The 5th day was H.o.p.’s early birthday party

The 5th day was H.o.p.’s early 9th birthday party, thrown for him by his grandparents.

9th Birthday (pic for blog)

He loved it. We had a lazy, easy time batting balloons around. He carried one last balloon with him all the way to Yellow Horse, on our way home, when the wind grabbed it out of the car and whisked it away. He was heartbroken by that.

We found a Best Buys and my new Canon declared by them to be a dud, rather than simply replacing I upgraded to the Canon XTi 400D, which is what I’d kind of wanted in the first place but had been out of stock at the store when I’d initially purchased the camera.

The drive out had been plagued by blue skies and no clouds. What I’d been most concerned about was having some clouds in Phoenix and at the Grand Canyon and in Sedona, so all the way out on the trip I’d been wishing for clouds in Phoenix. “Phoenix, please have clouds, please have clouds. Phoenix please have clouds, please have clouds.” I was a lucky person as they came sailing in that Wednesday. I grabbed a few mintues for myself and went out and took pictures of palm trees and cactus, some of my favorite subjects. There’s lots of palm trees and cactus in Phoenix, Arizona.

Palm Trees and Cactus, Scottsdale Pool
Palm Trees and Cactus – Pool

Palm Trees and Cactus, Tarantula
Palm trees and Cactus – Tarantula spines
If anyone has any idea what kind of plant this in the foreground, I’d appreciate knowing.

Catus and oranges
Palm Trees and Cactus – Orange Tree

On the third night we decide to eat a decent dinner at what seems to be a popular place, and we pay for it dearly

Texas Christmas Tree
Christmas Tree in Town Square, Texas
Light box enlargement

Continue reading On the third night we decide to eat a decent dinner at what seems to be a popular place, and we pay for it dearly

The second day of the trip, we encountered a table in the middle of the road

What do you do when you’re racing cross country and back on a two week vacation and want to give the eight-year-old huddled in the back seat the impression you’re providing him extra-exceptional entertainment by doing this? Flying through Louisiana on I-20, the co-adults spotted a billboard for a gator park and discreetly consulted with each other then pulled off the interstate to go searching for said park, first in the wrong direction then hopefully in the right one. “Where is it? Where is it? You’d think they’d have more signs. Wonder how many people get lost and return to the Interstate,” we mumbled low so that if we did find the park it would be a surprise for H.o.p.

And that’s what we did on the second day of our trip. Looked at gators and cute little African goats. And ostriches. Finally finding the park we entered a medium-sized green building which had a few souvenirs on shelfs, not stocked to the gills, and purchased tickets from a rather desultory but not unagreeable young teen or preteen sitting behind a long counter. He just had the kind of manner that teens have who would prefer to be most anywhere else in the world than where they are and would prefer in particular to be residing in someone else’s skin, but not yours, no, because you’re you’re a stupid old tourist and he at least ten times a day fantasizes about one of those old tourist fools falling into a gator pond, getting their due and livening things up at the same time.

Continue reading The second day of the trip, we encountered a table in the middle of the road

The extra ultra mundane very dull first day of our trip

The first day of our trip was all last minute errands, like buying a camera. But first we went to get our new glasses, which were thankfully ready, and dealt with the slowest optician in the world who was very pleasant but still very very very slow and had an odd way of speaking so that one had the impression he was Bill Murray’s brother begotten by artificial insemination and neither one has a clue the other exists but every one who meets Bill Murray II has the distinct impression they’re reliving a film comedy except they can’t recollect having seen it. When fitting co-adult’s glasses he mused flatly that these were good Japanese glasses, that the Germans used to do the best but after the wall went down it changed and finally the Japanese are better. It took him a while to relate this. I know this doesn’t sound amusing, and he didn’t mean for it to be amusing, but it was in the way where you discreetly exchange a glance with your partner and you know what will be the first topic of conversation as soon as you’re out the glass doors. My new bifocals are for some reason rather longer than any of the eyeglass cases they had available and though I told the optician this he went about meticulously taking each eyeglass case and trying to fit the glasses in them, even though I pointed out I’d already done this (though I didn’t say I had done it at the speed of light in comparison). One case after another he took, even cases that were obviously duplicates just colored differently, and tried to fit them in. “Doesn’t fit that one,” he’d softly say and slowly, deliberately move to the next.

