Sunday, December 11, 2011

December is Drifting Away

It's not that I've intended to disappear. It's just that life has a way of sweeping you along in paths you may not have expected, initially. I'm going to take a little holiday for the rest of December - I promise I'll be back in January with tons of exciting news and goings on, some new adventures and a ridiculous number of photographs. I hope the holiday season finds you well and happy, and that your New Year wishes all come true. Until 2012...


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving, Y'all

I hope your day is filled with joy, love, friends, family, abundant thanks and turkey.I know mine will be...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Seasons of Change

I have a boy. I have two, actually, but there's this one...he's the one we're going to talk about today. It doesn't matter which one he is - if you know us well at all, you'll figure out which one he is. This one... a trailblazer, in his quiet, understated, passive-aggressive way.

He listens to math lectures, and then tries to find another way to do his problems. That would be great, except that his way tends to take twice as long and result in half the accuracy. And then he has to go back and do it the boring correct way and gets all the answers right in half the time and will still try his way tomorrow.

He learns all the correct foundational strokes in his tennis class and then watches a professional player do it differently, and without asking for any input from the professional tennis teachers that we pay rather handsomely, completely changes how he does those foundational strokes. That would be great, except that then he has to start all over, learning how to do it correctly the new way, and that results in much frustration and despair because he can't quite get the serve in like he used to, but by golly he looks cool.

Don't get me wrong - I'm glad he wants to blaze trails...I am all for the big ideas and the bold moves. But here's the order to blaze new trails, it's helpful to have traveled a little longer. It's a good idea to become completely familiar with the known maps of the area - with the survival techniques you need in order to make it through the process. I KNOW he wants to be his own man and do things his way, and I don't want to squash that in him, but it's just not time yet, little man.

I promise, son, you'll know when it's time, and when it is...I promise to buy you a brand new machete for hacking your way through the underbrush. Until then, though, save up your energy and just cruise along on the path others have paved for you-I'm exhausted with pulling you out of the briars.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Azalea in Waiting

This was taken at the top of Andrew's Bald, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I'd love to go back in the spring, when the azaleas are blooming - it must be an amazing sight!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

This is a test...

Just testing out my new toy...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thank You...

Korean_War_Memorial all those who have given so much to keep our country free.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

They Bearly Made It

Queen Anne's Leftovers

So, when we last left our intrepid family, they had narrowly escaped a black bear's attention while it munched on red berries in a tree right next to the trail on which they were hiking. Even so, they decided it would be wise to continue to hike single file, with the kids in between the parents, just in case they ran across another wild animal. They passed a couple of groups of hikers and warned them of the bear in the tree, feeling confident they would make it back to the car in good shape.

About a half mile past where they spotted the bear in the tree, the mom heard a loud, crunching, movement-type sound on the uphill side of the trail. She stopped abruptly, told everyone to be quiet and looked toward the sound. They all heard the sound that time, and through the gaps in the trees, where the sunlight filtered to the ground, she saw the shape of a head and a very large, fuzzy ear.

Her husband eased up to her and asked if she thought it was a deer. She pointed at the very large, fuzzy ear about 20 yards away and said, "No. Definitely not a deer. That there's a big ole bear. Big. Like, BIG." The head turned toward the family, as if determining whether or not they were worth pursuing. The husband pushed everyone behind him (because that's just the kind of guy he is) and they watched, not breathing, tensed and ready to use every ounce of their junior ranger training to prevent an attack.

The bear turned uphill and slowly began to walk in the opposite direction the family was hiking. The husband herded his family up the trail, distancing them from the bear, watching behind to see if she turned. The wife had her hands on her boys' shoulders, urging them to walk quickly, but not run - reassuring them that they were fine.

And they were. The last half mile of the hike was uneventful, although the adrenaline made it feel somehow dangerous. The children were understandably frightened, but not panicked, and by the time they reached the car, everyone was laughing (albeit nervously) about their brush with wildlife.

After a short rest and refuel at the car, they all decided to head up another (well traveled and heavily populated) trail to see the rest of the views they had come to see.

Derek, Joshua and Mt LeConte

They also got a story to tell their children...

Monday, November 07, 2011

Bear With Me.

Smoky Mountain High_2

Once upon a time, a nice wonderful delightful family of four decided to spend their Saturday hiking in the Smoky Mountains instead of participating in any tennis tournaments. They were so glad when they woke up and saw that the day was going to be spectacularly good - clear and cool - just perfect for some hiking.

They packed some snacks and a picnic blanket in backpacks, loaded up the car and drove for about two hours, through foggy valleys, until they reached their destination. They could have gone somewhere closer, but on particularly clear days, the best view to be had are at Clingman's Dome, on the Appalachian Trail - the highest point in Tennessee and in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

When they arrived, they marveled at the view from the parking lot, and that they had gotten there early enough to avoid the ample crowds that would arrive after lunch. They set out for Andrew's Bald, a two mile trek through the forest. The trail was damp and muddy in places, but that didn't matter, because the temperature was perfect, the birds were singing and the cutest little red squirrels on the entire planet were chasing each other all over the place, chattering and calling to each other across the trail.

