Monday, February 27, 2006

Stephen's Gap

Over the weekend a group of us from the Huntsville Grotto got together to go do Stephen's Gap - hunting season finally being over. Stephen's Gap is just about the most picturesque drop you can get, it was even featured in National Geographic a few years ago. There were nine of us - Michelle, Tommy, Nathan, Danielle, DJ, Ethan, Jennifer, Paul and I - a good size group and all in high spirits. And Stephen's Gap was prepared to give us a good show. The main waterfall was flowing as heavy as I had ever seen it, and there were smaller waterfalls trickling and spilling out from cracks the the ceiling that I'd never seen then trickle from. There are multiple places you can rig the double entrance. We rigged two drops to start - one of which was a might bit moist, as Tommy found out. Some folks from Birmingham showed up and rigged the "Key Hole" - a simply fantastic free drop that pops out of the solid rock ceiling into the middle of the double entrance offering a view of the main waterfall. A few of us were able to mooch their rope before they left. I have a few fun pictures to share so I'll let them do the talking. I had to post the photos in 3 sets of 5 each - so keep scrolling down till you see all 15 of them. And I'm sure there will be some pics in the next couple days that Nathan took on his website too, so be sure to check it: Realms of Reality

Tommy, Michelle and Paul ready for the hike

A Hepotica flower along the trail to Stephen's Gap

The Waterfall flowing into the right entrance from the outside of the cave

The waterfall on the right side from the inside of the cave. You can see Nathan climbing up and Danielle standing on the right side in a red shirt.

Paul just inside the walk-in left hand entrance


Stephen's Gap

Michelle on the lip

Danielle's bright pink socks/pink shoelaces and Paul's cool new purple and red laces (I got them for him for Christmas)

Danielle, Tommy and Ethan

Danielle practicing her rappelling

A dirt dobber condo


Stephen's Gap

Brina Bat hanging around (Don't freak out, my rack was tied off)

Me again

Nathan showing off his way cool plastic shopping bag cave pack

I call this one "Tomato in a puddle" (Sorry Laura, you're in a puddle. For those of you who don't know my roomie's name in college was Laura Tomaino - so people called her Tomato. Too bad there wasn't a string bean in there too - because one of my other nicknames was Bean) But you have to admit it did make a pretty cool picture with the reflection!

The end of a good caving trip - Mexican!


Friday, February 24, 2006

Signs of Spring

Growing up in Florida (Motto: All green all the time.) I always took the green state of things for granted. Now I know better; and spring just can't get here fast enough. I'm tired of being cold and not seeing the sun for days. I'd much rather be hot than cold. And I really miss the leaves on all trees, not just conifers. I'm still getting used to seeing Christmas trees growing in people yards.

At last I'm seeing small signs of spring. The tree in Paul's front was holding an index card that read "Spring is on the way!" Thursday afternoon.

The tulips we planted months ago have sprouted too. I've never grown tulips before, so I'm rather excited to see how they turn out!


Thursday, February 23, 2006

Blast From the Past Thursday #4

Today's Thursday and you know what that means.....Blast From the Past Thursday! (A month and running now!)

What? Adam, Joy, Me, Joe, Jennie and Nick standing in front of a piano all dressed up.

Where? My parents house, Lakeland, FL

Why? Because our parents HAD to get some photos!! Many many photos were taken. My cheeks were sore from smiling!

When? My Junior Prom

How? Well, we just stood there.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Collector of Quotes #2

My Mom and Dad always remind me to not "burn the candle at both ends" just about every other night on the phone. The phrase "burning a candle at both ends" had existed long before Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950) wrote the poem below in 1922; the phrase was only translated into English from the French by Randle Cotgrave, an English lexicographer, in 1611. (The original 17th-century French the expression was "brusler la chandelle par lex deux bouts") So I wonder if it was translated into English in 1611 how long did it exist before then? How long has man been burning the candle at both ends?

The phrase has two connotations nowadays (1) you're working too hard and sleeping too little and (2) you're leading a hectic social life--and maybe trying to work as well--and sleeping too little. Millay's poem is in reference to the second. They say that American's Live to Work and that European's Work to Live. I hope to take on a bit more European styling, even if I do have to singe the hind end of my candle. I'll sleep when I'm dead.


My candle bums at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends--
It gives a lovely light!

