Archive for March, 2009

Check Your Boobies

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Friends, please do your monthly checkups. Get your mammograms. Get that suspicious mole checked. This also goes for checking boy parts, and getting the colonoscopies and all that stuff that just isn’t that fun, that you are scared of, and that might save your life.
I don’t want to see someone else going through this, but it is better than sitting around and doing nothing, worrying about your health instead of acting.

I love you too much.

Dogwood Garden

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Spring! Love it!
It is our second spring here in the new house. Can’t believe we’ve been here a year now. This time last year, we were so caught up in the move and unpacking and repacking and living at the lake, that I didn’t get to take much notice of what was blooming in my new yard.

So, right now we have Forsythia. Some bulbs (daffs, some purple/blue elongated guys that I can’t remember the name of), a few pink azaleas (why, oh why did Grandmas have to plant Pepto pink azaleas?), a couple of white and red azaleas. My garlic is coming up nicely, even though Tiller mixed the cloves up on planting, and so I don’t know which is which. Some of my lettuce for last year is popping up again this year. That was a nice surprise – Especially the arugula and swiss chard (my fave!). Daylilies are popping up in my monkey grass. I think i remember only a few of those blooming last year, so I guess I need to dig them up and separate them. Kind of sounds like a drag, since they are all mixed in with the Monkey grass.

I pruned a ton of shrubbery around the house. I am leaving the Camellia until next winter. I think I waited too long to whack it back now. Todd has fertilized and put out seed. Hoping that our shady back yard grass will take. Fingers crossed.

Todd and I built a raised bed, too. Need to level off the spot it will go into in the front yard (only place we have enough sun – hope the neighbors don’t hate it), and then get it filled up with the good stuff. I am hoping to grow some crazy veggies this year.

Finally, we put up a birdfeeder outside our den window. I can sit on the couch writing this blog post, and see the little birdies checking it out from the redbud outside the window. Oh! And the redbud is blooming! Dogwoods are just starting to come out too.

I love spring.

Book Review: My Antonia

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Although I admired scholarship so much in Cleric, I was not deceived about myself; I knew that I should never be a scholar. I could never lose myself for long among impersonal things. Mental excitement was apt to send me with a rush back to my own naked land and the figures scattered upon it. While I was in the very act of yearning toward the new forms that Cleric brought up before me, my mind plunged away from me, and I suddenly found myself thinking of the places and people of my infinitesimal past. They stood out strengthened and simplified now, like the image of the plough against the sun. They were all I had for an answer to the new appeal. I begrudged the room that Jake and Otto and Russian Peter took up in my memory, which I wanted to crowd with other things. But whenever my consciousness was quickened, all those early friends were quickened within it, and in some strange way they accompanied me through all my new experiences. They were so much alive in me that I scarcely stopped to wonder whether they were alive anywhere else, or how.

My Antonia My Antonia by Willa Cather

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed this book. My Antonia captures the characters so perfectly that you feel as if you know them, that indeed you grew up with them, too. It is a nostalgic book, one about big themes like growing up, losing loved ones, making the big mistakes, the way that place shapes us, the ties that bind us so strongly to those who grew up the same way and in the same places.

Most of all, though it is a book written for a place in time, a love song to Nebraska and those who settled her, and an elegy for the innocence of childhood. This book was right up my alley. Highly recommended and an easy read.
View all my reviews.

The Living and the Dead, Heaven and the Moon

Friday, March 20th, 2009

Recently, on Friday nights, we go out and get mexican or pizza with the kids and then come home and have movie night. This is kind of Todd’s thing, and he and the kids pick out the movie and he cuddles up with them. Meanwhile, I pour myself a drink, and I sit and write or read or fuck around on Facebook. This also means that when the pick isn’t that great, i can blame Todd for its failure. Like, oh, say, tonight.

We had a discussion at the dinner table the other night about what movie we would watch on Friday. Tiller voted Bolt. Rollie voted Wall-E.

“Hmmm,” I said. “I think i would like to watch Wall-E too. Todd, what would you like to watch?”

Todd knew by the tone of my voice that he wanted to watch Bolt, so as to create a tie, and a teaching experience. We would teach them how to share through the joys of a family movie night tie-breaker.

“I would like to watch Bolt,” Todd said. Cause he knows what’s good for him.

Rollie and Tiller both sputtered. It is inconceivable to a 3 or 5 year old that things might not swing their way.

“Seems we have a problem,” I said. “We do not have a majority here. What are we going to do?”

We all looked at each other around the table. Rollie was obviously mulling something over.

