Seagulls and Sandwiches

The school year is drawing to a close. My schedule is no busier or different than a flotillion other families out there. The universe does it. It crams 419 extracurricular things into the last 3 weeks of school just to see if you’ll crack. The ones that don’t crack get asked back for another year of education. The ones that do are escorted off the property. There are special places for them.

I’m still proving this theory.

But because I felt I was going to be asked back and because I felt we were actually swimming with the current, I said, “HEY! Let’s go out of town!” That’s the thing.

And everyone said yes. Even the teenager.

Wow, that was easy. Should’ve done it about 10 years ago.

We headed to the beach for a rare 2 days away from whatever town was serving up. I realize we were only 50 minutes from our house. But it couldn’t have felt more like another planet. We were a world away from stuff, schedules, projects, stress, and distractions. And we were together. REALLY together. It was perfect.

Except for that seagull incident. That could’ve been nasty. We were all 6 swimming in the Gulf of Mexico and enjoying ourselves immensely. The water was crystal clear. I’ve never seen it this clear and I’ve been swimming in this exact spot for 20 years. There was nothing scary, floaty, or gross to be seen anywhere. So we were playing ball and hunting for shells under the water, etc. At one point on Sunday afternoon, the girls asked if we could all swim out to the sandbar. This seemed like a good idea and an easy enough task to accomplish. I thought it was low tide. So we all headed that direction. Pretty soon, we were up to our necks in water that I had been certain was just waist deep. AG and SnuggleMonkey turned back immediately and said no thanks. We told them where the safe deposit box was and to share the trust fund equally. Trust fund. Now we know we’re writing fiction. B and Beloved and Todd and I kept going, excited for the payoff that would be splashing around on a sandbar and having the best time ever. I was in the lead, so I was the first one to see it. A white shape floating in the water just ahead. It was a dead stingray, I thought. Belly up. Looked scary. Oh, no. Not a stingray. Just a white-bread sandwich. Disintegrating and beginning to break apart. Hey, kids. No need to turn away. It’s a sandwich.

We decided not to see what was in the sandwich and just keep swimming. We finally arrived at this amazing sandbar.
The water was still neck deep. I could barely stand up. The kids most certainly could not. And there was no splashing around to be had, unless you count the awkward treading of water that was required just to stay alive a few more minutes.

We were there for about 45 seconds and then turned back toward shore. On the return, we encountered the sandwich again. It was looking a little less together than the first time we’d passed it. But this time, we were not the only ones to see it.

Out of the sky swooped a sandwich-eating flock of seagulls, making all KINDS of racket. They were probably yelling to each other things like, “Hey! A sandwich! Check it out! Lunch is on me, guys!” Or maybe it was less friendly and more competitive. Maybe there were threats…jockeying for first bites. Either way, they were diving out of the sky and grabbing chunks of that bread like their diploma depended on it. And we almost got caught in the crossfire.

But we didn’t.

Which kinda makes this a dumb story.

Oh well.

I had a good weekend with my family, so there’s that.

IMG_3750
IMG_3749
IMG_3723
IMG_3727

Back from somewhere

Well.
It’s been some time. Some long time.
But just when I think it’s been too long to ever come back again–just when I think I should quit pretending and just give up the blog– I remember that this isn’t about who reads it or how often I write or when. Not really. This is the place I write the words that someday I will bind up for my children. Words about things they would never have remembered. We will hopefully all laugh and cry together remembering the silly and the sad. There’s been some of both. Every life has both. But I’m fortunate to have had a period of peace and joy and enough time to reflect on the blessings that sit in my lap and are gathered up all around me.

Tonight I feel especially thankful. It’s Easter weekend. I reflect on this like so many do, but this is not a huge event in our house or in our church because we reflect on Jesus’ death and resurrection every Sunday. Every Sunday we commune together. This time of year is special because this is the time of year it really happened. But that sacrifice will be no less powerful 3 weeks from now. Or in late June. It’s every day. It’s everything.

