Plant them and t
hey will grow.
they will grow. Some will grow.
Spend $20 on seed and six weeks later end up with 10 flowers.
My sunflowers almost got the best of me this year, as I showed in this silly vlog for the Ten Things of Thankful group.
Something kept eating them. Their little heads would pop up and be whittled away by wee bugs overnight.
Then to realize they had bug spittle all over them.
It was almost too much.
But this past week, my persistence paid its dividend.
Yellow petals finally withdrew from those shy brown and yellow faces.
Ten Things of Thankful that I persevered with my sunflowers.
10. Every time I pull in my driveway I smile.
It’s one thing to write about bees. Entirely another to watch them in action. Every time I look, every head has at least one bee working away.
See the bee. See the yellow. See the bee buzz in the yellow.
How can you feel sad staring at this color?
(Although living in a room of it for 48 hours might have me tearing out my toenails with my incisors.)
Once you get the babies past the critical stage, they tower over me. And I’m tall.
A fact that I hated in seventh grade. Sunflowers have incredibly posture.
6. They greet the sun every morning.
As heliotropes, their heads tilt upward and swivel all day following the sun.
Each dawn they face east, waiting expectantly for the light.
5. They just do their thang.
Sunflowers are content. Glorious in their own imperfections.
4. They relax and let others do their job.
The rains beat them down. Then once the sun is out, they straighten up best they can. Spewing forth pollen, they allow their estheticians — the bees – to work away.
3. Heads grow heavy and backs bend. Elegantly.
2. Time takes it’s toll.
It may only be a few days, not 50 years — but rain, those darned bees, bugs ripping their leaves into Swiss cheese, leave their mark. Just a few weeks after blooming, those radiant heads look like hell.
1. It holds fruit. Tons of fruit.
Shhh. Don’t tell them. But in a week or so, their heads packed with seeds will hang low facing the ground. The stalks once so green will turn as a tobacco leaf ready for rolling into a cigar.
Age does get us all.
The sunflower matures without a compliant.
Acquiesces to the ravages of time with a gentle bow.
Linking up with . . .
Quite the domestic diva day for me. Between writing assignments, I decided to do some of the things I intend to do — but never have the time.
I pickled dill pickles. I pickled jalapenos.
Then I sat on the porch and shelled butter beans that my dearest BRF, Kim Sitzmann, brought me from her garden.
I used to have my own butter bean plants but when I down-sided my garden a few years ago — my rows of butter beans got the pink-slip.
Just enough to make a good dinner for me.
And I’ve had James Garner in the back of my mind today. Sorry to hear of his passing. Eighty-six. How did that happen? I guess the same way my dad got to be 84.75 and I got to be fifty-something or another.
I was in grade school when The Rockford Files premiered and in high school when the run ended.
I know he was Maverick and he was successful in movies — but to me James Garner was Jim Rockford who lived in a trailer on the beaches of Malibu, California, driving a gold Pontiac Firebird just like my Johnny did when we met.
In the days before internet, heck in the days before cable TV (and when solitaire was played with an actual deck of cards) – the trailer, the beach, Southern California girls — all seemed impossibly glamorous.
I pulled up the theme song. I forgot about the phone calls that always started the show.
And I forgot another thing too.
Like how absolutely adorable a 40-year-something James Garner was.
At least my kind of adorable.
My kind of adorable back in 1974 and still my kind of adorable in 2014.
Jim Rockford — Hope things are truly beautiful where you are now.
Well, I since haven’t gotten around to writing about my wonderful Erma Bombeck Writer’s Conference experience — here’s a little teaser.
Stacey Gustafson was one of the funny ladies I met this April in Dayton, Ohio. Be sure to check out her blog.
And she’s got big news that she asked me to share . . .
Are You Kidding Me? My Life With an Extremely Loud Family, Bathroom Calamities, and Crazy Relatives.
Who among us can’t help but picture our face in that grimace?
I wonder how there’s any gray-hair dyed blonde left on my head some days.
