Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Years ago (about 18 or so, to be more exact), I was in high school and aching to play soccer for my school. Problem: there was no women's soccer team at my school. At the time, I was the manager of the men's soccer teams and enjoyed the sport, so I spoke to the school soccer coach. He told me to talk to the head of athletics, which I did. I was told that there were already women's sports: cheerleading, track, volleyball, softball, basketball, swimming. There was no need to add on another sport. I argued that the guys had more teams and more opportunities, but was rebuffed again.

So I joined a rec league team to play over the summer. It just wasn't the same.

The next year, under a new soccer coach, I decided to try again. This coach was extremely supportive, offering to help get the team started and to coach it. All I needed to do was prove there was enough interest, and he would talk to the athletic director. I put together a petition, carried it around my school, and ended up with almost 50 names of girls who would be interested in playing.

I gave this to the coach, and we went to the athletic director to discuss the plan: there was a lot of interest, there was very little cost (the guys' teams already had all the equipment and uniforms we needed), and we already had a coach. He reluctantly agreed, but made it very clear that if there was not enough interest the team would be disbanded.

The first year, my junior year, we had a completely full roster.

My senior year, we had to have tryouts to limit the number to the maximum we were allowed.

The year after my senior year, the coach told me that they had finally started a Junior Varsity team, because there were so many women wanting to play.

Today, walking through a grocery store near my hometown, I saw a young woman wearing a sweatshirt that read "Black Hawks Soccer."

And it made me smile.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Duck, Duck, Geese!

I've been trying to catch good pictures of the critters around the campground here, but haven't had a whole lot of luck. So far the best I've managed are as follows:

Canadian goose family (SO cute!):

Close up of the babies!!

And a mallard, from the living room window:

We hear them quacking a lot, and the cats have been very entertained. Every time they hear the ducks close by, they run to the front window to scope out the situation. Like they'd know what to do if they ever caught one!

OH! Cima, I've done a little bit of research, and it looks like those purple flowers are something called Toothwort. That's the only thing I could find, anyway! Anyone else have any different ideas?

On Friday night, we did a bit of exploring in the area, driving north a bit on the road by the river. We found the cute little town of Marshall, NC, which was always just a little wide place in the road. It was definitely changed from when I saw it last - it's...much more yuppified, for lack of a better (or actual) word. There are cafes, organic grocery stores, a wine shop, etc. Things that would never have even thought of going to Marshall a few years ago!

We didn't go into the cafes or shops, but we did stop to take a little walk toward the old train depot. It's a tiny town - only 1 main road:

So cute!

Why were we heading toward the train depot, you ask? Because we saw a sign advertising for free music! Bluegrass!

It was great! They had a whole slew of bands taking turns playing, and there were at least 50 people sitting and listening. Noel took me up front to a dance floor by the band, and we danced for a while.

It was really fun (and free)! It's so neat to find spots like that, especially with all the changes going on here - it's nice to see that the traditional culture and music is being preserved.
We plan to go back!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Busy busy busy!

We've been busy as little bumblebees here at Chez Cat Box! Since we'll be here a while, I started looking for jobs myself. Might as well bring in some dough! (The cats go through a lot of kitty treats - 'nuff said!)

Well, the issue is, there are apparently no jobs around here that pay more than Burger King.

No, I will not be flipping burgers. Although I do like to eat burgers. :)

Instead, I've decided to kick up my self-employment and write more! So I'm now spending at about 4 hours a day on writing (and making more than I would at a temp job!)

I've even got my own profile as a contributing writer on ehow.com. hee hee. Funny. I write some really random stuff - but it's paying the bills!

It's going quite well. I also have some other freelance stuff in the works, which I'll tell you more about later (don't want to jinx anything!)

The weather here has been gorgeous and a bit brisk! We've actually had to turn the heat on the last few days, what with the highs being in the 60s and the lows in the 40s! Marvelous. So much better than the mid 80s with 129% humidity that we'd be facing in Texas (or possibly even Savannah!). It's supposed to warm up a bit, but even today was only around 70. Lovely!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The RV Went Over The Mountain....

And it actually made it the entire way! Go little RV!

As some of you may be aware, Noel was having to commute a LONG way to his job everyday - 2 hours each way, plus 30 minutes of traffic, for a total of 4.5 hours a day in the car. NOT nice. He would get up at 4 am to leave for work, and would get home at 7 pm, absolutely exhausted.

We tried to do it for several weeks, but it was just too hard on him (and also the car, which did not enjoy the mountain range between TN and NC!). So today, we moved. We're now very close to my hometown of Weaverville NC at a campground called the French Broad River Campground (http://www.ncrivercamping.com/).