My first cousins came over tonight with their families. Their children and mine got along famously, as has been the case in the last couple of years. The weather was perfect. The colors on the river were so rich and so green-gold that it seemed fake through the lens of my camera. I was astonished. We sat around and watched the flurry of activity in the pool and fought my youngest for control of the iPod. We shared stories about our grandmother and reflected on the last gifts she gave us. My oldest cousin (she’s not old, mind you, but there is a birth order here) and I both received gifts from her after she had died. I guess our parents had found these things put away in her apartment when they cleaned out her things. My gift was a crocheted afghan that was cream and simple and beautiful. With it was a note in her handwriting that said, “For Missy when she marries. With Love, Mama.” I boo-hooed like a little baby when I opened that gift after my engagement. She had been gone for a long time at that point. My cousin’s gift was a small baby blanket, knitted in pink, with another handwritten note. These blankets were crocheted sometime before 1991, long before I was married or my cousin had a child. My cousin’s child was born in 2004, just days before Mama’s Boy. She was a GIRL. My cousin named her Rebecca, after our grandmother. It had come full circle. Almost like she knew.

We talked about all of this tonight. And though these hand-made gifts were the last physical things she gave to us, it occurred to me tonight that her final gift to us was instilling in us the importance of getting together. There’s something inexplicably powerful in that. Her final gift to us was each other.

I ate my first McDonalds hamburger with my Mama. It’s possible that this cancels out the afghan. But she also eventually taught me not to take off the pickles. So there’s that.

IMG_7907 IMG_7860 IMG_7890

Thanksgiving Memories

Well, it’s that time of year again. The time to perfunctorily give thanks. Go ahead. Make fun of the word “perfunctorily” if you like. Or look it up and start using it in everyday language. It’s a good word. I don’t have a fantastic vocabulary. My husband and my father in law put me to shame and I find myself constantly saying, “Well, I’d respond if I had any idea what you just said.” I simply ask for a definition when I don’t know the word. Then I try to remember it the next time I’m looking for a weird word reference. If I don’t like the way the word sounds, however, like “innocuous,” I just skip the definition and pretend I never heard anyone speaking to me. That works, too. Innocuous just sounds like someone with a bad cold is about to cough something up. Flee from it.

Actually there’s nothing perfunctory about my gratitude. I am deeply grateful for everything I’ve been given and mindful that I don’t deserve even the scent of it. I am keenly aware of the kids growing up and of how soon the dynamic will change to the point where I’m calling them and wondering who’s coming home or what their plans are. Right now, they have no plans but me. I thank the Lord so much for this time. It will pass.
All of this thinking started a conversation about some of our favorite past holidays. And I can’t muse on past Thanksgivings without going straight back to Joe Wheeler State Park, AL. 2007.

It was August 2007 when the Texas family began to toss around emails about maybe doing something a little different for the upcoming holiday season. Of course, being August, I thought I was WAY ahead of the game in finding lodging options and making a game plan. I was grotesquely misled on this point. People who make cool plans for Thanksgiving make them far in advance of August or they make the same plan every year, ensuring that you never get the chance to rent their awesome cabin. But after spending an excessive amount of time online searching every possible camp, cabin, state park, Bates Motel, and dude ranch between Florida and Texas, we found a situation we thought was going to work. We’d go to north Alabama–the closest thing to a halfway point where you don’t have to marry a local to stay there and you get to go home with all of the kids you came with. This would be a 10 hour drive for my branch of the family and a 17 hour drive for the Texas branch. Eh. Almost halfway. It beats the wilderness in Mississippi. And Louisiana was never on the table.
And it shall remain that way forevermore.

I was 7 months pregnant with Sister Squish when that roadtripping adventure began. Our plan was to drive north on I-75, pick up my in-laws at the Atlanta airport after they flew in from TX, and then continue the rest of the trip with them in the car. This seemed like a good idea at the time. However, 2 of our existing kids were in car seats, which adds the bulk of an overweight teenager to the seat they occupy. And we had enough luggage to justify a horse trailer. So to add two people and THEIR luggage seems plum crazy now that I look back on it.
It was.
Crazy.

