Tuesday, May 29, 2007

More spring piccies

Still way behind processing earlier trips out. Need to take the latest pics off the camera soon but we're busy rendering right now. More about that later

This is one of the bridges that lead out of our area. All of them have had renovations in recent years. Its made for interesting traffic issues but the relief has been so great as one after another has been completed that folks are developing patience for the remaining projects.

The second pic was an arrangement that amused our son. It looked to him like the old cannons were ready to shoot the sign. :)

Third picture is just one they took of me driving down one of the many beautiful country roads 'round here.

The next pics show the waterfront in our area. There are many ways to the rivers and bays, but precious few beaches to play on.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Remembering Memorial Day

I started to write the usual "Happy Memorial Day" but its not as happy for a lot of families who have lost loved ones in the recent foreign conflicts. There are enough veterans in our area that Memorial Day has an even stronger poignancy when you know many military families mourning over their departed heroes, remembering beloved grandfathers & uncles, and coveting prayers for their loved ones who are today, or will be again tomorrow, at very real risk.

Our thanks to all the veterans and soldiers who have fought to keep us free!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Shrek 3 & Pirates 3

Yep! We went to see them both! Yesterday they had a special deal on tickets - 3.00 off per person all times & shows! Since they applied it even to Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End it was definitely the day to work both in. I have never seen a premiere showing of a big movie on sale before.

If the theater was trying to offset the penny-pinching effect of the gas prices with this deal - they succeeded! Movie lines were out the door - especially for Pirates 3. We ended up standing next to the costumed group while waiting to go back in for the premiere. I was next to Cap'n Jack heh heh. We got decent seats too!

Both movies were great fun.

Shrek 3 kept my respect by remembering where the characters were when Shrek 2 left off, and not retreading old ground. It was great to see the relationships progressing in their amusingly surreal fashion. Shrek & Fiona were now confident with each other as a trusted spouses. Puss in boots & Donkey are beginning to get along.

Donkey loves being a father. Loved how they played Merlin. 'A hug is the best magic. Want one?' (because he didn't want to use his abilities) LOL

The only glaring flaw was in the ladies in waiting/shower scene. The movie series seems to be forgetting that Cinderella & Snow White are supposed to be happily married - presumably having families of their own? It is definitely a flaw to have the wicked stepmother hanging in the bar from the ending of Snow White's story - with Snow White awake - and dwarf friends -but no husband around. hhmm... (They didn't imply anything stupid had happened. They just didn't cover it.) That said, when they ladies finally decided to break bad on the invaders, they were hoot! Overall Shrek 3 manages to be just what you want when a really good sequel ends - another visit with your favorite characters right where you left them. It was like reading the next chapter of a decent humor-fantasy book. Excellent continuity. Much improved CG work. Full marks from us! :-D

Then it was time for a different journey.

We read the reviews on Pirates 3 before leaving home, so we were prepared for a darker, wilder, complicated CG-enhanced experience - & for more Monkey Island touches. The first part was there in spades. The special effects were amazing! Didn't see as many MI ripoffs tributes this time. Didn't know whether to be sad or glad for that. The most Monkey Island aspect of the whole film was the fact that concentrated ship battles are in part 3 of the games & that the voodoo lady is once again a big part of the story. ...okay, and the main villain was easily as mean as Ozzie Mandrill & had a similar goal of putting an end to the small pirates. (when, oh, when are they going to directly point out the piratical tendencies of those old 'official' organizations? Its not like anybody much knows who they became, is it?) That bureaucratic head honcho seemed far more evil by the end of things than Davy Jones himself. I guess they just couldn't work in the attack duck. Too bad. I would have liked to have sicced it on the bad guy ;-)

As it was, the MUCH more original, extremely complicated script had all it could handle trying to close loose ends and make sense of off-hand comments from the first two films. The movie was nearly 3 hours long. The reviewer felt that was too long. I didn't. Anything shorter would have been unsatisfying with so much material to go over. Could have been cheerier without hurting things imho. There was too much 'rise of Mordor' for my taste. Not every movie needs such overwhelmingly bad odds to make things interesting! This series did fine with a smaller scale of events imho. It was good to think Jack had somewhere else to go in the world. I hope they will lighten up on this aspect. At times the feel was positively soap opera-ish. (for ex: Elizabeth's rapid rise to ultimate pirate power was ridiculous!) PoC would have done better to have avoided going there so often, but it was still fairly well-written, twisty, fun journey into the impossible (with frequent sidetrips to the improbable.) There were still quite a few humorous moments & you enjoyed them all the more for the relief they gave. Performances were quite good given the over-the-top script they had.

