Monday, July 31, 2006

Headache

I am not sure exactly what caused this headache, but I was pretty sure I was dying yesterday after I got home. Driving home, my head started to hurt where it usually does if I'm going through caffeine withdrawl (which does happen occasionally). I pushed the thoughts from my head and focused on the road. No help. Got home, chatted a bit, took some Aleve... still no help and the headache was getting worse. Nausea too. I downed a Diet Coke and went for a nap. No change. I hurt. Almost blinding pain. Finally got some food in me and took a shower, and things got a little better for a while, but as soon as I sat down to blog, it all came back. I finally found some water and worked that down... and realized that was the first water I'd consumed since Wednesday when I was hiking. My headache was probably a result of dehydration. Oh man, I was sure I was going to die. I slept all night okay... today I'm weak and sore, but the headache is gone. Don't ever let me do this to myself again!

Question: If one can have a "healthy respect" for something, can they have an "unhealthy respect" for something? Hmmmm...

Sunday, July 30, 2006

"Paper Plate Killer"

Five weeks ago, I never could have imagined I'd do what I did today. I learned how to fire a rifle. Sounds easy enough, and rather mundane to most of you, I'm sure. But for me, it was a big deal. I'd always said I could never see myself handling a gun of any kind. I wasn't opposed to guns or their safe use... several members of my family hunt, and we've always had a gun or two at home, but I'd never been exposed to them beyond sight and knowledge of existence. I had no desire to ever fire a gun. That simple. Not sure what changed my mind, but today I did it. :)

*NOTE* slight editing made at instructor's request; changes appear in blue. Sorry about the yards/feet mix-up... I'm usually good about stuff like that. Thanks for the comments! I'm going to go let my ego swell for a bit now. :)

After a few basic lessons in gun safety inside the house (hehe, that was weird, but incredibly helpful), my instructor and I went away from the house down to a big dirt berm. We paced off the distance from our targets (small paper plates with crazily-drawn targets) at 50, 75, and 100 yards feet. I witnessed the firing of the .22 a couple times before taking my turn. Using open sights, my first ten rounds all hit my target within six inches of each other. Not bad... was hoping for a tighter group (hehehe, the instant over-acheiver), but I am not complaining with my first attempts. I tried a larger rifle next, a .30-30. Oh man, that one was wicked. I had it TIGHT to my shoulder and it hurt a bit. I think I fired three rounds before handing the rifle back over. Even still, I put two or three holes in my targets. Took some convincing to shoot a (12 gauge) shotgun... but I did... and it hurt... I successfully put a lot of little holes in a lot of leaves, and a few stray balls hit my plates, but I think I did more damage to the blackberries above and right of my plate. Back to the .22, I tried a few positions: prone, sitting, and standing. Prone was painful and awkward--I don't really have shoulders, so the butt was resting on my collarbone. Not good. Sitting was okay... I was still hitting my target consistently, but always high from center. I could use a lot more practice. All-in-all, I learned a TON more than I anticipated and had a good time. Still have no desire to actually kill anything, but I'd like to become more accurate and consistent... for a personal reason I will not share today.

I definitely broke out of my usual shell and tried something completely new and unlike me. Not bad at all for a first try... and now you can call me the "Paper Plate Killer" or something like that... ;)

I miss the rain...

Yesterday was a boring day at home, alone... first day I've been bored this summer. I sat at my piano for a long time, working through some new and difficult pieces, as well as taking out some of my earliest books and practicing basic techniques. My full-keyboard chromatic scale runs in under ten seconds. :)

In the evening, after I consumed three episodes of "From the Earth to the Moon," I went and visited Grandma (dad's mom). We had a wonderfully long and loud conversation. I saw a few of the other residents I've missed so much since I left the facility... good chats with them too. The old ladies recharged my spirit when I needed it.

I miss the rain...

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Up and Down

The week was busy, complete with hiking adventures and some difficult moments. Tuesday and Wednesday included some personal growth and another revision to my ever-changing self. Rachel was in town, and we spent a few delightful hours together. So happy to have that time out of the house and girl-talking my boy woes away. :) I went hiking with a friend, and we (he) found two more Geocaches up at McDowell Creek Park. The day was warm, but beautiful. Good conversation. Great adventure.

Mom called me Friday afternoon to inform me that her mother was at the hospital. Doctors said Grandma had suffered a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), not dissimilar from a mild stroke. Grandma was released the same day. I am quite concerned, knowing enough about the situation to have reason to worry. Grandpa has not been doing well lately either. I anticipate visiting them again soon.

Friday, July 28, 2006

My New Compy

My parents agreed that, as a gift for completing my undergraduate studies, they would assist in the purchase of a new computer (meaning, I'm a spoiled brat and they're buying it for me, though I am wholly apreciative and understand the practicality of such a thoughtful gift).

Seeing that my monitor, speakers, keyboard, and mouse are very good, it would not make sense for me to order a package deal from Dell or Gateway. Also, due to my determination to learn enough about computers to build one myself, I've created what I believe to be a quality machine.

Please review this list and make suggestions as you wish. I caution that I am attempting to build this computer and include software for a total price not to exceed $1,000.