Alabama is an interesting place. As with Louisiana, I have to make the professional recommendation that one fly over the state whenever possible. If not possible, keep your eyes peeled, your GPS on hand, and a camera ready. You’ll pass large billboards advertising a stereotypical devil who is popping out of flames and saying “Go to church! Or the Devil with Get You!” (I did not make this up.) And you’ll happen upon the occasional oasis called the “Wallace Gro and Ser Sta.” I can only assume that this stands for Wallace Grocery and Service Station, but I suppose there are other possibilities.
We threw the inlaws in the car in Atlanta and kept going.
And going.
And.
Going.
It’s been long enough ago now, (and time heals all wounds) that I don’t remember why we chose to stop at Walmart on the edge of town to buy ALL of the groceries we’d need for the week. Perhaps the only reason was that we are insane. Because there wasn’t room in our Nissan Quest for even an airline package of peanuts.
And it was raining.

So after 11 hours stuffed in a van with car seats, 7 people, and 27 people’s worth of luggage, we climbed out in the rain and went into WALMART 2 days before Thanksgiving to buy groceries for 12 people for a week, including the fixings for a large traditional Thanksgiving meal. Let’s pause to absorb that for a moment.
Just pausing on the Walmart portion alone would be enough.
We split up.
We each had a cart and a list.
We met back at the van 20 minutes later with the food. There was a moment at which we all stared at each other and these bags. We were all thinking the same thing. But it was raining and no one was getting any less crazy by also getting wet.

This story is too long, but I can’t finish it before introducing the house flies.

We kept driving. The further into north Alabama we went, the louder I could hear the banjos playing in my mind. I hoped it was in my mind. I searched the roadsides for chalk outlines or anyone whose eyes might not be right.
And then, just when I had decided to induce my own labor, thus ensuring that I would HAVE to get out of the car and also probably guaranteeing me a private hospital room for the week, we pulled into Joe Wheeler State Park.
It was a crisp, clear, beautiful fall day and the colors were changing late in the season. Suddenly it was all worth it. We signed in at the office and then wound our way around to our cabin, sitting high and stately above the Tennessee River. The rain had slacked off and we could unload in peace.
So we grabbed the 1200 bags of groceries we had just purchased and walked into the kitchen to set it all down.
That’s when we realized why this cabin had still been available in August when we booked. It wasn’t because no one else was looking. It was because all the other traveling hopefuls KNEW about this cabin.
This was the housefly cabin.

I’m not sure if this was built over an insect burial ground or had once been home to a serial killer or what, but there were 100s of flies. HUNDREDS. Maybe thousands. OK, probably not thousands. They were literally everywhere in the kitchen. All over the windows. On all the appliances. Partying on the screen doors. Everywhere.
Thankfully the nice folks up at the office had thought to supply us with a flyswatter, anticipating what our first activity might be. My father in law went to town, smack-smacking those things all over the place. If I live to be a twisted 95 year old woman, I will never erase the image of Frank smacking all those flies. He didn’t give up until the last one was dead.
And then there was the problem of all the fly carcasses, though I think I’m probably not supposed to use the word carcass on such a small creature. The sheer number of them, though, demands it.
Having killed all the flies, cleansed the place with garlic, and received our Texas cousins with joy, we were set to spend the week there.

The rest of my memories are pretty great ones. The highs were in the 30s and the trees were the color of sunsets. We played football in the field across from our driveway and took walks through the woods. We imagined fires in what had once been a fireplace (not as good as the real thing, but I can dream up a roaring fire). There were nights playing Yahtzee with a four year old who shouldn’t have been able to count dots, let alone figure out that he had a full house, write it down, and spank me at the game I had brought from home. There was the one year old who couldn’t talk but loved to walk around in the driveway picking up shells and sporting the cutest little snow cap ever to frame up a fat little face. There were cuddles with the newest baby who has the heart of an angel from Heaven.

And when it came to our Thanksgiving meal, (because after all—this IS a post about Thanksgiving), we managed to cook it in a primitive kitchen that wasn’t good for much more than lodging houseflies. I mashed potatoes with a fork and a spoon and one of those hand-held twisty mixers that people used before someone invented the electric ones. I think we might have roasted the turkey over a fire in the back yard that we built with flint and kindling, but it’s possible we used an oven. At the end of the whole process, however ugly it may have been, we had a feast. A FEAST. We had turkey and dressing and mashed potatoes and corn and pumpkin pies and probably 10 other things I can’t recall.