The family noticed a sign at the trail head that noted that campsite #68 was closed due to aggressive bear activity, but there was no notice about the bald, or the Forney Ridge Trail, so they pressed on. The mom led the way, the two boys next, and the father brought up the rear - an arrangement that allowed for the maximum protection of the youngsters...just in case...

(this is what you might call foreshadowing, folks...)

Along the trail, they noticed signs of bear activity - red berries scattered here and there - what looked like bear poop - and in one particular location, a smelly, musty, wild animal smell - but they didn't see any actual bears. I will tell you that the mom was paranoid as hell, mainly because the trail was so empty - they only passed one other set of hikers on the way to the bald - and her eyes were moving back and forth like a Cylon's. Sheesh.

At the bald, they set up their picnic blanket and had snacks of nuts and beef jerky and apples, drank some water, and soaked in the views. They wandered around the bald, looking at the azalea buds that will open next spring, and the moss covered brush. They climbed a few rocks and took some photos and lay in the grass and soaked up the sun. Other hikers came and went. Finally, they decided to head back up to the tower on the dome.

On the way back, they ran into many more hikers, and so the mom was feeling much more secure. There was a large group of German hikers, who politely asked if they were on the right trail for the bald, a group of about 4 older ladies who were having a fabulous time. Everyone was friendly and engaging. About a mile into the return trip, the family stopped to allow a couple, traveling the opposite direction, to pass on the narrow trail. They stepped off the path and drank some water, gearing up for the uphill section of the hike. After a few minutes, they noticed that the other couple wasn't coming down the hill, so they stepped back onto the path.

"There's a bear, " called the man. "How close?" asked the mom. The man pointed to a spot about 20 yards in front of us, just to the left of the trail. There, at the base of the tree, sat a small black bear - not much bigger than the family's German Shepherd dog, who was suddenly much missed by the mom. The family stopped, children pushed behind them and waited to see what the little bear would do.

It climbed the tree with the red berries. Up and up and up it went to the top, feasting all the way. None of the humans on the trail moved. "Should we wait?" the man uphill asked. "Probably. He went up that tree pretty fast. I'm sure he can come down it even faster," the father replied. So they waited. And waited - the family on the downhill side, the couple on the uphill side. Another couple walked up behind the family. They were young - mid 20s at best. They waited, too. A group of about 7 arrived with the couple on the uphill side. They were louder - more boisterous. The young couple on the downhill side decided to try going past the bear in the tree.

Everyone held their breath and watched as they passed under the limb where the bear was perched. The bear watched, too. But he didn't move. The large uphill group decided to go all at once, and the family knew that's when they'd have to make their move. They passed under the tree just as the larger group passed them. The mom looked up and saw the bear looking down at them. Her heart beat faster than it ever had, her eyes darting between the bear and the trail and her children and her husband. On the other side of the tree, with the children uphill from her, she turned and looked back. The bear had gone back to stuffing itself with red berries, unconcerned with the parade that had passed below him.

"Well, that was exciting!" said the mom, trying to keep her children from panicking. "My heart is beating out of my chest!" the older son replied. "Mine, too. I guess that was our adventure for the day," she said.

Or maybe not...

Friday, November 04, 2011

Preach It, Sister

Penguin Church

Here's what I know:

  1. My husband, the famous and oft-lauded Dr. SmartyPants, is the awesomest awesome there is.
    • He has recently proven that yet again, by giving me an unexpected surprise.
    • He completely went behind my back in order to do so.
    • He is giving it to me even though I didn't specifically ask for it, or whine too much about it or refuse to get out of bed or anything.
    • It requires him to work from home for a couple of days and deal with a tennis tournament by himself.
  2. My children, the tennis stars, are spectacular - not because they win, but because they are able to lose with grace and style.
    • They played a tournament last weekend.
    • Joshua had to play up in the 12s division because the 10s division only had him as a participant.
    • He lost his first match, yet walked off the court with his head held high because he won a couple of games.
    • He lost his second match, although he won the first set, and hugged his opponent at the net when the match was over.
    • His opponent was Derek. He had to come from behind to win the second set and a 10-point tiebreaker to get his first tournament match win.
  3. In 15 days, I board a plane for Shreveport (see point 1, above.)
    • My best friend lives in Shreveport.
    • She's like my twin sister, except we have different parents and she's just a smidge older than I am.
    • I haven't seen her since July, when she came to see me for a few days.
    • She has a new house I haven't seen yet, and I'm so looking forward to checking it out!
    • I'm staying FIVE days. FIVE DAYS, PEOPLE.
    • Her husband is mighty awesome, too.
  4. After my trip, I will head to Alabama to visit with our entire family for Thanksgiving.
    • I will eat turkey.
    • I will watch my kids laugh with their grandparents and cousins.
    • I will try and resist all manner of carbohydrates and wheat-laden products.
    • I will fail.
    • I won't care.
    • I will realize, once again, how profoundly blessed we are.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween, Hooligans...

About a month ago, I got an email from Chris Beck, asking me to participate in a Halloween painting challenge along with her, Pablo Villicana Lara, and other artists from around the blogosphere. As Chris is one of my painting crushes, I immediately said yes, and then started freaking out, because holy jack-o-lanterns, people - Chris and Pablo can PAINT. I've seen some of their challenges before, and have loved them.

But - what the heck? I thought I'd give it a go. This image immediately popped into my mind, and as I didn't have a spare skull or a trained crow to help me out, I dug around at the WetCanvas reference library and found a few images that I could put together to come up with this...

