Sunday, November 7, 2010


I've received several beautiful bookmarks in my life time, at least a couple of them made by good friends (if you're reading this blog, you know who you are). But I received my new favourite from the Hubs this week. It's an Appalachian oak leaf that's been dipped in precious metals, and it really is lovely. With every tiny vein frozen perfectly in place, it's like a never fading bit of autumn. Here it is, dangling from one of the books I'm reading this week.

I love bookmarks. They're a much better option than dog-earring pages or using a square of toilet paper to mark your place (bathroom readers do what they can) or--God forbid--breaking the spine by putting the book face down. I think I'll keep this one for a while... Best of all, it comes right after Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods and my own personal trip up to the Shenandoah that included no freeze dried food, no sleeping bags, and no outdoor privy (details are on my other blog). That's the way I like to experience nature. At least until the Mountain Man helps me achieve my inner-fantasy of becoming a true Mountain Woman when we thru-hike the AT as retirees. Haha. Little joke.

A Few Mountains, a Bucket Load of Mist, and a Couple Sprinkles of Snow

Josh and Alex with a not at all stuffed black bear
We just got back from a couple nights up along the Blue Ridge, and may I just say that it was one of our best vacations yet. The Man had gone up to backpack along the Appalachian Trail with his dad and brother, and my wonderful father-in-love suggested that I come along to join them for the last night. And I agreed. Since I would be in a cabin and not experiencing frostbite via sleeping bag.

So Thursday afternoon I chucked Littles in the car, and we wound our way through the rain out of DC and up into the mountains where the fog closed in on us. Little Man slept most of the way, but around the time the fog hit (and we're making hair pin curves through the Shenandoah), he woke up to his ears popping and proceeded to make life significantly noisier. It was an adventure. Luckily, though I couldn't see more than 10 meters beyond the car, I didn't drive us off the side of a mountain. I'll save that for next time. I also avoided hitting any deer. Both of those accomplishments count as mini-miracles.

One of the deer who escaped with his life
That night, we went down to the lodge restaurant and ordered our meals as we looked out the window, wondering where the mountains were in all that cloud. Littes proceeded to charm the staff and most of the patrons while eating more than his fair share of what was ordered for dinner. And I found out that two of the waiters were from Indonesia! I can't say how excited I was by that. And a little confused. I love the mountains, but how do you go straight from Bali to the Blue Ridge?

We had some incredible views
Friday we sent Dad and little brother on to Tennessee, and the Man and Littles and I just spent time together, watching movies, taking naps, driving through the mountains, exploring, and drinking lots of coffee to stay warm. It was just relaxing. And Littles was a trooper. Which made things about twenty times more fun. We woke up Saturday morning to watch the sunrise before heading home and after breakfast, it started snowing! My first snow of the year. I was pretty ecstatic. The Man says it was just flurries, but it still counts. And we saw deer (lots of them) and chipmunks (haha) and even a coyote. At least we're pretty sure it was a coyote. But the highlight was probably the snow. And just spending time with the Man and Littles (and Dad and my brother-in-law). Every once in a while, a little break from the norm and a reminder of the incredible beauty of God's creation is just what I need. The quality time with my men was also a huge plus...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Little Things

Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.
Antonio Smith

I've been thinking a lot about the little things today. Part of that has been thinking about things that are actually physically small (like the undersized apple I found when walking this morning) and how somehow small things are undoubtedly cuter than large ones. Why is that? I'm thinking tiny tea sets, miniature pumpkins, babies! Most things are just more adorable the smaller they get. I'm sure I would've been cuter if I'd been about a foot shorter. I also would've had a dimple. And then I would've taken over the world so that people would never be able to call me "cute" ever again.

Back to the point, I've also been thinking about how it's the little things that really make or break your day. Bad days begin with a broken brace buckle, not enough time for a shower, realizing you're out of coffee, a fussy baby, being put on hold for 5 hours, a stubbed toe... You get the picture. And good days are most of the time just a combination of more positive moments that turn into a collage of happiness: a slice of carrot cake, yellow roses, a text from the Man, books and a good friend, skyping with family, Littles jumping up and down in his crib, an encouraging word from the Lord, cool autumn wind and crisp leaves... So how is it that we so often choose to let the little bad things define us and our lives instead of the little good things? Or is it just that we look for one over the other?

Exploring the AT from the Comfort of My Couch

While the hubs is out being a mountain man, I took the opportunity to read Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail. Mostly, I enjoyed the intense irony of reading it while taking a hot bath. But I also read it while out with the stroller and before bed the last two nights and on the couch during nap time and so on. I kind of got sucked in. I even tried to read it in the shower, which bombed on me. Surprisingly, I got the book a little wet. Who'd have thought?

Let me start out by saying that I'm not a hiker. Or a backpacker. Or a camper. By which I mean a person who camps, though I'm also not a recreational vehicle suitable for camping. In the past, I have been known to make out full wills including legal language and various addendums while sliding and screaming my way down the side of what was typically a mud-encrusted volcano. With that said, I may be turning over a new leaf. Last night, I told aforementioned mountain man that I kind of want to maybe possibly try backpacking some of the trail with him. Obviously not all of it. I have no delusions of being a thru-hiker.

His response: you are not the woman I married.

I'm still trying to figure out if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Regardless, I did thoroughly enjoy Bryson's book, and it obviously piqued my interest. As a writer, I would love to be able to achieve what he has: a brilliant mix of information and story with a tempo that kept perfect time. I even read the geology and botany bits that he included (which I normally would've callously skipped over, not being a science person). Obviously, Bryson and I have differing world views, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time with him. I'd picked up his A Short History of Nearly Everything while I was in England a few years ago but only got to read the first few chapters (I was staying at a friend's) which were mostly evolution and theorizing about how the planetary mush spawned intelligent life. Even then his writing was entrancing, but this was much more enjoyable subject matter.

So. Bill Bryson. Thanks for two and a half days of enjoyable reading. You made the alone time go so much more quickly.