Friday, April 29, 2011

Thankful Beyond Measure


My dad, Ray, took this photo from the doorway of my parents' storm shelter. They live just north of Tuscaloosa, off in the woods and hills of west central Alabama. For those of you who have been living under a rock this past week, the southeastern US was devastated by a series of tornadoes that have claimed at least 210 lives - 36 of those in Tuscaloosa alone. Those numbers will likely climb as more areas are searched for survivors.

This tornado, the one in the picture, is not the one that struck Tuscaloosa. This one hit the small towns of Berry, Oakman, Cordova and Dora and wreaked havoc there. Berry is maybe 15 miles north of where my parents live, so the size of this particular funnel is obviously huge.

My parents and my niece who live on that hill, my grandparents and uncle who were in the valley just beyond them are all fine, as are their neighbors and friends. They are without power, and won't likely have any power restored until sometime next week, but they are alive...they have food and water and safe, dry places to sleep. My great-uncle and his family up in Cullman (also heavily damaged by the tornado) are fine, as well.

I'm so thankful.

The tornado that hit Tuscaloosa continued to the northeast toward Birmingham, where Dr. SmartyPants' mom, dad, brother and sister all live. My youngest niece, Anna lives there as well, with her dad, Will. All the Otts are accounted for, but I'm still waiting to hear about Anna and Will. I'm praying they are just without power and unable to charge cell phones.

***UPDATE*** Anna and her dad are fine, too! Yay!!

The storm continued on its path, to Georgia and Tennessee, where my sister found safe haven at her employer's home, and my niece and grand-niece weathered it fine as well.

It brought its hail and lightning and funnel clouds up to Knoxville, where we watched the weather fretfully and listened as gumball-sized hail hit the back windows and hunkered down to wait it out, all the while wondering what we saw as a benefit to this stupid open floor plan house with no interior rooms. I woke the boys from a deep sleep and shoved them into the pantry in the kitchen when our community's name was called out on the EAS.

We all made it through fine, too.

And I'm so thankful.

I was just in Tuscaloosa last week, helping my mom and dad, and I'm absolutely shocked and so saddened at what I've seen on the news of the devastation. Places I knew so well are simply gone. Landscapes that have stood for decades are completely altered. A town that took me from 17 to 30 and grew me up so well looks as if it were ripped apart. It will take a long time to recover, but I know they will, along with the other town so hard hit by this awful outbreak of tornadoes.

Pray for them. Donate blood. Consider giving to the Red Cross. They need it desperately.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Deep Sigh

Raikki Relaxing

Raikki looks how I feel, people. Too tired to lift my head, but interested enough in what's going on to at least move my eyes around...

I spent last week at my parents' house in Alabama, while my mom had surgery. She's recovering very well. I ran my niece around to her various activities and looked after the dogs while my dad stayed up at the hospital with my mom. I don't think I slept past 4:30 am the entire time I was there.

The boys stayed with my in-laws during the week, and I got to their house on Wednesday evening, and then got up at crack-o-dawn-thirty on Thursday morning to drive back to Knoxville so the boys wouldn't miss their tennis lesson. Then I worked as a photographer's assistant that evening until about 8.

So that was a long day.

The rest of the weekend was equally busy with yard work, more photography work and the like. We took a 9.5 mile bike ride on Sunday up in the foothills and had a great time driving through Cade's Cove and enjoying the gorgeous weather.

Thus endeth the most boring post I've ever written.

When I wake up, I promise to be back on form...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hither and Thither and Yon

Tiny Hospital Planet

I've been away...but now I'm back.

Kind of. It's a holiday weekend, so I won't actually be here until Monday.

But I wanted to say hi.


And I wanted to let you know that all is well and good and normal...just busy and active and traveling.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend, my deserve it!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

six times six is thirty-six

Patio: Now with Plants!

You know how much I like to spout math facts on this this case, it actually applies. There was much multiplication in our yard this weekend.

Two ornamental grasses multiplied into six and left the front yard for the back. The two estimated hours of time to dig those grasses up multiplied into four and left Dr. SmartyPants a little tired and cranky.