CASE: Cooler Master Centurion 5 CAC-T05-WW Black/Silver Aluminum Bezel, SECC Chassis ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

MOTHERBOARD: ASUS A8N5X Socket 939 NVIDIA nForce4 ATX AMD Motherboard

PROCESSOR: AMD Athlon 64 3700+ San Diego 2000MHz HT 1MB L2 Cache Socket 939

MEMORY: Patriot Signature Series 1GB (2 x 512MB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM Unbuffered DDR 400 (PC 3200) Dual Channel Kit (times two)

HARD DRIVE: Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD2500KS 250GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s

VIDEO CARD: XFX PV-T73G-UDD3 Geforce 7600GT 256MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16

SOUND CARD: Creative Sound Blaster SB0570 Audigy SE 7.1 Ch. 24-bit 96KHz PCI Interface

POWER SUPPLY: Enermax Whisper II EG465P-VE FMA(24) ATX12V 460W

Feel free to respond either via e-mail or as a comment. I VERY MUCH welcome criticism, especially advice on WHY you would or would not purchase what I have selected. I do, however, reserve the right to ignore you. :) Thanks a ton for any and all help. I hope to acquire these parts and software by mid-August.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

100 Things About Me

Here you go, 100 random and completely useful facts about me... hehehe.

  1. I’m a label snob.
  2. Just because I’m a label snob does not make me snobby or rich...
  3. Some of my favorite brand names are quite cheap.
  4. But I am not cheap or easy.
  5. Although, I am a cheap drunk.
  6. Even though I don’t drink.
  7. I’ve read “On the Origin of Species” three times cover-to-cover and still don’t understand it.
  8. I’ve memorized Gary Paulsen’s _Hatchet_, and continue to read it every year.
  9. I attended band camp five separate times.
  10. I play the flute. ;)
  11. I own two of them.
  12. I really like Propel water, but only the berry flavor.
  13. I have very good handwriting.
  14. I’m somewhat clumsy... do not walk in my footsteps, I walk into walls.
  15. I can’t swim very well.
  16. Swimming is not a sport: it’s a survival skill.
  17. I have never owned any video gaming system. Ever. Except a computer, of course.
  18. I have four varsity letters from high school.
  19. But I never bought a letterman’s jacket.
  20. I’m really good at doing math.
  21. I didn’t like Johnny Depp for a long time... times change.
  22. I love a man in a tool belt.
  23. Especially if he’s built, shirtless, and just a little bit sweaty.
  24. I love broccoli.
  25. ...is my lucky number.
  26. I’d really like to cut my hair super short again.
  27. Guys tell me I look like a guy with short hair.
  28. I’m told guys like a girl with long hair.
  29. I don’t like fruit.
  30. Except for apples, bananas, strawberries, kiwi fruit, watermelon, and grapes.
  31. I have never cheated on a boyfriend.
  32. The only moment in my life (past age 3) I cannot remember was when I was coming out of anesthesia from my wisdom teeth extraction surgery.
  33. I am a virgin.
  34. By choice, not by lack of boys attempting to get in my pants.
  35. I have never pumped my own gas.
  36. I don’t like it when people tell me what to do.
  37. Jell-O scares me just a little bit.
  38. I love to laugh.
  39. I have amazing spelling abilities.
  40. Board games and card games make me happy.
  41. Winning games makes me even happier.
  42. I don’t watch sports on TV very much.
  43. Do not interrupt me when I am watching a sporting event on TV: if I’m watching, there is a reason, and God help the poor individual that causes me to miss a moment of the action.
  44. I hate shopping.
  45. I was a telemarketer for a short time.
  46. I am mean to telemarketers that call me.
  47. We don’t get as many calls from telemarketers as we used to... :)
  48. I love to drive my car.
  49. I’m not officially allergic to anything.
  50. But I do have seasonal allergies, turn all sorts of weird colors when I’m in the sun too long, and get lots of bumps on me if I lay down in the grass.
  51. I still look for four leaf clovers, shooting stars, pots of gold, and buried treasure.
  52. I’m not afraid of getting dirt on me.
  53. I take a multivitamin every day. It tastes like chocolate. I never forget my daily chocolate.
  54. I do not like feet. At all.
  55. I have never been to a rock concert.
  56. I currently do not know how to drive a stick-shift car.
  57. I very much would like to learn what I do not know in #56.
  58. I don’t tan—I just get more freckles.
  59. Nail polish makes me feel like I have peanut butter on my fingers that won’t come off.
  60. I’m not really an animal person. Nothing against them... as long as they aren’t touching me.
  61. I’m a very light sleeper.
  62. The first thing I drink every morning is Diet Coke. With #53. I wonder about interactions...
  63. I prefer black ink to blue ink in my writing pens.
  64. Unless I’m signing something, then I like blue ink.
  65. I am a morning person.
  66. My sister is the coolest sister ever.
  67. I’m blunt to the point of obnoxious.
  68. I ask a LOT of questions.
  69. I’m right handed.
  70. I can write both forward and backward with my left hand though.
  71. I am a pioneer descendant, old Oregon Trail legends and everything.
  72. My family started the town I currently live in, and we still own the same land.
  73. Even though my family has a farm, I grew up in the city.
  74. I have always wanted to be a meteorologist.
  75. I love to fold paper—origami is how I survived story time in grade school.
  76. Religion frightens me a little bit.
  77. I collect unsharpened pencils.
  78. I really hope you’re still reading this, because it’s taking me far too long to write.
  79. I’ve been hit on by more girls than guys.
  80. I’m not interested in girls. I don’t like girls. Girls scare me. Except Emily and Rachel. :)
  81. I miss Rachel and Emily... so many good times...
  82. I can read incredibly quickly.
  83. I believe all science falls under the field of biology – the study of life and it’s related periphery – except astronomy – which is, in fact, the study of star stuff, which is, in a roundabout way of thinking, all about searching for other life in this universe.
  84. Physics sucks. No seriously. Vacuum forces are awful... you should see what they do to dirt in carpet or ants on the sidewalk.
  85. I shop in the little boys’ section and mens’ section in department stores sometimes.
  86. I do not suffer from PMS. I might get whiny/bitchy, but not as in PMS.
  87. I can create and use very detailed and scaled maps.
  88. Sometimes I swear.
  89. I swear more when I’m playing (and losing) card games.
  90. I do not like sweatpants. Not on me, not on you.
  91. I wish I could trade some of my musical talent for karate talent.
  92. I’m not dedicated or something enough to keep a journal or diary.
  93. But I willingly blog at any hour of the day.
  94. People are constantly telling me to drink more water. Sometimes I actually listen.
  95. I’m really proud of you if you’re still reading this...
  96. No one has ever told me they were proud of me and meant it except Emily and Rachel.
  97. I am a poke-whore on Facebook. Do not poke me... I will seek revenge.
  98. I love blog comments.
  99. I was procrastinating when I wrote this, but it didn’t take as long as I’d hoped.
  100. I feel incredibly narcissistic for actually coming up with 100 things about myself for you to read, but I hope you enjoyed reading it nonetheless.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

