Archive for January, 2007

Sentimental Text Messages

I need to clean out the Inbox of my cell phone.  While I was at it, I thought I would highlight some of the messages that have stood the test of time and, to provide a little glimpse into my soul, why they’ve been saved for so long.

Henry’s Poor Navigation (or Jimmie’s Good Aim)

From: ICE Sean
Sent: Jul 20 [2005], 9:53 AM

Jimmie peed on Henry’s head

This message has the honor of being the oldest one saved on my phone.  I’m not sure why I’ve kept it so long.  I think I like the story potential.  Say a girlfriend comments on a romantic gesture of her spouse.  I can compete with that. 

“Oh my husband’s romantic too,” I can claim, “Take a look at some of the messages he leaves me!”

This particular message’s story potential went up immensely last summer when I received a very similiar text message:

From: ICE Sean
Sent: Jun 16 [2006], 5:48 PM

Jimmie peed right on henry’s head

I’ve spoken before about Henry’s inability to learn.  Navigating around a urine stream seems to be another lesson that alludes him.

Andy and the Naked Fat Man

From: Andy B
Sent: Oct 20 [2005] 5:24 PM

I picked up your CD – I will have it at larrys if you dont make it ill give it to sean

I saved this because it reminds me how sweet Andy is.  The CD he is referring to is Bloodhound Gang’s Hefty Fine CD.  Typically when a CD I covet comes out, I’ll tell Sean and he’ll pick it up for me the next time he goes to the CD store.  I’ve secured many a NOFX CD that way.  Well this time the plan backfired.  When I submitted my seemingly innocent request to Sean, he balked.

“No!  Are you kidding me?!?  Have you seen the cover?  It’s disgusting– I don’t want to be seen buying that!”

He pulled up the cover on the Internet and sure enough, it’s not the most pleasing image to the eye.   Basically it is a large naked man sitting in a cardboard box (Click here to see for yourself).

The afternoon of the Virginia Tech-Miami game, work was sparsely populated and filled with people leaving early (as is typical for Thursday night games).  Andy was about to leave work and talking about last minute preparations for our tailgate and he mentioned he was stopping by Target.

“Oh you’re stopping by Target?” I said, “There’s a CD I want, do you mind picking it up for me?”

Now, I would rank Andy as more religious than I.  I would rank Andy as more conservative than I.  I would certainly peg Andy as an individual who would prefer to not look at naked fat men.  So in my mind, as I telling him the album title, I was already finding amusement imagining Andy innocently walking down to the music section of Target with the usual spring in his stride.  I can see him navigating down the inventory to “B’s” and suddenly spotting the CD he committed to buy.  It was going to be hilarious.

But there was a kink in the plan.

“Sure,” Andy said, “Let me pull it up real quick so I know what I’m looking for.”

Before I could think of a means to distract him, the album covered was displaying on his screen.

“OH, NO WAY IN HELL!!!!” Andy exclaimed.

I accepted my defeat… and then suddenly about an hour later I got that text message.  It turns out Andy went ahead and picked up the CD anyway– even though he found the cover so distasteful.  I still find that purchase touching.   

Andy’s followup message is also saved and explains how he managed such a feat:

Fr: Andy B
Sent: Oct 25 [2005] 5:26 PM

I held the cover down and set it on the cashier counter like it was ledmans

Sean Remembers Grandma Turnock

From: ICE Sean
Sent:  May 6 [2006] 5:45 PM

I bet you a dollar on sinister minister winning 

Sean was in Charlotte visiting the Vandervorts while I was still in Blacksburg.  It was right before the Kentucky Derby when I got that message and my heart still melts to read it. 

When I was younger, my grandmother would have a Kentucky Derby party at her house.  A number of her lady friends, including Rebecca Randolph, would come over and everyone, regardless of generation, would pick a horse and bet a dollar.  Every year I talk about how I want to get something similiar going as an hommage and every year I never quite make it happen.  This particular day, I had forgotten the Derby was even on, until Sean sent his text message already betting me a dollar.  I quickly pulled up the Internet and picked a horse of my own and sent my bet to Sean through text message as well.  Both of our horses lost, but that didn’t matter, for that day even though Sean was in a totally different state, he kept my grandmother’s memory alive and well.

Sean Needs Help (Cleaning Up Diarrhea)
I was at the beach in 2005 and Sean was still in Blacksburg when I received this gem:

From: ICE Sean
Sent: Aug 4 [2005] 12:37 AM

Henry spray pooped all over the computer room. 

