30 July 2010

Washin’ them dishes, feedin’ them swine...

We have ditched the dishwashing detergent and with it phosphates, plastic bottles, bleach, other crazy chemiclas, and expense and instead have opted for our own simple concoction of one part borax to one part baking soda and white vinegar in the rinse. We also make sure ther is hot water in the tap before running the washer. One of my friends used this, but wasn't happy with it because of her dishwasher. There are many recipes out there, but this one works well in our dishwasher and is so very simple to make. I know some of you have been doing this for a while, but I am amazed when I go this long without know that I could have been making this all along. I've been duped!

29 July 2010

Watch waterfalls of pity roar...

We finally took a hike that was not ALL sunshine and waterfalls and rainbows. This one was hard. We hiked about 6 miles round trip with the hopes that the falls would be glorious. They were not.

Eli is literally the toughest 4 year old I know.
He hiked pretty much the entire time with high spirits. Pretty much the entire time. But not all of it. We did have a freak out session in a particularly rocky spot that we dubbed "boulder alley" wherein he sat down, had a cry, and proclaimed that he could not, would not, hike any further. We carried him. Cheered him up, slowed down, and will probably pack chocolate next time. We are learning how to hike with a four year old, going a little further each time, so I guess this was inevitable.
Pictured above, a "fall". Another lesson learned about a rainless July..

"Skull mountain"
Nice pants..
O's new quaff compliments of his proud pops who exclaimed, "I should have been a barber."
The top of the falls..
See them a bit more spectacularly here..

25 July 2010

I gaze into the doorway..

Today we continued our exploration of a great park about an hour and a quarter from our home, South Cumberland State park. The pictures from earlier this week were taken at Foster Falls and Grundy Forest. Today we stomped around Greeter Falls and the Stone Door.

Greeter Falls was fun to swim in, but because it hasn't rained much lately, the falls don't look as impressive as they feel when you are swimming on your back looking up at them. All of these shots are of the Stone Door. This hike was partially paved, one mile in and one mile back, and very easy hiking with spectacular vistas and a walkway reportedly used by Native Americans many moons ago.

22 July 2010

Somewheres in this universe there’s a place that you can call home....

I love gardening.
And, somehow I forget over the winter how much I love it. I think that is a good thing, because I get to re-experience the joys every year. I learn something new each season, grow something different, try new ways. I do not have a large garden at all, but rather have my "flower" beds planted with yummy veggies. The eating part is scrumptious (tonight's dinner included homegrown carrots, cucumbers, and tomatoes), not to mention the other obvious benefits of saving money and "eating local."
But I also love how gardening is such common ground amongst folks. It makes for such pleasant conversation. You can ask anyone who has even one tomato plant about it in the summer, and their eyes light up. Gardening conversation spans political affiliations, nationalities, income level, religious views, and age. It is a great common denominator. I can ask anyone about what they are growing and learn something or just bask in their description of something they have grown to love and to know as if in a deep intimate relationship.
I also get a kick out of the sharing part of gardening. In my neighborhood, we hand cucumbers over fences, leave squash and peppers on each other's doors, and water when we go out of town. There is a elderly Laotian couple that baby their garden with umbrellas and constant tending and grow beans that I have never seen before and peppers that make you sweat when you look at them. The lady speaks no English, but we've swapped veggies, and she'll gladly take our grass clippings if she sees us out. The above grapes were dangling in our yard from another neighbor and he invited us to pick as many as we can handle. What comraderie amongst neighbors!
I also get so excited to grow something new. Here is my first watermelon. Isn't it precious? We only have the one, but the vine that we grew from seed, transplanted, loved on, watered, talked to, babied, has sprouted and has several flowers. I have found great recipes that involve the mint (harvested today and drying) and watermelon together. Yum!
And, lastly, I stand in awe that things grow that we can eat and that this binds us a human race. I can't wait to make pickles and salsa, and ask you about your garden, and hand you a tomato. I am grateful that even if you have been a gardener for decades, you can appreciate my oohs and aahs for my first watermelon and tiny carrots.
All pictures and thoughts captured today from the garden.

21 July 2010

Though you might call it ‘Paradise'....

We went hiking again, but this time we camped, too! This friendly guy we met on the way back to our primitive sight. Elijah said with confidence that he was a non-venomous, black rat snake. I am frequently impressed with their outdoor knowledge.
Our campsite was about 1/2 mile hike back.
Lessons learned included but not limited to:
how to build a campfire, how to tell stories, what life sounds like in the woods, and much, much more.
One of our first views this morning before 7am..
A hike down a mountain after a breakfast...
Looking closely you can see a swinging bridge over a stream down a rocky path..
Which led to this haven..
There is no way to capture the cool mist blowing in from the fall, or the sound of the rushing water, or the mesmerizing effect of the water reflecting on the stone, or the relaxation of floating on your back looking up at the waterfall, or the enchantment of having a place like this to your self. Words like magic, paradise, and tranquil do not begin to touch these moments that we share with our children..

As the day progressed, we hiked by several other waterfalls as we meandered through the forest near the streams and rivers. Our kids are great hikers and are becoming quite adept at swimming as well.
I love Tennessee hiking so very much.
We explored this state park, but it is so large we did not have enough time to see all of it. We will surely return afer giving our legs a few days of rest.

19 July 2010

Sat upon my grandpa's knee, And what do you think he said to me?...

So this weekend, we cleaned out the shed and found this.
Evan's grandpa Boggs gave it to him when he was a wee lad,
and Evan has now passed it to Ollie.
It is a working tool set.
I can't wait to see what they build.
First on the agenda: a bat house!

18 July 2010

by the edge of the creek....

Fall Creek Falls.
Annual tradition,
but this year,
Eli walked the entire time!
Click here for last year, and here for the year before that.

Yesterday’s gone but the past lives on...

Part two of yesterday's adventure included a "time tunnel" that was a black light tunnel with historical information. The boys LOVED it even though Evan kept popping out of nowhere trying to startle us.

The center of the above photo represents the ceremonial ground that we walked around on our hike.
Inside the time tunnel...

Materials traded by native americans across the US...