Archive for June, 2007

Pig Pickin’ 2007

Today, Sean, Ledman and I went to Charlie and Kathleen’s house for their annual Pig Pickin’.  Their social group is quite committed to the event– This was their 21st year!  The slow cooked pig was delicious, but for me, the baked beans featuring coffee and french onions stole the show.  I had three servings!

Some pictures:

Armed with S-hooks, four men move the pig off the fire

Charlie (left) takes a taste test

One of the many pig decorations on the property

Men laugh as they chop the pig (Yes, some are using axes)

A dog strategically waited underneath the chopping table to lick the juices that dripped off.

More pictures from Pig Pickin’ 2007 can be found on my Flickr site.

June 30, 2007 at 10:39 pm 2 comments

Lazy Man’s Mirror

Last weekend at the family reunion, I tied my hair back and wanted to check the integrity of my work.  Rather than get up and consult a mirror in the restroom, I took my camera snapped a quick picture and checked the results.

No missing strands of hair and eyeliner is in tact.

And with that I realized I left off a key cell phone duty in my “Cell Phone… As Versatile as Duct Tape” post.   I often use my cell phone as a quick mirror.  This may seem absurdly lazy.  But I’ll have you know I most frequently use this technique at airports.

Airport Commodity
I often braid my hair at the gate.  If you aren’t familiar with traveling alone at airports, then trust me– going to the bathroom at the airport is a pain in the ass.  Having someone watch you luggage is a luxury you take for granted.  When traveling alone you have to take all your luggage with you.  You can suddenly find your trek extended thanks to remarkably poor-timed bathroom cleanings.  And when you finally get there, gawd forbid, you actually have to use the toilet.  Managing a rolling suitcase, a laptop and a plastic bag full of provisions in a cramped stall is like playing one of those sliding number games, but in much more disgusting circumstances.

Slide Vicky and her luggage around the bathroom stall to open the inward opening door.  Note: Game not to scale– there is not this much wiggle room in an actual airport bathroom.

Anyway– I’ll braid my hair and rather than consulting a mirror I’ll use the cell phone.  I usually delete the pictures right afterwards, but here is a reenactment for you:

Pretend my living room is the gate and pretend Jimmie and Henry are actually passengers making out.

But…there are times when I do it when I am just purely lazy.  Here is a shot I took of myself when I was working and on a whim wanted to see my chin sag status:

Checking on my chin, February 15, 2007 

Usage Disclaimer
I do have a usage disclaimer about the Lazy Man’s Mirror.  If you are using it, make sure you are in the position to take any corrective action, if necessary.  Otherwise, it only serves to depress you. 

Last year’s away game at Wake Forest is a good example.  I’m the master of mismanaging blemishes and I woke up the morning of the game with gruesome evidence of that fact on my face.  It was soooo bad, I considered skipping the game.  When I proposed the notion to my husband, he burst out into song.

You’re so vain,
You probably think this game is about you, don’t you, don’t you?

My husband doesn’t usually sing, so the ditty left enough of an impression for me to go get dressed in orange and maroon and get in car.  And of course, we see all our friends there and of course, we see friends we haven’t seen in years.  Back when Sean and I first started dating, one guy told Sean he should date someone who was “you know, not thirteen.”  Of course, that guy was at the tailgate and here I was ten years later… with the complexion of a thirteen year old.  I managed to stand steadfast through the entire tailgate. 

It was hours later in the stands, I decided I would take a quick peek.  I used my phone to take a picture of Larry Bowman (a distraction) and then I took a picture of myself.  The results were… let’s just say, horrendous.  And there was absolutely nothing, nothing I could do about it.  I was concealerless and I was well lit under stadium lights.  Luckily, there seemed to be some truth to Sean’s song — all eyes did appear to be directed at the game.

Still, dear readers, I do feel a sense of responsibility to warn you.  Exercise caution with the Lazy Man’s Mirror.  Objects are as ugly as they appear. 

Actually probably uglier as cell phones have such small resolutions.  🙂

June 29, 2007 at 1:59 pm 8 comments

Drained Duck Pond

Stopped by the Virginia Tech Duck Pond after lunch today.  It’s not the most pretty sight, but the animals are adapting.  Nearby pools of water remain in tact for the ducks.  A heron seemed to rather enjoy the easy hunting in the shallow waters.  Blackbirds congregated in a mini stream that ran through what remains of the pond.  For some ducks, it is business as usual as they swarmed around a family with bread. 