It wasn’t until we were on the Interstate that I realized my new sunglasses had several big scratches on them and that they’d done the reading prescription so that they focus 24 inches from your face. Co-adult’s are tuned to focus even closer. Which drove us nuts throughout the trip and we vowed to return them, but now we seem to be resigned and reluctant to go through the bother. Almost. Co-adult needs to be able to see the keyboard keys which he can’t through these wonderful Japanese glasses which focus at about 20 inches.

Again, the first day of our trip was all last minute errands that are a part of everyone else’s normal routine, but we put everything off until we’re going on a trip and then must go shopping, except that buying a camera isn’t an everyday event, no. Mine wasn’t out of the shop and a friend had sent a small Kodak which was sweet of her to do (and will be great for H.o.p., whose Nikon Coolpix is usually nonfunctional now) but lack of pixel quality was stressing me, especially since I planned to take enough pics of the Grand Canyon and scenery to have me deep in Photoshop doing post production for a year. I was reluctant but am glad co-adult shoved me into a Best Buys to get a digital SLR as my early Christmas present. Having read up on them I had in mind what I’d probably get, but when I told the camera saleswoman I was looking for a digital Single Lens Reflex Camera and inclined my head toward the models at hand and she vacantly but smilingly replied, “Is that a special function of an SLR?” I was thrown into an alternate universe where I felt my vocabulary was apparently not in sync any longer with the norm, for certainly a camera salesperson must have some knowledge of what they’re selling so something must be wrong with me, and my brain said bye-bye and my ability to respond intelligently vanished. Plus, I was getting ready to make a major purchase and I rarely buy anything for myself and stress out over major purchases–the kind of stressing out where it takes me years to buy anything big usually. I don’t recall saying anything in response but she groked a change in wind and promptly directed us to a salesman she said knew more (co-adult said, “He would have to…”) and he too befuddled me because information he listed on available models was about 1/1000th of what you will get in a fundamental online review. He was basically, “Do you want a Nikon or Canon or Sony?” and hadn’t much more to offer after that other than “Pick ’em up and see which one you like.” My senses were overloading with big store stimuli and what I wanted was a prejudiced salesman who would help me make up my mind between a Nikon and Canon, as years ago I used to own a good Nikon and loved it and didn’t like Canon, but was inclined to the Canon from what I’d read as to what was kind-of affordable for a digital SLR. I wanted a salesman who would offer an opinion, but he wasn’t about to do it. I had told him we were going to be easy customers because we needed a camera now, today, as we were going on vacation. That to me is something a salesman should consider when showing us available models, because when I eventually selected the Canon XTi 400D, he replied, “We don’t have that in stock.” Sooooo, I went with an older model of the XTi, scratching my head, wondering why he had been showing us the 400D when it wasn’t in stock.

Then we got out on the road, very late in the day, and I struggled with the camera. Eventually it would turn out to be defective and would need to be returned. But I didn’t know that yet.

Really, our first day of the trip was shopping day. We shopped clear across Alabama. So it’s nice that some towns consist of a mall on the side of the Interstate. And the malls and shopping centers don’t leave much to the imagination as far as the interests of people living in the area. In Oxford, a Best Buys is located next to a Hobby Lobby that’s just as large, and across from a huge LIFEWAY Xtian bookstore.

