Wednesday, August 28, 2019

What Residency Looks Like LXIX: Rainbows

While I once mused that if medical school didn't work out, I wanted to become the art dealer for a hospital like the one who found all the beautiful local pieces for the children's hospital in Madison, WI, there is in fact quite a bit of art in my current hospital: the unit secretaries--we call them HUCs now, but I can't remember what that stands for ("hospital unit clerk"?)--outdo each other putting up creative displays. Some tout the number of days since the last patient fall, others the wonders of hand hygiene. Some have blank shapes on which to write anonymous kudos to a coworker, while others record everyone's birthday. I assume there are blog posts or catalogues or something sharing ideas and materials, but that's okay--there's still great to look at. This month I am treated to this bulletin board everytime I walk on or off my current hospital unit: "Be a RAINBOW in someone's cloud."


Thursday, August 22, 2019

Smith Mountain Lake: So long, folks!

This last post mostly just contains photos I got from Dear Husband's phone, but this one is from my aunt: that's me on "Michael Island." After tooling around in a rented pontoon boat on Wednesday, we dropped anchor for a little swimming and fishing. Several of us struck out for this island about 50 yards away. Although I reached it first, my uncle "planted the flag" (really, a flagstone--a flat wide one) and so named it for himself! It was a tiny piece of land supporting a variety of small plants, one dead tree, and a conifer that had tipped over and made the island look larger than it was. A sandbar with mussels birds had opened stretched back toward the shore, and the rocky outcroppings around it quickly dropped off.

On the last full day of vacation (Thursday), we had planned to stick close to the lake house before heading out to a local winery for an afternoon tasting. Then I made an idle remark to my brother that Dear Husband and I had considered visiting Appomattox on our way home. My mother seized upon the idea, and although it was already midmorning, most of the family gathered themselves to visit the site of the signing of the unconditional surrender of the Confederate troops that ended the American Civil War.

Actually, although there is a courthouse and a little town, the signing took place in Mr. McLean's parlor. His house was disassembled at one point and moved to Washington, D.C., for exhibition--and then the National Park Service ran out of money, and who knows what happened to the original! So the NPS has a reconstruction (above), down to the furniture. There are interpretive actors who tell the history, and a number of historic buildings are available for viewing.

I actually chose to stay back to work on job applications while my father and cousin busied themselves with their respective electronics. Can you blame me, when this was the view? Check out the clouds above the mountain peak! Then we all rendezvoused at a local Japanese/Chinese restaurant for a late lunch. The winery was just down the road, but we had to maneuver through a sudden heavy thunderstorm to get there (mostly dry). The wine was good, so we all stocked up before heading back for quietude and leftovers for dinner.

In the later afternoon, somebody on the deck noticed a bald eagle across a fingerlet of the lake, so there was much excitement, and DH managed to snap a photo with his phone through a pair of binoculars. (Its head is the tiny white blip in the photo above.) This is the owner's boat in its dry dock, with the placid water stretching out beyond it.

The last day was capped with a soak in the hot tub overlooking the vista, as the temperatures had significantly dropped after all the rain, so the water was suddenly much less enticing than at the beginning of the week, when it had been sunny and 90+ degrees.

The horse and covered-bridge puzzle we finished. The super mega New York Times Crossword was only half done by the time we had to pack everything up and leave after breakfast on Friday. DH and I had come down on the West Virginia side of the Appalachians, but Google Maps suggested driving back on the Virginia side. Unfortunately, it recommended taking the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, and despite the fact that he drove the speed limit or less, we were both carsick from the ups, downs, and curves by the time we reached highway 81. A little Dramamine later, DH was ship-shape to keep driving, and I dozed off and on for 4 hours, catching up on sleep I had missed the night before. We ate sandwiches in the car to save time and money but did stop at a family-owned place on the National Pike for ice cream and to stretch our legs. Imagine my surprise when I tried to check in on Yelp and was told the place was "permanently closed"! We finally arrived home at 5pm. Rosamunde was nowhere to be found, so DH napped while I did laundry and unpacked. Rosie came out later to let us know how much she had missed us!

Here are two final photographs, one of me at the State Park, when we found out the Discovery Center was closed, and one of the two of us together playing Wild West-themed putt-putt.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Smith Mountain Lake: S'more fun

Smith Mountain Lake: the water is warm and green, and the weather is hot with occasional showers. On Wednesday we rented a motor pontoon boat to explore the lake (so much bigger than Lake Anna in northern Virginia). We did a little fishing, a little swimming, and a lot of ogling of waterfront properties. This one had a lot of stairs down to the water's edge, while that one was part of a set of condos. This one had reinforced the hillside to add a pool(!), while that one had a deck over the boat slip. We were intrigued by the private Emerald Island--for sale for a cool $3.95 million. It has 2.5 houses, 2 covered docks, and $20,000 in annual property taxes. Maybe it won't be our next investment. On either side of collective napping, Dear Husband and I fed the group (mostly) vegetarian lunch and dinner: couscous salad and veggie pizza. Then there were margaritas and s'mores for dessert. I had wanted to use the fire circle, but because it was windy as the heat of the day lifted, we decided that wasn't safe and used the grill on the wrap-around deck instead. When the clouds cleared, we could see Ursa major and Ursa minor (the big and little dippers). It was so beautiful, that I felt like we should sing "This is My Father's World" or do some sort of reading. So I found this Iroquois tale about the hunters who chased the big bear up into the sky. His blood makes the leaves turn red and orange in the fall, so as we turn our sights toward autumn and the new academic season, it seems fitting. We return home on Friday to an exam, two concerts, a month working long shifts at the hospital, two short and one long presentation, and job applications. Fun and games are about to be over, at least for a little while.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Smith Mountain Lake: Air, Land, and Water Edition