And as we all sat down to eat it in a dining room full of two picnic tables, we had the prayers of a 2 and 3 year old, who from their precious little souls and in their raspy voices thanked God for the whole fat lot of us and for every moment in this haunted housefly graveyard.
After a week rambling through this cabin that had room after room after room, we came down to our final night there. I guess we must have had phones to the outside world and I think I recall turning on a fuzzy signaled TV. Perhaps it was this that told us some weather was coming. It was going to be harsh. The temperatures would be dropping and rain was coming. It was a great night to gather some wood and make yourself a fire. Oh wait. Never mind. That ship had sailed when someone removed the fireplace to make room for the insect farm.

We were sort of wondering what all of this was going to look like when, at 4 p.m. the power went out. The power was very VERY out. Let me just tell you where you don’t want to be for a night when the power goes out.
THAT HOUSE. I mean, how you gonna fight the flies if you can’t see them? How you gonna find that 113th room upstairs if you don’t have light? We did the only thing we knew to do. We huddled together back-to-back for body heat and slept that way for warmth.

Actually, we got in our vans and drove across the park to the Saturday night buffet inside the lodge. WOW. Where had THIS PLACE been all week? It was like we were back in 2007 again. There were fires and laughing patrons and white-coated waiters and moist little green jello cubes. And electricity.
And there were no flies.
And we were thankful.
Very thankful.
That was one of our best Thanksgivings ever.
But we haven’t been back since.
We may be crazy, but we aren’t stupid.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
Cabin in AL
The House of 1000 Flies
IMG_5160
Sweet Niece on the banks of the Tennessee River
IMG_5143
One of the two picnic tables in the dining area. The adults in my life won’t let me post a picture with both.
IMG_5157
Shoes.
IMG_6109
Out for a brisk walk with my baby
IMG_6101.
Cold weather agreed with her.

Musings

Today was LONG. And tiring. And a little bit funny at times. I’m going to just ramble for a few minutes as if it hasn’t been months since I last posted. Go with me. Or don’t. No biggie.

I was up a lot last night with the child that has always had ear problems. At nine months, she had tubes put in and adenoids taken out. After they brought her out from those procedures, I thought for a second that she’d been switched with another, much uglier, baby. Minor surgery plus a LOT of screaming can make a baby look pretty smashed-pumpkin. In case you didn’t know.

Anyway, I’m ALREADY off topic. Her ears are not as bad as they once were, but she still tends to go that direction when congested. So she was up crying a lot last night and in and out of her bed, my bed, and no bed. We told stories about some crazy kid in the first grade and laughed at things that had happened recently. And then, shot from no sleep, we headed to the doctor this morning. We ended up at the Walgreens clinic because her pediatrician was slammed today. This is always a risk. Showing up to wait at Walgreens without an appointment is like I imagine it would be to spend 5 minutes playing slots in Vegas. Lose-lose.

We got there at 9. As we were signing in on the touch screen, which took 8 times longer because she wanted to sign herself in, the message popped up, “There are FIVE people ahead of you in the queue.” FIVE? That’s like a whole platoon! That’s a day’s worth of patients, man. I knew I was in for it. But my choices were this and this, so I sat down in a sea of other queued patients and waited. For 90 minutes. When we finally got called back, we were introduced to Dan, the very perky nurse practitioner with an odd nose and palate. Just odd. Ask my daughter about it sometime. She’ll tell you. He reminded me of a local dentist who calls your teeth “little rascals.” He was very perky, very talkative, and much, MUCH too enthusiastic to be treating an ear infection.

After a few minutes of paperwork and sech, he asked me what meds I had already given her.

“Just ibuprofen,” I answered.

“HEY!” he replied, much too exhuberantly. “Good call, Mom!” Then he looked at my girl. “Your mom did GOOD. She’s super! That was EXACTLY the right call. Gets that inflammation right down.” Insert hand motions for helping inflammation. At this point in my typing, I am laughing. You probably did have to be there to appreciate this, but this guy was SO OVER THE TOP on the ibuprofen thing. There was no rocket science behind my choice last night. Either I gave her the ibuprofen for the pain or I stayed up ALL NIGHT telling stories about weird kids in first grade. And at 2 a.m., man, I’m tired. I’m not above some marker sniffing at that hour. Yes, I am. Really.

