Monday, June 30, 2008


Chillin', originally uploaded by diahn.

I'm taking a vacation from vacations. Yes, Linda - all 42 of them have officially worn me out. This week - nada. Actually, the next couple of weeks will be pretty restful for me. Next week, the boys go to day camp for 4 days (12 hours a day), so I'll have Monday through Thursday to do whatever my little heart desires...I'm hoping my little heart desires to spend a lot of time in my studio slinging paint. I'm going to be spending this week ensuring that there are no excuses up there - that everything is clean and organized and ready to go.

Then I'll be back on the road again the next week. This one was a surprise to me, actually. The boys are going to their grandparents houses and I thought I'd have another week at home, but Dr. SmartyPants informed me that he has a conference to go to and a surplus of miles in his account and that I'm going with San Francisco! mom tells me that I was there when I was a baby, but that doesn't really count now does it? My first trip to San Francisco! dear blogging's where you come in. I know all the touristy places to go - and I have a few things on my list, like the Frida Kahlo exhibit at SFMOMA, and the bay tour under the Golden Gate, etc., but if you know SF, what would you spend your time doing? I'll have about a day and a half, maybe 2 completely on my own to do whatever I want, then another day and a half with Dr. SP. I'd love some suggestions on things to see, places to go, etc., as well as some AVOID AT ALL COSTS things!

Now, I've got to go shopping for some really smashing clothes...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Fun in the Sun

The boys and I spent the weekend with my folks down in Alabama - my mom is remodeling her kitchen and she wanted some more input on colors and things, so I told her I'd trade her some color consulting for a day or two on the boat.

I think maybe I got the best part of that deal. The weather was perfect on Saturday and we spent most of the day on the water with my mom and dad, my little sister K., and my niece A. The boys had a blast riding the tow behind boat and jumping in the lake to swim. We all stayed up way past our bedtimes talking and laughing and it made getting up this morning VERY difficult, especially given that our early rise times today were in order to go the dentist (boys) and the (torture chamber) orthodontist (me).

Ah, least we have the memories...

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Evolution of a Camping Family

I just have to laugh at us.  If you've read here before, you might remember that Dr. SmartyPants and I don't do anything slowly or halfway.  We met, married, got pregnant, moved to a new city, started a job and had the baby all before our first anniversary.  We have a tendency to move every couple of years.  SO.  It should come as no surprise that we've done the same kinds of things with our camping gear.

About 3 years ago, we decided to try camping with the boys who were 4 and 5 years old.  We borrowed a tent and all the gear from friends and headed out.  Dr. SP and I had camped individually before we were married, but had never been camping together.  We both had fond memories of it and wanted to share it with our boys.  That first trip was a resounding success.  Everyone had a ball - we loved it so much we went out and bought our own little tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, etc.  We used it exactly 2 times.


Now, it wasn't that we didn't like our little tent.  Quite the contrary - it was just big enough for the 4 of us and I LOVE tent camping - hearing all the sounds and feeling the breeze through the open windows...heaven.  However - on the trip shown above we were encountered with one of the unfortunate realities of tent camping - 4 days of solid rain.  We were SOAKED.  Everything was soaked.  Those poor boys were sleeping in puddles (without a single complaint.  I kid you not.)  And it was cold.  In the mornings, I would turn on the van and the heaters and let them dry out and warm up and change clothes.  Just miserable.  On our way home from that trip we decided to stop in at one of the RV dealerships...just to look...

A month or so later, we had this...


A perfect little pop up camper.  All the benefits of sleeping in a tent (open, airy, breezes) combined with a little comfort (heater, stove, benches and table).  Brilliant!  We camped everywhere and it still fit into our garage.  We spent 10 days at the beach in it, and it was my favorite beach trip EVER.

Camping Area

But...there was just one little  You see - when you go somewhere for 10 days, you have to carry a lot of stuff with you, so - while you are up and moving around you put it in the bunks, and when you want to go to bed you have to put it on the benches and pile it up on top of the sink and you still have to store some things in the car because they just won't fit.  And - the fact that I have to bring along every book and art supply I can squeeze into a gigantic bag, it was just too small...(you see where this is going, right?)

So - the last time we camped in the pop up, we saw a camper on the other side of the campground that looked interesting.  It had a hard sided middle section, like a typical travel trailer, but the ends folded out into beds, like a pop up.  WAIT.  Really?  So - I could store things in cabinets and closets and still get to sleep in a tent?  Are you kidding me?

Antigua 195CK

Yep.  You guessed it.  Meet our new tent on wheels.  It's fabulous.  We've already taken it out twice since we got it a month ago, and we're going again at the end of the month.  It's got everything we could ever want.  Storage...tented beds...heat...a toilet (yippee)...a fantastic awning that is a miracle of usage - so so so so easy to put up.  I'm in heaven.  And I'm not even kidding.  We are not getting anything else until this one falls apart.  It's too big to fit in the garage, so we've had to rent a space at a storage facility, but that's okay - we can both park in the garage now!