McDowell Creek Falls


Not sure what the actual name to this waterfall is, but it is one of the falls at McDowell Creek Park. I can't picture a better way to spend my afternoon: sitting next to a giant waterfall, toes in the water, camera in hand.

Swirling Water


Taken downstream of McDowell Creek Falls. A friend and I were Geocaching in the area and I couldn't resist this little pile of rocks in the stream. Warm day, cool water. :)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Selfishness

*AUTHOR NOTE: This post has been edited from the original version which appears in grey.*

I started writing a really long blog post about selfishness, but I generated more questions than answers in the process. No matter what I wrote, I found myself twisted back to my own experiences and how I might have acted differently. I'm sure it comes as no shock to my friends, but I can be pretty selfish. Looking out for one's interests, in my own defense, is a rather innate thing to do. However, I do realize my tendency and work at correcting it as much as possible. Perhaps the one thing I can't find myself doing often is taking advantage of my friends. I'd never dream of inviting myself over or not repaying a courtesy or kindness. The thought appalls me. To use someone, especially a friend, for personal gain... well, it's just not right.

And now I know why. I was recently used in such a fashion, not once, oh no, several times. I'm sure I garnered at least some benefit in the process, although looking back, I understand I gained less than I first thought. In truth, I gained a considerable amount. I learned much about the person I want to be, how I manipulate a situation, and how I drive people away. I wanted a good friend, a kind and funny friend that shared humor and family values and adventure. Truly, I gained exactly this sort of friend. Unfortunately, blinded by my own desire, I found someone willing to prey upon my kindness, my limited cooking ability, and my common courtesy. This would not have happened if I'd said no. The fault, therefore, lies within my own actions and not his.

I feel misunderstood, like I never really communicated what I wanted out of the situation--things weren't what they seemed. The hard part is, I don't even want anything from this person now... no apology or repayment... it would do me no good. Given the chance to do it all over again, I'd probably put up a thicker skin and would make him work for more. No regrets, though. I don't regret being nice, for being kind...

In his own words, "I don't like to invest in things unless I'm sure I'll get what I want out of it." Well, I hope he got what he wanted... because I'm sorely disappointed with him. I am so much more disappointed with myself for a wrathful tongue I have not yet curbed entirely. I seek forgiveness for this selfish post and vow to refrain from blogging again about the situation or individual.

Monday, July 24, 2006

"I Want To Be You" or do I?

These long days off during the summer have me watching more TV than I probably should, though still less than two hours each day (well down from summers past when I'd watch twelve or more). What happened to MTV? Seriously, are there music videos on at all anymore? What's with all this fake glamour, platinum blond airhead models, and popped collars? The show I find most intriguing is, "I Want To Be You." One person admires another and asks them if the "better" person will teach them how to be "better" in two days. Train-wreck factor for me... I'm kinda hooked on the show. Not because I like the idea, but the people that need help don't actually need that much help to be cool.

Are we now, as a society, so incredibly materialistic and greedy that we've moved into wanting not only every object for ourselves, but other personalities too? "I don't like who I am, so I'm going to hang out with you and try to assume your life to make me feel better about who I will never really be." I don't have a problem with people trying to change themselves, that's a really cool goal. I've changed, you've changed, we do that. But on MTV?

So then I asked myself, out of curiosity (because I do that sometimes), "Jaggy, if you could tap anyone on the shoulder and ask them to teach you how to be them in two days, who would you tap?" I thought a long time. Dozens of names came to mind: celebrities, friends, family... there are a few traits from certain individuals that I truly admire, but they also have faults I would not want to trade. I reflected on my friends, the kids I went to high school with, even enemies (all...one of him). But there is no one person I'd tap. I've worked a long time molding the ball of clay I call myself into this unique shape named "Jaggy." I really like who I am, the ideas I have, the traits I possess, the image I project...

Sometimes people say things to us earlier in our lives, and the quote sticks with us, but we don't realize it until much later. One of my grade-school teachers told me, "Jaggy, you set a standard and stick to it. You never deviate from yourself even in the face of conflict or emotional injury. Your determination to remain true to yourself should be an example to many adults." And for my last birthday, my one enemy wrote, "You exemplify those things which I continually hope to achieve in myself: honesty, respect, and conviction. You do not fold to the easy comforts or white lies or half-truths. While I am perennially scared to tell people things that might cause them transitory discomfort, you are always there to prove it really is better to be upfront with people... I am jealous of your ability to do the right thing, even when you know that someone will be made unhappy by it..."