I laughed and I’m sure I expressed my condolences to poor Sean.  And I filed this away as another romantic message I could taunt my girlfriends with.  What woman wouldn’t envy such sentiment?

Little did I know this message was going to get better.  I was driving home from Delaware and was nearing home.  My arrival was imminent when I got this message:

From: ICE Sean
Sent: Aug 6 [2005] 11:22 AM

Henry’s diarrhea is still on the floor.  I did not leave it for you to clean up but I do need help with how to clean it.

I can laugh now at this one.  Check the timestamps– he left diarrhea on the floor for two days!  A lot of questions come to mind.  Did he keep on using the computer room?  What did Henry think of his work being preserved?  I certainly wasn’t laughing, however, when I got home and I was having to saturate dried diarrhea with Resolve in order to seperate it from the carpet fibers.

Jay Dupes Vicky From Hawaii
Earlier this year, Sean and I traveled to Boston.  It was cold and rainy when we arrived.  I sent a text message to my brother saying something along the lines of “Greetings from Boston.  It is cold and rainy here.”  A little while later, my brother responded:

From: Jay
Sent: Oct 11 [2006] 9:10 PM

Salutations from hawaii its  rainy and cold here too 

“Wow!” I thought and was about to tell the others that Hawaii was no different.  Suddenly my phone vibrated again.

From: Jay
Sent: Oct 11 [2006] 9:11 PM


Sean Breaks 90
Got this one this past summer:

From: ICE Sean
Sent: Aug 19 [2006] 6:02 PM

I shot my best score ever today!  Broke 90 for the first time.  89!  I am so excited! 

Sean’s referring to his golf game.  I kept this because I can relate to his happiness.  When I finished my RATC patch and when I got up my very first 14er, I commemorated the event via a text message to Sean.  I know how excited I am at those moments when I key the news in and I bet Sean was even more excited when he wrote that message to me.  And that makes me happy.

Sean and Vicky Think Alike
Finally, a message from Sean when I told him my favorite part of one of his websites:

From: ICE Sean
Sent: Sep 20 [2006] 7:26 PM

THANK YOU!  You are the first to recognize it.  I was so disappointed until you said that!

Sean and I do have seperate interests, seperate hobbies and a lot of evenings we go our own ways.  But, every now and then I get a reminder that despite our differences, our minds still work similiarly.   Humor can fall in that category too.  There are some things that are downright hilarious to Sean and I that barely solicit a giggle from others.  If any of you have heard either of us try to relay the ill-fated “Dumping Turds” story, you’ll know what I’m talking about. 

Anyway, I’ve kept this message because even though he golfs and I hike, or I’m in Delaware and he’s home or I’m at home and he’s in Charlotte or even though we have differing opinions on dog diarrhea disposal…. we still see, appreciate and talk about a lot of the same things.  We still have a common ground. 

Heck at the very least, we’ll always have text messaging.  🙂

January 31, 2007 at 1:31 am 5 comments

Something the Thru-Hikers Miss

Each year over a thousand hikers embark on hiking the whole Appalachian Trail. I think there is roughly a 20-25% completion rate. These hikers, even the ones who don’t manage to finish, gather up memories of the trail that I, as a mere day-hiker, can only imagine. I certainly enjoy my showers and hot meals, but I do envy the unique experiences those hikers must have. Parting with all the daily obligations of their lives, all the views they see as they travel through fourteen states, the comradery they have with other hikers and finally, the fulfillment they must feel 2000 miles later when they have completed their challenge.

Yesterday, Bill and I made a trip down to the Butt Mountain Overlook. It was a quick trip– We headed that way, admired the view, took some pictures, watch Jimmie take three dumps and two hours later we were back home. Last night when I was looking at one of my pictures of the view, I recalled I had a similiar shot from a July trip with Mike E. It was neat to flip back and forth and look at the difference.

Then I was reminded… The thru-hikers who pass through this area each year certainly have a wealth of experiences that I do not have, but there is one thing I have one thing that they don’t. I get to see this area year-round. I get to see the same spots through different seasons and different weather conditions. I get to see the blooming rhododendrons in June and I get to see them all curled up in the winter, adding a green contrast to the white snow. I know that Angel’s Rest is best in the fall, the Cascades are the prettiest in the winter* and Wind Rocks is so very haunting in the fog. In the early spring and winter I get to see extra views before the leaves are on the trees that you would never notice in the warmer months (for example you can see only Mountain Lake from Bald Knob when there are no leaves) when the thru hikers are passing through. And then when the leaves are there in the summer, I get to marvel at the beauty of all the green along with all the other hikers.