Can I Pick Your Brain?
Be sure to head over to Chris' blog to see the whole collection, and pop on over to the rest of the blogs to wish everyone a spooky Halloween, please - I'm sure they'd love to pass out some of their candy's the list:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Round and Round it Goes

Coolidge Park, Chattanooga

We're back in our cycle of school and tennis and tennis and tennis. The boys have two more tournaments this month, then we'll have a little break before the next one. And then it will be Thanksgiving...

and Christmas...

and Derek will turn 12...

and the year will turn 2012.

How does it happen?

I've been trying to plan a visit to Shreveport to see Melinda, and every date I pick is in conflict somewhere. If I can't find one soon, I may desert my family and run screaming toward the west.

They'd be fine, right?


Joshua's been humming Axel F, the theme from Beverly Hills Cop. I can't figure out where he heard it, and neither can he, but it's been stuck in his head for about a week, which means it is now stuck in mine. It's driving me crazy. The constant duh, duh, duh duh dah duh duh, duh duh, duh duh dah duh duh, doot doot doot doot dootdootdoot doo doo...

Please give me another song to hum.



We're moving Derek into his own bedroom. They've shared a room since they were 1 and 2 years old. I love listening to them when they lay in bed and talk to each other about what they are going to be when they grow up and how many dogs they'll have and what their names will be.

It's kind of breaking my heart.

But Derek is ready for his own space. He's almost 12. Joshua can't go to sleep without a light on, so we have a lamp on a timer for him. He likes to read until he falls asleep, but rarely thinks to turn the light out before laying down for good. So - it goes off about 11 pm, just to make sure it doesn't stay on all night.

Derek hates that light. Every night, he pleads with Joshua, "Please! Can't we just turn the light out this ONE night?"

So, he's moving. We've had the other bedroom set up as a living room for them, with their own couch and tv, but they never use it. They still like hanging out with us. I've been working this week to clean it out - s l o w l y - so I can prep the walls and paint and make it his own almost-a-teenager room.

It's the end of an era.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Let the Geekery Commence

So, maybe I've mentioned that we're kind of science geeks, no? Yes. Well. We are.

Unabashedly. Unashamedly. We love science. We love space. We love science fiction. We love science fact.

We love Rocket City Rednecks. Seriously. Watch it.

So going to Kennedy Space Center was a little like going to church. Did I tell you that Dr. SmartyPants once had an experiment go up on the space shuttle?

Mhmm. I know - it's not fair - wicked smart AND wicked handsome. I'm a lucky, lucky girl.

Anyway...we went and toured, and explored and smiled and marveled and mourned while we were there.

Lost in Space

We hung out with the original Mercury 7.


We jumped in a Gemini capsule...


And an Apollo capsule...


We met a cool character walking around.  So much better than Mickey Mouse, people...

Astro Boys

We toured the original blockhouses from the early rocket tests. The boys actually got to push the button that sent Alan Shepherd into space.

Launch Control

We stood on the pad where the Apollo 1 crew lost their lives, and marveled at the quiet beauty of the place - the ocean in the distance. All launch pads can be rebuilt and used, but this one stands as a ruin and will never be used again - a tribute to Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee, the brave men who died that day.

Apollo 1 Memorial

We wandered around and wondered if we would go to space again, now that the shuttle program has been killed. We marveled at the scientific advances that never would have existed, had NASA not thought them up. We talked about the every day things we use, and don't even think about, that were developed by NASA for the astronauts and ended up in our kitchens and cars and schools. Smoke detectors were developed as a direct consequence of the Apollo 1 tragedy.

Can you imagine life without smoke detectors? They are ubiquitous. Before 1967? Not so much. One of the tour guides said that every detector should have the names Grissom, White and Chaffee on them.

How about long range weather forecasting, energy efficient air conditioning, satellite navigation, CAT scans, computers, flat panel televisions, water purification systems, UV protective sunglasses, shock-absorbing athletic shoes, heart monitors...the list goes on and on.

Maybe one day, we'll get back up there. Maybe one day, our government will once again recognize that science is a good thing and should be funded.

Maybe one day...

To Boldly Go

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Memory Dump


We were in Orlando last week, for Fall Break and to see Dr. SmartyPants get his second R&D100 award. Because my boy's wicked smahhht, people. Somehow, we didn't manage to get any photos of us all dressed up in our finery, but we looked awesome.

And sparkly.


We took the boys with us this time, and they had a great time. It was their first time on an airplane. They were so nervous about it, but absolutely loved it, as I knew they would. When we took off from Knoxville, it was pretty cloudy and gray. When the plane broke through the clouds, Joshua gasped and said, "It's beautiful! It looks like heaven!"

He's right.


We spent a day lounging by the pool, while the Smarty worked, but then had some time together. We went across the street from the hotel to Sea World, which was fan-freaking-tastic. None of us are big roller-coaster riders, but we were more than entertained by all the aquatic mammals, especially the dolphins.

Yes, I know the orcas are the main attraction, but people - the dolphin show was spectacular. It was so beautiful, I had tears in my eyes. No kidding.

It was art.

dolphin show

Tomorrow - I'll fill you in on our geekalicious trip to Kennedy Space Center. I'd do it now, but Flickr is acting up and I'm tired of dealing with it.

