The Grandkids are Coming! The Grandkids are Coming!

Studly Doright and I have been getting Doright Manor ready to withstand a visit from our Texas grandkids, Dominique and Jackson. The two, along with one of their friends, are flying in to Panama City Beach on Sunday evening to stay with us in Havana for a week. The guest rooms and baths are ready, the cupboards are full, and the refrigerator is stocked with Jackson’s favorite root beer.

Each year when the kids visit, Studly, who goes by “Poppa” around the grands, has motorcycles ready to work on and ride. I usually take the kids to a water park. However, Jackson broke his foot at the beginning of the summer and will still be in a cast. We might have to get a bit more creative with our activities this year.

Arts and crafts, anyone?

Regardless of what we do, we’ll have fun. I’ll post something if I have the energy!

Peace, people!

Lunch with my Cousin and a Night in LaGrange

Drive, drive, drive! That’s about all I did on Friday the 13th. I left my friend Nicky’s home in Kingsport, Tennessee, around 9:45 yesterday morning and drove to Knoxville to meet my cousin, Peggy, for lunch. Peggy is my second cousin. Her father and my grandfather were brothers. Both were handsome men married to attractive women.

Peggy and her two older sisters were the young women I looked up to as a child. All three were beautiful and well-mannered; whereas, I was a plain little girl with a tendency to rebel. Nevertheless, Peggy, who is three years my senior, was a sometimes playmate, and I have great memories of times we spent together in our younger days.

I’d lost track of Peggy for at least a couple of decades, maybe more, until a few months ago when she friended me on Facebook. After I’d accepted my friend Nicky’s invitation to visit Kingsport I began making plans to have lunch with Peggy in Knoxville on the way home.

Now I’m kicking myself because I forgot to get a picture of the two of us together. Damn. You’ll have to take my word for it, but Peggy is still beautiful and well-mannered. We did our best to catch up in the limited time we had to visit, but I need at least another week with her.

Once we parted ways I set my GPS to avoid major highways and the city of Atlanta on my trip home to Doright Manor. The resulting route took me on a scenic, yet curvy, roller coaster ride through Tennessee and into Georgia. I figured that once I’d gotten far enough south of the aforementioned Atlanta I’d reconfigure my settings to find the fastest route.

Back roads are fun, yet exhausting, and around 7:00 p.m. I decided to stop for the night in the town of LaGrange, Georgia. Now, I might’ve found the most perfect town in the world quite by accident. After checking into the brand new Courtyard by Marriott, I had a nice dinner in their bistro before setting out to explore the downtown area.

Directly across the street from my hotel was a park with a statue in the midst of a fountain.

Curious as to the identity of the statue, I crossed the street for a better look. I’d expected to see some Confederate war era general, but to my surprise and delight I discovered it to be a statue of General Lafayette.

According to GeorgiaInfo, an online Georgia almanac,

“Born at the Chateau de Chavaniac, Auvergne, France, on September 6, 1757, Gilbert Motier de Lafayette became at age 19 a major general on George Washington’s staff. He played a vital role in the defeat of General Charles Cornwallis at Yorktown, October 19, 1781, ending the American Revolution.

Later in France Lafayette was commanding general of the National Guard. Leader in the movement that gave France a republican form of government, author of the Declaration of the Rights of Man, and designer of the “Cocarde of Liberty” which he holds in his hand.

LaGrange, Georgia, was named for Lafayette’s home, the Chateau de LaGrange, on motion of Julius C. Alford, when this city was chartered on December 16, 1828…”

The statue and the surrounding park are a fitting centerpiece for this lovely town.

The First Baptist Church on the Square:

This is a museum of some kind. I’d have visited it if it had been open. Maybe on my next trip through the area I’ll have better timing.

Lots of interesting shops called to me, but again, I arrived too late:

I don’t think I’d ever seen a “Keep Off the Trees” sign before. It kind of made me want to climb them, rebel that I am.

I MUST visit this shop:

What a day, am I right? Lunch with a long lost cousin followed by a trip on scenic back roads, culminating in a stopover in LaGrange. I’m ready to be back home with Studly Doright and the cats, though.

Peace, people!

It Happened One Sticky Afternoon

A few days ago I read a hilarious post by a blogging friend. Here’s the link for her “I May Have Clothestraphobia” post:

https://ellenbest24.wordpress.com/2018/06/24/i-may-have-clothestraphobia/

Reading the blogs of others is one of my favorite things, not only because they make me cry, or laugh, or think, but because they often remind me of events in my own life that might be blog worthy. Ellen’s post above took me back to a bout of “clothestraphobia” of my own.