I’d say the score is still about 1279 to 2 (I’m also counting “Sitting in Larry’s Hot Tub Afterwards” as a point for me). But for what it is worth, here are some samples from my hiking photos of similiar shots in different seasons (Note: Not all are Appalachian Trail hikes). Enjoy!

Butt Mountain



Bald Knob

Spring – You can see Mountain Lake in the upper right

Summer – No Lake Visible

Falls Ridge


Late Fall

McAfee’s Knob




Strong Winter

Mild Winter


Carvin’s Cove



Pearis Mountain (Past Angel’s Rest)

Spring (this was my 30th birthday hike!)


*The Thru-Hikers would certainly struggle to know Cascades is prettiest in winter seeing as how it isn’t on the AT.

January 29, 2007 at 1:26 am 13 comments

A Thank You to Good Friends

As I mentioned, Sean and I are getting hardwood floors installed next week and we have to move everything off the first floor. Last night Sean added a finger to his injury inventory. Between that and the broken foot, he isn’t quite a key contributer to the moving efforts. And there are some things that just one able-bodied person is not able to move.

In August, a few of us drove up to Moneta to help friends paint their house. We had a great time and teamwork allowed the task to be completed quickly. Today, was a very similiar experience. Only this time I was on the receiving end of the efforts! Ledman, Mike E, Larry, Lindsay and even little Penn Jones showed up to help move. Ann couldn’t help with the lifting, but she still found a way to contribute. She made a delicious chili (with mushrooms– I’m starting to believe mushrooms compliment everything– they are delicious little sponges that soak up the flavor of whatever dish they are in. A concentrated version of the meal in one chewy bite) and her trademark brownies and brought them over to feed all the volunteers.

Together, the first floor was vacated of large items in a little more than an hour. We finished up so quickly, in fact, by the time Bill C arrived– we were all done for the day!!! 🙂

Without these people’s assistance, this would have been an impossible task. So, a lot of gratefulness is felt today. Sean and I are very lucky to have such good friends.

Now… we just need to manage to keep said friends for about another week or so. 😉

January 28, 2007 at 1:19 am Leave a comment

Video: Thanksgiving 2001

Yesterday while I was cleaning the computer room, I found an old video tape which included our Thanksgiving 2001 celebration.  That is the Thanksgiving where the oven broke– which threatened not only our Thanksgiving Day meal, but also our traditional cookie decorating for the Day After Thanksgiving.  At the last minute Dad called around and found an oven that fit our unique measurements.  He rushed out to pick it up.  Alas, by the time he got to the store, the oven with the measurements he needed was already taken.  (“How could it be gone?!? I thought you were holding it for me?”  “Well sir, we thought that was you!”)

So for Thanksgiving, our entire clan ended up eating at Market Street– which is a buffet.  It’s safe to say Sean was not impressed.  On the way in, Mom mentioned that Market Street used to be my favorite restaurant, which is true (When you have emetophobia and you are never sure what your nerves will let you eat, buffets are perfect– you don’t have to commit to a single dish).  Sean quickly snapped his head around, “Wait a second, let me get this straight– this was your favorite restaurant?!?”

The others weren’t quite as skeptical.  It turned out to have its benefits.  We had a giant TV where we could watch football.  My cousin, Frank, got to eat lasagna instead of turkey and no one had to clean up.  It was such a hit, my mother talked about doing that every year.  That following Easter, we made a return trip.  Luckily for Sean, since then we’ve opted for the more traditional home-cooked meals instead.

Anyway, Sean gave me a quick tutorial on digitizing the video and a lower quality copy is below.  I think it is probably of more interest to family members or friends who are familiar with the Occoquan house.  I’m missing a lot of key footage to fully relay the details above, but the stuff I do have summarizes the experience and hints to the four-dog chaos of a Sawyer Thanksgiving.  Plus it has my late Grandpa in it.  That was such a welcomed surprise to see him again.

One day, I’ll have to do a version my “directors commentary” or something along the lines of “Popup Video” to point out little details that are meaningful to me five years later.  For now though, you can read my timestamped notes.

