Archive | October, 2010

Passing

28 Oct

My husband’s grandfather passed away this morning.  It is a great loss to the family and has deeply saddened us all to lose such a wonderful Grandfather, Father and Husband. 

Regular posts will resume on Monday, November 1st.

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Tumble Dry Low

27 Oct

Continuing with the theme of “What I Did in Georgia,” let’s talk about cotton.

Cotton!  Could you imagine a more exciting topic?  I daresay that you could.  The wispy, white stuff is everywhere.  Heck, I’m wearing it tip to toe right now.  (Take that, polyester!)

Let me explain…

The beauty of traveling back home for a four-day visit is that you are guaranteed to never get bored.  And if you’ve got as much family to visit as I have, then you’ll probably scamper about in an almost frenzied panic to make sure that you see every relation that you have.  Thus said, I went to see my paternal grandparents last Saturday.    Their house and adjoining farm are situated in the heart of a small farming community.  During the fall there is cotton as far as the eye can see.  The land is transformed into a swaying mixture of maroon, green and white as the cotton fields bloom and then fade away to leafless stalks.  The air is thick with the scent of defoliant, which signals the oncoming harvest.  I absolutely adore it.  My childhood is dotted in weekends spent huddled in a cotton trailer at my grandparents farm.  It was simple, cheap fun that was unrivaled in possibilities.  The cotton trailer could be  a cave in which to hide or an Eskimo haven when you decided to be one.

Cotton season is something I have always wanted my children to experience.  It was such a magical time of year for me as a child…almost like Christmas, but without the presents.  So when we arrived at my grandparents last week, the kids struck out on an adventure in the cotton field that runs along their house.  Jaden and her cousins picked and played and acted silly as they made their way across the field.  Fisher, however, took the business of picking cotton seriously.  He sequestered himself to one corner of the field and picked cotton as if he were panning for gold.

After thirty minutes the children retired from the field to the back porch to sift through their bulging bags.  They were delighted and pleased with their work and couldn’t wait to make something of it.  I plan to turn their cotton into teddy bears like my grandmother did for me when I was young.  It should prove to be an exciting weekend project for us all.

A Thin Slice of the Past

26 Oct

The day after the kayaking trip/news extravaganza I got to take a tour through part of my childhood. My maternal grandmother used to live on the banks of a creek in my hometown. The house sat just off the road on a wooded lot beside one of the larger creeks in the area. It was a fantastic place at which to grow up and I was sad to see her sell it a few years back. Thankfully, she has remained close friends with the couple who purchased the home and they were willing to let our family stop by for a quick tour of the house and property.

It was thrilling. I imagine that it would compare to the sensation one would feel if they were to wake up from a dream to realize that the dream was reality.  (If only that were possible.) I don’t know how many times I’ve dreamed of the memories I made there as a child.  I’ve literally had adventures at that house in my dreams.  The upstairs attic was one of the more magical settings for me.

Together with my children, mother, grandmother, cousin, husband and sister we took a tour of our past.

The best part of the visit was realizing that the house had not changed in the least. It was exactly the same right down to the goose-print, lace curtains in the kitchen. I must confess that it made me a little misty eyed to see those curtains still framing the bay window overlooking the creek. It was such a tangible part of my childhood, one that I never thought that I would experience again.

My grandparents had planned and built the house together. To think that the house had stood the test of time as well as two major floods was awe-inspiring. You could see them everywhere you looked. My grandmother in the wallpaper and curtains, my grandfather in the work shop and it’s custom-made shutters. Sadly my grandfather passed away when I was just four.

The only part of our visit that rivaled those memories was seeing my children running about the yard, playing the same games that I had played just twenty years ago. I am glad to know that they got a chance to experience that place, even though it was just for an hour. Some of the landscape had changed due to the floods; the strawberry patch on the side of the house was gone along with a peer that used to jut out across the creek. However, other memorable attributes remained the same. Like the wagon wheel that hung suspended on a beam by the creek. It was one of the last things my grandfather did around the yard before passing away.

As well as the secret room that wrapped around the upper part of the chimney stack.  Oh the fun and mischief that was had in that room.  My cousins and I would have to suck in our chests as much as possible and squeeze squint-eyed past the brick stack.  On the other side lay a tiny room with a window looking out over the front lawn.  It was our room.  The adults were too big to squeeze their way in and it made us heady with the thrill of it.  How many children could claim ownership of an adult-free room?  None that we knew and it made us feel grand.

After running about the property and along the creek in a giddy frenzy, we finally slowed down to say our goodbyes.  We thanked to the gentleman who was kind enough to invite us in and took one last look the house. His generosity had made my first trip back home extra special. I would have never guessed that I would get to drive back to Oklahoma with fresh memories to match my childhood.

A Dam Post, Part Two

25 Oct

Mmm...where's my honey mustard?