Dang it.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My Excuses

Mah Boyz

I know I haven't been around much lately - but I really do have two very good excuses...

Look for me next week, about this time - I promise I've got things to say and stories to tell and photos to post and maybe even a drawing or painting to talk about.

Until then...enjoy your October, wherever you are...

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Vast Conspiracy


Pretty picture to distract you all from the rant...

I'm a good driver. I'm attentive - I don't text - I obey most traffic laws. I do assume that the speed limit signs are intended to be suggested starting points, but I don't speed, exactly. If the speed limit is 45, I'm going to do 45. Maybe 47. Ish.

So someone tell me - what the heck is up with people who drive 15 miles BELOW the speed limit? Seriously. Who are these people and where do they find all this extra time to drive so dang slowly? It drives me so incredibly batty, that I am afraid I'm going to do something rash, like you know, uh, COMPLAIN about it.


I went to the grocery store yesterday afternoon, and on the way, I got behind a car doing 30 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone. Two lanes. Double yellow lines. I finally turned off that road and made it fine for a while until I turned onto the main road to the store and got behind a different car, doing 30 in a 45. I finally...FINALLY...made it to the store and got my shopping done and headed home.

Where I got behind a THIRD car. Yes. You guessed it. 30 mph in a 45. Two lanes. Double yellow lines.

This is not a random occurrence, people. This is a conspiracy. A CONSPIRACY. I'm fairly sure I'm being watched. Traffic lights are being controlled by evil aliens intent on causing my BRAIN TO IMPLODE.

These are the same aliens that cause my children to leave their dirty socks under the couch and on the couch and tucked between the couch cushions. The same aliens who cause my dogs to vomit on my freshly cleaned carpets.

The very same aliens, in fact, that can cause my weight to increase 7.5 pounds overnight, my nails to break before dress-up events, and my car to be low on fuel whenever I start a long day of errands.

They are infiltrating our very society, people. Be wary. Be diligent.

(they may be coming for you next...)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Watch yer Noggin

 I was sitting at the dining room table earlier today, when I heard a thud in the living room. Then Raikki started whimpering and whining. I figured he'd fallen and was stuck or something, so I walked in through the kitchen, but he was standing at the back door, looking out. I started to take him outside to do his business, when I noticed a little bird lying on the deck.

 At first, I thought it was dead - its little head was turned sideways, its mouth was hanging open, and its legs were splayed out under its body. I walked back into the house to grab some paper towels so I could pick him up, but when I got back, it had pulled its head up and was staring dazedly at the glass, all WTF?

By the time I grabbed my camera, it had hopped over to the edge of the deck. This is the one photo I managed to get before it flew away again.

Federal law should prohibit flight without helmets, people.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

It's Been a Long Time

I seem to have fallen off the blogging train. It's not that I don't love you all, I do. I just find myself a very uninteresting person lately.

Except for the car theft.

And the paraplegic dog.

I have a feeling those are going to be my benchmarks of life from now on.

"How was your week?" you may ask...

"Well. My car wasn't stolen, and all my dogs have use of all four limbs. I'd say it's been a damn fine week, overall."

But other than those dramatic happenings, life has been pretty repetitive. Schoolwork, tennis, dog therapy, laundry avoidance, vacuuming up the endless supply of German Shepherd fur, grocery shopping, supper making, lather, rinse, repeat.

The things that haven't made the list, lately, are big things.

Huge things.

Important things.

Like drawing, painting, photographing, and writing. Like playing the piano and the guitar. Like dreaming and imagining and creating. And I miss them.

I miss them fiercely.

And so I plan, and I scheme, and I try to eke out a little time for those things. I played the guitar the other day for about 15 minutes. Then I looked at the clock and realized I was running late for someone's tennis lesson or piano lesson or dentist visit or whatever and I put the guitar in its stand and haven't touched it, except with a dust rag, since.

I looked at my calendar yesterday, and realized that this coming weekend is the only weekend that isn't booked solid through the end of October. Where do people carve out the time to feed their creativity?

How do you do it? How will I do it?

Because, you see - I must. I have to. I will.

Who is with me? Who wants to feed their creative monster? It doesn't matter what you do to be creative - sing, dance, paint, photograph, cook, sew, knit, crochet - the world needs more of it.

Leave me a comment with an idea of how to keep creating in the midst of a busy life, and let's spark a little artistic revolution.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dude, Where's My Car?

Ferrari 250 Testarossa (replica), originally uploaded by diahn.

So. Yeah.

You know how Mondays are always a little crazy and hectic and irritating because you have to squeeze your suddenly weekend-expanded life back into the small space that seems to exist for everything on weekdays? My Mondays are particularly hectic, as they involve multiple tennis lessons, piano lessons and up until this week, puppy physical therapy. I spend most of Monday driving my car from one side of town to the other, always frantic to get some place on time.

Yesterday, Dr. SmartyPants had an early meeting, and was out the door at about 7 am, so I sat back down on the couch for a few minutes to drink the remainder of my coffee before waking the boys to get our day started. He walked out the door, and within a minute walked back in.

"Did you put your car in the garage?" he asked.

"No. It wouldn't fit with all the furniture refinishing going on - of course I didn't put it in the garage. Wait. Why?"

