Monday, December 29, 2008

Simon And Garfunkel - The Only Living Boy In New York 1970 (((Stereo)))

I am loving this song again these days. Scenes in this video are from Garden State, another movie I saw lately I really liked. You know the breakfast scene with the guy dressed as a knight? My sister was great friends with that guy in school. Anyway, listen, and be soothed.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

So, with two small kids, etc, I really don't get a chance to see too many movies. Every once and a while, though...
Last night, I stayed up late and watched one that I wish I could take back.
FAILURE TO LAUNCH - uuuhh, it was terrible! I kept watching it because I kept hoping it would get better. Matthew McConaughey makes good eye candy, but even so, in this role I discovered him to be less appealing than usual. Sarah Jessica Parker plays the female lead and I also was realizing that maybe she is not as good of an actress as I previously thought. She seemed very "Carrie Bradshaw" in this film, even though the character was nothing like Carrie. Maybe Sarah is just locked in now to a type character that she can't break out of, or not enough of an actress to play someone other than herself.
At any rate, I thought at the beginning it was going to be a great romantic comedy, but it fizzles out very shortly after the opening scenes. Then you start wondering haven't I seen this before?, only it was another McConaughey movie in which he plays a noncommital guy who starts to fall for a girl who may or may not be actually tricking him into loving her, after which there is a confrontation and reconciliation, only THAT movie, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, was actually kind of good, and had some real chemistry between the actors, unlike this one, which seemed after a while like an incredibly long game of charades that you wish would just end so you could see who the winner was.
This one I thnk I really have seen before, only I am pretty sure it was on an airplane when I was too cheap, or too distracted, to rent headphones, so I caught everything but the dialogue. It seems pretty funny that in many ways, you can still understand what the movie is about, and what happens, without ever hearing the words. I knew what happened in the movie, but watching it with the dialogue added so much feeling and emotion to the story that I got caught up, all goofy and girly, into their love story. Maybe it's the music, too, that adds emotion to the story and makes us FEEL more than we see. Makes me wonder if people perceived the same difference when we switched to "talkies" during the beginning of film's golden age.
Anyway I wonder, when I watch that movie, about choices. If you were able to choose, like Diane Keaton's character, between a younger, handsome, adoring fan and an "old dog" who had learned some bad tricks, but seemed to be your soulmate, what would you choose? I think this film shows off Diane's dramatic talents - the scene in which Jack Nicholson's character says he is leaving to sleep in his own bed, and the camera flashes to her face, which shows a mature woman trying to compose herself while crumbling inside is priceless. I am not sure I would have handled things the same way as "Erica' did (and god, the sobbing, the endless sobbing when he left was about to make me not like her character anymore), but her acting is believable, the chemistry imaginable, and it allowed for romantic escape, which is why us women watch the movies we do in the first place.
This, because it's too cold to take the sick kids out geocaching, and my husband had a football game to go to. Hopefully I'll be too busy to lose myself in movies soon, but it is nice once and a while to recline and simply rest, and when I do, you better bet it's a chick flick I'll be choosing!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Caches, Con't....
Here are the first few logs on the final in my new series. I came out there today to give two groups of cachers some geocaching pins for completing the series. I had a heads up they were coming because they had already called to report difficulties along the way - two sets of coords were now missing from the micros, and one micro had completely disappeared, which they fixed temporarily for me. One of the teams has not logged their find yet.
Cache Logs
December 27 by Shake-N- Bake (757 found)
Found with the Popeteers. <-----These are the kids of my friends
December 27 by The Popeteers (3847 found) <----This is my friends Rhonda and Mike
This was the end to a wonderful series. We accompanied the Muddy Buddies to the final locale and Mr MB retrieved it. This area is so beautiful. On the way out we ran into Mama and Baby Harding. Thanks for the victory pin!!! This series is soooo much fun!!! We totally loved it. The locations go with each title. This took some hard work to pull off Mama Harding!!! Thanks for the history of this song and some interesting locations. We had as much fun finding the caches as we did trying to guess the next location.
December 24 by djwhitey (362 found)
awesome series thanks so much for it. I particularly liked learning what each day symbolizes. can't wait til twelfth night so I can have my first bite of king cake! took BTFI coin. will drop in the multi I'm about to place. watch out for it! sltftc! - Bug "BeenThereFoundit" BR8HG6:55PM
December 21 by Manofsteel72 (700 found)
FTF! with Manofsteel73. Went out with Manofsteel73 to do this fun series. SL. TFTC
December 21 by Manofsteel73 (1868 found)
FTF! with Manofsteel72. Yahoo. Did this series and got the bonus cache. T-TB. SL. TFTC!
The dual Manofsteels are local FTF hounds, a father and son duo. The son went off to college and we hoped the competition would widen up, but whenever he is home, they are the first off!
Here are some pics of travel bugs I have taken lately at the park with the final.

Friday, December 26, 2008

My Christmas Caching Series
It started when I was at work one day. I always think there are lots of geocache possibilities at my job, little containers here and there that are waterproof enough to survive this semi-tropical climate. I very rarely come upon them, though. One day, I was looking for something else when I stumbled on a stash of old Falcon 50 ml conical tubes and had an idea....
It took me a while to find the best places to hide them at, ones that suited their names and yet were discrete. I needed twelve locations.
I painted seven of those tubes hunter green and then placed a Santa sticker on them. I also had three different kind of microcaches - the prescription bottle in camo tape, the black plastic hide-a-key, and one of these babies on the right.
I found out some interesting information about the Twelve Days of Christmas along the way, and made it the story on the cache pages. Here is the excerpts.....
You’ve all probably heard the popular holiday song “Twelve Days of Christmas”. A historical belief on the origin of the song is that it was written during the persecution of Catholics by the Protestants in England during the sixteenth century. Inside the song itself laid clues about the core beliefs of the Catholic Faith. The hidden meaning of the song could be encrypted by those familiar with the faith.
The Twelve Days of Christmas technically begin on Christmas Day. They mark the twelve days between the birth of Christ and the arrival of the Magi, or the Wise Men, with their gifts for the infant on January 6, also known as “Epiphany”. We are hoping this series brings you a little epiphany of your own, and provides you some enjoyment during this magical season.
On each page, I explain the historical meaning for each named item.
Twelve Drummers Drumming” is supposed to be a reference to the Twelve Points of Doctrine in the Apostles Creed.
Eleven Pipers Piping The “pipers piping” is supposed to be a reference to the Eleven Faithful Disciples (this is excluding Judas, who is considered not to be “faithful”).
Ten Lords A’Leaping The Ten Commandments.
Nine Ladies Dancing Nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Eight Maids A-Milking the Eight Beatitudes.
Seven Swans a-Swimming the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: 1) prophecy, 2) ministry, 3) teaching, 4) exhortation, 5) giving, 6) leading, and 7) compassion
Six Geese A-Laying” is believed to refer to the six days of creation (plus one day of rest!).
Five Golden Rings is believed to refer to the Five Books of the Old Testament.
Four Calling Birds believed to refer to The Four Gospels.
Three French Hens refers to the Three Theological Virtues: 1) Faith, 2) Hope, and 3) Love
Two Turtle Doves refers to Old and the New Testament.
and in each of the microcaches for this series,which are hidden at places you might see these things, have laminated cards with parts of the coordinates for the final, a bonus cache called, you guessed it, A Partridge in a Pear Tree. Here is the full write up for that one (very smiliar to the other cache pages):
On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me….

