Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Fail of TFT week 3

So Tech-Free Tuesday was a total bust this week.  I worked late out of dire necessity again, and was practically brain dead by the time I did finish.  Seems like the harder I work the more work I have, which is good because I'd rather be busy and be able to pay the bills, but OY VEY I would like a slack day soon so I can see if I can find my knitting mojo!

Turned in paperwork for homeschooling today, which means that officially the 'new school year' starts tomorrow.  I have to sit down with the calendar and plan out the summer field trips - Kennywood, Johnstown, Fallingwater are the top three.  If there is time I'd also like to go to Hershey, PA and Gettysburg.

I have a new phone - HTC Merge.  I will be experimenting to see if I can get along with using the phone as a mobile hotspot (so I can cut the Comcast umbilical cord just like I cut off AT&T today, bwahahahaha).  And one bill is better than two any day.

And these bugs?  They are box elder beetles, actually juvenile ones.  They grow up to be mostly black with a reddish-orange stripe design on their backs.  They eat maple tree seeds, of which there are a bazillion in the flower bed where they are thick on the ground.  So I think I'm willing to coexist with them, as long as they stay OUTSIDE where they belong!

Anyone out there use their phone as a hotspot for internet service?  I'm going to try tomorrow using the hotspot instead of the Comcast wireless, and see how it goes.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hurry Up And Come Over,

my house is CLEAN.

Well, the downstairs is, except for my desk area which is never clean for more than 2 minutes.  The upstairs is still a Superfund site, and the basement is still a mess (and now I think the washer has sprung a leak, ARGH).  But the "public" areas of the house are neat and relatively organized.

I finally finished editing the photos I want to put up in my kitchen, and found the black trigger cloth to complete the chair covers - my kitchen chairs are gold and brown, which doesn't go with red, black and white.  I bought red and white print awning fabric to pair with the black trigger, and will make slipcovers!  Now I just need to compose a diner-style menu and have it laminated for the table, get a sign made and I think that will be it.

Anyone know what kind of bugs these are?  They are thick in the flower bed beside my driveway.

Here's my house.  The hens are inside the picket fence there in the right foreground.  My garden is there at center-right (the moundy-looking plants are lavender MMMMMMMM they smell good).  The main part of the house dates from before 1900 - probably before 1880 but I haven't had time to go to the courthouse to trace the deeds yet.  The flat-roofed addition is from the 1970s (if the date on the inside of the toilet tank is to be believed).  There is a full standup basement under the main house, and also a usable (but as yet only partially finished) attic too.  I have some neat architectural features on the inside I'll have to photograph and post here sometime.

Hope everyone had a good weekend - tomorrow might be another Mute Monday, and then Tech-Free Tuesday again.  Have a peaceful and blessed week, readers!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Don't You Wish This Was Scratch -n- Sniff?

I have three varieties of lavender in my garden, and will be harvesting the flowers soon to dry them and make drawer sachets.  A couple of shops in town have said they would give me counter space for a percentage of sales!

Friday, June 24, 2011


pass the ibuprofen.

Work this week ran the gamut from extremely enjoyable to extremely headache-inducing.  Unfortunately for the way things worked out, the headache-inducing project was the last to be finished for the week, and I've been brain dead since turning off the steamer and hanging the dresses in the fitting room.

I do have photos of the enjoyable project, and will try to get a couple of it on the client tomorrow when she picks it up.

One of tomorrow's projects will be to carefully sort next week's work so that I can end the week on a happy note.


Next Thursday is New Phone Day!

Sweet potato fries are really good.

I'm pretty happy, considering.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Where Are YOU From?

I am from the top of a hill with a glorious view of both cityscape and countryside, from Dairy Mart, pepperoni rolls and Bad Cat wine.

I am from the city house in the middle of a farmyard, hens competing with robins, cardinals and chickadees for my ear, tall maple trees in the yard and evergreens by the front porch.

I am from peonies and coltsfoot, ramps and rhododendrons.

I am from Bible-believing, four-part-harmony hymn-singing Maudie, Elizabeth, Marguerite and Uncle George.

I am also from Great-Aunt Blanche, who took a nap every day so she'd be rested if anything urgent required her attention.

From thrift, honesty, hard work and perseverance, and of course the snow at the North Pole smells like baby powder.

I'm from Jesus Makes My Heart Rejoice, Now Thank We All Our God, and Holy God, We Praise Thy Name.

I am from the cornfields and racetracks of the Racing Capital of the World, from Walnut Grove and the home of the Mountaineers.

I am from the charming dandy in the zoot suit, the flapper with marcelled hair, the satellite-dish mogul and tobacco bootlegger.

I am from the doctor who could diagnose without even seeing his patient, a stone fireplace in a cabin on a hillside on a road named for my family, from generations of soldiers and sailors, and the embarrassment of not having shoes to wear for a family portrait.

I am from stacks of scrapbooks and disjointed memories, piles of Kodak prints tossed haphazard in a basket, the Family Bible and the World Wide Web, and I'm proud to claim it all.

