Thursday, April 30, 2009

no weeds here, ma'am

Lately in the afternoons, the kids collect wildflowers for their self-styled flower shop. They carefully pick them, trim them, gather the stems, and wrap a little tape around them. In order to acquire a bouquet from the shop, you must offer flowers of your own.

It's hard work gathering all those flowers. Time to take a break ~

~ maybe sit in a rusty chair

~ and think about blackberry jam

Saturday, April 25, 2009

one way to wake up

When Lee stepped out onto the porch this morning and said Oh my God!, I thought surely something had happened to one of the chickens. But no. Instead, a bigass cow was casually strolling down the middle of the road. Lee hopped into the car to alert the Sanders, and thus ensued a cow chase. At one point, a woman came along in a gray car and Lee jumped out into the road to stop her. She didn't slow down, so he lifted his hands to his head and pointed his index fingers out from his temples in the universal sign for There's a cow in the road. She never stopped. It occured to me that perhaps he had mistakenly made the universal sign for I'm a crazy devil man jumping out in front of your car, so maybe it was all just a misunderstanding. A bit later, having lost track of the cow (I don't really understand how this happened), a man rode past on a bicycle. Lee yelled, Have you seen a cow? He hadn't.

It took three people to find the cow and put her back where she belonged.

Friday, April 24, 2009

how to enjoy being stuck in traffic for an hour

1. Get stuck at night, on your way home from somewhere. For instance, let's say you go grocery shopping. You didn't want to go grocery shopping, but your life is such that grocery shopping is one of the only things you do that offers you a break from work and family life. Getting stuck in this instance means that your break is longer.

2. Get stuck somewhere close to a business that operates one of those insanely high-powered spotlights, so that you'll have something to look at through your moon roof (because the moon itself, as well as any stars, is not visible).

3. Plug your MP3 player into your car stereo and turn it up loud. Really loud.

4. Turn off your engine and your headlights (because yes, you have been stuck for that long).

5. Pretend you are at an all-star laser light show featuring Drive-By Truckers, Neil Young, REM, John Lennon, Nina Simone, and some world music folks whose names you can neither spell nor pronounce.

6. Do not think about the food that is melting in your trunk.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

vacation chronicles, day five: return

Tuesday, April 14

The kids want to see the
battleship before we head home, but first things first: we drive back down to Foley, pick up the car (it starts!), and return the rental car. So much for a cheap vacation.

The kids LOVE the battleship, and the submarine, and the airplanes. It just so happens that the annual meeting of USS Alabama World War II vets is being held on the day we visit, and we encounter lots of older men sitting on deck, in common a wistful gaze across the bay, somewhere past water and sky.

in the brig!

That about does it for the Waites family spring vacation. I think the older you get, the less time it takes to be able to laugh about things that might seem kinda yucky while they're happening. Just now, thinking back on the trip in its entirety, I feel a silent bellysmile spreading up to my mouth and then my mind. It just might turn into a full-fledged chuckle.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

vacation chronicles, day four: mobile

Monday, April 13

We wake up, eat breakfast, and grab a whole bunch of brochures. We drive around looking for the Spanish Fort. There was no brochure for it, but we keep passing signs that say Spanish Fort. Eventually, we figure out that Spanish Fort is the name of a town, and as far as we can tell, it is no longer the location of an actual Spanish Fort. So we shuffle through our brochures and head for Bellingrath Gardens.

Dauphin Island is not far from Bellingrath, so we head that way, crossing the looooong bridge that has roller coaster -like uphills and downhills. We find Fort Gaines and roam the grounds, pausing at the blacksmith's room for some present-day action.

Done with the Fort, we head toward the water.

Then we call my younger brother, who lives in Mobile, and he meets us for a yummy seafood dinner, followed by a tour of his home and some ice cream.

In between all of this, there are a couple of calls to the car repair shop down in Foley. By the time the day is done, the car is fixed and we arrange to pick it up the next day. I try to offset the cost and hassle by noting that at least it didn't break down during a regular work week, thus disrupting Lee's schedule. My spin on this does not gain much traction, but all in all we have had a really nice day. A really vacation day.

