Gene Goes For a Three-peat

We stayed home for most of today, not going out until we went to church this evening. Today was the annual cookout, held on church grounds every year in early summer. The rain that came with a cold front in the middle of the week was done, so the weather was 80 degrees and sunny, perfect for an outdoor event. We were all asked to bring a side dish or dessert, while one member grilled hot dogs and hamburgers; Leive made a veggie casserole that everyone liked.

After we ate, we had the most hyped event of the cookout – the water balloon toss. The adults and older kids paired up and played a game of catch with water balloons; whenever a balloon breaks, the team that threw it is out. The last team standing is the winner. Though the pastor wanted to dethrone him, Gene King won again; this makes him a champion for the third year in a row.

Then we went back inside to sing some songs, watch a Veggie Tales DVD (“Moe and the Big Exit”) , and have a drawing for some prizes. Also nice was that Jerry Schwartz, a Messianic Jewish friend of mine, showed up for the first time since March, and Leive finally got to meet him. Last winter he only came to church when Leive didn’t come, and vice versa; since I brought both in my car, that led to some strange speculation from the other members about why Jerry and Leive weren’t seen together! On that happy note, a busy month of June comes to an end. See you in July!

My Last June Ramblings

Now that I’m done reporting on our trip to Georgia, I can go back to random thoughts about life in Kentucky, as June comes to an end.

The bunk beds we ordered for the kids finally arrived on Tuesday. However, Leive thought she ordered four mattresses for them, and it turns out she really ordered two. Looks like another trip to the furniture store is in order. Rezia plans to use the bunk bed in the boy’s room for the time being.

I didn’t bother to check the news while traveling, because I didn’t think anything important was happening. At home the clock-radio in the bedroom is set to the local FOX News AM station, so I hear the news right when I wake up. On the morning after my arrival, the main headline was Paris Hilton getting out of jail! Now I’m wondering if I was right, that nothing more important happened that day, or if the networks made a conscious decision that the public would be more interested in the Paris Hilton story. Bias can work in two ways; sometimes what the media doesn’t show you is as important (or even more so) as what it does show you.

For the record, I don’t plan to ever mention Paris Hilton on any page of The Xenophile Historian, even if that’s what the people really want. Nor do I expect to mention her in future messages on this blog. I guess I’m one of those suffering from that new disease mentioned on the radio today: PFS (Paris Fatigue Syndrome).

Today “Sicko,” the latest movie by Michael “Harkonnen” Moore, hit the theaters. I also heard Moore is under attack from the PETA gang, for eating meat.

Last week I commented on the fighting between Al-Fatah & Hamas; this week it’s PETA vs. Moore. Don’t you love it when the Left eats its own? The only problem is that I don’t know which side to root for, so the best I can do is hope that the fight goes on for as long as possible, bleeding both of them to the max. I guess I’d better order a large tub of popcorn for this spectacle.

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Speaking of not eating meat, Leive has gone vegan. This week I heard that the ladies of my church are talking about a diet called the “Daniel fast,” where you eat only fruits and veggies. The name comes from the story in Daniel 1, where Daniel and his friends went on such a diet, because the food served to Nebuchadnezzar’s servants wasn’t kosher. Leive wants to do it for the whole month of July, as a way of praying that everything will go right for Rezia’s wedding.

I’m mentioning this because she has been on the diet since Wednesday, though June isn’t over yet. Worse, she doesn’t want to suffer alone, so it looks like I’ll have to do it, too. I did warn her that some vegans are so extreme that they don’t even eat honey, because they feel they’re robbing bees if they do! Hopefully I can hold off from starting until Sunday. Tomorrow is the annual summertime cookout at church.

Shabbat Shalom!

Has Queen Hatshepsut Been Found?