Anyway, that Dan guy was weird. And he praised me for the ibuprofen enough to fill a 5-paragraph essay. Enough so that my 8 year old thought it was disturbing. But he fixed us up with something better than grape markers, so I’m cool with it.

I sat a lot today. In waiting rooms. Pharmacies. Cars. In so doing, I checked Facebook maybe 50 times. (Not enough going on today. Help a girl out, why don’t you.) That’s when I saw the picture with 25 comments of the cutest little boy ever. One of the comments was simply, “Previous.” I love that. I love it when someone comments “Previous” and never realizes they did it. Even though I know what they meant and that their phone likely came up with it, I still read it as “Previous” in my head and go on my way, merrier than before. Reminds me of the time I asked my friend if they were going to the park rectally. Not directly, mind you. Which was what I meant. Good, good times.

Previous.
Read that however you like.
I’m going to bed now.

The Mundane, the miscellanea, and the Monday

I realized tonight, several days too late, that I passed up a goldmine chance to gag you with a pun. Instead of ThrowBACK Thursday last week, which was a post about gross things, I could have entitled it ThrowUP Thursday. Oh, what a difference a preposition makes.

Man.

Oh well.

Moving on.

Today, my eastern side of the county kids were out of school for our local strawberry festival. My oldest is not in school on this side of the county, so he didn’t have the day off and said he was JUST FINE with us going ahead without him. (1) I’m slightly offended by the ease in which he pushed us out to sea. (2) OK. I’m over it. We’re going without you. Since AG wasn’t along, we did little kid things. The weather started out perfect. I mean, PERFECT. But by 1 p.m. we felt like we were all wearing lava tunics and were dying for some indoor air conditioning. It was a little embarrassing, really. It was the first time in 12 years of parenting that I have actually gone to a festival on the day they let us out for the festival. It just seemed like the thing to do. And in case you are sitting there feeling slighted because either your mother doesn’t love you enough to take you to a festival or you don’t love your children enough to take them, I will regale you with stories of everything you missed. I mean, do you have time for this? If you don’t have time for this, here’s the short version:

Take Dramamine, park at the church ACROSS from Taco Bell, avoid the ice cream unless you are certified, and get the biscuit.

Now, if that’s not enough for you and you really DO have time for more, here’s the long version:

(1) Stopping in to Publix at 9:45 a.m. saved me $5 on 4 festival tickets. Boo-chaching-YAH.
(2) I drove in to Taco Bell/Pizza Hut, which is a block from the main gate, to park. “Is it $5?” I asked. “$10,” the very hurried dude answered. Um, does that come with 2 Burrito Supremes? Cuz I’m not paying that. The good news is that all I had to do to reduce my parking fee from $10 to $5 was drive 50 feet down a sidewalk against traffic. That was awesome.
(3) I was almost 100% convinced that this post would contain a vomit story after the twisty hot air balloon ride in Kiddieland. Fortunately, the ride ended 30 seconds before that moment. Mama’s Boy was green around the gills, but recovered nicely.
(4) To make themselves feel better about charging $4 for a $1 soft serve cone, they overstuff the cone to accommodate Shaquille O’Neal. This SOUNDS like a good idea, I realize. But when you are 6, 7, and 9 with virtually no frozen dessert skills, the overstuffed thing becomes a recipe for cone-in-trash. Mama’s Boy was the first to go down. Apparently, this is his first ice cream cone. It began dripping before I had even pocketed my change from buying it. Within seconds, it was POURING over the sides of the cone paper. I tried consulting with him, offering advice, using visual aids and very charismatic hand gestures. Nothing was working. It was like a mudslide, people. I mean it. So finally, in an unpremeditated moment, I grabbed the cone and did the around-the-world lick to clean up the drippies. What else could I do? It was going BAD. Well, that was it for him. Oh, forget it, he said. Now you’ve ruined it. Ruined it? What are you talking about? I had to do it? I had to fix it? Now it’s gross. You LICKED it. So I tried to offer my cleaned up version back to him. He wouldn’t take it. So I dropped that overstuffed, licked-clean cone into the bottom of the nearest trash can. The other two cones ended similarly, but took longer to flame out. This was a bit like riding a mechanical bull, only it was, “How long can you lick the confounded cone before IT LICKS YOU?” Huh? Well. Now, I’m really making you jealous.
(5) The strawberry shortcake that I had for lunch almost made up for the ice cream fiasco. I bypassed the slice of pizza and saved myself for the shortcake. Beloved was the only child who would eat “slimy” strawberries, so we just got two of these. We had the choice of shortcake or biscuit as our bottom layer. I chose biscuit and she chose shortcake. Her shortcake disintegrated within about 7 seconds and then who looked like the smart one? I mean, if it’s a contest…and isn’t it always?