Friday, April 17, 2009

vacation chronicles, day three: relocation

Easter Sunday

The kids sleep late even for a holiday that comes with presents. They awake to baskets filled with books, desk supplies, giant bubble wands, hemp cord (for stringing together the shells we found that have perfectly small, round holes already worn into them), and snacks.

Our host graciously tows the Jeep to a repair shop, and Lee and I decide that we don't quite feel like we're on vacation yet. I log onto the laptop, transfer some funds, and reserve a hotel room in Mobile while Lee tries to find a rental car place that's open on Easter. Our host lets us borrow his truck to pick up the rental car at the airport, and we pack up and head north.

On our way out of Foley, we stop at Lambert's Cafe, home of throwed rolls, for Easter dinner. Indeed, they throw rolls to you from all the way across the room! As you eat, servers come around with buckets full of side items like okra and fried potatoes. The kids get helium balloons on the way out, and play on the wooden train for a while before we leave.

We arrive at our hotel, hand over the debit card, and are informed that it has been declined. What?! Online transfers are real-time. Crap -- what happened? She runs it through again, this time for a bit less after we promise we won't make any long-distance calls from the room. Success. I rush upstairs to boot up the laptop and figure out what happened.

Oh. The rental car company added a $200 deposit to the total amount. When I transferred the money, I left myself only a $200 buffer. I transfer some more.

We're all a lot happier to be in a hotel. Everything is clean. There is a small balcony that overlooks the bay. The kids are giddy thinking of the breakfast that will be offered downstairs in the morning. We are finally starting to feel as though we are on vacation.

vacation chronicles, day two: foley

Saturday, April 11

We wake up in Foley, Alabama, after having arrived in the middle of the night (we stopped for a while in Montgomery on the way down). We are staying in the guest house of a main house that was once a barn. Contrary to the sound of it, this house on the bay is amazing. The details are amazing. The furniture is amazing. The fish tanks are amazing. They have acquisitions, like Muhammad Ali's boxing glove. What economic downturn? We are amazed, and a little out of our element.

The guest house is a bit cramped -- there is one bed, a sofa, and a small air mattress. It's also a little awkward staying in the guest house of someone you don't see very often, but he is extremely nice and generous, and he takes us on a boat ride to an island where other boaters hang out, drink beer, and listen to country music. They all seem to have gobs of money and to be strangely oblivious to the state of the nation. They're also, well, kinda redneck (not that there's anything wrong with that...). It's an odd combination -- again the out-of-elementness -- but we relax in spite of ourselves, and the kids have a grand time building sand castles and collecting shells.

Later that night, we load up into the car and find the nearest Wal-Mart so that I can grab some Easter goodies for the kids. Lee and the kids wait in the car while I shop. Tired of waiting, they head across the parking lot to Bebo's convenience store for some snacks. Right around this time, I finish shopping and stand outside to wait for my ride. I wait, and I wait, and I wait. Damn -- I left my cell phone charging back at the guest house. I start to get a little worried, and then suddenly Lee and the kids appear. On foot. Because after Lee turned off the car at Bebo's, it didn't turn back on.

We all head back to Bebo's with our bags in tow, and Lee buys a can of starter fluid and gets to work. No luck. He thinks it's the fuel filter, which is something he can fix, but in the meantime, we ask the cashier if we can leave the car there overnight, and we call a cab. We try to make the cab ride sound like an exotic experience to the kids, but like all cabs, it smells too strongly of cheap cologne and the driver keeps trying to talk to us about sports.

We make it back to the guest house, watch Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and fall asleep on Easter eve.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

vacation chronicles, day one: departure

Friday, April 10

Perhaps I was being a little ambitious. Pick up son's birth certificate from health department, register him for kindergarten, work six hours, pack, and head to the beach, preferably with the kids asleep in the car.