Remaining Time In Comment
07:06 00:11 I love Dad’s theory about how the oven got broken– sabotage!
06:58 00:16 This shot shows my Dad’s beloved conference room table. He got it from some office and it used to be the kitchen table. When my parents moved to the new townhouse, my father insisted his table come along. It’s in the computer room now. I also like how an issue of The Enquirer is present in the foreground. To me that is part of the experience of visiting my parents— reading The Enquirer.
06:30 00:46 You can see my priorities. Mom is making a list of everything that she needs the oven for our feast and the first item I mention is the cookies on Friday. Nevermind the holiday and all the guests— what about the cookies?!? Oh the humanity!
06:19 00:56 An ashtray was caught in the shot. In the old house, my parents smoked inside.
06:03 01:12 You can hear Mom’s finches singing in the background.
05:42 01:31 I did not cut out any suburban footage. The sound of the diesel engine and the sight of a white suburban will always remind me of my father, particularly him picking me up at high school.
05:40 01:35 Mmm…. all that polluting goodness.
05:09 02:05 Dogs are locked up, a measure we still use today.  We now lock them in cars– less barking, but there is a downside.
05:05 02:10 This is the end of Mom telling the surprised guests we are going to a buffet.
04:46 02:28 Frank looks so young! Who knew in a few years, he’d be throwing Jordan around like he was a rag doll!
04:40 02:34 Aww…. my heart melted to hear my late grandfather say, “Aren’t you a good dog? Aren’t you a good dog?” I heard him saying that to Hans too.
04:39 02:36 I like that you can hear Henry sniff the camera.
04:07 03:07 Timmy reprimanding Sunny.
04:04 03:10 Grandpa is telling a story about a woman sharing liquor with him. Meanwhile, Grandpa is inadvertantly sharing liquor as he speaks.
03:41 03:34 They are looking at Mom’s wedding gift to my cousin. Mom sent the wedding invitations out to get custom framed, but by the time she got them back, the new bride had already left the marriage.
03:22 03:50 I love Maria’s cheering. “Do it yourself!”, “Aww, you blew it!”
03:11 04:03 This is how desperate we were to keep the cookie tradition going. We were cooking batches of six at a time— in toaster ovens!
02:52 04:21 2001’s gravy looks much better than 2000’s. Somewhere I have video footage. My parents proved the saying about “Too Many Cooks” by contradicting each other’s efforts.  Dad would add more flour and immediately afterwards Mom would add more water.  The end result was this nasty mess that no one ate.
02:35 04:40 I love Mr. Yuk!
02:31 04:42 Sunny’s wearing an electric collar for the invisible fence. At my parent’s new house, the dogs have a regular fence.
01:59 05:16 I stitched those spice labels (thus the attention)
01:23 05:53 My Dad was sporting bed head long before it was a fad.
00:32 06:43 My parents love to buy in bulk. That explains all the Chunky Soups.
00:27 06:46 My mother used to always buy Wedgewood for her mother. When grandma died, my Mom got all the Wedgewood back. So it was sort like she was buying gifts for herself all those years.
00:21 06:53 I love Sean instructing Henry in the background, “Go see what’s scary.” Henry did not obey.
00:12 07:03 I got that framed collection of pressed flowers for Mom for Mother’s Day.
00:03 07:11 Dad always eats the more disgusting bits of the turkey (somewhere I have video footage from another Thanksgiving where he takes the neck out of the trash, wipes off the cigarette ashes, cooks it and then eats it like corn on the cob).

January 28, 2007 at 12:09 am 4 comments

Anne T. Sawyer Letter: Halloween 1970 and Lost Dog

Next week Sean and I are getting hardwood floors installed on the entire first floor of our house.  As part of that effort, we have to move everything off the first floor (And by “we”, I mean those of us who don’t have crutches).  I was going through some papers and I found a number of letters from my mother to her parents.  From context, I believe it was fall of 1970, but I don’t know for sure because my mother did not date the letters.  Tsk…tsk… Just like Ashlawn.

My parents were newly married (they wed July 22, 1970) and were living outside of Savannah, Georgia where my Dad worked in the army.  They lived in a trailer park with two dogs — Chico and Susie.

Anyway, I found the letters to be incredibly interesting, so I’m going to share installments:

Letter Dated “Monday” (Early November 1970)

Dear Mom and Dad,
     I decided to write a new letter instead of continuing Friday’s.
     Another weekend went by very fast.  We went to a party Friday night.  It was fun and something different, a halloween, ETS and birthday party all in one.  ETS means getting out (End of Term of Service as far as I can figure).

