Monday, August 24, 2009

Barreling Onwards

That's what it feels like, at the moment. Summer is hurtling towards its conclusion, which for us is the week after Labor Day. But we're already thinking about school all the time.

JC starts Band Camp tomorrow. It's not quite all day, but darn close: 8am-3:30pm, then back for 6-9pm. And yes, it's fully August here, although not quite as hot and humid as it could be. We're actually getting slightly lower temps this week, which will be a blessing. And he's only got three days this week and four next. Falls under the "it could be worse" heading, I think.

We're still waiting for William's teacher letter. However, he's the only one who's received a bus schedule, so I'm kind of chafing at the bit to get everyone settled and know what my days will look like. I think we're at the mercy of the bureaucracy, so we'll get it when we get it.

I actually baked cookies today. Of course, they're for band camp so we don't get to keep all of them, but that's probably a good thing.

Off to bed early - we have to have him there by 7:45. AM. ugh.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What if I held a Consignment Sale and Nobody Came?

It's registration for my church's Fall Consignment Sale today. The phone has not rung once. I have received two email registrations (and 3 yesterday, we opened email early).

Sigh. I knew this might happen. It's summer, it's high season for vacations, and it's a Saturday. A rainy one here, which I thought might help, but still Saturday.

There's still 6 weeks until the sale, and I have some ideas to drum up consignors. Worst case scenario, we cancel the sale. Actually, worst case is to get something like 2/3 our desired number of consignors and have to make a decision. We haven't spent (much) money yet, about $100 on stamps for postcards.

However, the church is raising $10,000 for repaving the parking lot, and a consignment sale would help a lot towards that.

Hello? Hello? Is anyone out there?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How Can You Believe in God?

JC's best friend (let's call him A) asked me that question yesterday. His parents are raising him in a Unitarian Universalist Church - they describe it as "believe whatever makes sense to you" and there appears to be quite a range in their congregation, from naturist to atheist to Christian. They were raised Christian (him) and Jewish (her), but this is what works for them.

It's interesting sometimes, because we attend church (Methodist) regularly and are active in the church. So are they. But clearly this has raised some questions for A. Although he probably knows more about different religions than my children, clearly that fundamental aspect of faith is hard for him, and his church doesn't have a belief system except to respect others (as best I can tell).

How do you explain faith to an extremely bright and logical 14 year old? How do you reconcile that fundamental difference that I, an (over)educated engineer, a believer in science, believes that evolution is true and also believes that God created the Universe? As far as A is concerned, there is no proof of God's existence, and that leap into faith is incomprehensible. And of course, trying to be truthful with him makes me think about all the aspects of faith that I do struggle with, from the literalness of the Bible (I'm of the inspired camp myself) to the necessity to believe in Jesus for salvation (I have a hard time condemning non-believers outright).

But that's religion, and I think A is really looking for an explanation of faith. And faith, well, I can define faith (my favorite is "Believing without seeing"), but how do you explain faith? How much of my faith is truly believed and how much is learned habit (see how this is hard for me?)? I know part of A's problem is the representations of religious people he sees in the media. Face it, some of the "Christian" rhetoric out there makes me wonder if they ever read the Bible. But I will continue trying to explain, and talking when he wants to listen, and listening when he wants to talk. Because perhaps this is why God has put me here with this child at this time, to teach him at the very least that God is working through some people, and that people of faith can be kind and considerate and smart. It's going to be an interesting road.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wish I Was There

For those not in the online knitting world, the Sock Summit recently concluded in Portland, OR. I read a couple of knitting blogs, so I followed along, a bit, and wished I was more local, or more passionate?, so I could attend as well. I was intensely jealous of my sister that LIVES IN PORTLAND, and knits, because she had at least the option of attending (although she also has a new baby, so her goal was mostly to go to the marketplace, which would have been enough for me, as well).

It did make me think back to my days as a Stampin' Up demonstrator. They hold a yearly convention for their demonstrators, and the first two times I went, it was for ALL their demonstrators, so ~7000 of us descended on the Las Vegas Convention Center, then the Orlando Convention Center the next year. I'm sure they didn't know what to make of us. It was equal parts business convention, crafting, and fan-dom. When you have that many women (mostly) there for something that they are both trying to make some money at and also just plain enjoying, it really becomes a very big enthusiastic party. And the company encouraged, or at least didn't discourage, a bit of cult of personality around the founder/owner.

Descriptions of the Sock Summit seemed similar. Many people, passionate about their craft, meeting their idols, learning something as well... Well, it was probably rather overwhelming. But it was probably a lot of fun. There's nothing like being with thousands of other people who share a passion with you. You stop feeling so much like you have to explain what you love to do.