Here’s a comparison shot between last Friday and today.  You’ll have to look in the background– the foreground is a mini-pond that is in tact:

Duck Pond June 22, 2007

Duck Pond June 27, 2007

As expected, there was a lot of debris on the bottom.  Golf balls, beer cans, barrells, bottles, cups.  Traffic cones seemed to be pretty popular as well.  I saw at least three.  At one point, the heron found one half submerged traffic cone to be a convenient perch.

Overview of the pond

Two ducks cross the barren landscape

Blackbirds congregate at some remaining water

Barrells and trash in the mud

A worker boats in remaining water

Heron with a traffic cone

Lines of police cars on the grass

More Drained Duck Pond pictures can be found on my Flickr site.

June 27, 2007 at 2:38 pm 6 comments

Draining of the Virginia Tech Duck Pond

Wow.  Looks like it was good little Gwyn and I visited the Virginia Tech Duck Pond when we did.  Today, the Duck Pond started getting drained as part of the state investigation of the Virginia Tech shooting.  This news may explain why I spotted a Virginia State Underwater Search and Rescue Team truck on 460 today. 

Anyway, I don’t know what they are hoping to find, but I bet they come across a lot of disgusting surprises in there.  My sophomore year of college I was feeding the ducks when my class ring fell into the water.  I had to get in and actually submerge my head underwater to retrieve it.  The next week…. I got mono.  Coincidence?  Perhaps.  But I bet the various organisms in that water didn’t help my immune system!  🙂

Virginia Tech Duck Pond…with water

After the investigation, the school is going to do some repairs to the pond.  It could remain drained for several weeks.  You know what that means?  I’m going to be under an awful lot of pressure to actually finish the bread I buy.  😉

June 25, 2007 at 7:19 pm Leave a comment

The Simpsons and NOFX

There is a room in our house which goes by the name “The Simpsons Room”.  It’s main purpose is to house my husband’s collection of Simpsons figurines.  Even though all the figurines are sequestered in the closet at the moment (they were moved when the room was painted), that is still how we refer to that room.  For example:

“Have you seen the plyers?”

“Yes, it’s in the Simpsons room.”

Unopened Simpsons figurines, Simpsons games, Simpsons posters, and then two large bins full of opened figurines and their accessories.  See notes on Flickr for details.

Across the hall is my home office.  It dons hunter green walls, pictures of Kurt Vonnegut, an elevation cross section of the Appalachian Trail (sections I’ve finished have been highlighted), a picture of my grandfather from WWII, a number of dog hiking pictures and…. about 20 CDs from my favorite band, NOFX.

Often Sean and my interests are pretty different, but here a video (not by me) manages to fuse two of our loves together– the Simpsons and NOFX.

P.S.  The NOFX song is called “The Man I Killed” and can be found on the Wolves in Wolves Clothing album.

June 25, 2007 at 2:54 pm 9 comments

Cornhole Addiction

Yesterday was Sean’s mother’s family reunion in Roanoke, Virginia.  Delicious food, great company, but the highlight of the event was the ongoing Cornhole competition.  Haven’t heard of Cornhole?  It is very addictive!  Basically, you are throwing bean bags filled with corn kernels at an angled platform that contains a small hole.  You get one point for every bag that stays on the platform and three points for every bag that goes in the hole (This is a simplified scoring system, in official Cornhole you can cancel out points).  If another throw by you or your opponent knocks your bag off the platform, you no longer get that point.  It is actually more challenging than it sounds.  The bags were unpredicatable– defying friction by sliding off the platform and defying gravity by refusing to fall in the hole.

You can learn more about Cornhole at

Here are some Cornhole shots from our family reunion:

Cory, me (farside), Bret (farside), Sean

Cory celebrates a good toss

Ted with his horseshoe experience was undefeated in Cornhole

Phifer celebrates, Bret throws

Me concentrating on a throw

Cory (foreground) is satisfied with his performance while Sean (with his tongue out) concentrates on a throw.

I had so much fun.  I look forward to playing again in the future.  Perhaps we should have Cornhole at Assateague!  🙂

More pictures of our family reunion, including Cornhole, can be found on my Flickr site.