-Edna St. Vincent Millay


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Laura's Blog

Go check out my girly-girl's new blog.
Now she's got her very own!

Lolo Schpadora

Monday, February 20, 2006

You Can Get Anything You Want...

At Alice's Restuarant!

Just back from an awesome concert at the Princess theatre. We went to go see Arlo Guthrie - Alice's Restaurant Massacree 40th Anniversary Tour over in Decatur. It was at this really fun old theatre where they do all kinds of fun cultural events - The Princess Theatre (first link under "Around Huntsville")

Arlo Guthrie is an amazing man. Son of the great Woody Guthrie, Arlo is a true folk song writer and player that captures his audience not only in song but as a storyteller too. And if you've never heard it - get a hold of the song Alice's Restaurant and just listen to it. And after the third or forth time you'll be singing along and laughing out loud.

I got a shirt with the cool poster design on it. Its pretty different. I really like the mix of art nouveau and 60's pop culture, so I decided to share it and scanned in the little flyer for the concert.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

I'm Little So What

So my Dad sent me a wonderful citrus care package from Lakeland - full of all different kinds of interesting citrus fruits, and regular oranges, tangerines and lemons. About 50% of the fruit had what they were written in magic marker on them - Navel Orange our tree, Limequat, Sanbocan and Honduran Grapefruit and then about 25% of them had mesages like - Best before 8 am, Eat Me I'm no Junk, Prize inside, I love you, Open Other End, This is a camera orange say cheese, Not safe at any speed, and my favorite one...

This little guy is a Honduran Grapefruit and if you haven't ever tried one (and if you can find one to try) it is the sweetest most delicious grapefruit I've ever had! It doesn't have the typical grapefruit tang at all, very sweet flavor with just a hint of tart for a finish. (Sounds like I'm describing wine, doesn't it?) Its about the size of an average tangerine and the inside flesh is white/yellow and has quite a lot of seeds throughout for something so small.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Blast From the Past Thursday #3

Thanks for tuning into Blast From the Past Thursday! (Where no one is safe!)

What? Laura eating ramen Noodles in her silky purple pajamas

Where? Our dorm room - 180 - Flagler College - St. Augustine, FL

Why? Probably because she was hungry

When? Probably our sophomore year in college

How? Carefull extraction from hot pot with the fingers


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Valentine's Day at the Flying Monkey

So Paul and I met Lance and Caroline at the Flying Monkey last night to go see Phil Weaver (who plays classical guitar) and the all gal string quartet Felicity (and a guest drummer) play. It was really really cool. The Flying Monkey was as packed as I've ever seen it and the show was just fabulous, a nice mix of classical, Latin and jazz and even metal (Led Zepplin's Kashmir rocks on electric violins, viola, and cello!) tunes all played by strings.

During the intermission Phil dyed his hair pink. He said he'd do anything for his fans.

Links and What's to Come!

Have deleted, added and rearranged some of link to the right. Take a peek at the new category "Just Plain Good Design." It highlights some classic modern designs and some fun, quirky ones too! Expect some good posts tonight - Valentines' Day at the Flying Monkey and the Elvis Cake.

Crazy News #1

Along and along I hear news stories that I think are wild and interesting and feel like I have to share my useless knowledge.
This news story is a good example. As I was waking up this morning from a very heavy sleep I rolled over to punch the snooze and then sat up and laughed because I thought my ears were deceiving me.... took me a while to find the obscure news on the internet this morning, but I did hear it correctly. (I'm hoping they didn't literally drop it on the beach though.)



PENSACOLA BEACH, Fla. - Residents clearing storm debris on the shores of Santa Rosa Sound found a 100-pound bomb partially submerged in shallow water on Tuesday. It is believed to be from the World War II or Korean War eras.

The Air Force's 16th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal team retrieved the bomb, sealed it in a metal container and transported it in the back of a Chevy pickup to Hurlburt Field for detonation, said Escambia County Deputy Stan Reed.

Rick Sundstrom, 60, found the bomb, three-quarters of it exposed and covered with barnacles. He thought it was an old cannon.

He and Al Bartholomew, another beach resident, used a front-end loader to scoop the object from the sand. It then became clear that it was a bomb, and the two men dropped it on the beach, Sundstrom said.

Sundstrom reported the find to the Escambia County Sheriff's Office, which responded within 10 minutes, he said.