Inspiration from this.  Want to play along?  Write your own and come back and leave a link to your contribution!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

TFT Take Two - Tech Ninjas Attack!

On the theory that KEEPING electronics off is easier than setting an arbitrary time after which there is to be no tv/radio/internet/non-work-related phone use, we began yesterday's Tech-Free Tuesday in a blessedly quiet house.

Somehow I don't mind working without background music/talk radio/Weather Channel, until I'm not SUPPOSED to.

And you know what? How would you know - I could post that we had the Grand Silence all day, sunup to bedtime, and you'd believe it.

But I won't cheat, I promise!

The kids, on the other hand.......if I came downstairs to fetch another project/do an invoice/bring a completed project down to the 'done and ready for pickup' rack, WHOOSH they were upstairs piled like newborn puppies in front of the tv in my room.  When I trudged back upstairs to the workroom, I could feel something like a draft as they WHOOSHED downstairs to the living room, to either (I caught them doing both) clump up around the stereo with the volume down to about 2, or watch tv with the closed captioning on/play video games with the volume on mute.

And it didn't help that I had to work until nearly 8:30 pm. See, when you're self-employed you don't have set hours (especially if you work from home like I do).  I have a certain amount of work I must finish each day, and I have to work until I get it done.  Yesterday it took until about 8:20 pm.

So........change for next week:  Electronics allowed after chores are done until the EARLIER of 5 pm or the end of my work day.  Then we'll shut down.  We'll try that for a couple of weeks and see if things go any more smoothly.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mute Monday - Waste Not, Want Not!

Tomorrow there will be no post at all, and this evening's post will have a minimum of words; I like to call it "Mute Monday".

an actual pencil used by Birdman.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Another Look at Father's Day

I've been thinking most of the about  how to write a Father's Day post about how it is to be a single parent whose children do not have their father involved in their lives - without seeming bitter and blaming-everything-on-him.  I'm not sure it's possible.

I made the very poor choice to marry my kids' father, and I also made the choice to take the children and leave (and also to file for divorce).  In hindsight I can see a LOT of red flags that would now make me send him packing, but that wasn't the case back then.

This man had every opportunity to step up and be a husband and father.  Instead he chose to molest four children, the oldest of whom I have now been estranged from for 5 years, mostly because of his interaction with her.  He chose to extinguish a cigarette on one child's ankle and another's tongue.  He chose to allow them to watch 'slasher' horror movies while they were still in diapers.  He chose to take the youngest with him to the lawn & garden store, so this little boy would see and hear him lie to his brother the salesman as he told a story of how I'd given permission to purchase a $400 lawnmower with the money I'd given him to pay the rent. (Said lawnmower didn't even make it out of the box; as soon as I saw it I was on the phone to the brother and told him that it was coming straight back to the store).

He chose to cut the steering wheel and hotwire a car that was given to me by my parish.  When I asked the parish to back me up to the police to help get the car back, I found that he'd gotten there ahead of me and I was told that I'd have to find assistance somewhere else.

After my fifth c-section, I went back to work the day after being discharged from the hospital, because without my earnings there would not be enough money to pay the bills.  I had to ride the city bus and slipped and fell (with baby Lightning in my arms) in the parking lot of my work, because he chose not to get out of bed and drive us. I sprained my hip, strained a few staples in my incision and ended up being ordered to bed rest for 6 weeks.  He chose to go to his mother's house and call my parish, telling them that I had some kind of mental disorder from having the baby and if I called and said I needed help or anything, that it was a lie and that I didn't need anything - his family was cooking all our meals and helping out with the other kids and errands (meanwhile he'd told his family that my parish was doing all that).  So when I called the parish and told the secretary I needed help getting groceries in the house, cooking and cleaning etc., it just bewildered me when she told me they couldn't help.  Meanwhile there is nothing in the house but ramen noodles, chips and pizza rolls.  I can't count the times the children had bread with cold coffee and sugar on it for a meal because that's what he fed them.

The morning after I took the kids and left, half his family turned up at my work and proceeded to get in my face and yell and scream at me for nearly three hours - how dare I go off and not let them know where I was, I'd better get myself and the children back to that apartment where we belonged (or we'd regret it, which his sister actually said to me).

I did, and do, regret it.  During the time we were in and out of court over the divorce and visitation schedules, he and his family chose to report me to CPS over twenty times, for the following (and similar) things:

  • daughter had a skinned knee
  • baby son's hair was cut unevenly at his forehead because his older brother had played barber
  • daughter bowlegged
  • all three children cried for me during several entire visits with him
  • I asked the 9yo to change the 18mo's diaper, therefore 'parentifying' her (did you know that in this state, having a sibling change a diaper is potentially child abuse?  I didn't, but I sure do now!)
I have a great deal of admiration and respect for women who make every effort to repair a marriage-gone-sour and not resort to divorce.  However, I should say that as part of the divorce process we were required to go to at least one joint counseling session.  During this session he informed the counselor that I was mentally ill, that I was a pathological liar and I couldn't be trusted to tell the truth even if asked what color is the sky, and that since I had a woman business partner that obviously I was homosexual and therefore should have my parental rights terminated.