Six golden ruffle day lilies multiplied to become 36 and spread all over front and back yards. I hadn't actually planned to do that job, so the time taken to do it actually multiplied by infinity and lasted the rest of the day. the end...

the math paid off.

It always does.

Monday, April 11, 2011

You can call me Ray.

Sometimes you're just heading home from supper and you drive past the home depot and you look across the highway and your jaw drops to your chest and you are suddenly glad that you aren't actually doing the driving because you'd have had a terrible accident already and you fumble around in your purse and find your phone and open the camera app and wish he'd slow down already but there's too much traffic to do a stop in the middle of the four-lane and you just roll down your window and press the shutter button and hold your breath and then take six more before you get too far below the trees and then when you remember to check your camera roll you see this and you fiddle a little bit with the contrast and colors and then you send it to flickr and your jaw drops all over again and you decide to post it to your blog because you want everyone else to see it too.


Just had to get that out there.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Friday Rhyme Time


I like this picture.
Yes, I do.
I cannot tell a lie.

I like this picture,
but I can't
exactly tell you why.

It could be that
the vehicles are
artfully arranged.

Or may be 'cause
in just a sec, it
could be all a'changed.

The colors are appealing, sure.
The framing makes me smile.

But mostly, I think
it's mainly because...

Well, honestly, I haven't exactly taken a lot of photos lately and this was all I had.

Happy weekending, everyone!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Blue Skies...Smilin' At Me...

The Sky was ridiculous today.

Yesterday had one of those blue skies. One of those impossibly blue skies that make you wonder if the artists at Pixar Studios have taken over the world and animated the whole darn thing. It lasted all day - a miracle of color - and it extended way into the twilight. I was playing a rather heated tennis match against Dr. SmartyPants, when I just had to stop and stare and point at the sliver of moon over the red-orange-sapphire blue sunset and marvel at God's handiwork.

I lost that match.

The boys are reading a biography of the Wright Brothers. I already finished it, and was struck by the similarities between Wil and Orv and Derek and Joshua. I think it's probably an age-order thing, but I found it amusing. Wilbur is described as having a very steady, quiet personality - someone who thinks things through and studies them for a long time before acting on anything. The book says that when he was ready to do something, though, it was done with great precision and excellence. Sounds just like Derek. He's not always the idea-guy, but he's always the make-it-work guy.

Orville was something of a pistol - the brother with the out-of-this-world ideas - a creative genius. His school work suffered from a lack of patience, but his knowledge was fantastic...his confidence bordering on arrogance. And that, fits my baby Joshua to a T. He has such amazing ideas, but often fumbles in his haste to get it done. He has a certain swagger that doesn't always exactly match his abilities.

Dr. SmartyPants and I often joke that if we could combine them, they'd make a superhuman. It can be difficult to parent children who are such opposing forces - I'm constantly telling Derek to hurry up and Joshua to slow down - telling Derek to "just try it! You can do it! Don't think so much - just go!", while at the same time cautioning Joshua to "slow down! Take a deep breath! Think it through!"

When they compare notes, they must think I'm insane.

Or at least a little confused.

They probably aren't the only ones to think that.

This weekend, I was hoping to finish up the planting and cleaning up around our new patio, but it looks as though it may least on Saturday. Maybe I'll still get some done - I'd love to show you the completed and gorgeous product sometime. It's a lovely little space, and I have a feeling that this blog is going to be seriously neglected once the weather settles in and that impossibly blue sky hangs over head more often.

Enjoy your day, people. Breathe in, breathe out.


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Things are Bustin' Out All Over


It's dogwood season here in the 'ville. These lovely trees are blooming all over town and making me wish, once again, that I had one in my yard.

But I don't. And given my propensity toward killing green things, I most likely won't. I still haven't even planted anything in the flower bed surrounding my new patio, mainly because I can't figure out what to plant that can survive my neglect and the dogs' interest.

I'm taking suggestions.

We did eat out on our patio for the first time on Sunday night. Dr. SmartyPants grilled burgers and we sat and basked in the gloriousness of our endeavor. I strung some lights up over the table, and it was so festive and beautiful. One of these evenings, I'll get out there and take a photo so you can enjoy it, too.