A Partridge in a Pear Tree
This is the bonus cache in the Twelve Days of Christmas series. You’ll have to find at least most of the others in the series to obtain the cords for this find.
Now, the moment you’ve been driving all around town for has arrived. I’ve given you what I like best about geocaching – a nice hike in a beautiful location, culminating in an ammo can in the woods filled with trade items! Enjoy! You might want to stay a while!
You’ve all probably heard the popular holiday song “Twelve Days of Christmas”. A historical belief on the origin of the song is that it was written during the persecution of Catholics by the Protestants in England during the sixteenth century. Inside the song itself laid clues about the core beliefs of the Catholic Faith. The hidden meaning of the song could be encrypted by those familiar with the faith. The term “partridge in a pear tree” is believed to refer to Jesus.
The Twelve Days of Christmas technically begin on Christmas Day. They mark the twelve days between the birth of Christ and the arrival of the Magi, or the Wise Men, with their gifts for the infant on January 6, also known as “Epiphany”. We are hoping this series brings you a little epiphany of your own, and provides you some enjoyment during this magical season.
This cache is hidden near a place where you might a partridge in a “pair tree”.
It may be beneficial to approach the series in a geographical sequence and not necessarily in chronological order.
You might want to come prepared for this one. Bring the kids, bring the dogs, bring a picnic, and the fishing rods. Be prepared to stay a little while – this is part of the present I have for you! Be very aware of surrounding muggles on this cache.It is across the service road, please conceal well when putting it back, and be very discreet. We don’t want to reveal its hiding place to the doggy walking muggles! Also, keep the service road clear. The young men who built all this here use it to get in and out, and the police use it to patrol the park. Oh, and if you see the policeman on the way in, he does turn around when he gets to the back, so be aware and don’t appear overly suspicious! You can bring the cache with you to the nearby gazebo to go through the contents at your leisure. Make sure you make the grab and replace without attracting too much attention. We wouldn't want this one to disappear, it's much too nice of a spot!
Enjoy! Room for trade items!

This ammo can final is in a really beautiful park I found. It has a hiking trail going around man-made ponds with waterfalls and bridges. It is just gorgeous. I found it while tooling around Google Earth looking for businesses to fit my caches (play on the names - for instance, "maids-a-milking" is at the Dairy Queen), and had extra time to check it out over the course of a week. To complete the entire path took me about forty five minutes.
It was difficult to find places in the park to hide two full size caches. The trees are small and there is really no way to take it "off trail" without attracting undue attention.
The ammo can, with a little decorative bird on it, is in a "pair tree". "Two Turtle Doves" is the size of a medium tub wrapped in camo tape with a pair of decorative doves attached to it. I wish I had taken pictures of the caches...but I forgot.
I worked really hard on making cute caches and clever locations, and hope the other local geocachers enjoy the park as much as I did. I would especially be excited if it got a nomination for the next Annual Geocaching Awards for "Best Themed Series".
I got a new travel bug tag and several new geocoins for Christmas, and have a couple more hides up my sleeve this new year. My geocaching goals for 2009 are to reach 1500 finds by March and 2000 by the end of the year, to hide more quality caches, to run a travel bug race with geocoin prizes (for returning my travelers to me), and to get nominated for this next year awards.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Girls Gone Ghost Hunting Video
Check it out, if you have some extra time (full length about 35 minutes long)
Some interesting footage, and Lara did a great job of capturing the mood....