You may be asking yourselves (if you've even managed to read this far) where were my family and/or friends during all this.

That is a very good question.

At the time, my mom lived over 300 miles away.  And my friends?  I guess he got to them first.  I did get some help from the local Gabriel Project people with a ride to the grocery store a couple of times, and also to the laundromat, but those six weeks I spent on "bed rest" I was basically confined to a tiny apartment with four children under the age of ten. I tried talking to both the Gabriel Project volunteer and the WIC person at one of my appointments about how things really were, but neither person seemed to take me seriously.  Even the nurse at my 6-week postpartum appointment wasn't interested (heck, she didn't even suggest I might have PPD; if I'd gotten a referral to a mental health professional I might have been able to get us some help sooner).

Anyway, Lightning McQueen has no real memory of his father; I'm the only parent he's ever known he has.  Velvet and Birdman remember him very vaguely. 

So Happy Father's Day to me and all the other single moms out there. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011


All of a sudden I have a full two weeks' worth of work to do in about four days, so I should really be upstairs in the workroom sewing, but I thought I'd post here instead, go to bed early tomorrow night and get a really early start on Monday morning.

When I was in junior high school my parents got the brilliant (really) idea to save DIMES for a super family vacation.  We decided we wanted to go to Chicago.  It took over a year to save up enough dimes, but we did it!

One of the highlights of our trip was a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry.  There were lots of cool things to see!  There was one hall about human development and they had an egg cell mounted in a display somehow and you could SEE it!  There was a separate display case for each week in the development of a baby from this point all the way to 40 weeks, when the baby is ready to be born.

There was also a thing about sound waves, where you could stand at one end of a tunnel thingy and whisper and a person with his back to you could hear you all the way on the other end, about 30 feet away.

And a mockup of a coal mine (but after having been to a working face I can say that the real thing is much more interesting, even if your guides fib and make you walk the slope out).

But the thing I remember most is the captured Nazi U-boat.  You could climb down through the hatch and walk through it; all the signage and lettering was in German.  It was interesting in a creepy sort of way (or is that the other way around?  Anyway it was very fascinating).

Fast forward to sometime last year when, at a used book sale, I picked up a copy of Clear the Decks! by a retired Adm. Gallery, who was the skipper of a "baby flattop" aircraft carrier, the USS Guadalcanal during World War II.  Anyone who has even a passing interest in military history, World War II history, the US Navy, or military anecdotes would LOVE this book. Admiral (ret.) Gallery tells how they trained the pilots to fly at night and many other facts about the Atlantic theater of the war that most of us don't have any direct knowledge of.

The last part of the book details how the Guadalcanal captures and tows home a Nazi U-boat!!!!  When I first realized what was going to happen in this part of the book, I started reading really slowly and carefully, absorbing all the details, wondering all the while if this would end up being the same submarine I'd walked through so many years ago.  What do you know, it is the same one (actually it's the ONLY U-boat ever captured by the Allies during the entire War).  At the very end of the chapter it tells how the U-boat was towed to Chicago and placed on exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Some other time - with pictures, if I can find them and get them scanned into the computer - I'll tell about my visit to a REAL working coal mine.  Hope you enjoyed this brief trip down Memory Lane with me!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Apologies, but

if I try to post anything tonight it will just turn into a huge furious rant, which would very likely hurt the feelings of the one or two local friends who read here (although no hurt would be intended).

So I will just tell you that I finally managed to go to the optometrist today and am back in contacts (with cheapie reading glasses).  My face looks nekkid, but I can SEE again!

(And everyone knows that 'men don't make passes at girls who wear glasses')

And that it rained this evening.  It should be pleasantly easy to weed the garden tomorrow.  I promise to take pictures.

Thanks for sticking with me.  If you have any ideas or suggestions for future posts, please let me know!  It's my blog, but it's not a completely selfish effort.

Have a good Friday night!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

More Evidence I'm Not What You Expect.....

in a Catholic mommy blog:

I had a Very Bad Day today.  I discovered that my kids, when they were supposed to be cleaning up the back yard and weeding the garden, were across the street having a CAMPFIRE.  On the GRASS in our neighbor's yard.  And getting into his storage shed.

Anger, disappointment, fury, rage, none of those words come close to how I feel......

It's raining now, but prior to this afternoon we've had some very dry days and it's purely a miracle they didn't burn half the neighborhood with their stupid criminal stunt.

Sometimes I despair of them ever 'getting with the program' - they are sneaky and disrespectful almost as much as they are helpful and sweet.  They NEVER apologize.  They seem to have no earthly clue sometimes.

In short, today has been one of those days when I seriously wonder why God sent me these children.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

TFT - Silence is Golden!

Yesterday was our first try at a day without much of the technology we tend to take for granted - cable television, radio, internet and phone.  We managed to go the whole day without turning on the tv........well, MOST of us did.  I caught Lightning McQueen up in my room watching television TWICE.  The first time he was caught in the act; the second time I could hear it from downstairs and when he came down I called him out.