There was a time when I was very slender. Indeed, I was Twiggy before there was a Twiggy. Well, I wasn’t that cute, and I had no major modeling contracts, but otherwise, we could’ve been twins. Maybe not, but trust me, I was skinny.

I’m fairly sure this is Twiggy, but it could’ve been me.

Then I had two children two years apart, and I wasn’t so skinny anymore, but part of me still thought, and to this day still somehow believes, that I was/am skinny. I have a really bad case of backwards body dysmorphia that often affects my choices in clothing.

When our kids were in elementary school and junior high Studly Doright and I were heavily involved in their youth activities. We coached both in various sports, but mainly focused on coaching Little League softball and baseball. On some summer evenings we’d barely see each other as we’d run in from our respective jobs, and change clothes before running back out the door to take our daughter and/or son to practice or a game. On top of that, Studly coached an older girls’ softball team that our daughter wasn’t even old enough to play on. We were busy and having a blast.

“Now what does all that have to do with your clothestraphobia?” you might ask. I’ll tell you.

On one hot, sticky summer afternoon I hurried home to change clothes so I could be at our son’s baseball game. Studly had called me at work saying he’d be late, so I needed to be at the field within the next 30 minutes to get the lineups ready and corral the kids. He promised he’d be there before the umpire called “Play Ball!”

No problem. We lived in a small town and I had plenty of time to change, pick up the kids from the sitter, and get the ball rolling at the ball field. I hurried to the bedroom, discarding my button down top as I went. Halfway done, I now only had to take off the matching pull-on skirt. I loved this set. It was light blue with little flecks and the full skirt made me feel so feminine. So the waist might’ve been a little snug, (I still thought I was skinny, you know), but the skirt had deep pockets. I adore skirts with deep pockets.

Remember I mentioned that the day was hot and sticky. We did live in the Texas panhandle, after all. And also recall that I said the skirt was of the pull-on variety. There was no zipper, just a fixed waistband with a tiny bit of elastic on each side.

I first attempted to step out of the skirt, but it refused to go over my hips. Hmmm. Hadn’t I stepped into it just that morning? Maybe not. I scootched it up in an attempt to pull the skirt over my chest, but it wasn’t having that either. Perhaps, I thought, I could lower it a bit and get one arm inside the waistband. By this time I was perspiring profusely as I watched my time slip away.

There was no way my arm was fitting inside the now constricting waistband, but I did manage to get one breast out so now the whole shebang was hanging lopsided, and I couldn’t get it to move up or down. Now I couldn’t even consider just wearing the damned skirt to the game. I did the only thing I could think of with time running out. I fetched the scissors and awkwardly cut myself out of the skirt.

I cried as I did so, but I sacrificed the skirt I loved to be at my child’s baseball game. Statues may never be erected in my honor, but I took one for the team that day. I’ll bet Twiggy never did that.

Peace, people.

How Saving My Brother Resulted in My Burps Smelling Like Peppermint

My brothers and I were free range children, left to our own devices in the town of Floydada, Texas, over the three long months of every summer. As the oldest, I was placed in an undeserved position of authority while both of our parents worked full time jobs. I’m still amazed that brothers K and B will still talk to me after the horrible and random punishments I inflicted on them.

In my more self-forgiving moments I imagine that my poor efforts at babysitting equipped them both with survival tools far beyond what two small town boys might’ve gained otherwise. I mean, we had no cougars or grizzly bears to challenge their respective skill sets back in the 60’s. I was the next best thing.

I did teach them how to escape the lava that unexpectedly bubbled up in the living room from time to time. By carefully leaping from couch to chair to chair and back again we could keep our feet from becoming molten stubs. It was imaginary lava, but still. And I taught them how to scavenge for loose change in between the couch cushions and inside dresser drawers so we could walk to the drugstore downtown and each have a “baby” Coke on a scorching hot afternoon, so I wasn’t all bad.

Over the years both brothers have forgiven me for my cruelties, or at least they don’t mention them every time we’re together anymore. Instead we have edifying conversations. Just a week ago brother K and I were discussing our respective irritable bowel syndrome issues. He recommended a product called “Heather’s Tummy Tamers” with the caveat that they’ll make my burps smell like peppermint.

