Escape to White Mountain

Friday, July 21, 2017
So, I'm finally writing about the White Mountain portion of our trip in June. I've been pretty busy, and don't really have the time to write this, but I'm going to anyway, since it's storming outside and I can't swim.

Okay, let's see if I can remember anything.

We'd just experienced the awe-inspiring Boar's Tusk in south- central Wyoming. The mosquitoes were out in murderous force, and more than willing to drive us away by sending in kamikazes in ridiculous numbers.

So we made our escape and headed for White Mountain. The mosquitoes followed for a bit before giving up the chase and returning to their beloved boar.

We parked at White Mountain, and purposely walked off the path, enjoying the cooler, bug-free breeze. Well, I walked off the path, anyway.

I didn't know much about White Mountain before we visited, and I regret not researching it beforehand, because it was amazing.

White Mountain is member of the Green River Formation, and part of the Rock Springs Uplift. At 7,263 feet, it is within the range of the treasure chest's location.

It's hard to imagine that this place used to be a lake in times far past. Ancient seashells still dot the ground, and if you're lucky, you might find one.

But, if you hike up to the imposing, 300 foot cliff face, you're guaranteed to find remnants of a way of life much different than ours. Local members of the Shoshone tribe consider White Mountain to be their sacred ancestral home.

I can see why...there are hundreds of petroglyphs carved into the cliff face. Some modern graffiti is also peppered among the ancient writing. Like this makeshift ATM...

There wasn't any money in it. James tried to bust through it with a truck, but had no success at all.

Next to the stone age money machine, there were a couple interesting modern carvings. Like this "W":
And this twin peaks kinda thing...

Around the corner, the petroglyphs were less compromised. It was easy to imagine a young Indian brave excitedly carving the story of the day's hunt into the relenting stone. And I was thrilled to have the chance to read their stories.

We slowly walked past each drawing, marveling at the artist's ability to capture our imagination and carry us into this ancient thrill of the chase.

The petroglyphs were carved anywhere from 200 to 1000 years ago. Some were very curious to me, and pretty amusing as my imagination provided explanations that most likely are far from accurate. But hey, who knows? Maybe this does depict a monstrous fish latched onto an Indian's wiener:

And maybe the artist who was in charge of making tally marks drew how his fingers felt at the end of business day:

And maybe while out enjoying a day in their boat:

...they would see things like fish, and otters, and beavers...and possibly, a dolphin...

There were actually all kinds of animals represented, like this elk:

And whatever this monster from my nightmares is:

Indians often used symbols in their rock language, and these symbols were scattered seemingly haphazardly all over the cliff wall. Crosses, the zigzag water symbols, arrows, bear paws, and even an asterisk tightened our focus into an attempt to decipher meaning:

Here's a short video of James and I exploring:


And then we found a cave. It was very cool to see the bird tracks and bear paw carved into the entrance...


Here's a couple still pics of the cave:

As we exited the cave which probably gave me the infection that caused a nodule on my lung, we saw the moon had come out to say his nightly "hello."

We decided it was about time to head back to our hotel in Green River, but not before I checked out this rock that looks like a skull:

And this interesting window-shadow:

And these carvings that reminded me of photos in TTotC:

And this guy:

And these, too:

And then a plane flew by the moon:

And this shrub caught the light so nicely...

 And yeah, James had to physically drag me away from the what?

Working On It

Friday, July 14, 2017
I'm still unpacking boxes, setting up things, trying to get a bunch of listings on ebay, and writing an article for a publication, so I haven't had a lot of extra time. I've had a lingering cold that just seems to have spread back to my right eye, so I'm scrambling to find a doctor that can see me today. I am really over these eye problems. They are the worst.

I'm also trying to get weeds pulled in the front yard. I've cleared about half of the mulch beds, but I want to do the backyard too. The backyard should be much easier. James is almost done painting the outside of the house, so I'll have some help with the yard soon. And I'm gonna get Joe outside to help too.

Callie is coming for a visit next weekend after she finishes her class at Brown University, and my niece and nephew (Kiele and Makai) might come too! I'm super excited for that. I miss Makai calling me "Aunt Betsy." Lol.

 Not much else is going on...just a lot of unpacking and assembling and writing and selling. I will get back into the habit of writing every day soon!

Preliminary Parsing

Monday, July 10, 2017
Here is a color coded preliminary graph (I have not triple-checked the accuracy yet) of the parts of speech of every word in the poem, precisely as it was written in the book.


Nouns --yellow
Subject --red text
Adverbs-- purple
Noun phrases-- green text

Determinates- light green

The Oreo

Thursday, July 6, 2017
New Hot Spot is up!

Still settling in...

Tuesday, July 4, 2017
I'm still working on getting a routine established. Things of course, are much different, and such a huge change.

I've been staying up later, and sleeping later. I do my household chores in the morning, swim at 11:30, then do a few more chores in the afternoon. I've also been trying to get in at least 30 minutes of piano practice every day, if I can.

With just a few boxes left to unpack, I haven't been able to work much on our new businesses and websites yet, but I have started getting all my ebay/auction/web gallery stuff in one place. I just have to take pics, describe each one, and list them.