Now I love this next part.  My entire life, my mother was picking up stray animals.  We had quite a zoo in Occoquan (goats, dogs, cats, ducks and a pony).  Nowadays, my mom is pretty satisfied with two dogs and three cats.  She takes her dogs for long walks regularly and knows all the other dogs and dog owners in town.  This next tale just really sounds like my mother.   But my father’s reported behavior– doesn’t sound like him at all!

     We found a new dog Saturday.  It had a leash and collar on and our dogs were playing with it under the trailer.  I walked around with it a little and started talking with my neighbor down the road.  I have never met her before, and she seemed very nice.  Well, Lowell came home from golf and thought it was Chico, then realized it wasn’t and wondered who resembled me so much.  We kept it a couple of hours and Lowell gave it a bath, then I suggested we walk around with it and see if someone happened to recognize it. 

Hold up.  My *DAD* gave the dog a bath?!?  That doesn’t sound like him at all!  My Dad’s job is to pretend he doesn’t like the dogs and then cook hamburgers for them (my mother got yelled at when she started to throw away meat Dad was planning to prepare for the dogs), slip them food (like Carolyn saw him do for Henry on Christmas) or take them for rides in the surburban.  But baths?  That’s not in his repertoire. 

So we walked around the trailer park for the first time, and it was really a lot of fun.  It was the first time we ventured out of our little area.  Chico and Susie followed us and we acquired five more dogs along the way. 

I wonder how many of these 8 dogs I would recognize as trailer park dogs

We passed one trailer and this cute little baby chihuahua in a red harness came out barking at us and I went to pick it up and it screamed the way Chico used to.  Lowell told me to put it down before someone thought we were dognappers.  Finally a little boy came running out of a trailer and our little orphan went running to him. 

My mother always refers to Henry as “my mother’s little orphan” because my grandmother died when he was just a puppy (Sean and I inherited him).  It appears that Henry wasn’t the original “little orphan.” 

I really think Lowell was disappointed.  I sure wasn’t.  I wouldn’t have minded the chihuahua, though.  I just realized I forgot something – the dog was a Pekinese.
     Halloween was exciting.  We stayed here to answer the door and really got into wild moods.  Lowell made snowballs from our undefrosted freezer and went outside and threw them at trailers, we dressed Chico in a towel to look like a ghost and laughed at the kids.

My Dad was throwing snowballs? 

I forgot to mention, one time we were sitting here and there was this hug[e] bang on the door.  It was two little girls on bicycles who Susie was bothering.  So Lowell went outside, asked [their] names, told Susie who they were, and had them pet her.  They got carried away, and stood next to Lowell and said he was taller than their fathers.  Well, Halloween we had this big bang on the door, and I said it must be Sherry and Michelle.  Sure enough.  Michelle’s mother was with them and she was as cute as she could be.  I would say she’s about my age.  Well, Michelle dropped her trick or treat bag, so Lowell got a flashlight.  The mother told them not to pick up anything that wasn’t wrapped.

There’s a sign of the times– unwrapped food given away at Halloween.

Then she saw Susie under the trailer, so she handed her a cookie.  Chico appeared right then, so she emphatically said, “Share it!” It was really hilarious.
     We didn’t do anything yesterday but sleep.  We went to the movies last night to see The Landlord.  It was an interesting movie.
     How are you doing there?  I hope the job is going along fine and you find a buyer soon.  Write back soon and tell me all the news.


January 26, 2007 at 1:11 am 3 comments

You Must Assimilate to My Tastes

My cousin’s Facebook site list her favorite books as:

Slaughterhouse 5, Cat’s Cradle. (Both by Kurt Vonnegut)

I couldn’t help but recall– those were books I got her for Christmas a few years ago!  I told her I approved of her selection and she wrote back in jest:

Hehe, I owe it all to a cool person who introduced me to those books. I don’t remember who it was…. 😛

I guess my purchases to share my tastes with others are not limited to outdoor hobbies.

Now that I think of it, one year I got Ryan Schutt the game Taboo for Christmas.  Taboo is a game I LOVE (but actually don’t own).  Though…I’m not sure if that was as a successful purchase as the Vonnegut books.  I know we played once when Sean, Ryan and I lived in an apartment together (I believe Stacy was involved in that session as well).  But I don’t know if its seen much action since then.