I’ve talked about this topic in more than one forum since I first got on the Internet, but this time the identification finally looks conclusive. To bring everyone up to date, KV60 is one of the smaller, undecorated tombs in Egypt’s famous Valley of the Kings. In 1903 it was discovered by Howard Carter, the Egyptologist who would later find Tutankhamen. It contained the mummies of two women, one in a coffin labeled as belonging to Queen Hatshepsut’s nurse, while the other just lay on the floor; part of a man’s coffin was nearby. The mummy in the coffin was hauled away to the Cairo Museum, where it was stored in the attic and forgotten until it was rediscovered in 2006, as part of the current project to clean out the museum’s basement and other storage places. I remember my Egyptology instructor, Dr. Gaballa Ali Gaballa, once told me that if the papyrus scrolls, statues, mummies and other artifacts in the basement were properly studied, they would probably answer every question we have about ancient Egypt! The uncoffined mummy and its tomb were also forgotten, until another Egyptologist, Donald Ryan, found them again in 1989. Ryan cautiously suggested that the mummy could be that of Queen Hatshepsut, since she was the right age and her nurse had been buried in the same place.

Now Dr. Gaballa’s successor, SCA Chief Zahi Hawass, has identified the mummy left behind as Egypt’s greatest queen, and accordingly moved it to the museum so she can rest alongside her XVIII dynasty relatives. I hope this time Hawass has made up his mind; last year he declared that the mummy found in the attic was Hatshepsut. Personally I always felt that Ryan’s identification had been correct, because of that fragment of a man’s coffin; Hatshepsut was known to dress as a man and even wear a fake beard, to make her rule more acceptable to her subjects. As for Ryan’s description of the mummy being an obese woman in her fifties, I figured that the statues and paintings we have of Hatshepsut must show her as she looked near the beginning of her career; after all, a lot of today’s celebrities want to be remembered the same way.

You can read the details on how she was identified by clicking on these links:

The Guardian

Al-Ahram

Chinatown, Atlanta?

(Composed 06/26/2007)

Monday was the day of our return. In view of how long it took us to get to Portal, I told everyone that I would like to leave around 8 AM. At least we had to be out by the time Lindy went to work. Here is a picture of the guest room Leive and I slept in. I didn’t take it until we packed up our belongings, because it looked most presentable then.

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As on Saturday morning, we were woken up by the rooster crowing next door. Leive had threatened to eat that rooster last time, so he got off lucky! But seriously, everyone was good about getting ready; we took off at 7:35. Basically we went back the way we came, heading west on I-16 to Macon, and turning north to go on I-75 the rest of the way. At McDonough, a suburb of Atlanta in Henry County, we got off and looked around for a Washington Mutual Bank, so Rezia could deposit the check she was carrying (see the 6/19 and 6/25 entries). We had to ask one lady for directions, but otherwise found it fairly quickly. That was a great relief for Rezia, I tell you!

This time we made it through the center of Atlanta without slowing down as much, but I made a wrong turn, and traveled on Interstate 85 (instead of 75) for several miles without knowing it. I didn’t realize my mistake until we got off the highway to find a place for lunch; the road we were on, Steve Reynolds Blvd, wasn’t on the map. The signs said we were in Gwinnett County, but aside from that, we were lost. Even more surprising, most of the businesses around us were Asian-owned. I didn’t know there was a large Asian community in Atlanta; apparently there’s one in the northeastern suburbs. Here’s a shopping center called Nukoa Plaza; note how most of the signs have Korean letters.

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After exploring around a bit, we came upon the biggest Asian grocery store any of us had ever seen: Gwinnett International Farmers Market. Judging from the look of the building, I think it used to be a Wal-Mart. The owners are Korean, but they offered a good selection of Mexican groceries as well as Oriental ones. Here’s how it looked from a distance:

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There weren’t too many Filipino items (mainly Ligo sardines and pancit noodles), but Leive and Rezia were delighted nonetheless; in fact, all three of us acted like the proverbial kids in a candy store. In the back was a food court offering Chinese and Korean dishes, so we had our lunch there. Then we did some shopping, buying items that were unavailable or overpriced in Kentucky (Georgia peaches, okra, etc.). After that we returned to the road, and I eventually found my way to I-75. We lost two hours in Atlanta, but at least our time wasn’t wasted.

