Ode to Charlotte

Posted on 5/23/2015 07:07:00 PM
A follow-up to the Charlotte's Web discussion.



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As Seen From My Car Window

Posted on 5/21/2015 07:00:00 AM
Bagpiper alone on the grounds of the University of Maryland.


As all good bagpipers should be.

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Fossilized

Posted on 5/19/2015 07:00:00 AM
This week, the Shortlings got the chance to volunteer on an actual archeological dig.  We've been by this place a few times and never found them open, but happened to be in the area and noticed the sign saying they were having an open house.  We were heading elsewhere but as it turned out, had a few minutes to kill so we stopped in to stave off curiosity, more than anything else.  Imagine our surprise when the "open-house" turned out to be an "invite-the-public-in-to-help-find-fossils-house."  At one point in my childhood, I was very interested in archeology and I was rasied on the idea that dig sites are sacrosanct.  No one goes in who isn't authorized and only those who know what they're doing are allowed to look for fossil or artifacts.  

But this place is quite different.  There is no active digging (unless someone finds something and then the professionals take over, of course), but they actually want the public rubes to come in an help look for interesting fossils.  So they ushered us right in, did a quick orientation about what is a fossil and what is not, and then turned us all loosed to scour the place with our eagle eyes right away.  At this stage of investigation, all they want to do is look for stuff.  They're not going to dig the hillside away unless there is something real and important known to be there, but there are tiny fossils just lying around or that get exposed after rain and wind erosion and one only needs to look closely to find it.  When you enter, you promise that anything significant you find will be the property of the park collection.  If your find is important, it will go to the Smithsonian museum and you get finder's credit and your name on the fossil as it is displayed in the museum.  If you find something that is not significant, you may just get to walk away with it if the lead archeologist says it's okay.


While we were there, someone found a fossilized crocodile tooth and a couple of bald cyprus cone fossils, which the workers got really excited over (because with these fossils, they actually know what kind of wood it is, I was told) and earlier that morning someone had found a tooth from a Liopleurodon (or at least I think that's what he said; Professor Google can't search me up any other relevant results). 
 
The Dormouse found this piece of iron stone with impressions of ancient wood in it, which they let her take home.


And The Caterpillar found this:


Which looks like a bit of old firewood, I realize.  That's what I thought it was anyway.  But one of the park workers explained to me that this is actually a fossil.  I come from the land of the Petrified Forest, so fossilized wood looks like this to me:


 So this stuff that crumbles in your hands?


Not a fossil, in my mind. But the archeologist explained to me that when conditions aren't quite right for the minerals in the wood to turn to stone like in the Petrified Forest, all the minerals leach out and what's left is just the carbon.  So what you think you have in your hands is a piece of wood burned in some frat party campfire a couple of years ago, but it's actually a piece of 4 million year old fossilized wood.

Jinkies, that's impressive. 

We had a good time helping the archeologists search and now that we know that this place is there and when they're open, will definitely be going back to look for more.

But the best find of the month didn't even come from the Dinosaur Park, it came from our own back yard. 

The Caterpillar looks for things to make her go everywhere and comes in from the yard with seed pods, rocks, trash, dead bugs, pieces of metal in the road, pieces of glass, etc., constantly.  I find crap like this squirreled away under her bad, in her closet, in her bed, in my car.... oh, and on the floor.  Because eventually, it all makes its way to the floor.  It's actually pretty annoying because do you know how much of that stuff you can wash in the pockets of someone's pants before ruining the washing machine?  Well, I don't either, but I think we're approaching the limit.  

The other day she showed up with this:


A little Googling revealed this unusual little rock is similar to a Petosky stone, though it can't technically be called that unless it comes from Lake Michigan.  It's the fossilized impression of Haxagonaria, a type of coral that lived 350 million years ago.  We had no idea where it came from, if it's even native to Maryland or whether it's valuable.  The people at the Dinosaur Park told me I could bring it in and they would authenticate it next time they were open.  But I think I have to take The Caterpillar's packrat-ing a little more seriously now.

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Wickedly Talented

Posted on 5/18/2015 04:30:00 PM
I forgot to post last month about how we spent way too much money (Christmas present from The KingofHearts to all of us) and went to see Wicked in Baltimore last month.



Don't let his face in the background fool you. He loves this crap as much as the rest of us.

My only regret is that the wickedly talented Adel Dazeem, was not a member of this cast (though I hear she is working on a side project with Jorn Tromolto, so, you know, she's probably busy).

