Thursday, August 27, 2009

Life Lessons Part 2

When riding a bike or running, keep your mouth closed.

This keeps the bugs out of your mouth.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Simple Joys

Today felt like an insanely long day while at the same time the time flew by. And the surprising joys filled my day. I started the day by meeting a group of mentally challenged high schoolers that will start helping with community service projects around the battlefield. Initially, I felt a little nervous about the situation. I have not worked with too many mentally-challenged individuals before and did not know how I was to act and interact. As it turned out, I had no reason to worry. These guys had the biggest hearts with smiles to match. Everything was "great" and "impressive." Their expressions gave me a new perspective of Stones River.

Later, a family with three kids, ages 8, 7, and 5, visited from Virginia. I asked them if they have ever been to any other battlefields. Evidently, that was a stupid question. YES! They've been to lots. Well, what was your favorite? The kids listed the battlefields they've visited and I was impressed. Gettysburg, Antietam, Cold Harbor, Bull Run, Yorktown. Out of the mouths of babes, I could not get enough of these little Civil War fanatics. I especially loved the 5-year-old girl- bouncy, curly hair, a dusting of freckles. Bull Run was her favorite. I love families that take an avid interest in their kids' extracurricular learnings. 

The day was beautiful. My programs went well. My sister, bro-inlaw, and friend/practically sister visited me at lunch. The Junior Ranger book will be delivered in less than two weeks. The Juinor Ranger patches and badges will be delivered in less than a month. I will fall asleep tonight in peace, fully aware of all of the simple treasures given to me today.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Life Lessons

Lesson from the kitchen:

Knives are sharp. And should be treated as such. 

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hermey should have been happy to remain an elf

Hermey the Elf from the 1964 movie "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was nuts. Why did that little guy want to be a dentist? Why does anyone want to be a dentist? Is it the inflecting of pain on others? The shrill sound of the drill in the morning? 

I pondered these questions as I sat in a chair that medieval torturers must have designed with a wire contraption hanging out of my mouth that those same torturers devised. As my dentist began his procedure (he had to re-fill a cavity that a previous dentist messed up), he said, "You will only feel some vibrations. This should just take a few minutes. Let us know if you feel uncomfortable at any time." Ummm. Hello!? I have had my mouth pried open for the last ten minutes and you are about to insert a drill into my mouth that is currently acting as a fountain of spit. Can you please define "uncomfortable"? 

The whole process lasted a little less than an hour. I walked out of there not being able to feel my tongue and my cheek feeling swollen five times its size. In fact, everything looked normal; it was a weird feeling. The numbing medication has worn off and now I can feel my mouth again. And it feels like someone has recently been using a jackhammer in my mouth.

Getting back in the groove

I don't know if I have had a "groove" since this past January. And considering that the school takes half of January off for its Winter Break, I really haven't had a "groove" since last fall. But I am now forcing myself to get into a graduate-student-who-intends-to-graduate-in-a-timely-manner groove. Summer is nearly over and while I am a little sad about it, I have nothing to mourn. I had an outstanding summer that passed by far too quickly. I look forward to this upcoming autumn (of which I will complain about passing far too quickly come this winter, just watch).

So I will start waking at 5:30 am to start my running groove. Evenings are reserved for studying/reading/writing to start my student groove. Eight hours of sleep a night and decrease in my unhealthy food/increase in my healthy food intake (more vegetables, less pizza... especially now that Tomato Tomato is closed) to start physically feeling better. I had all of this going last Fall semester, so I know I can do it. I've just got to keep to it this fall. 

Saturday, August 22, 2009

"I could have been in politics, because I've always been a big spender"

As a swash-buckler of the high seas, I'd only have to worry about... nothing. No thesis. No deadlines. No plans. No schedules. No worries (except that worry about who brings the Dramamine). 

I much rather prefer Tim Curry's sentiment here:

It's how you look at buccaneers that make them bad or good. And he sees them as members of a noble brotherhood.

(And yes, this entry is written as one form of procrastination... I have things to do, but am currently in a I-am-going-to-quit-school-and-live-in-a-van-by-the-river mood)

Friday, August 21, 2009

what's this?

While giving the caravan tour this afternoon, I walked down the trail at the Slaughter Pen. While walking down the rocky trail I started noticing little yellow leaves on the ground. And then I started singing this in my head:

I think fall is around the corner! Woo hoo! I love fall!

While I internally jumped for joy at the thought of autumn, I realized that meant that the end of summer rapidly approaches. Ahhh! Where did summer go!?!

I am still working on the rejoicing and being glad in THIS day. And thankful that I have this day.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Destination versus Journey

I know, I know. I have been slacking in the blog-update department. Not for lack of subject matter, just for lack of devoted writing time. I have spent the last half of my summer living (no regrets) and haven't had much opportunity to stop and write. I think of things every day that I want to write about and get home from work only to charge through the evening without writing.

