As we say above, this is mainly for friends and family. Michael's blog on the Middle East can be found here. Most of our other links can be found below on the right, but be sure to keep up as well with our family website, here. We also have discussion groups for genealogy, links to genealogical information on us, and our (semi-private) Flickr and YouTube accounts for those who are invited. You can also get a quick-navigation guide here.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Another good day

Another good day. (Actually now yesterday, Feb. 17, Saturday of President's Day weekend.) We went out to Manassas Battlefield (known to the damyankees as Bull Run) and hiked on some of the hiking trails. Sarah declared that she loved hiking. She has never loved hiking before. She is going to find herself hiking a lot this year, I think. We identified deer tracks, horeshoe prints, dog tracks etc. in the mud; she found a good hiking staff and walked with it; she declared herself very happy. She got ice cream afterward.

This is the second day to get out of the urban environment, and we've both realized how long we've been missing it. The trips to Baltimore and Philadelphia and Norfolk were fine, but we'd been too long without country. I think we're really revived.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

More thoughts on a broken logjam

I'm waiting for laundry to finish and it's past midnight but I've been having further thoughts about the work/blogging/everything else doldrums we've been in lately, and why the logjam seems to have broken.

I'm not precisely a country boy -- Joplin was (and is) a town of 40,000 people -- but I grew up in the Ozarks and was always used to getting outside of an urban environment pretty often. We've tried since our marriage to do the same, getting out to the Shenandoah Valley or the Blue Ridge, traveling in the small-town South or Midwest, keeping it pretty down home.

Now I look back over the last six months or so. Our vacation: Hampton Roads, the biggest urban concentration in Virginia (Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Newport News, Hampton, Chesapeake, Portsmouth -- all cities). Thanksgiving: Philadelphia, a city bigger and grittier than Washington. Christmas day trip: Baltimore. Great town, great food, but a city the size of Washington. In between: Washington.

I don't think we've been in the Valley since last summer sometime. Maybe we had one or two excursions to Solomon's Island in between, but that's about it. The latest issue of Blue and Grey magazine just arrived and is about Fisher's Hill ("the Gibraltar of the Shenandoah") and made me even more nostalgic for the Valley. My known ancestors who lived in the Valley left around the time of the Revolution, but I keep going back.

You can take the boy out of the hills but you can't take the hills out of the boy. I need country now and again. I think Tam and I both, and maybe even Sarah, have all been suffering from country deprivation. Today was brief and late starting, but it was outdoors, open, involved a certain amount of fresh air, honking geese, and manure, and there were moments when nobody else was in sight. We watched flocks of geese migrating overhead at Washington's birthplace today, stepped in sheep doo-doo (Sarah's term), and looked some turkeys in the eye. May even have seen an eagle nest, though we weren't sure till we blew the picture up on the computer.

As spring comes, I'm going to push hard for more country. It's a tonic.

President's Day Weekend

I'm glad I don't blog for a living. I'd make even less money than I already do. I've been away for a while. I blame winter. It's been cold, there's been an ice storm, we've been inside a lot, and I've fallen behind at work and at home.For the first time since Baltimore (just after Christmas) we finally got out of town today, down to George Washington's birthplace National Monument in Pope's Creek, Westmoreland County, in the Northern Neck of Virginia. It's here. An attractive place, where Pope's Creek enters the Potomac; the home in which Washington was born burned over 200 years ago, but there are some reconstructed buildings, farm animals, exhibits, and nesting bald eagles at the moment. We thought we saw the nest, and blowing up the pictures after we got home, there may even be an eagle in them. Sarah enjoyed it; most of all we got out of town on a nice day; temps probably in the 50s after ice last week. We needed this.

It's not news that we're a family that needs to get out of Dodge occasionally. I've been suffering from the doldrums lately: behind at work, behind at home, behind in trying to get The Estimate out of hiatus and back on its feet. We've been iced in even without the weather doing it. Today helped a great deal. The Martin Luther King holiday wasn't as productive, and colder weather is coming in for the rest of the weekend.

I'm uploading today's video though there's about two months worth that haven't gone up; in fact the last one up is the one of Sarah's pre-Christmas concert. It shows what dullards we've been, frozen in, wintering.

I hope today breaks the ice. More soon if it has succeeded. We haven't spent an overnight out of town in ages: not, I think, since Philadelphia. We did Baltimore with Kate and Brenda, and spent a day with museums and an evening at a Moroccan restaurant (Marrakesh, one of the oldest in these parts), when Tam's old friend Lauren and her two daughters passed through town a couple of weeks ago), but we tried to do too much, the kids got too tired, the parents tireder, and it didn't provide relief. Those interludes didn't really relieve the too-urban, too-cold environment of winter. Today did, at least a bit. At Marrakesh, though, Sarah got to see her first belly dancer ("awesome!"). Someday I hope she sees the real Marrakesh, since the Jamaa al-Fana', the great open space where evrything from musicians to food to snake charmers to fortune tellers, to well, just about everything, can be found, is unlike anyplace else I know, even in the Middle East. And I haven't been to the real Marrakesh in 25 years or so. Somewhere I have a photo of me in the Jamaa al-Fana' with a snake around my neck. Maybe I'll find it and post it here someday.

More soon. I feel a thaw coming on.