More than Meets the Eye

Kittens, I’m not going to lie. It’s hotter than two rats wrestling in a wool sock out there. I went to WalMart and had to come home and re-shower, just from walking through the parking lot.

The point is – I think I’m suffering from heat exhaustion, so pardon the lameness of this blog post. I don’t know what the excuse is for the other 754 posts I’ve done.

I wanted to show you a few photos of my trip – with the BACK story to help you appreciate them more.

Every trip to Tennessee, the Moon and I stop at this store both going, and coming home. It’s a Tyre tradition. The store is about halfway, has clean bathrooms, and a place for the dogs to run around. Moon always takes a long time to decide what she’s going to get as a snack. This trip, we found out they have hot, boiled peanuts, or as Moon calls them, “boiled pinders.” Yes, I have a daughter who gets really excited about boiled peanuts. I think my parenting skills speak for themselves.

This LOOKS like an innocent ball field at Standing Stone State Park where our reunion was held. But actually, it was the scene of a church softball game/picnic when I was about thirteen. I decided on the way there that I liked Ricky Reeder, and by the afternoon, we were sufficiently united in that we decided to sit together on the bus ride home. But by then, he was really sweaty and stinky and I was OVER the whole relationship. It was the longest bus ride home of my life.

This is my dad grilling hamburgers for our dinner. My dad is a great cook and his ribs are CRAZY good. So good, that when Alaska Ashleigh asked for the rib sauce recipe, he made it and shipped it to her in Alaska. She was a big hit. But that’s not the story. The story is why would such a renowed cook, be using such a small grill. It’s because while I was in India two years ago, my husband decided to grill something for my parents, and set their grill on fire. I think dad’s feeling is that a smaller grill might not catch the house on fire next time.

I don’t know this woman. You probably don’t either because none of us have ever seen her wearing such HUGE jewelry. But when she came out of her room wearing  jeans and a black shirt for a gathering at a PARK, her mother insisted she needed “spark” and forced her, against her will, to wear the jewelry. EVEN THOUGH said woman is at least thirty and capable of making her own fashion choices, her mother would not hear of it. Once it was on, some witnesses claim her mother ACTUALLY DANCED AROUND THE ROOM in joy.

And now you know, the rest of the story.

Interesting to at Least Two People

Moon and I went to church tonight and as we were leaving, I stopped to talk to one of the super cool people that just happen to go to my church. This is one of the girls that you think, “Dang, can I have a do over and be like HER?” Anyway, she asked why I wasn’t in church on Sunday, (take note – that is a very rare occurrence, worth comment because I am typically holding the door OPEN) and I mentioned that I was in Tennessee for a family reunion. She asked, where in Tennessee, and when I said, “Livingston”, the girl GASPED. Literally, gasped! Turns out she spent all her summers in Livingston, that it was a source of great joy, and no one ever knows where it is. Yeah, I get that a lot.

Here’s the fun part – I know all of her family.  My nephew’s first cousin is married to HER cousin. We’re practically related! In fact, JD and I were at her cousin’s wedding and so was SHE. And my mama told me on the way home that her aunt bought my cousin’s house! We could have totally run around together back in 1983 when I was 17, except for the fact she had yet to be born.

Here are a few pictures for Ashley –

The courthouse on the square. When I was young, old men used to sit around it and whittle. When my mom was young, teenagers used to park around it and pick each other up. True story – my mom was on the square one night with a friend when  my dad rolled up and asked her if she wanted a ride. When she said yes, he asked what happened to her broom. Now you know where I get it.

This is the Mofield house where my mom had a bed and breakfast for a while. It is across the street from Ashley’s grandfather. I had my wedding reception here. Uncle Bruce and Brian played music on that side porch! The day before the wedding, the sewer backed up and the whole house stunk. Her grandfather probably refers to it as “The Weekend I Considered Selling.”