There will always be things about myself I want to change. I am wholly a work-in-progress. I will never be perfect, and I will always admire someone for something; it's inevitable. :)

I don't want to be you. :) You're cool, don't get me wrong... I know that you (YES YOU!) are a totally fantastic person with a ton to offer. But if I were you, I wouldn't be me, and you wouldn't be you, ... and we'd be on MTV... *horror*

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Oppressive Heat

It has been over a week since I last updated with my crazy life activities.
Because nothing has happened. Really.

Okay, that's not entirely true... it's hot and I'm tired of it being hot. 100°+ for three days. Ugh.

Emily came down last week to spend a day with me. We had a pretty good time, learning to ride Trikkes and talking and eating ice cream for dinner. I finished working on my new computer project, and I'll post the parts I'm soon to acquire for your perusal. Found a few jobs to apply for, but the market is tight right now. Have been exchanging messages with a unique young man for a few weeks, and I'm quite enjoying our conversation (convoluted and difficult as it may be at times). Dancing every Monday, and hopefully a couple Thursdays too... ordered new shoes this weekend, so I'm pretty excited about going again soon.

Yup, nothing new to note. I'm going to go sit where it's cool.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I Got Ribbons!

Faithful blog readers, you will be pleased to know, I got ribbons at the county fair! I entered five photographs, all in different categories. Some of the pictures appear on this blog, but some do not. In all, I earned a First Place ribbon for a black and white photograph of Jackson-Frazier Wetlands, entitled, "To Where it Bent in the Undergrowth." The Second Place ribbon went to my other black and white photograph, a simple rose, closeup. I called it "Veinules" because you can see the veinules in the rose petals. Not a bad showing for a total rookie at the fair, two ribbons. Of course, Dad entered one of his cross-stitch pieces and won Grand Champion, yet again... in my own defense though, he was pretty much the only entry in his division, whereas I had lots of very good competition, especially those that beat out my other photographs.

YAY! I am "officially" an award-winning photographer! :)

*Note* Photographs have been posted. Please alert me if you are using them, just so I know. Yeah, asking for permission might be a good idea too. Because they are mine, after all.

Comments welcome, criticism appreciated.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Friend Rants

Sometimes I wish I had more friends, but then I think of the great friendships I have, and I smile. Good people. My IM list has lots of great friends on it. A handfull of them will IM me if we're both online, but most often, I'm the one that ends up messaging first to my friends. Why is this? I'd try to figure out the psychology behind it, but each person is so different. My question, though, is this: why get online, why have IM, if you're not going to send people messages? Not just reply, but taking the effort to start a conversation. Why bother? It's 50/50, or it should be... at least 60/40. I'd like to say I'll stop messaging people that don't talk to me first every once in a while, but the notion is quite selfish, and then I probably wouldn't have any sort of social life.

Second rant: If I ask someone, "How are you?" I'm really curious. I really want to know. Why do people forego returning this question, why don't they ask? Does it simply fall to the wayside, or do people not care? And why do people respond with a rehearsed, "good," or "okay"? Can't we be honest with each other? Especially with friends... tell the truth! No sense hiding things. I'm "blah," or "ecstatic," or even "bored." Ask, answer, and tell the truth. Easy to remember.

Third rant: I really need to get out of town... but I have no place to go. Not one to invite myself over or along (so very rare that I'll do such a bad thing)... I'm bored here, but I'm also not desperate. Can still find things to do to keep busy if I have to. Would really like to spend some time with friends though. Would really enjoy that. Especially after today.

Praxis Results

I received my Praxis results today. Finally. I was ready to kill the next person that asked me if they'd come yet... between Mom, Grandma, and a few friends, it was an everyday thing. "No, they're not here yet, you'll know when they are." Like I was trying to hide them or something...

Results! I passed both of the multiple choice sections with room to spare. Not flying colors or anything, just got the job done. I scored better in the earth science and technology sections than on the life science section, a fact which surprised me. I was at the top of the curve with earth science and about average for both physics and life science. Not bad.

I did not, however, pass the essay section. There were three essays, all very challening questions I answered to the best of my ability... and I was very close to passing, but did not. I have the option to retake this section (at full price) next September, and I do intend on retaking it.

Pleasantly surprised to have passed, but disappointed I came so close only to fail the last section. Kinda bummed...

Pirates and Berry Picking

Both Thursday and Friday of this week have been rather busy and eventful. Thursday morning started off slow, but I managed to start cleaning the house and get some laundry going before Mom and Dad got home. Dad reminded me about the upcoming county fair; entries are due Sunday. I printed off six of my favorite photographs (all but two appear on the blog somewhere) and cut them out using some new Cutter Bee scissors while I watched "From the Earth to the Moon." Quick dinner, then Dad took me to see the new "Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest." Any of my friends will tell you I'm into mythic piracy, one going so far to call me 'obsessed.' While I don't believe I was obsessed before seeing the film... oh man, I'm a pirate now! The movie was incredible: nonstop action, drama, suspense, and hilarious one-liners from my friend Captain Jack. From his unique entrance to the very last secret scene at the end of the infinitely long credits (stick around, it's great), I was on the edge of my most uncomfortable seat. Totally awesome! ARRRRRRR!