Here’s the word on Are You Kidding Me?:
Hop into your minivan and get ready to cruise through the crazies of Suburbia! Humorist Stacey Gustafson makes an entertaining tour guide in Are You Kidding Me?, a brash, voyeuristic peek inside the topsy-turvy world of suburban motherhood, midlife madness, and all points in between. If you’ve ever called SWAT on a neighbor, faked a heart attack in church, or pulled your hair out while questioning the sanity of your family, Stacey’s tongue-in-cheek brand of humor will resonate with you. Enjoy the ride and don’t forget to fasten your seat belt.
Now I haven’t gotten my middle-agey, crepy-skinned hands on a copy yet, but I saw this lady do standup at EBWW.
Those hysterical b*tches are my heroes. And had me teetering all night in my granny panties.
Stacey lives with her family in California but grew up in the Midwest so she’s got the red and blue states down.
Be on the lookout for Are You Kidding Me? set for release September 2014 in print and eBook.
Better to be reading about someone pulling out their hair — than screaming in pain alone.
Can’t wait to read it, Stacey!
It pays to live in small towns. Especially if you want a snake.
Not just any snake. A beautiful long lean (and very hungry) black snake.
Today the Lord answered my prayers.
Let me back up a second.
* * *
Last summer my 20 year old came home from a visit with his girlfriend bearing a pet.
A large beautiful black snake.
Whom we named Elvis.
Our house was torn apart at the time by remodel in progress, and we were living in a garage apartment. I told the children to take Elvis over to the house and put him in a random reptile tank we had. Doesn’t everybody have a old reptile tank in their attic?
Well. Seems we had lost the top to the tank. But the kids told me, “Don’t worry mom, we’ve got it covered.”
A half hour later, I learned Elvis had left the building.
Great. And that room was the only room I could get internet. So I tippy-toed up there through the construction zone and sat down with my laptop.
While I was deep in thought, Elvis slid ever so gracefully out from under the futon I was sitting on and made his way for a stack of books.
SCREAM even louder.
No one – workmen or children — seemed to care that I was about to be killed.
The kids eventually came and rescued me. Or did they save Elvis?
That’s when I said that Elvis had to go. He was a snake. A wild animal. Albeit a very nice one.
When I posted on Facebook about our adventures with Elvis our wonderful Morgan County Animal Control Officer, Cindy Wiemann, reminded me of just that. It was against the law to keep Elvis.
Honestly, I so wanted to put Elvis under our house to keep rodents away.
But only did we not have a door at the time,
We didn’t have a floor.
So as my daughter sobbed, we reluctantly let Elvis go in a neighbors’ side yard. A little unknown present from me. I’m so giving that way.
I told Cindy, if she ever finds another snake and we have a floor at the time, please bring him to me.
* * *
Today, Cindy showed up in my driveway with a plastic tub.
Could it be?
I didn’t want to get my hopes up.
A big long black beautiful exterminator of my very own.
Yes, what was the loss of a dumpster out by the interstate was my gain.
My hand reached down to stroke his silky back and Cindy’s eyes got big as snake eggs.
“He’s very angry right now.”
That’s okay. I understand cranky men. I loved him still and I had just the spot.
For now there was a door to our house and more importantly, we have a floor.
The ancient door to the crawl space which is only open to venture under the house to change the air filter to the heater/air unit.
I have a snake. JOY.
“I guess we have to give him a name,” I said.
“Herbie?” Cindy replied. “I used to have a snake, Herbie.”
So that’s the tale how I got my live-in exterminator, Herbie.
I love him so.
This is also the story of how my husband is going to be changing the air filter under our house for the next 20 years.
Any snake fans out there?
Expectations. I try hard not to have them but riddle me this?
How does a gal have goals — either for the next 10 years or the next 10 minutes — without setting expectations?
My Ten Things Thankful – My 4th of July, Peachtree Road Race exploding great expectations edition.
* * *
Yesterday, the Fourth of July.
My son and I in Piedmont Park for the customary hold-a-shirt-up pic after the Peachtree Road Race.
10. Wait. There was supposed to be
three in this photo.
For three months my 10 year old and I had trained to run this race together. It was to be his first 10K.
Our last official training workout on July 2.
9. I am so thankful for my dog.
Who loves to sleep on the cool bathroom tile in the summer.
At 5 a.m. on Friday, I wake the boys up to head into Atlanta. Joe stumbles into the bathroom to take a quick shower.
