Monday, February 28, 2011

2-28-11 L.F. Saltsman

I stumbled across an account of my great-great grandfather, Louis Frederick Saltsman today (the gentleman seated in the hat above) with some more dates of record.

This account was set down by his youngest son, Daniel L. Saltsman, apparently at a different time than the hand-written account of the Saltsman history that we have a copy of.

Some new information:

L.F. was wounded in battle (fighting against the Yankees) -- a scalp wound and a bullet to the left arm on June 30, 1864 and was then mustered out of service at the close of the war the following year. He walked from Virginia back home to Alabama, "gathering their food, such as parched corn, rabbit, bird, squirrel, and fish along the way."

The Saltsman home was on Hillabee Creek, nearest to the village of Cowpens, an overnight resting place for the stock of cattlemen driving their wares to market.

L.F. was 24 when he fell "headlong in love" with the local doctor's daughter, Miss Martha Ann Davis.

They were married August 4, 1867 and were together ten years before Martha died in childbirth with her fourth child.

At almost the same time, his brother-in-law William Thomas  Davis was killed as a bystander of a drunken brawl. The crew was celebrating the completion of a public road "with a jug of corn whiskey" when a fight broke out and "the Yates fellow whipped out his long bladed knife and made a stroke at his opponent, who ducked, and as he ducked he pushed Davis in the path of the knife and it went straight way into his jugular in the neck. Davis was bled white in a few seconds, dead and cold before any help could be obtained."

His wife had married William at age 15 and already born him three children when she found herself widowed at the ripe old age of 24.

On July 18, 1877 L.F. and Mary married, combining their Brady Bunch of seven children together to survive. They then went on to have ten more children together. To make room, the lumber of the Davis house was used to expand the Saltsman house.

Davis Children:
Samual Jefferson Davis (Jan. 5, 1868)
Mattie Matilda Davis (Jan. 9, 1870)
Mollie Beatrice Davis (June 24, 1872 - July 18, 1877)

First Saltsman Children:
Ida Florence Saltsman (April 30, 1868)
James Amerine Saltsman (April 9, 1871)
Valeria Saltsman (July 17, 1874 - June 20, 1879)
Estelle Saltsman (Dec. 7 1876 - Dec. 9 1957)

Latter Saltsman Children:
John Frederick Saltsman (Jan. 23, 1879 - Feb. 8, 1961)
Hattie LaVonia Saltsman (May 1 1880)
Baby boy Saltsman, died in infancy (Jan. 5, 1882)
Emma Ardalia Saltsman (Aug. 4, 1884)
Minnie Anne Saltsman (May 29, 1886)
Dr. Foraday Barker Saltsman (Dec. 8, 1887 - Nov. 24, 1939)
Rubie Agnes Saltsman (July 25, 1889)
Horace Grover Saltsman (Nov. 8, 1891 - Aug. 22, 1961)
Debeggi Mina Saltsman (March 7, 1894 - Oct. 23, 1896)
Daniel L. Saltsman (Oct. 18, 1895)

Whew. If you are counting, that means Mary had her first baby at 17 and her last at 43. And, judging by the dates, she didn't have much time in between. I think I'll stop blaming the size of my hips on the baby weight now and go hit the gym . . . .

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Watch the Birdys

Watch the Birdys (because Watch the Birdies was already taken . . .), a new work in progress, was inspired by the Gene Krupa and Anita O'Day song I was listening to yesterday morning. It's still in its formative stages.

2-27-11 1997


(Still working on the 12/23/97 video, since it's too long to make it under the 100Mb and too fantastic to cut up.)

1997: Nicholas turns 4, Samantha turns 2. Lady passes, and Ian joins the family.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

2-26-11 trading places

There's a current meme on Facebook with 30 days of selecting a photo to match the day's question. I'm too lazy to do them all, but there are a few I think are kind of cool to see people's answers to. . .

Day 06 - A picture of a person you'd love to trade places with for a day.