At first, because the airmen believed it was too dangerous to drive more than 30 miles with the bomb to Hurlburt Field, they planned to detonate the bomb at Fort Pickens, pending permission from the National Park Service, Reed said.

Later, however, after environmental concerns for the park were raised, they determined it was safe to travel with the bomb.

The squadron detonated the bomb using 10 pounds of explosives on its training range.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day

Today is Valentine's Day, the day on which we celebrate romantic love. Every February florists in the United States import several million pounds of roses from South America. About thirty-six million boxes of chocolates will be given as gifts today. Esther Howland, the woman who produced the first commercial American valentines in the 1840s, sold a then mind-boggling $5,000 in cards during her first year of business. The valentine industry in the United States has been booming ever since. Today, over 1 billion valentine cards are sent in this country each year -- second in number only to Christmas cards, according to the Greeting Card Association.

Around 8 billion conversation hearts will be produced this year; that’s enough candy to stretch from Rome, Italy to Valentine, Ariz. and back again 20 times. The peak selling season for conversation hearts last only six weeks, but confectioners produce the candy for nearly eleven months of the year. Early American colonists made homemade candies with love notes scratched on the surface for Valentine’s Day. New England Confectionery Company (NECCO) expanded upon the colonists’ idea and created the conversation heart in the mid-1800s. In 1860, Daniel Chase, brother of NECCO founder Oliver Chase, invented the process to print motto candies. Originally, the candies were “cockles” – small, crisp, scallop shell-shaped candy wrapped in colored paper with printed sayings. The Sweet Hearts, the name used for candies with mottos inscribed directly on them, were invented in 1900. The candy was cut into shapes like horseshoes and baseballs. This allowed for longer sayings to be printed on them such as “How long shall I have to wait? Pray be considerate.” This enabled would-be-lovers to send messages to each other. As time went on, the sayings became shorter and more to the point. The familiar heart shape was also produced. Original sayings include “be mine,” “kiss me” and “my man.” Every year new sayings are added.

Valentine's Day comes, in part, from the ancient Romans' holiday honoring Juno, the goddess of women and marriage, on the night before the Feast of Lupercalia. Roman girls would put slips of paper with their names on them into a clay jar, and the boys would choose their partner for the festival by taking a slip from the jar. This was one of the few times girls and boys were allowed to socialize, and the dancing and games often evolved into courtship and marriage.

Tradition has it that Valentine's Day as we know it began sometime in the middle of the third century. Claudius II of Rome was waging several wars and needed to recruit more soldiers for his armies. He thought that many men were reluctant to join because they didn't want to leave their wives and families, and so he temporarily banned engagements and marriages. Saint Valentine was working as a priest at the time and he and his partner Saint Marius broke the law and secretly married couples in small, candlelit rooms, whispering the ceremonial rites. Eventually Saint Valentine was caught and sentenced to death. While awaiting his punishment he would talk with the young daughter of the prison guard whose father allowed her to visit occasionally. Saint Valentine was killed on February 14, 269 A.D., but he had left a note for the guard's daughter, signed, "Love from your Valentine." Thus the first valentine was written and the rest is cupid's history.

Valentine info brought to you in part by The Writer's Almanac, National Confectioners Association, How Stuff Works and the Tourism, Road & Economic Development Board of Scarce Grease, AL.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Snow & "Convenient" Caving

Look SNOW!! (A little bit anyway) This was in the garden planter box this morning!

But even better was the snow we got to see in Nashville, TN today! Drove up there today (amidst many a Mad Lib) for some brunch at Bosco's and then some shopping at REI (which is where Michelle got all excited about her new hat). In between we hit up some cool little stores near Bosco's in a section of Nashville called Hillsboro. There were quite a few nice little snow showers that we got to drive through, and one that came down as we were getting out of the car. I got all excited after I caught a flake on my tongue and had to take a picture!!

And then Paul got excited and had to take a picture of me in my new hat... in the snow...

On the way back to Huntsville we all got Powerball lotto tickets (Jackpot is $300 Million right now so if I win I'm going to buy my own cave or maybe an island or something... Better yet - my own island with a cave and everyone will be invited to lay around on the beach drinking some fruity alcoholic beverage and then go caving and then lay around again on the beach...and then go caving... and then...). Anyway, we walk into the convenient store and there against the far wall, is the cave some only dream about. This time Tommy got all excited and had me take a picture...