I've most recently been pondering the ideas about destination and journeying. I consider myself a very destination-oriented individual. "Driven," "goal-oriented," and "motivated" can all be used in describing me. But I wonder how much I lose when I focus so much on my destination that I forget that I am on a journey. I forget to stop and smell the proverbial roses. 

Over the last few months, I have worked with several volunteers that travel (and often live full-time!) in their RVs to different parks with the sole purpose of giving their time and learning more about the world around them. These explorers, like Jeanne, the Hurley's, and the Albrights, have encouraged me to think about my own journey (and they didn't even have to verbalize those thoughts!). Great value rests in seeing the backroads while enjoying the limited time spent on this earth. I forget that often as I rush through in order to complete arbitrary goals that I set for myself.

It still amazes me that August is almost halfway over. School starts up in two weeks. Before I know it, I will be ringing in 2010. So I am trying to slow down and enjoy my current journey. It won't be easy, as I want to hurry up and reach my next destination, but I am learning. 

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Summer at Stones River

A few summer photos from the battlefield. 

Civil War soldier me.

Skirmishing. On earthworks. The real ones.

A picture of me standing in front of another picture of me.

EMD helping Jim put cannons away on the Fourth.

EMD and SJM writing letters home. "Yours received."

A new fascination of mine

So I have had a fascination with Smokey the Bear since I lived overseas for three years and only watched AFN (or AFRTS) commercials, which consisted of public service announcements, awareness of military living (practice good OPSEC, things to think of when marrying a local national, etc), and history and trivia. One of my all time favorite AFN commercials aired Smokey the Bear singing with his forest friends. I still can sing the song.

My recent discovery of Mr. Bear's birthday prompted me to search for that particular commercial. Upon searching for the particular commercial online, I stumbled across a broad range of Smokey the Bear PSAs, some cheesy, some weird, and even some a little creepy. So I thought I'd share.

I like this one, actually. It isn't as cool as Smokey singing, but it works.

Only You

Can get your Smokey on.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Good news

The exhibit that I have been working on arrived at the battlefield last week.
Like an artist thinks about their works of art, I can see things I would like to improve. But I am proud of it. Those four banners represent blood, sweat, and tears (mostly tears), and many many many many many many many many many hours of my life. So I was very happy to see it as tangible product.

On the day we set it up, we had some visitors from the Southeast Regional Office, to include the SERO cultural landscape architect. They evidently liked it, and it may go on display at the SERO building in Atlanta. That is very good.

The Junior Ranger book that I've been helping work on has also gone to print. The proof comes back next week and the books should be delivered by September 1st.

Things Sam Watkins Didn't Tell Us

Yesterday I pinned up my hair, soaked myself in DEET, and pulled up my Union trousers. Civil War weapons called my name. And by "Civil War weapons," I mean Jim Lewis. And by "called my name," I mean told me to dress out so I could shoot. We had a living history program about the Pioneer Brigade and we would demonstrate both infantry and artillery and do a combined one at the end of the day.

I'm not going to lie. Initially, I did not want to be there. It was humid. I dislike not wearing makeup. I also dislike wearing boy's clothes. Particularly the ones made up entirely of wool. And because of my anatomy, and attempt to use the restroom takes me (at the very, very least) 5 minutes. Frances Clalin never warned us about any feminine issues while dressed like a boy. The idea of firing the musket excited me a little, but I still pouted a bit in the morning. The first program solved that immediately.

We hosted the program in the area next to the Pioneer Brigade Earthworks. The wooded area helped set a different tone than that out on the field. The resonation from the "booms" also echoed much, much louder.

We drilled some skirmishing in the morning before the program started. Skirmishing means moving around and kneeling. Then moving again, and keeling some more. In fact, at one point, we were lying down in the foliage for some photos. I just hoped with all of my might that the DEET I had applied actually worked. When we marched out to our line to kneel before the first program, I set down my one knee and waited. And waited. And waited. The program didn't start for another 10 minutes. Ow. In the time I used trying to not think about the fact that I couldn't feel my left leg, I started looking around at the ground. There were lots of dead leaves, some patches of dirt, and some viney green things. Ho hum... WHAT! Leaves of One. Two. Three. Yep. Poison Ivy. I was kneeling in a whole patch of it. I asked Jim to confirm my suspicions and he just said, "Don't eat it." Aw, man! It was all over my rifle and my wool pants. And I couldn't just leave.

The program started and I shot my musket. I am not sure why I like to shot. I think it's the challenge of loading and shooting well (and quickly). I definitely improved during our second program. We also fired the cannon. The blast from the cannon forced the forest floor to look like it exploded, too. The day turned out well.

I easily have washed my hands 25 times now but residue from gun powder and oil still show. I haven't found any ticks, yet, and I think I am free from chiggers, but I don't know about that poison ivy. Time will tell.