Month: December 2006

Reeeelly good vacation, no arrests

(pictures to come, soonish)

Yeah, I started off over the river, through the woods and across the mountains with some trepidation. The road between here and Rapid City is long, winding, and has lots of upsy-downsie spots, most of which can be covered with transparent slick stuff this time of year, and while snow doesn’t bother me and mountain roads don’t bother me, the two together can be… well, a little tricksy.

But I got there, and Rick and Jen have really, really been busy. Rick showed me the newly remodeled bathroom, the enormous bunch of stuff he’s done in the back yard, and a shelving unit he’s built for Jen for Christmas. At least, I think it was for Christmas. Maybe it was just for. 🙂 Though I probably shouldn’t be, I’m always somewhat amazed at the abilities and energies he (and his brothers, too) has (have) and the things they can do. If only I could kidnap him and bring him out here for a month . . . !

And he and Jen both did well on their finals, Ricky pulling an A out of a difficult chem class that’s given him fits all semester. I’m really proud of both of them for going to school; after 10 years, I think it would be very, very difficult, and they’re both putting a lot of effort into it.

Jaidyn is about twice the size she was the last time I saw her and quite a neat little girl. I got to go to her Christmas program at school, which was fun, and she and I drew some crayon drawings and did some other fun stuff. She was very curious about knitting and how it worked, but I’ll save a conversion for another time. 🙂 She thought I should leave Blue behind when I had to go home. 🙂

Perhaps the most typical Northrup Event was the National Park Visit. Chris insisted he wanted to go to Mt. Rushmore, since for some reason he doesn’t remember it from our 1984 visit, when he was 1. Can’t imagine why. So he, Rick, Jaidyn and I piled into Rick’s big-ass pickup (BAP) and headed into the mountains.

Not surprisingly, few people were there and the parking lot was empty, but they still wanted $8 to park there. We could see the famous faces from where we were, allowing for a flagpole and a tree or two, and Rick said to Chris, “There, you can see them. Is that enough?” Chris said no, he’d pay the bleeding $8, just go on in. So we did. Everyone else had parked dutifully in the designated places, but this family has never been really good at rules. The handicapped and bus parking lanes were wide open, so we parked in a bus spot. Surely, four people in a BAP were enough to qualify, no?

We went inside and hauled ourselves up a wide sidewalk to the area where we could see the Famous Faces. A handful of others were there, clutching their coats closed against a bitter wind and hurrying to get their photos before their red ears turned white from frostbite. A few mountain goats had huddled up behind a wall, licking the ground, we assumed for salts that had accumulated as snow melted. They ignored us. I wanted to try stealing fur to spin, but thought they’d probably object, and they had horns.

On the way back down, Chris looked around, leaped over the “stay on the trails” sign, and shot up a hillside toward a big rock that looked as if it would give him a good vantage point for a landscape photo. “If you get in trouble, you’re on your own!” I admonished, before going downhill and sitting on a park bench to wait for him. Ricky and Jaidyn had already gone into the trinket shop (often the best part of a national-park visit). A few minutes later, I heard a mighty rushing of hooves and scatter of rocks and foom! Christopher vaulted over the back of the bench and sat down. “Got a great picture!” he crowed.

A ranger loomed over us. “Would you come here, please?” he frowned at Chris. Chris handed me the camera surreptitiously, as if maybe he’d gotten shots of some super-top-secret-ultra-classified area of the Black Hills. He walked over to the ranger and looked down (very down) at him, trying hard, I suspect, to appear contrite and remorseful. The ranger, head tilted upwards at a difficult angle, lectured him on the dangers of getting off the trail (to a soldier who’s been in Iraq… but we won’t get into those ironies, will we?) and Chris gazed down at him and worked at looking apologetic. Finally, after extracting a promise from Chris not to do it again, he let Chris go. I sat on the bench looking elsewhere, thinking, “He’s over 21! If he gets arrested, it’s not my problem to bail him out!” Ah, the joys of adult children! 😀

After cruising through the gift shop, disrespecting a bust of Our Leader (gag, hack, spit), discussing whether and deciding it wasn’t worth $17.50 to use it for target practice, and watching Jaidyn pick out and purchase a host of very pretty polished rocks, we headed back to the BAP. Noting on the way that quite a few other people had followed our lead and parked in the bus spaces. Ah, the Northrups—always trendsetters!