Howard Carter, November 29, 1921. It's really a toss up between the 29th and the 21st. On the 21st Howard knew what he had found, had spent years looking for, and, almost out of money, finally discovered the tomb of King Tut. He'd uncovered the steps to the tomb on the 4th and on the 21st he first entered the antechamber. Eight days later, I can't imagine the excitement of breaking through to the burial chamber itself (pictured above) where the walls were covered in hieroglyphics and everything shined gold in the lamp light, the first light cast upon these objects in 3000 years.
Friday, February 25, 2011

2-25-11 1996

1996: Nicholas turns three and doesn't quite get the concept of a piñata; back to Aunt Dot's for the easter egg hunt with the cousins; Nicholas' confusion between the kind of camera that requires you to be still and say "cheese" and the video camera; a trip to the zoo and a ride on the train and just a lot of cute kid stuff in general.

1996: The Pool Session

Sammi gets her first pair of shoes with hard soles the day before her 1st birthday, size 1 newborns don't usually come with hard soles, and they turned out to be Winnie the Pooh to boot!

And finally, Christmas week, when the kids are in shorts and we're running around outside barefoot. Ah, Texas.

2-25-11 Ultrasound

I have been plotting for a week now about how to tackle the ultrasound I had to get this morning.

The instructions are to drink 32 ounces of water at least an hour prior to the procedure, so that the bladder is full and translucent enough to peer through, so that all the internal organs it sits on top of can be clearly seen.

Back in 1995 I had been ordered to an ultrasound to find out why baby Samantha was not growing in-utero. We lived in Navasota, but our health provider, Scott and White, was in College Station, about half an hour from us. I had dutifully and slowly drunk the required water (mistake #1) before getting into the car to drive into the clinic (mistake #2).

We weren't five miles out of town on the highway when we ran smack dab (where does that idiom come from?) into a funeral procession. And not just ANY funeral procession. It stretched for miles and miles. We had to stop in the middle of the highway for the state trooper to allow the whole line to enter together and then were stuck behind its funeral pace for 15 miles. Not exaggerating: later that night, it made the KBTX newscast.

Meanwhile, inside the car, any respect for the departed had flown right out the window. I was imagining the clean up inside the vehicle by the time we arrived at the clinic, or the alternative moon shot of a pregnant lady peeing on the shoulder of the highway because there was absolutely no place to pull off. I wondered if the any troopers coming from the funeral -- yes, bringing up the rear -- would cite me for indecent exposure or offer an escort around the procession, or both. I would have happily taken both. But, if I emptied the bladder (voluntarily or not) we couldn't do the procedure that offered to give us some kind of answer about the health of our baby.

A scene from the Simpsons where Homer refuses to pull over to let his elderly father Abe use the bathroom kept replaying itself -- the vision of his cartoon internal organ exploding and leaving nothing but little raining confetti behind -- and I will admit to not remaining the most ladylike, either in form or language, during this hellacious ride.

The slowness of the procession also meant that, although we had left an hour before the appointment, we arrived after the start time. I could barely walk, but stumbled into the waiting area, only to find a pissed-off looking older woman looking at the clock and shaking her head at me.

To say it crossed my mind to just let that bladder fly right there on her floor would be an understatement.

Anyway, all of that history to explain why I've spent the past week trying out various water drinking scenarios in order to avoid any possibility of history repeating itself. I decided my best strategy was to go the bathroom at 8:57 and spend the next three minutes chugging two 16 ounce bottles of water one right after the other to hit the 9:00 cut off time.

The trip between the clinic and my house is about 5 miles, with no funeral homes or cemeteries in between. There are a few churches right around the corner, but I was counting on no one to schedule a funeral that would have to have begun at 8:00 in the morning to be getting out while I was on my way.

In fact, I was so successful, I arrived early and clearly did not appear distressed enough, since the woman at the front asked me twice if I had consumed the required amount of water by 9:00 that morning. Honestly, I was a little worried myself, as I really didn't have to go at all before the test. But I was vindicated when the technician said it was showing up perfectly, no need for a fuller bladder. Success!

Now I'm in wait mode for the tech to finish out the many pictures taken during the two different ultrasounds, send them to the ultrasound doctor to write the report, for him to send that report to my doc, and for her to call me. And despite the fact that nothing is ever certain and this could be the start of some arduous medical journey, I am focused on this one small victory: I avoided the dreaded pee-pee dance!
Thursday, February 24, 2011

2-24-11 1995

Ah, 1995. Nicholas' second birthday brought the big playhouse and, even better, the giant box to play in. I promise I didn't teach him to wear baseball caps sideways and with the tags still on years before it was in style.

At Easter, he was just as happy to crawl through the dog door over and over as to hunt for Easter eggs at Aunt Dot's house with his cousins. And the big hit was the marshmallow peeps.

