Random (but not really)

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Sunday Flower Pr0n

The cherry blossoms are from Thursday, when we walked down to the wharf district. The rest of the flowers are from Sunday, and our visit to the WV Botanic Garden.







Written by Michelle at 7:28 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Flowers,Photos  

Thursday, March 24, 2016

On Showing Weakness

I had a very interesting (and quite lovely) conversation with an faculty member today. He’s older, and he’s not originally from the US (or the West, for that matter), which has bearing upon how the conversation progressed.

I interrupted him on the phone to ask if I could update his computer, and as he finished up, his voice changed and it became quite clear he was talking to a child. (He wasn’t speaking English, and I was able to start on what needed to be done, so I didn’t feel awkward about being there as he ended a private conversation.) (1)

I asked him if he was talking to a grandkid, and his face lit up and said yes, and I asked him how many grandkids he had, their ages, how far away they lived, etc. This brought the conversation quite naturally around to me, and I told him I didn’t have any kids.

“Why?” he asked.

“Because I’d make a terrible mother,” I said, giving him my standard reply.

This obviously didn’t make any sense to him, and so as we continued, I decided he really was curious (no need to tell me he was being a jerk, it was none of his business, etc. He really wasn’t–he was honestly curious, and believed that I would make a marvelous mother). (2)

So I told him that I suffer from depression, and there was a distinct possibility that I would have serious problems with postpartum depression if I got pregnant.

He was taken aback. “But you’re always so happy! So cheerful!” (He repeated this several times, he was so shocked.)

“When I feel bad, it makes me feel a little better if I can make people happy,” I told him. (It was a longer and more complicated than that, but you get the gist of it. (We also clarified depression and dementia and Alzheimer’s, just so he was certain about his “D” illnesses.))

After some consideration, he said that perhaps he understood. That he’d often met men who were friendly and outgoing and great guys, but as (I think) an elder of his church, sometimes the wives of these men would ask him for help/advice, because at home these men were not so wonderful.

“The outside doesn’t match the inside.”

“Yes,” I said, “except that the horribleness is turned inward to me.”

We talked a little bit longer about how long I’d dealt with this, and medicines and such, and as I finished what I was working on and got up to leave, he gave me a huge hug (and no, not a creepy hug–I think he was afraid he had upset me, asking about depression (he hadn’t)).

And here’s the thing: There are many things about that conversation that probably shouldn’t have happened (seeing as how it was at work) but it was a good conversation, and more importantly, a useful one, because I got to share with someone that depression happens to everyone–even the people who seem cheerful and happy on the outside.

Could anyone do this? Most likely not.

I’ve discovered over the years that something about me makes people willing to ask questions to which they really want to know the answers (3). Probably because I try to make people comfortable and put them at ease. (4)

But even if this exact scenario isn’t something everyone can do, I believe it helps to remember that anyone can share their weaknesses. That in this age of constant horribleness in the news, it helps to remind people that depression and mental illness aren’t the providence of monsters, but something that anyone can suffer from.

And a reminder to us, that we aren’t monsters, and that what we feel on the inside often has little bearing to what people see on the outside.


(1) I actually love listening to conversations in other languages, because usually there is some random English word dropped into a sentence of what is otherwise incomprehensible to me. My favorite was “blah blah blah blah school bus blah blah.”

(2) It would probably also confuse anyone who follows my Flickr feed, in which a variety of kids make regular appearances.

(3) One of my favorites from years ago: “In traffic, this guy waved at me with one finger. What did it mean?”

(4) Let me tell you, this, combined with a sense of humor, is an invaluable asset in face-to-face tech support, and has led to many spontaneous hugs, as I fix what had seemed like an insurmountable problem.

Written by Michelle at 11:06 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Depression  

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock

Our plan for the day had been to go to Cacapon and Berkeley Springs, but I just didn’t feel like spending that much time in the car, so we instead went and hiked the other side of Coopers Rock.

I’ll note that I did NOT get us lost, hiking the Hemlock Trail. :)

Location: Coopers Rock State Forest
Trails: Hemlock Trail, Glade Run Trail
Distance: 2.2 miles, 3.3 miles
Elevation: 1664-1927 feet, 2117-2405 feet

The Hemlock Trail is gorgeous, and I took several pictures. The Glade Run Trail was nice, but not particularly photogenic.






Written by Michelle at 7:48 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Friday, March 4, 2016

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock

Tuesday, since we got home early and it was a beautiful day, we decided to hike some trails we hadn’t before (there aren’t many) and my rule for the day was no backtracking.

Location: Coopers Rock State Forest
Trails: Advanced Ski Trail, Reservoir Ski Trail, Roadside Trail, Overlook, McCollum Trail, Unofficial Trails
Distance: 6.8 miles
Elevation: 2153 – 2426 feet




Written by Michelle at 8:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest  

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Hiking WV: Canaan Valley State Park

We went to Canaan Valley State Park Sunday and Monday. As there was snow melt AND rain, it was really really muddy.

Luckily, we have waterproof boots.