He looked at me with an expression on his face that said "television?  what is a television?  why would you think I would be watching television, when I do not know that word? no habla Ingles!"

Needless to say I gave him the 'mom look' and he slunk off to the kitchen to dawdle yet more over the dishes.

Birdman, Velvet and I got out our old tent and pitched it in the neighbor's yard.  We have a LOVELY new tent but it has already had to have one of the poles repaired after it split in a sudden gust of wind at the monastery in Uniontown last year.  We tend to camp in non-campground places with no trees to speak of, so I decided to get out the old one which isn't quite so tall (and also has more poles, safety in numbers and all that) to see if it is still serviceable.  And hoping it rains so I can see if it leaks.  It's actually a nice tent, being a large dome with two smaller domes that zip to either side to form 3 rooms. So far no rain, but it didn't blow away last night and we are due for a shower or two tonight so we'll see how that goes.

New tent, before it was attacked by gusty winds.  It leaks, too.

All in all, I'm rather happy with the way the day went, although I really do get more work done when I have a bit of background music going.  I may relax the rules next week to allow for radio until I finish my work for the day.

I did manage to not make any non-client phone calls, and stayed off both Facebook AND Twitter! (And my two favorite message boards as well).

Fruits of the experiment?  Today the tv hasn't been on at all, and I didn't watch the Weather Channel this morning while I was dressing either (mainly because when I turned it on there was something with the sound, as in THERE WAS NONE).  I listened to some Pandora while I was working but only for a couple of hours.

Looking forward to next week's TFT already!

Monday, June 13, 2011

New Feature - Tech-Free Tuesday!

My bloggy friend Wendy, who waxes eloquent over at Wendy Can't Cook, does her own version of WWE:  Wednesdays Without Electronics.  She made it sound so fun and exciting, we're going to try it, but we're going to do ours on Tuesdays.

I won't be able to do everything the way she does it, but the plan for right now is:  no television all day (what? no Weather Channel in the morning as I get dressed?  How will I know what to wear?  GAAAH!!!11Eleventy!!!!!).  No radio either.  I have my appointment calendar on Google Calendar, so you all will just have to trust that I'm not facebooking and twittering the day away (you'd know about the Twitter if you follow me there, just sayin').  I will answer email between noon and 1 pm when I am usually having my lunch; Birdman will have to check his email then also.  At 5 pm I will shut down the computer.  I have clients until 7 pm so I have to keep the phone on until at least then, in case they get lost trying to find me (I work from home and the street signs are largely missing in my neighborhood, so there you go).

Eventually I will try not to have clients after 4 pm, and everything will shut down then and we will have a Tech-Free dinner as well (grill out or have salads or some other meal not requiring the use of an indoor appliance).

I see card games, board games, croquet, catching fireflies and walks around the neighborhood in our future - more so than at present.
Yeah, RIGHT.
So, this means no blog post on Tuesday night, but I will be reviewing on Wednesdays - I can't wait a week to do mine like Wendy does, I'd forget what happened! So have a wonderful evening, and I'll be back with the first TFT Report on Wednesday!

Will this work?  Will my children mutiny?  Do you do tech-free evenings?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

School's NOT Out For the Summer

But here's an update!

Around here we 'do school' just about all year long, because we have really weird vacations (that also include learning of some sort, most of the time).

Lightning McQueen has done his oral presentation for 4-H; he chose to present his pullets and did an OK job.  I'm proud of him for actually doing it, but I think he could have been better prepared and done more research and practice beforehand.

Velvet helped, as you can see from the photos.  Only fair, I guess, since he helped her with her presentation a couple of months ago.

He's working his way through Saxon 7/6 math and not doing too badly doing a VERY good job of it.  He amazes me.
I just would rather he was less stubborn and bullheaded about his chores, with which we continue the ongoing battle of "it must be done when MOM says, not when KID gets good and ready."

Velvet is in Saxon 6/5 math and doing well.  I think the little break we took, while waiting for Lightning to finish with the book, was what she needed as far as reinforcement goes.  She's very good at mental estimating, which means I really like grocery shopping with her.  She can figure out the better buy more quickly than I can almost all the time.

Birdman will be testing tomorrow for his Cadet Senior Master Sergeant in Civil Air Patrol, and is getting A's and high B's in Saxon Geometry.  He's also doing the Apologia Biology (for which I need to order microscope slides YESTERDAY).

As for other subjects, they have each read over 20 books since Labor Day 2010, correct each other's grammar (not very often, since they all seem to have inherited the 'grammar gene' and don't make common but fingernails-on-a-blackboard grammatical errors like "mom will pick Birdman and I up at 3 to go to the dentist"), and are SLOWLY getting better at using the computer.

We have our garden again this year, and they are all big enough now to wield yard tools with some degree of competence.

One game they 'invented' on the way to Indianapolis a couple of weeks ago:  several of the exits we passed had names of towns that are in other states and even other countries. They tried to think of all the places those names turn up, and by the time we got to our destination we'd pretty much been all over the world! To see where we could have been, Google the route between Morgantown, WV and Indianapolis, IN.  I think you'll be amazed - I know I was pretty impressed with my kids' knowledge of geography!