“I know,” he said.

“What?” said Tiller.

“Well, Daddy and Tiller can watch Bolt, and me and Mama can watch Wall-E. We get the upstairs tv!”

Todd and I looked at each other, knowing we had been outsmarted by a five-year-old. Not exactly what we had in mind.

“I’ve got an idea,” said Todd. “I’ll go by the library tomorrow and get us a new movie.”

He did.

So, tonight, he got ready to go out for his Friday night outing, I poured a Bloody Mary, and the kids and i piled up on the couch, lights turned off, movie cued up, the setting sun illuminating our west-facing room. The dog and the cat were our bookends on the couch.

We had been talking all day about Daddy’s pick: The Corpse Bride.

It is PG. We debated if we thought it was okay for them to watch. They saw The Nightmare Before Christmas and loved it. Rollie saw Coraline in the theater, in 3D no less, and loved it. We figured this would be a piece of cake. Tiller fell asleep about halfway through and Todd took her up to bed. Then he left and Rollie and I finished the movie, his head nestled on my chest to my left, Quint curled up in a donut to my right, and Scully sitting in a curl next to Rollie. One big happy family.

For those of you who haven’t seen The Corpse Bride, it is great. A brief synopsis: Gawky, geeky Johnny Depp-looking guy of modest means, Victor, is set up to marry the well-to-do in name, not so well-off monetarily bride, Victoria. They fall in love. The wedding turns into a disaster and ends up not happening. Victor accidentally marries a corpse instead. Corpse loves Victor. He grows to care for her, but still loves Victoria. Stuff happens. Skeletons do a catchy musical number. To make marriage the real deal, Victor must die. Meanwhile, Victoria must wed bad guy who actually made the corpse bride a corpse in the first place. In the end, Victor and his true love Victoria end up together and the corpse bride is set free and the bad guy gets his comeuppance. So, suffice to say that there are three weddings, and a whole lotta dead folks.

During the third wedding, Rollie says to me: “I don’t like weddings.”
Me: “Why not?”
Rollie: “They’re boring.”
I laugh.
Me: “Yeah, actually, sometimes they are boring. You know what, though? If your daddy and I never got married, you wouldn’t even be here now, right? So, that’s a good thing.”
Rollie thinks this over, then says, “I went to a wedding. It was boring.”
I think to myself, no way you remember the last wedding you went to, which was Aunt Lisa’s. You were three.
I say, “When did you go to a wedding?”
Somehow, I knew what he was going to say before he said it.
“Grandma and Papaw Johnson had a wedding.”
“What?” I say.
“They had that girl that used to sleep in the chair all the time.”
My mind was racing to figure this out, hoping he wasn’t talking about what I thought he was talking about.
He was looking at me, waiting to see if I knew what he was talking about.

When Todd’s grandmother was alive, and living with my in-laws, she spent a lot of time sleeping in a chair in her room.

“Honey, do you mean Meemaw?”
Rollie said, “Yes, we went to the wedding and she was dead.”


I took a deep breath.
“Sweetie, that wasn’t a wedding. That was Meemaw’s funeral. A wedding is when two people who love each other promise to be together forever. Like Mama and Daddy. A funeral is when people get together to celebrate the life of a person who has gone to heaven. Like Meemaw.”

Rollie: “Oh.” He seemed to accept this all and go back to watching the movie. I, on the other hand, will need therapy after showing my son a movie that totally blurred the lines between the living and the dead in such a believable way.

We sat on the couch quietly watching the movie, him getting the dazed look kids get when they are tired, me thinking quietly to myself that the movie seems so benign and sweet, but I can see where all the living and the dead people hanging out together could be confusing to someone so little. At the end, Victor and Victoria stand together on the church steps, watching as the Corpse Bride disintegrates into a beautiful cloud of. . . well, I won’t give the full imagery, in case you haven’t seen the movie. (See the movie!) But the particles of her being float apart and up into the moon.

“Where is she going?” Rollie says to me.

“She’s going to heaven, Honey. She found love and acceptance, and that freed her soul to go to heaven.”

Rollie mulls over this and then says, “Is Meemaw in the moon?”

“Yes, honey, i think that if the moon is heaven, then she might be in the moon.”

“I like the moon.”

“Me, too, sweetie.”

Mercurial Girl

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

A few of you may have heard that I had a horrible day with Tiller yesterday. She was up at the ass crack of dawn (pre-dawn, even – 5:30am!) and did not want to go back to sleep. Nor did she want to be alone. Nor did I want to be up. We battled. She won. I made coffee and cussed. She was a bear all day. Stories of her behavior are widespread and used as cautionary tales promoting abstinence as I write this today.

