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Monthly Archives: August 2007

Scenes From The Marksberry House

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3:24 a.m., dark, quiet bedroom

(Kimmie’s Thoughts) – “Woah.  Something bit my elbow.  Is Einstein in here?  What’s going on?”

(Randy’s Thoughts) – “Why is there an elbow in my mouth?”

Kimmie – out loud: “Randy……did you just bite my elbow?”

Randy – out loud: “………..yeah…….I think I did”

Laughter ensues.  Zipper sighs and tries to get comfortable again after all the commotion.  Later Randy explains that his reactions when plucked out of a sound sleep tend to be rather primal.  My elbow must have been in his way, so he bit it.

So watch out next time you are near Randy.  If you get too close he just might bite your elbow off.

Its All Poison Ivy

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Readers of this blog may be weary of seeing any more hiking pics, but when you’re training for the mouse, you have to do a lot of it.  This time we went to Natural Bridge in central-ish Kentucky where Randy dragged me up gazillions of steps and hills in the name of fitness.

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Luckily, the climate around here took a brief reprieve from its “tropical jungle” phase and there was almost a chill in the air, especially on the trail we visited, called the Rock Garden Trail.  Full of enormous, house-sized boulders and bordering rock caves, the trail is well shaded and the stones emit a chilly halo when you get close.  The forests of rhododendrons and evergreen trees that surround you evoke the feeling of a being on mountain treck and fill the air with a sweet and subtle pine scent.  Its hard to believe we are only two hours from our sub-division and it makes for a serene morning, rarely meeting anyone along the trail, quiet except for the crickets.

Unfortunately, we were regularly and rudely jolted from our fairy tail tromp through the enchanted forest by some nasty intruders.  Poison Ivy apparently loves the sun and hot weather and has flourished this summer.  Being a nature-idiot, I have no idea how to identify this “predatory” plant, despite Randy’s repeated attempts to educate me.  Luckily for me, Randy – former boy scout extraordinaire – was kind enough to point out the poison every time he saw it and I was able to follow his weaving to know when to avoid a leaf.  After a while the Poison Ivy warnings were so frequent I wondered if I should just avoid touching anything green.  Eventually, we came to a section of trail where the vegetation was so encroaching on the path that it narrowed considerably, and Randy announced, defeated: “Its all Poison Ivy.”

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Managing to avoid the the rash-inducing plants, we trekked on for what seemed like miles (allthough it was really only about 1.75 miles) and saw a lot of unique things:

A giant thumb print at the base of a clif:

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A leaf that appeared to be naturally tie-dyed:

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A nature fun house maze that is not for the claustrophobic:

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And lots and lots of steps:

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Before we finally made it to the main attraction, the bridge:

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After the bridge we were greeted by…you guessed it….more steps.  Going down is usually a relief but this descent was so steep our legs got very wobbly near the end and we actually looked forward to an uphill patch of trail we could see in the distance.

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After the hike we were STARVING.  Three words: I earned it.

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Adult Book It

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No….not adult book store.  Get out of the gutter.  As most of my friends and family know, I love pizza like many people love fine wines and gourmet chocolate.  I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t my favorite food and the times are few and far between when I turn down the chance to eat it.   So, upon Chris’s suggestion in the comments I founded Adult Book It and Randy and I are the charter members.  Unfortunately, in Adult Book It you have to either purchase or bake your own pizza. 

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I chose to bake my pizza since I’m trying to save money and because I really love my mom’s pizza recipe!  

I even make homemade crust – I’m fancy that way.

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Mmmmmm…..Onions and Garlic for the sauce….

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Taking a nap while the dough rises…

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Now its turning into sauce!

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This rolling-out turned out much rounder than I can normally manage..

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We’re simple pizza people at home – pepperoni for Randy and cheese for me.

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Now to nibble on some leftover sauce and cheese while the pizza bakes….to make sure its safe…yeah…

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Ahhh….sit back…relax…and be glad you live in a time period in which pizza has already been invented.

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Book It!