What did I miss?  I think I got everything!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Well. What Next?

I need to write a post about Lightning McQueen's 4-H presentation.

I would like to write about something very bittersweet, but worry that it's too personal.

But right now I'm kind of stuck.  I have no idea what to write!

I don't have a husband to write about, good OR bad.  My kids are, well, kind of ordinary, and I don't want to write too often about how aggravated I get with them sometimes for fear I will get the reputation of "horrible mommy blogger". Plus there are only so many times you can post about sibling bickering before it starts wearing thin. I could write about work, but really my work is 99% really boring pants and suits, and only 1% gorgeous designer gowns and opportunities for me to work my creative magic.

I could write about the hens, but I have decided NO MORE HEN POSTS until Oregano and Barbecue start laying.

I could also write about the realities about being a single parent. You really have no idea.  All those single moms who do interesting things like shop with friends, and date, and go to dinner?  That is not me.  I have a completely different life.

I do plan to put in the garden tomorrow, so there's that.  I'll try to remember to take pictures.

What do YOU want to read?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"Back Home Again in Indiana", Part Seven - Race Day!

Race Day 2011 dawned overcast and a bit chilly, but with the promise of sun behind the clouds.  Saturday night we had a bit of a thunderstorm, but it never rained very hard, and it seemed to clear the air a bit.  I made sure we had our sunscreen when we packed up our stuff to head over to the American Legion for a delicious, hot, all-you-can-eat breakfast.  For $7 you get eggs, bacon, sausage (except not this year as they were out), biscuits and gravy, hash browns, coffee, milk and juice.  (No cereal this year either, wonder what's up with that).  Anyway, it's a perfect start to the day and it's a lot of fun to sit and have breakfast with other race fans.

Pace cars on the parade lap
 By the time we finished our breakfast and got to the track the sun was starting to come out.  We got our tickets ripped and headed through the now-familiar tunnel on our way to the infield.

We had no idea where to pick for a vantage point (but we know more now than we did; this will take some refining but I'm sure that we'll have a better spot in future years), so we walked in the direction of the backstretch, across the golf course.  At first we'd chosen a place on one of the Family Viewing Mounds, but after noticing the sign that said "no alcoholic beverages allowed" we moved up further into Turn 2 towards the South Short Chute to a regular mound - I didn't want to have to go stand somewhere else in case I decided I wanted a beer during the race.  We were lucky to be surrounded by a bunch of really nice people, and were also near a restroom AND a food stand that sold tenderloins!

Pace lap
 At this stage of the game I am experimenting with the "sports" setting on my would be astonished to see how much I cropped these photos!  But I think I didn't do too badly, considering the sun was in my eyes AND the cars were going over a hundred miles an hour.
Pace lap, second shot

Third pace lap shot
Every time one of the kids got within spraying distance I got them with the spray sunscreen, and no one got any serious sunburn (I got a little on my nose and a couple of places on my back where I couldn't reach, but it's all tan now - PLEASE refrain from lectures in the combox about how I will probably get skin cancer.  I have pale Irish skin and prefer to look healthy in the summer, not as if I have spent the winter shut up in a box).

There's a building on the outside of the track at the exit of Turn 2 with I guess a series of lights on it, and when the yellow light is on that means there's a caution........I took to glancing over my shoulder at the light every so often and a couple of times the cars would come into 2 absolutely flying, then catch sight of the light and lift to slow down to caution speed.  It was neat.

We were MUCH closer to the cars (although still behind two rows of very substantial catchfence) this year, but the noise wasn't as bad because we weren't under cover.  It was exciting to FEEL the cars coming, then flying by almost too fast to see - fortunately the drivers I really like have easily-identifiable cars, and the numbers on the rear wing plates help a LOT).  I am mostly happy with the spot we chose, although  think we will try over at the exit of Turn 4 next time (I think we might be able to see a Jumbotron from over there).

At the last lap we were cheering J.R. Hildebrand on to an amazing victory (and I was thrilled that it didn't seem the race would end under yellow; I may be in the minority but I think there ought to be RACING to the checkered flag......but that does NOT mean I'm an advocate of Green-White-Checker!  It just means I don't like races that end under yellow), when he CRASHED and Dan Wheldon got by him for the win.  It's Wheldon's 2nd win at Indy.

Afterwards we hung around for a while to let the crowds begin to thin a bit, then I tried one more time to call one friend and text another (phone service was basically nonexistent much of the day), and after no results on either effort we packed up our things and headed back across the street to pack up the campsite and see about getting on the road - the plan was to get to Richmond, Indiana and find a hotel room.

Just as we got the car loaded I got a call from Jimmy (remember him?  He took us to the race last year) and turned out he got caught up in traffic and was already on his way home.  He invited us to crash at his place that night to save the hotel $, so I told him we'd stop and get some dinner and then come up to his house.