Heading down the mountain, we came around a curve and into the little tourist-trap town that’s just before the national park. A ranger was driving toward us, and Ricky said, “Uh-ohhhh…” He’d evidently either not seen or not paid attention to the 35 mph signs and was going about 45, and figured the ranger wouldn’t approve. Sure enough, the guy u-ied and hit his lights. Rick pulled over and took out his paperwork in a series of motions that told me this happens far too often for his mother’s taste, but oh, well. 🙂

However, instead of coming up to Rick’s side of the BAP, he came up to mine. Maybe he thought the two-cars-per-half-hour traffic was going to run him down, I dunno. They swapped the usual info and paperwork, reaching across me to do so, which was really rather rude for a public servant, and the ranger said:

“Do you have any weapons in the car?”

“Yes, sir,” Ricky replied.

“WHAT?!?” I shrieked. “You have a GUN in here?!?”

“What is it?” the ranger asked. “Do you have a permit for it? Is it loaded?”

“It’s a .45, I have a concealed permit, and I think it’s loaded,” Ricky replied.

WHAT?!?!” I screeched melodiously. “A .45?!? In your pickup?!? I didn’t even know you owned a .45!! What are you doing with a LOADED .45 IN YOUR PICKUP?!?!?”

At this point, the ranger probably thought Rick was safer with him than with me. “Please get out of the pickup and go around to the back,” the ranger said. Ricky did. The ranger walked around to the driver’s side, opened the door, and started rooting around where Rick had told him the gun was. I was still mumbling and stumbling about, verbally, anyway. Chris was quiet. Jaidyn was completely unconcerned and uninterested. Not sure if she was sleepy, or if this happens frequently enough that she thinks of it as usual. 🙂

The ranger took out the pistol, clicked the magazine out of it with a rather frighteningly businesslike series of metallic clinks, and went back to Ricky. He called in the registration number on the gun and he and his (female, I think) partner frisked—frisked!—my #1 baby boy. Of course, I didn’t think about getting out to immortalize the moment in pixels. They talked for quite a while before letting Ricker back in the pickup. The ranger leaned on the door to finish his lecture.

“Did you know it’s a federal offense, a Class A-1 Super Duper in the Cage with Bubba felony to have a loaded weapon in a national park?” (Okay, so I added the qualifiers. I don’t remember exactly what he said.)

“No,” Rick answered, rather wide-eyed, thinking in terms, I suspect, of Very Large Trouble. “I forget it’s even in the pickup and don’t think about it.”

“A lot of people don’t know that,” the ranger continued. “It’s fairly new legislation, part of the Patriot Act (editorial note: HA). I’ll let you go with a warning on that; just don’t bring it back into the park. And I’ll let you off with a warning on the speeding, too. Just pay closer attention to the speed-limit signs next time.”

“Yes, sir,” Ricky replied. “Thank you, sir.” Guess he and Chris both learned something in basic training. 🙂

And we went on our merry way down the mountainside, with much laughter and talk about The Northrup Way. “Boys,” I beamed at them, “I am SO glad to see that neither one of you has lost your touch!”

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Movie and pho

Went to see “Eragon” last night. It was exactly what I expected: Standard fantasy adventure tale with pretty boys and emaciated girls. The landscape and CGs were terrific, by themselves worth the price of admission. It must have been filmed in New Zealand; I have a friend there and must go impose upon him one day, just to see the country.

They are, of course, capitalizing on the success of “Lord of the Rings.” Evidently, Eragon is part of a fantasy series, too, because this movie ended on a very obvious wait-for-the-next-installment note. Jeremy Irons was, as always, quite good, and John Malkovich did a wretched job. He may be a good actor, but slopping it out because you don’t have The Big Central Part or are just too lazy to do it properly really torques me. Have some respect for your audience.