Straw hats, sunglasses, and a golf umbrella!

On Tuesday we bore the heat to launch rockets from the baseball diamond at a sports park. (The three remaining siblings all build them.) There were a few technical difficulties, but the ones that took off flew beautifully. Then it was on to the local "mall," where we ate ice cream. Some of us played miniature golf at a Wild West-themed course built over covered boat parking that was just difficult enough to be interesting but not so tough that it was demoralizing. Par was 36, and we all scored in the 40s, with a few holes-in-one sprinkled in. Then it was home again for a late lunch of leftovers and a quiet afternoon reading, napping, working on laptops, finishing a jigsaw puzzle, and working on a "supermega" New York Times crossword puzzle on the coffee table. A little rain didn't deter either a short walk or some fishing, and once the thunder rolled away, a few of us had a refreshing dip in the lake with adult beverages. I even braved the rope swing, which was amazing the first time but caused rope burn the second time, when I also broke a sandal. Dinner for the night was grilled steaks, corn on the cob, salad, and more beer bread. We ended the night with Texas Hold 'Em poker (don't tell our hard-nosed Methodist or Baptist relatives!). Up next: s'more fun!

Monday, August 19, 2019

Smith Mountain Lake: Family Edition

On Monday after the weekend visitors had left, we carpooled to the Smith Mountain Lake State Park. The 76 wooden steps from the rental house to the floating dock are prohibitive for Grandmother, so we found a nice sandy public beach for swimming. It was no small feat to get 9 people out of the house at the same time prepared for swimming and lunch.

The beach was thinly populated, with no lifeguard on duty, and the concession stand was closed, but we enjoyed the warm and relatively shallow water. There was even a "launch pad" with a curvy slide right into the water! A few of us threw around a Nerf football in chest-high water (above left), and unfortunately, Dear Husband and I neglected to reapply sunscreen after a picnic lunch and suffered sunburns on our arms and torsos.

The family that plays together stays together! After everyone had had a siesta, it was time to play games: Ticket to Ride and Nefarious. I won the golden ticket twice! And DH conquered the world, the first time he thinks he has won that game. Dinner was ham, beer bread, and curried fruit.

Then it was time for reading by the lake while those with licenses fished. A few little ones were caught, but not the big one that kept sucking worms off the hooks. These cell phone photos cannot do justice to the pinks and blues of the sunset.

Despite the heat, we have a lot of fun...

What Residency Looks Like LXVIII: Reading at the Lake

Sometimes residency looks like promising to read a book and write a review while you're on vacation, but then the sun starts to set over the lake as a power boat chugs by, and you forget about about the book for a while....


Sunday, August 18, 2019

Smith Mountain Lake: Purple Martins' Majesty

Dear Husband and I are on vacation this week with my father's side of the family. As everyone is coming from across the Mid-Atlantic (and Texas!), we met at a rental house on Smith Mountain Lake, south of Roanoke, Virginia. After church, he and I drove down the western face of the Appalachian Mountain through West Virginia, alternating between proper highways and winding country roads. We drew the line at the dirt track Google Maps suggested to save a few minutes! Scattered rain storms passed through the area, leaving in their wake a succession of rainbows, including one that was ROYGBIVGBIV.

Smith Mountain Lake was created in 1963 when American Electric Power dammed the Roanoke/Staunton River to flood towns and farmland in order to create a 20,600-acre lake in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Workers burned down some properties and moved a bunch of graves in the valley that after 2 years was covered by an average of 55 feet of water. There are 500 miles of waterfront property, some mostly used for vacation rentals and some for single-family and retirement homes. Fun facts: Booker T. Washington was born a slave in this area, and the comedy What About Bob? directed by Frank Oz and starring Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss was filmed here in 1991.

As we learned from the small but quality Visitors Center in the nearby SML State Park, there is a lot of wildlife left, even after the bison, elk, and gray wolf moved out of the state. Beaver and river otter were once hunted to extinction but have been reintroduced. Meanwhile, human activity has introduced or amplified other kinds of animals, from rats and mice to opossums, who like to live wherever we leave our garbage. The Center even had a large fish tank housing some of the varieties that can be hooked in the lake--in fact, my dad had caught a large catfish over the week, and the family who were already there ate him for lunch! Below is a stand of fancy birdhouses for purple martins, a bird that mates for life. Native Americans used to hollow out gourds to make homes for them.