We watched the replay of the race on tv at Jimmy's, then the kids went to bed and he and I sat and chatted for a bit.  A most enjoyable evening!  I really love spending time with people who mostly understand me, and who don't expect me to be anything other than who I am.

Monday morning I got a shower and we got on our way home.  We stopped in Columbus to see my friend at the yarn store where she works (I bought yarn!), and also stopped at the Cabela's store near Wheeling to look at tents and other equipment (we camp in such odd places and conditions that I think we need to stay away from Wal-Mart outdoor equipment from now on; it just doesn't last).
I'm blessed to have such great friends!
One more Indy-related photo, and the next post will be all about something more usual and appealing to the general public, like how wonderful and amazing my kids are, how Eli is such a great dog, how Winston (the dog we are dogsitting this week) SHEDS, to the tune of enough to make another whole dog by now!!!!!1!!!!eleventy!!!!), or something about school, or work, or bread, or knitting.  Thanks for sticking with me while I rehash our trip and preserve it for posterity, lol!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

"Back Home Again in Indiana", Part Six - Drivers' Meeting

Starting Field, 2011 Indianapolis 500

Between autograph sessions on Saturday, we attended the public Drivers' Meeting in Tower Terrace.  Before the drivers came out and took their seats on the portable grandstand, the Firestone Firehawk was shooting t-shirts up into the stands......people were falling all over themselves trying to get one!  

Each of the drivers was presented with a starter's ring, there were other awards presented and announcements made, and when the schedule for the next day's pre-race was announced, it turned out that they'd just copied last year's schedule!  Last year the race started at 1 and this year it was at noon.  Everyone got a laugh out of that.

I continue to be amazed at the fan-friendliness of the Indy 500.  All the events on Saturday were FREE, you just had to know where and when.  A FREE Drivers' Meeting invitation can be used as a garage pass on Carb Day after track activities are done, and also on Saturday.  You can also get, FREE for the asking, a garage pass for after the race on Race Day.  Our camping permit was extremely reasonably priced, considering that one of the first things we saw every morning when we got up was the Pagoda.  Food and beverages are in plentiful supply both inside and outside the gates, but you are also permitted to bring in your own food and drinks (no glass, but that's easy enough to do).  We saw folks in the infield near where we sat who had full-size canopies and screen houses, lawn chairs, big rolling coolers and even one group with a grill!

I know there are people who have had grandstand seats for several generations, and this was only my second race to attend in person, but it was, and continues to be, one of the most amazing things to think back on - that my kids and I have been to the biggest single-day sporting event in the world not once, but TWICE.

Next post is Race Day and the aftermath, and then I guess I'll have to take the camping permit off the car windshield and go back to blogging about more mundane things.

Is this a better shot than the one above?  I can't tell.  

Monday, June 6, 2011

"Back Home Again in Indiana", Part Five

Mostly I'm just going to let the photos speak for themselves this time.  I used my Driver's Meeting Invitation (pictures of that coming tomorrow, because I have to do some editing; most of the time I'm really lazy and just post the pictures just as they come off the camera) to get access to the garage area and had a bunch of those gawking moments.

The car that won the race!

One of the Foyt Racing garages

4-time "500" winner A.J. Foyt
 The photo above completes my collection of photos of all three four-time Indy 500 winners.  Maybe someday I'll get the autographs to go with them, but for now I'm happy I got to SEE them all.
Think this is Janet; Pork Chop was over getting fueled up.  :)

Pippa Mann's car (got her autograph)

Marco Andretti's #26 machine

Is this Hinchcliffe's car? 

Takuma Sato's garage

I have a jar of Marmite for T. Scheck.......

NOT zoomed in, I was really this close to Simona's race car.  I touched the tire.  ;)

And up close and personal with Ed Carpenter's ride too!
All in all, the entire weekend was perfectly stupendous (I'm trying to stop using the word AWESOME, lol).....Amazing to be able to just walk around and take photos of all the cars, Important Racing Personalities and the surroundings.  Kind of like getting to a U2 concert a few hours early and being allowed to wander up on stage and take a good close-up look at the instruments that Bono, The Edge and the rest of the band actually play.

I started to say that I might be able to finish this up in one more post, but I think it really needs to be two more (I need a post for Race Day all by itself).  So tomorrow I will hopefully have my Driver's Meeting photos edited and I can blather on about that.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

"Back Home Again in Indiana", Part Four

2012 Dallara concept car, oval config
After we stopped in the Trackside cafe to get drinks, we had our lunch and then headed back over to the Tower Terrace stands for the Indy Lights race.  Once we got to the back of the grandstand we stopped to take a look at the show cars on display that we'll hopefully get to see on the track next year.

The more I look at these cars the more I like them, although I think the extension on the sidepod there at the rear wheel is AWFULLY close to being a fender, and the wraparound in the back looks a bit too much like a bumper for my taste, but these are only concept vehicles and I'll reserve judgment until I see them on the track, at speed, in 2012 .  
 I looked at my phone to see what time it was and noticed that I needed to be back over at the Penske merchandise trailer soon, so the kids and I agreed to meet in an hour, at the back of Victory Lane, and I sent them up into Tower Terrace to find seats and watch the Indy Lights race, and I started back past the Plaza toward the Penske trailer.