Sammi joins the family in September, and all of a sudden it's Christmas again, where the Batman big wheel was left by Santa and we had the foresight to buy Woody and Buzz from Toys- R-Us the same weekend Nicholas had sat stock-still for the first time in life when watching Toy Story at the theater (his first theater experience too.). Everything sold out a week later, but we were set. As he realizes he is not only the proud new owner of Woody, but also Buzz, at which point he looks up lovingly at the Santa tree-topper and calls out "Thank you Santa Claus!" (And yea me, I managed to not point out Santa hadn't actually brought these prizes.)

2-24-11 1994

The highlight work continues. Nicholas as toddler in 1994.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

2-23-11 I Thought of You

I thought of you and how you love this beauty,
And walking up the long beach all alone
I heard the waves breaking in measured thunder
As you and I once heard their monotone.

Around me were the echoing dunes, beyond me
The cold and sparkling silver of the sea,
We two will pass through death and ages lengthen
Before you hear that sound again with me.

~Sara Teasdale

2-23-11 Thoreau on Rain

Nothing can rightly compel a simple and brave man to a vulgar sadness.

While enjoy the friendship of the seasons I trust that nothing can make life a burden to me.

The gentle rain which waters my beans and keeps me in the house to-day is not drear and melancholy, but good for me too.

Though it prevents me hoeing them, it is of far more worth than my hoeing.

If it should continue so long as to cause the seeds to rot in the ground and destroy the potatoes in the lowlands, it will be good for the grass of the uplands, and, being good for the grass, it would be good for me.

Sometimes, when I compare myself to other men, it seems as if I were more favoured by the gods than they, beyond any deserts that I am conscious of – as if I had a warrant and surety at their hands which my fellows have not, and were especially guided and guarded. I do not flatter myself, but if it be possible they flatter me.

Thoreau (p. 114 of the 1927 edition of Walden)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

2-22-11 Isotretinoin

It's not called Accutane anymore. Roche Pharmaceuticals gave up the manufacture and distribution in the U.S. in 2009, but the patents have expired, so it's available under a variety of other brand names now.

But "available" is not quite accurate, because getting CIA clearance is about as easy as getting this drug. Samantha had to go through blood labs, urine tests, and two dermatologist appointments in addition to an online test in order to get her first round. We should have been mailed a password when we set up her account, only to find this out today, when we had a seven day window to fill the prescription or start all over. (We got that worked out over the phone.)

So now she has a thirty day supply of a drug that promises to flare up her acne terribly in the first month and dry her out like the Sahara. And then? We do it all again for the next month.

Every month she has to go to the lab to get blood drawn, go to the dermatologist for urine testing and lab results, and take an online test through the government mandated iPledge program to qualify for the next month's supply.

It's also used to treat brain and pancreatic cancers.


But after months of exhausting all other options, I have a very excited teenager hoping in a few months this will all be worth it.

Monday, February 21, 2011

2-21-11 Nicholas turns 1

Nicholas at 11 months was taking a few tentative steps over and over again. But every time we turned on the camera, no dice. So I'll spare you the endless footage. You'll get the idea pretty quickly. This was also the month of the first haircut, first Christmas, and first birthday party. It was a pretty big month any way you slice it.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

2-20-11 Nicholas Year 1 Highlights

When we were expecting Nicholas, our biggest investment was a video camera. They were insanely expensive at the time, at least to us, at the ripe old ages of 22 and 25, with me still in grad school and Bob working as a prison guard. And I'd still say spending all that money was one of the wisest things we ever did. This was one of those large, shoulder-held things that the videocassette went directly into. So for years, we just had rows of tapes. Then, Mom and Dad gave us a DVD recorder one Christmas, and we painstakingly played all the baby tapes back and saved them to DVD format.

Recently, Bob has been making highlight reels for Nick and some of his friends, so he invested in software that converts all types of file formats, including the DVDs we'd made years ago. So now they've been converted to manipulable files for the computer.

Instead of subject everyone to hours of home movies, I'm working on highlight reels myself :)

So in five minutes you can enjoy five months of Nick from birth. I love that we have a good bit of film from his first week or two, and then almost nothing for two months. I would hazard a guess that that would be about the time colic struck and we walked around sleep deprived and as cranky as the baby until he started sleeping nights. . .