Picking up the birth certificate was easy. I added it to my folder containing the social security card and the utility bill (to prove that we live in the school district). Went to the primary school, filled out the forms, handed over the info. Did you know that any old utility bill will not do? State law: it must be a power bill. Conveniently (or not, as the case may be), we pay the power bill online, which means that I must go back home to print it. Oh, and apparently, although the registration instructions do not state this, you are expected to bring your child with you for screening. Screening. It's kindergarten. I mean, do they give him a pair of scissors to see if he'll run? Okay. So I go home, work for a while, print the bill, pick up my son early from daycare, and take him to be screened. He passes! Whew. I'd hate to think he's not prepared to begin a year of "school" that's not even really required.

Registration done, we head outside and are almost to the car when a voice comes over the PA: Blount County schools will be closing at 1:00 pm due to expected bad weather. I look at my cell phone: it's 12:30 pm. I take my son's hand, we turn around, fetch my daughter, and head home.

Once home, the wind picks up. A lot. I'm trying to work with both kids in the house, and then feel compelled to add TV to the mix so that I may monitor the weather. The TV is on for a few minutes before the power goes out. Interesting. Whatever happened to that weather radio I got for Christmas one year? I call Lee. "Do you know what's going on with the weather?" Because there is no good place to be in our house during really bad weather.

Fortunately, while some other places saw wicked hail and tornadic activity, we saw only wind. Lots and lots of wind. Eventually, the power was restored, just in time for me to send one last email of apology to my workmates for taking a vacation in the middle of a crisis. A vacation that, so far, is off to a frenetic start.

(And did I mention that in the midst of all this, our dog is at the vet, hooked up to an IV, recovering from dehydration due to the parvo virus? So we can't take her with us as we had planned. Don't worry, though -- she's okay in the end.)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

books and other stuff

I borrowed a giant wildflower book from the library, but I still don't know what these are ~

~ a little blurry, but perhaps you can help? we had a flowering bush like this when we lived in the city, too ~ perhaps it doesn't qualify as a wildflower?

chickens in the yard

seedlings in the coldframe

We've used The New Seed-Starters Handbook and Guide to Alabama Vegetable Gardening as reference books over the past couple of months. And on the subject of books, I got a couple of great ones for my birthday: The Wall and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I devoured The Wall and recommend it for children as well as adults. I've not yet started the other one -- looking forward to taking it with me to the beach. The beach! Happy sigh.

I love getting books as gifts because it's the only time I ever add anything to the shelf. All else comes from the library. When I first visited The Evelyn Thornton - Warrior Public Library, I was a bit aghast that it consisted of a single, tiny room. I was accustomed to taking the kids to the downtown Birmingham library once a week. But you know how picking things out at the store can be overwhelming these days, because there are just so many shampoos and cheeses from which to choose? I like the Warrior library because it's the opposite of that. There are a few really good choices, and that's all I really need.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

happy weekend

This past Friday was my 39th birthday. (And no, I have not been 39 for the past several years!) My fabulously amazing General Manager made me this ~

a luscious pound cake, still warm from the oven!

Lee gave me a beautiful necklace, some ginger-scented goat's milk soap, and some Higher Ground coffee, all of which he purchased at Red Rain in Homewood, Alabama. Sadly, Amy Vickers' environmentally friendly general store is going out of business at the end of April. There are lots of good deals to be had from now until then, but I sure will miss them when they're gone.

On Saturday, I took Leah to a Girl Scout event at Rickwood Caverns ~


face painting

cool rocks

creeping phlox with shadowy intrusion

trillium, which i was able to identify thanks to a post by Annie at Edifice Rex

don't know ~ do you?

big bunny

And on Sunday, we ate a delicious dinner at my mom's, after which the kids sifted through a big box of quarters in order to find one from each state. Plenty of Delaware, but man is Missouri ever hard to find.

Perhaps the most exciting news of the weekend is that my brother,
sister-in-law, and niece scored VIP passes to President Obama's speech at Hradčany Square in Prague. He waved to my niece!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

while i was sleeping

When finally I crawled out of bed after a week's worth of sickness, I discovered that the dogwoods had bloomed ~

Miss Wisteria soon will send word

to the privet and mimosa tree
(by way of the bumble bee):

Put on your pearls, girls -- step past your bounds!
Kudzu's not the only thing taking over this town.