I can only remember eating here once, but it was a popular place when I was young. When I was in high-school, we would ride up and down the streets, turning around in the parking lot and heading back to the other end of town, then back again. From six to eleven p.m., every Friday and Saturday night, for three years. The teen years were very exciting ones.

This is me and JD back when he had hair. And I was a size 0. Oh wait, this is not us, it just LOOKS a lot like us. This is Ashley’s cousin, his wife, and their beautiful son, that JD photographed several years ago. Small world or WHAT?

I should have known Ashley was related – beauty runs in the family.

Cousins – Like Siblings without the Daily Harassment

One of the great things about my family reunion was that Moon got to spend some quality time with her cousins. When I was growing up, my cousins were my best friends. We didn’t have “play dates”, we had relatives.

They hiked up the trail.

They checked out the rental boats.

They went swimming at cousin Karen’s house.

You remember Karen, don’t you? Karen has a pool. And a house. Like a REAL house with a mortgage. How is that possible? She’s younger than I am and I’m, like, just out of high-school. She watched the kids while I  ran an errand with cousin Ginger and cousin Lisa.

You remember Ginger and Lisa don’t you? Here’s the deal, even though we were helping Ginger do something very adult and sad, the second we all got in the car, it was like we were seventeen again. Not the bad seventeen with horrible hair and acne, but the good seventeen – like the world existed just for you and anything was possible.

At least I think the feeling came from being with the cousins. While we were visiting, “Uncle” Lester insisted we try a shot or two of his new strawberry rum. And since it was only three hours away from 5 p.m., we said sure.

This looked perfectly in-focus at the time.

By the time we made it back to Karen’s, cousin Lori had joined us. You remember Lori? Hey, I don’t have any posts about LORI. How did that happen? Oh yeah, Lori doesn’t put pictures on Facebook so I’ve got nothing to steal. Hmmph. Well, even though Lori can’t possibly be out of high school, she says she’s a doctor. Shut UP. You know how people always say if they knew then what they know now, they would have been a lot nicer… Yeah, it’s like that.

So, the cousins sat around watching the kids swim and telling stories and there might have been a strawberry daiquiri involved, when someone got the big idea to go see cousin Brian. You remember Brian, right? He’s Lori’s brother and a few years ago, he and his father, Uncle Ralph (see previous post) decided to build Brian a log home. An authentic log home, the way they did it back in the day. The HARD Way. And as we talked about it, we thought, “Hey, let’s go there now. Maybe he’ll be sleeping. Maybe he’ll freak out. Maybe he’ll insist we drink some strawberry rum.” So we turned over the life-guarding duties to Aunt Faye and away we went. It’s important to mention at this point that Lori had not been drinking so we let her drive. Did I tell you she’s a doctor? Shut UP.

Alas, Brian wasn’t sleeping or at all freaked out to see us. He and his lovely wife showed us around the cabin without once mentioning that 3/4ths of us reeked of strawberry. He was very adult and grown up about the whole thing- it was, in a word, disappointing. But then he made us sit down and listen to a bunch of songs he recorded with his band when he was sixteen. Whew. I know people grow older and act responsibly – I just don’t want it to happen to a cousin.

Except Lori. I’m pretty sure a doctor is going to come in real handy one of these days. Little Lori – a doctor. Shut UP.

Reunited and It Feels So Good

I’m just back from a fabulous weekend in Zollicoffer where I got to hang with all of the family a bit, and the cousins a LOT. The cousins were a big part of the reason I went home, and even though I knew there was a reunion, it wasn’t something I was really excited about. The reason is simple – I’ve been going to the family reunion for YEARS and the people there fall into two categories – 1 – the people I’ve known my entire life and see all the time, and 2 – Yankees.

Yes, we have Yankees in the family. Don’t judge.

Anyway, the same thing always happens, I hang out with my cousins and aunts, etc. and never, not once, say anything to the other, you know, people. Even if I tried to figure out who they were, it would go something like this –

“Who’s that?” ”

You know, that’s Roberta, Anna V’s grand-daughter.”