Sunday, December 14, 2008

George Bush Park
This 7800 acre park in west Houston, formerly named Cullen-Barker, has the distinction of being the sixth largest city park in the nation. It covers a vast amount of territory, and offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation, including, naturally, geocaching as one of them.
The park boasts an extraordinary amount of caches hidden in it (at my rough count, about 62). Now, cache to acre, that's not that high of a density, coming out to be about one cache per 125 acres. Part of that reason, I suspect, is that the area lies in a flood plain, making it impossible to get into some areas of the park after a good rain. It might have something to do with accessibility, too, with a good part of it covered in thick forest, or a lack of places to hide, with many acres devoted to soccer fields and a shooting range. It also has an element of danger to it, with feral hogs that roam the land. It would not be wise to be out on the trail alone.
This day, I met up with another geocaching family to tackle a cluster of caches together. We had originally planned on having another family with us, and more kids, but it ended up being just me, and their family of four, plus their dog and one of mine. We met up at a park and grab cache near a large open field used for free flying model airplanes. The other family was about twenty minutes behind me, so Scout and I watched the planes doing kamikaze maneuvers in the field before they showed up and we hunted the cache together. I had kinda looked before and found a likely hiding spot, and might have DNFed if they didn't have their laptop with them, and were able to look up previous logs and notice mention that it was NOT in that likely spot.
After this, we moved the cars to a parking area for an equestrian trail and a hiking trail that led along a grassy pipeline area. We made a decision to just go after every other cache along this way, in which lay about six in a row. It was a great idea in theory, except that we forgot, until we got to the end, about the fact that three of them were a series building to a final cache along the same way, and that one we had skipped had parts of the coordinates in it for the final! It turned out okay, because we gambled that it would be right along the edge of the path, like the others, and we had the last three digits of both the north and the western coordinates, so we were able to find it anyway before turning back around. We even found, slightly by accident, a small cache that held the key in it that we would need to get to open the final - the bit of a trick at the end, when you reach the cache and see you have to hunt the key first. We were fortious that we didn't have to turn back for it after all.
We could see that this area could get quite swampy at times. We found bits of crawfish shells and tracks of wild animals, but not really any deep mud or wet areas, which is amazing, after this week's rain and snow(!). It was probably one of the best times to work this park, when it was too cool for mossies, but warm enough to hike with only one layer on. When I left the house that morning, it was fifty five degrees, and it warmed up about twenty degrees during the four hours we spent exploring the park. The sound of gunfire was continuous during our hike, due to the nearby shooting range. Who knew? I didn't even realize this park had one, nor that it would be so loud, and so well used!
My favorites of this section were the series final, (called "State of Confusion", with the first three containers, decons, titled with the intials for Texas, Idaho, and Maine), and another cache called Badger Poking 101. The latter cache was titled in a teasing reference to one of the HGCS class clowns, that the others like to goade into reactions. In fact, the "badger" itself had his log nominated for our cache awards last year for "Funniest Log" (it's the second log on there, if you have an account and want to read it).
This scene on the right was what it looked like 360 degrees around at the cache site. Try finding your way out of this one without tripping, falling, getting caught up in branches, keeping two dog leashes from getting tangled, guiding two little girls through, and watching out for snakes and muddy patches. It is a little bit of a challenge (though luckily, only like two hundred feet off the trail).
After this, we made our way back ot the parking area, where we watered the dogs and ourselves before heading for the other direction. We saw some beautiful horses, a paint and a black gelding, preparing for their morning ride through the forest trail. Then we hunted two along the paved hiking path, then turned around to catch a cluster on the northern side of the trail. One of them was about four hundred feet in, and a little darker and wetter than the other side. It was supposed to be near traces of an old corral, but all we saw was barbed wire.
The rest of the caches were along the edges of an open area bordered by forest in a large semicircle. We could see the water line along the trees, probably from Hurricane Ike but poossibly from genenral flooding. Check out the dark line along all the vegetation showing how high the waters came in the park. You can see how most of these caches were ammo cans secured high in trees along this forest edge. The girls from this other family were getting tired now, and not too thrilled about going after more caches, but the adults were determined and kept a bright face as we continued far in and around. We kept having this joke about how I was letting "Random Confusion", the husband in this caching family, find all the caches for me. He was walking out in front, doing recon, as "Skyfire" and I kept back with the girls and dogs. At one cache, they joked that he should let me find this one, and I said, "nah, I'll let you", but then I did end up finding it first, because I ended up turning towards the forest sooner. We had a good laugh about this.
We didn't see any wildlife in the park this day, except for some interesting birds. I saw none of the feral hogs rumored to be around here. The girls and I did, though, find this really pretty vine, or plant, growing up inside this tree on the left.
We had a really good day, with the final count, including the two park and grabs we found on the way out of the park, totaling sixteen finds. Afterwards, I was very hungry! Our hike was a good distance covered, and wore out the dogs, but I had no soreness or fatigue after. It was simply invigorating to be out in the forest, exploring nature and getting some exercise, on a nice winter day in Houston with a very lovely family. I ended up leaving three travel bugs and a geocoin in the caches, and traded for twenty yen in one cache (I actually had no trade items, but one of the girls donated for me). I actually wished I had brought more trading swag this day because two of the caches had Andrew Jackson silver dollars in them. From the Badger Poking 101 cache, I picked up a Red Jeep that can now keep my White Jeep company (That's a story for another day).
It was great fun. Now, today I am going to the craft store for materials to put the finishing touches on a fun Christmas series I am putting out. Tell ya about it later...;)!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I'm not usually one to brag, but....
I won a really cool award at work!
It came with a glass trophy and fabulous cash prizes.
Every time people ask me what I got the award for, I am tempted to be a smartass and say "because I am just that cool!"
Truthfully, it was for an idea I implemented last year that inspired the staff at my facility to take extra special care of their animals. Around Christmastime last year, I visited another facility to learn from what they were doing, but they were so excited about my idea that we spent a good deal of time talking about that instead. They took my idea and ran with it, creating the same kind of program at their site, and then another facility took an interest as well. Later in the year, there were presentations on my idea, giving the credit to me.
Not long after, there was a call for nominations for yearly awards, and I received six nominations. In the presentation that the corporate suits gave in front of our staff, they said it was the first time in fifteen years that someone had been nominated for awards from people outside their own facility.
It is the first time I have earned a trophy as a grownup. My parents "brag" cabinet is littered with trophies the four of us earned as children - mine include swim team, softball, writing awards, horse show trophies- but I haven't gotten any since...high school, I suppose.
It felt really good. The thing about trophies, and being recognized, is it makes you feel like you might be really good at something.
If I could choose to be really good at something, then this would be exactly it - to win an award for "the person who embodies the spirit of compassionate care" for animals.
After all, I have devoted my life to serving them. I certainly hope I would be good at it by now!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

It's a two-way street....
Communication can be a tricky thing. What you say is not always what the other person hears. What you think you meant is filtered through your experience and perception. What a person hears is filtered through their perception and experience, and also through the intention they have for the information given them.
I was very frustrated yesterday with a communication breakdown at work. In order to one task of mine, I have to wait for other people to finish their tasks. Usually these tasks are all finished before lunch. About an hour before lunchtime, I was ready to do my task, but the other person (N) wasn't finished yet. It looked like it wouldn't be long, so I went and did some other things, came back, still not done, went to do other things, came back, still not done, etc etc until lunchtime. I had to leave my work sitting out during lunch and come back later.
About a half hour after lunch was finished, I was again waiting, and somebody came up (P) and asked me for something. I would have to go to an entire building altogether to get what he wanted, but luckily I had some close by, and I told him where it was. About five minutes later, it looks like the person I am waiting on is almost done. Meanwhile, another person comes up (J)and asks me for the same thing P asked for, for the same task. I am irritated, and tell him I will get it for him when I finish what I am waiting to do. He starts whining and demanding I go right away to get it for him, when really what I told P to get should have been enough.
I am curt with him. I tell him I have been waiting for two hours to complete MY task, and I am going to do it first before leaving my work to go get something for him. He starts telling me some story about why this work has been taking longer than it should have. I didn't really understand his intention in telling me this until later.
Later on, J tells N I was mad at him for taking so long. N comes to talk to me about it, angry that I told J this. I explain that I wasn't angry with N, but with J for making demands on me. Later, I talk to P about it, because I was concerned N might whine to my boss about me. He does this frequently. P tells me that J was just using me as a way to tell N he was mad at him for taking so long. He tells me N spent two hours on the phone this morning instead of doing his work, and that the guys were mad at him, but couldn't just tell him that, so he used my irritation as a way to make a point.
When I finally gave J what he wanted, he said he didn't need it, that what P had given him was enough to get his job done after all.
I left work very frustrated.
All I can say is, "Thank God It's Friday".

