Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Are We There Yet?

This past weekend, Atlanta was blessed with the prettiest weather of the summer season. The oppressive humidity and chance of rain we had experienced all week was replaced by clear skies, low 80's and no humidity. It was the perfect time to get out doors.

I called the kids and my good friend, Diva. We decided to picnic at Stone Mountain and then attempt to stay for the laser light show. Stone Mountain is a historical landmark on the east side of town that tourists know for it's granite carving of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. For the locals, it's a place to spend a summer Saturday evening, complete with kids, for only 10 bucks per carload. We decided to meet at Diva's and depart from there.

Now, I've lived in the Atlanta area for seven years and have been to Stone Mountain a handful of times, but I had never driven myself there. Diva's husband, along with my son in law, decided to be the true essence of masculinity and offered to drive. We piled up two wheelie coolers, a soft sided cooler, a handle bag from Panera that was as big as the side of a barn, three kids (two of them under the age of four) and two blankets and headed out. All that was missing was the partridge in the pear tree. Sil needed to stop for beer on the way out, which left Diva's dude as the captain of the ride. While I will be the first to tell you DD is an exceptional artist/musician, I have come to the conclusion that he has no idea how to maneuver around Atlanta. I drive expressways at break neck speed and am familiar with back roads that seemingly take you no where. He drives 60 mph, while listening to obscure music on his iPod. One hour and 10 minutes after we departed the driveway, we arrived at Stone Mountain. This commute is a standard 40 minutes for any one else.

Since we had to park on the lower 40, we strapped on the soft sided cooler, wheelie cooler, Panera bag and Diva's kids to our hips and began our hike. I say hike because once again, we are on a mountain. One third of the way there, I'm panting, my heart is racing and my arm is coming out of the socket from dragging the wheelie cooler behind me. DD is the essence of good humor and begins asking "where are the Sherpa's"? We burst into laughter.

Close to the entrance of the park, we meet up with my family, the other wheelie cooler and brace ourselves for the last hike into the park. Once inside, we grab our piece of real estate, produce enough food and beverage to feed a small army, and settle in for the show. My grandson, hater of all things loud and "boomy" (see post about July 4th) is amazing calm as he plants his bottom in the lap of #2. We watch other people and laser light show. We sing to the music and whisper to each other. We have a wonderful time.

The best part? Before departing the park, we empty the coolers of what has to be 80 pounds of ice and replace it with tired, but happy children. Success!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Do You Remember?

Recently, I had a conversation with a co-worker about trying new and different things. This desire to participate in activities other than the norm was inspired by the fact that I am in a rut of sorts. She and I agreed to do at least one thing per month that was outside our comfort zone, or in my case, my zip code.

So, thanks to Facebook, I was invited to a dinner that included people from my old hometown of Miami. It seems this lovely social network has made it possible to detect, track, stalk and then invite folks who are only being polite, to share a meal. I received my invitation from an old neighbor, that I actually liked, so I agreed to go. I also figured it was mid month and my time to do something new was running out (especially since said co worker went to a museum over the weekend).

My high school years were somewhat successful. I managed to make decent grades in honors classes, I sang in the school chorus and had an occasional boyfriend. I didn't wear braces, wreck my car or get caught skipping school. I considered this acceptable and hoped the other folks that were on the guest list would agree. I scanned the list of invitees and when no arch enemies appeared, I agreed to go. For moral support, I enlisted my sister, Vampgal, and my brother to go with me. In typical fashion, he bailed at the last minute and Vampgal and I were left to fend for ourselves.

We arrived at the home of classmate and were greeted by three lovely women. Instantly, a glass of homemade sangria appeared in my hand and pictures of children, theirs as well as mine, appeared on the table. We exchanged pleasant conversation, an occasional laugh, one or two stories of unemployment and a lot of "do you know what happened to" and "do you remember". The house began to fill with other folks from SRHS, all showing signs of aging with hair that is greying, children that are leaving the nest, waistlines that are expanding and stories of parents that are dying. This group would've never sat at the same lunch table in high school, but here we were, sharing the same table some 30 years later.

The night was uneventful, non threatening and enjoyable. I managed to accomplish my goal for the month and even exchanged phone numbers with a gal that I fully intend to have lunch with. Vampgal survived knowing absolutely no one and my brother didn't miss a thing because the girl he was so interested in catching up with was a no show. Even City-girl, my co-worker, said it counted even though it wasn't as cool as the museum.

Now, what to do next month?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Life is hard

For those of you that know me beyond my blog, July was a very difficult month for me and my family. My brother-in-law, "Carguy", passed away after a short illness. It was a grueling 10 days of surgeries, ICU, all day and half the night vigils, followed by bursts of hope, silliness, laughter and hospice. Through it all my younger sister, Vampgal, was an incredible example of grace under pressure with a side of you have to be kidding me.

Carguy was 40 and Vampgal 25 when they met and fell in love. Me, I was hardly a fan. I thought he was old (I was 29), a bum (even though he had a successful automotive repair business) and just all around the wrong guy for my sister. When I first caught wind of their relationship, I drove to his place of business and told him to stay away. Thank goodness he didn't listen to me then and hardly listened to me after that.

Carguy was patient with me and Vampgal as we have this twisted sister relationship. (When you add in my other sister, Dance Mom, it only gets more twisted). He survived me, my daughters, my relationship with Sparky, and my moving in with them when I moved to Atlanta in 2002. He taught my girls how to swim, shoot tequila and aim a rifle. He taught us basic car repair and maintenance, patience and the need to take care of ourselves. Unknowingly, he also taught my daughters that they should be cherished by their spouses. This is the lesson that may take years for them to realize but I suspect his leading by example will be forefront in their minds.

Seven years ago, I moved out of Carguy's house and purchased the house around the corner. I always felt drawn to its' quirky layout, small house, big lawn qualities. Maybe I didn't want to be alone in a new city and having Vampgal around the corner was comforting. Hopefully now I can return the favor when Vampgal is feeling alone. Whatever the divine plan is, I know we will approach the hard times with a sense of family, humor and love.

We miss you Carguy. I promise to return to this blog to it's silly, random self but I had to tell everyone about you before I could move on. Pet Earnhardt for us and I'll keep an eye on Vamp. XOXO