“Who’s Anna V?”

“Jack’s SISTER??”

“Jack has a sister??”

But to be nice, I actually DID go out of my way to say hello to someone, related to me somehow, from Indiana. It’s all about outreach.

So, as I was saying, I really went to see the cousins. But then I got there and heard the music. I’d forgotten how much the music of our family celebrations has been a part of my life. On Christmas Eve, at birthday parties or random get-togethers, there has always been music. Uncle Ralph, Doyle and/or Deloy, Uncle Bruce and Cousin Brian – always someone singing and playing an instrument. Brian and Bruce played at my wedding! There was no “Wheels On the Bus Go Round and Round” in my childhood, no it was “I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die”. If there is ever a movie about my life, these boys will provide the soundtrack. I can’t hear “Kalija” or “The House of the Rising Sun” without thinking of Ralph. Or “Hang on Sloopy” without remembering Bruce. And since I stopped by Brian’s house this weekend and he played me an old recording of him singing at 16 – he will now always be associated with “All You Zombies.”

The point is – they are great. And they’re a big part of why, as crazy as the whole clan is, I am so glad I’m part of this family.

About halfway through -when they kick into Orange Blossom Special – it doesn’t get much better than that.

(Features Brian, Ralph, and some other guy I don’t know, but I’m sure I should. He probably belongs to Anna V.)

More about the cousins tomorrow.

Disturbing Trend

Kittens, I think we can all agree that I’m a fashionable gal. And obviously, it would be impossible to grow up around me and not be influenced in a favorable way as it relates to clothing choices. However –

I was going through some old photos and noticed a recurring theme.

I’m a little worried.

While I applaud her unique sense of style,

I’m concerned where it will all lead.

Bloggers and the Readers who Hate Them.

It won’t surprise you to know that in addition to writing a blog, I also READ a blog. Or seventy. Some of them relate to a specific theme, like PubRants, which is from a literary agent, and others are political, like HotAir. And a few are well know, like The Pioneer Woman. Speaking of PW, because I’m always searching for new blogs, I stumbled across three whose entire premise is how much they hate her. I’m not really shocked that there are people out there who find her annoying, she does post a lot of pictures of her husband’s behind, but to dedicate an entire blog to ragging on someone? I’m not judging – finding things to blog about on a daily basis is hard – and she’s a wealth of material. Besides, I don’t know her at all and I’m sure you can’t believe everything you read on her blog. That would be like people reading MY blog and thinking I’m a snarky, over-weight, Christian suburbanite who occasionally drinks too much. Amirite?

I guess being super successful brings out the haters. Another blog I read occasionally is Dooce. She gets her share of hate mail too, probably because she has a very strong point of view. And I don’t think she cares what people think. And she cusses. A few days ago, she got in a Twitter war with someone over her recent trip to Bangladesh. Dooce has a million followers on Twitter, I have 14. I couldn’t have a misunderstanding much less a war. But I guess with a million followers, you’re bound to tick some people off. This one chick accused Dooce of taking a SPONSORED trip to Bangladesh. A newspaper in the UK accused her of “poverty tourism”. My first thought was, “DUDE, people will pay you to go on trips for charity?” I need to get more followers. And to check out charities in Hawaii.

Dooce spoke out and said that she actually paid her own way, yada, yada, yada. The point is that when you’re successful and talented, haters are gonna hate.

Which explains why I never get hate mail. Except that one time I commented on UT Football, and that’s not gonna happen again. Those people are scary!

Lost in Translation

I wake up in the mornings thinking the strangest things. Today I was laying in bed, considering all the phrases my mother used when I was a child, that I’ve neglected to teach my own daughter. For instance:

Cutting-a-Shine – as in, “If that was my daughter cutting a shine in WalMart, I’d have spanked her good.” It was used interchangeably with “pitchin’ a fit”. I used it once while talking to JD and he looked at me like I’d suddenly had a stroke and was just randomly putting words together. He’s not country no matter what he tells you.