It only took me three times and a stronger hint, but I did finally grab the FTF on this cache before it was published. It still felt a little like cheating, though, but I kept thinking it was my reward for the FTF I should have had on this guy's other cache that he placed after publication.
Imagine a black nano hidden somewhere on this thing...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Black Friday. Most people go shopping, I went geocaching, as far away from the maddening din as possible.
We meant it as a family trip. I had been putting a bug in their ear all week, the same bug that had been put in mine. I had a certain destination in mind.
There was a geocache a few weeks ago that came out close to my house, and I saw the notification right away, which meant I had a good chance at the "First to Find", FTF. Our FTF competition is fierce around here. Caches don't usually make it an hour without geocachers descending upon it.
Anyway I was robbed on this FTF. I looked and looked at the place that matched the clue, and had to give up after 30 minutes. As I was getting in the car to leave, a biker came up and hung around suspiciously close to GZ. I kept my eye on him as I began to drove away, and I saw he was hanging out in the general area a bit, an unlikely place to spend time. I circled back around and tried to catch him. I wanted to ask him if he was the cache hider, but when I got near him, he was too far way to stop without screaming at him. What would I even say?
Anyway I left a note on the cache page talking about this, and the next day, after two other cachers stopped and FOUND the cache, I got a message from the hider. That was him, and when I saw him, he was placing the cache. Usually they are supposed to be in place before they are published, but this guy waited for the notice before going out to put it out.
Okay, so I was robbed of my FTF, so this time, he gave me a heads up about a new cache of his. He was going to let me get the FTF before he published it, to make up for my loss. I needed to get out there before the end of the holiday weekend. Plus, I have been dying to go caching, with the weather during the workweek just beautiful, and I feeling stifled locked away.
So I mention, and I hint, and I plan, and I scheme. I want to all four go out on an expedition and have a picnic lunch and spend time together. We agree on a time and a day, and then it is the time to leave, and suddenly my husband backs out. Oh, he doesn't really want to leave the house, he doesn't want to go anywhere. Suddenly then the oldest son would rather go play with friends. Suddenly my plans were all unraveling.
I made adjustments. The little one got strapped in his carseat and the oldest dog got to come instead. We headed off to Tomball.
First stop was a micro hidden in a very tricky location near a bridge in a man-made pond. This fellow local cacher Raven has been placing a series of caches called "Crossing Over" out at interesting and pretty bridges in the area. On the cache page for this one, #15, it says you might have to use acrobatic techniques for retrieval. Let me tell you, doing this while trying to watch the kid and the dog raised the difficulty level to about a four!
Then we went to find a large "park and grab" cache behind a movie theatre. A "PNG", for non-cachers, is a cache that is supposed to be less than 200 feet from the car. This one was trouble. First I thought I could park in the abandoned parking lot behind the theater, but the gates were locked, so I had to double back around on the highway and come back, and then I looked and looked and felt silly for not being able to find something so simple. I was about to leave when I decided to call a friend for a hint, who had found it last month. She told me where it was supposed to be, but I was looking there and it was, most definitely, not there. Rats!
After this, we headed to a nature preserve for a short hike into the forest to find a nice big cache I could leave some travel bugs at. This was the most fun of our day. The dog went swimming in the pond (yuck, I was thrilled about this, since he was riding in my car!) and we checked out the wooden overlook that stood out above the water.
It was time, now, to head into Tomball and go look for this one I had a notice for. It was at the old railroad depot, where now a big red caboose stands on display. Christmas lights wrap around the light poles, and a big Christmas tree surrounded by gifts decorates the lawn. My little one loved this one and looked all around, and so did I. Try finding a little black nano ( a cache the size of a button), when coords have you all over the place, from the base of the train, which is all black, to the black benches and fences. I bumped my head a few times and inspected every nook and cranny to no avail. The dog just laid down near a bench with a look on his face of pure irritation. "Let me watch you try to find a nano, this is great fun", his sarcastic eyes seemed to say.
Well, I had to give up on that elusive sucker. Then, as we drove around the antique stores (as I was trying to figure out where a multi-cache final was), the little one spilled Sprite in his eyes and we had to make a quick stop at the parking lot for the stores. He wanted out, so we all got out and walked around - me, my little one with granola crumbs on his shirt and a snotty nose, and the dog, with his ragged coat that may have seen better days. What a contrast we made to the old, well-to-do ladies with their fancy purses and business casual clothes! We left the dog tied in the shade of the fancy garden area and went into a locally famous restaurant for lunch, but the white tabelcothes and shimmering table service freaked my little one out, so we made an exit quickly after being seated.
Instead we walked across the street to a dive mexican cafe, where we watched Rascal lying in a cool tile terrace as we ate soup and beans. We were the only customers in this dark and cool place, where there are three menu choices that change every three days. The charro beans were more like a soup than anything, and the little one wanted to have it all to himself, but couldn't finish it all. We walked outside with the styrofoam bowl in our hands, and I wanted to give Rascal the rest. Little K insisted he be the one to do the honors, so I let him lower the bowl to Rascal's waiting nose...and then he turned it over and dumped it, instead, on the ground. Rascal's fine aristocratic mouth licked beans off the ground instead of lapping the dark meaty broth from a bowl, and I felt sad for him, one more thing to add to his list of laments about his lot in life. Rascal, so happy and joyous in youth, has made an art form out of pouting in his later years, demonstrating his great sadness with being replaced by two kids, and then supplanted by a younger and stronger dog. I don't need a pet pyschic to tell me how he feels, and yet I am powerless to change it.
Later, I went back out to find that nano again, alone, during a solo caching expedition, only to come up at a loss again. Finally the cache owner sent me a very specific hint, and if I get a chance, I will try one more time before the weekend is over.
I just might want to stick, though, to what I am able to actually find.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A palmist who truly knows how to do a reading will look first at the back of the hands. They will attempt to a get a sense of the person's life by rubbing their palms while inspecting the back of the hands, the nails, the fingers, for signs of who this person really is.
If one did this to my hands, if I sought a palmist who knew their stuff, there would be a pause, and a question, when they got to my thumb.
The thumb, in palm reading, indicates anger. Fierce and terrible anger, if enlarged or disfigured, or other smaller subtler forms of aggression and assertion. Courage and fire, courage and fire.
Across my left thumb, there lies a raised and ugly scar. One almost doesn't want to touch it, and yet the finger falls towards it in the natural slope of the lower knuckle. It lies across the first, bottom half of my finger. What's this from?, one would question.
An image in my mind of the day it happened. I was in the kitchen in our cold and lonesome Northern California ranchhouse. I was looking out the window at the pastures, and thinking hard about my anger. My little baby son was in the playpen in the dining area, and I could hear him playing as I scrubbed and soaked. My hands were pressing hard, too hard, on the fragile glass cups as I raged silently about the fact that my husband was gone. Gone on yet another errand, which was supposed to take a half hour, and now here gone a half day with no phone call, no checking in, no thinking about how I must be wondering what happened to him.
This was before cell phones were common in this rural town where he lived, but he had just gone to pick up a female cousin to bring over to play with me for the weekend. She, too, had a kid, but she, too, liked to get into trouble, like my husband. This naughtiness that ran in the blood, tempting all. The girls loved their cigarettes and booze, and the men favored more reckless pursuits.
And I wondered, fiercely, where he was, and what kind of trouble he might be getting into, and I pressed so hard on the cup that it broke, and yet still I didn't realize it, with my eyes outward on the cold pasture ground in front of me. I just kept washing the broken cup, until I cried out and looked down into the sink and saw blood instead of water in the sink below.
And now no transportation, and no idea where my husband was with our truck. The little one cried and I was trying to comfort him with a towel wrapped around my bloody thumb as I fretted about what to do. I called my husband's uncle, a "first responder" for the local emergency response team. He had an ambulance on stand by as he came out to the house to inspect my wound.