We bought some new furniture, so some of my time goes to putting those things together.

Joe's coming home on the 17th, and Callie's coming home on the 21st, after her summer course at Brown. I made Callie's room really pleasant, but Joe is sorta picky, so I'm holding off on his a little until I know exactly how he wants it set up. We bought him a new desk and bookcase with plenty of room for his books and Lego Star Wars creations. I'm even going to buy some fishing line and suspend one of the star fighters from the ceiling to give it the illusion of flight, turning it at an angle so that it looks like it's banking hard to return fire. Yeah, my imagination goes crazy with Star Wars. Lol.

James also bought me a bookcase. The bookcase at my old house was pretty cheap, and James didn't want that monstrosity in his house. It also was woefully too small, with books on top of books, and the larger books piled on either side and even under the bottom shelf. I have some of my larger books in this cool old antique James already had. 

We had a great weekend. James is painting his house by hand, which is an amazing feat, and paints a little every day after work, and a little on the weekends. It's almost done, and looks great. James has a really good eye for decorating.

Anyway, Friday night we watched The Accountant. Ben Affleck plays an autistic (probably Aspergers) guy who kills bad guys after his amazing math skills expose some corruption in a company. I thought it was pretty good, but the representation of Asperger's was from a boy's perspective. Girls with Asperger's present much differently.

However, at the end of the movie, they showed another boy who had lined up plastic toy animals in a long line. That struck a chord with me, because I did the EXACT same thing when I was a kid. I remember sitting outside on the driveway, lining those suckers up like they were in a Russian food line.

I remember asking for those plastic animals EVERY Christmas. They were always in the JC Penney Christmas catalog, and I would neatly but urgently circle that item with bright red pen. Lol.

On Saturday, we did some shopping, ate out, and finally saw Wonder Woman. I liked it, except the ending was maybe slightly too much. The movie, despite being 2 1/2 hours long, felt a little rushed, like they spent too much time at the beginning explaining Diana's origins and childhood.

When Diana, after marching straight through hundreds of flying bullets, deflecting each one with her gauntlets, literally single-handedly laid waste to a battalion of German soldiers occupying a small town, including busting through the top of a brick and stone tower to stop a sniper, the hero, Steve Trevor, tells her she can't go to a gala because it's "too dangerous."

Wait, what?!! Are you kidding me? She just BUSTED THROUGH a very solidly built tower like Godzilla sitting Miley-Cyrus-like on a wrecking ball. There were dead or unconscious German soldiers littering the street. And he had the gumption to tell her a party is too dangerous? LOLOL!

Anyway, I enjoyed the movie, but less time could've been spent on her childhood and more time developing other characters and showing how incredulous everyone should have been after witnessing her powers. As it was, Steve and his friends were like, "Oh. Wow. Diana is sorta cool, demolishing those Germans with her super human leaps and scandalous outfit. I don't need answers. She could be an alien or from the future--it doesn't matter, cause she's pretty." They all accepted Diana's miraculous super powers with the casual indifference of the freaking Accountant!



But nope.

When we got home from the movie, we played ping pong and pool...three games of each, and the person that won the most games was the champion.

It was me. I was the champion. Lol. I won three ping pong games and one game of pool, but I really think James let me win that last pool game, so I conceded the championship to him. Just because he's so great.

I celebrated by doing a running flip into the pool with my clothes on. James followed. :)

Oh yeah, I found a little ringneck snake in the pool the other day, and got him out by myself, using my hands, and I only half screamed like a girl once. I didn't think ringnecks were venomous, but after reading about them online, I discovered they are slightly venomous, but their venom apparently doesn't affect humans. I don't want to test that. But if I knew how reluctant they are to bite when I was trying to get him out of the pool, I would've been more relaxed and less timid. The next ringneck I find, I'm going to cuddle. Lol.

And yes, I know in the video, I said, "Non-poisonous, and I know that's wrong. Venom and poison are different. I'm not sure why I said "poisonous," because I'm usually sorta meticulous about that. Oh well.

James went to work early today, so he'll be home early. Maybe he'll bring home some fireworks that we can use to explode some things. Lol.

Oh yeah, I've recently discovered Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and I have to say, that guy is hilarious. And right.

Okay, I promise I will write about White Mountain tomorrow, or maybe tonight!  Sorry for the delay!

Mind Blown

Friday, June 30, 2017
As I was going through the moving process, Aidan came over to get a few boxes of her things. She showed me this awesome card she received while she was in jail several years ago:

At first glance, you might think, "So what?" 

But I assure you, this card is very, very special. Sometimes, beauty comes from the most unexpected places.

The only things this twenty-year-old had to make the card were an ink pen, a piece of paper, her finger... and M&M's. 

Yes, this young artist, sentenced to a few years in one of the most horrible places imaginable (the Brevard County Jail), made this beautiful card for Aidan in a surprising and amazing way. 

The lettering was created with an ink pen. The colors were made by crushing up M&M's and mixing them with varying amounts of water to create different shades. The "paint" was applied with one careful finger. After all, she couldn't just crumple up the paper and start over if she messed up. She only got one chance, and couldn't afford to make a mistake.