We were unhappy in a way about having to leave the Jonesborough/Erwin/Greeneville TN area - it's so very pretty there, and we both really enjoy that Jonesborough likes their little town festivals. And the campground there is fantastic!! I also have other reasons for wanting to stay close to Jonesborough (which I will disclose later, but they involve yarn!). The great news is, we're just over the mountain, less than an hour from Greeneville. So that's fine. We can go back whenever we feel like it!

Cima commented that she hoped we had seen some Tennessee Walking Horses. Unfortunately, all I saw were Tennessee Sleeping Horses and Tennessee Standing Horses. :) There were tons of horses around that area though, and some of them looked (to my extremely untrained eye) a bit more...well-bred than others. But that's as far as my expertise goes. And yes, you should definitely come up to Tennessee! It's just beautiful. I tried to take pictures that showed how pretty it is, but they just don't do justice to the vistas that you happen to glimpse as you're driving down the road. Not that western NC is a slacker in that department either!
We were lucky to find a campground that's in a pretty place AND doesn't cost a small fortune. Most that we were finding were in the $700/month range. One was $900/month. Um...excuse me? $900?!?!? For a parking spot with a sewer pipe? Are you kidding? This place is less than half of that, and it's lovely!

How's THIS for a front yard view:

(That's the French Broad River!)

There were some bricks by our site which we used to make a little walkway. Aren't we fancy?

We parked, got settled in, and went for a walk, when I snapped this picture of Noel looking out over the river:

There are lots of pretty flowers. Some purple ones (help me out here if you know anything about flowers!):

And buttercups!

And some little bell-shaped white flowers on a tree:

I took some other pictures too, such as this one, Rental Cabin With Foofy Pink Tree:

This one is called Contemplative Duck:

There are lots of ducks around here, and also Canadian Geese. It's Noel's staunch belief that since Canadian Geese spend a significant amount of their time in the U.S., they should be known as American Geese. Or if they're snippy about it, Canadian-American Geese. With dual citizenship.

Alright, it's late, so I'm going to head on to bed. Hope you have a lovely day!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Tax Man Cometh! (And Taketh Everythingth!)

Isn't tax day fun? Hurrah! When we feel the civic pride of taking part in our nation's functionality. I personally love to pay for the following:

* Roads with potholes. BIG potholes.
* Mail that never gets delivered, or gets delivered 2 months late. Especially handknit birthday presents, thank you very much.
* The department of labor. Because nothing's better than losing your job and then listening to someone tell you for 3 hours about helpful interview tips like "don't chew gum." Even though your ex-job had been teaching people interview skills. Love that.

However. There are things to be seriously grateful for:

* The U.S. Highway system, because we spent a lot of time on it this past year, and even though it is riddled with potholes in places (Louisiana, I'm looking at you) it still is quite efficient and the numbering system is the best in the world. No really, it is.
* National parks. Especially ones with hiking trails and wetlands.
* Public libraries. LOVE you!


I've been thinking the last few days about how pretty it is here in Tennessee, and how it feels different from a lot of the other places we've traveled. They were also pretty, but...different somehow, and I think I finally put my finger on it.

This part of the world is very Elemental. There are waterfalls and creeks and rivers flowing all over the place. The air smells so good (except for the skunks, but they're so cute you have to overlook the stench - or try to). There are beautiful green fields with stark gray rocks sticking out of them, which reminds me a lot of Scotland and Ireland (and may be why so many immigrants from those countries settled here). There are a huge variety of trees, which is so refreshing after Georgia. I loved Georgia's cypress trees and live oaks, but everything else was basically planted pine. Here we have (wild) pines, but also magnolias, oaks, maples, and so many types of gorgeous fruit trees. The rocks all have moss growing on them. It feels as if there's so much life here, that if people stopped mowing and cutting and clearing and caring for 2 weeks, nature would somehow take over again.

Of course, it would only take about 27 hours for the kudzu to swallow the entire city of Knoxville.

And somehow, I find that very comforting.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Probing and Lasers!

The cats had a very exciting day of being stuck and probed!

They had their yearly exam at the vet's office, and boy were they MAD at me. But! Vaccinations are important and we needed to make sure they're healthy and that Loki isn't too pudgy. (He's not). We also wanted to make sure Poe wasn't too thin (He's not). Loki now outweighs Poe by almost 2 lbs. Loki takes after me, what can I say? :)

They're both happy and healthy and did a good job at the vet's.

As a reward (and because they're both terribly spoiled), I got them some Greenies treats and what is apparently The Greatest Cat Toy Ever:

A laser mouse!

The cats absolutely LOVE this thing!