The end sure was a surprise - as was the voodoo lady's motivation for bringing Barbossa back, but I won't spoil it for you. I am still disappointed in the decision to make Will & Elizabeth less honorable characters as the series went on, pirates or no, but at least Captain Jack, Barbossa, & Norrington came up a bit, which gives hope for any further installments. & They were wise enough to protect most of our favorite 'second string' characters. (this includes: the goofy former-zombie pirates, the mate Gibbs, the midget, the monkey Jack, the guy with the parrot, the dog with keys, the silly soldiers Jack Sparrow outwits in Pirates 1...) I will tell you that now so you can have some confidence when you see all the 'long-range' carnage.

Speaking of which -- the gore in Pirates of the Caribbean 3: World's End was actually restrained for most of the movie. People get pierced by swords, hung, blown across the screen by cannon fire and more - but the bloodshed & bits were very limited - until the last 30 mins or so - especially after Davy Jones gets 'free' -- the death of the villain's right-hand man was particularly bad. I kept looking away and still saw far more than I wanted to!

Oddly, I didn't find Pirates 3 quite as grim overall as part 2 (PoC:Dead Man's Chest). Maybe because I was expecting it this go round? PoC:AWE was a worthy effort, but I hope they make a lighter movie next time.

Hey, want to see some real pirate-era maps of the Caribbean?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Why is the Gas so expensive this Memorial Day?

Its Memorial Day weekend, and the news goes on and on about how the high gas prices will affect people's travel plans - or not. If you ask me the most affected probably weren't planning to travel to begin with - the high cost of fuel has resulted in high 'everything' prices, meaning there's less money for any kind of fun once the necessities are covered. Most folks have (or recently had) some discretionary spending that takes up the slack in these tough times - but most everybody is feeling the pinch right now!

People are wondering what's really going on, and for good reason. What we hear on the news is too brief & shallow to make much sense. There is generalized railing against the situation but little in depth reporting on any plans to alleviate it, just 'blame game' noises & announcements of possible taxes to cover vague plans. No one has much to say about when or if it will end. Texas took a hit on their state taxes to try and help their everyday citizens & good on them! God grant they see some relief from other causes when their tax relief plan has to come to an end.

Which relates to the real question on everyone's mind right now, how long will we have to cope?

We know we can cope for awhile because other people already did - as recently as the 70's- We can manage as long as it doesn't keep just going up and up without end! Our fathers & mothers who lived through World War II managed, and this is much the same. Rapid rises in prices of fuel/food/clothes cause us to ration our own purchases in all these departments & more.

I suspect that many of the frugal stewardship techniques many stay-at-home, homeschooling, &/or country-practical moms & grandmoms already practice will become quite the fashion in coming years, if things continue as they are. We may need to start taking up collections to help each other with gas and other issues inside our churches, as well as increasing efforts to free-cycle, recycle, and make items from scratch within our groups. If you are one of the make-do hold-outs right now, you may find yourself in demand to teach a whole bunch of other people how to manage.

Made me curious as to how Canada, Mexico, & Europe were fairing, so I googled & did some reading.

Mexico can handle the global gas prices for now (as a producer with a state-owned company) but their economy is taking a second-hand hit from the increased demand for corn and other crops used to make ethanol.

Canada is suffering sharp price spikes as well. Its every bit as bad there as in America, which is rather odd, as they are a producing nation. They provide the US with much of our imported fuel.

Most European countries & Japan are coping nicely since they already use nuclear power in a big way for many of their energy needs. Their large public transportation systems covers what are actually comparatively short distances. Many people CAN ride their bike to work there. (Most of us are 10 miles even from the closest grocery store. ) Just the same, gas is going up and this affects their economies as well. They already have high taxes on their fuel, and could follow Texas' lead in cutting those taxes to keep prices in range for awhile if they deem it advisable - but this would affect the many, many services these taxes sustain. Happily, for them, the current effects of oil seem to be generally offset by other gains right now.

but the Ukraine has had a tough time adjusting

But why is it happening? People have been blaming Bush & Cheney because their families are connected to big oil companies, but its hard to imagine they would willingly embrace political suicide. Even as a lame duck president, Bush has his future to think of - as well as his 'legacy' as prez. How well he is treated by his own party will be largely determined by the voter response to the events during his tenure. I am sure he already knows he has a PR problem because of the Iraq conflict. Anyway, the problem has been building since the Clinton years. No, I don't believe Bush is orchestrating this. So who is? His enemies? Ours? Or is this pinch coming because petroleum reserves are running low for real? There were predictions that it would.

Decided to look up what others had to say.