I ordered a bottle and indeed, my belches, along with other expressions of gas and bodily emissions, now have the distinct odor of peppermint. But they work beautifully on alleviating gas and acid reflux. I’m so glad I never actually tossed him into the lava.

Peace, people.

Fasten Your Seatbelts

Lately it seems as though all I’ve done is travel with brief periods of rest at Doright Manor between trips. On Friday I flew on Southwest Airlines from Panama City Beach, FL, with a brief layover in Houston before reaching my final destination in Austin. I’m meeting up with two of Studly’s sisters and my niece for a girls’ weekend. It promises to be way more fun than I’m accustomed to. But first I had to survive my flight!

The first leg of the flight was routine. The pilot found a smooth route and we cruised without incident to Houston Hobby Airport. The flight, though, from Houston to Austin was a bit of a nail biter.

We hit turbulence upon takeoff and it was constant the entire flight. Thank goodness the ordeal only lasted 32 minutes. But the flight attendants were never instructed to take a seat and they served passengers as the plane bucked like an untamed bronco until the very last seconds. I was reading and in the back of my mind wondering when the attendants would announce that our tray tables and seatbelts needed to be secured and our seats in the upright and locked position.

The message to secure the cabin never came, though, and the plane landed jarringly, resulting in cups and cans from the back of the plane becoming airborne. I’ve flown thousands of miles and never experienced anything quite like this landing. The flight attendants were visibly shaken, but there was never a word from the cockpit. Weirdest landing I’ve ever encountered.

But I’m here! Our niece, CB picked me up at the airport and then we rendezvoused with her mom (Studly’s eldest sibling) and her aunt (Studly’s middle sister) at CB’s home in Buda, Texas outside of Austin.

So far I’ve had terrific Mexican food at Garcia’s, a family owned restaurant in Buda, played a fun strategy game called Ticket to Ride, at which I thoroughly sucked, enjoyed some good red wine, and laughed so hard I cried. CB’s family joined us for the fun and games last night adding to the hilarity.

I never could remember which color my train was!

{In Ticket to Ride (above) I never could remember which color our train was! I thought we were blue, but midway through my sister-in-law informed me we were red. Needless to say, we didn’t win.}

We’re staying in a lovely “vacation rental by owner” place, with plenty of room to spread out, and today (Saturday) we’re going on a tour of weird homes in Austin. I have no idea what we’ll see, but it should be a hoot. Austin is famous for its weirdness.

On Sunday we’re seeing a production of The Book of Mormon, and I’ll fly home on Monday. Unless, that is, I get a look at my pilot and recognize him from the flight on Friday. I might be looking for the nearest Greyhound bus station if that’s the case.

Peace, people.

On the Road

On Saturday I began the drive home to Tallahassee after spending a little over a week with my daughter and her family in Port Byron, IL. What a week!

I arrived on Saturday afternoon, unpacked and took a deep breath, because every day to come had some planned adventure:

Sunday afternoon we attended 15-year-old grandson, Garrett’s performance in a play at Riverdale High School where he played two parts with gusto. I was so proud of him.

On Monday I had lunch with the youngest grandchild, Harper D, who is a sassy kindergarten student at Riverdale Elementary School, and I remembered why I never aspired to teach five year olds. They’re cute, but exhausting.

Tuesday was wine night with my daughter and some of her friends. Yay!

On Wednesday evening I got to watch our middle granddaughter, McKayla (13), at her gymnastics class. She is pretty fierce in her pursuit of perfection. What a dynamo!

Thursday evening involved a concert for pre-K and kindergarten students at the elementary school. I talked McKayla into accompanying Harper and me, and we had a rambunctious evening. Harper volunteered me to play the role of a hopping bunny during one of the songs. I’m 61. My hop was a bit on the floppy side.

On Friday I took Garrett and Harper to see Black Panther, after which Harper (5) summed the film up with “Basically, there were two kings who wanted different things, but only one could win. Right?”

I couldn’t argue with her logic.

Then on Saturday morning I got to watch McKayla perform in a music competition, first playing flute in the band and later singing in her school’s choir. She was so lovely and poised. That’s our raven-haired McKayla, below, in the white top and black skirt.

Saturday evening our daughter, her husband, his parents, and I participated in a trivia contest for a local charity. We didn’t win; although, we held our own for most of the evening. It was way too much fun, and I might’ve had too much Guinness. Oops!

Then early on Sunday I started home. As I write this I’m in a hotel room just south of Nashville, Tennessee. The weather channel is promising thunderstorms for my drive home. I’d appreciate good vibes sent my way for the remainder of my trip. Hopefully I’ll be safely home at Doright Manor early tomorrow evening. I need to rest!