From the town’s lamp posts hung banners reading,

WELCOME TO OXFORD ALABAMA
TRUTH RADIO/XTIAN RADIO

But the people at the Oxford mall were nice, and if I note this like it’s something deserving to be mentioned in a vacation post, it’s because I so loathe malls that I only step foot in them once every blue moon when I’m on vacation and have forgotten something and must resort to a mall. For which reason I was in the mall at a Gap store in Oxford Alabama looking for a pair of jeans. A salesman was immediately at my service and very nice and helpful trying to find a size 28 in a boot cut, but when I pointed out they seemed a lot lot lot bigger than my several month old Gap boot cut jeans that I like and that I was wearing, and I asked if it was my imagination or not, he would offer no opinion. I asked again because I wear loose loose loose jeans but I didn’t want this pair falling down to my knees. No matter how I phrased my question the helpful salesman would offer no opinion as to whether or not they were bigger and as these were the only boot cuts I went ahead and purchased them and he helpfully directed me to where I could get some good coffee. When I was leaving the Gap store another salesman literally leaped from six feet away to cheerfully wish that I would have a Good Evening! so surprising me that I jumped back a foot, but recovered, thinking, “Wow! Aren’t we all cheerful and friendly in Oxford without seeming strained about it?!” and wished him a good evening as well. I wondered if everyone was so cheerful because they’d had a big prep talk about the Christmas season, Christmas music already playing and Christmasy things decorating the place.

Anyway, the jeans, which I thought were much larger than my other Gap boot cuts (but which I purchased anyway thinking they couldn’t be that that that much bigger), turned out to be so big they fall straight to the floor. And yeah I could have tried them on at the store but I’m one of those people who never does.

At Anniston we passed LUCKY’S GUN TACKLE and the INTERNATIONAL MOTOR SPORT HALL OF FAME. The hot pink evening sun had dropped behind the horizon. We switched the satellite radio to a French station. And that felt odd, driving through Alabama listening to a French-speaking DJ rattling off names of American bands.

We passed huge BASS PRO SHOPS that seemed as big as a shopping center and lots and lots of RV sales places. Where else are you going to set up your recreational vehicle shop but on the Interstate. Only makes sense.

I thought about how in some places architecture is so generic that the BASS PRO SHOPS look like giant versions of middle-upper middle class suburban homes look like hospitals look like big hotels look like malls look like professional office parks.

Billboards in Birmingham tended to messages like LEAD PAINT CAN POISON and help for alcoholism and advertising vendors of beauty supplies.

Lots of billboards across the country with emblems like the cross alongside hopeful promises such as WE RESTORE LIVES. Back in the mid 20th century such religious billboards tended to be seen only in certain out-of-the-way areas in the Bible Belt South. But something happened (somethings such as Jim and Tammy Fay Baker and Pat Robertson) and the billboards went mainstream and are now everywhere offering restoration through faith, which suggests a lot of people are not happy with their lives. And that churches make big bucks promising to make you feel better.

The factory side of Birmingham instead had rundown billboards reading PLACE YOUR AD HERE.

A lot of the comedy on satellite radio was concerned with people going to the mall and Costco.

I have never been in a Costco.

Tuscaloosa! What was it with the miles of nearly standstill traffic at Tuscaloosa? Ah, Game Day! Sports. Football! In the meanwhile, Grouch Marx was singing about Omaha Nebraska on the radio.

WELCOME TO TUSCALOOSA, HOME OF ALABAMA’s #1 TUSCALOOSA TOYOTA DEALER.

I thought about that proud billboard for a good ten minutes because it seemed to me a given that Tuscaloosa is going to be the home of Tuscaloosa’s number one Toyota dealer.

The sports stadium was huge and bright as ten suns far off to the right of the interstate. CRIMSON TIDE.

We passed the MOUNDVILLE ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK exit, one of those places we keep intending to go visit one day but haven’t gotten around to it.

Having started out late in the day, we were in Meridian, Mississippi when we decided dinner was in order. Because we’d started out late in the day there would be no fun doings, and in lieu of any fun doings we stopped at a Pizza Hut for H.o.p., because he loves Pizza Hut pizza.

Meridian, Mississippi is the home of of the Peavey musical equipment company. Because co-adult is a musician and PEAVEY is a name I’m well-acquainted with, I always expect Meridian Mississippi to be a PLACE, to have presence. I read there’s a lot to see in Meridian…I just haven’t seen it yet.