Two years ago, I got Carolyn a purple mini sharpie…. which just so happened to match the green mini sharpie I had attached to my keychain.  Perhaps the same year, I got Carolyn toe socks— a staple of my own relaxation warddrobe.

After I got married and fell in love with a juicer some co-workers gave us, a couple of people on my Christmas list mysteriously received…. juicers!  Like Taboo, I’m not sure how effective a gift it was to others– there is a lot of cleanup involved, so a juicer is not for everyone.  Me, I’m not deterred.  I still love the gift– especially the fresh carrot apple juice it provides. 

This is an interesting pattern that is emerging.  I might have to reflect on this more.  At the moment, it appears my biggest inspiration for gifts, may be…. me! 

January 25, 2007 at 12:26 am 2 comments

Importance of Documentation – Indispensable vs. Immortality

A couple of months ago, buried in musings about Troy and Log Files, I talked about the importance of documentation.  An example I cited was the knowledge we know about Monticello and Ashlawn.  Both were residents of former Presidents who lived at the same time and who literally lived only a few miles apart.  But with Monticello, the details are solid.  We know for a fact.  With Ashlawn, they just have best guesses.  Why the discrepancy?  Jefferson wrote things down.

Terri Irwin’s recent address to the National Press Club about her husband, Steve, reinforced the importance of documentation:

You may also be surprised to learn just how disciplined Steve was.  He was never a great sleeper.  He would always wake early, sometimes around two or three o’clock in the morning and he would slip into his office and he would write.  He’d write up his latest research; write down his ideas and visions for the future, the zoo; study notes on wildlife documentaries he was filming or plan how to do something better for animals.  And today I’m very blessed because I have all the documentation, all of his plans, all of his ideas for the future.  So I’m really lucky to have a direction for where Australia Zoo is headed, where our filming is headed, what research projects were most important to him.”

The builder who designed and built my parent’s new townhome had a heart attack and died suddenly around Christmas.  He left behind a staff of good people able in their own roles.  He did not leave behind that kind of direction Terri Irvin got.  No one could succeed him.  In less than a month, the builder’s company has shut down. 

I think there is a pleasure in feeling like you are a vital part of an organization.  We like to feel important.  We like to feel valuable.  We like to feel necessary.  We like to feel indispensable. 

But at the same time, we also like to feel like we have a little bit of immortality.  Some argue that religion’s purpose is to give us hope that death is not the real end.  Ambition keeps many striving to be the best in their field, to excel through accomplishments and plaques.  And in later years, some wonder, “What’s my legacy?”

If your legacy happens to a business, be it a zoo, a building firm or perhaps a document management software, then you want it to thrive without you.  You do not want your years of hard work to wither up and die just because you are.  You want the business to continue on after you are gone.  You want to be the exact opposite of indispensable.

Steve Irwin somehow managed a delicate balance of being important and inspiring and extremely well-loved, but not indispensable.  His business endeavors and his conservation efforts will live on.  Part of this can, of course, be attributed to surrounding himself with competent, caring and dedicated individuals who’ll carry on. 

But… as his wife is finding, documentation sure makes a tough task easier.

January 23, 2007 at 11:27 pm 1 comment

Journal Excerpt: Bottom Creek Gorge

A couple of weekends ago, Leith and I took a trip to The Nature Conservancy’s Bottom Creek Gorge Preserve near Bent Mountain.  Bottom Creek Gorge is a great outing.  It provides an overlook to Bent Mountain Falls which are the second largest falls in Virginia.  A number of historic structures remain on the trails as well.  It was a dogless trek, however, as the preserve doesn’t permit pets.  Some excerpts from my January 20, 2007 journal entry:

There was a lot to see too — an old cemetery, remains of old log cabins, woodpeckers, deer and of course, Bent Mountain Falls.

I remember in 2003 taking a picture of a bunch of downed trees in the preserve and citing it as Dad’s wet dream.  My father used to love finding downed trees and then chopping them up for firewood.  He started chopping wood when he was five years old (he actually asked Santa for an ax) and had been doing it ever since.

Now that he lives in a townhouse, his lifelong habit is no longer needed.  At first I felt bad, but Dad  just shrugged and said, “I’ve been chopping wood for 60 years.  I don’t need to do it anymore.”