On the way to the museum that morning I'd picked up one of 100 tickets for a Rick Mears autograph, and since he's one of the drivers on my all-time favorites list, I didn't want to miss this opportunity.  I stood in line with a bunch of other fans and we chatted about all sorts of things while we waited.

Rick Mears, 4-time 500 winner, signs my t-shirt
It turned out that I don't think there were 100 people in line, and there was a really relaxed feel to the whole thing; Mr. Mears was taking the time to briefly chat with each fan (squee! I've talked to Rick Mears!), and when I got up to the front of the line he was gracious enough to sign his name nice and slowly so I could get this photo.  I thanked him for being there and he said to me "Thank YOU for coming out."  A real gentleman, and thrilling to have met him! (I'm so thankful I didn't go all fangirl on him, but I do admit I wanted to reach up there and give him a big smooch.  He's really a handsome guy.)
Afterwards I made sure to secure my Sharpie and t-shirt in my tote bag again, then I headed back over towards Tower Terrace and Victory Lane to catch the end of the Indy Lights race and meet up with the kids. I was able to walk right up to the fence that separates the walkway at the bottom of the stands (that runs in front of Victory Lane and the Pagoda) and watch from there - I was about halfway watching the race and halfway watching the people around me, both on my side of the fence and in the pit lane area.

I'd been standing there about 10 minutes when I noticed a man in a leather jacket standing just on the other side of the fence from where I was standing; he looked really familiar but I couldn't immediately place the face, until he turned around and was fully facing me for a couple of seconds.  John Force!  I'd been standing practically right next to John Force for I don't know how long! I didn't manage to get his autograph, though; just as I realized who he was someone came up to him on the other side of the fence and they went off towards Gasoline Alley together.

Well.......Josef Newgarden won the Indy Lights race, the kids and met up behind Victory Lane, and decided not to stick around for the Pit Stop Challenge as it was still chilly and breezy, our feet were tired, and we thought it might be nice to just chill out at our campsite for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

What a nice group of people we ended up camping near!  There were several families with kids of a similar age to mine, and they got Frisbees, a Nerf football and a bunch of other stuff and had a regular field day over in the space between two campsites on the other side of the road.  I mostly puttered around the campsite, walked around a bit, and read my Office in the screen house but was interrupted a bunch of times by people just walking by who stopped to say hi, find out where we were from, how many years we'd been coming to Indy, all that kind of stuff.  The families cattycorner behind us were really nice, we played some Corn Hole with them and another game where you try to fling a thing like a bolo around a ladder doodad (not very good at that, lol).  Directly behind us was a group of friends who have been camping in Lot 2 for about 10 years; they're from all over the place and this is like a reunion weekend for them.  I shared a Fat Tire craft beer with them and some good conversation.

I'm still happy and amazed at how very friendly everyone was.  Most of the time when we camp it's almost like we're in our own little universe, but here if felt like everyone was almost family.

We had yummy grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner, and after we cleaned up and put the stove away, I told the kids they could play but to stay in sight of our campsite, and I walked back down to Camp & Brew for about an hour to see what was up.  Met a few more TrackForum folks, ate some awesome ribs and then ran the gauntlet of Georgetown Road back to Lot 2 for some much needed rest.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

"Back Home Again in Indiana", Part Three - Carb Day continued

Centennial Socks with pattern on The Bricks
 Sometimes I get a bit fidgety standing in line, and when we were standing in line at the Speedway Museum I did feel the need to occupy my time with something other than looking, since I'd had the good fortune to find some pretty red sock yarn at the Knit Stop (owned by a daughter of Mari Hulman George, which is one reason I stopped there on our way to the Speedway on Thursday), I pulled out the yarn (KPPPM, yummy) and started a sock.

There was a couple in line in front of me, all decked out in IndyCar gear - jackets, hats and shirts - and just as I got about half the stitches cast on, the woman turned around and noticed what I was doing.  Which led to this:

Lady Fan:  "Are you starting a sock?  Good on you for bringing something to do.  What's the pattern?"

Me:  "The name is Centennial, and it commemorates the Speedway.  Here, let me show you the pattern." (I get the pattern out of my tote and hand it to her; she looks through it and really likes the pictures. I describe how the stitch patterns are connected to the track and the race, which she thinks is pretty cool)

LF:  "My niece and I both knit, and so does my sister.  I don't think either of them have ever knit socks before, but this one would be a good one!  This is really neat! Where can I buy the pattern?"

Me:  "You can purchase it at!  It's only $1.99, and you can buy the yarn at the same time.  It's a relatively easy pattern once you get them started."

LF:  "What's the website again?"  (Goes to KnitPicks' website on her smartphone and BUYS THE PATTERN.) "Thanks! I think I'll enjoy knitting them!"

Al Unser, Sr. smiles for my camera

 As you can see, I didn't get to get any of the winning drivers' autographs at the Museum; we got about 10 people from the head of the line and time ran I edged down the rope and got this lucky shot of 4-time winner Al Unser, Sr.  He saw out of the corner of his eye that I had the camera up, and looked up and smiled so I could get a picture.