June 25, 2007 at 1:05 am 6 comments

The All New Deadliest Catch

Last Friday when I was babysitting and putting Gwyn to bed, I noticed her older brother, Penn, had hung an AT sticker on his door.  That made me smile.   He’s joined me on a number of short hikes and to date, he is the only person who will walk with me to Ben and Jerry’s (everyone else insists on driving… pansies).  Now I have two more items in common with that five year old boy — we are both fans of Man vs. Wild and Deadliest Catch on the Discovery channel.

It’s good timing to be a fan of those shows as they are both starting a new season.  When the advertisements for the show come on, they  emphasize when an episode is going to be new.  For example, they may start with “Next time on the all new Deadliest Catch…”

Last Wednesday, Bill grilled up a batch of fresh seafood (he picked it up in Boston before driving home) for Sean, myself, Keith, Ann and her kids.  While we waited for supper, I played in the pool with the kids. 

Me and Penn in the pool

Their past time of choice was to swim around while I “made waves”.  Pretty much, I would push off the side of the pool and spread my arms as I skimmed the surface.  Even though they seemed to get water up their noses fairly regularly, the kids loved it.  It was good exercise for me– push off one side of the pool, immediately setup and push off the other side.  Back and forth, back and forth.

Gwyn is ready for waves 

Penn kept marveling how huge the waves were (They really weren’t all that).  At one point, he surfaced and said, “WOW!!! Did you see how big that wave was?!?!  This is just like The All New Deadliest Catch!!!!”

Just like Gwyn’s “I did it!” claim at the duck pond, I thought, “Um…Not quite.”  For starters, Bill’s pool is quite a bit warmer than the Bering Sea. 

I thought Penn’s statement was amusing enough, but last night Sean brought Penn’s use of “The All New” to my attention.  We think he thinks “All New” is in the title of the show.  🙂

Quick diversion back to Bill’s seafood.  It was awesome.  I’m on a scallop kick as of late, probably having about a serving a week.  Bill’s scallops have been by far the best.  As for the best scallops in a New River Valley restaurant, I would give that honor to Cafe de Bangkok.

And now a quick diversion back to Man vs. Wild.  I bet one thing Penn and I do not have in common is our favorite part of Man vs. Wild.  My favorite parts are when Bear Grylls falls into some freezing water and has to stave off hypothermia.  What’s the first thing he does?  He has to get out of those wet clothes, of course!  My fascination doesn’t make that much sense to me.  This is a man, afterall, who squeezed fresh elephant dung above his head in order to drink the liquid.  Last episode he munched on a sheep eyeball.  I certainly wouldn’t want to kiss him, that’s for sure, but boy, I do like watching him scramble out of wet clothes.  🙂

June 25, 2007 at 12:42 am 1 comment

Château Morrisette

Today in celebration of Ann’s birthday, a group of us went to Château Morrisette off the Blue Ridge Parkway for brunch.  This was my first time at this winery and I was very impressed.  The food was delicious, particularly the vegetarian quiche.  I think I had four slices of quiche alone.  The crust was divine!

Our crew invested in two bottles of wine– the Chambourcin and the Blushing Dog.  I was fond of both, but the Chambourcin was more my style.  However, I would have to say the quiche outshined both wines! 🙂

Me and the Birthday Girl!

Ann is a fan of pink and it is well known by her birthday supporters.  She got a bouquet of pink roses and a series of pink Pampered Chef products – pink cake slicer, pink measuring cups, the works.  As for me, I wore a pink skirt, pink shoes, pink pearls, pink lipstick and hidden underneath it all, pink underwear (I’m a committed friend).

After our delicious meal, we returned to Blacksburg for cake and ice cream. 

Ann about to blow out her cake.  Look at little Gwyn trying to see!

Gwyn enjoying the cake and ice cream

More pictures of Ann’s Birthday Celebration can be found on my Flickr site.

June 24, 2007 at 11:21 pm Leave a comment

Duck Pond with Gwyn

Friday afternoon, I got to babysit little two and a half year old Gwyn.  After dinner, I took her to the Virginia Tech Duck Pond.  Here are some highlights and pictures from our adventure.

I brought some old bread with us and Gwyn used it to feed a fleet of mallards.  At first she threw out a whole slice of bread out there (the ducks could not believe their eyes), but after that, she was very good at tearing off little pieces.  Once she got than hang of it, Gwyn promoted herself supervisor of the operation.  “More,” she’d tell me when she was out of bread.  And just in case the ducks could not figure out their role, after she threw the bread little Gwyn would order, “EAT! EAT!”