So, passing through Meridian (and wondering again just where this town is), we stopped at Pizza Hut for dinner because we knew H.o.p. would like pizza. We went in and there was a hostess. We are particular about our pizza at home and never eat at Pizza Hut (we only do take out from it once a year when a brother of co-adult visits who happens to like Pizza Hut), so is this normal that Pizza Huts have hostesses now? I didn’t know, but was surprised. I’m endlessly surprised while on vacation–by things like this. Other people will know that Pizza Huts now have hostesses. Me? I know nothing about this kind of stuff. It was only about 10 pm and the establishment was supposed to be open until midnight but they were already empty and cleaning up for the night. The hostess sat us down and brought us water and announced she would be our waitress and then never returned. In the meanwhile of waiting for her never to return, I told the co-adult I’d have salad. Eyeing the salad bar, he said he thought I was taking my life in my hands. Though I knew what was in the salad bar would be what’s in the kitchen, I said I’d go with a salad from the kitchen, because I am, by and large, irrational, and so is co-adult. We were cheerful vacationers still and after about 15 minutes (maybe more) of waiting for our waitress to stop mopping the floor over yonder, I felt my cheeriness evaporating and would have been long since ready to leave but I was determined to remain cheerful and co-adult got another woman’s attention and we were polite and nice about it all and she profoundly apologized and offered us free salad bar along with our pizza, which I turned down and went with a salad from the kitchen because co-adult had insisted I’d be taking my life in my hands to touch the salad bar and I was being agreeable with him by not doing so, and then co-adult goes over and gets a big salad from the salad bar and I sat and stared at it and wondered why I’d just ordered a salad when I could have eaten the salad bar for free. While eating, we watched a bit of some of the television shows on the three televisions in the place, which is an exceptional event for me because we don’t have cable and I never watch television shows anyway.

H.o.p. loved the Pizza Hut pizza.

We stayed the night in Jackson MS which was all abroil with football and the hotels pretty much packed out.

I took no pics the first day. Here are a couple more of Gulfport, MS.
Gulfport-Biloxi, Mississippi #53
Gulfport-Biloxi, Mississippi #53

Gulfport-Biloxi, Mississippi #24
Gulfport-Biloxi, Mississippi #24

Back. And tired, tired, tired.

We are back–and no we didn’t listen to Jackson Browne. Sorry. We don’t have any of Jackson Browne’s CDs. Co-adult says there are some he’d like to get but I have to admit I’m not very familiar with Browne’s music.

Need to get an USB cable for the camera I was using the first couple of days of the trip before I can upload some of those images. In the meanwhile I’ve started work on some photos I took on Thursday going through New Orleans (where co-adult was born) and Gulfport (where co-adult spent some growing up time). We’ve a number of relatives down on the Gulf, some of whom are rebuilding or still displaced by Katrina, and had been told how badly Gulfport had been hit as well and how the news hadn’t reflected this. And Gulfport was indeed something else. We knew that it had been hit hard but it was distressing to see over a full year later how it still looked bombed out, debris lying everywhere, not even the piers and boardwalks rebuilt yet. I’ve only gotten about 18 photos of Gulfport done and have about 150 more to sort through and work on, but I’m hoping that the images will give, when viewed in total, a bit of what it’s like now to drive the beachfront highway.

The gulf parks in Mississippi off I-10 are still closed.

Thursday was a pretty bleak day, going through first New Orleans and then Gulfport. We drove in from Baton Rouge and had intially planned on spending the night in New Orleans but after seeing that all are favorite haunts in the French Quarter in New Orleans are gone, we decided to just make a stroll through and move on. The bookstore that I like to hit is still up and running and we did drop some business there.

And of course New Orleans is so much of it a ghost city now.

After driving through (co-adult thanked me for being kind enough to really depress him with the drive through Gulfport) it was a delight to meet up with one of Marty’s cousins and her husband in Mobile and have coffee with them. We made a vow to get together soon down in New Orleans, which would be great fun. They’re really enjoyable people and we would have accepted their invitation to spend the night at their place but we were the kind of road weary that just wanted to get that six hours between the coffee shop and home over with.

Click on the below photos to view larger at Flickr. At the Flickr page for the photos click “All Sizes” for the larger images.