Peace, people!

“This Is Us” Virgin No More

For two years now I’ve listened to the buzz surrounding the television show, This is Us. Apparently everyone in the world, except for Studly and me, is hooked on this drama about a family’s highs and lows, triumphs and heartaches, accomplishments and failures. All I really knew about the show was that it made viewers cry. Every episode provoked tears, it seemed. Why in the world would anyone watch something so depressing?

As my regular readers might know, I’m visiting my daughter and her family in Illinois this week, and last night they forced me to watch This is Us. Handcuffs and leg chains might’ve been involved. As it happened, Wednesday night’s episode was the season finale. About midway through, I felt one tear, then another leak out from the corners of each eye.

“Could someone dab my cheek dry?” I sniffed.

“If you promise not to bolt, we’ll take the restraints off,” my daughter said.

I nodded and continued to cry as she freed my hands, then I folded myself into a modified fetal position. The tears felt good. Cleansing, if you will. And there was laughter, too, so the show never became maudlin.

I might not become a regular This is Us viewer, after all there isn’t a single zombie in the mix, but now I get why people like it. The acting gets an A+ and the characters felt real. Maybe I could suggest the inclusion of an occasional zombie. It could happen.

Peace, people.

Clone?

One of the upsides to the social media site, Facebook, is the way it reminds of us photos and events we might have otherwise forgotten. This morning the following photo popped up in my Facebook memories:

That’s Studly and me with two of our grandchildren, Garrett and McKayla, from nine years ago. At first glance I thought the woman pictured was my mom. Then it dawned on me, that my mother died before ever meeting any of her great grandchildren.

Here’s a photo of Mom with our daughter, Ashley, who is the mother of the children pictured above. I think maybe Ashley was four in this photo.

Again, here’s the photo of me:

Holy cow. People have told me how much I look like mom, but until now I don’t think I fully realized it. Cloning. It’s real and apparently has been since the 1950’s.

Peace, people. (Miss you Mommy)

Christmas Recap

Doright Manor was too quiet this Christmas. Studly Doright and I had gotten together with our kids and grandchildren in Texas at Thanksgiving, so we had to suck it up and spend Christmas without them. I’m going to be honest and tell you, Christmas for just us two isn’t much fun.

We tried to be as festive as possible. We took in a movie on Christmas Eve and then drove around Tallahassee to view the holiday lights, returning home to open gifts from each other. We’d agreed neither of us needed any big gifts this year, so I bought Studly books (he really isn’t a reader, but I always hold out hope), and T-shirts featuring vintage motorcycle brands.

He bought me Star Wars stuff: a Resistance leader’s jacket, a BB-8 handbag, and several pieces of jewelry in the shapes of light sabers and droids. So if anyone in Tallahassee sees a late middle aged woman sporting any of the aforementioned gear, you can be fairly certain it’s me. Say hello and we’ll go find some First Order thugs to put in their place before heading for coffee.

Our dinner on Christmas Day was outstanding, even if I do say so myself. I ran Studly out of the house to work in his shop, opened a bottle of Chardonnay, and made a meal for the ages. I’m a much better cook when fueled by wine, and that’s a fact. Studly went back for seconds and thirds which I took as the highest compliment. And the pecan pie, oh my word! It was one of the best ever. Studly said I was going to have to stop telling people what an awful cook I am.

We went to another movie after dinner, getting home much later than is our norm (10 p.m! Absolutely decadent!) and then spent a quiet post-Christmas Tuesday. I had planned and executed the perfect turkey and cheddar sandwich on soft white bread for dinner, while Studly warmed up the leftover turkey and dressing for a repeat of Christmas Day’s meal.

So, while nothing exciting happened, and we missed being with our children, we had a pleasant holiday. I’m writing this on Tuesday evening and thinking I might have to have one more piece of pecan pie. Wednesday’s post most likely will deal with how none of my pants will button. Exciting stuff. Stay tuned.

Peace, people!

Birthday Boy

Happy 15th birthday to our eldest grandson, Garrett. I remember the day you were born like it was yesterday. We paced the halls and worried the hospital staff with endless questions. It seemed like you’d never arrive, and once you did, our lives were forever changed.

You’ve enriched our family in so many ways that I’ve lost count, and you’re the only kid I know who can consistently spell better than I can. Love you more today than the day before.

I can’t wait to see what your future holds.