Look at it again, and you can see the incredible talent and ingenuity this young girl possessed to create such detail from almost nothing.

What's even more incredible is, this girl, serving a sentence for a crime I don't know about, sacrificed most of the ink in her pen, a valuable piece of paper, and her M&M's, which were a rare and VERY expensive treat in jail. I remember when Aidan was in jail, she would write home in tiny handwriting on scraps of paper, because sometimes paper was too hard to come by. 

But this young friend of hers sacrificed much more to lift Aidan's spirits on her birthday behind bars. 

I was in awe and reduced to tears when the comprehension of this dawned on me, and Aidan had tears in her eyes, too, as she told me that there is so much talent locked away for no one to ever experience outside of that dark facility. So much wasted talent that could brighten the world outside those walls.

Aidan showed me another picture from an inmate friend. Whoever drew this could probably be a pretty good tattoo artist. 

There's a huge drug problem in our country, and many of these young people in jail were caught up in a substance (usually prescription pain medication) they couldn't control. That addiction is so strong it makes really good kids do really bad things, like steal from their families, commit crimes such as theft, and other things in order to feed that addiction. 

The problem is they can't just stop taking those drugs. They CAN'T, even though they WANT to with all their strength. Those medications create addictions so strong people will literally choose them over EVERYTHING else. And when I say "choose," that's not the right word. There's no choice involved. There is literally no other option for these kids in the claws of addiction. They often hate themselves for succumbing to their craving for pills. Rehabs rarely work, and if you ask most clean addicts how they got clean, most will tell you jail time...and God. 

I don't know about you, but these bits of art remind me that there are people with hearts and souls in our jails and prisons. Many are there for something they had no control over--maybe they were prescribed a pain medication in a doctor's office, and were genetically predisposed to addiction (as in Aidan's case--her father is an alcoholic, and my father was, too). Many of these young people lost their family and friends as a result of their addiction, and that is a freaking SHAME. 

NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR LOVED ONES. I didn't, and through some jail time and the grace of God, I have my daughter back. She still thinks she's gangsta, but she's clean, has a great job, a bright future, and a powerful and inspirational story. Everything she tells me about her experiences makes my jaw drop and look up to give thanks over and over that she is still alive.

There are many others like her still sitting in jail, using their precious resources to express themselves in art for a world who may never see. and many of them have beauty to share, and a story to tell. 

And we should listen.

Settling In...

Thursday, June 29, 2017
Well, I made the move from NSB to Naples.

Last Thursday, I sold nearly everything I own, except for clothes, shoes, keepsakes and computers. The sale was supposed to be Thursday and Friday, but everything sold by 12:30 pm on Thursday.

I was amazed when one guy came in and asked, "How much you want for your outdoor set?"

I glanced outside where the peeling wrought iron monstrosity languished like a snoring ogre on the driveway. I was bewildered that the eyesore would be one of the first things to be asked about. "Twenty-five dollars?" I replied, the question in my voice obvious that even I didn't think it was worth that much.

The guy said, "I'll take it," then similarly asked about many more of the large objects in my home. He ended up buying my bedroom set, my couch, my washer and dryer, the outdoor set, my grandfather clock and mantle clocks, and several smaller items. He asked me three times if I had any paper towels I would sell him. I had to tell him no to that.

This little eleven-week-old charmer was my absolute favorite customer of the day, though:

So, the moving sale was a success, and Friday I concentrated on getting all the boxes by the front door to make it easier for James to put them on the moving truck.I also boxed up all the little miscellaneous stuff and started vacuuming the empty rooms.

James arrived Friday night, and by about 3:00 pm Saturday, we pulled out of the driveway and I said goodbye to my home for the past six years.

We got everything unloaded off the truck on Sunday by noon, and I had most things put away by Monday. I also fixed James's AC by sucking out a clog with a ShopVac.

Yesterday, I got some errands done, found a local doctor and made an appointment, and started what I hope will become a daily swimming regimen. I managed 35 laps, and today, I've got a sinus cold, but want to do at least another 35 laps today. I want to work up to 75 within a week or so.

We put a cat door in for Zuri the Tolerable, and she's using it to go out and bask on the balcony. She loves it out there, and I find myself trying to coax herself into the air conditioning (to no avail) because I don't see how she can stand the heat with that thick fur coat.

Zuri was funny, because she sat on my lap for the trip to Naples, watching out the window between taking cat naps.

And the first thing she did at the new house was thoroughly explore and roll around on the floor in every room.

This weekend, we plan to finally go see "Wonder Woman" and generally just relax. I'm going to try and get most of the household chores done, including mowing the back lawn as a surprise, by tomorrow, so he won't have to worry about it.

Next week, or maybe sometime this weekend, I'll start writing my book, and work on a children's book James has a great idea for. I'll also start listing a bunch of stuff on eBay, and work on our business website.

Anyway, that's what I've been up to lately. As for the rest of our trip report to the Wild West, I'll aim for posting that soon!