Here’s where everyone must swear not to mention I shared this to Joe.
Half asleep he trips over the sleeping dog and crashes onto our 1925 cast iron bathtub.
I know this has happened because I hear a crash the likes of two-ton meteorite hitting the bathroom tile.
See. The dog is always here.
Joe knocks the wind out of himself. And becomes hysterical.
I love that the legs routinely come off our newly restored tub.
See. We are working to figure out a better way to attach the blasted legs to the tub.
7. Poor boy is very upset and says he is too sore to run. After trying 20 minutes to convince him he can do it without any luck, Jake and I leave.
Photo of the three of us in Park after race — gone.
6. On the drive into Atlanta (we are now 30 minutes later than I wanted to leave),
I try to relax while talking to my son.
All the while the refrain from Frozen is blasting in my head.
5. Because we are late, change idea of parking at park (too crowded by now) and decide to park at start.
So I turn onto I-285.
Soon after that I saw flashing signs: ALL LANES BLOCKED because of accident. Said prayer for those involved and decided to creep off 285 to Marta station.
Parking lot was packed. I noticed all these people. All very nicely dressed.
My brain is trying to figure it out. A wedding? A family reunion? So weird. Then see a sign Jehovah’s Witness International Convention.
Please do not take this in anyway against the Jehovah’s Witness but there were a million of them.
Every stop the train picked up a handful of late runners and 3,000 more convention goers.
Each stop took about 30 minutes.
4. I was impressed with the Jehovah’s Witness.
As I was crammed in the back of the car standing by the door.
No one seemed rushed or bothered. Everyone seemed happy. Except me.
Let it go, let it go. That’s what I kept telling myself. So I talked to the nice man from Jamaica right behind me. And the old fellow from Macon in front. And the beautiful young girls in saris right beside me. One of whom was a stunning young Indian girl. The other two looked and talked like they would spill forth from the Delta Delta Delta house at any major Southern university — while wearing gorgeous colorful Hindu wear.
3. Then the crazy preacher man got on the train. And
stood right in front of me.
“The Church is in me,” he started. That sounded great. Then he latched onto my son like a piece of gum that inevitably finds the bottom of my shoe. We learned stream-of-consciousness about his playing basketball in college and then how no cop better try an illegal search and seizure on him.
By this time, I have given up all hopes of getting to the start of the race before 9 a.m.
I had fallen down the rabbit hole into an episode of Seinfeld.
I became the crazy talking lady on the train.
We switched trains and headed up toward Buckhead. Gathering more runners each stop. Till Lindbergh station. The train driver told all runners to exit and wait for the Lenox train. The Marta guys outside were telling all runners to stay on till the Buckhead station.
Crazy late runners don’t need this.
A few of us stayed on the train and headed up to Buckhead. As woman stood beside me freaking out that the train wasn’t going to stop.
Then I noticed two women in front of me. They touched and held onto each other like a couple as the train lurched.
I locked eyes with one of the woman and it all came out.
My 10-year-old was supposed to be running with us.
My sleeping dog.
The 1925 cast iron tub.
The ALL LANES BLOCKED.
The mass of sweet convention goers.
WILL THE TRAIN STOP AT THE BUCKHEAD STATION???
1. We stopped at the Buckhead station.
The entire train heaved a sigh of relief. The couple and I offered a “have a good race” to each other and Jake and I started the mile and a half walk to the start.
No, the picture at the end of the race didn’t look as I imagined — but once I LET things GO — things turned out pretty awesome.
Yes — there were only two of us in the photo but to heck with expectations.
Thankfully, I’m not the best at making realistic ones.
Reality is well reality.
And pretty good.
Linking up with . . .
Last Sunday, I left my house at 4:45 a.m. and set the GPS for Lake Allatoona. I hadn’t really trained all that vigorously but I thought, what the heck.
And since this blog will be my diary when my 98.75-year-old self lies in bed all day with nothing else to do but read about the crazy things I did –
Ten takeaways from the morning.
10. I don’t mind being by myself.
Yes. An hour and a half drive by myself early on a Sunday morning is akin to a morning at the spa.