It even gets Loki up and running around the house like a wild cat. Can you believe it? This is the same cat who would lay in his own food to eat, just so he wouldn't have to stand up. He was frolicking today! Chasing and hunting! Poe was also zipping around so fast you could hardly see him!

Who knew $3 could buy so much happiness?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Weekend in Review

Ok, so first of all, Happy Tuesday everyone! Can you believe we're almost halfway through April already? AAAAHHHH.

So let's see...we've been busy here! Friday afternoon I went to knitting night and had a great time! The yarn shop is very cool and the owner spins a lot of the yarn herself off of her own sheep. Neato! We had coffee and cookies and all kinds of chatting. It was soooo nice. I miss my knitting group from Savannah, and it was so enjoyable to get out and hang out with other knitters for a while. Next time? I'll try to remember to take pictures. Oops.

Of course, I did manage to take a totally irrelevant picture of a German Shepherd sitting on top of a truck downtown:

Sorry it's a crappy picture - it was dusk, yadda yadda.

On Saturday, Noel had to work. Which was a shame, because Saturday was Tartan Day in Jonesborough. I wanted him to wear his kilt! Noel's sister was in town though, so she and I went to see it for a little while before she headed home to GA. This was a really small festival - maybe 6 vendor booths, 2 highland cows, 4 sheep, 3 border collies, 4 food booths (including a pastry/shortbread one, which made me very happy. And fat.) There were some men in kilts, and...well...that was about it. Very cute litte festival though, and a gorgeous day.

Which of course you wouldn't know, because I left my camera at home. Sorry! They have more festivals throughout the year though, including Jonesborough Days in July (they're putting out a Call for Crafters - dare I submit some stuff?)

Thankfully, Noel didn't have to work Sunday! We went to Verizon and got me a seriously cool phone, because my old provider, let's call them T-NOT-Mobile, never had a signal. EVER. So I now have a phone that (1) looks like it'll work nicely, and (2) looks super cool and is orange. Schweet!

We also went for a drive on Sunday because it was just so gorgeous!

And lest you all think that all we did for the last few days was gallavant around (ok, all *I* did), oh no, I beg to differ.

On our last long trip, the one getting us here to TN, my closet...died. I had a shoe holder thingie in there, and it gave up the ghost and tore apart and scattered my sundries and garments all over the place. So I got a new one, and proceeded to empty out my closet:

Closet Inspector #1 was soon joined by Closet Inspector #2.

(Do you see now why I have a hard time getting anything done without cat hair being involved?) I did end up with a cleaned out closet though. I switched my unmentionables with shirts, putting the shirts in the drawers and my drawers (so to speak) in the shoe cubby thing. Works out much better!

I also made the granddaddy of all banana puddings!

Recipe at http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Banana-Pudding-IV/Detail.aspx and I can tell you, it's really good. Although the cream cheese doesn't really smooth out so nicely without a blender or mixer. But it tastes great still! Yum.

I've also been diligently writing - 6 articles today! Whew!

And now it's really late, so I'd better head to bed. Good night!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

We're Still Here!

No worries! I've just been busy with stuff/slacking off on the blog. But I will bribe you into forgiving me by providing pictures! (Hope it works).

My Aunt Shirley & Mom came for a visit a few days ago. They really liked the campground.

We went into Jonesborough to have lunch and look in all the cute little shops there. We saw some fun antique shops, a quilt co-op, and a yarn shop owned by a young woman who spins a lot of the yarn herself out of the wool from her 2 sheep. How cool is that? She also has a knitting night on Friday afternoons, which I will be attending. Yay!

Shirley bought some yarn there, and she came over today so we could have a knitting lesson. She did a great job - caught onto the movements very fast and was already understanding how to fix mistakes and to read her knitting to see where she had stopped. Very good!

So spring is coming here. The trees are just starting to bud out and turn green:

But some plants are already well on their way, like this forsythia and Japanese magnolia.

And these pear trees are really popular around here, for good reason - they're gorgeous!

Noel's been busy working at his job. So far the commute is a bit much. We may end up moving a bit further south to accommodate his drive. I've also been busy writing (TEN articles so far this week!) and doing laundry. I got a lot of help with the laundry:

While uploading these pictures I found a few others that you might find amusing. Here's one of the professional fishermen at the last place we stayed, just south of Knoxville:

Told you guys these fishing types aren't fooling around!

Then while in Jonesborough the other day, I saw this and just cracked up.

HA HA HA HA!! Love it.

Monday, April 5, 2010

We're Heeeeeeere!

