Sunday, July 27, 2008

Short Stuff

No, I am not referring to my height. I am simply trying to give a brief update on the last couple of weeks to the few, faithful followers of this random blog. So here are a few quick notes and pics:

1. July 18, 2008: Julina and I went to see the Dark Knight on IMAX! Holy incredible movie experience, Batman! It was so amazing to not just see the film, but to FEEL it as well (and, unlike the sadness of Sarah's experience, the sound/music did not overwhelm the dialogue, which was very well-delivered). This movie is dark, I'll grant you (which is why I was utterly flabbergasted to find that parents had brought small children and babies- yes, I mean INFANTS around, maybe even under, the age of one- to this film). But it deals with relevant issues in a meaningful way. The acting is amazing; the effects are superb; and I love the message Chris Nolan delivers regarding the power of choice and how the choices we make have an impact on those around us. If you haven't seen it, you should be running to the theater right now! (Okay, driving might get you there faster... and maybe you should wait for a day other than Sunday to do it...)

2. July 18, 2008: After watching the aforementioned fantastic film, I drove the extensive six hours to Missouri to spend a couple of weeks with my family, making a stop in St. Louis to dine with Emily, Joe and Noah and to do a session at the temple before it closes for cleaning.

3. July 20, 2008: With Emily, Joe, Noah, Steven and Tamara driving over for the occasion, we celebrate my birthday by eating Mom's fantastic BBQ chicken wings, corn on the cob, watermelon, and baked beans (all the tastes of summer!) with a yummy trifle and chocolate/rocky road ice cream cake (compliments of Emily) for dessert! I got some great games, foamy soap (one of my favorite B&BW purchases), and Reese's Pieces. We rounded out the night by playing one of my favorite games, Balderdash!

4. July 24, 2008: Miss Saigon! While I will freely admit that Emily was the bigger fan, I've always loved the music to this production- I loved the soundtrack (being poor, I was never able to buy it, a fact that will soon change), I loved the poignant tragedy of the story- so I was excited when she mentioned that it was coming to the Muni (Muny? St. Louis' Municipal Theater). Fortunately, she was able to get a baby-sitter for Noah, so Joe was able to come, too. The production was fantastic. There were a few kinks that threw us off balance, but overall, it was incredible- the performances were solid and did an excellent job with the story and the music. We were also lucky enough to have cool weather and NO RAIN (despite the rain that had come before and after the performance). It was a great night and a great way to spend time with my sister and brother-in-law.

5. July 28, 2008: I will be driving to Hannibal, MO to meet my friend Rebecca Powell and finally get my kitten! I still haven't made any final decisions on the name, so there's still time to suggest away... :) If you'd rather vote than suggest, some final contenders are: Agadore Sparticus, Thor, Cairo, Hel, Squishy, and Tonks.

So, that's my life in a nutshell (albeit a rather large nutshell). When I return to IN, I will try to post more summer updates (e.g. travels to WA/OR, Dallas, among other things...)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A picture is worth a thousand...something...something

Just a reminder- I am still hunting for ideas to name the little gray and white kitten that will be coming into my life in a couple of weeks... please let me know whatever your thoughts are (some good ones I've heard/read are: Thor, Teaspoon and Squishy, --and Genny, I actually think Murth is quite hilarious, though I don't think I will end up going with that one :) So please keep me posted with your ideas (get it?! POST-ed! because this is a BLOG! Ha ha. okay, never mind...)

Now, on with this tag- inspired by both Tamara and Genny's blogs (both of which turned out great photos for this tag! It's really gotten me quite excited to try this! And while the others I have seen- Steven's, Emily's, Kirsti's- are also fun, those two get the kudos because they were the ones that really made me want to do this)
Here goes:

1. Age on my next birthday

2. A place I'd like to travel

3. My favorite place

4. My favorite object

5. My favorite food

6. My favorite animal

7. My favorite color

8. Town where I was born

9. Town where I live

10. Name of a past pet

11. Name of a past love

12. Best friend's nickname

13. My screen name

14. My first name

15. My middle name

16. My last name

17. One of my bad habits

18. My first job

19. Name of my grandmother

20. College major

So, now you get the fun of seeing the obvious and trying to figure out the bizarre and mysterious... (I'm happy to answer any questions you may have!)


Friday, July 11, 2008

Birthday Adventures

First of all, as some of you already know, in a couple of weeks, I will be getting a new kitten from my good friend, Rebecca, who lives in Iowa. She has sent me pictures of this adorable gray and white kitten, but sadly, the pictures have yet to inspire any good ideas for names. So I am soliciting your assistance. While the romantic in me likes the dramatic, beautiful names, I will concede that I now generally prefer Beckie's idea of choosing a comical or ironic name. So, whatever you come up with, please comment on this post (or e-mail me) with your name ideas (oh, the kitten, she believes, is a female kitten...)

Anyway, I know that many of you might not consider this to be an ideal way to spend a birthday, but I have never been to Turkey Run State Park. Having heard about how beautiful it is, and having practically the whole day free, I decided that I wanted to spend my birthday exploring a part of Turkey Run.

Yes, my friends, I spent my birthday hiking. And what an adventure it turned out to be. The trail Juli and I took (classified as "moderate/rugged") happened to be blocked by a tree! As we walked along the trail, occasionally hampered a little by muddy and marshy spots, we came to a point where the trail seemed to just end. We could not tell where it was supposed to go. At first we thought we just took a wrong turn. Nope. As we soon discovered, the trail had been blocked by several trees (and one big one in particular) that most likely had been blown over by the severe storms that have hit Indiana over the past month. Not to be deterred, we crawled over and under the limbs and trunks until we found the trail again... Despite the temporary mishap/setback, though, we enjoyed an absolutely lovely hike (and even managed to have absolutely lovely weather) in an absolutely lovely state park... well, see for yourself:

Hacking through the fallen brush:

The Bridges of Parke County (where Turkey Run is located):

Some of the scenery and wildlife of the park (including a tiny toad, and then an even tinier one!):

Here's a really cool moss-covered cliff:

An impressively deep, tree-lined ravine:

The tiny toad:

the tinier toad (though it's hard to tell because it's a close-up shot):

and the Lusk mansion (supposedly open for seasonal tours- it looks like those tours might actually be haunted mansion tours, with all the dirt and cobwebs hanging everywhere on the outside...):

So there's my birthday in a nutshell of photos!
(look for my google tag -or Gag, as Steven calls it- soon!)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Let us not forget...

I love our national anthem, "The Star-spangled Banner," and wish that we sang all the verses more often because they are truly powerful...
...however, it is this hymn ("America the Beautiful") that almost never fails to move me to tears.
In the midst of all the fun- all the barbecuing, the games, the fireworks-
let us remember why we celebrate.
Let us remember those who have fallen because they stood up for what they believed.
Let us remember those who have fought so that others could live in peace.
Let us remember those who have died because they loved their fellow men and believed in the greater good.
Let us remember the One who has made the freedom we enjoy today possible for all mankind.

And let us not forget that we, too, can carry on the fight for freedom, for truth and righteousness...

"...As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free..."
(Julia Ward Howe)

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

O beautiful for pilgrims feet,
Whose stem impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through
wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife
When once and twice,
for man's avail
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!

-Katherine Lee Bates