"It's not outside."

"Are you kidding?"


I walk to the front door and stare rather stupidly at the space that once boasted a new-to-me Ford. I blinked. I walked back into the house and went to the garage, thinking that perhaps I'd had a bout of sleep-furniture-and-car-moving.

Nope. No car there.

"Did you lock it when you got home from the store?"

"I don't know. I usually do. But I don't know. There's no glass on the driveway. Didn't you drive it to get supper?"

"No. I took my truck."

"Then I guess I didn't lock it. Dang."

"How could they have taken it without a key?"

And that's when it hit me. The spare keys were in the center console. I'd rushed off to the store the day before and couldn't find my regular keys. I grabbed the spare set and when I got to the store, I realized I had my regular keys hooked to my purse. I threw the spare set into the center console, thinking I'd get them out when I got home.

I've never even taken those keys out of the house before Sunday.

We stared at each other for a while. Then the Smarty called the county sheriff's office. We learned something interesting: When you report your car stolen, the police don't come out to your house. They just put your info into the stolen car database.

It made me feel a little neglected.

We called the bank and the insurance companies. We realized that there was a housekey on that set of spare keys, so we figured we would need to change locks. I started calculating the value of the tennis gear in the back. I texted the boys' tennis coach to see if we could borrow racquets.

I felt numb.

Someone stole my car. MY car. my CAR. In 43 years of living, this has never happened to me. I couldn't believe it. We were all stunned. My neighbors were stunned.

We live in a safe neighborhood. I lived in Virginia for two years and left my house here vacant, with my neighbors looking out for it, and never had an issue. It's a tight little cul-de-sac where we are constantly up in each others' business.  How could this happen here?

I found out later that other neighbors' cars had been rifled through, but apparently I was the only idiot who actually left the thieves a gift of keys.

The good news is that the police found the car, not more than three miles away from our house, in another neighborhood. I can only assume that someone walked out of their door to go to work and thought, "Did I sleep-purchase a new car?" Realizing that they hadn't, they called the police to report a found vehicle. We picked it up before lunch time.

The detective in charge of the case called later in the afternoon and told us they believed it was kids, out looking for exactly what they found in our driveway. They drove it around until they had to get home and just left it in another neighborhood. He said we should be thankful the car was not damaged, and that all the tennis gear was still in the back. And we are. We're very thankful.

All we lost was time. Dr. SmartyPants lost a day's work. We lost $150 in new door hardware. We lost $175 in towing charges. We'll lose whatever it costs to get a vehicle re-keyed. I lost a lot of sleep last night, waking at every. single. noise, wondering if my car was still in the garage. We lost a lot of peace and tranquility.

We lost all of that so that some jackass juvenile detention reject could drive a Ford Escape around the burbs.

I'm still pissed. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

It's Friday! Time for a List

  • Blogger will no longer let me place the html code from Flickr in order to add a photograph to this blog. 
    • But just on this blog. Quirk works fine. I don't get it. 
    • So, I have to go to flickr, download the appropriately sized photograph to my hard drive, and then upload it to Blogger. 
    • Super-dee-duper-y efficiency right there, people.
  • I got my temporary crown on Tuesday. 
    • I'm hoping that the permanent one comes with a really nice castle and a service staff. 
    • I'll let you know. 
    • Even if it only comes with an official dog hair remover, I'll be thrilled.
  • Jasper sheds.
    • Tons and tons and tons and tons of hair.
    • Everywhere.
    • Constantly.
    • But he's so cute, it really doesn't bother me, except when he stops up my vacuum cleaner.
  • Raikki can walk.
    • He walks like he's had just a few too many drinks.
    • He pees like he's had a few too many drinks.
    • But he's getting better every day.
  • My computer has developed a mind of its own.
    • Sometimes the cursor wanders over the screen from left to right.
      • At first I thought the boys had swiped my bluetooth mouse and were messing with me.
      • They weren't.
      • But they have.
    • Sometimes the left click won't work.
      • The right click works just fine.
    • I have an appointment at the Genius Bar on Tuesday.
      • As soon as I made the appointment, everything started working really well.
      • Guess I showed it, huh?
  • This is my last weekend to be 42.
    • My birthday is on Monday.
    • I'll be 43.
    • Is it weird that I don't mind admitting that?
    • 43 is a prime number.
    • Is it weird that I know that?
  • I hope your weekend is spectacular.
    • If you're on the east coast, batten down the hatches and stock up on water and batteries.
      • And milk.
      • And bread.
      • And toilet paper.
      • And beers.
    • If you're elsewhere?
      • Drink a beer, anyway. It's the weekend!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Southern Augusts

In the southern United States, summers are like long, never ending tests of endurance and mental fortitude. Even in relatively temperate Tennessee, August can seem like a cruel tormentor - and until you've lived in some state like Louisiana, you really have no idea what it means to endure summer.

I grew up there, in Lousisiana. I breathed in the swampy air and sat motionless through the heat of the afternoon, shaded by magnolias and willows, waiting for the dimming light and the lightning bugs to rouse me back to wakefulness. My friends and I would meet in the dusk outside and continue whatever games we had started earlier in the day, up until the time our mothers would call us home for supper and cool showers and bedtime.