At this time, there was no health insurance. We were barely scraping by in this tiny little town, just inside the county, and the poverty line. There was no extra money for hospital trips and even medicine.
He looked at my hand. "You could just bandage it and let it heal naturally," he said. "Of course, it's gonna leave a scar."
Or, he explained to me, I could ride in the ambulance to the nearest doctor and have them sew it up.
"That'll probably cost you around a thousand dollars, when it is all said and done."
Well, the logical choice in this situation, with no money and no way to get ahead, was to agree to let it heal on its own. And it did scar, a hard and nasty scar, like the one on my heart caused by frequent disappointment in the man I chose to marry.
That one I sought to heal, through counseling and compassion, through exercise and right intent, through eating and reading and all those Lifetime movies of retreat and escape. That one is the scar that never healed properly and so is glaringly visible to those who want to look inside, and so I keep it wrapped up.
Like a present you forgot to give and so keep stashed in a drawer, in a closet, waiting, someday, for the right moment to come again.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Okay, I'll admit that getting me to watch a movie is like pulling teeth. Sitting still for two to three hours is a difficult task for me. I have watched two movies lately, though, that have really entered into my consciousness and have me thinking about the deeper meaning behind the film, and the current of truth behind life, that which binds us together. My favorite kind of movie are the ones that enter your thoughts in this way.
For about two years, I have owned a copy of the movie "Seabiscuit", but I never watched it until a couple of weeks ago, the evening after hiking the Four Cache Loop. It was the story of the jockey, Red Pollard, that I found most intriguing (however, after reading more about his life, I see that the movie was historically inaccurate and simply leads one to believe falsehoods). The idea that this broken down jockey, and trainer down on his luck, also all happen to meet Seabiscuit, a horse ruined by bad training and sold for $8000 to Charles Howard, an automobile enterpreneur with a broken heart, is an amazing example of "kismet" to me. These forces combined in an overwhelming display of mutual healing. The belief and understanding that they all showed in each other combined to make Seabiscuit the greatest racehorse of his era, even beating a much larger and stronger opponent, War Admiral, in the match race Seabiscuit supporters finally obtained.
Overall, it is a movie about redemption, and this is why I love it. I love the idea of redemption. It speaks to my heart about fairness. Eventually, the whole world can see the good in someone, something that has been broken down, but never gave up trying to be perfect. Finally the heavens open up and illuminate the golden aspects of the subject in a moment of triumph. In this movie, it is the last Santa Anita Handicap, with Pollard back in the saddle after suffering potentially career-ending injuries and Seabiscuit recovered from a torn ligament the following year. They healed themselves together on Howard's ranch, with Pollard joking that they had "four good legs between them", and Seabiscuit ended his career soon after, with the horse that nobody wanted now, in 1940, horse racing's all time highest money winner.
The second notable movie I watched recently is "Into the Wild", of which is the subject of a video I posted below. Eddie Vedder was nominated for several awards for his musical score for this movie, and I think the song in this video is the best song of the soundtrack, and most concisely sums up the concepts embraced by Chris McCandless, the subject of the movie. This is a movie based on a real life story of an extraordinary man who decides to take on the Alaskan wilderness, after finding little about city life, material wealth, and his screwed up family to keep him interested in staying engaged in that reality. After graduating from Emory University with grades "good enough to get into Harvard Law" and a substantial college fund still intact, he instead walks away from all of that and goes "on the road". In many ways, this movie is a road movie, with part of the fun trying to guess where he is now with geographical clues.
The truth of McCandless is beset with controversy, especially his last days. In the end, what we want is redemption, but it is not granted here. There is no happy ending, no resolution to his quest, no reconciliation with his family, no triumph over wilderness. There is only the stuff of legend - Bus 142, on the edge of the Denali National Park, where Chris spent his last 189 days, and where people come pay their respects to a man who embraced the ecological vision and love of a simple life of the authors he admired - Thoreau, Tolstoy, and London.
The movie is breathtaking and incredible, introducing us to complex characters that he meets during his journey, and showing us his struggle to transcend his demons and survive with little more than a bag of rice and a gun in the Alaskan frontier. We see him reading, writing, struggling, hunting, foraging, and experiencing ups and downs. The part I liked best is his open armed embrace of the wilderness - a moment where he stands, arms outstretched, taking it all into his heart. I have felt like that before, I know that feeling of bliss when surrounded by natural beauty. For me, it is also a moment of wonder, thanks, and closeness with My Creator, a feeling of being One with God, but I don't know if McCandless felt that way.
After reading more about his life later, I find it intriguing that only a quarter of a mile from his "magic bus", where he was finally trapped in a cycle of starvation, was a tram that could have given him safe passage over the river that kept him from heading back to civilization when his luck turned. Safety and survival were only a brief hike further away, a fact that he missed because he apparently had a poor map and was inadequately prepared. Some people condemn him for all he didn't know, and I am not sure what side I agree with the most. I do think that if you are going to take on an experience like that, it is best to be as prepared as possible. He did educate himself beforehand, but then also had too much to learn yet before the true test.
As a parent, I am bothering by his lack of consideration for other people. Characters coming into his life repeatedly ask him to reconcile with his family, or at least let them know he is okay. His parents went through extreme emotional distress when he simply disappeared, without forewarning, explanation, a phone call, nothing. To me, this shows an incomplete transcendence over his past. His healing was not complete, his heart was not love, yet. A letter, a postcard, one simple gesture to acknowledge his family, even though he was still angry at what he considered the falseness of their lives and marriage, would have gone a long way towards easing their deep anguish over losing him. No matter what happens in this life, no matter what roads we take, our parents love us, and the love of family is a truth that supercedes this life.
In the end, perhaps he did overcome this, as suggested in the movie when, in the end, he scrawls out this message in a Tolstoy novel - "Happiness is only real when shared". We find true happiness only in our connection with others, and it is love, only love, that is the true meaning to our existence on earth.
The movie will make you think, and will overwhelm your senses with natural beauty and the desire to seek it, like McCandless did. Live, truly live, by going wild and taking it all the earth has to offer, with the lightest carbon footprint possible. Take it all in, all the natural wonders God has created here on Earth.
But prepare yourself properly first....
And check out the video, listen to the words and see the images. It was an incredible movie.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Book Review
Jack Kerouac
King of the Beats
A Portrait
by Barry Miles
Thank you, Barry Miles. Such a lovely portrait you drew of my Jack.
(intended sarcasm). This book, I believe, was a big reason I became depressed last month. It is a haunting, depressing sort of portrait, the kind that has some redeeming quality but you just don't want to look at.
The label "King of the Beats" had a taunting quality towards the end of Kerouac's life, when he felt misunderstood and miscast by the American public. He spent the last ten years of his life drinking it all away. He basically killed himself with alcohol over a prolonged period of his life, and it is fascinating to wonder why.
Reading this book was a sharp, hard look at Kerouac as a wandering neurotic. It does not display Kerouac in a redeeming light, especially after the 1940s. It does, however, give great insight into the relationship between Jack and his first wife, Edie Parker. The first one hundred pages out of three hundred total are devoted to Jack's life before he went "on the road", and this is a vital part of history transcribed in a detail not seen in the other two Kerouac biographies I read recently. It was interesting to learn that Jack slept around, and then she did the same to get back to him, which caused a split in the relationship. This pattern he repeated with his second wife, Joan Haverty, who bore him a daughter he never claimed.
Barry Miles is harsh in his commentary about Kerouac's relationship with his daughter. Jack later gave her permission to use his name, and she wrote two of them before dying at an early age, a death that Miles strongly pins on Kerouac's drunken chest. Twice in the book, Miles condemned him for denying his own child, for not being there for her.