The rest of the trip was quieter, except for a rainstorm in the mountains of northern Tennessee, followed by a gorgeous rainbow right when we crossed the border into Kentucky; of course Leive took that as a good omen. Finally, the Buick pulled into the driveway of our house at 9:23 PM. We are back!

Savannah Sunday

Savannah Sunday

(Composed 06/24/2007)

With both Lindy and Adam off from work, we took it easy today. The only time we went out was make a shopping trip in Savannah, and because Savannah is 60+ miles from Portal, we were gone for 5-6 hours. The ladies looked for wedding accessories in a Michael’s Crafts store (for Rezia, of course), and after lunch, they visited a Ross store to check out the clothing. To pass the time, Adam & I browsed in Best Buy before lunch, and Barnes & Noble afterwards. Upon our return home we found a fire engine, ambulance, and police cars across the street from Lindy’s home, outside a house where smoke was coming out. Thank God for His protection from that fire while we were away!

Honestly, I-16 must be the dullest interstate highway I’ve ever seen. I was on it last Friday night, again today as we went from Statesboro to Savannah, and we’ll use it tomorrow to go home. It runs 171 miles between Macon and Savannah, and there’s nothing larger than a town anywhere, except on each end. Even street lights and billboards are rare; most of the time you see nothing but flat land and pine forest on each side of the road. Adam told me that only local residents use I-16 much, and he likes it that way.

The rest of this entry will feature the pictures Lindy and I took at her Georgia home.

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First, here is the dining room, seen first from the living room, and then from the kitchen. Note my grandmother’s China cabinet in the first picture (still being put to good use!), and the filled-in fireplace in the second.

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For want of a better name, I’ll call his room “the studio.” Adam keeps an incomplete drum set here, as you can see, and hopes to put it together someday, when he can replace the missing parts. Rezia, being musically inclined, eventually moved her mattress in here.

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Two shots of the kitchen. It’s equipped well enough that we didn’t have any trouble feeding ourselves, but Leive chose not to make any special recipes like lumpia during our stay, because it lacked many of the utensils she prefers using, like a wok.

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Adam & Lindy have a jam session in the studio.

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Rezia and Leive join the fun.

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Lindy caught me writing today’s blog entry on her laptop!

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Our beautiful baby (Lindy snaps a self-portrait).

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The agony of de feet (Lindy & Adam’s, yes I know that was a bad joke).

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Leive, Lindy and Adam on the new couch.

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Now it’s my turn to pose with the happy couple.

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And finally, here are all three ladies (Rezia, Leive and Lindy) together.

Next time: the journey home.

Georgia On My Mind

(Composed 06/24/2007)

As long as we’re in Portal, communications will be difficult. From Lindy’s house, Leive and I can’t use our cell phone (evidently there isn’t a cell phone tower in range for our networks, because Rezia can use hers), they don’t have a regular phone line, and the local wireless Internet connection is erratic. Therefore I don’t expect to post anything until we get back to Lexington.

A lot of what I’m seeing in this part of Georgia reminds me of the old days in Florida: the generally flat terrain, the forests of longleaf pine, the heat, and the bugs. You’re not supposed to feel like a city-slicker if you’re from Kentucky, but I do in a place as far off the beaten path as Portal. The nearest town is Statesboro, which is 12 miles away. Both Lindy and Adam work there, and I am able to make phone calls from there. Today we visited Statesboro twice. Here is the drive-thru window at the bank where Lindy works.

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And the front of the bank:

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A typical street scene in Statesboro.

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And Adam currently works in a hardware store; here it is.

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Lindy and Adam have a pretty comfortable house, considering that they moved just under five months ago. However, they still had the couch Adam brought from his apartment in Orange City, and it made Leive itch, so it must have Florida bugs in it. According to her, she prayed that on our first trip to Statesboro, she would find a better couch to replace the old one. Sure enough, she did, when we visited a furniture store. It was one of the specials they were offering outside. Here it is as we found it:

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After that we went to a bridal shop to get some shoes and a tiara for Rezia. This building is the Bulloch County Courthouse, located a block from the bridal shop.