I’ve been told that the presence of alligators on our kayaking trip would be a more compelling focal point than the actual trip.  Which is correct.  Alligators seem to be a dime a dozen, at least in the part of the country for which I call home.  It’s common knowledge that they inhabit just about every major body of water.  You can even see them at the zoo from the vantage point of a weathered deck and it’s almost too-secure rails.  And with something as common as misquotes scattered about, they quickly become uninteresting. 

However, seeing them up close without park rangers or railings to protect you, they become novel…almost mezmorizing if it wasn’t for the occasional glean of teeth.  Suddenly you find yourself trying to suppress a nervous giggle.  The kind of giggle elicited by the close proximity of danger mixed with a deep hope that it will keep its distance.  It’s then that a “small,” three-foot alligator becomes fearsome.  Could you take on an alligator of that size?  Probably, but not without some damage.  I can easily imagine missing toes as a result of such an exchange. 

Thankfully the young alligators were not fond of our boats.  They kept to the edge of the river or submerged themselves in the dank water hopefully in search of a more suitable meal.  I was happy to see them, but more so to see them go. 

Jordan & I letting the current work for us.

Ahh..here is an appropriate picture.  See Jordan in the distance, paddling like a pro?  No?  Well, that’s understandable.  It’s hard to take note of his hard work when my lazy frame is taking up the majority of the picture.  I thought myself to be in shape.  I even thought that I had decent upper body strength since I’ve chased after children for the past eight years.  I was wrong…as usual.   At least I’m consistent.  At one point, near the beginning of our fifth hour on the river, Jordan even tried to tow me.  It was endearing and utterly embarrassing at the same time.  Sadly, kayaks are not made for towing other kayaks…much less ones burdened by the weight of a worn-down lady.  (I can still call myself a lady in this context, correct?) 

The Undisclosed Waterfall

I can’t look at this picture without wanting to make a “Secret Garden” reference.  Remember that book?  Everyone has surely read that book at one point in their life.  I believe that I was supposed to read it in Elementary School, but opted for the movie instead.  Oops. 

Anyway…getting back to the picture…

This is the “secret waterfall” that we found jutting out from a rock face along the banks of the river.  It wasn’t cascading over the top of the rock in a traditional fashion but was pouring forth from a hole in the rock like a natural drain line.  I can only imagine that it is the run-off for a feeder-creek or an excess of ground water that gravity pulled from the land itself.  Whatever it’s origin, it was a fascinating sight to see. 

"Don't call them your dam kids...resist the urge!"

 

The rest of the trip down river was uneventful except for the random heron or duck swimming by.  Jaden and Fisher met back up with us at the dam where we first entered the river.  (Can anyone talk about a dam without reciting a few lines from National Lampoons Las Vegas Vacation?  I think not.)  So, here you have it.  My dam children standing by the dam water.  It was a dam good day to be with family.  ;)

A Dam Post

25 Oct

I know. I’ve been absent again. But this time I have good reason. I’ve just made my first journey back home to Georgia. Beside the long car ride, it was excellent. Jordan and I listened to “The Wordy Shipmates” by Sarah Vowel as well as “Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson, which was one of the most fascinating books I’ve “read” in a long time. (Can you say that you’ve read a book if you listened to it on CD? I think so.) If I wouldn’t deemed the laziest person in existence, I would “read” all books that way. It is amazing how a book comes to life when it is read aloud. (Geez, I sound like a PSA for literacy.)

Besides the travel entertainment, the time spent with family was priceless. One cannot truly appreciate family until they have been devoid of family. I never realized how much I missed them until I got to see them again. It’s odd how that works. “Hi…I haven’t seen you in a few months and boy do I miss you!” (Said as you stand in front of them.) “I won’t miss you near as much when I go back home.” (Just kidding, Mom.)

The first trip back home was eventful…more so than I had planned. Jordan and I took a long kayak trip down the Flint River with my dad for starters. Kayaking was a lot more peaceful and strenuous than I had originally planned. Floating down the river with just the sound of the flowing water and river birds to keep you company was about as peaceful as is gets. However, once the current slowed down, we did a lot more paddling and a lot less floating. Try doing that for a few hours and you’ll quickly realize how out of shape you are. (Of course we only did that for the last two hours of our almost five hour trip down river…not bad, right?)

All that physical labor was worth it. We had a fantastic chance to spend time together and to also enjoy the local wildlife. There’s nothing like seeing blue herons and deer in their natural habitat. I could have done without seeing the alligators in their natural habitat, however. Thankfully they kept a wide berth from our kayaks. (Gee, look at that log! Oh wait…it has eyes. Never mind, there’s nothing to see folks, keep moving!)