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Let it snow!

I was really bummed last night that we didn't get the snow that everyone was prepared for. Milk and bread always zip off the shelves at an amazing rate here when there's a winter weather warning. Up until a few years ago the city didn't even own a snowplough or a salter. I guess a true snow fall that sticks only occurs about every 20 years here in Huntsville... and being a Florida girl I was kind of excited to get to see some in a town that I actually live in.

So Paul and I were driving north on the Parkway around 3pm today - and all of a sudden - there it was - SNOW! Of course it melted as soon as it hit the windshield but it was definitely swirling and foofing in little patches across the lanes of the overpasses. It didn't stick at all, so I couldn't make the tiny snowman I was planning on making. But it was still nice to see something other than rain fall from the sky for a change. Maybe we'll get some tonight!!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Scarce Grease, AL Panorama

Finally finished the panorama I've been working on the past few nights. This one is made up of eight photos, but it was worth it for the pretty scene. I love run down barns, old abandoned houses thick with vines, old gas stations, and free standing chimneys like this one. They always have such great texture and the aura of forgotten history about them that makes me pause to stare. Its even more fun when I can jump out of the car and photograph them.

Just a little lone chimney of a house that once was in a little cow pasture. Brought to you by my sponsor - The Scarce Grease Tourism Board. Motto: Come here and get Scarce!

Blast From the Past Thursday #2

Welcome back to another edition of "Blast from the Past Thursday," turning your thursday frown upside down!

What? A balloon fight.

Where? At my parents house, Lakeland, FL

Why? I think it started with one of them trying to do "the static electricity thing" with each others hair and then escalated to what you see here.

When? During a birthday party of mine some time in high school.

How? They stuck their fingers into the little balloon pucker and went at it.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006


I have just recently (like within the past 5 minutes) added a link category entitled "Music."
Some have really fun and interesting websites that are just cool to play in. Enjoy!

So, Why is a Raven Like a Writing Desk?

Well, Carrol's formulated answer play out thus:

"Because it can produce a few notes, though they are very flat and it is never put with the wrong in front."


The 10th Planet - 2003 UB313

As astronomers point their telescopes towards the outer reaches of our galaxy its nice to find something a tad bit closer to home.

How about a 10th planet for our very own solar system?

Read more about it here:
  • 10th Planet
  • Tuesday, February 07, 2006

    Why is a Raven Like a Writing Desk?

    One of the books I am currently reading for the first time is a combined volume of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (originally published in 1865) & Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There (1875). Sure, I've seen the Disney movie, but it doesn't hold a candle to Dodgson's work on paper. It is truly a work of art, as history has proven. If you've never read the original books (the Golden book version doesn't count either!) I would highly suggest it just for a flight of fancy and fun.

    In Carroll's forward he tells of his most asked inquiry - Is there an answer to the Mad Hatter's riddle?
    He goes on to explain that when he wrote it, there was no answer in mind, but eventually he came up with an answer to satisfy his fans.

    So, Why is a Raven Like a Writing Desk?

    (answer tomorrow)


    Saturday, February 04, 2006

    Scarce Grease, AL

    About 2 miles away from the border of Tennessee is a little town called Scarce Grease, Alabama.Paul had always wanted to see what was there, so today, we did.

    So what's in Scarce Grease, AL you ask?

    Not too much, its pretty "scarce." But the countryside is gorgeous! You are constantly going over and by all kinds of beautiful little creeks and rivers (and eventually in one! but I'm getting ahead of myself) Along the way we saw this great little woodworking mill - actually powered by the red water wheel to the left of the mill building. How cool it that?! (See the Falls Mill in the My links for a grain mill that's nearby)

    Scarce Grease doesn't even have a sign - its a crossroads, and at the crossroads the only road that goes anywhere is Smith Hollow road. You can see it on the topo map below. The pink line is the TN state Border.