I remember sitting in my elementary school classroom in the beginning days of September and feeling the sweat trickle down my back, wishing the oscillating fan would sweep my way and get stuck, so I could cool off a little bit.

Yes. I realize I'm showing my age a bit. I remember when they installed central air-conditioning in my elementary school. I was interviewed for a radio show about it. I think my parents probably recorded the interview on their reel-to-reel. I think I stated that it would help me be a better student, air-conditioning. If I didn't have to worry about sweat droplets on my math paper, I might be better able to remember my multiplication tables.

We got air-conditioners. It still took me a while to memorize those nines.

Now - my kids play tennis early in the day to escape the heat, although they've suffered through a few late afternoon scorchers. They escape into the a/c in the afternoons, instead of into the shade of a fine magnolia tree, to wait out the heat while brushing up on their video game skills. And still, as the light dims and the lightning bugs beckon, they make their way outside to meet up with friends and finish their games just as I did over 30 years ago in Augusts gone by.

We're not so different than we used to be...

Monday, August 22, 2011


photo by Dan Dillon

Happy Birthday to the most wonderful ten-year-old in the world.

I am over-the-moon proud to be your mama, and I can't wait to see what the next ten years bring!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Just Another Manic Monday

Sometimes you just need space to spread out and calm down and get away from time's knobby knees.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Post Where I List a Bunch of Random Things

Stunning, originally uploaded by diahn.

  • I just got back from the dentist. 
    • I need a crown.
    • I'd rather have a tiara.
    • Dammit.
  • I've been putting together our new school schedule.
    • We need a microscope.
    • I love microscopes.
    • If I didn't have to buy a crown, it would be easier to justify a microscope.
    • Dammit.
  • Raikki is at physical therapy today.
    • He's getting stronger every day.
    • He can move faster on two legs than I can.
    • I love that dog.
  • Today is my grandparents' 70th anniversary.
    • They still live together.
    • They still love each other.
    • That's awesomesauce right there.
  • In 12 days, my baby will be 10.
    • I don't even want to talk about it.
  • In 19 days, I will be 43.
    • My dentist told me I look 35.
    • He was just buttering me up before telling me about the crown.
  • I made a Caprese Salad last night.
    • The tomatoes were from my garden.
    • So was the basil.
    • Basil is my life.
  • I'm going to change into my tennis clothes.
    • My boys are making me play.
    • They're starting to beat me.
    • Little stinkers.
    • I couldn't be happier.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Lord of the Regatta de Blanc

When I was in high school, I was incredibly good looking.



This may not be the best representation of my self 25 years ago, but it's closest to my mental image of my teenaged self.

I got better.

Anyway. I had two real loves in my life back then - music and books. My boyfriend was Sting. He loved me just the way I was. He gave me mighty bass lines and piercing vocals whenever I wanted them.

He was a good boyfriend.

I LOVED The Police. LOVED them. My room was decked out in their posters, my cassette collection was riddled with their albums. I watched the Synchronicity HBO concert live. I wore strange clothes. I cried when they broke up in 1984.

I probably would have worn strange clothes anyway, but we'll just blame it on them, okay?

I also lived with my nose in a book pretty much all the time. Not a school book, necessarily, but fiction - constantly. One of my long-loved, re-read favorites is Lord of the Rings. And while I'm not much of a movie buff, when the movies came out, I fell in love with those as well.

This week, those two loves have combined into a wonderful blend of firsts for my boys. We've been reading The Lord of the Rings aloud together, and they had already started to fall in love with the characters, and while we intend to continue reading it together, Dr. SmartyPants and I decided the time was right for them to see the movies. We've never let them watch PG-13 movies before.

They were SO EXCITED! Because they AREN'T EVEN 13 YET!

Breakin' the law...breakin' the law...

Joshua is already petitioning to have his name changed to "Legolas." I just hope he doesn't decide to go so far as to do any body modifications to get elf ears.

I also played The Police for them this week. This was part of an educational experiment we were involved in with Melinda, who feels my one flaw (one and only...isn't she sweet) is my general disregard for Bruce Springsteen. I don't actively dislike him, I even find myself singing along occasionally, he's just kind of "meh" for me. She loves him, and sent the boys an email to ask them to give him a try - with a couple of recommendations for songs to start with.

I played those songs for them, with no commentary - I'm not one to bias anyone's musical opinion. Their overall impression was that the music was nice, the saxophone was awesome, but they couldn't understand anything The Boss said, and his voice was kind of weird. They rated it an overall "okay." (sorry Mo...)

I thought it was time to break out The Police.

I'm thrilled to say they loved them. Derek loved the baseline on "Demolition Man" and was singing it in the backseat while Joshua grooved to the drumbeat in the front. Joshua asked me if I could buy him the album for his iPhone. (YES! YES! ACTUALLY NO! Because we already have it, but I can LOAD it on your iPhone.) When we pulled into the garage, and we were in the middle of "Every Breath You Take," they made me sit there until the song was over.

I just can't tell you how stupidly happy it made me that they loved the music that shaped my teen years. I can't even tell you why it made me so happy. I just know it did and I'm so looking forward to driving around with my two awesome kids, singing at the top of our lungs...