Found several interesting articles. Bottom-line consensus seems to be that the international big oil/refining companies have been pocketing profits & subsidies but not building or even appropriately renovating their aging refineries - then some got damaged. Another stressor is the larger purchases from the increasingly industrialized nations in Asia (especially China & India). These countries have been receiving many of the out-sourcing contracts for items and jobs at all levels & now compete for the supply of petroleum products as well. Its in the best interests of the mega-corporations to see they get it as the primary manufacturers of goods for the globe. The poor economy of many SUVs & increase in optional gas vehicles like snowmobiles hasn't helped the USA either. Any item in demand sees its price go up. http://money.howstuffworks.com/gas-price.htm

& Who gets the extra cash? Well, its definitely not your local gas station!

None of these reports will help you with that hemorrhaging wallet this weekend. But maybe it will help to know a bit better why we have this going on. Once enough refineries are put back into service, power plants are built, and light rail goes to more places, we should see the crisis should ease for awhile. We can but hope!

Now, I can't honestly say my personal plans for the weekend have been affected. We don't normally party or travel much on this holiday. Cooking outside or seeing a movie is usually the extent of our frivolities. We can still manage that. Prayers for our troops are still free.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Another great Homeschooling article

Very cheering! Thanks, Julie!

More piccies!

I finally spent some time yesterday and picked more digital images to put up for this spring. Might be nice if I got an assortment up to share before it was actually summer, right! lol You've probably noticed that the kids don't appear much & are not easy to see when they are in frame. Its a pity. Our son is the most photogenic person in the house! Sadly, that's still a household rule & I can't say I don't know why it was made. Still - I'd like to get it relaxed for Rebecca since she is now pretty much grown. Guess we'll see if this is the year.

These are from a nature drive we took out toward a couple of old mill ponds. One of the streams is now deep enough to have formed its own little island. There are eagles nesting there with some crows nesting very near them. Eagles & crows often do not get along, so this was interesting enough to keep our attention for the better part of an hour, maybe more. These unlikely neighbors seemed to enjoy each other's company, even sharing nesting materials. Most unusual!

Up the road, the trees have coped in interesting ways with the storms & man-made changes in the area. Tom was fascinated by these trees growing tall *next* to an embankment. I thought the one opening by a leaning tree was very cool. Looked like the secret pathway to Zork, D'ni, or something. :)

Best get in the lovely piccies now, while the weather remains so nice. It will get hot later. They say this should be an active hurricane season too. I'd say it wants to be. Seems like half the regular storms that have gone off shore developed a low & circulation center - though only subtropical storm Andrea got the privilege of being officially noticed & named. Its hard to say whether it will be active for us though. Some real busy years only sent us one fully charged storm per season. The rest were remnants by the time they got here - no worse than the thunderstorms that just went by. Even Ernesto & Isabel got a lot of their strength from reacting with area weather cells, rather than bringing it all up from the Caribbean. Wish I had more pictures from Hurricane Isabel in '03, but my mind wasn't focused on getting dramatic pictures - so neither was the camera. hah! I did take a few during the storm after the tree fell and Greylady, our elderly kitty ran up it into the winds. I was chasing her, calling her, & realized I had it with me. I still remember yelling to her "Greylady, come back!" and it sounded like she replied "I can't!" before rushing away. [She often has sounded like she was trying to speak English.] Anyway, I did share one or two of those shots but they were hard to see. It was very dark & water was getting on the lens of the weak digi-camera.

I hope nobody's waiting too hard for Mom & Tom to get their lovely photos up here. They have nice lenses, real training, and all but we're real slow to get film developed around here. Next pictures up for Mom will probably be her professional ones taken when she was young. I was going to scan them in for her a month or so back but the folder was misplaced so this will wait until it reappears! lol. Mom was & is a very talented lady. She was a dancer, fencer, model - won beauty contests too. Only thing she didn't do was sing. Though her speaking voice has always been lovely, she wasn't given that gift. Thankfully the Lord appreciates every 'joyful noise!'

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

God bless all the devoted Moms out there !

"When toes were stubbed and noses bumped,
And small things went amiss,
The Medicine that healed things best was always Mother's kiss.
And in our little griefs and woes that to the world seemed small,
We crept into our Mother's arms and there we lost them all.

Now, though the hurrying restless years may bend us to their will,
We find our comfort in her love, for we're her children still."
(author unknown - from an antique greeting card)

by Salar (me ;-)

This journey begins with joy and with pain
new life from old ways, your world's never the same
once you look into the eyes of innocent love
understanding the treasure entrusted to your love
Each day has its worries, each day its delights,
the smiling face sleeping, the yells and the frights
The toys and the puppies and friends over for nights
Each day there is reason to thank God for His day
Each day there is reason to sit before Him and pray

One day they are grown and your path may seem clear
but as they move away - new worries appear
Will they be loved and cared for
will their lives turn out right
will their own dear little babies do well over the night?
And you, the grown mother, may now feel the call
to be Mom where God sends you
May be Mom to them all.