    So Smith Hallow Road was pretty interesting. Its a single paved lane with just barely enough room to pull over to let the oncoming cars pass (we did have two). Its really rural farm land with, cows, donkeys, little farm houses, very pretty.... We're driving along and can still see the little stream on our left as we approach a rise. We see the stream curve around in front of us as the car crests the rise and suddenly - there's no road - just river bed, and of course, water. Paul stops the car and we kind of look at each other... and then I hop out as Paul starts backing up to turn around. So I walk down to the edge of the water and just a short distance away - the pavement started up again around the corner. It was a road all right, and it hadn't washed out, it just joined the creek for a bit. We didn't have to turn around after all. I guess there's a first time for everything. Today's definitely the first time I've forded a creek in a Toyota Camry.

    Here's Paul waving to me when we forded the creek on the way back. See the water on the left?

    Here I'm standing on the other side watching him drive back up. This is also the same view that we saw that made us stop in our tracks and consider turning around. Wouldn't it you?

    We did drive on up to Lester and even over the border into TN. So what was in Lester you ask? A post office and a community storm shelter. Just the necessities.

    Friday, February 03, 2006

    Collector of Quotes #1

    I love quotes, and fancy myself a collector (if one can indeed collect words). I have a hand-written book just for quotes that I have kept for about 10 years. When I stumble upon one that makes me laugh or smile or makes me just think, I write it down and then copy it later into the book. My favorite quotes are the ones that get under your skin, the ones that you ponder and repeat and mill over in your head for an entire day, only to find them again teasing your brain as you drift off to sleep. A little Kat gave me one just this morning:

    "Are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?" - Mary Oliver

    Something to think over on a Friday. The weekend it almost upon us all. Try something new and different this weekend. If you're right handed brush your teeth with your left hand. Go somewhere you've never been, start a project, finish a project, cook something different for dinner, pick a place on the map an hour away and just go there to see what's there!


    Thursday, February 02, 2006

    Blast from the Past Thursday! #1

    So I've decided to post a "Blast from the Past" series on Thursdays.Thursday for me is probably the least exciting day of the week. (Monday's the beginning of the week, Tuesday is the most productive day of the week in business, Wednesday's the hump that begins the decent to the weekend, Thursday doesn't have anything and Friday's of course TGIF!)

    My plan is to pull a photo from one of my "massive photo albums," scan it and post with a short explanation of what and where and why and when and how the subject is doing what they are doing. (Sometimes there might not be a reason.) So those of you who know I have some incriminating photos - you better start your blackmail payments! J/K. The "Blast from the Past" might be from the long distant or recent past, in which case I will pull it off my slightly less massive digital collection. Hopefully everyone will get a kick out of it, a few laughs, or at least a "What the Heck?" So watch for your picture to appear here soon!

    What? A human pyramid.

    Where? Joy's carpet. Lakeland, FL

    Why? No clue here - probably just to say we could do it.

    When? A weekend after a sleepover, probably my junior year of high school.

    How? Very carefully and with much laughter.


    Wednesday, February 01, 2006

    Soul Burger with "Much Love!"

    Vegetarians Beware! Gratuitous ground beef slathered in cheese and crispy slices of pig flesh ahead!

    On lunch I joined Paul and his friend Mike for lunch at the best burger joint in town. So far I have been Soul Burger twice. The food is delectable and well priced, but the atmosphere is what really gets you. The owner is an absolute delight - and so nice - and SO funny! I am adding the full menu to tempt all the meat eaters reading this into trying it. (And also a note for the vegetarians if they got past the beef and pig picture) - they do have fish sandwiches too! Be sure to ask for the combo with "much love!"

    Brina Bat Goes Public

    Welcome to Brina Bat!

    At the extreme urging of a certain former roommate (my "bestest Roomie" Laura) I have published myself here "Brina Bat" on the great World Wide Web. There will be Caving, Arts, Crafts, Baking, Ponderings, Writing, History, and everything in between. Bookmark or save my page to your favorites and visit often! Check out my "tons of links" section on the right hand side - that ought to keep you busy for a while!! I have already posted 5 times so there should be some fun things to look at and read already. (You have to read them from the bottom up though)

    Also - If anyone has a blog or a personal website that I do not have up already - PLEASE - tell me!!
    I would like to add them to my list!



    Fern Panorama

    The photo I stitched together yesterday of the Monte Sano view reminded me that I had another couple photos I took at Fern that I had planned to stitch together too. This is a small panorama composed of three photos in Fern Cave - Lance waiting to drop the Bone Dome. I spent more time on this one - getting the tones in the same value and really "Stitching" them together - the effect of which turned out well I think. I will have to try some more in the future.