I got up rather late today, a trend I am starting to dislike about myself... the family readied and left for Childers' field and later Blueberry Meadows to pick fruit. We picked overflowing buckets of the reddest, ripest raspberries, but they weren't very sweet. No thorns, no bugs, no mud... the field was perfect. But the berries lacked... berry-ness. Oh well. The blueberry picking was phenomenal--berries hanging on the vines in clumps like matte grapes, just about as big too. There was a trick: stick your bucket under the clump and massage the berries off the vines. Picking those went really fast. Quick lunch, a stop for more foam-core board, and then back home to make pies (Mom's task). I cut my boards to fit the photographs, then mounted the photos on the boards. Titles, info on the back... off to the fair. Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

French and Grandpa

Everyone was opposed to me taking French as my foreign language option in high school. Most of my friends opted into Spanish or German, the other two choices. I wanted to take French. The day we were registering for freshman classes, I found out that the French classes were full. Saddened, I turned to sign up for a different elective. Not far away, a shorter and very much grey-haired woman looked at me and smiled. She took me by the hand, literally pulled me down to the registrar's office, and demanded I be allowed to join her class even if it meant standing room only. It took me three years to complete four years of French classes, doubling up my junior year. While I've had limited use of my monstrously tiny French vocabulary, I find myself thinking in it quite often. I'm no "Frenchie," a person who took the language to avoid learning another... nor am I opposed to learning another language now--I much welcome the opportunity should it arise. My Latin isn't bad, nouns mostly, and I'd really like to work on both Spanish and German.

Not too long after my grandfather passed away, Grandma gave me a book of his. I probably wasn't but twelve years old, and the book seemed like a nice, if not small, token by which to remember him. She handed me the dusty dark blue volume and told me it was special. The book's edges were well-worn, the engraved lettering on the cover almost unreadable. I opened the book to an arbitrarily chosen page, yellowed and dingy with time. I realized the words were not in English and asked if this was some weird language. Grandma explained that the book was my grandfather's high school French textbook when he learned French. Inside the cover was his name--he was the first and only owner--and part of a love poem he'd penned when he was young. Grandma, knowing my passion for books, gave me a perfect gift by which to remember Grandpa.

I took the book home, sat down with a French/English dictionary, and began the task of translating the first short story. What I did not yet understand about languages were important things like verb conjugations and tenses. I'd get stuck on words so easily. Frustrated, eventually, I gave up. But I never really put the book away for good... and when the chance came to learn the language, I took the chance.

My French isn't great, but with the help of a dictionary to look up an occasional word, I can passably understand most of the text in the book. I wouldn't trade that knowledge for anything... Grandpa passed away before I got a chance to know him, or at least know him as a teenager or adult. Perhaps learning French is a way I am able to connect. I don't strive to be just like him, even though I've heard we're quite a bit alike... The book is one of my most prized possessions, and I will treasure it always with the memory of him.

~*~*~*~*~*~

A bit more about Grandpa, not that you care, but because I feel the need to write this out. Not every kid reaches the age of 22 and has many grandparents still alive. I'm doing pretty darn good with three mostly-healthy grandparents; my dad's dad being the only one to have left this world. I've heard a lot of stuff about my grandpa, both good and bad from several different sources. Some say he was a drunk, some say he was a magnificent dancer. He was a good farmer, I know that much... and he lived a long life. He was quiet, ingenuitive, thoughtful, neighborly, outdoorsy, a baseball fan, and probably a lot more I will never know. He was a good hunter, a decent shot from what I've heard. Just about everyone that remembers my grandpa to me says they picked beans for him... they also say Grandma was a tough boss. I believe it! (you can read more about her throughout my blog) I really wish I had the chance to know him now, to dance with him, to speak French (though I doubt he'd remember any), to learn from him... Even though I never really got a chance to know him and barely remember interacting with him, good or bad as he might have been, I miss my grandpa.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Melon-Gazing

http://www.toothpastefordinner.comTee hee, well, it's true... if you could find a way to check me out in a less obvious way, I'd really appreciate it. While being oogled is flattering, you don't need to stare. Thanks.

It's been a crazy week already and it's hardly Wednesday. Applied to three jobs in a couple places, did laundry... the usual. Spent an hour with a friend Monday night before going dancing - always a delightful time, being berated and harassed in that jovial and facetious way... another wonderful encounter with that friend. Took Grandma to the dentist today. Since I'm currently "retired" and my parents and extended family work, I've been taking Grandma to her appointments and shopping as she needs a ride. I don't mind; she's cool to talk to, and gives sound advice most of the time. And she pays for gas - total plus. I don't ever expect that... but it is really nice of her to do that and I appreciate it.

Dancing Monday night was (and still is) beyond words. I set out with the goal to at least try West Coast Swing dancing with a stranger. Goal = check. Throughout the night, I was at no loss for a partner during any song. I Lindy Hopped with guys who know a different style than I do - a challenging and rather frustrating experience, but still fun. The WCS dances varied from easy with a beginning lead to outstanding with an experienced lead. One guy... I don't know his name, but WOW! He was a fantastic lead. I was spinning and moving and holy crap... that guy knows how to move a girl through the slot. *grin*

It didn't hurt that I went shopping last night and bought a new shirt. I'll post a pic soon - it's pretty hot. Was marked at $30, 50% off, then I got another discount because the beadwork was starting to come loose, so I ended up paying a little over $12 for a new brand-name shirt. :) That made me really happy. Plus I fixed the beading without any problems (I've been beading for years). New shirt + on sale + discount + craft project + look on guys' faces = *YAY*
*NOTE* SEE FIRST PARAGRAPH.