Once my legs stop hurting.

Monday, April 04, 2011

On Challenges and Epic Adventures

Knoxville Half-Marathon

Ten months ago, when Dr. SmartyPants and I decided to start running again, I never dreamed that this day would happen. All we wanted to do was increase our fitness levels and run a little 5K.

Nine months ago, when I realized I was a delicate flower who was aging a bit and has a magical unicorn toe, I didn't even know if I could run the 5K we were training for. But I did. And then I ran another one.

Five months ago, when we moved back to Knoxville, we decided to try and take on something of an epic challenge and run the Covenant Knoxville Half-Marathon. I know I didn't exactly mention it on this blog, but that was because I was a little bit terrified of failing dismally, and I didn't think I could handle that on such a public forum. Our training was going great until about a month ago when it derailed entirely because we decided to build a patio, so I was sure that I would be able to run exactly 9 miles and then promptly die.

I was kind of ready to quit, honestly - chalk it up to a great idea that just didn't pan out, but Dr. SmartyPants wouldn't let me. And I'm really glad he didn't.

Because we did it. We did it. We did it.

And, while I can't exactly walk very well today, I'm better for it. Today, I feel like I could do absolutely anything.

Yesterday, at about mile 6, I was struggling up the hills (ohmygoodgod the hills...seriously, people...damn.) I sent the Smarty ahead and told him I'd see him at the finish, but I was concerned I wouldn't make it. The Knoxville marathon course is known for its hills. But then I made it up the mother-of-all-hills, and knew that, although other hills were coming...none would be that bad.

At mile 10, when I got a cramp in my right thigh, just above the knee, that was so bad I had to stop and stretch and pray in between running intervals, I wondered if I would be one of those people who had to ride back on the emergency cart. But I limped on and walked it out and grabbed gatorade and gu and forged ahead.

I also walked the entire time between mile markers 11 and 12. And I made a walking friend - her name was Shelby. Great walking with you, Shelby!

At mile 12, I ran again, but the thigh cramp stopped me, and as I started walking it out again, my left foot turned kind of sideways and I lost the ability to move my ankle.

That was weird.

Shelby caught up to me and we ran together, once my various strange cramps were done. We crossed the finish line on the 50 yard line at Neyland Stadium - our faces enlarged on the jumbotron - hugged each other and put our medals around our necks. I looked up and saw Dr. SmartyPants beaming at me, waiting just beyond the finish.

And suddenly...I felt like I could run 13 more. Right then. I had wings.

Today...I'm tired. My legs are sore. My feet hurt.

All. Completely. Worth. It.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Today: A List (no fooling)


  • I woke up and immediately helped clean up a Jasper accident. He's a crate escape artist.
  • He has an amazing bladder capacity.
  • I ate cheerios with a little sugar for breakfast.
  • I drank two cups of coffee.
  • I kissed Dr. SmartyPants and wished him good luck on his first day in his new position. (He's awesome.)
  • I went to ALDI to buy groceries.
  • I love ALDI.
  • I went to Target.
  • I love Target.
  • My car got hit in the parking lot of Target by an elderly lady.
  • I was driving past her. She pulled out just as my hood passed her. She hit me in the rear passenger door.
  • She pressed her gas pedal to the floor and kept pushing my car.
  • Then she put it in reverse.
  • That's when she hit the guy behind her.
  • I got out and kissed my 5,000 pound SUV and promised it some extra special gas the next time we filled up.
  • I was thankful: no one was injured, my kids were at home (she hit the door where Derek normally sits), we were all insured, two people gave me their numbers as witnesses, I wasn't driving my Mustang.
  • I came home and unloaded the groceries while I talked to the insurance people.
  • We ate leftover bratwurst for lunch.
  • Chico bit Derek
  • Chico may have just signed his eviction order.
  • We played tennis. I started playing with the boys, but my adrenaline rush from the accident went away rather rapidly, so I sat on a bench and stared at my precious babies play each other.
  • They rock.
  • We came home.
  • Smarty is on his way home.
  • We're going to watch Rafael and Roger play tonight.
  • Unless I pass out first.
  • I need chocolate.