We arrived yesterday morning at the campground at 10:15 am! Not bad! By far the easiest long trip we've had. We got checked in and settled in, and drove into Jonesborough to visit with one of Noel's best friends from high school, who just happened to be visiting his family for Easter from Omaha, NE! What a coincidence! They had a great visit together.

We then went grocery shopping, picking up the necessities for an Easter dinner, which I made at Noel's dad's house. Good ham was had by all. (I also made mashed sweet potatoes, salad, homemade bread, and peach pie.)

We came back to the RV, got settled in, and watched Lord of the Rings.

It was a full day. :)

Oh, and did I mention? Yes, we get to see spring twice this year. Things are already blooming here (forsythia, Japanese magnolia and other blooming shrubs and trees) but most of the other trees haven't started really greening out yet. It's already very pretty here, but soon it'll be just gorgeous! Yes, I will take pictures!

Now we're off to buy a few things we need and to enjoy the day! Noel starts work tomorrow, so we have today to play!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Little House (No Longer) on the Prairie

So! I'm sure you're all waiting with baited breath to see how our trip east is going. Worry no more!

We're doing fine so far! Today was another great day of easy driving (despite some thunderstorms and whiny cats). We made an amazing 430 miles and are stopped just south of Knoxville, TN!

Last time we made this trip (a scant few weeks ago!) we had some...um...difficulties with the RV and mountains. The RV just had a really hard time with high inclines and we puttered along at 35 miles an hour up some of them, hoping to channel The Little Engine That Could.

Noel and his dad did some troubleshooting and decided to replace the fuel filter.

It worked. This is Noel yesterday, jetting along in the fast lane, blowing past a Corvette. A CORVETTE. A little red corvette, even! Baby, you're much too fast. If you drive a corvette (particularly a red one), and you're passed by an 18 year old motorhome? You should have your corvette revoked by the You Should Be Ashamed Police.

Last night we stayed at the Sleepy Hollow RV Park. We both have our heads intact this morning. Whew. It was a lovely park! So many trees!

And for the first time ever, a logical placement for the sewage hose. DOWNHILL. Thank you, Mr. Common Sense RV Park Plumber.

We have been seeing signs of spring along the way. Driving through Louisiana, we hit a long stretch of road (actually a long stretch of bridge over swamp) with no rest areas or gas stations for miles. And I had been drinking a LOT of coffee. We held off as long as possible, but finally had to pull over at an exit (don't even know if anything was on this exit!) so I could use the bathroom in the RV. This is definitely one major convenience of having a house on wheels. Also if you get hungry, you can make a sandwich at home! :) Also it's good if you forget to put on deodorant.

Anyway, there were some really impressive Scottish thistles on the side of the road where we pulled over. Some of them were already 2 feet tall!

(Sorry the picture was blurry - I didn't think to take a picture til we were driving away!)

Tonight's campground is called Lazy Acres, and it's very close to a big lake, and incidentally we're surrounded by Professional Athletes. These men and women train hard every day, make sacrifice after sacrifice to hone their sport, and look for opportunities to showcase their prowess.

As professional fishermen.

Seriously. There are at least THREE different fishing boats here plastered with endorsements for fishing equipment and such. One outfit even has a matching-endorsed truck, and our neighbors have a monster fifth wheel that's bright green with fishing lures painted on the side. And a big #18. Do fishermen have numbers?

The National Guard fishing team is even here. Which really begs the question: What about National Security requires a competitive bass fishing team? Yeah, I don't know either.

We're now thinking about putting some endorsements on our RV. Our sponsors? Lionbrand Yarn, Duct Tape, and Scoop Away Cat Litter.

Anyway, our campground is really pretty, at the top of a ridge, and the lake is on the other side, visible through the trees. The owners are also super-nice.

How's this for a backyard?

We went for a quick walk and saw this little guy just leafing out.

A pink oak tree? Is this some kind of Barbie science experiment?

We caught the sunset through the trees. Lovely!

So the cats aren't going to be thrilled, but they go back in the carrier tomorrow morning. The good news? We're only 160 miles away from our destination campground. Which shouldn't take us more than 2.5 - 3 hours. Yay! We can be settled in for lunch!

Friday, April 2, 2010


No, really, we're moving to Tennessee! Again! Noel got a solid job in the area, and we're headed there now.

Tonight we're spending the night in Laurel, Mississippi. We made great time today - 440 miles! We'll leave early in the morning and hope the weather holds for us, and then arrive in Tennessee on Sunday.

It's been a pretty drive so far. Lots of wildflowers along the roads. We said that we might get to see spring twice, since everything was already blooming out in Houston!

Time to pet the kitties (they did a good job today in the carrier, but need some spoiling now!) and then head to bed!

Thursday, April 1, 2010