I just realized that I was able to take pictures of ALL THREE of the four-time winners.  You'll see the pictures of the other two in the next post or so. All in all, it was a good day (and I'm not done, but I want to string you along some so I can really savor remembering the weekend).

Stop back for the story of how I managed NOT to make a complete fool of myself when I met one of my biggest childhood heroes, how I turned my kids LOOSE at the Speedway to go watch the Indy Lights race, another motorsports celebrity sighting, and a couple of stories of life in Lot 2.  :)
Johnny Rutherford

Gordon Piper in the Trackside Cafe

Friday, June 3, 2011

"Back Home Again in Indiana", Part Two - Carb Day

Friday morning (the 27th) I got up and made myself a cup of instant flavored coffee (I have a camping percolator, but it takes a LONG time to make a pot of coffee, and for this trip I just needed one or two cups in the morning to get a jump start to make it across the street), prayed my Office, then waited for the kids to get moving so we could go over to the track for Carb Day - the final day of IndyCar practice before the race. We walked through the tunnel, and the cars were on the track right then.  Silly us, we stopped in the middle for a moment until several cars had gone by (so now we can say we've been run over by IndyCars - the goofy things you think of to do, eh?).  We jumped up and touched the ceiling of the tunnel as the cars were passing too; we could see fingerprints where lots of others had done the same thing!

 This is the back side of the Pagoda as seen from the infield side of the tunnel.

I had one of those moments when I took this photo, of thinking "wow, I sure never thought I would ever in my life be standing right here!" (In actual fact the entire weekend was full of those moments).

Having never been so close to the Pagoda before, I was surprised at how HUGE it is!  I'm sure all four of us were gawking all day, since the vast majority of stuff we saw and did was completely new to us, and we wanted to take it all in.

 Here's the tunnel we came through.  On the other side of the railing there on the right are two lanes for vehicles to drive through; if you go straight on out of the tunnel you end up on the road course portion of the track and can connect to several parking areas, the Garage Area (more about that later) or drive all the way over to the museum.

I should mention now that once I got the car wedged into our camping spot, we walked everywhere, even to Mass on Saturday evening!

 Here are the kids on Pagoda Plaza.  It was a chilly morning with the threat of drizzle just about all day.  I'd say the Plaza is a bit larger than a football field (but if anyone reading this knows different please comment and let me and my other readers know; I'm not such a great estimator of sizes).

We had some time before the Indy Lights race, so we decided to walk over to the Museum and try to get some autographs, since a group of winning veteran drivers was to be there.  I also wanted to see the collection of winning cars, and the kids wanted to see the car you could sit in.
 On the way to the museum we passed by this lot, at the far end of which is Gasoline Alley!

Quite an experience to see that sign for real instead of just on television.

Somehow I got the feeling that I needed to keep my eyes peeled for Important Racing Personalities, so I perked up my eyeballs, made sure my Sharpie and white t-shirt were easily accessible at the top of my tote bag, and we walked by the lot where the teams have their trailers.
 About two seconds after I took this photo, a golf cart came scooting out from between the Honda trailer at the far right and the one in front of it, which is out of the frame.  In it was a "yellow shirt" and......Roger Penske.

Next time I will be bold and adventurous and yell "hey Mr. Penske!  May I have your autograph?" but this time I just discreetly pointed him out to the kids.

We continued on to the Museum without making any more celebrity sightings.  
 Here's the Marmon "Wasp", the winning car of the 1911 Indy 500.  It was driven by Ray Harroun, and was thought to be very unusual in that there was no second seat for a riding mechanic/spotter.  If you look closely at the photo you can see a contraption poking up there above the dash on metal rods - that's a rear view mirror, so Mr. Harroun could keep an eye on traffic to his rear.

Something that astonished me about there early cars - there is no firewall between the driver's cockpit and the engine compartment; you can look under the steering wheel and see the rear of the engine!
 The winning car display was arranged in chronological order; there were a few missing cars but for the most part I got to see all the cars I wanted most to see.

Along the far wall of this room are displays of memorabilia from the various eras of Speedway history.

The display in the next photo was especially interesting to Birdman; it's the one that tells about the period when the Speedway was owned by WWI pilot (and former Indy 500 driver) Eddie Rickenbacker. I wish I'd taken a picture of his face when he saw this case.

He turned to me and said "Eddie Rickenbacker is the name of one of the Civil Air Patrol awards!  I didn't know he used to OWN the Speedway!"

Me: "Yep, he did.  And now you have your personal connection to this amazing place, so it is your racetrack now too."

Don't tell anyone, but I think he might have had a bit of leaky eye right then.

Here's a replica of the car in which Mario Andretti got his only Indy 500 win.  The photo does not do the color justice at all; it is the most brilliant tomato-orange!  It almost GLOWS it's so bright.

Stay tuned for the next post, in which I tell you just how small a world it really is and show you places I REALLY thought I'd never get to.