The jumpee thing was Nicholas' favorite spot. . . until he found more movement in the walker, and then there was no going back. Here he is at 6-9 Months Old:

And then 9-12 months, although I can't seem to cut things to get them under the ridiculously measly 100 Mb limit for Blogger. . . grrrr.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

2-19-11 Lazy Saturday

Last night after the movie, Deana and I trolled around nearby the theater following a clue to a letterbox, but in the dark, with the security people making the rounds for any suspicious activity, I only had time to poke a bit in the dark.

So this morning we returned in the sunshine with no one around to try again. Tree, lamp post, tree, juniper bush . . .

Those junipers are prickly smelly buggars, but Bob manage to find the treasure actually IN the bush, not underneath like I had assumed.

So ensconced in the car, we traded stamps. This one actually has already filled up one little log book of letterboxers, so there's a second to look through.

So I find the next spot and leave my Snoopy stamp with my name and date.

While I'm doing that Bob snaps a picture of the nondescript package it's protected in.

So my first stamp is the Sydney Opera House, in site of the local Outback. :)

This afternoon (after naps, of course) we took a walk in the wind and clouds, but the dogs didn't seem to mind.

After a dinner of salad and steaks from the grill, it's 3:10 to Yuma time.
Friday, February 18, 2011

2-18-11 127 Hours

Just got back from seeing 127 Hours, so I haven't really had a lot of time to process it, but here's an immediate reaction:

Like going to see Titanic, the point is not to discover "what happens" but to ponder one person's human spirit in the face of overwhelming circumstances, and to futilely attempt a comparison -- could I have done the same?

(I will tell you point blank, I highly doubt it, and not because I doubt the indomitableness of my human spirit, but because only someone in top physical shape with a very specialized set of skills would have made it to day 5 in the first place.)

So James Franco is amazing, because we're stuck with him, alone, for more than an hour, after the first 20 minutes of the film where his charming self-reliance is on display, as his cockiness withers away as he realizes the reality of his situation and he is completely believable.

And what comes to him the most in his exhaustion and hallucinations is childhood and love. It reminded me of all those tragic calls from the Twin Towers on 9/11 -- in those last, crucial moments, what people always do, is tell the people who matter how much they love them.

Was the scene where he finally cuts off his own arm gruesome? Of course. I'm lucky not to be squeamish, so it wasn't something I needed to turn away from, but the man has to break both bones (and not at the same time) and then saw through the flesh, tendons, and nerves with, after five days of stabbing at the rock that has him pinned, with what amounts to little more than that nail file tucked inside your nail clippers. It's not for the faint of heart. But, then, that's precisely why you should go see the movie. Because it's not about how awful the amputation must have been, but how a man can do anything in his power to survive, fueled by his desire to really live.

Two thumbs up.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

2-17-11 Age

I don't know if it's the full moon's influence, or 6 weeks of getting up at 4:45 (most) mornings, but I am definitely feeling some of those early signs of the "I'm not getting any younger" syndrome.

I posted in January about ordering some new glasses from Warby Parker. I put in my order and set up my optometrist's info for them to retrieve the glasses prescription. A day later I get a very nice note from a WP agent letting me know the prescription is for distance, but has a +.75 attached, which means the doctor has suggested bifocals. I remember him testing my reading distance, and he said it was pretty good ("for my age" was left unsaid) but apparently not good enough to go without help. WP doesn't do bifocals, and while they would make the "Emerson" for me in distance only, they still needed me to go back and get another measurement for the distance between pupils in order to fulfill my order. It took me months to make myself go in once (and under duress -- I was running out of contact lenses) so I just cancelled the new glasses order.

However, I did pick up a pair of very weak reading glasses at the pharmacy (pictured above) when I'm exclusively working on the computer (quite often) and wearing them librarian style as I move about the house, I manage not to fall over things and use my contacts to see everything else.

The next stop is going to be one of those glasses chains so I can keep my reading glasses as a necklace wherever I go.

It wasn't until after that visit that I began to notice that certain times I couldn't focus on things up close. This is especially true as I'm trying to change the music on the ipod when it's strapped to my upper arm at the track. I think all it took was being told my reading vision wasn't perfect for my eyes to decide it was time to act their age.