Someone mentioned getting a canoe the other day and I said absolutely not.  If we got a canoe today, we'd have a cabin cruiser in 3 years and I just don't think I can take it.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Cades Cove, Continued

Look at me, being all alliterative.  Two in a row, no less.  If you aren't an English language geek, please disregard.

I promised more from Cades Cove, and I try to not disappoint.  We had a great time and did a few things we've never done before, including riding our bikes around the loop.  It's an 11-mile ride all the way around, although we cut off the tip by riding through the cove on one of the cross lanes.  The longest bike ride for the boys (and probably me, to be honest) up until Saturday was about 3 1/2 miles.  We did close to 9 miles on Saturday, and they did great.  Thankfully, there are all those downhill sections after the uphill sections where one can rest and recover breath.  (Whew.)  We saw 5 or 6 wild turkeys, at least 12 deer - including 3 or 4 bucks, antlers coated in velvet, but no bears.  I don't have pictures because I forgot to bring my backpack, so hauling around my big DSLR was out of the question.  I do have a little video, but I haven't edited it up yet, so just close your eyes and imagine it...or go here to see what it looks like.

The boys worked through a Junior Ranger book, and as part of that, had to identify some trees by their leaves.  I picked up a couple of oak examples and sketched them in my large Moleskine sketchbook.

Oak Leaves

They also had to attend one ranger-led presentation.  We sat in on Ranger Mike talking about the black bear population in the park (about 1500) and J was selected to play the part of an approaching black bear, while Ranger Mike played a hiker.  He got to wear a real bear skin and attack the hiker. He was laughing the whole time - it was great.

Cade's Cove 114

Cade's Cove 119

Ranger Mike swore them in and gave them their junior ranger pins.  Most national parks have this program, so if you are near one and have a little naturalist in your household, check it out.

Cade's Cove 124

I'll leave you today with my boys - growing so fast and well...

Cade's Cove 066

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Languorous Loafing and Lethargy

Summer stirs up in me the deep-seated need to lie around basking in sunbeams and snoozing with gigantic tomes of mostly forgotten literature on my lap.  It does not stir in me the need to produce art on any scale, because that involves thought and planning and attention to detail...exactly the opposite of what summer requires.

I am fortunate that for the entirety of my life, I have followed the seasons of academia  (broken only by two summer internship positions, as a graduate student).  As a child and student, and now as the homeschooling mother of two, summer is a time to rest, to reflect, to rejuvenate and, quite honestly, to forget 1/3 of what I learned the previous academic year.  I don't apologize for it.  It just happens, and if you take summers off, you know it does.  Ask any school kid what he learned in the last 2 months of school and you'll get a completely blank look.  Not.  A.  Clue.

But, I digress.  Summer IS a time of explorations and poking about in the woods, at least it is for me and my boys.  Of course, any season is a time of explorations and poking about in the woods for me and my boys.  We took to the road again just this past weekend - up to a place we've been many times, but never camped until now - Cades Cove - in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Cades Cove 098

The 17-year cicadas had burst forth from the ground, molted and were dropping rapidly when we arrived.  Our campsite was covered with dead, mostly dead and slightly alive buggies.  The holes in the ground from where they had emerged from their tunnels were still very evident.  Their orange wings and bright red eyes were captivating.

Cade's Cove 104

Cade's Cove 102

Other varieties of wildlife were abundant, too.  Deer by the dozen, a coyote crossing the road in front of our moving car, and sweet little barn swallow babies asking for some food.  I had none, but mama swallow and daddy swallow were working their deeply forked tails off, providing for them.  The fact that they built their little mud nest in the most active historic building in the Cades Cove Visitor Center is a little concerning, however.

Cades Cove 020

Cade's Cove 099

Cade's Cove 091

We did a few other things, too, but I'll have to tell you about them tomorrow.  Right now, that anthology of women's literature is beckoning me to the bed.  Don't expect anything early, though - it is summer, after all.

Monday, June 09, 2008

And So It Goes...

Is it just me, or does everyone have this problem?  I state that I'm going to do something...emphatically, no less, with a great flourish and a little cliff-hanger and...well...SPLAT.  Nothing.  I have started something new.  I have failed to achieve what I wanted, but I'm determined to work it until what I have in my mind comes out onto the surface with which I am working.

I started here...

Then it all fell apart.  I think the multimedia artboard I was using was part of the problem - the other was just an ill-conceived plan.  But fear not, internet.  I'll make it do something.  And I have a question for it completely narcissistic of me to continue to do self-portraits when I want to do a portrait?  I keep thinking it's a matter of convenience and frugality, but sometimes I start to worry...

And I still need to add in a thrift store session or two, I think.


This is a scan of a tracing of a pencil drawing I did of myself...

Sunday, June 01, 2008


I'll admit it.  I've been hiding.  End of school - beginning of the camping season - lack of motivation - whatever... dust is piling up on my art supplies and desks, sketchbooks are laying forlornly around the house.  But... I feel a breeze blowing - I've got an idea in this head of mine that may spark another and another and another...  It's one of those I can see almost fully formed before I've even started.  I love that.

Out from under the covers now - pencils and brushes and scissors (yes...SCISSORS) at the ready.  There may even be a thrift shop involved somehow, but we'll just play that by ear.