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If you were a child in the 80s or the parent of a child in the 80s (and probably 90s – I stopped paying attention) you are probably familiar with the Pizza Hut Book It program.  There was nothing better than collecting the last of the required five star stickers in exchange for the five books you read and turning them in for a Free Personal Pan Pizza gift certificate.  Since I have always been a big fan of pizza, this was a good deal for me.  Looking back I can see how it was not necessarily as good of a deal for my parents, because it basically forced them to spend money on an evening out at Pizza Hut.  But I loved it – I loved collecting the stars and proudly displaying them on my Book It button, walking into Pizza Hut on a Friday night (the penacle of Pizza in the 80s as far as I’m concerned) greeted by the doughy, tomato-y scent of yummy cheesy goodness, and seeing a friend or two and her family, visiting “the hut” for the same reasons.  

I’ve been taking lots of trips down memory lane lately, mainly fueled by my return to elementarty school this fall.  I’m going to be working in four different schools doing enrichment programs in the classroom four days a week.  Since school is starting soon (or has already started – like here in my neighborhood!) I have been attending a barrage of open houses and back to school nights.  Being back in that environment has opened a flood of memories and I can’t get enough of the nostalgia.

The smell of erasers and freshly copied worksheets(or during my day- freshly ditto machined – remember all the purple ink?).  The posters on the wall bearing inspirational slogans like “Believe to Achieve” and “Learning is Fun!”.  The bald gym teacher with a Hulk Hogan-esque mustache who wears shorts day in and day out no matter the temperature.  Well maybe not everyone shares that last memory – but I bet a lot of you do!

In a quest to open the door to more happy childhood  memories, Kelli and I went to mom and dad’s house, trudged into their enormous basement, and dug out all of our old books.  We each took a selection of our old favorites home to browse through and reminisce.  My bag of books was a virtual life-story of my childhood/adolescent attitide in its progression from innocence to angst and doom to lots of drama and adventure.

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Many of the books I brought home are Ramona books by Beverly Cleary.  I’m rediscovering my love for Ramona and have already devoured three of the books, started two more, and gone to the library to get the ones I don’t own.  Here’s just one example of why Ramona rocks:

“Before the class started seat work, Ramona went to her teacher with her precious bloody tooth, and asked, ‘Would you keep this for me?’  Ramona wanted to be sure she did not lose her tooth, because she needed it for bait to catch the tooth fairy.  She planned to pile a lot of clattery things like sauce pans and pie tins and old broken toys beside her bed so the tooth fairy would trip and wake her up.”

                                               –Ramona the Pest -1968

Bait to catch the tooth fairy.  Priceless.  The Ramona books, while written for children, are also amusing for adults to read.  I think the thing that attracts me to them to this day is their ability to capture what it really felt like to be a little kid and the kinds of things we really thought about in our childhood.

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Besides Ramona and other similarly themed books, I found a treasure-trove of titles that could have only graced my bookshelves in middle school.  Written by Lurlene McDaniel, I call them the “Death and Sadness” collection.  I was obsessed with them and regular, happy books were no longer of interest to me.  I guess I needed to create drama in my life which was all too often (according to my journals) boring and painfully tedious.  Notice happy titles of my middle school reading list: Why Did She Have to Die, Please Let Him Live, and When Happily Ever After Ends.

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And here is another jewel: Baby Alicia is Dying.  Check out the cover art.  On the back of the book it says that Baby Alicia’s fate is doomed because of a serious illness but after closer study of the picture I have an alternate theory.

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Look closer…

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Yep – there’s your problem.  You have an evil clown living in your room, Alicia!  He’d kill you in a second.

Once I left Alicia and the “Death and Sadness” phase I was ready for more adventure.  Romance novels?  Pshaw.  Give me “thrillers” like: The Face on the Milk Carton (about kidnapping), The Other Side of Dark (about a shooting, miraculous recovery from a four-year coma, and the quest to find the shooter), Missing Since Monday (more kidnapping), and Shadowmaker (teen-age murder crime mystery).

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My crime and action phase marked the end of my interest in fiction through the present day.  I usually read informational books about whatever I’m currently in to – photography, crafts, dieting, etc.  But I have had a lot of fun spending sweltering summer evenings in bed, safe inside the air conditioning, reading side-by-side with Randy – with a snuggly Zipper sandwiched in between.  Admittedly, some of the titles in my library are not stellar examples of literary excellence while others are classics.  But I’m drawn to the simplicity of children’s fiction and the sense of nostalgia it provides. 

I’ve finished four books and am closing in on my fifth.  I wonder when I’ll get my free pizza…..