Gulfport-Biloxi, Mississippi #2, November 2006

Gulfport-Biloxi, Mississippi #3, November 2006

Gulfport-Biloxi, Mississippi #13
Gulfport, Mississippi #12. November 2006. Hurricane Katrina aftermath. One year later.

My husband was born in New Orleans and spent a few years growing up in Gulfport. Seems appropriate to have a photo showing his face as he looked upon the debris. We’d heard from Mississippi and Louisiana relatives how bad the Gulfport area had been hit, and of course had seen it on the news (though it’s not been covered much) but it was still a shock to drive the highway down by the beach and see the state the area was in over a year later.

I spent my day stitching paper bones together with artificial sinew

The world is falling apart and here I am performing the essential duty of stitching paper bones together. However did that come to pass?

Yesterday we’d planned another excursion to North Georgia, but H.o.p. was slow slow slow to get going, so slow that by the time we instead arrived at the Fernbank Science Center to walk their little inner city wilderness trail on a marvelously almost cool, breezy day, it was too late, so we instead wandered the little Science Center for a bit and talked to the man at the desk who followed us into the exhibit area to talk to us and then caught us again on the way out. He noted H.o.p.’s interest in dinosaurs. When I said H.o.p. had been asking to come down to the observatory he asked if H.o.p. was interested in the stars and said since he was then the Planetarium had an adult show about to close and he would probably enjoy that so we made a vow to get out there this week to watch the show and walk the trail beforehand. He even showed us a picture of how he had tried to grow his hair out long and was thinking of trying it again.

It’s funny how lately when we’ve been on excursions, the people manning places we stop at seem very eager to talk to us. Anyway, because he took the time, he sold us on returning for the Planetarium show.

I really have to get my butt in gear and gather books and interesting materials for H.o.p. for the coming year. With that in mind we went to Book Nook. We used to go to Book Nook all the time years ago, a used/new book store, but stopped going when we stopped collecting comics and when the used books rose in price enough so that one didn’t feel they were getting much of a deal. Plus we weren’t finding anything of interest there anyway. Zip. When that happens you eventually write a place off your list and depend on other resources. But we were driving past so dropped in yesterday with the intention of finding interesting materials for H.o.p. We only made it so far into the bookstore before we’d gone through our spending money and the interesting materials I got for H.o.p. ended up not what I’d initially had in mind. We picked up a step-by-step history of what happened to American Indians post Columbus, with illustrations, which actually looks pretty decent, isn’t a “Building the land of the free” book, at least not at first glance and is almost appropriate for someone H.o.p.’s age. $10. When I looked it up online at Amazon I found a low price of $2.97 for the same book. And we got “The Animator’s Survival Kit” which is a bible of info for animators, a bit dog-earred but OK, I’d planned already on getting it for H.o.p., had forgotten how much it cost and when I looked it up online I saw it was only $3 off Amazon’s price. Marty tried to talk H.o.p. out of getting “Cut and Make a Human Skeleton” because he knew who would be cutting and making but here it is on my desk anyway. H.o.p. found an animation book showing storyboards. And I found a book on dragons which I knew he’d want. Checking out, H.o.p. noticed a box of toys where you get one free with purchase and asked the clerk if he could have one. And we asked the clerk if a person we knew still worked there, which they did and the clerk, like the man at Fernbank, seemed very eager to talk for a little while, was animated and ready to offer information.

Then we puttered around in a “which street do you want to take now” way, which was impossible pre-Element.

Which is how we eventually ended up out at the Dekalb air field watching small planes take off and land. If you can believe that. Watching aircraft. I’ve never considered watching planes take off and land a past time, but they were prepared for us with a small playground and bleachers upon which to sit and watch the planes come and go. And, indeed, there were people seated upon the bleachers taking pictures of the aircraft. It was not quite as much fun as H.o.p. thought it might be, though he had some fun on the playground.

We were finally run off by the fumes of several small jets taking off.