Later in the day, I was in a befuddled sleep-deprived state, but Tiller and I decided to take advantage of the nice warm weather. I was bored, so quickly snapped a few pictures of her. Later, as I looked at them, I was struck by her mercurial nature as displayed in the photos. They were taken in about a two minute period.





Devil Child

Devil Child









I quake at the thought of a thirteen-year-old Tiller.

Tiller Milestones: Climbing her First Tree

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Tiller shows off a dandelion.

Tiller shows off a dandelion.

My new neighbor and friend, Lucy, snapped these great pictures of Tiller. Lucy has a couple of HUGE fig trees in her backyard, and the kids love to climb in them. They are the perfect size for little ones, and this time, Tiller tried it too. She loved it and can’t stop talking about how much she wants to go to Lyle and Cooke’s house to climb trees.
Tills climbing the figs.

Tills climbing the figs.

That’s my girl!

Just Like Kids Again

Monday, March 16th, 2009

When I was a little girl, I used to go visit my Grandma Smith in the summers. She lived in an apartment complex in Chattanooga, Tenn. Mom grew up in Chattanooga. Mom would pack me and my sister up in the red Caprice Classic station wagon and we would go spend a few days with Grandma. This was the most fun ever for my sister and I, as everyone knows that Chattanooga is the epicenter for kitschy tourist traps found on those pamphlets in motel lobbys, Howard Johnsons, and rest areas.

We would go to Rock City, ride the incline, and get candy from the candy shop at the top of the incline. See, we had the hookup, because Grandma’s best friend worked at the candy shop. Fudge and rock candy. Ahhhh. In the afternoons, we would swim at the apartment pool, while mom or Grandma and Aunt Dot watched us. Grandma and Aunt Dot did their laundry in the laundry room in a room right off the pool area while we swam. This is also, I assume, where they kept the liquor. Now, i don’t want to question my mother’s parenting, but she would let grandma watch us swim. I never ONCE saw Grandma swim in the pool. I assume she could swim, but have my doubts as to whether she could retrieve either me or my sister from the bottom of the pool if necessary, especially without putting down her drink or getting her cigarettes wet.

My favorite thing to do, though, (other than go to the castle, which was a toy store near Grandma’s, with a castle facade and an awesome board that counted down the days until Christmas, and where I would buy a Breyer horse every time we visited) was go to Lake Winnepesauka.

Lake Winnie is awesome, even though they have a really shitty website. It is an old school amusement park, and has been open since 1925 and is still run by the grandchildren of the original owners. It is pretty much a family tradition now, as my grandparents, my mom, and me and Lisa all grew up going to Lake Winnie. I have not taken the kids there yet, but can’t wait to do so.

It has a pretty famous old wooden roller coaster, the Cannonball. It has my faves the Himilaya and the Tilt-A-Whirl. It has Leelee’s fave, The Scrambler. A boat chute. An awesome merry-go-round (that was originally at Lakewood fairgrounds in Atlanta). A great haunted house fun house, skeeball, all set around a lake (that I believe used to be a swimming pool before my time) filled with the biggest damn carp ever. Paddleboats. It is very old-school, and family-oriented. I heart Lake Winnie. I cannot wait to take the next generation there. I think Dash needs a couple years and he will be ready to party with us, too.

So, all of this is to say that we took the kids to one of those temporary carnivals at a nearby mall. OH. MY. GOD. Most fun i have had in years. It was pretty awesome to see so many of my neighbors there, and kids from Rollie and Tiller’s schools. Met my sister, BIL, and nephew, Dash there, too. Dash was unimpressed by the rides, but did like the lights and the music from the Himalaya.

Dash finds carnies fascinating.

Dash finds carnies fascinating.

Lisa loves the Ferris Wheel, so she rode with my kiddos, which is great, because those things make me really nervous. Sure, it made me nervous to see my babies riding, too, but common sense tells me that they will be fine, and I should stay on the ground and try to smile. I am pretty sure that if I was up there, my fear of heights would kick in and i would have a panic attack and they would have to pry me out with a crowbar, because my fingernails would be embedded in the ride. The children would be traumatized and need years of therapy. Plus, if you stay on the ground, you can eat cotton candy and hold the baby, and what is better than smelling a baby’s head while eating spun sugar? Not one damn thing.
Tiller fearlessly rides the Ferris Wheel with Aunt Lisa.

Tiller fearlessly rides the Ferris Wheel with Aunt Lisa.