Sacajaweiner

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Zipper-Cam 

This weekend I was lucky enough to catch up with always-on-the-go Zipper Marksberry and ask her all the hard-hitting questions YOU want to know.  In typical fashion, she was out on another adventure Saturday and I was invited to tag along to beautiful Boone Cliffs park.  I learned a lot about the dynamic pup and what makes her tick (also what makes her “ticked” – namely – ticks).  I have captured the essence of our morning together through photos and text of our frank discussion.  Please enjoy:

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The Spotted Elephant: Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with me.  I know our readers will appreciate it.  Tell us about this latest adventure you’re on.

Zipper: I’m hiking through the wilderness!  Just call me Sacajaweiner.  Get it?  He he!  Lots to sniff!  I can’t be contained!

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TSE: You seem to have quite the adventurous spirit.  What other kinds of things do you do for fun?

Zipper: Ummm… sitting.  I’m very goot at sitting.  Also licking – love to lick.  Barking is my FAVORITE!  And I chase Caddie – that nasty, no good rabbit who invades our yard.  Grrrrrrr – I…hate…him…so…much!

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TSE: Wow – you certainly do lead a life on the edge.  I don’t want to get too personal here, but the readers want to know.  Do you have a crush on any special dog out there?

Zipper:  Hehehehe!  I guess……Snoopy.  He’s sooooo dreamy.

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TSE: What about the number one man in your life – your daddy?  How is your relationship with him?

Zipper:  Oh I love him – he does whatever I want him to and he’s fun to sleep on.  But I think he smells like cheese.  I call him the cheese man.  He hates it!

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TSE: Funny, funny!  So how is it to have so much free time with no job to worry about?

Zipper:  I have a very important job!  I’m in charge of my rasckly kittty brothers.  I show them who’s boss – I have to keep them on their toes.  They need someone to tackle them, to bite their ears, pull on their tails, and chase them.  Its very important business.

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TSE: This has certainly been an enlightening day.  Thanks for letting me spend it with you.  Any parting words?

Zipper: Just keep your nose to the ground and keep hound-doggin’ it!

Words to live by.  We hope you have enjoyed this unprecedented look into the inner workings of a modern weiner on the move.

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My Favourite and My Best

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Randy and I are eagerly awaiting the time when we will extend our family to include little ones without fur – a.k.a. children.  So naturally, we spend time discussing our philosophies on child-rearing, trying to blend our values and our own childhood experiences to come up with a strategy we can both get behind.

During strategy discussions this weekend we came to a landmark decision: we want to raise our children to be British.  Mainly for the accent.  We can’t think of anything more irrisistable than tiny little children with proper British accents.  They automatically sound intellegent and charming.  Even when they’re “cross”, it would be hard not to laugh with and adore them.  They would be starting out life with an instant advantage!

We have always adored little British children, but our affinity has grown recently as we watch our newest favorite show: Charlie and Lola.  It airs in the U.K. and on the Disney Channel (at 9:00a.m. eastern on weekday mornings).   

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The episodes are all narrated by seven year-old Charlie, who is British, and focus on the antics of his feisty four year-old sister, Lola, also British.  Every episode begins with Charlie telling us: “I have this little sister Lola. She is small. .. and very funny.”

Randy and I watch the show with rapt attention like we are five years old – laughing and smiling at each other.  We want a daughter just like Lola.  She cracks us up and I think one of the reasons we like her so much is that we’re pretty sure Zipper would be just like her if she were human.  She is imaginative to a fault, very easily distracted, and excited about everything – she regularly proclaims that something is her “favorite and my best”.  She also once  fantasized herself as a doctor in a hospital, going from bed to bed assuring the patients (who all happened to be zoo animals): “Do not worry, ill people!  For I am a doctor and can make you better!”

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I want to tell you even more aobut Charlie and Lola but it wouldn’t do them justice.  Please click on the “Play” button on the video below to see the begining of one of their adventures.  Its slightly long but it will be worth it! 

If you liked this and want to see the exciting conclusion, click on the clip below.

Now that you’ve seen them, don’t you want little British children?  I’m seriously obsessed with this show right now – not only for the funny characters and story lines, but I also love the style of annimation.  It is characterized as “collage annimation” because of its use of various, layered textures including paper, fabric, and photos.  Lola often wears new and different dresses and I find myself thinking I really like her dress, or her quilt, or her scarf.  Then I remember that it is a cartoon and feel a little embarrassed.  But hey- it doesn’t matter where you get your inspiration, right?