"His fans claim that he had a great heart, but he cared more for his cat than for his own daughter and there is all the difference in the world between sentimentality and sensitivity."

Miles demands that Kerouac "be held responsible for his daughter's misery" and suggests his absence caused her family to be so desperate that she sold her body in the streets at a young age, while he drank away his fortune.
In the end, this book left me wondering what kind of man would Jack had been if he had ever gotten past himself and experienced a true deep personal growth, if he had allowed himself to mature. If instead of trotting all over the world looking for kicks, what if he had allowed himself to be a family man, and take care of his responsibilities, transcend his personal issues with women and God? What if Kerouac hadn't become a drunk, but instead a mature person, equipped with the right tools to handle his fame and provide for his family?
I used to hold Jack Kerouac up as this romantic figure. I even fancied I would be in love with him if I had met him in true life. It is easy to think that when reading his incredible prose that sounds like poetry. The man was a genius with words, but he was terrible with people. After reading this, I realized that had I known him, I would not have wanted to be friend or lover to him. He took, he used, he overextended, and he offended.
Once of his friends with his early days, before Allen Ginsberg and Neal Cassady came in his life, was Henri Cru. Miles shows us Cru ripping up Jack's last letter to him and "flushing them down the toilet with all my other memories of Jack". Even patient Ginsberg had almost had it with him towards the end, although he remained a faithful friend, despite the anti-semitic beliefs Kerouac shared with his mother. Who knew, Kerouac, a big fan of McCarthyism as well?
Basically, Miles gives a portrait of Kerouac that is not a flattering one. He even suggest some sexual trysts that I am not sure I believe. We see Kerouac as manipulative, promiscious, and full of self-aggrandizing dreams about being the best novelist in the world.
He was scornful of others work, incredibly jealous, and not above send scathing letters to his friends, then call them at two in the morning, drunk and wanting to talk. He was the kind of friend you would get rid of fast, the kind of lover who would never last. He wanted to have a spiritual faith, but not abide by its codes of conduct. He is basically someone only a mother could love, and perhaps his did, a little too much.
In the end, I had to drop Kerouac as my romantic fantasy, and that loss was staggering. I think I am going to have to go read one of his best books just to get a fix for my hurting heart.
Thank you, Barry Miles. Such a lovely portrait.
(wiping tarnish off a crown of thorns)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What's Missing?
(Answer: My Shoes)
When I got dressed this day, the black boots seemed like a good idea. I remember wearing them all day and never feeling uncomfortable, even though they have a good heel on them.Combine that with a lot of walking. Combine lots of walking with carrying a thirty pound toddler most of the day. I have never been so tempted to buy $70 leather sandals in all my life. Finally I decided I didn't want to buy shoes, nor did I want to continue feeling such pain. Boots, go in the bag. Lots of walking in bare socks, luckily all in the direction of the gates, and the car, (parked a million miles away). Oh my aching dogs...
Scenes from the Festival
Friends: This is Lara, Kelly and Kathy.
Lara came with me and the children. Kelly used to work here for a long time. She also grew up in my neighborhood and went to high school with us. Kathy also went to high school with us, and her sister was a dear sweet friend of mine who was on the cross country team with Lara and I. Kathy (brown jacket) has been working for RenFests for about a dozen years full time. If you ever attend one, look for Big Time Jewelry, and it'll be her face you see...

Foes: The little one was very scared. He was seeing another reality, and didn't understand that it was all costumes and acting. I can imagine how terrifying some of this would be to someone who couldn't understand it was all in the name of fun.

Fun: We rode an elephant! There were pony rides, new swords and little plastic dragons, and checking out booths selling gems, stones, incense, jewelry, costumes, and custom made sandals and boots.

Food: We shared a muffaletta sandwich, steak on a stick, fried turkey on a stick, a pretzel, and an apple dumpling.



And Fighting! We saw the first part of the joust, in which they engaged in games on horseback.

I have been going to the RenFest at least once every year or two since my teenage years, and of course would recommend it to anyone who visits this time of year (Eight weeks in October and November). I just wish I had umlimited supplies of money to spend...but I would proably come home with all kinds of stuff you can only wear once a year!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sunday, I had an appointment at the vet's.
Not just any vet office, but the one I worked at for four years.
I was thinking how odd it was that the male veterinary technician who walked in had no idea who I was, and treated me like any other client.
Then the doctor did the same, even though he knew quite well who he was.
I would have been tripping out about that, but instead I was distracted by two things - a conversation I just had in the lobby, and my cell phone with video I wanted to show the doctor.
When I was sitting in the room, trying to calm my two Aussies, I heard someone ask the doctor about me. The doctor asked how he knew me, and and the guy said he used to work with me at Subway.
"She left here, actually," said my old doc. "I think she is working at a research facility."
I worked at about every Subway store in College Station at one point in time, about a dozen years ago. During that time, I was a bit of a "man-eater". Not intentionally, but sort of accidentally. I had a bit of a charm about me, or maybe just a bad reputation.
When the doctor opened "door number two", I was sitting on the bench and looked up.
"Well, here she is now," he exclaims.
And I think he has no idea, really no idea, who this person is standing here.
The guy in the lobby was a man I remember as a manager at a store I briefly moonlighted at who had a crush on me at the time. I know that much, but I can't remember his name, and make small talk with him, updating him on fellow past sandwich artists.
I think he has no idea of the person I was when I worked here, nor would my doc believe the stories I am sure this man could tell, about back in the day when I was "the belle of the ball", a girl who was "never really available", but had several men on a string.
For the rest of the week, it bugs me that I can't remember this guy's name.
I ask my best friend, and her husband, who all worked at Subway during those years. "I don't remember his name," M says, "but I remember that he lo-ved you."
Yes, I remember that, being the victim of many a manager's crush. I know that, like you know facts about history, but really believing it is a different story. It seems like a movie of a story that happened to someone else, the disconnection between my past and my present.
Like standing next to the exam table that I used to be cleaning, with the doctor offering to lift my dog for me (what's this?) and asking his tech to hold them, so I don't get my nice shirt dirty, when I used to live and breath in this room. Like being handed the handouts on pain management that I watched him write and edit during the four years I practically lived at this clinic, four years of being a person this Subway fellow never knew.