9. When encouraged by attractive, athletic strangers I will do very goofy pre-race poses. Okay. They don’t have to be athletic, attractive or a stranger to me. My ability to channel my inner, self-conscious 12-year-old self for photos never fails.
Some pre-race poses shot by my rackmate, pretty athletic Mary. Photo of pretty athletic Mary at end of post.
8. Love my good luck Rickstrong t-shirt. Never fails to put me at ease.
Love you Rick. You are forever in my thoughts at these things. Especially, when going over what in the heck I forgot in my transition bag
7. Love my new transition gear bag.
Attending the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Conference in April was definitely a highlight of my year so far. Got to blog about that some day — so 98.75-year-old me will remember it.
6. Love hanging with the older gals on the beach.
The 50 – 60 gals were the last wave to leave. So the yellow caps had time to chat on the sand. We are funny.
Plenty of jokes about giving us the yellow caps so the guards in the water could see us going under.
But joking aside — this group is TOUGH.
5. The swim.
I’m a bit snobbish about swimming in these Georgia man-made backed up rivers they call lakes. They are usually clay mucky ucky. But Allatoona had sand on the beach, where we went in and where we exited. And the water seemed clearer. Or at least not like you were putting your face down into a thin pool of black-strap molasses. I LOVED this swim.
I was 7th out of 20 in my age group out of the water. For me, pretty awesome-sauce.
4. Left it all on the bike.
Okay. I’m sort of stealing this photo. Why?
Because no one comes to take photos of me at these things. Which I actually don’t mind. See #10. But as a consequence I have no visual aids of actual race.
This was a 16 mile, hilly course. Halfway through I remember thinking, I could push and leave nothing for the run. Or I could not push and still have nothing for the run.
4. I bonked on the run.
Do people still say that? Or is there some other term the young, hipster athletic crowd (with the 5 billion dollar bikes) uses to describe utterly falling apart, unable to move faster than a snail on crutches? Well a 5′ 9” snail on crutches. Trying to run but –
Not sassy jazz hands.
Saggy jazz hands.
I slogged through the run somehow — and finished.
With JAZZ HANDS.
2. Met Pretty Athletic Mary. Who would be my bestest tri friend in a parallel universe.
Yes. Mary Gantt, happened to rack her bike next to mine. She was also 51 — and looked amazeballs. She was first out of the water — in age group — but had to wrap her foot because she had surgery on it earlier this year.
And this is the kicker. She missed placing by :08 seconds. Pooh for her. And having to stop and wrap that foot.
Look at her purty Cannondale. Look at her purty hair.
My hair looks like I got sucked into some NOAA supersonic wind tunnel.
Great meeting her and her husband John. He’s training for the Ironman in Lousiville this August.
1. There’s a 51 on the back of my calf.
Here I am walking around Ingles with a 51 on my calf. Starving, I pulled into the grocery store to make me a salad for lunch. It was then I realized I was walking around the store with my age written in black Sharpie on the back of my leg.
Honestly, I look at that and still think.
Oh, I guess I’ll eventually get used to it. About the time it’s time to write a 60 on there.
And BTW. I’m not officially 51 for a few more days.
It was a great race.
Except bonking on the run.
My next race is in 16 more days. I vowed to be better prepared for the run. Have I run since then????
Have you ever bonked? At anything?
An 11th grade physics test maybe?
I’ve got this bitty triathlon tomorrow. So yesterday, late afternoon I took off on my bike.
As I headed out of town, an object in the middle of Dixie Highway caught my eye. It wasn’t a squished Amarillo, Nor a squished snake. Nor the yellow tassel that’s been on the road since graduation last month.
It was a pack of Winstons.
Even at my blistering 12 mph pace, I could see it was perfect. Not opened. Nary a scratch.
IT WAS MINE.
That’s what I thought when I saw it.
Smoking is bad. Smoking is evil. Smoking makes the inside of your lungs look like an ashtray at the Clermont Lounge circa 1975.
But every now and then I like a smoke. Cigars preferably. But a free Winston will do in a pinch.
My mouth salivated like Pavlov’s pup.
So I decided to turn around and get my pack.
As I turned I thought — I can make it without clipping out.
Turn, sharper turn. Oh darn. I should have unclipped.
You see, Dixie is a narrow road and three-quarters through my turn back I realized I was going down.