Showing Out- Ironically, this is a bridge term that I use, when someone “shows out” of a particular suit. But as a child, it meant cutting-a-shine cause you had an audience. “You’d better stop showing out in front of your Aunt Fay or I’m gonna spank you good.” In my defense, Aunt Fay started it.

Mess and Gom – As in, “All you kids do is mess and gom. If you don’t clean up this mess, I’m gonna spank you good.” Yeah, I thought it was stupid too. I googled it and it was described as everything from Gomorrah to gum to Irish for fool. Since we’re Irish, and foolish, I’m going for the last one.

You’re going to send us to the Poor House – Evidently, there once really was a Poor House, where the destitute went when they’d run out of all other options. I never really felt threatened though. Maybe cause I figured it couldn’t be much different than the one we lived in.

When the police come, tell them we’ve been here the whole time – Hey, I didn’t want to be spanked good.

So, what crazy things did your parents say?

Boom, Fizzle.

My weekend started with a sonic boom. Friday night, JD participated in our local Art Walk which meant he displayed some of his photographs at our church. Well, that’s what it is supposed to mean. Actually, it means he spend all day Friday trying to get everything together, piling mat boards and framing materials all around the house, frantically trying to get everything together by 5 p.m. As Moon, RimFire and I left the house to go to the show, I almost took a picture to show you how out-of-control my house was. Imagine clothes PILED on the bed in the spare bedroom, dishes in the sink, stuffed animals and shoes under the coffee table, clothes on the bathroom sink, and every floor in the house covered in dust/dog hair. Then imagine you’re hanging around looking at your husband’s artwork when you get a call from your brother-in-law saying he and his daughter are on schedule and will be in your house in two hours.

Yes, we’d forgotten. I mean, they DID tell us two weeks ago that they were coming. And we were very happy and excited that we’d get to see them. And then we forgot because we are obviously crack smokers. The only other explanation would be that we are old and “AS IF”. I also rolled my eyes just now, so you can get the appropriate level of how dumb that idea is. I wonder how someone got crack into our food supply. Hmm.

I rushed home with the girls and played Sgt. Carter to their Gomer Pyle and we were able to get everything cleaned and orderly before our guests arrived. Does anyone even remember Sgt.Carter?

I’m proud to report that by the time they got here, you could actually see their beds.

On Saturday, I watched Wimbledon and played with Baby Allison. I have it on good authority that I’m her favorite.

Yeah, I said it, what about it?

Let’s be honest, I have some cute nieces. These two are only related through me so I think we all know what the common denominator to all this cuteness is. Or should I say ‘WHO”?

I was going to get up early and go to church on Sunday but we still had guests and it would have been rude to leave them at home alone with only the Wimbledon’s final on for company. So I sat on the couch watching my dream boyfriend Novak take the title. Congrats, honey!

Because I’m not a complete heathen, we went to church Sunday night at Passion City. It was really, really good except for one guy who yelled “AMEN” at inappropriate times. You know the type, it’s not good enough for them to just yell, AMEN when the pastor has made a particularly good point. No, these guys have to say it after everything.

“For God so loved the world,” AMEN “Prayer teams will be down front,” AMEN “It’s time to go get your children,” AMEN. I hope whoever does their church bulletin will add, “Please hold your AMENS until the end of the service” before next Sunday. I wonder if they have a suggestion box. I’m going to suggest they get one.

Monday, JD got the backyard in order so some friends could come swim. I was okay with the lizard.

Lovely. Can we move?

We had a nice cookout, but our plans for walking to the beach and watching fireworks was totally ruined when it stormed.

My brother had a tree fall on his house.

Don’t worry. The fireworks have been rescheduled for tomorrow night, so I’m going to be okay. Whew, that was a close one.