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Raikki Update

The boys and I went to visit Raikki at the hospital yesterday. He's in the rehab wing, getting daily therapy to try and restore mobility to his rear legs. So far, he's shown a little improvement, but not as much as we had hoped to see at this point. Tonight will mark one week since he went down, but the doctors mark things from his worst loss of sensation, which would be Thursday. The first seven days after that are the most crucial to his success or failure.

He's trying though, poor guy. They had him in the underwater treadmill for probably 20 minutes, and by the end of it, he was absolutely exhausted. The doctors were very pleased with how he did, though - much better than the first time he went in.

We're just taking things one day at a time - crossing our fingers and toes - sending up prayers.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Power of Positive Thinking

Ol' One-eye

My sweet puppy-love, Raikki, needs some seriously positive energy directed his way, my people.

Tuesday night, we got home kind of late after spending the evening with some friends. We let all the dogs out and fed them and let them run around a while. Just before going to bed, we let them out one more time. Jasper and Chico came back in, with Raikki behind them, and as he came up the stairs, Dr. SmartyPants noticed he was dragging his left rear leg. Now, Jasper and Raikki are known to roughhouse quite a bit, and so our first thought was that Raikki had pulled a muscle or something and was just favoring the leg.

The Smarty called me in the kitchen and I started manipulating Raikki's leg, trying to find a sore spot, but nothing seemed to be causing him any pain - he just couldn't make the leg work. I pushed along his spine, but still no painful spots. Within about an hour, neither rear leg was functioning, and while he wasn't in any obvious pain, he was obviously in a great deal of stress. We talked about going to the emergency vet place, but with no one to stay home with the boys, we decided to make him comfortable and be at our vet's office as soon as they opened in the morning.

We put him in bed with us and watched him pretty much all night - there wasn't a whole lot of actual sleep going on.

We got to our vet as they were opening and after a physical, she decided to send us down to the University of Tennessee's vet school for a neurological exam, as she was afraid he had somehow ruptured a disc. The neurologist spent about an hour with him, and given his lack of pain, and all his other symptoms combined, diagnosed him as having had an FCE, which is something like a stroke that affects the spine instead of the brain.

The bad news is that there is nothing medically that can be done for it - no meds, no surgery, etc. The good news is that with physical therapy, there is a possibility that he will regain mobility in his rear legs.

He spent the night in the hospital last night for observation. They called me this morning and told me that he was about the same as yesterday, but that he won't drink any water and he's becoming dehydrated. They'll be doing some urinalysis and blood work to see if there are any other things going on that are causing that, and they may have to start an IV with fluids if he doesn't start to drink soon. If so, he'll go into their ICU and likely spend another night.

If he makes it through all this, he's in for a long road of recovery - and so am I. Raikki weighs about 68 pounds, and there are no flat exits from our house, so I'll be building up my muscles helping him navigate the stairs in and out of here, not to mention helping him with whatever therapy activities he will have to do.

In his favor are his age (20 months) and the fact that he's composed of nothing but muscle and energy. And all of it will be worth it if I can watch him like this again...

Someone's Glad to be Back in Knoxville

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ode to a Tomato


Small or large, red or yellow
nothing can compare
to having one's own mater plant
on one's own deck so fair.

Upon rising I always check
to see what may be ripe,
and smiling, pluck the juicy fruit
from vines held up by pipe.

(or bamboo...whatever - you try rhyming bamboo.)

Into the colander they go
to have grime washed away.
And then the process doth begin
of what to make today.

Salsa, salad, sauce or sandwich,
it really matters not.
The main thing is to eat them all
before they start to rot.

(Seriously. Three tomato plants and I'm overrun with tomatoes. Who knew?)

They've weathered storms and broken stems
and suckers tween the branches.
Now I wish I could remember if
my grandma boils or blanches.

For canning is the way I see
to preserve summer's boon.
To drive away the winter's cold
that's bound to come too soon.

Dear tomato, my sweet friend,
you're more than just a food.
No matter what you are placed in
you make it twice as good.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Oh, Boy.


I feel like I've spent his whole life trying to help people understand him.

When he was a toddler, we had a play group in our neighborhood that would meet once a week at fun locations, or at each others' houses. They were usually an hour or so long, and Derek would spend the first 45 minutes of those times sitting on my lap and staring at the other kids. These other boys and girls would be playing next to each other, talking baby talk and banging tea set cups on the ground, smiling their toothy grins, while my boy sat on me, his brow furrowed in concentration, his lips pursed with anxiety.

15 minutes before the end of the group, he would cautiously venture out, pick up a toy and sit down next to another child and start playing.

Then, everyone would start leaving, and he'd be devastated that the whole thing was over.

"He must be shy," the other parents would say. "Come over here and play with my daughter," they would ask, as soon as we arrived. I would try to explain to them that he was not really shy - he just liked to assess the situation before venturing in. He was cautious. He needed to fully understand how the social dynamics were going to work before he was going to be comfortable playing.

They would just blink a few times and say things like, "You know he's only 15 months old, right?"

I knew. I had been analyzing him for 15 months.

His first day at Kindergarten, he didn't cry or cling. He walked into the room, found a quiet place and started watching. His teacher told me later that he didn't speak to the other kids for about two weeks, and only spoke to her when she asked him a direct question. After the two weeks were up, he was laughing and playing and interacting with all the other kids just like all the other kids.