FYI: Blog counter statistics are addicting. Thought you should know.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Tomcats and Mustangs

I'm not really a tomboy, not like some people would think. I have my girly side, even though it doesn't shine all pretty and pink all the time. That said, I can definitely appreciate a fine piece of machinery. I mentioned in my second list of favorite things (below, one post), my awe of the Grumman F-14 Tomcat. *drool* This picture to the right shows an F-14A from the VF-74 squadron, the Be-Devilers, which were disestablished in 1994.

There are two incredible airplane museums in Oregon: Tillamook Naval Air Station Museum and the Evergreen Aviation Museum. I have been to both, and was in awe of the power, the size... the... everything. I sat in the cockpit of an F-14, and later, I stood inside the largest plane that has ever flown, the Spruce Goose. I will never be able to accurately describe how BIG that bird is, but the Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird is a small black blob sitting next to the body and under the wing of the enormous Goose. Look at the EAM homepage - it has a great picture of the Spruce Goose inside the hangar and all the little planes sitting under the wingspan. That's the view as you drive up... wow. :)

The irony to all of the text above: I've been in dozens of airplanes at museums and airshows over the years. I understand how they work. I even have two different quality flight simulators on my computer. But I've never flown anywhere. Ever.

Smooth lines, speed, style... the Mustang is a sweet car. Okay, okay, so it's not rare or the fastest car on earth or the most expensive (Dusenberg link removed)... but I really like Mustangs, preferably 1964-1968 models and the newest models after 1998. Not a huge fan of fastbacks. Just a stock Mustang, no frills, nothing extra. I have been in a couple Mustangs from varying years. The low rumble, the soothing vibration... *tingle* ;)

Well, I'll never be able to afford (let alone find for sale) a Tomcat, so I'll keep to the road.

P.S. All right... I confess... there is one other reason I really like Tomcats: David James Elliott.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

More Favorite Things

The original list contains more of my favorite things.

  • Ainslee's Saltwater Taffy. Chewy, sweet, tasty wonderfulness in a wax paper wrapper. Only available to purchase in Depot Bay, Oregon. Stop in if you're there, you won't regret it.
  • The gentle wind playing with my hair on a sunny day. Or the wind in my hair as I'm out driving. Okay, just having my hair played with... I like that. A lot.
  • Fresh Lebanon strawberries. So sweet, so red, so wonderful. And Mom's homemade strawberry freezer jam - made from our strawberries, of course.
  • Fountain pens. Stately, regal, formal, old-fashioned... something you don't see every day. Someone who owns their own fountain pen has an eye for great handwriting, an air of importance, and a really cool pen!
  • Cuddling with a boy. Did I say that? Oh well, it's not like I'm a saint or anything... I really like curling up with a boy's arm around me. Warm. Soft. Feels nice. :)
  • Old Spice and American Chopper scents cologne. *swoon*
  • Sitting on top of my cliff overlooking Gleneden Beach and the Pacific Ocean.
  • New socks. Squishy clean fun.
  • Tomcats. The Grumman F-14 Tomcat. The most capable strike-fighter aircraft with its speed and AIM-54 missles unmatched by any other Navy fighter. That is one sexy bird... oohwee! And I've been in one. Yes, indeedy, I'm a Tomcat girl!
  • Great comedy. Hal Sparks, Bill Engvall, Robin Williams, Adam Ferrara, George Carlin, Carlos Mencia... any comedy that doesn't make fun of people incapable of defending themselves. I don't like people who are mean to other people. But these guys rock!
  • Goatees. On guys, duh... and neatly kept. But oh I do love a man in a goatee. I don't know why... I just do.
  • An acoustically perfect concert hall with a Steinway grand on stage. That is awesome, especially if I'm the one playing it! Okay, good for me, but not for you. Oh well, it's my list.
  • The chase. A guy willing to tell me no, a guy that won't let me get away with my crap. No drama, just the chase. I don't know why... I just do. ;)
  • Blog comments (as always). Please leave one, it would make my day!

Portland Dance Festival

The last few days have been incredible. Rachel was back in town Thursday, so I went over to her house for a movie and some awesome girl-talk. Me best bud... it still amazes me that we're friends after more than half our lives, through the middle school and high school drama, through college... we even lived together and managed to get along great the whole time (oh I'm sure there are times we wanted to kill each other, but always in a loving kind of way). I miss her when she's gone. So Thursday night was a real treat.

Got up early Friday and drove to Hillsboro to Emily's house. I'm a small-town kid with limited driving experience (I've only driven to Salem five or six times by myself), and I always had my nose in a book if we were on the road very long as I was growing up, so I don't really know how to get anywhere north of Salem. I printed out fantastic directions from one of my many mapping programs (I have several, seeing as how I am a valid, although amateur, cartographer)... and plotted the route on my map. I-5 to 217 to 8 to some other little road... should have been perfect. But somewhere between 217 and 8 I ended up on 26 headed out to Glencoe. I didn't really mind - and I wasn't lost. The farmland and scenery astounded me, so much beauty, the golden hills of grass cut in neat rows waiting for the bailers to go through and make perfect blocks of sweet-smelling wonderfulness... so I called Emily and told her where I was. I maintain, I wasn't lost. I just didn't know how to get from where I was to where I needed to be. I found the correct exit again, and then turned north instead of south... and found myself not where I needed to be again... it was not a good experience. After two solid hours of driving, I finally arrived. More girl-talk, good food, and a movie later, we were ready to go dancing!

I could never live in Portland. They have too many stoplights. Not to mention too many people trying to drive on streets not made for that many, and then slowly... we got stuck in 6pm Friday evening traffic headed out to the airport. Sucky times. Oh, and you can't really see the stars in a city like that. I love being able to walk out into my backyard in the evening, look up, and see the literal millions of stars in the sky.

