset and that didn't happen either.

But perhaps I should begin with the hike.

We parked at the trail head, and I shall admit that we were getting started a bit late for the Boy.  The Boy usually has lunch at 11:30 and naps at 12.  And even when traveling we try, try, TRY to maintain this schedule.  But when we left the trail head it was 10:30.  Now, delusional me, I'm thinking, I can walk 3 miles in an hour--no problem!  What I hadn't banked on was the out AND back.  Also, the fact that my wonderful husband, normally Christopher the Inert, is patiently schlepping the 30 pound wonder.

We start out and it's beautiful, it's lovely!  It's a walk in the woods!  It's shady and green and charming.  Look, honey!  It's a pretty little waterfall!  And then we hit the switchbacks.  And I'm thinking, "Hey!  Switchbacks!  I've missed these!"  And Chris is lagging behind, so I perkily call back encouragement.

(Encouragement that wasn't so much working as annoying the crap out of him.)

We hadn't made it to the half-way point, but had gone up many mighty fine switchbacks when my dear, dear husband calls from 20 feet behind me:


We pause for water and I try another form of encouragement:

"We have to be close to the top, look how short the switchbacks are!"

That didn't work either.  And the Boy had had quite enough.  After lunching on a granola bar he slept in a fit of displeasure.

What he's really thinking is, "My Mama is crazy."

So we soldiered on.  And on.  And on.  And at one point I said..."I may have found the trail that just never ends."

And I'm pretty sure that Chris was cursing me from down the trail, but he persevered too.  And I'm quite proud of him actually, because, as you are about to witness, he totally saved the day.

We had met a few people heading up the trail.  They passed us and then we passed them and then they passed us and we just never caught up with them again.

Until they headed back DOWN and we hadn't even reached the end of the trail yet.

It was actually a lovely metaphor for our marriage.  I'm much better with the day-to-day doldrums of life.  And poor Chris, he gets bogged down in a deathmarch.  But when there's a crisis.  My man, he pulls through in spades.

We finally did get to the top.  Fireworks didn't shoot out his eyes or anything, but he was really pleased, and for good reason.

We were both STUNNED by the view.  Instead of hiking to a hill or a meadow and looking directly at the rock, we had climbed up the south face of it and were standing ON the rock.  It was amazing.  It was vertigo inspiring.  The trail comes out onto a rock that isn't quite flat.  It slopes gradually down about 12 feet from the trail head and then it just drops into nothing.  In fact, the only other people up there were a couple of rock climbers who had climbed UP the north face and another small group of hikers who had passed us on the trail.

After pausing to soak up the view and feel the open air on our very much sweat soaked faces, we headed back down the trail to a campsite that wasn't far from the top.  We let the Boy walk around for a bit and we all snacked and hydrated.  I apologized for having coerced my forbearing husband unwittingly up the side of a mountain.  And so we peaceably packed up and headed back down the mountain.

At this point I take a moment to observe to Chris how unearthly quiet it is up here.  There weren't even any birds about.  It was sort of eery and disconcerting.  But Chris thought it lovely so I shrugged it off and followed him down the trail.  We hadn't gone a quarter of a mile before I observe that there seem to be some ominous looking clouds above us and do we think that we'll make it back to the car before the rain?

At which point big fat drops begin to plop onto our heads.  Chris cheerfully calls back, "Nope.  I don't think we'll make it back to the car before the rain."

When I say the heavens opened and a deluge, the like of which I have not seen in several years began to descend, I am not exaggerating.

After 5 minutes or so, we were all soaked to the skin, the boy is bellowing in protest so loudly his cries echoed off the mountain and I realize that I have failed to inform Chris of something important.

See.  My family is CURSED.

I thought it was maybe just my Dad.  The incidents only ever seemed to happen with HIM.  But in this moment, I am feeling the full weight of a genealogical CURSE.  Every time we would go camping.  Or hiking.  Or do anything remotely related to the outdoors, it would RAIN.  Every. Single. Time.

So whilst we're both hurrying as quickly as we can down the mountain and the Boy is still bellowing at the top of his lungs, I say, "I may have neglected to mention that my family is cursed!"

At which point Chris asks for clarification and when I explain to him the nature of the familial curse he says, "NOW YOU MENTION IT!"  I try to explain that I thought it was maybe just my DAD!  We had beautiful weather for Chimney Rock!  But to no avail.

The Boy is still screaming.

It's still, STILL pouring rain.  It's also thundering.  The trail is now running freely with water, the waterfalls have acheived the measure of their creation and are indeed falling fully into greater widths and depths than we had to cross on our way up.  We are all soaking wet.  I am beginning to feel awash in all manner of parental guilt.

After all, the Boy has now missed, lunch, and his nap and he's soaking wet.  In his short life, he's never known such deplorable childhood conditions.

I attempt to soothe him how my father would have soothed me.  By reminding him of all the impoverished children in the Phillipines who spend months of the year soaking wet during monsoon season.

It doesn't work.

We are nearer to the end of the trail, we're all soaking wet, muddy, I've managed to slip and fall on a rock splitting my knee open and I have an open wound on the back of my ankle because wet shoes rub very differently than dry ones.

And all through this, Chris was absolutely amazing.  He was cheerful and optimistic and tried to soothe and comfort the Boy, all while walking as quickly as possible down the trail to get him into dry clothes and into the car.  I can't tell you enough how Chris totally saved the day.  What humor he was utterly lacking on the way up, he more than made up for on the way down.  And more than once he stopped to remind me of how beautiful it was.

And it really was.

Just as we caught sight of the car, the rain stopped and we both started to chuckle about it. 

I had packed dry shirts for us in the backpack but they--and everything else in BOTH packs--were absolutely soaking wet.  We dry off as best we can and I ask Chris if he thinks the reason it was so quiet on top of the mountain was maybe because the birds had all taken cover from that lovely little piece of dampness.

And he says, "I think that might be a reasonable deduction."

The Boy was just grand.  Once he got dried off and was comforted by his beloved binkit he was good as gold.

I'll need someone to remind me to tell him about the family curse, when he gets a little older.