That’s what we did for entertainment yesterday and topped it off with dinner at a Chinese restaurant where H.o.p., who’s in the process of becoming somewhat civilized, thanked the busboy for every glass of water that was poured for him and told the waitron afterward that those were the best pot stickers he’d ever had, a trick which worked well at an Italian restaurant at which we recently ate. The atmosphere could have been better. We were seated in a booth next to some women who were going on about Medicare and medical examinations with a more-than-I-want-to-hear-when-I’m-paying-for-a-nice-relaxing-dinner preciseness. I tried to ignore and stared with appreciation at the elaborate hairdo of a Hispanic gentleman in the next booth, hoping it would trip me into a more pleasant space. I thought it was just me, said nothing about trying to shut my ears to what was going on behind me, then Marty said, “I think I may ask for another booth, I can’t take much more of this”. I glanced and said it looked like they were about done and I didn’t want to screw up the waitron’s section by asking to be moved. The women unfortunately were done but not really done and went on and on throughout our dinner. I was reminded of how for a while there several years ago when we’d vanquish the couple of hundred miles between us and have dinner with Marty’s parents, as soon as we sat down to eat they would start giving us news on these gory accidents. They didn’t know the people, it was just in the news. I’d be trying to eat while they spilled verbal blood and gore all over the table and one time when they finally got to the story of a railroad worker who was cut in half and lived long enough to appreciate this fact, I was unable to finish my meal and wondered at their ability to keep on casually eating when all I could think about was the horror of this poor man remaining conscious and the pain of his awareness of leaving behind his wife and kids. The conversation at the booth behind us last night was not this but was loping along with an eye on catching up before they left. I tried to drown it out talking about anything, even the sugar packets…

Now, to stitching together paper bones.

The promo for A. G. Smith’s “Cut and Make a Human Skeleton” reads:

Create an exciting, educational, 3-dimensional model (16 1/2″ high) of full human skeleton with scissors, glue, needle and thread. Easy-to-follow instructions, diagrams help pre-teens and older youngsters assemble this accurate representation with little or no adult help.

Bull to exciting. Bull to assembling with little or no adult help.

I’ve had all day for hatred for A. G. Smith’s, “Cut and Make a Human Skeleton” book to brew. As far as I’m concerned the skeleton isn’t any better than your basic Halloween skeleton from the grocery store. What makes it preferable to a child is that it requires hours of effort for one’s parent to cut out and piece together…with thread and needle! Except instead of me pulling out a needle and regular thread I used fake sinew with beeswax. There’s a lot of small cutting involved and thus is not really appropriate for H.o.p. who hates cutting out things as he’s not good at it. The morning started with a fabulous meltdown over the skeleton, pre breakfast. The last thing H.o.p. talked about before going to bed was making the skeleton and when he got up he grabbed the book and brought it to me. I started on the spine and gave him the ribcage to cut out and he accidentally cut into part of it and had a fit and blamed me for giving him something to cut out when he’s not good at it. We worked our way through that and this afternoon I sat down and started back in on cutting and pasting and taping something that will be fit for the garbage bin by tomorrow afternoon. This is not a kid-friendly activity. I had lots of problems with it. I could swear some of the parts are misprinted as to what’s left and what’s right because when you start putting them together they don’t jive with the picture, which is problematic because the instructions are weak and stress using the picture as a guide. Where you poke holes for the thread to go through have so little margin around some of them that they were promptly tearing, especially at the wrists which meant they had to be reinforced. H.o.p. helped by cutting out some and handing me tape and glue and tape and glue.

Some of you may love this kind of craft. I don’t. I see on Boing Boing every so often where someone has made some Disney castle or such out of paper and all go ooooooh and aaaaaah. If you find that kind of thing fullfilling, fine, but I don’t.

The book said the skeleton would take hours to construct and they weren’t joking ’cause it did. But finally I finished and handed over the ludirous result to H.o.p. He was thrilled and ran off to photograph it with his dying camera. So what can I say but that it went exactly as I’d expected it to go. Difficult, time-consuming, poorly-conceived, not child friendly, and a thrilled H.o.p. at the other end of the process.

Update: I’m not believing this. I did a search online for other people who might be discontented with “Cut and Make a Human Skeleton” and instead found Dr. Denis Goulet at Ole Miss including it as an essential textbook for Anatomy and Physiology I. No kidding, the exact same “Cut and Make a Human Skeleton” by Smith, 1989.