Finally got to the Sheraton Hotel, paid our money, and wandered around trying to find the swing dancing room. At least we found a bunch of our OSU friends there - and they're good dancers, so we were very happy they were there. Come to find out, the swing dancing was all West Coast Swing, which neither of us do to any extent. The swing room was being used for lessons, and we wandered around for a while until we figured out that the Country Two-Step room was actually Two-Step and WCS together. Emily and I sat for a while until some other friends joined us... put in a couple requests for a waltz or Nightclub Two-Step (things we actually know), and had a few fun dances. Several guys I didn't know asked me to West Coast with them... I've done a few workshops and danced with a couple guys at school, but I really don't know what I'm doing. He pulled me onto the dance floor and I was dancing! Sweet guy, really cute too. He only led easy moves, thankfully, and I had no trouble following. Later, he competed in the Pro-Am Jack and Jill and made it into the finals! I think it is safe to say I can West Coast passably... sorta... :)

We left around 10pm, drove home, finished our movie, and slept. Hard. I slept ten hours. Must have needed it... but OH! This weekend has already been so much fun! Wouldn't trade it for anything. :)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Camping Trip

Dates: July 1 to July 3
Location: La Pine State Park, Central Oregon
Who: Uncle Rich and Aunt Eunice, and her son Mike (30ish)
Cousin Cory (Rich's son), his wife Samantha, and their two-year-old, Brock
Cousin Stacy and her fiancé Derek
Mom, Dad, Whitney, and me

Uncle Rich, Cory, and my dad all have white Dodge trucks, and I think most everyone on our loop pulled big white trailers with big white trucks. My parents pulled a 19' trailer and parked it on the slab at our site with my white car next to the other obsessive-compulsive ultra-white vehicles. Seriously, I doubt there was any dirt on or near any of the three trailers or trucks my family owned. My sister and I erected a tent near Stacy and Derek's tent in Mom and Dad's space.

Okay, before the real ranting begins (later), I must comment about my dislike for the Bend area. I do not understand what people find so fascinating about central Oregon. It's hot in the summer, freezing all winter, and uncomfortable most of the time. The trees are tall but offer no shade, and rocks... everywhere... oh dear. Yes, the mountains are incredible, and the views from the tops of the mountains are spectacular (see below), but down in the city and around Sunriver... well, I'd call it an overpopulated wasteland, but I've been to North Dakota... :P Now before you get all up in a huff about me not liking the Oregon Outback, saying I need to experience the natural beauty, let me tell you something important: I've seen it. Every important rock, every historical marker, caves, viewpoints, and natural phenomenon. I've spent weeks in the high desert, baking in the sun, rarely enjoying myself. I don't see the attraction. Crack-in-the-ground was cool, as was Lava River Cave, Newberry Crater and Paulina Lake/Peak. FYI, the "picturesque" Christmas Valley is a trashy little wide spot with a post office not far from Fort Rock (which was actually neat). Smith Rock... boring. Cascade High Lakes... cold and wet, just like most other lakes in Oregon. Watch out for the mosquitos. Juniper smells like cat piss when it gets wet. ...natural beauty my left foot. Give me Western Hemlocks and Douglas Firs anyday, big green fields of grass and wheat, and months of drippy rain!

I think I packed the lightest out of everyone for the trip, and I still felt like I was taking too much with only two bags (one for clothes, one for peripherals), a sleeping bag, pillow, and blanket. I didn't even take shampoo or a towel, not expecting to shower for two whole days (get over it). My sister took half her bathroom crap with her, and Mom even packed a hair dryer. I don't see why it is so hard to go a few days without these things. Then again, I guess I don't care what I look like when I'm camping with family... Uncle Rich and Cory had fun teasing me when Rich asked me if my hair was getting darker. I don't know, I guess it must be if people keep commenting on it... but I don't notice it. "'Jaggy', they make these things called mirrors." Yup, you're right, they do, but I'm not girly enough to know how to use one. My bad. By the second day, Mom ordered me into the showers, which I didn't complain against, but it was pretty pointless because I was going to be home showering the next day anyway. Point is, it doesn't take much to keep me happy or looking good, and while civilized conveniences are nice, if I could figure a way to live without them, I probably would. Except my compy... I do so like my compy. :) And my piano, of course.

Health score: One mosquito bite, left hand (everyone else seemed to be missing pints of blood, guess I got lucky). No sunburn, first time ever when camping. One papercut from wadding up old homework to use as fire kindling. I think I managed to go camping and not lose any weight this time! But Mom's a good cook and fed me healthy food. Thanks, Mom. :)

Forgot: my GPS. Planned out a bunch of geocaches to grab in the park, but I forgot my GPS at home. *whimper* the only piece of equipment I actually needed, I forgot. Stupid me! *DOH!*

I want kids so badly right now! Brock is adorable and curious about everything. He's learning how things work right now, and firetrucks are his thing. Sweet kid, just awesome. Needs a sibling to set him straight, but he'll be a good kid as he grows up. ooooh... want... but must not have... want!... will wait a while, definitely.

