Wednesday, June 27, 2007

It's raining Mummies!

Trying to avert a screaming match between M and S yesterday, I suggested that they finally tackle, as a joint project, the 'Dig out your mummy' kit that we had purchased months ago on our foray into the King Tut exhibit at Philly.

Having settled back to work comfortably, I was again startled by another screaming match over the 'dug-up' mummy, this time because the silly plastic pieces refused to fit correctly together. S railed at the 'dollar store' quality of the plastic mold, M was in hysterics because she tried to fit the pieces together, roaring "Anna (elder brother), you're DISTRACTING me. I CAN'T CONCENTRATE..."

Thoroughly exhausted by the drama, I banished both to their bedrooms for a few minutes of peace and quiet.

This morning, the newspaper brought the latest discovery of Queen Hatshepsut's mummy having been ID'ed from that of an obese mummy discovered in the queen's nurse's tomb with a missing tooth matching a tooth found in the queen's canopic jar.
What a curious coincidence!

Mummy 1 was an apple mummy created in the wake of our Philly trip, provided with the cutest mini-apple funerary mask by S and lovingly mummified in toilet tissue by M. We got as far as supplying it with a mini-milk carton sarcophagus, but didn't decorate the sarcophagus, which still bears the inscription of Chocolate Milk and the picture of a kicking cow.

Mummy 2, of course, was our ill-fitting plasti-mummy, resting in a genuine sandstone mold.

Mummy 3, thought to be perhaps a wet-nurse named Sitre-in, turned out to be one of the most powerful queens in Egyptian history-Queen Hatshepsut.

It's raining mummies, indeed!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Vacation, Shmacation! - Part 2

Back from the rafting outing, our friends arrived right in time for lunch. I was attempting to use up all the potatoes from our Walmart foray, while the rice cooked slowly in a stock pot. Our friends' daughter had milk allergies, so we were careful to provide her with either non-lactose alternatives or cooked without dairy.

Why, oh why, do we persist in trying to set up housekeeping away from home, instead of relaxing in a hotel, leaving the cleaning and bed-making to the maids and dining everyday at restaurants?

It didn't help that the rental came with instructions on how to leave the place in near pristine condition when leaving, as a 'courtesy to the next guests/home owners'. So bad was this 'homesickness', that rather than reading the plentiful supply of light reading or vegetating in front of the TV, I spent a lot of time in the house loading the dishwasher a zillion times a day, planning meals/picnic lunches/cooking/watering and re-watering the pitiful pansies till they drowned, making beds that would have remained unmade at home.

The first day, we went hiking at the gorgeous Muddy Creek waterfall in the Swallow Falls State Park. Much to my astonishment, not having seen this the last time we visited, there were intrepid hikers intent on hopping a few slippery rocks across the creek to get to stand behind the rushing water. (Just imagine, if this had been India, they would have provided a platform with access to bathe in the rushing waters, along with a whole cottage industry of towel/shampoo/oil suppliers, just as in Courtallam)

My husband couldn't resist the siren lure of the falling water and insisted on taking M with me as they tried to hop, skip and jump their way across the creek to go behind the falls. They eventually reached the curtain of water, though M fussed midway and insisted on being carried by her dad.

Coming back another way, M came to a rather too long hop across the stones, at one point. My friend S, who was right nearby, moved to help pull her to the rock, and promptly fell into the creek, losing her footing on the slippery rocks below. We had a few anxious moments until she managed to scramble up to the rocks with assistance from a nearby man.She was drenched in the chilly water, but luckily not much worse for the dowsing, barring a bruise on her knee. I had caught M in the meantime and pulled her to a safer non-slippery location.

The hike completed without further adventures,we got back to the cabin with a biking/hiking trip planned again for the next day.Swallow Fall Park had a 'biking' trail which ran for about 5 miles to another park with a small beach, called Herrington Manor. We moms, would drop the fathers and kids off at Park 1, drive on to Park 2 and do a bit of hiking, while waiting for the fathers and kids to bike there.

The morning's plan went off like clockwork. S and I took a nice long hike through the woods, braving the occasional mud pit as we followed a marked snowmobile trail through summer woods. After about an hour of this, we headed back, hoping to hear from the bikers on their progress. After a fruitless wait in the no-cell-reception forest, I finally got through near an artificial beach squealing with kids, kayakers and rafters launching from a small dock further from the beach.
"How close are you now? Will you be here in another half an hour?"
No way, they were still half-way, D's bike had lost its handlebar, the rest of the kids were too tired to bike, the ranger who assured them that it was a good biketrail was an ignoramus who didn't have a clue (it was horribly difficult, unpaved, uneven, rocky, rooty, etc.)... It was going to take at least another couple of hours for them to reach the park.
My friend and I munched on a couple of cucumber-and-chutney sandwiches, as we waited. Within minutes, my husband, daughter (in seat behind), and son arrived, having biked ahead to get help for the others. My husband now drove off to collect our friends from the location where they had stopped.
Luckily, they all arrived not much worse for the morning's adventure, in fine shape for a round of fun in the water.
Driving back, we took a wrong turn and had to double back, using a farm's driveway to turn around. A horse which had been grazing peacefully on the far end of the field made a quick gallop to the end near the driveway and gazed expectantly at us. Unfortunately, we had no apples in hand for a treat, but I did manage to take a quick snapshot of the horse before we sped away.