Sunday, May 31, 2009

Things That Made Me Happy This Weekend

☺Celebrating the adoption of Leah Katherine with friends old and new!

☺ Bowling a 124 on Friday night and for the 1st time ever, winning the game!  I also bowled 2 other games where I scored over 90!  

☺ Going to Wolftrap with friends and sitting on the lawn for Priates of Penzance.  (Even if it did get chilly and my neat sheet didn't exactly keep me warm!) 

☺Finishing a cross stitch project that I started a long time ago and then forgot about! 

☺ Star-gazing during intermission at Wolf Trap on Saturday night.  

☺2 cool thunderstorms!  Even if one was at  5 am when I really didn't want to be awake!

☺ Yummy spicy enchiladas I made for dinner tonight!

☺ Planning to go to bed early tonight to read my Nevada Barr book - I have almost read every one of her Anna Pigeon novels so it's bittersweet! 

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Exclusion: Cliques and other Social Weapons

Everyone remembers middle school right? When you were either in the "cool" group and had a lot of friends or you weren't. If you weren't in the "cool" group chances are you were teased and made fun of by the "cool" group. In order to be accepted someone else had to excluded. In middle school, and even into high school to large degree, there was always the "cool" kids and the "not cool" kids. And it was always, always, in everyone's face. The cool kids always having to show off that they are a part of the "in crowd" and making the outsiders feel even more worthless than they already did. For us "non-cool" crowd there was the yearning that maybe just maybe we'd figure out the secret and get to be part of the "cool" group. No matter what though there was always that air of "we belong" and "you don't."

I thought I'd left this childishness behind. Apparently the need to accepted at the cost of someone else being excluded goes beyond middle school.

I face this issue on a daily basis at my school, which I have mostly learned to live with. I realized quickly that people who were doing the excluding weren't the people I wanted to be around anyway so I don't really even want to be included anymore. Frustrating that I still have to deal with it, but not something I lose sleep over anymore.

Recently though this "cliqueness" has seeped into my outside of school social life.

About 10 months ago I discovered a boardgames group on is a great site to find groups of all interests and topics all over the country! It's a great way to meet people and make friends. In Decemember I started attending the board games meetups regularly, and was having a lot of fun!

Naturally, with a large group of people, friendships will form that go beyond the group. This is to be expected. I would also expect that as people get to know each other they would exchange contact info or friend each other on facebook or start twittering each other or whatever. It would also not be uncommon for several members of the group to get together on their own, and that those meetings would not be made public for the whole group. Totally understandable. Some people have created a deeper bond than others, this is OK. This is part of making friends and being social. Not everyone is going to like everyone else, it's a fact of life.

Imagine my surprise about a week ago when I discovered (not even sure how anymore) that there was a new meetup group that several folks who I consider my friends had joined. A private meetup group. Invite only. The name of the group: The Clique. From the public part of the profile:

From Wikipedia: A clique is an exclusive group of people who share interests, views, purposes. Cliques tend to form within the boundaries of a larger group where opportunities to interact are great.

I have no idea what this group is all about. I have no idea what they do. All I know is the name and that there are several folks who I believed to my friends who are a part.

Obviously I was not invited to be a part of this group.

But that is not what has me so worked up. Yes, I am feeling betrayed by people who I'm friends with. Yes, I'm questioning what is wrong with me and obsessing over every little thing I might have done "wrong". But, bottom line is that not everyone is going to like me, regardless of how much I like them. And like, I have discovered at school, if the people who are in this group feel that they need to exclude others then that's fine with me. I don't want to be a part of the group. I'm not sure I'd want to be in the group even if I'd been invited. I'm not into being accepted at the expense of someone being blatently excluded.

What has me so outraged is the publicness of this - there are tons of private ways of getting a group together, yet the organizer for this group chose to do it in a way that clearly alienates people. That's what irkes me. If you want to get together with a select group of people, fine! Send an evite, email, text, snail mail, whatever, but don't wave it around in the faces of the people who, for whatever reason, you don't want there.

I know I shouldn't let these things get to me. But they do.

PS: Don't have time tonight for the "other social weapons" - another post on another day!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Trillium! Trillium! Trillium!