I loved the dragon. They made the baby dragon adorably cute (not easy to do, with talons and spikes and things) and did a really nice job with her.

Pho afterwards, at a place near the theater, was yummy. I hadn’t been to this place before; it’s more “family” than the other pho place in town (a TV in the wall for the owners’ little guys to watch and little people running around all over the place) and they speak less English. But good food. The littlest guy had a massive case of pinkeye, which was a little disturbing in a restaurant, but I didn’t see that until I was paying. And interestingly, they had a little shrine set up at the back, with little offerings of food and drink set out in front of it. That makes me curious, but I didn’t ask.

I love the name of the restaurant: Pho Ly. ‘Nuff said. 😀

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Christmas spirit


Here’s a shot of my buddy Miguelito (I think taken by his wife Rilla), who seems to be in need of a bit of Christmas cheer. Or maybe that is his Christmas-cheer face. Scary, eh?

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Don’t laugh!

Yes, I know I’ve spent most of my life grousing about people who put silly coats and costumes and things on their dogs. The dogs do, after all, have plenty of fur. However, with Blue and I about to trek to the Black Hills, and no opportunity for her to grow a nice, thick coat, she’ll be at a distinct disadvantage. So I (swallowing crow in large, distasteful proportions) knit her one. It went much faster with large needles that didn’t hurt my hands as much. There’s a flap in front that goes between her forelegs and tucks inside the chest part to keep her chest nice and warm.

It looks a little baggy, but this dog is remarkably resistant to having her photo taken, so she was not at all cooperative. As opposed to the initial fittings, which she definitely enjoyed. She was not, despite the look on her face, beaten with rocks, or even sticks.

I know, I know, she’s so spoiled it’s just pitiful. Utterly pitiful.


Posted by wordsmith in Knitting, 0 comments


Well, I’ve finished the sweatshirt/hoodie thing for Jaidyn. I thought I was fairly clever, intending to make the pockets into the shape of two cats mooshed together. I couldn’t very well use just one cat, because that would mean sticking your hand in one side of the pocket would be sticking it in the cat’s butt, and a that would be just way too much gross-out factor for a little kid.

So here’s how it turned out.


I know, the cats don’t look a lot like cats. They look more like pigs, or guinea pigs, or something. Knitting turned out to be really difficult to embroider on, so that didn’t work too well, but by that time I was too far along to change my approach (and hand damage dictated proceeding rather than backing up). But the tail came out OK. Good intentions had just better count. I made the cuffs extra long so she can grow and it will still fit OK. If she ever wears it. One will hope that Jaidyn’s not terribly critical, and that Jen will overlook the flaws. If not, well… what can I say? I’m not very experienced. And my hand hurts.

I’ll knit better in ten years. If I don’t die first. Or have my hands amputated. Sigh.

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For your viewing pleasure…


As if you have nothing better to do.

Whatever misery it causes, snow here is jaw-droppingly beautiful in a way it doesn’t seem to be anywhere else. At least not to me. As long as you have electricity. Rob took the above shot, which is actually of a half-moon in the sky, but he got some flare and I couldn’t Photoshop it out (sorry, Adobe, but verbifying “Photoshop” is just too easy). The next one is a little more accurate.



These were (obviously) taken of the deck while it was snowing, and through that plastic gunk on the windows because I couldn’t get the door open. So it’s kinda flat and the focus isn’t very good, and I oversharpened. It amuses me when snow falls so straight and gently that it makes little towers and leaves empty spaces, like under the birdbath.


The biggest problem with the lovely, wet snow is that it’s brutally heavy. The only little tree I have in the front is now broken, and you can see the weight bowing the branches on these poor ash and alder trees. Usually they point straight up. That’s probably what does for the electrical wires, too. Don’t know why they don’t put ’em underground.

OK, back to your regularly scheduled lives.