Speaking about leaving modern conveniences at home: cell phones! Reception at La Pine is almost nothing, but if you stand just right next to a car or with one leg up in the air and your hand as Napoleon might, you can get a signal through to the outside world. Personally, I enjoyed not being able to call out or hear a ringing phone for a couple days. Until my sister started in. Little backstory for ya: the real reason I had to come home Monday with my sister instead of Wednesday with my parents... my sister had to get home so she could spend a couple days with her boyfriend. I don't know why she couldn't drive herself back and leave me with my parents... that would have been fine by me! But no, I had to leave early too. We left Saturday morning and returned Monday afternoon... do you think she could go that long without talking to him? Oh no, every time her phone had signal she was on it to him. In the tent at night, talking on her phone or text messaging... even when I'm trying to sleep. I understand loving someone, missing them, wanting to talk to them every waking second, yeah, I've been there too. But it was for two short days. Give me a break! I'm not even dating the guy and I need my space!

There were three really awesome events all in one day!

Mt. Bachelor: we rode the chairlifts to the top of the mountain, with a little hiking and exploring between lifts and at the top. Lots of pictures (see below), and plenty of snow to keep us cool, although it was quite warm all the way up. So clear... we could see from Mt. Shasta to Mt. Hood, plus all the mountains between... even as far as Mary's Peak, a small but distinct rise on the horizon. Home :) That was my first chairlift experience since my family has never taken me skiing. With one exception (flying out of the summit station and feeling my stomach turn over), I never panicked, was never scared. Pretty good for someone terrified of heights! Truly a beautiful mountain with awe-inspiring views of the high lakes and surrounding peaks.

Lava River Cave: 2.4 miles long, constant 40°F year-round, total darkness after you leave the cave entrance. The first hundred yards are pretty rough with lots of stairs, but then it flattens out as you get farther into the cave. Not dirty or muddy at all, and I didn't see any bats (even though the cave is an hibernarium during the winter). Totally sweet experience, and it felt soooooo cool and refreshing in the hot afternoon. No need to wear sunscreen: you'll have 50+ feet of solid rock over your head. Sand Garden was incredible... the dripping water/minerals from the top have sculpted the sand on the floor into some pretty neat shapes. Six flashlights between the Dad, Whit, and me... plus three cameras with intense flash bulbs, and we still couldn't see or get very good pictures. Neat place, very cool.

Hail Storm: After Mt. Bachelor and Lava River Cave, we stopped at the Big Tree to do some hiking and exploring. We heard some distant thunder, that low and exciting rumble that isn't scary because it's so far away. My sister spooked; she hates thunder. An hour later, back at the campsite, we heard louder, closer thunder. I looked at Dad, our eyes lit up... we knew we were in for a show. Whitney and I picked as much stuff up off the tent floor as we could, but a tent's a tent... what can you do? Dad and I pulled the camp chairs under the canopy we'd erected the day before to provide some shade, and I helped him drop one end of the trailer awning to let water drain off if it rained. The temperature outside went from a warm 85-90° to a humid 70° in a hurry. No sooner had we prepped for a storm did I feel something very big and very hard hit my head and the ground next to me. I stepped back under the awning and the skies opened up. Half-inch to inch diameter hail stones pelted the ground kicking up dirt, bouncing a few times before settling to melt. Mom and Whitney hid in the trailer. Dad and I stood outside under the awning, hail stones hitting the canopy and ricocheting off onto our feet and legs. Those things hurt! We witnessed Cory running out of his trailer with a picnic table cloth and blanket to protect his truck from the hail... kids fleeing their bikes in the hopes of finding shelter in a tent or trailer. It hailed a good twenty minutes, raining at least another hour as we ate dinner. Everything not inside got soaked. Thankfully, our tent held and only a little water got in. We were very lucky. But it was SO COOL! The thunder was loud... wasn't about to make a dash to the tent to grab my camera in the storm, so I don't have pictures, but hopefully my sister will get some up so I can steal them. AAAH! So cool!

Then I got up Monday morning and drove home. Unpacked. Got stuff done. And drove to Corvallis to go dancing. I love those kids... they're great, and so kind... I waltzed and hustled the night away, even got a great Lindy from a nice guy... but the best part of the whole weekend was walking out of the dance hall back to my car. Answering to no one, just me, alone. The field (a few feet away) had been cut earlier in the day, and the whole world smelled like summer. I closed my eyes, breathed in the cool night air, and was happy for the first time in many days.

Broken Top


View of Broken Top from Mt. Bachelor

Three Sisters

Mt. Shasta


Mt. Shasta visible in the distance from the top of Mt. Bachelor

Cascades


Left to Right: South Sister, Middle Sister, North Sister, Mt. Washington, Mt. Jefferson, Broken Top. Foreground: Some dude going beyond the rope to climb out on a crag on Mt. Bachelor.

Flag on Mt. Bachelor


Summit flag (methinks it be a cereal bag)

Mary's Peak from Mt. Bachelor


Looking northwest from Mt. Bachelor. If you squint kinda funny and look really hard, you can just make out Mary's Peak on the horizon in the very center of the picture.

Lava River Cave - Ice


The first part of the cave receives moisture from outside, so there was ice tucked around the rocks at the front end. Cold... but so nice on a hot summer day!

Lava River Cave - Wall


The walls of the cave look muddy, but if you touch it, it's damp, not icky. No smells either. Just cold, damp cave.

Lava River Cave - Looking Up


The top of the cave was bumpy with mini-stalactites as water drips down from above. Sometimes the top of the cave was inches over our head as we scooted along the floor on our knees, but other times it was fifty or sixty feet above us. So amazing.

Lava River Cave - Tunnel


This was a low spot in the cave. This bumpy stuff hurts when you hit your head on it.

Deschutes River


Just down the hill from the "Big Tree" is this view of the Deschutes River in La Pine State Park. A floater's paradise...