New Echota

New Echota
Light box enlargement

Emerson writing of the American Indian Removal of 1838 said, it was a “crime that really deprives us as well as the Cherokees of a country; for how could we call the conspiracy that should crush these poor Indians our Government, or the land that was cursed by their parting and dying imprecations our country, any more?”

New Echota was for a brief period of time the capital of the Cherokee Nation in Georgia. The attempt to protect Cherokee lands failing, they were rounded up by thousands of Federal soldiers, placed in stockades, then sent to Oklahoma on the infamous Trail of Tears. Over 4000 individuals died.

The New Echota State Park, a memorial to the Cherokee people, was established in the early 1960s, and with its establishment laws had to be changed which had been implemented to prevent the return of the Cherokee and which had never been taken off the books.

My husband has Cherokee/Chahta ancestry. Earlier this month, on my husband’s birthday, we drove to New Echota to walk the streets of New Town with our son who has Cherokee/Chahta ancestry through his father, and Ioway ancestry through me.

We appeared to be the only ones there. Before starting on our unguided walk around the grounds we sat alone in the theater and watched a 17 minute movie on the history of New Echota. As the movie ended, hearing a clearing of throat that announced the entrance of another person, I expected the park ranger who’d ushered us into the theater but instead it was another park ranger. He looked eager. First he offered a bit of information on the surrounding exhibits, I think as part of a trial move to see how ready we were to listen, then given half an opportunity he started amending the history given in the movie (and he had done his history) telling us all about the suffering of the Cherokee and their ill treatment by Anglo-European settlers and how the generic histories aren’t accurate on the account. What he wanted us to leave with was a knowledge of how the Cherokee were and are a people, not just illustrations on the movie screen, and while he talked I wondered, it being North Georgia, how many visitors had at least some Cherokee ancestry. We didn’t mention anything about distant Cherokee ancestry or that we already knew much of the history he was relating. It’s something that’s just meaningful to us, and it was good to hear him talking with such passion on the subject.

It was late in the afternoon and the park closes at 5, so we had to disengage and get on with our tour, though it would have been nice to talk a little longer. By now there was another family, a young woman with two young children. Our courses sometimes intersected but did so without conversation. The mother wasn’t interested in saying hello but a girl H.o.p.’s age was obviously interested in H.o.p., smiling at him and as they walked past us once she did what she could to put herself on a collision course. H.o.p., interestingly, was bashful for the first time in his life as she waved and grinned, doing her best to almost collide with him in passing, to which he responded by barely acknowledging her, ducking his head down while also glancing up with a shy half-smile and stepping around her. Because he was forced to step around her as she wasn’t moving out of his way.

There’d been a brief drizzle before we arrived at the park, but not long after we began our walk, the thunders made an appearance in earnest, rumbling the air and easing the heat with a shower of respectable length and vigor. As many of the reconstructed buildings were closed (we could look through the open windows at the exhibits) we waited out the heavier parts of the showers on the porches. The earth roads that follow the plan of New Town became muddy, became swampy, so we kept to the grass. But H.o.p. was in his moccasins (mass-manufactured mocs that he simply wears because he’s got crazily sensitive feet and these feel good on his feet) and the mocs ended up saturated and caked with mud and his pants soaked up to the knee. Fortunately, as part of day trip equipment, we’d brought along a change of clothes for him. Fortunately, too, I got H.o.p. in some Keen sandals early this summer, or at least bought him some because they are thus far the only other shoe he’s tried on in years that he said felt good. He wouldn’t wear them all summer, stuck to his mocs, but several weeks ago had no option but to wear them, remembered how great they felt, and has at least not argued since against them. The mocs were, after a year’s worth of hard wear, done in by New Echota and I need to order him some more.

After our walk we returned to the museum but only did a hasty brush through as they were getting ready to close. I bought a small book on finger weaving, which I’ve tried before, self-taught. I may try making a sash for H.o.p.

I’ve got a few pics from New Echota and will put them up later but they’re not much.