And down I went.
Luckily, my handlebars weren’t bent. And only my knee was torn up a bit.
My chain was knocked off though.
So as I flipped my bike over to fix the chain, what did appear?
A MIA plug.
Taken this morning as a visual aid.
It’s against all triathlon law — from the Supreme USAT Court to the refs for this bitty sprint I’m doing tomorrow — no plugs, no race.
And of course, when I pulled along side that pristine Wintson package with bloody left knee and grease all over my fingers, it was EMPTY.
But that disappointment was minor compared to the crushing disappointment I would have felt tomorrow morning after driving an hour and a half only to be told I couldn’t race.
Once again in my life, the Lord works through a pack of Wintsons.
So now I’m off in search of a handlebar plug.
What have you got planned for this Saturday?
“Don’t be alarmed. When you see our house, every manner of emergency vehicle will be parked out front.” It was my father-in-law.
This was the call we got as we drove over the bridge to the St. George Island.
Sure enough. When we rounded the curve to the beach house we’ve stayed for the last few years, a firetruck, sheriff’s cars, ambulance, resort security truck were all stopped in front of the house.
Poised in front of the house was the better word.
An electricity tickled my skin as I got out of the truck. Something was dreadfully wrong.
* * *
“Please pray mister.”
A young boy ran up to my brother-in-law.
The upshot of all this emergency hoopla was that two riders had tipped over a jet ski and couldn’t be found.
See. This is what it looks like when loved ones are looking for you.
Loved ones who don’t know if you had a life jacket on.
Kind of like wanting to attend your own funeral to see all the down faces and tears. Well, hopefully to see tears.
First we heard two girls were on the jet ski. And that they weren’t wearing life jackets.
Then it turns out the girls were the ones who came to shore and told my son that the elderly men riding with them (granddads perhaps?) had tipped over.
And were gone.
One girl thought they were wearing life jackets.
One girl wasn’t so sure.
“Well. If they were wearing life jackets, I’d say the chances are good they will be found alive.” I said this to my in-laws and sister-in-law gathered at the rail.
As I went upstairs to help unload all our gear, looking out the window reminded me of one thing.
It would be dark in 15 minutes. Rescue boats and jet skis had been crisscrossing the water for an hour at this point.
I prayed. I did these prayers while shoving down my imagination, which tried ever so forcefully to insert the terror the loved ones must be feeling.
We all were praying.
“Why don’t they send out a plane?” my mother-in-law asked.
And as if on cue . . .
Well, about 10 minutes after the plane went out we saw activity.
People running to the sheriff’s SUV and driving off.
The men had been found.
Four miles out.
One of the police boats out in the Gulf.
Yes, just as darkness closed in, they spotted the men.
Bobbing four miles out to sea. Wearing life vests.
Neither could swim.
Seat belts and life jackets.
No trip is too short.
I’ve got a triathlon next weekend. Which is great.
Except I’ve not been doing much in the way of training for it — especially this week while at the beach with the extended family.
So I’m trying to muster up positive thoughts about why this is a very good thing.
10. I will be well rested.
9. I did get rather a good arm workout on Wednesday deep sea fishing.
I will be able to pull myself through the water so much better. Okay. That didn’t even sound convincing to my mom.
8. It’s only a sprint.
“It’s only a sprint” is thought by anyone who,
a. never has done a sprint triathlon before.
b. keeps themselves naturally in tippy-top shape.
c. is 30 years old or younger.
c. is an absurd genetic freak of nature.
7. I have been continuously hydrating on Chardonnay this week.
6. I biked miles at a blistering 5 mph in the broiling sun on a beach cruiser.
Once or twice.
5. Got out in the Gulf with my goggles and had some most excellent open water swims.
The swim next weekend is 500 yards. I got at least a couple of 500 feet in.
4. Tan most excellent camouflage of cellulite.
I definitely will look more fit with my tan in my tri-wear.
3. Can’t think of anything.
2. I will be setting a good low expectation time to easily best the other two triathlons I have planned this summer.
1. And I have the health and strength that day — Lord willing — to do it. Just thanking the Lord for each day he gives me ability. Even a slacker’s, procrastinator’s ability.
Linking up with . . .