The set design was amazing.


Though apparently they are touchy about taking photos inside the theater - even before the play starts - because shortly after I took these photos, The KingofHearts pulled out his phone and just acted like he was taking a photo and he got yelled at by some usher.  I didn't bother to tell her that I'd already taken these two, so shhhh, don't let on that you know.

The Shortlings, especially The Dormouse, loved it... and that's probably the understatement of the year.  She has been asking to see this for a couple of grades now, so it was pretty cool for her.  Me?  I love musicals of any kind, but this one has never spoken to me the way it does to some.  It's a very cool concept, but I never really got worked up about wanted to see this one.  But even so, even I was floored by a couple of moments.  I am amazed at what humans can do.  The depth of talent on a stage like that can't be overlooked and I live for those moments in live theater where what happens on stage touches you in a physical way that will never, ever happen on a recorded medium.  There were a few moments like that in this one, so I've kind of made my peace with Wicked.

And the looks on these kids' faces at intermission was well worth the price of admission.



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Bluebells

Posted on 5/12/2015 08:17:00 PM
A little late in posting this one.  The Virginia Bluebells have all gone by now.  But they were fun while they lasted.





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Not Iggy, Just Azalea

Posted on 5/03/2015 07:33:00 PM
There are currently five different colors of azaleas blooming in our yard. Under the biggest and most prolific bush, the Shortlings have found a little den of sorts.  They can crawl into a little opening and through a tunnel made by the branches, then sit on the ground amidst all the lavender blossoms.  I want to go in there, curl up in the fetal position, and not come out for a month.

Instead, I took some pictures. 

Because I am a grown up and no longer need to solve my problems by escaping into a fantasy world of a house made of flowers.

And also because I don't fit inside.






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B'Bus

Posted on 5/02/2015 12:53:00 PM
A couple of months back, I took the Shortlings to Locust Point in Baltimore for lunch because it was close, easy to get to and it's one of my favorite places in the city.  I like to look out across the river and imaging what the area looked like 50, 100, years ago and more.  As we were driving around, this random bus appeared on the street in front of us with music coming from it.  I looked up out the window and noticed a few people with guitars sitting in lawn chairs on top of the bus, strumming while others sang.  Still others blew bubbles off the top of the bus and into the streets. People waved out the windows and shouted greetings to the pedestrians as they passed by...

I pointed it out to the kids and they looked out to the bussers.  They shouted greetings to us and we waved back, circling leisurely around the blocks of the neighborhood and just generally having an enjoyable time on a rare warm fall day.  We followed the bus for a long time and I finally handed my phone to The Dormouse and had her take a picture because this?... 


...the fact that every time I'm there I seem something like this and it brightens my day is what I most love about the city.

I have been following with great sadness all the news out of Baltimore the past few weeks and I've read about a thousand opinions, op eds, and columns trying to make sense of it all.  I don't live there every day, but I do live close.  Close enough to feel that it is partly my home and I feel a great affinity and affection for that city.  I love the sense of community I always enjoy when I am in the neighborhoods of Baltimore - unusual for a town of that size - and how good and down to earth I always feel about the people just trying to live their lives there. Unlike many cities I never feel like an outsider or ill-at-ease there.  I never have since the first time I visited in the early 90s, when it was a very different city indeed.

What the day to day residents have gone through and continue to go through breaks my heart in a way I can't quite describe.

I don't have to condone the actions of - let's face it, a small few - to say that I at least understand and empathize with the reasons for it.  I don't know what the answers are, but the one thing I know is this: it's a very large, very complex issue and if you think you can boil everything that has happened in that community and in this nation into a few sound bites on the evening news, or even to a single incident or issue, you are mistaken. I'm proud of the response the state's attorney has made so far and her thoughtful consideration of many.  I can only hope that some good will come from this, despite my skepticism of that possibility.  But here's something I have no worries about: Baltimore will continue to gather together to create the community that makes this city so endearing to me.  Even as the unrest was happening, I watched citizens protect one another, help one another, and lend a hand to help clean up and repair the damage... because that's what a community does.
 
"Many say there can be no peace without justice, but so, too, can there be no true justice without peace. The riots must end before any progress can be made; progress must be made so that riots have their end."

- Geoge Takai

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Washington, D.C. Metro, United States
Married, 40ish mom of two (or three, or four, depending on how you keep score) who stepped through the lookinglass and now finds herself living in curiouser and curiouser lands of Marriage, Motherhood, and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

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