Motherhood is a journey.
One that transforms but never ends.
One we share with our Savior - and our family and friends

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


by Salar (me :)

After a bright beautiful sunset in the lovely college town
We are puzzled by changes that completely surround
There is deepening haze and a low, cloudy sky
loud thundering rumbles as we roll slowly by
pert little block houses - dark-red brick, alley-high
echo bellows of cannon-shot roaring into the sky

rat-tatta-tat-tat?! Now just what is that?
musketballs too? and smoke, like a soft curling mat
and with it bright sparkles break through the gloomlight
OH, of course! We'd forgotten tonight's festive highlight
That the Queen came to celebrate with Williamsburg tonight

Dear -do you remember the road where the locals go?
Where we park on slim streets and singly walk slow
to the Colonial grounds, to the old commons park
Well- it would have best if we had arrived before dark
While its the best place to see the festivities clear
Its bound to be heavily filled by now, I fear

So follow the sparks, the smoke and the BBOOOOMMMSS,
and we find a small road with plenty of room!
and a small girl cartwheeling her joy for the loud blooms above
There's a pull in where a couple in the first flush of love,
lean toward one another - cozy - two hands in a glove

Here the fire-lights can be seen, well many, at least
for tall pine trees frame glowing clouds billowing off to the left
edging glowing red - orange! - green! - gold! alien cloud clefts

But sailing off to the right - fly tap-dancing light splatters
frenzied small movements living like nothing else matters
but to dance in small circles, to burn bright, and fry
where the green soaring fountains escaped to the orange sky

The spectacle booms on for a many a minute
leaving us happy to be caught up within it

and now the gale rages and now its the same,
small poppings and booming as when we first came

the final finale glowing waves over us tide
then the echoing ends, the fireflowers subside

the spell is broken, the silence empty -a palpable dearth
a silence that calls us to return to our Earth.

So we retake our seats as within a dark star
shake off the moment & restart the car
A short time later - we recall where we are

Saturday, May 05, 2007

This 'n That

Well..we're in waiting mode again. Mom's healing from her last trip to the dentist. Seemed to go well. Hope this will be all she needs for awhile. I got her more of that 'fried ice cream' from Breyers. Its lovely stuff with lots of cinnamon in it. Very good for the digestion. hehe

Tom is resting right now because he discovered he had new grace in eating potatoes & tomatoes & basically ate too much or the wrong combination or something. He's been eating potato chips & dipping into marinara sauces in recent days since accidentally ingesting some tomatoes on a taco from a friend & finding he didn't react anymore. He only just today triggered a reaction after eating a bunch of tater tots. God grant it remains mild! Its been a huge relief to think he might not have to be so careful when eating out. God grant he keeps the gift generally. Its been a llooonngg time since we've eaten Italian foods as a family. We've been very grateful to Chick Filet for making fruit cups an available alternative in their combos. He's found them quite tasty. Good to know its there when we get stuck out too far shopping etc :))

Locally, the weather remains pleasant but greyer than they called for. That's too bad as the Queen is here and we were kinda tickled that the weather seemed to clear up for her arrival. We don't normally notice fashions but everyone was tickled to see her Ladyship's outfit. Mom called her the Queen of all the red-hatters (though in some lights it looked pink to me). Amazingly they managed to coordinate the purplish dress with the hat - so it DOES suit her, which technically doesn't go with the poem, but who minds really?

There were some spectacular thunderstorms right beforehand which is one reason why I haven't posted as much. Computers go off when the sky growls!. We haven't had any trouble personally, but there's been spots of serious damage, even in-county. Its been much worse elsewhere, sadly.

Heard Greensburg, Kansas was flattened by a tornado. I think that's the most dedicated damage from a tornado in one town I've ever heard of. Amazingly, there seem to be very few deaths though the town supposedly had 1600 people. Our prayers and sympathies with the victims & their families everywhere. There's been some decidely radical weather of late. Texas got its share as well. A tropical system would not have been worse.

This is not unlooked for, really. I can't be the only one who has noticed that our land of milk and honey has had both struck lately. The staff of bread will be having problems next, if repentance is not forthcoming. This has been expected for a long time. Some will say its global warming effects & it might be, or might not! Was watching a Glenn Beck show on the subject that seemed to make some very valid objections to Gore's docudrama. Either way, the practical causes of things do not negate the spiritual ones. So...I will simply pray for God's grace on us all. Praying a lot anyway because a number of families we've known about online are facing scary health challenges.

God, please have mercy on your people everywhere!