Flamingo pic (the dining Horned Bills made themselves no friends)

Took this photo at the zoo a couple of weeks ago before the computer went down. Click on it for the larger version. Love the bird 4th from the left. I don’t know what was up, don’t know that much about flamingos, but every few minutes they would all suddenly start doing flamingo squawks and stretch their necks long and rigid.

The Great Horrned Bill had nothing much to do with me that day. He and his mate had mice they were eating. My mother-in-law was with us that day and had difficulty with the birds eating mice and wandered off saying she couldn’t watch. With one exception, the female of every couple which approached (while I was there) expressed astonishment and loud ughness at the Horned Bills eating mice, and the dead (white) rat sitting in front of them, and walked off saying that they couldn’t watch, that it was horrible. The Horned Bills had no idea their dietary requirements were making them enemies.

For some reason it is usually (note, usually) the male of the human species that reads the displayed material on the exhibit, and the female either expresses approval or disgust at what they’re observing. The males tend not to offer opinions on the exhibits in terms of like or dislike. They say, “What is this?” and then answer for everyone concerned, reading highlights of the literature aloud and then may offer some guesses on behaviors in an authoritative tone. Except if it is a mother and child and no male adult around, then sometimes the woman will read for the child the displayed literature.

Hearing over and over, “That’s disgusting,” I had wondered how many of these individuals were thinking about what they were seeing, and what they were saying, and how many were simply spouting out a rather Pavlovian response. Something they’ve heard numerous times–though could be maybe even one time–and when it comes their turn the brain keys similar prior scene in the memory bank of another female’s “Oh gross” (an aunt, a mother, a childhood friend, the television) and out it pops, oh gross, and off they walk.

Difficult to imagine anyone rejecting a bird because it eats meat.

I doubt these individuals were vegetarians.

I imagine some of these same individuals think hawks and eagles are beautiful and noble birds. Then the brain sputters, goes gack and shuts down when seeing said bird with a meal in its talons. No attempt is probably made to resolve the conflict. “Fine bird. Noble bird. Eew, noble bird is a predator on the food chain, like me! Can’t deal. Foul bird. Still noble as long as I don’t think about what it actually is.” In the mind’s photo album labeled, “Noble Birds” they retire the temporarily highlighted image of the dining noble bird to the trash and, walking on, replace with the preferred majestic bird soaring.

Several times it almost popped out of my mouth, “What did you eat for dinner last night?” but each time decided, no, forget it, some things are just too obvious to remark upon.

Actually, what I wanted to say was, “How wearily predictable can you be. Engage your brain, will you?”

Just so you could see how appalling was the spectacle, I took a pic.

I’m sure I’ve probably said, “Oh, yuck” as well, some other day. Maybe. At least I can imagine myself walking up, say, to see one of the reptiles eating a rat, and out of my mouth popping, “Oh, yuck”.

People are funny that way.

Some Georgia Aquarium pics

Went to the Georgia Aquarium today.

It is quite an outing. A brother’s wife was with their daughter and picked us up. Then a sister of mine joined us down there with her children. So we were three adults and 8 children.

One has to first make reservations. And if you are planning an outing make sure to leave guns, knives, matches, lighters and all food and drink at home as none are permitted inside.

Continue reading Some Georgia Aquarium pics

Chocolate fountain only on some Sundays

Another Boingboing pointer because it is about chocolate and because the new Fernbank exhibit is on chocolate which is an exhibit making a nationwide tour.

I love chocolate but am no connoisseur, just like I love coffee but am no connoisseur, and one it comes down to it am fine with a really oily french roast. I know I like a dark hefty chocolate and so we usually get Lindt with a high choco percentage and lower ones that H.o.p. loves and we split, eating a bit at a time, because I don’t like to overload. Or Perugina.

We went to the museum with my being newly equipped with the knowledge there are three kinds of cacao beans and that few chocolatiers use the premium. I didn’t know I was going to the chocolate exhibit today, was a last minute thing, so I went not knowing what the names of the beans were and what chocolatiers use them.

Continue reading Chocolate fountain only on some Sundays