Some blogs come easier than others

I owe a few people a pig story. I said I was going to write that up before the new year. Here it is, only January 6, and already I am a liar.

New Year’s Resolution: Stop lying so much.

It’s good to have goals.

I am in the middle of writing up what happened with the pig. I am at least 800 words into it but I just have to quit for the night. Tomorrow the kids go back to school. No one is dreading that more than me. This has been a glorious 2 weeks. I have loved having them home and being home.

But 6 a.m. will not delay coming just because I am up writing about pigs.

So I’m going to bed.

I thought you should know.

Aren’t you glad we did this?

I’ll try not to leave you hanging past tomorrow. As if you care. But in the interest of not lying in 2013, I am not making any promises…

Merry Christmas!

It is 12:02 a.m. on Christmas Eve and I’m still sitting in my church clothes from December 23. Been in these clothes now for 17 hours solid. They aren’t comfortable enough for that. I’m not sure what is blocking me from changing. Some sort of weird mental block.

I have many stories I could tell, but the only one interesting enough will take too much energy that I don’t have right now. It involves a pig and a media center and it’s entirely factual. I promise to tell that one before we hit 2013…assuming the Incas don’t come in with an end of the world thing between now and then.

For now, though, I will leave you with a photo and a quote. This photo was one of the “failures” from my Christmas card shoot. The kids had been annoying the fire out of me, preventing me from getting done what I wanted to. So I stood up, told them to go change, and announced that they were about to do a photo shoot. Aww, Mom! Yep. That’s right. You bug me, I bug you. What goes around comes around. You catch more flies with vinegar than honey. Or something.

So They were dressed and ready in nothing flat. But I wouldn’t call them the world’s most cooperative models. Right in the middle of a certain pose, SnuggleMonkey started to dance. Real dancing. Major dancing. And because such things seem to be contagious, my oldest joined in. And this is what we got. It’s not what I was going for, but it’s now my favorite.

freedance_bw

And as a final note, Mr. Normal in this photo…on the far left…waltzed into his Grammy’s guest room in our house where I was standing and proudly announced:

“Hey mama, I don’t have a Fairy Godmother. But I do have a Very Odd Mother.”

Hahahahaha. No.

Naughty list, kid. You just earned yourself a spot on the naughty list.

Merry Christmas. Hug your children. Draw near to your Father. Be intentional. Let it go. And do not miss a moment. Not one.

25 days until Christmas

Today was a big day around here. It was Decoration Day at our house. Last night we purchased two live trees. You pre-lit people need to just stop reading and go find a blog for posers.
hahahahahahaha

I’m serious, though. Posers. All of you.

Only a shipped in Frasier Fir for this little lady.

At any rate, today I put lights up on the second story roof and found out that I’m afraid of heights. Who knew? I didn’t. I stink at putting up lights. No one got hurt. Lights are up. My tree is real. Two trees. Real. Both of them.

Anyway.

We had a lovely day together putting up decorations and I discovered that Beloved is the best tree decorator ever. She and the 4th child were peas in a little Christmas pod and just pretty much had the best day ever. I did, too. They stuck it out until the end.

To reward ourselves for our day of labor, we went to Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant near our current house. I’ve never been there, so this was especially fun for me. It was a fabulous place and there was lots of cilantro in the salsa. Mmm.