There's a wool convention in New York State this fall. It's just after my birthday, and I've already told John that I'd REALLY like to attend. Haven't quite figured out how it's going to happen, but I'd love to have a little bit of that camaraderie again. Gets you all fired up, you know. I could use a little passion and energy these days.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Yellowstone Highlights

These images are all out of order because of the way Blogger uploads them. I decided I don't care, I'm not going to spend the time to rearrange, so you'll just have to bear with me. I'm finally posting them!

This here green and gold glory is a hot pool We saw a lot of them in Yellowstone, and they are really quite beautiful. This colors are from heat-loving algae and bacteria, and from the mineral content of the water. Different colors of algae grow at different temperatures, and often, the center of the pool is too hot for any algae but appears bright blue because of the minerals in the water reflecting sunlight (same reason that sky is blue). This one is green because the center is cool enough for the yellow algae to grow. Yellow + Blue = Green.

This is Grand Geyser, the tallest predictable geyser in the world (that's what the sign said). We got there at 2pm, it was predicted to go off between 2 and 6 pm. We got lucky, it went off about 30 minutes after we got there and it was spectacular. I may post the video I took of it sometime later. It was definitely worth the wait.

It's in the same geyser basin as Old Faithful, which, oddly, was the area of the park we probably spent the least amount of time. It is usually the first place people go, and certainly has the highest concentration of geysers.

And of course, it has Old Faithful. Which is still faithful - every 90 minutes, + or - 10 minutes. We were there in the evening as the sun was setting, which was really annoying because all the good seats were taken. Until the geyser erupted and I got this shot looking into the sun.

One of the things I highly recommend is the Junior Ranger program. For kids between the ages of 5 and 12, $3 gets you a workbook with activities they have to do, everything from coloring to attending a program to finding out certain facts. Rachel really enjoyed it, and you get a special Junior Ranger badge at the end. The rangers will ask for everyone's attention and talk about the accomplishment and the kids eat it up.

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is not as big as the Grand Canyon. But it's still pretty grand, and very yellow. Which isn't showing up in this picture, but trust me. That little spot o' white to the right in the foreground? The corner of a good-sized snowbank. In July. I'm just sayin'.

Yellowstone is famous for animals, and we got pretty lucky that way. This bison is ambling right along the side of the road. We saw enough elk and bison that we didn't bother to stop for most pictures.
Oh, and these truly are wild animals. Don't approach them, even if they look like big hairy cows. Two people were gored while we were in the park (we weren't nearby at the time).

And definitely don't approach a grizzly. See the hump on his back? Grizzlies can run 30 mph, and you can't. Stay in the car, unless he's 1/2 a mile away.

But this marks the first time in my life, after MULTIPLE visits to Yellowstone (at least 12-15, having grown up nearby), that I have seen a bear in the wild. The curse is broken.

Like the hats? Yellowstone is ~7000 ft. above sea level, and there's very little shade in geyser areas. We all had hats, and not one of us got a sunburn. Yay!
This is the top of Mammoth Geyser. It's mammoth.

See? Grandma has a hat too. And me. We're looking at the wildflower guide trying to identify flowers beyond calling them LBF's. You know, little blue flowers?

Looking out over Norris Geyser Basin. This is where we first learned about color-coded algae.
But no shade, see? You walk on these boardwalks out over the thermal areas, so you don't fall through the thin crust into the boiling water. It's a good thing. Most of the hot pools were between 150-200F, which doesn't sound so bad until you realize water boils at 199F at this altitude.

My crew at Artist's Paint Pots. Mud pots. I think they're my favorite thing at the park. They're just so... bloopy.
JC's shirt says "Sarcasm: one of my many talents"

This was actually before Yellowstone, in Grandma's backyard, playing "fetch" with my sister's dog, Lucy. Lucy loves to play fetch, but she prefers "chase."

This, the most adorable baby in the world (after my own kids, of course), is my sister's baby Matthew. We got to meet him for the first time. It was love at first sight for all of us. John complained after we got home that he didn't get to hold the baby. Grandma and I tried to monopolize him.

The kids would probably say the highlight was go-kart racing, which was a Sunday afternoon spur-of-the-moment.

Our last "hike" in Yellowstone was out to Morning Glory Pool near Old Faithful. It was hot, and as mentioned, no shade. JC took brief pity on William (after much begging) and did give him a ride for a bit. So did I. John was merciless.

See aforementioned tip about not approaching bison. These people were lucky, however, it does make getting to your car interesting sometimes...

At the top of the Lower Falls, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Really, a "on the edge" overlook. The hike to get down to this point is only at third of a mile long - but it has a vertical drop of 600 ft. Going down isn't so bad, as it's a series of switchbacks, but going back up is a challenge. There's a bench at the corner of every switchback. And remember, it's about 7000 ft elevation, so you really will feel the lack of oxygen. But well worth the view.

We really had a lovely time, both visiting my mother in Idaho, and then going up to the park with her. It was a nice combination of hanging out, and destinations with activities. And we were so glad that my sister and her family came too!