Anyway, the Bottom Creek Gorge Preserve still has a lot of downed trees and even though my father no longer chops wood, I still thought of him.

Leith and I passed a very rough looking tree on Duvall Trail.  It had obviously weathered some tough times.  It sported multiple knots and big gaping holes.  That tree still stood despite its sketchy past.  And that tree was surrounded fallen and decaying brothers who weren’t quite as lucky.

That tree was surrounded by the carnage of its own kind.

It was a neat statement.  Here was the survivor out of many trees– but it didn’t make it through unscathed.  Its bark and trunk documented its struggle.  Its wounds, deformities and scars remain.

Speaking of scars, Leith and I passed an old wire fence which left its mark on surrounding trees.  Last week on my blog I talked about the stem cell researchers and Alfred Hitchcock working around their obstacles.  Leith and I saw trees that took an entirely different approach.  When impeded by the wire fence, the trees did not grow around it– they absorbed the wire into their trunks and grew through it.

Some trees, we would see the wire go right smack through the middle of the tree as if someone specifically threaded the wire through.  Not all the trees were that far along in their progress.  On some, the wire was just starting to get assimilated by the bark.

All the trees, no matter how deep the wire, had tell-tale parallel lines on its trunk.  You could see where the wire once rested before it just became another part of the tree.

Leith and I saw about eight deer and a few woodpeckers as well.  We also ran across one tree a woodpecker had a field day with.  A great portion of the tree was littered with little tiny holes.

I was amazed at how straight the lines of holes were that circled the trunk.  Every now and then the woodpecker would have lines of holes that were slightly skewed.  But most of them were as straight as an arror and perfectly parallel to the ground.

The woodpecker accomplishes that with only the body he was given by the Good Lord.  Laser levels?  Bah!  The woodpecker needs none of that!

All my pictures from our visit to Bottom Creek Gorge are available on my Flickr site.

January 23, 2007 at 10:10 pm 10 comments

Super Bowl Side

I was already intending on routing for the Indianapolis Colts in this year’s Super Bowl, but this sign from yesterday’s Chicago Bears/New Orleans Saints game solidifies my loyalty:

Go Colts!

January 22, 2007 at 11:19 am 1 comment

Prejudice By Pitbull?

Yesterday at the height of our “winter event”, an unfamiliar dog was wandering in the neighborhood.  My neighbor Cherie and I spotted it at the same time.  It certainly was no time for a dog to be lost, so when it came to my yard, I tried to check its tags.  The dog was a pitbull, a beautiful animal, but it may have revealed a dark side of my perception. 

I was somewhat fearful of getting bit, but that wasn’t because of the dog’s breed.  He was skitish.  He seemed friendly enough, but when you got close he’d retreat.  A skitish dog, regardless of breed, can easily become a biter.  This dance continued on my slick slanted yard for a few minutes.  Meanwhile, Cherie’s two boys were cheering from across the street.  They believed I was trying to catch my brand new pet, so it was a celebration to them.

My prejudice came when I could get close enough to read the phone number.  Before I even dialed the number, I knew, “This is a trailer park dog.”

In this particular case, my assumption turned out the be correct– The dog did indeed originate from the trailer park.  But, still, I really don’t know why I thought that.  All the pitbulls I’ve known in the past were from the more upper scale homes or belonged to college students.  This dog was neutered and a lot of the male trailer park dogs I’ve seen are not.  The dog had his 2007 Montgomery County registration tag which the trailer park dogs do tend to be missing.  Was it the dog’s spiked collar?  Was it the fact that this was a dog roaming at large?  Was it the fact that I already know every dog in our neighborhood? I just don’t know.  Is it worse, that I’m saying I should not have thought it was trailer park dog because he was neutered and registered?  Does that reveal more prejudice than my original suspicion?  That’s quite possible.

This story does have a happy ending.  The dedicated owner had been walking out in the winter weather for an hour looking for the dog.  “I’m so cold,” the owner said, “I can’t move my face.”  He was overjoyed and relieved that “Maximus” had been located.  He and I both walked in the wintery mix to meet up halfway between our two homes (Carolyn, does this remind you of the rescue mission we performed in the Blizzard of 96?).  With a couple of clicks Maximus was transferred from my leash to his.  The owner thanked me profusely numerous times and offered me money (I declined– The outing was a good excuse for exercise).

I did note, however, that he never once used the word “miracle” to describe my efforts.  😉

January 22, 2007 at 11:12 am 5 comments

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