Tuesday of this week was the "annual" visit to my doctor. She walked in a said, "has it really been three years?" I knew I was overdue, but dang. Sure enough, it was late 2007 since I'd last had a checkup. At one point she said, "well, you seem to never get sick" and then got this look on her face and knocked on the table. Crap.

She asked, "how long has it been since you've had a tetanus shot?" and I looked at her quite blankly. I would assume the last time I had to get one as a kid? You're supposed to have one every ten years. Had I known that, I most certainly would have already missed the deadline and stepped on a rusty nail, but luckily no one tipped me off. So I get stuck and make the comment, "Nice, didn't hurt at all." The nurse smiled at me kindly and said, "No, that will come tomorrow." She wasn't kidding. By yesterday afternoon I was having trouble lifting that arm. But that was because she told the arm it would feel that way. See?

So now, at 40, I'm trying to avoid hearing any doctor tell me anything that my body will interpret as permission to head south. I'm not sure it's working. I get to schedule a mammogram for the first time and get an ultrasound next week. Egads.

I think my capitulation to reading glasses should have been enough for a while.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

2-16-11 Letterboxing

I discovered a new hobby, well, new to me, today and I am pretty excited about it.

Letterboxing is a kind of English treasure hunt, requiring you to follow clues to discover the box, and enjoy the journey along the way. There are over 20,000 of these boxes in North America.

Once you locate one, you take your own personal stamp and leave it in the log book within the box, and stamp your own book with the box's stamp. There are additional turns involved sometimes, like discovering a "hitch hiker" in the main box. You not only swap stamps with this one, but take it with you and leave it in the next box you find. All of this takes place secretly, with etiquette demanding you only uncover the box and trade stamps out of the stare of preying eyes.

I've already pulled out an empty journal, an old stamp (Snoopy at his typewriter, of course), and ink pad, and started collecting clues for places I will probably go in the next month. How cool!

If you want to play along:

2-16-11 Survivor

The 22nd Survivor season debuts tonight. It does help that they get 2 seasons in a year, but that's still 11 years of watching this silly reality show.

But there is something about this show that fascinates me.

Most of these people are attention-seeking, certainly, because they are signing up to be filmed for 40 days straight "marooned" in a remote location with at least 15 other strangers for the chance to win a million dollars. Shy, private people do not try out for this show.

But what I really love is watching these people's masks fall away. None of them ever really seem to grasp that they will not be able to pretend to be something they are not for that long under those conditions.

Over and over again, you hear them saying after a week, this is so much harder than I thought. Really? What did you think? That you aren't really going to be sweating and gritty with sand in the first ten minutes and not have a bath for 40 days? That you aren't really going to be eating a spoonful of rice and two bites of bony fish, if you're lucky, for a meal almost every day for 40 days? That you aren't going to be trying to sleep on boards with many other people, with next to no protection from the wind, the rain, the cold, the bugs, again, for 40 days?

Take someone and strip them of all their support and their comfort, make them nearly starving, exhausted, bored for long stretches punctuated by highly physical and mental challenges, and forced to play a social game with complete and often terribly irritating strangers, and you are absolutely going to find out who they really are.

It's such an interesting study of human nature and human interaction. Bob keeps saying one of these days he's going to apply for the show. The idea of this simultaneously cracks me up and makes me shudder. Now THAT would be interesting television.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

2-15-11 Sarah

I came across Sarah's blog in the fall. She had started it in March of 2010 when the strange cyst on her arm whom she had named Cecil turned out to be cancer and she wanted to have a blog not entirely focused on being sick.

In June she and Eric took engagement pictures.
In December she posted pictures of her wedding to Eric at the end of November.

For a good part of January through the first week of February of this year she's been in the hospital, video blogging about butterflies in addition to radiation and chemotherapy.

Yesterday Eric posted this moving entry

Sarah's light has been evident in every one of her blogs, her spirit and positive energy radiating through that broken body. I've watched her followers steadily increase since I joined, and I know many, many more who don't have their own blogger account have her bookmarked to check on every day.

And the profound impact she is having on people's lives, people like me who have never met her, is astounding. And all because she is willing to be open and honest, just letting people into her life to care, pray, and listen.

I hope that she, as Eric put it, joins the grand symphony of radiance painlessly.

I left Sarah a comment a while back that every time I heard Mark Schultz' Closer to You I would think of her. I think I always will.