Location: Canaan Valley State Park
Trail, Distance, Elevation
Blackwater Trail, 0.9 miles, 3262 – 3348 feet
Club Run Trail, 2.1 miles, 3369 – 3481 feet
Deer Run & Mill Run Trails, 2.3 miles, 3273 – 3336

Rocks! I like rocks!


The Blackwater River, meandering through Canaan Valley




Oh! Look! Wetlands!

Canaan Valley State Park

Decaying machinery on the Mill Run Trail! (I love decaying machinery!)

Canaan Valley State Park

Canaan Valley State Park

Written by Michelle at 8:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Books of February

Between rain and staying home with His Furriness his final weeks, and some much needed down time at the end of the month, I got a lot of reading done this month.

And some of it was even NEW books!

One of my favorite books this month was a re-read. In fact, I specifically picked it up because I knew it would immediately pull me in.

Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan is one of my favorite books, even though it has boinking. The main character in this historical romance is a scientist. I mean, right there, what is not to love? From the same series was also The Suffragette Scandal. Actually, all the books in the series are very good, they just aren’t as perfect as The Countess Conspiracy. Also excellent is The Brimstone Deception by Lisa Shearin, which is another addition to her SPI files. If you’d like a change from heroines with supernatural ass-kicking powers, here is a heroine who is glad to stay out of the way when going into dangerous situations, because she knows others are better able than her to handle things. Mind you, I like heroines who kick butt, but this is a very nice change of pace.

And as a whole, I also recommend Anna Lee Huber’s Lady Darby series. She is the widow of an anatomist, and what her husband forced her to do gave her a unique set of skills she learns to use to help solve murders. I like the historical setting and the main characters, and although there is a romance brewing between the main characters, they have very real issues to work out (as opposed to manufactured issues, like SOME mysteries (ahem)) and those issues do a very good job of reminding us just how different the past was (and how glad I am to live in the future).

Historical Romance

The Brothers Sinister
The Duchess War (2012) Courtney Milan (8.5/10)
A Kiss for Midwinter (2012) Courtney Milan (8.5/10)
The Heiress Effect (2013) Courtney Milan (8.5/10)
The Countess Conspiracy (2013) Courtney Milan (10/10)
The Suffragette Scandal (2014) Courtney Milan (9/10)

The Turner Family
Once Upon a Marquess (2015) Courtney Milan (8/10)

Historical Mystery

Lady Darby
The Anatomist’s Wife (2012) Anna Lee Huber (6.5/10)
Mortal Arts (2013) Anna Lee Huber  (8/10)
A Grave Matter (2014) Anna Lee Huber  (8/10)
A Study in Death (2015) Anna Lee Huber  (8/10)

Lady Emily
And Only to Deceive (2005) Tasha Alexander (7.5/10)
A Poisoned Season (2007) Tasha Alexander (7/10)
A Fatal Waltz (2008) Tasha Alexander (7/10)
Tears of Pearl (2009) Tasha Alexander (6/10)
Dangerous to Know (2010) Tasha Alexander (6/10)

Supernatural Fantasy

The SPI Files
The Brimstone Deception (2016) Lisa Shearin (9/10)

This month I read 16 books, with six of those being re-reads. (Although they were mostly earlier books in a series where I wanted to go back before reading new-to-me books.)

Genre-wise, it was 10 mysteries, 6 romances, and one supernatural fantasy.

Gender-wise, no male authors made an appearance this month, so for the year, it’s 77% female authors. I expect this rate to change, but perhaps not until I finish my Courtney Milan kick.

Written by Michelle at 9:26 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Hiking WV: Blackwater River Rail Trail

We went back to the Blackwater River rail trail on Sunday, because I wanted to see both the old coke ovens and the falls along that section of the river (NOT in the park).

Location: Blackwater Canyon Rail Trail
Distance: 3.2 miles
Elevation: 2785 – 2971 feet

With most of the brush gone for the winter, we saw precisely how many coke ovens there had been–they stretched for a least half a mile on both sides of the trail

Falls along the Blackwater River (not the main falls)



Historic Coke Ovens




Some nature slowly taking back the coke ovens.


Written by Michelle at 7:38 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Blackwater Falls State Park

Several State Park lodges had a leap year special at the end of February: $29/person/night for Saturday and Sunday, and if you stayed both days, Monday night was free. We chose Blackwater Falls State Park, and stayed three nights. That gave us four days of hiking, which was AWESOME, although the weather being what it has, we didn’t get to snowshoe, since there wasn’t enough (or any, by Monday) snow.

Sadly, the GPS batteries were dead the first day, so I don’t have distances or elevations for Saturday’s hiking at Blackwater Falls (and that was the day we hiked the most there).

Location: Blackwater Falls State Park
Trails: Balanced Rock Trail, Lindy Point Trail, Pendleton Trace Trail, Elakala Trail, Red Spruce Trail, Water Tank Trail
Distance: 4.9 miles
Elevation: 3072 – 3221 feet






Pendleton Trace





Lindy Point (at sunset, Sunday & Monday)



Blackwater Falls (Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday)




Written by Michelle at 7:25 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

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