Two notable things occurred on the 10 minute drive to the restaurant. First, I discovered that my kids haven’t learned much spanish at all. We told them we were going to Mi Casa and they had no idea what that was. We offered a dollar to the first person to translate it. The answers began to pour in immediately. “MY CHEESE!” “Fourteen!” Etc. Etc. They were all quite wrong. We didn’t have to part with that dollar, needless to say.

Right after I learned how to say “my cheese” in Spanish, the driver of our car (the car featured in the previous post) “accidentally” hit the window-down button, thus releasing the driver’s side antler onto the highway.

Coincidence? I don’t think so. Fortunately, I know where to get another one…

There’s a recurring theme this Thanksgiving

Thankfulness, sure. Yes. Gratitude. Let me just come back to that one when I’m not so distracted by the pies.

Pie. That’s the theme this Thanksgiving.

First, there was the uproar I caused by telling the world that I hate all pies. Many of you are now searching for my birth mother, because you are certain I could not be their daughter or his sister or your cousin. Others are asking around for a good nutritionist or some sort of Pie Therapy Center. I assure you that I have not suffered and the fact that I don’t eat pie hasn’t caused me any irreversible ills. Then, again, how do I know, right? Maybe I’d be Mary Poppins or Jo Frost if only I’d grown up eating pie. Or maybe I’d be the lady to someday be forklifted from a second story parlor because all she does is sit and eat…pie.

Whatever the case, I am not fond of it. It’s too squishy. And slimy. All pies are either squishy or slimy. I don’t need squishy and slimy in my life so much.

Early in the week, the pie topic became a heavy discussion point. The first pie was purchased by my own husband and was a pumpkin pie. After that, a pecan pie entered the building. Seriously? Please, just give this an honest look.

I mean it. Just wipe your slate clean for a moment and look at it like you are looking for the first time. That’s a bunch of brown, crusty bugs that someone baked into a pie. Or a genetic experiment. That is not edible. If you want to argue this point, may I suggest a free theme on WordPress. You can write your own blog called TheLifeofPie…or ThePiePiper…or…StickThisInYourPieandSmokeIt.

Anyway.

All of the above–Pumpkin Pie #1 and The Nasty Tree Bark Pie–are part of Pie Phase 1. Phase 2 involved two informed parties and four innocent bystanders. We were coming out of Wreck It Ralph yesterday, which my kids liked and most of the adults in the group did not, and heading toward the van. We thought we were going home. Within moments, there was a folded invitation of some sort that was whipped out in the front seat like a treasure map, some discussion about directions, and we were off! A wild pie chase ensued that captured the next 45 minutes. As it turned out, some real estate lady was giving away free pies and apparently pie lovers are incapable of turning away free pie even if that pie is located in another county. Wow. Who knew? I’m trying to think of something I love enough to pursue like that. Maybe a trunk load of Trefoils, compliments of the Girl Scouts I love so much. Mmm. Trefoils.

So that was Pumpkin Pie #2 and Pie Phase #2.

Pie Phase #3 was this little guy.

I know it’s not pretty. There’s no lattice work and, quite honestly, the outer part of the crust looks like a smashed-together series of tumors. But I made it and it’s MY cherry pie. I won’t be eating it, but my boy asked for it and I wasn’t going to deny him that.

So I guess I didn’t tell the WHOLE truth. I like my own pie. This one cherry pie recipe. No other cherry pies. Just this one. And I like it. Let’s move on.

Next door, there is a mince meat pie being made by Telley. Mince Meat pie? Could they have come up with a more disgusting name for something? That’s like Hairy Guts Cake or Squished Liver Custard. Why mince meat? Was this like Iceland? Someone named it Iceland so people wouldn’t know it was gorgeous and nobody would visit?

And Uncle Egg is bringing…2 pies.

Let’s do that math just real quick here. 4 pies already here at the house + 1 mince meat + 2 mystery pies = 7 pies. With 8 adults, one of whom doesn’t eat pie, all of the other adults can each have their own pie.

Now THAT is something to be thankful for.

Ahoy there, Mateys.