A duck waits for Gwyn to part with the bread

Gwyn gets ready to ration off another piece of bread

Hungry ducks keep their eyes on the prize

“Another One”
Most of what Gwyn says, I can’t quite decipher, so I fake it at times.  “Uh huh”, “Cool”, “Yeah, nice!”, “Neat!”.  At one point she pointed to a wall and kept repeating a phrase.  I ran through all my generic responses before I realized- she was saying, “I need help.”  She wanted to be lifted up so she could see over the wall.  Well, there was one moment where what she said was very clear.  We ran across a weird duck. 

“Wow, look at that weird duck!” I said, “I’m going to take a picture.” 

And so I did:

Weird Duck #1

As I fiddled with auto-focus and took the picture, Gwyn very clearly said, “Another one!” and pointed.  Sure enough, there was another very weird duck.

Weird Duck #2

“I Did It!”
Earlier in the evening, Gwyn had a successful visit to the potty!  At the duck pond, I notice her squating.

“What are you doing?” I said,  “Are you going to the bathroom?!?”

“Yeah!” she said with a sly smile on her face.

We were just 40 feet away from the restroom.  “Can you hold it?” I asked, “The potty is right over there.”

“Yeah!” she said with a sly smile on her face.

So we walked over to the potty.  Wouldn’t it be amazing to report to Mommy that we had two successful potty trips?  We got to the restroom.  I pulled her pants and pull-ups down and discovered that she had not, in fact, held it.  But we were already there, so I held her over the toilet.  She sat idle for a few moments, grabbed some toilet paper, wiped herself and then despite the poop in her pull-ups she got a huge smile on her face and proudly exclaimed, “I did it!!!!”  🙂

Baby Ducks and Willow Trees
After the duck feeding, Gwyn had lots of fun picking clovers, running through willow trees and exploring a nearby tent.  We also saw a number of adoreable duck families.

A mama and her babies

Gwyn plays in a willow tree

Before we knew it, it was bedtime for both the ducks and Gwyn.  All our pictures from the Virginia Tech Duck Pond visit are on my Flickr site.

June 24, 2007 at 10:55 pm 4 comments

Fun with Brussel Sprouts

On Sunday, I was sitting on the front stoop getting some fresh brussel sprouts ready to steam.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with brussel sprout preparation, you peel off the outer leaves, you trim the stem and you cut an “X” on the bottom of the trimmed stem.  I was putting all the scraps in a nearby flower pot (sort of designated as my mini compost pile– it only gets used when I prepare vegetables on the stoop).

While I was working, Ann and the kids came over.

“What’s that?” Penn looked into my colander.

“Brussel sprouts,” I said.

“Can I eat one?” he asked.

That’s a hilarious question.  Penn’s not exactly a vegetable person.  He once announced at the dinner table that his mother’s salad, “tastes like trash.” Need more proof?  Tonight while trying to choke down squash, he threw up.

“They aren’t cooked yet,” I said and easily circumvented what was destined to be a failed endeavor.

But I did give him one unappetizing sprout to play with.  He tossed it around like a ball and chased it around the yard.  Suddenly his sister was jealous.  Jealous over…a brussel sprout!  So I gave her one too.  This activity kept them busy for some time.

When the two children tired of chasing their sprouts around the yard, their attention moved to the peeled outer leaves.  They would each grab a handful, run into the yard and then yell, “Hip Hip Hooray!” and throw the leaves above them like confetti.  It actually looked quite neat.  Brides to be, don’t spend money on rose petals– brussel sprout petals would be a thifty replacement (plus they’re green, a far superior color).

After that, Penn put the leaves to a different purpose– ammunition.  He and I had a brussel sprout fight.  I’m pretty confident he won.  I remained seated on the stoop, so I was a stationary target.  He, on the other hand, was very active on the evasive maneuver front.  I still got a fair share of hits on the boy, but he seemed to be more successful than I.  The leaves proved to be much more aerodynamical than one would expect.

When it was all said and done, 45 minutes had gone by.  No Scooby Doo.  No fancy toys.  The children were entertained for 45 minutes straight with nothing more than brussel sprouts. 

Not bad for a cruciferous vegetable.

June 20, 2007 at 11:14 pm 22 comments

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