My friend, the one who wants me to change my religion, isn't speaking to me.
Or maybe I'm not speaking to him, not really talking, just brief greetings here and there.
Something happened at the Beef and Bun.
It was really nothing, but it changed my opinion of him. I saw something in him that day, last Friday, that made me realize he would never be a true friend. I saw just a touch of the dark side and I am not sure I trust him now.
I was treating my assistant to lunch, because he helped me clean my lab when it really mattered. On the way out of the parking lot, I got nervous. I asked a couple of guys who were standing there if they wanted to join us at the BBQ joint.
One, the man who prays with me, declined, but my other friend, the one who wants me to change my religion, jumps in.
"Let's go."
I tell him the whole time that I am treating my assistant to lunch because of what he did for me. I ask him if he has money, a few times.
When he get to the restaurant, he starts to get nervous about the situation, and mentions he is "stuck". He didn't realize I was meeting my assistant there, which seems really odd since I was telling him that the whole time.
First he says he doesn't want anything, and when I ask if he has money, he just looks at me.
Then he orders a baked potato and a drink. Five dollars, out of the twenty I just spent, on this payday in which I am just about broke already, after bills.
I tell him he will have to help me in the lab for that lunch, and he swears he will, up and down, as he leaves the car when we get back.
Later, a coworker hears him bragging to another guy that I "took him to lunch, too."
Then later, I hear this story. I hear that he was flashing a ten dollar bill in front of my assistant's face that morning, offering to buy him lunch if he will give the food he brought from home up that morning. Apparently he was hungry, and he had money to burn.
I ask him later why, then, if he had money, did he act like he had no way to pay for the baked potato that he wanted to order? He tells me a story about having to give his money to someone else, and his eyes shift down, around. I think he tricked me into paying for his meal as a way to brag about some kind of special relationship that doesn't exist.
As we talk, we walk outside, and a group of guys are walking to the right. Immediately, my friend starts puffing up, like a big ole gorilla, acting completely different walking with me.
"What is that" I ask him. He looks at me blankly, when I know full well he knows that I am talking about.
I see. I knew he was a dog, but now I see his fleas.
I'm not sure I want to give him that impression, nor anyone else. He has taken our friendship and added the hint of sex to it, and it makes me think he doesn't really know what it means to be a friend. I have a reputation to uphold. Not to mention, seven days later, no helping in the lab.
Now, when I see him, I just keep on walking.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Sam Houston National Forest
New Waverly, Texas
It was a brisk fall Saturday. I rose before the sunrise and was on my way shortly after six to meet with some friends from the Houston Geocaching Society (HGCS) Forums. We had planned a group run at a cache called Four Cache Loop, a four part multi in the Sam Houston National Forest that required a ten mile hike through the woods.
In geocacing speak, we would say, "and all that for one smiley!" When we log our finds online, there is a smiley next to our "found it" logs. Some smileys are easier to obtain that others. This one was reputed to be the most difficult smiley to obtain in the greater Houston area (albeit pretty far from Houston itself). Last year, it was voted "Most Physically Challenging" and "Best Multi-Cache" in the Cacher's Choice aspect of HGCS's first Annual Geocaching Awards. It is a rite of passage for cachers in this area, an epic find that is best done with a group. Upon completing the journey, the final waypoint includes patches that say "I Conquered Four Cache Loop".
Once I left the house, I had a "duh" moment when I realized I was leaving two hours before the meeting time, to get to a place that was an hour away. I decided I would just get there early and sleep until the rest of the group got there, but as it turns out, I needed that extra time because I got lost. I took a very odd way there, basically chucking out the directions I had in order to go "the scenic route", which ended with me getting lost on the backroads of New Waverly. I was fine with it, really, because it gave me time to drive around the farmlands of this tiny town and try to imagine where William Burroughs lived during his time here. Burroughs was a "Beat", a friend of Jack Kerouac's, and his family had purchased a farm out here to keep him out of trouble. As it turns out, he turned it into a marijuana farm and his wife was addicted to Benzedrine during this time, so I am not sure it turned out the way his family wanted. I try to imagine Burroughs, always dressed finely in his nice suit, out here tilling the earth and blending in with the farmers at the feed store.
Finally I ended up at the dirt road that lead to the Hunter's Camp parking area, and got there at the exact time we were due to meet, meeting one carload of three by about fifteen minutes.
Our group this morning consisted of seven people, five men and two women. One was a cacher, HoustonControl, who had done this cache before, three times. He acted as our guide, and kept us on the trail, marked by little tags on the trees.
Originally, we had wanted to do this hike during October, before hunting season started, but the forest was closed due to damage by Hurricane Ike. As we hiked, we saw evidence of Ike's damage in uprooted trees and fallen logs that had been cut and moved off the trail. The trail itself was not that easily visible, and a few times we found ourselves looking for markers because the trail itself was unclear.
One of the hazards of the trail were the many water crossings. We probably crossed creeks about thirty times during the course of our hike, and joked about what number we were probably on in the later ones. I didn't get my shoes wet, nor did I fall down during any of this, and I am pretty proud about that because there were times I thought I might do either.
I did trip a lot, and stumble over sticks and roots in the path. I have about three scratches on my legs now, midway up, from branches that broke under my feet and came back up and grabbed my legs. My long pants seemed to be catching on everything.
It was about 45 degrees when we started, and as the sun rose, it might have gotten into the seventies. It was a nice cool day, which helped about halfway through when our sweat just lifted off of us. The first waypoint wasn't too hard to get to, even though it is off the trail aways. It would have been hard to find this one on my own. I got to open it because I was on the right side of the creek. I read the next set of coordinates off the laminated card for the others to input into their GPS unit.
I was really impressed with the unit Freysman carried. It was a Garmin Nuvi, a driving unit to mount on your console, but also portable and accurate on the trail He said that the only drawback he found was that the battery has to recharged, not replaced, and the life seems to be only about five and a half hours. That is how long our hike took, and he mentioned that he was wondering if it would make it the whole way, so he was turning it off when he could. I forgot to ask him when we finished if it was still running or not.
The pace early on was medium to fast, with Sky Rookie primarily leading the group. We were all able to talk with a minimal amount of exertion on this part of the journey. Midway through the trip to the second waypoint, I was begining to feel how long this journey would be. HoustonControl (Larry) said something like "It's only two miles," and I felt relieved actually we had gone that far, only then to feel disheartened by him finish with, "to the next waypoint."