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Asian glass, lion hunts, and expensive dogs

Really cool dreams this week; I think I’ve correlated the terrific ones to days I accidentally skip brain pills. The dreams are so entertaining it’s almost worth it. 🙂 These are just the high points. They were a lot longer and more complicated than this.

Dream One: I was at a conference of some kind involving peace activists and speakers, in Singapore, I think, and lots of stuff was going on but the most interesting was the hotel. I was on the 11th floor and in an elevator going up when it turned into a flying cubic transport thing; not a bus, because it still had its elevator shape. It took me swooping along streets and over parks and residential areas. One park contained a lot of scrawny old wrinklies who were attempting to use resistance cords, like bungee cords, for exercise. Two of them had wrapped the cords around their necks and were trying to stop choking themselves.

Then I was in a store looking at things on shelves. One of them was a sort of chalice shape made of very thin, cranberry-red glass with a matte surface. Inside it were tiny red glass teacups and even tinier little plates; I wondered what they could be for and decided it must be sushi. The workmanship was amazing and I was afraid to pick it up because it was so delicate.

Also, I found a fountain pen in this store that was shaped like the body of an F-15, sans wings. The pointy bit of the plane was the nib, and it curved way over and down, almost like a claw or the Concord nose. This was kind of a mauve color (not my thing!) with airbrushed designs; very sleek and clean looking. You unscrewed it to get to the inside, and at the front was a smallish brass (gold? probably not, for the $10 price) tube with a little flip top that might have held a cartridge, but that gave me the impression that you dropped ink into it and the flip top sealed it like a cartridge. Cool system; I bet it would work.

Behind the cylindrical part (there was an amazing amount of room inside it) were tiny, tiny, about a centimeter diameter and two millimeters high little fluted candles. One was labeled “one,” another “two,” and one “after dinner.” I puzzled over this until I thought perhaps they were for neutralizing the stench from one and two cigarettes, and obviously for after dinner use. But I couldn’t find anyone to tell me what they were.

Dream Two: Last night. Long involved process as to how it got there, but there was a lion lying with a critter carcass at the entrance to a long dirt driveway leading to the house I was in. (Not mine, and for once the emphasis wasn’t on the house!) Someone was giving everyone in the house lion lessons, so if we went out we wouldn’t be eaten, but we weren’t supposed to go out. Of course, I did, and went down to look at the lion. A small guardhouse was in the middle of the road between the lion and the house, and I sneaked up behind it and peered around. The lion saw me, stretched lazily, got up and sauntered my way. I sidled around the other side, and as it peeked around to see me, I peeked around the other edge to see its tail. We kept sidling around the walls like this and I was wondering how I was going to get out of there alive, ’til I remembered that the anti-lion teacher had said, “Square your shoulders, walk tall and confidently, as if you own the world, and the lion won’t bother you.” So when I got back to behind the guardhouse, I did as told and strode off unhurriedly toward the house. The lion just sat there and watched me.

Later, some other woman did the same thing, but she got into the guardhouse and the lion poked his head inside. She started to shriek, high-pitched sounds like a dying rabbit (Chris!), and the guardhouse expanded and the lion came inside. The closer he got, the more walls appeared and the more she retreated behind and the higher and louder became her shrieking. The lion thought this sounded like lunch and kept coming. I think he eventually ate her, but don’t remember for sure.

Dream Three: I found Blue comatose on the couch in a house not mine, tiny and dark, no lights anywhere, with houses on either side that were equally tiny, dark and squalid, and peopled by humanoid creatures at whom West Virginia hillbillies would look askance. I took her immediately to the vet, who didn’t look much more competent than the hillbillies, and she made a hole in Blue’s back, put in a tube (sort of like for abscess drainage), and told me I’d have to feed in a couple of milliliters of a milky antibiotic she handed me about every hour for two weeks. Of course, Blue didn’t think too much of this idea and within about six hours I’d given up and squirted the whole supply down her throat. The tube had fallen out, too. And the rest of the dream was taken up with hand-wringing and worry about the vet’s $10,000 bill and how I’d ever get that paid off!

Posted by wordsmith in Dreams, 0 comments