I’ve been waiting all day for my freshly-washed jeans to loosen up and stretch out a tad. They have not loosened up or stretched out. Not a tad. But I’ve been in the zone for like a week now. In the zone. Someone needs to tell the zone that it’s time for the jeans to respond to the zone. Drop 5 pounds already.

Stink.

Yesterday, we were blessed with the opportunity to spend half a day on a pontoon boat out on Lake Travis. There were 13 people on board a 15-passenger boat. Seven of those were in the 11-and-under set. I know what you’re thinking: You’re thinking the children caused some variation of a disaster. They wreaked havoc.

The children were fine.

The adults left a little something to be desired in the sea-faring community.

This was serious business from the outset. We stopped at a reputable Kwik Stop for Live Bait. We needed live bait, because we are serious fishermen. Dead bait wouldn’t cut it. We were planning on catching serious fish. We also needed 1-day fishing licenses for all of the many fish we were going to catch.

Seven blow pops, 6 fishing licenses, one bag of chicken blood, 1 box of live worms, and a precariously packed minnow bag of swimming minnows later, we pulled down a steep rocky path to an RV where a dude named Steven set us up for a maritime adventure.

One smart phone user–we’ll call her Telley–had only one concern: “Which way is Sandra Bullock’s house?” she asked.

“That way,” Steven answered. Ah, that way. That narrows it down from 250 houses to just 125. That’ll be easy.

After pointing us toward Sandra Bullock, Steven said, “Just be cautious about your weight distribution.” We stared at him blankly. “You can’t have too many on one side or in one section of the boat.”

Whatever. Whatever. Got it.

The next hour passed pleasantly. We pulled out the cooler and ate a picnic lunch. Chatted. Laughed. Looked up Sandra Bullock’s house on Google images. Began imagining how she would greet us and what she would offer us to drink once she invited us in. Etc.

When we couldn’t find Sandra, we decided to settle for a civilian. Telley’s spouse was off work and waiting for a pick up at the dock we originally departed from. So we swung by to pick him up. This was our first exercise in the science of weight distribution. One member of the party went forward to tie up to the dock and we took on the extra passenger and 30 gallons of lake water. No biggie. We tied up for a moment and then all the potty requests came in. Suffice it to say, the no-formal-restrooms potty break truly deserves its own blog. So much can be said. And yet, there are lines. Even with me, there are lines. I’m just going to leave this one alone. I’m not even really over the trauma yet.

So everyone used nature’s toilet except Telley, who came to regret that decision sorely. And we were off again. In search of large, meaty fish.

About 20 minutes later, once we had located the fish motherload on the fish finder, we decided to tie up loosely at a dock. So here’s how that process went. The fearless captain began to slow down the boat as he steered toward the dock. At that same moment, two members of the 13-member party, neither of which were me, went traipsing forward like they’d been called up on stage to retrieve an award. Traipsing. The rest of us were still sitting right were we had been for the last hour.

What was it that Steven said? We couldn’t remember. Where in the world is Sandra Bullock? Also doesn’t Matthew McConnaughey have a house around here?

As those two traipsed, the bow of the pontoon boat plunged deep into the water. Under the water. I mean it, people. That boat was a’sinking.

It was coming back to us now. That whole weight distribution thing. For a very long moment, as the waves rushed in and the boat plunged deeper toward our watery graves, I really thought we were all going spear fishing. What had started as an innocent day on the lake was going to end with the Coast Guard. And bodies. We were going in. Probably 100 gallons rushed in, wetting every last one of us to the knees.

“Hey!” The fearless captain called from the back of the boat. “What’s the deal? Everyone just starts moving without asking any questions! Back up!” And the two traipsers began to back up, along with the child who had followed them forward.

This was the moment of truth…the moment that would determine whether we lived or died. Whether the boat would resume floating or turn like Titanic toward the lake floor.

It floated.

And besides the wet, stinky socks of 13 people and the wailing of a very frightened four year old, there were no lasting effects.

Except that the fish heard us coming.

Our live bait died. The chicken blood made us all sick enough to go to the ER. And the day ended without so much as a single bob to any of the eight poles in the water.

Actually, that’s not where the day ended. My day ended in a Korean karaoke establishment in China town at 1 a.m.

But that’s another story altogether.