Closer to me I'm tired and I'm weak
And every breath within me is longing just to be
Closer to You
So I face the road ahead
Cause I know there's no comparing
To what's waiting at the end

So let the rain start falling where it will
And I will run through this valley
Just to climb to that hill
And if they ask why I'm smiling
After all I've been through
It's cause I'm just a day closer to You

Closer to me I hear You whisper on the wind
You say although my life is ending
A new one will begin
Closer to You
And I know I'm not alone
Cause I can hear You in the distance
Saying, you are nearly home

So let the rain start falling where it will
And I will run through this valley
Just to climb to that hill
And if they ask why I'm dancing
Though my days may be few
It's cause I'm just a day closer to You

Closer to me You're in the laughter and the tears
Of the ones I leave behind me
Who have prayed me through the years
Closer to You
And I know it won't be long
Till You're running down the pathway
Just to take me in Your arms

So let the rain start falling where it will
And I will run through this valley
Just to climb to that hill
And if they ask why I'm singing
Though my life's almost through
It's cause I'm just a day closer
I'm just a day closer
I'm just a day closer to You.

2-15-11 Snoopy and Evan

The Valentine's gift that so delighted me has made Evan head for the hills. He doesn't even want to be in the same room with Snoopy here, who moves ever so slightly in the air.

I have discovered today he will come in for pets (but not stay) since I have moved it over to my work desk corner, which is further away from his favorite spot in front of the couch.

But he still looks up fearfully and suspiciously as he exits the room every time. Maybe he's picking up on Lucy's mean football swiping vibe instead. . . .


Monday, February 14, 2011

2-14-11 Valentines Past-Present

I am not exactly a hopeless romantic. I like a good romantic comedy as much as the next girl, I guess, but my favorite part of An Affair to Remember is doing the recap from Sleepless in Seattle that ends with the guys mocking her by crying over The Dirty Dozen.

Maybe this explains why I don't have very many Valentine pictures. In most albums, we have pages and pages of Christmas pictures . . . Nick's birthday . . . and then bluebonnets and easter.

So while it's not exactly a complete retrospective, here's what I've got:

1991, Bob and my first Valentines was spent apart while he was at Fort Knox.

And from there, we have to skip 7 years to find the next mention of Valentines. Wow, I don't think it hit me until now how little observance I've given this holiday. And these are only because Nell took them at the daycare.

A year later, when Samantha came to visit Muna's class for the Valentine party, she was delighted to get a Valentine from Drew, and older "man" and her first crush.

Maybe a year later? Clearly she took Blues Clues valentines to daycare this year.

Still depending on day care pictures for all of these.

Ok, I actually took this one. I was a class mom for Nick's fourth grade Valentines party. Nick is showing off his penned-in tattoo of Texas A&M.

Same year, (same day) 2003. Camera must've still been sitting out.

This would have to be a couple of years later, 2005, when Sammi was out of gymnastics and playing soccer. (See the bandaid on the elbow? She wasn't messing around on the field.)

And then . . . good grief, I have to skip all the way to 2008 to find another V-Day picture. I am going to have my chick license revoked.

And then, miraculously, it's only another two years before I have another one. Maybe I should just get chick probation at this point.

Two in one year, even! (To show off the Wonder Woman attire that went with the bear. . . )

If I manage to snap a few tonight we'll have a streak going, two years in a row!

2-14-11 Valentines Past

Remember the valentine boxes you made for your classroom Valentine's party every year?

Ah, tin foil and stickers, the mark of a good box. The best stickers were at Hallmark, but you got a bigger variety of choices for the cards from the grocery store.

This was back when they came in that plastic-y, red cellophane over a thin open faced box, so the cards shook around and you could make them out through the clean plastic "window" in the front.

And most of the valentines were not licensed, just cartoon animals and bad puns. The names of everyone in the class were always sent home with the clear instructions that NO ONE was to be left out. We all brought our boxes of valentines carefully stuffed into each itty-bitty very thin envelope, and filled them dutifully by walking around from desk to desk, sliding them into the slots.

And you couldn't wait to break open each little envelope and see which valentine each person had chosen for you.

Of course, in later elementary school, each choice was loaded with implications. Did it say something about how secretly awesome they thought you were?

Or was it clearly the "don't chase me on the playground"?
And, of course, out of whatever set you got, there was always one you didn't want to give to anyone because of the endless teasing you would inevitably get.