If you are as smitten with Charlie and Lola as I am you can visit their web site at www.charlieandlola.com.  Its a little slow to load but there are some really cute stuff on there.

Thanks for indulging my new obsession……

                 ……..next post: Interview with a Zipper

Canoe + Lake = New and Improved Zen Us

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Who knew we had a lake only 1.9 miles from our house?  And by “our”, I mean Randy and me –  not necessarily you.  Allthough you might – you should check.  I seriously didn’t know we had one until about a year after we moved here – Doe Run Lake is well hidden.

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Its also a great place for Randy and me to add upper body training to our Disney Boot Camp program (more on that in a later post – we are super motivated to lose weight and get in shape before meeting the mouse).  It just so happens that Randy’s parents own a canoe they never use and – what are the odds – we wanted to use a canoe.  So a deal was struck – we will store the canoe at our house indefinately and use it whenever we want.  Being that we miraculously have a lake 1.9 miles from our driveway, we hope that will be often.

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We struck out on our first big canoe adventure of 2007 this morning around 9:00.  We decided that we should go once or twice a week to do upper body toning (our training thus far has been disproportionately lower body focused as we live on a mini-mountain and climb it each morning).  Things went well – slowly, but well.  It will take a while to become efficient with the whole loading and unloading of the canoe process.  That sucker is HEAVY.

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We managed to get it into the water and began paddling around the perimeter of the lake, our only company some fishermen, a small duck family, and a surprising amount of trash.  Despite the trash the morning lake was refreshing – quiet and peaceful.  Much different than the other canoe trips I’ve been on in the river.  Canoeing in the river is more of an adventure (albeit a relatively tame one) – akin to  a fast paced aerobics class – jumping and flittering here and there.  This was more like yoga – slower, quiet, more deliberate.

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The contrast made me think back to my first (and what I assumed would be my last) canoe trip.  It was in college with a group of other college kids from church.  My partners were my sister, Kelli, and my friend Mandie.  This was our first mistake – none of us could be considered athletic or even out-doorsy and none of us had ever even touched a canoe.  Its a little boat – you stick your paddles in and you go.  What could be so difficult about that?  After a day of getting stuck in the rocks on the bottom of the low, draught-ravaged river, uncontrollably slamming into the river banks, and – my personal favorite – repeatedly causing head-on collisions with other random canoers because we had NO idea how to steer.  The icing on top of the cake was when our canoe tipped over trowing us out, knocking me in the head and pushing the others into large rocks, and sailing all of our belongings including our lunch and towels a good ways down-stream.  We arrived home bruised, sunburned, and exhausted – and vowing to never….Ever….set foot in another canoe.

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Well, things happen.  I got married to Randy – a former Boy Scout who took entire canoe-camping trips to Minnesota for weeks at a time – and he sweet talked me into venturing out again into that world.  He promised that when we went it would be fun and he’d do all the work.  And it happened exactly that way.  Would you believe that if you go canoeing with someone who actually knows what he is doing, its an activity that can actually be not only tolerated, but enjoyed?  And you don’t run into ANY passing canoes! 

As the two of us deftly maneuvered our canoe around the lake Randy patiently listened as I told him the story of my first canoe experience for what I’m sure can’t be the first time.  When I wasn’t reminiscing we spent the time marveling at the fact that we have this awesome little lake just 1.9 miles from our house.  It seemed like we were far away on a trip in the mountains and we felt blessed that we live so close to such cool places.

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I’m amazed more and more at the diversity of the little area in which we live.  We are five minutes from an urban entertainment district yet we could walk down roads that could just as easily be at home in the hills of Estern Tennessee.  We live in a sub-division with sidewalks and street lamps yet we are practically on top of a “remote” fishing lake bordered by an old-school cargo railroad.  Check back soon for a post celebrating my little piece of the globe – I am continuously amazed and delighted by the variety of settings I have access to every day – settings its so easy to take for granted.

As for Doe Run Lake – we plan to appreciate it a lot more in the coming weeks.  We have already imagined our mornings out on the lake, toning our arm muscles with fluid rowing and eating our breakfast in the canoe, under a grove of trees in one of the lake’s hidden fingers.  I’ve already begun to plan Marksberry Rowing Team t-shirts (I couldn’t help it).  I don’t know how often we’ll really get out there or how much more “zen” it will make us, but it sounds like a good idea….

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