 Oh…I almost forgot the most interesting part our of trip down river. The beginning! Just before unloading the kayaks, a local news crew met up with us to get a quick interview. (Evidently Jordan and I are a hot commodity.) wink Word of our arrival in town got around to the local news crew and they wanted a quick interview about the recent earthquake we experienced in Oklahoma. “…and next we speak with a local Southwest Georgia woman about her experience in the recent Oklahoma earthquake…*cue dramatic news-music*” Gee golly, ma’am! I’m now officially a “woman.” eye brow wiggle

 Who knew that I’d get to experience my few minutes of fame just before my first official kayaking excursion? The day couldn’t have turned out to be more exciting.

 (Well, unless one of the gators had gotten me…but that would be the wrong kind of exciting.)

Just call me “Ace.”

18 Oct

Yesterday we all went to the Oklahoma City Zoo…and I’ve got to say that it was amazing!  I’ve only been once before a few years ago when Jordan and I were still dating.  Since then they’ve added a lot of new enclosures…including the Lorikeet exhibit.

After stepping foot into their enclosure it became quickly clear that the birds loved me.  (I like to ignore the fact that I was holding bird food in my hand….surely that played no part in their adoration of me.)  I like to think I’m a natural when it comes to birds.  ;)

 

Jaden was wary of the birds and was none too thrilled to have them using her as a perch.  We talked her into allowing the birds to sit on her just long enough to take a pictures.  Good picture, huh?  After the shutter closed she was ready to get rid of her featherd friends.

 

Fisher, however, was at one with his inner bird.  He was content to stand quietly and let them come to him.  This little guy spent quite a bit of time perched on his shoulder.  Ahh…if  only we could all have shoulder birds.  Life would be so much more interesting.  ;)

 

 

Of course, the down side to your own, personal shoulder bird is the threat of being eaten.  Seriously.  These little guys had a taste for flesh…or at least mine.  At first one of them just wanted to lick my cheek.  Weird, but I was willing to go with it.  Then he tried a tentative nibble.  Talk about awkward, but surely he wouldn’t go in for the kill….?  Wrong.  The next thing I knew one of these guys were trying to eat my face.  Whoa, fellas.  I’m not ready for that kind of commitment.

Needless to say, the Lorikeets were by far the most exciting part of our trip to the zoo…at least for me.  ;)

Lemon-Blue Coconut

15 Oct

My car is having a rough week.  You can tell that it’s almost paid off because all of a sudden it’s looking a bit…loved.  Since it has beige, fabric seats I’ve done fairly well at keeping it clean.  With two kids and two dogs this is not an easy task.  Surely if anything were to happen to the seats, it would be by their hands…or paws.  Not the case.  Of course not.  Life is not well lived if not for regular bouts of irony.  So, who stained the seats this week?  Me.

It wasn’t just a little spill.  It wasn’t an errant shoe print or smear of ketchup.  It was a full on explosion of carbonated goodness.

At least once a week the kids and I stop by Sonic for happy hour.  The kids get slushes that are atrocities of flavor.  Like Lemon-Blue Coconut.  *hack*  I love the look on the car hop’s face when she brings them out.  Like I’ve grown a third eye.  Yes, my kids have damaged taste buds…you got a problem with that?

I usually end up picking up Route 44’s for everyone else at the office.  This is a challenge since my car only has two cup holders.  And since the car hop never brings me a drink caddy, I end up sticking drinks wherever I can.  It’s crazy but it works.  Well, lo and behold the car hop FINALLY brought me a drink caddy this week.  Oh, it was like Christmas.  No more sticking over-sized drinks between me legs!

FYI: Drink caddies are overrated.

The thing about putting drinks between your legs is that thighs make for super efficient drink holders.  They keep drinks in place by compensating for turns and decelerations as you drive.  Drink caddies on the other hand just stand there in all their flimsy, cardboard glory waiting to zing you when you least expect it.  Like when you turn out of Sonic and on to the highway.  That’s when they fail.

And that is what happened to my car this week.  As I turned out of Sonic the drink caddy unleashed a 44 ounce flood of Vanilla Diet Dr. Pepper…easy on the ice.  It flowed across the floorboard into the back of the car until I slammed on the brakes to catch the flying cups.  Then a four-foot wave of syrupy nastiness flew back  into the front of the car crashing over the right speaker and splashing up on the seat.  Grrrrreat.  The worst part was that the kids were in the car and I couldn’t even utter my favorite expletive.  “Oh crud!”  Yeah.  That’s not satisfying at all.  There are perfectly proper four-letter words out there to fit the situation, but only for the 13 and older crowd.

Now my almost-paid-for car looks the part.  It’s slowly edging toward 90,000 miles, the front passenger seat is Dr. Pepper-rific and I am sure that some part of the engine is plotting its demise.  A demise that will only come into play the day after I mail off my last payment.

And such is life.  ;)