Deep sea fishing was on my proverbial Bucket List.
Thanks to Southbound Charters from the Mexico Beach Marina in the Florida Panhandle, I drew a big black Sharpie line across that item yesterday.
Captain Ryan Kelly and deck crew, Cleve, helped make my deep sea dreams come true.
I can’t say enough good things about them and recommend them highly.
But this is my blog and the main focus is me and my neurosis so –
We met Ryan and Cleve on the dock at 6 a.m. CST.
Which is the last time I urinated for about 12 hours.
My oldest son’s dear girlfriend had been worrying about how we were going to use the bathroom. I was like they’ve got to have a bathroom on board. And thought nothing more of it.
Pretty cavalier from a woman who empties her bladder at 15 minute intervals.
First thing that hits my mind upon seeing our boat.
A great boat for fishing, fishing and more fishing. Not such a great boat for urinating in private.
I made note to save my cup from the convenience store coffee I had bought 40 minutes earlier.
No, my greatest fear was not how I was going to empty my 9-month-pregnant bladder or even how I was going to survive being eaten by sharks when our boat capsized — but being incapacitated by nausea.
So I took plenty of Bonine the night before and morning of. Yes, I might die of a bursting bladder but I was not going to vomit.
Johnny getting ready for the day.
Heading out to that big, beautiful sea. If I look sort of drugged. I was. Bronine. Note cup that was saved as my mini toilet.
It was a calm day.
And it was beautiful.
Took this thinking — might be my last view of the shoreline. Ever.
Where to begin?
I can’t begin in one spot. My day’s memories are all jumbled together in one large deep sea, indigo mosh pit.
First of all I caught a red snapper.
But this guy got thrown back in the sea. Why?
Because of governmental regulations. Now you can only keep red snapper five days of the year. Not sure what those five days are — but we weren’t fishing during them.
We caught a bunch of red snapper. We threw them back to copulate and populate the seas for those five days.
What we could keep was red grouper.
Groupers are bottom dwellers.
Kind of like the old Garth Brooks song — I got friends in low places.
That’s the grouper’s life. Friends in low places.
Ryan would look at his computer for a blip on the bottom and that’s where we’d drop the lines.
Armed with a weight the size of a healthy plum, down our lines would go, falling the equivalent of a 22-story building.
And son-of-a-gun, in all that blue, in all that water — our hooks and our bait met up with some red grouper.
Kristin with a huge grouper. Ryan, our captain, in background.
One of my keepers.
I caught groupers, red snapper, a shark — which was fun for me and a nuisance for Cleve — and we even thought a porpoise had my line at one point.
My Jake with a Kingfish,
WHAT is down there?
Okay. After I realized I wasn’t going to get sick, I had a ball.
Looking down into that water wondering what Little Mermaid world was alive down there? What fish might I hook?
Jellyfish pulsating by. A sea turtle. The dolphins. I still found them thrilling though Ryan and Cleve thought them a buzzkill.
The smell of souring fish. The smell of salt — of the water. Of my sweat.
Not that I am one to believe spirits that travel on and on through time in our bodies, but there must have been a seafarer in my genetics. Being on the water rubbed a deep, happy spot in my being. Like scratching a dog in just the right spot. How his eyes roll back in his head and he isn’t thinking about a thing, except how great life is at this very moment.
Jake caught a Mahi Mahi. I got to see it shimmering all colorful just under the surface.
After a full day in the sun and catching fish, some of my crew were plumb (or plum) tuckered out.
Crashed on the bean bags for the hour and a half ride into the marina.
Even as wore out as I was — pulling those babies up from the bottom with my grannie belt — I had to stay awake.
I sat on the cooler and stared out at that awesome display, thinking how many times do you get to be here? Fifty-five miles out in the Gulf heading for shore.
The three horses heading for the barn.
I could tell you about the flying fish I saw. Following their flight wondering when they would dip into the water.
I could tell you about the shark, waving and bending its sleek body this way-and-that under the boat, hoping for a quick meal.
I could tell you about the how the sun looks as a starburst deep into the water.
Ryan and Cleve cleaning our dinner.
Alls I can say is that it was a great day.
A great day indeed.
Would you head 55 miles out in the Gulf for dinner?