For years now I have wanted to go see the Trillium out in the Thompson WMA - supposedly it's the largest concentration of Trillium in the Northern Hemisphere! Rumor has it that there are over 18 million trillium in this area. Every year all the hiking clubs have hikes out there. Supposedly it's a sight to see. I wanted to see it. The problem is that trillium peak in late April/early May. The same time that the tree pollen peaks. This year the pollen has been a lot better, not sure if it's because we have had a lot of well timed rain, or because I no longer live with an allergy producing dog, or if the allergy shots are finally helping. Whatever it is, I don't care, because it's May and I can go outside without feeling miserable! :-)

So today I decide to head out to see the trillium, or whats left of them. I was pretty sure that the trillium would be past their peak, but I remember seeing trillium in SNP last Memorial Day so I didn't think we'd be too far past the peak.

Before I go any further, I'm sure many of you are wondering, What's a trillium? Contrary to what folks might have posted on my Facebook page, they are not large game, and they are not eaten, rather they are wildflowers! They are pretty cool flowers, they have three petals and three leaves (hence the TRI). I have seen a few in SNP - usually one or two at a time, and they are a special sighting. I was anxious to see what millions of them look like! Here's a pic of the best one that I found:

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The weather forecast or today called for thunderstorms, but it was mostly for the evening, and while it was cloudy and dreary earlier in the day the sun had come out and I thought it would be a great afternoon to make the trek to Linden and see what's left, or at the very least scout out where to go next year!

I left here at 1:30 and drove the hour out to the WMA in sunshine! I was about 3 miles from the exit off 66 when I saw the dark clouds off to the west. It was still sunny where I was so I pressed on. I found the parking area very easily, everything was very well marked!

I found the parking area I wanted - luckily the Appalachian Trail runs right through the WMA and have a wonderful PATC topo map for the area! As soon as I stepped out of the car I saw about 10 trillium! WOW! All were turning pink, indicating that they were past their peak, but there they were!

Trillium are usually white, however the white color comes from a pigment similar to chlorophyll and when the season is over the chlorophyll drains away and the flower turns pink - much like how the leaves change color in the fall.

As I walked down the old road that was going to link me to the AT I saw hundreds of trillium in the woods - all in various stages of "past peak". I did find many that were still white, however the petals were damaged and they weren't very "photo friendly".

I'd been walking, well out of the car, I was taking pictures so I hadn't gotten far at all, about 5 mins when I heard a distant rumble of thunder. It was still sunny where I was, in fact there was a lovely breeze and the temperature was perfect! The humidity had strangely vanished also, so it was very pleasant out, I had no intention of going back to the car! I pressed on, bushwhacking in places to get good pics of the trillium.

I was hearing thunder about every minute, and while it was clearly a distance from me I wasn't sure if it was headed my way or not. I pulled out my iPhone. Sure enough, I had enough coverage to pull up my Weather Channel App and check the radar! (Who says technology has no place in the wilderness?) There was a huge storm but it was over by Front Royal and extended south - SNP was going to get it bad! Again, it was sunny where I was and it looked like the storm was not headed my way. I continued on.

I reached the AT and headed north. Here there were more trillium, however they were even further past their peak. I couldn't even imagine what it would have looked like a week or two ago! The rumor of 18 million trillium could be true! I wasn't even at the spot where the map had indicated there were trillium! WOW! I'm going to have to come back next year for sure!

By now, the thunder was getting louder and closer and the sky had gotten dark, I decided it was time to turn back. I had only gone less than 1/2 a mile so it didn't take long to get back to the car. By the time I was close to the car it had begun to rain. It wasn't long before it was pouring!

As I was driving back down the road I caught some glimpses of the view to the east and the clouds were pretty awesome! Big puffy clouds with blue sky and sun peaking out, right next to dark storm clouds! I could see the back edge of the storm - it looked like I could wait it out, however it was already getting late in the day and I'd accomplished the goal which was to see if the trillium were still at their peak, and to scout out where to go next year, so I headed home.

I was driving just ahead of the storm and got to watch the clouds shift and change the whole way! I set the cruise for 70mph and enjoyed the sights! Just inside of Prince William County I spotted a VA State Trooper in the median, facing me - I taped the brakes, but I knew I wasn't speeding. I nearly wet my pants when he pulled out behind me! I quickly moved over to the right lane, and he was on the shoulder - he was moving kinda slow so I didn't think he was after me. Then he moved in the right lane and on came the lights! shit!!!! I slowed way down and as soon as I hit the brakes he jumped into the left lane and zoomed past me. phew. I had no idea what I'd been doing so I didn't think he needed me! The car in front of me must have know what they were doing because they pulled over when they saw the lights!