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Next we had lunch in a local Chinese restaurant, and came back. The sofa set, which includes a folding bed, chaise and recliner, arrived an hour later. Here you can see Adam trying it out.

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Adam said something about having a bonfire with his friends, using the old sofa. If so, they probably ought to be careful, since it looks like they’re going through a drought, too, and will it be a suitable substitute for Fourth of July fireworks? Anyway, here is the rest of the living room. Whoops, it looks like Rezia is dozing in the room behind it!

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The last movie Leive, Lindy and I saw together was “The Fantastic Four,” in July 2005. That was a good time for all of us, so when I heard there was a sequel out, I suggested that we go out and see that as well. Thus, our second Statesboro trip on Saturday was all five of us heading to the nearest theater where “The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” was playing. For Sunday it looks like we’ll drive out to Savannah, where we’ll see the nearest beach and visit a Michael’s crafts store to get Rezia some more wedding accessories. Adam & I will probably pass the time in a Best Buy over there. I’ll finish by posting some pictures outside Lindy’s house. Here is Leive, Lindy and Rezia at the door.

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And just to make it fair, here I am with Leive at the door.

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Happy end of the week, everyone!

Over the Mountains and Through the States

(Composed 06/23/2007)

Well, we made it. We left our Lexington home at 9:35 AM, and arrived at Lindy’s place almost 15 hours later, at 12:30 the next night. The reason for the long trip was traffic delays. We were right on schedule for the first leg of the journey, but then I-75 southbound was closed betwwen Berea and Mt. Vernon, KY, due to a fatal accident; a truck hit a concrete barrier, rolled over and hit another truck. With all the traffic an interstate highway normally has, it took nearly half an hour just to get down the offramp. We took a roundabout country road through places like Berea, Paint Lick and Carterville, to get around the traffic to the next I-75 exit. Leive liked that excuse to see the scenery around Berea, but when we returned to the interstate, that part of it was closed, too. In the end we had to drive on some more side roads, going so slow that if I had gotten out and walked, I believe I would have kept up with the traffic. After stopping in an overcrowded Hardee’s for lunch, we finally got going down I-75 again, losing three hours to get through an area that isn’t supposed to take more than twenty minutes.

By contrast, Tennessee was quite uneventful. As with my trip up from Florida last year, Tennessee provided the most spectacular scenery on the way. We entered Georgia at 5:30, much later than expected, so we had to forget about stopping at a bank for Rezia (see the June 19 entry). The worst of the Friday evening rush hour was over by the time we reached Atlanta, but still it was stop-and-go through the center of the city. As we traveled south, the temperature had been gradually rising – from the 70s and low 80s in Kentucky, to the high 80s in Tennessee, to 93 degrees on a bank thermometer on the Atlanta outskirts. Consequently my car threatened to overheat while stuck in Atlanta; I guess the Buick has acclimated to Kentucky, the way Leive and I have.

South of Atlanta, we stopped at a Wal-Mart to buy a few things. The sun went down while we were there, giving me a reminder that in the summer, the days get shorter as you go south (in Lexington at this time of year, it doesn’t get completely dark until 9:30 PM). It also reminded me that when I was in Florida, I was more tempermentally suited for night driving than daytime commuting; less traffic, and the engine no longer ran hot. At Macon we turned east on I-16 for the rest of the journey. There the countryside was really remote, with few signs of civilization, and even the cops must have been bored; one stopped us to tell me I had been driving for too long with my high-beams on! We got off the Interstate at Metter, GA, and drove on country roads for another half-hour before reaching Portal, where I got lucky and correctly guessed the location of Lindy’s street on the first try.

I didn’t take any pictures on the way, and because it was so late, we went to bed as soon as we got our stuff inside; only Lindy saw us, because Adam had to go to bed long before our arrival. I should have much more to report next time. See you then, same bat-time, same bat-channel!