In this group, the "How about a kiss, Valentine?" would be the extra left in the box, I guarantee you.

Mom would always get some lacy giant red box of chocolate with box and squashed roses . . .

but she didn't have a box wrapped in tin foil with snoopy stickers on it at the end of the day!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

2-13-11 Sunshine!

Wow, what a difference a week makes. We were watching snow fall heavily last Sunday, and then again on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Tuesday night we got a call about 9:30 p.m. from Nick, who had hit a patch of ice, which sent him into a snowbank where he was stuck. The three of us hopped into the Jeep to enact a rescue, which was complete by shoveling out around the car, me revving it in low, and both guys shoving with all their might to get it out. Woo-hoo for family togetherness.

So imagine walking in short sleeves up the same road, with the sounds a running creeks all around you in the warm sunshine only days. Welcome to Colorado. What a glorious afternoon. As I type this, the sounds of the melting snows and voices of neighbors greet me through open windows.

(gratuitous moon picture)

The dogs got a nice undercarriage back along the way. . . They are looking longingly toward the off-leash dog park that still lays underneath snow, which means it will be muddy as all get out for a good while. Sorry, guys.

And I even spotted some river rocks who have mistaken the running water for their home.

When we got back home the dogs flopped down on the unmelted snow on the back deck that doesn't get as much sun and we watched Evan help clear it away by eating it.

It was one of those checklist kind of afternoons, filing the taxes (and finding out we don't owe!), getting Nick's residence hall contract and deposit squared away for Sam Houston, making a checklist of all the spring cleaning jobs we need to parcel out over the weekends, from fixing the infamous hole in the front fence from whence dog capers have sprung, to cleaning out the dreaded crawl space (think attic but under the house rather than over) that has collected four years worth of boxed up treasures, half of which need to fill up a garage sale.

I won't get too far ahead of myself -- currently in the 10 day forecast, we may have snow again next Sunday. But I'm certainly going to enjoy the early spring weather while I've got it. :)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

2-12-11 The Hike

It was a glorious morning for a drive down to the Springs, with the angel wing clouds in the morning sun. After so many days this week of snow and slush, this felt really good.

Approaching the Springs, where Pike's Peak dominates the western side of town.

At the main lot in the Garden I snapped a few photos before Deana arrived.

And then we drove around to the Siamese Twins lot to hike about the park. It was unusually quiet this morning.

Why yes, I am a tree hugger. Especially my twisty trees that snake around so sexily.

Then we stopped by the Trading Post and headed for Cripple Creek to check out the ice sculpture festival going on there. Cripple Creek is an old mining town who boasted 10,000 people during the large gold rush there. Now it's officially home to about 1000 people and 1000 gamblers every day. There is almost nothing here but casinos now, but I guess it's fitting for this gold rush town.

This weekend and next they are hosting an Ice Festival with sculptures that, after looking at them, I guessed to be built around a fantasy theme. However, when I got home and looked it up, it was open to any literary influence. And every last one of them chose fantasy. Hmmm.

There was an Alice in Wonderland set with a slide for the kiddies to sled down.

And a really ambitious set that was only just taking shape around Lord of the Rings.

The Ice Orc was the only thing complete when we were there.

But the DJ had set up shop in the midst of the Ice Tower quite nicely.

There was also a very cool dragon, although I'm stuck on which particular tale he's out of.

And there was Peter Pan, still covered in scaffolding.

And Dr. Suess (also fasntastical, I would argue) with One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish (except without the colors. . . sorry.)

And there was the Star Wars sculpture, which I think kind of bends the rules a bit. . . not technically published as a book except as an adaptation of a script . . . foul!

And hurrah! A Narnia set!

The town itself is filled with historic buildings (now casinos inside) and lots of old ads they keep restoring on the sides of the brick buildings.

11 donkeys roam the town freely, descendants of the animals set loose when they became redundant in the mining operation or a miner went bust and left them there.

One of the pens where the donkeys are occasionally corralled so the kids can pet them is a lot where once a building stood. The back wall is all that remains, even though the second story windows are still intact.

Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, before they just went with the "Elks Lodge" moniker, still hangs on main street.

Making friends with the pig-bear on the way to lunch.

This is one of my favorites. Your dynamite wasn't handpacked by beautiful soft hands, was it? But I would like some details on the bringing back the dead promise.

Beautiful day, all around. :)