The second waypoint was a quick dash and grab, with SkyRookie doing the honors this time. A hunter was walking down our trail, and had stopped to talk to Larry, who was standing at the edge of the trail waiting for us to come back. I walked over and was intrigued by the man's compound bow. He was telling Larry to make sure we were wearing lots of "hunter orange", because he didn't trust "those yo-hos from Houston". We chuckled about this later.
We had our GPS units re-set for the third waypoint now, 1.92 miles away. There was little talking and a fast pace now. I starting stumbling more than usual now, and reached into my pack as we walked for a snack and some water. Once my blood sugar started coming back up, I was able to be less clumsy.
We stopped about 0.40 from the third waypoint for lunch. Before we ate, though the six of us that had not been on this journey before had to walk 0.30 mile down the trail to find the final waypoint of a puzzle cache called D.B. Cooper Jr. The cache itself was great. If you know the story of D.B. Cooper, just think about how it probably ended....and you get the picture.
We sat down in the middle of the old dirt road and ate our lunch. Freysman had an MRE he was excited about, which got us on the subject of Hurricane Ike. HoustonControl talked about a WhereIGo cache he was working on developing.
After lunch, we shortly reached the third waypoint. During our half day journey, we all discussed various geocaches, found and unfound, puzzles we were having a hard time with, waypoints to multis that had stumped us. We picked each other's brains about equipment and hints to solving projections and puzzles. Voodoo Chicken and I talked about the strugggle for women to keep their identity when they become mothers. Larry told us stories of entertaining himself while growing up in an isolated rural area. We got to know each other's history, little bits like where people went to school and what they studied, heard their lost dreams. Freysman, I'll always think of you as the monk on the mountain ;)
After the third waypoint was found, read, and the final coords loaded into our units, we were off again for this last 1.26 miles (I think) stretch. We were hoofing it pretty fast and finally HoustonControl asked SkyRookie to stop for a few and let us take a break. I was walking in the rear of the line now, with (Mr) MTCachers and freysman, whose leg was giving him some trouble. VoodooChicken walked with us until we reached the waypoints, when she gleefully ran ahead to try to beat Sky Rookie to the find. HoustonControl rotated between bringing up the rear, riding it out on the middle, or loping along in front with Sky Rookie, with JimJoCourt on his heels. It was a good group to be with.
Finally we found the fourth and final waypoint, at which lay an ammo can with some Jeep travel bugs, another regular travel bug, the patches, and some swag and pins. We all signed the logbook and took this group photo. Great fun!
In the end, it turns out the whole loop plus the side journey to DB Cooper brings it to an 11.5 mile hike through varied terrain. The parking lot was only about 0.30 miles from the final, which was about the worse part of the journey for me. I had a blister on my toe and the back of my heel, and was bringing up the rear by that point.
I actually managed to do another geocache on the way home that was about 500 painful feet from the car, and then meet some old friends for a late lunch. But boy was I sore that night!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Spring Texas
My friends were interested in haunted places, and asked if I would plan something that involved a little supernatural. They knew that I, (as a geocacher), know where all the haunted graveyards are.
One of the girls had gone with me before to find "Ectoman" off FM 1960, but we weren't too successful. This time we headed out to Tomball, Texas, and Salem Lutheran Cemetary. We were headed to try to make contact with "Mike". For good footage of Mike, go here:
Walking in to the graveyard, I got chills. I am usually not scared of graveyards but I had a little of the spook in me here. I was headed straight for the back of the cemetary, where the geocache hidden there was supposed to be hidden. Becky was walking near me, and Lara and Jinny were scouting good recording sites. We started moving past a tree and I was suddenly very cold, then I heard a squeak. Becky says, "Be careful around that tree, those are bats".
She didn't even need to tell me because I really didn't want to get close to there. It was creeping me out.
We established that the tree the geocache was in was cut down recently, probably a victim of Ike. It made a good place to rest Lara's laptop and recording equipment for a while. Jinny and Becky went close to the bat tree, recordng, and then got really freaked out about something and came swiftly back. Lara recorded them talking about their experience, which I will post when she sends it to me.
In all the pictures I took, there is this "orb" right behind Lara. We had an period of recording near a "hot spot" that Becky found, and her cell phone had gone off strangely when she walked into it. There wasn't a ton of supernatural activity, though. After about an hour of recording audio, video, and digital camera footage, we had a spotlight on us. The cops had shown up, which probably should have been anticipated with the dog barking at us the whole time. He didn't seem too concerned with us, but also did need us to wrap it up and leave.
After this, we had to formulate the rest of our plan. We were still into what we were doing, but didn't want to attract any more police attention.
We headed to Bonin Cemetary in Spring, near The Woodlands, off Gosling Road. Now, there was no reported ghost activity, that we were aware of here, and truly nobody seemed to have much of a feeling here. However, the recording activity was higher on some equipment. Jinny told a ghost story for the camcorder again.
I was quietly freaking out about the neighbors. That was the scariest part of this cemetary to me. Their house was right next to the cemetary and the TV was playing. Lara and Becky went up to ask them permission to record, and no one answered the door. The door, however, was cracked open. Jinny and Lara then went to ask another neighbor, whom they kind of knew, while I recorded with the camcorder. During this time, the cracked door opened almost all the way. Door wide open, TV on, and no one seen. I kept imagining them coming out with a gun, or sneaking up on us. The weirdness in people is scarier to me than ghosts or vampires are.
After this, we met up with some of the spouses of the girls in our group at a restaurant for a late dinner and coffee, then went back out to explore Old Town Spring. This area is supposed to be haunted in several locations. There is even a "Ghost Tour" that takes you on an hour and a half stroll through these areas. We did our own mini-tour, the six of us, with Jinny as the leader. She took us to Doering Court, where a ghost named Sarah inhabits this window and plays with Beanie Babies at night. We walked over to the Wunsche Bros. Cafe, where we saw only a person moving around in the second floor. We decided it was a real person, and it seemed like a couple of places around had real people in them. We stopped at Puffabelly’s Depot, where we recorded a bunch of these orbs dancing with Becky. This was the spot with the most action this night.
We had Old Town Spring all to ourselves this night, just the six of us strolling down the darkened lanes,by cute little shops, looking into the windows. We ended our tour at Whitehall, which is a now a bridal shoppe and hosts weddings. There was something spooky and yet charming about this house, which has gone through several stages in the past. In the sign in the picture, it states that in the sixties, it was even a hippie commune!
It was a great night, with no amazing pyrotechnics or ghosts frights, but a good time with girlfriends having fun. Who knows what the recordings might reveal?
Oh, and by the way, the picture at the top - lights inside a wedding dress at Whitehall gives an ethereal touch.