Monday, August 9, 2010

Market, Machine, Madness

Hello there, dear blog friends.  I have missed you, as I've been off having adventures this weekend.  I'll try not to be too long-winded, as the best part is the last, and I wouldn't want to tire you before then.

For our market fans...I once again was roped into volunteered at the Matthews Community Farmers' Market.  Saturday was the kids' vegetable art day.  They are provided with whatever weird, overgrown or generally odd produce the vendors have to offer, and let their imaginations run wild!

As you can see, squash was one of the major building blocks.  My job was to stand around and inform the adults that the non-existent zucchini was not for sale.  Oh, and to make sure the knives were always in safe hands, preferably ours.  Yeah, that was important; good thing there was another volunteer there!  Fortunately, the kids needed very little direction, because I was pretty much just good for standing around blearily sweating.

Here's a display of some of the early creations.

And this fellow amused me:

He was actually much happier about his mohawked, potato-eared creation than he's letting on.  Perhaps he was confused by my bleariness.

And, while this youngster didn't actually create anything, she was certainly willing to try.

Ok, I confess, I just had to put this in because she was so darn cute!!  Can you blame me?

So, Part II of our title today is The Machine.  Our new washer.  Which spins at something around 1200 rpm, and sounds like a jet engine.  Well, a muffled jet engine.  And, even at that speed, remains much more stable than our "old" machine.  I ran three loads through that sucker Saturday afternoon, clearing out about half of our 10-day laundry pileup.

Besides its enormous capacity, there are two silly things I'm enjoying about this machine.  First is the sparkly LED lights around the knob on the right.  Oooo, shiny!  Second is the clear glass lid.  How fun is it to watch your clothes spinning around in the Gravitron?  Pretty cool, for about five minutes.  Then it can give you a headache, and make the dog worry about your sanity.  Too bad we don't have a cat, eh?  They'd understand.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not here touting this machine--just enjoying our new toy.  As far as I can tell, though, there's really only one little engineering tweak remaining to make this thing perfect.  The clothes still come out of the dryer unfolded.  Can't they do something about that?  (I mean, other than kicking me off of blogger to go fold the laundry that's been sitting in the bedroom since Saturday.)

Ok, so are you ready for some madness?  And maybe then you'll understand why the clothes never got folded!

First, you'll have to know, it was Miss Chef's birthday this weekend.  And it was one of those important ones that end in 0.  (No I'm not going to tell you which one; it's not my birthday!)

Of course, Chef Adam made her a cake and invited me to come join the staff after service to sing happy birthday and chow down.  At 10:30 at night.  But you know, there's no wrong time for chocolate cake!

That's not the madness part, though.  That came the next day.  Our friends arrived to pick us up at a perfectly sane 11:30 in the morning.  But don't be fooled; we were headed to the US National Whitewater Center!

Aw, isn't it pretty?  Yeah, but we weren't there for sightseeing!

That is not us.  If you want to see some pics that are of us, taken by the Whitewater Center, go to this gallery.  Our pictures are numbers 1544, 1545, 1569 and 1570.  They are rather boring, so I won't be at all insulted if you spend some time browsing the other, more dramatic photos in the gallery.  (Go ahead, I'll wait here for you.)

Contrary to the evidence presented, we did get swamped by water, and we did get bounced around.  In fact, if you'll notice in #1570, I look rather short.  That's because I got bounced over and down into the floor of the raft, from which position it is rather difficult to recover without letting go of the t-grip end of the paddle (important rule), and while the raft continues to bounce on down the rapids, spattering you unpredictably with facefuls of water.

Not that I'm complaining.

Actually, our guide Trey took really good care of us.  I'd informed him at the outset that this was my first rafting experience and I was a little nervous.  So I think he was a bit easy on us (sorry, Miss Chef).  Still, we did get to experience something called surfing, when the raft gets stuck between the downhill and uphill sides of a drop and just sort of...hangs out down there.  In its own unique, wet and unpredictably bouncy way.  Trey informed us afterwards that this boat was not the one he'd firmly inflated that morning, and declared it "noodley."  Which I will feel free to translate here as "more bouncier."

Later, on the competition side, we got stuck in the Toilet Bowl.  That was a large eddy to the side of the only Class IV rapid on the course, which just turns you around in circles and can be difficult to get out of.

Did I mention that raft guides have an odd, but very enjoyable sense of humor?

So the actual rafting lasted about an hour, including four trips down the two sides of the current.  After hitting the calm water in the center, there is no need to portage your way to the next rapids.  No, you simply take the conveyer belt back up to the top!

Whee!  Reminds me of riding the log flume up at Geauga Lake, but with a very different ride down.

Fortunately for me--and Miss Chef--we all remained in the raft.  Which means that I'm quite willing and eager to go back and try it again!  We are so incredibly lucky to have this world-class facility within 20 minutes of our front door.  This is the place where various US Olympic kayak teams train and qualify.  And it's open to the public!  There's lots more to do there, too: mountain biking, geocaching (rather tame), flatwater kayaking, plain ol' hiking, rock climbing and a zip-line that takes you right over the whitewater.

We opted instead for lunch at the restaurant.  Well, we did hike around a little, checked out the flatwater kayaking dock, found a couple of geocaches (only one of which we were actually looking for), but I had twisted my ankle in the raft and wasn't terribly comfortable.  So we headed back out without trying any of the other activities on our collective wish list.

That's ok--I'm pretty darn sure there will be a next time.

And last night I figured out a season AllSport pass pays for itself after only three visits!  Hmmm....


  1. How fun!!! Looks like you all had a blast. Gotta tell you... I LOVE the eggplant face with the tomato ears - how cute is that?! And - if only dryers could fold clothes... if only.

  2. My company makes noise dampening material that is used in washers and other appliances to help muffle all that jet engine noise. Our products are also used to muffle actualy jet engine noise- and truck cab noise!

    I have rafted twice in my lifetime and it was back in high school and I loved it! They were both big outdoor excursions that included camping and roughing it. New River in WV (I think) and Rio Grande in TX.


  3. That is something I would love to have done - 20 years ago! I did raft down the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta long ago - caught my ankle between the rubber raft and a rock...and in other years rafted on calmer water. Love it!!!

    Nancy in Iowa

  4. I had no idea such a place even existed! With a conveyor belt! And that there is such a thing as a washing machine with a glass lid for viewing - too cool. Makes me think of putting a little toy raft with little toy people in the washing machine and watching the ride...

  5. OK, Vegetable decorating, a new washing machine AND rafting! You are getting your share of the good life, baby!

  6. Is that a washing machine or a space ship??
    Rafting must have been thrilling.

  7. Really enjoying your blog after spending too much time visiting! I'm your newest follower and will be back soon. Thanks for finding mine!

  8. I have never seen a washing machine with a see through lid (probably because I have not had to shop for one in oh about 15 years). How totally COOL! I want one! (maybe I was a cat in a former life?) My washing machine is sparkly lights or see through lid but it will walk across the room if you put a pair of jeans in it. LOL.

    The rafting looks like so much fun! Happy belated birthday to Miss Chef!


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