The storm followed me home! When I got home the sky was dark grey and the clouds were were really cool! The breeze was cool and pleasant. I decided to sit on the front step and watch! My next door neighbor stepped out and he agreed that it was a lovely moment so he sat down on his step and we both watched the brewing storm! There was tons of lighting, right over the house across the street! Mike's wife and children returned home, and another neighbor stepped out to watch the storm with us. It was at that point that Mike's 8 year old said "I'm going to watch the storm from a safe place!" That's right, do as we say, not as we do! :-)

I can't wait to go back next year and see the trillium in full bloom! Until then, check out my pics in my Picasa album!


Sunday, May 03, 2009

I'm Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover!

Yesterday Andy and I went to Sky Meadows State Park for Astronomy Night 4 leaf-clover hunt.  The Northern VA Astronomy club was having a public star viewing and we were hoping to see some stars and use some cool telescopes, but the weather wasn't cooperating.  There was a thick layer of clouds over the sky, but no rain, so it was actually very nice! We were hopeful that the clouds would lift and we could enjoy the night sky, but that was not to be.  

When we arrived the 1st thing Andy did was reach down and pick a 4 leaf clover! Then as we walked over to where the Astronomy Club had set up we discovered an enormous field of clovers and of course Andy started hunting for clovers!  I joined in too and discovered that it's very addictive!  We stood in that field for over an hour and found at least 30 4 leaf clovers!  Luckily Andy had brought a small notebook with him so we carefully put the 4 leaf clovers in the book - we have plans to make bookmarks or something in the near future! 

It was pretty clear that there was nothing happening at Astronomy Day.  It was cloudy and there weren't many people there.  We finally decided that we were tired of looking down (and for me crawling on my hands and knees...all the better to see the leaves!) so we thought we'd hike up the hill to a viewpoint and enjoy the the nice afternoon!

We started hiking, but neither of us could take our eyes off the clovers!  We found a number of 4-leaf clovers on the trail!  We hiked up the hill to the bench and sat and enjoyed the view for awhile, until Andy discovered a tick crawling on him!  ewwww!!!!!  Time to head down!  

When we got back to the car we broke out the pink neat sheet and had a picnic!  Of course we were surrounded by 4-leaf clovers so,  guess what we looked for more clovers! In addition to finding 4-leaf clovers Andy also found a bunch of 5 leaf clovers! He even found a 6-leaf clover!  I took a picture of that one, but it's on my phone!  By this point the notebook was nearly full, but try as we might we could not stop looking for, and finding clovers! 

We walked back over to the Astronomy Club's set up to see what was happening and found that there was still nothing going on and the clouds were not showing signs of lifting so we headed out!  There is another stargazing night in a few weeks, we have plans to go back then, and hopefully see some stars! :-)  

Andy with a nut that looked like a pig's nose!
The Clovers!!!!  Can you find a 4-leaf one in here? 
Interspersed in with the clovers were these pretty purple flowers!  We picked a few of them too to add to our bookmarks! 
The view from where the Astronomy Club had set up.  

View from the trail. 

The dogwoods were all in bloom and they were very pretty! 
Also part of the view from the trail - the blob at the top of the picture is a gnat - they were out in force swarming around our eyes and ears! 

View from the parking lot near where we had our picnic! 
Another dogwood on the trail. 
View from the bench we were sitting on. 
The bench and the tree that the ticks were falling out of! 
Andy looking for 4-leaf clovers on the walk up the hill - I think he found 6 or 7 right in this spot! 

Purple Wall!

Over Spring Break I finally painted the 4th wall in my living room purple like the other three walls! I have been waiting to post before/after pictures until it was done and it took Kodak 3 weeks to get me my photo enlargments so this post has been a long time coming! 

I was nervous about painting the line that seperates the living room and the dining room because I'm not very good at the detail work.  I got out the tape and taped a line and it came out great!  While I was at it with the tape I taped the other "trim" areas and that greatly reduced the amount of paint that I got on the woodwork, the celing, and the electrical outlet! 

Similar to the other purple wall I covered this wall with photos I'd taken from other trips, including Alaska!  I really like how it came out!