Rollie rode the big slide thing with one of the twins from down the street (Sydney, I believe).

Rollie and Syd Slide

Rollie and Syd Slide

Tiller was too scared to ride it, so she went with the teacups. A classic choice. She rode with the twins, Leah and Sydney, and loved it. When their cup went by the carny, he would reach down and give them a huge spin, eliciting screams and laughter, along with a slight chance of whiplash. I have seldom been happier in my life than standing by my friends Lauren and Scott at near sunset, watching our little girls smile the widest smiles and scream the screams that only happy little girls can emit, all the while holding my nephew, who was mesmerized by the lights and sounds.

Tiller rides the teacups with the big girls.

Tiller rides the teacups with the big girls.

Money’s tight, so Todd and I picked a couple rides we wanted particularly to ride, and left the rest to the kids. When I say the kids, I really mean me, because I would have pitched the biggest fit ever if I couldn’t ride both the Tilt-a-Whirl and the Himalaya. Rollie was very brave and rode the Tilt-A-Whirl with me. I have to admit that I choked up a bit getting up there, navigating the metal platform to pick out a car with my son in hand. He was so brave! We climbed in, and all i could think of was what it was like to ride the Tilt-a-Whirl with my mom at Lake Winnie. I think I remember Lisa going one time, but now it makes her sick. (Or so she says.) There is something so cozy about leaning back with your arm around your kid and then when the ride starts, screaming your guts out and hoping he won’t puke on you. We actually rode with another kid, a little girl who had never ridden it before, about Rollie’s age, who was going to ride alone. (Her wussy mom was over there to the side with my wussy sister.) I sat in the middle and put an arm around each kid and we just laughed when we were going slow, catching our breath, and screamed when we went fast. I had forgotten that when you are little, it actually looks like you are going to run into the other cars whirling around, but Rollie and the little girl kept saying, “We almost ran into that one!” And that thing spins a lot harder than I remembered. I am sure it had nothing to do with the fact that i weigh sixty pounds more than last time I rode it. Nothing at all to do with that.

Lisa and I saved the best for last: The Himalaya. Lisa decided she would be scared and nervous to ride it. Just like the old days! I sat on the outside, so I wouldn’t crush her. We had a discussion about how the one at Lake Winnie must be bigger. Mom and Lisa and I used to all ride together. No way that we would all have fit into this new one. Again, had nothing to do with the fact that we were under ten last time we rode it. Nothing at all to do with that. Mark took pictures of us nervously waiting for it to start. Tiller and Rollie looked on with Daddy from the side, and danced to the music. Again, I felt a wave of emotion, hearing the loud music blaring and the siren going off when they hit top speed. You know how I love Kid Rock! They still play all the hits (Hey Ya!, Hot in Heerrre! Lisa, Todd? What else did they play?), but i am pretty sure they would make more money off us old fogies if they would play some Def Leppard, Van Halen, etc. I am pretty sure that the best job ever goes to the carny who gets to play DJ on the Himalaya. I mean, that, that is a job. Every time we went around, I waved at the kids, which is easy to do when your hands are in the air the whole time. Lisa had the bar in a death grip, all the while laughing maniacally. We screamed, and laughed our asses off, and discussed how we should just leave the kids and run away with the carnies.

Back on the Himalaya

Back on the Himalaya

Seriously, the most fun i have had in ages. Highly recommended for those stuck in a rut.

Can’t believe I haven’t updated in a week. Poor neglected blog.

Back to grind after four child…

Monday, March 16th, 2009

Back to grind after four childless days.

Excuses, Excuses . . .

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Well, I started an awesome, fun post about childhood stuff, but then it was seventies and sunny, so I took my bike out for a ride. Then halfway down the hill closest to my house, I threw my chain off and the whole damn thing jammed, so I walked bike back home, and went for a run. That was nice, but then I had to go pick up some free stuff from EAV, then had to get lunch, and pick up Rollie, volunteer for the literary club at his school, take him to the park afterwards (bribery for being good during the lit club), then off to the grocery, where he argued every freakin’ purchase with me.

Just got home. So not going to write my post until tomorrow.

Mostly because
we’re going to see The Pogues!
Along with just about every person I knew in high school and college.

I am sure i will feel awesome tomorrow.

Oh, Pierce if you are reading this, baby update, please!

Time Change

Monday, March 9th, 2009

The time change has not only screwed up the Dogwood household, but also the Dogwood Girl website. No idea what is going on with my system clock, but my last posts were not published at 4 and 5 a.m.