"He must be really shy," she said to me. I told her no - he's not really all that shy. He just wanted to find his place in the group and make sure he wasn't going to make any tremendous social gaffes. He was just assessing the situation before venturing in.

She blinked a few times and said something like, "You know he's only 5, right?"

I knew.

He's analytical to the extreme. He's intensely hard on himself. He's a perfectionist, which stalls his ability to move forward sometimes. He's brilliant and tender and good and just and occasionally infuriating.

So this past Monday, when I was talking with his new tennis coach after a lesson, I was preparing myself to explain Derek to him, so that we could just get on with the coaching already. But before I could say anything to him, his coach said something like, "Derek's really driven. He's super analytical about every stroke - maybe a little too much, but we'll work on that. He's also incredibly hard on himself and I can tell he's got a little perfectionistic streak. He tends to get in a few good strokes and then start over-analyzing things and that's when he kind of loses his edge. We'll need to work on him not thinking everything to death."

He knew.

People. It was all I could do to hold myself back from bursting into tears. Frankly, I did burst into tears, but I managed to wait until I was alone. So many many many people who just didn't get him. And this one tennis coach finally sees what I've seen all along.

Potential. Ferocity. Determination.


Thanks, Coach.

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Little Chickadee

chickadee on mesh

I finished a new little painting a couple of weeks ago. It's based on a sketch I made a couple of months ago.
Actually, it's not all that little...

bedroom painting

That's it above my king-sized bed. The painting is 6 feet x 4 feet. It's like Chickdeezilla, really.

I originally painted it for my mother, but it looks so nice above my bed, I may not give it to her.

Is that wrong?

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Fire in the Sky

The summer is flying by more quickly than I ever thought possible. I'm rather stunned that it is the middle of July, honestly. I haven't meant to take a break from blogging, but that seems to be what I've done. Maybe I needed it. Maybe I was feeling stagnant and frighteningly non-clever, and didn't want to just come out and say so.


I feel like I've been gone forever. I logged into blogger and found that the entire format has changed - it's so very streamlined and pretty. I think I like it, although I'm finding myself searching for familiar buttons and commands a little more than I used to. I'm also using Google+ here and there - trying to figure it out and see if I can replace my Facebook account, with which I have a love/hate relationship. If you're on Google+, look me up.


I have a million iphone photos of this set of power lines. I'm starting to compile them all into one place to tell a story. I'm fascinated by them the way they play with the sky. Is that weird? Part of the fascination has to do with the fact that they cross over our tennis club and I see them every day, in all different sorts of lighting situations. There are a couple of red-tailed hawks that nest nearby, and I often see them swooping around or lighting on a cross-bar to scan the field below for prey. They give power to the people in the community and give advantageous hunting strategy to the hawks.

That makes them pretty important, I'd say.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

July? Really? Dang.

Fort McHenry Drum Corps

I hope your 4th was wonderful. Sorry I missed it...

I'll be back soon, I promise. I just need to get a few more hours sleep...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fledging My Birds

a home of his own

This nest was knocked out of my crepe myrtle tree during the storms this weekend. When I saw it, I lifted it carefully, fearing that it had turned out eggs or sweet baby birds, but it was completely empty. The babies were gone - already fledged. I hope they were okay.

That process of fledging is such a quick one for birds - it takes only a few short weeks to go from hatchling to fledgling. The process for humans is decidedly more complex.

My babies aren't babies any more, but it can be so difficult to remember that when they fall asleep on the couch after a hard day of play, or when they wake up in the morning with their hair all mussed from a good night's sleep. I think it is less obvious in their transitional times between sleeping and waking.

Why is it so hard to let them grow up? I spend all my time teaching them to fly and wishing they would just stay in the nest. No one ever tells you, when you first become a parent, that the entire time your children are growing up you are teaching them to leave you.

But that really is our only task. As much as we would like to shelter them in our nests until the day WE die, that is not our calling. We (and by that I mean "I") often miss that point by coddling and protecting and keeping them from doing things they are fully capable of doing.

Like laundry.

And then I spend a weekend watching them play tennis in a tournament. I watch them deal with frustration and anger and conflict resolution with the other player in an incredibly mature way. I watch them lose big and not fall apart. I watch them almost win, and then lose graciously in the face of their opponents celebration. I watch them shake hands across the net and walk off chatting amiably with the guy that just beat them. I listen to them plan how they are going to work on this thing or that with their coach the next week and I realize something.

I realize how amazing these little people are. I realize that they've reached a place where my parenting is little more than a gentle nudge in the right direction occasionally. I realize that they are steering their own ships with rudders much larger than me and that somehow they know how to do that. Somehow, miraculously, they understand how to do things that I've really never taught them.

Now - those of you with older children will laugh at me and tell me to get ready for the teen years, and I completely understand that my job is not finished. I know that. Teens are a whole different story and we'll deal with many NEW! and EXCITING! ISSUES!

I know that. I know that. I know that. We'll just call those years the flight lesson years.

Right now, my little chirpers are testing their wings - stretching them to see how big they are and how well they will hold them up when they do leave the nest. And I'm going to let them - even though it is hard to watch them grow away from me - even though they may fall and get hurt - even though it may break my heart.

I'll be there to help them up, dust them off a bit - help them reset their goals. And maybe feed them a worm or two.

Or a taco.