Archive for the ‘The Lake’ Category

This Week in Beloved Pet Deaths: The Dog Who Knew All My Secrets

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

I wrote about putting my cat, Scully, down on Monday. And then today, I realized that my beloved dog, Quint, the one that I mentioned not even being able to write about yet, had died five years ago today. Seems like it’s time to start processing that loss. So, here’s a little bit of what he was like, my buddy, my very best friend ever.

He was a lover of the lake and babies.


A kid kisser.



Kids get a lot food on them, though. (Yes, I think that’s Tiller’s hair when she gave herself the Bowie haircut.)



He loved riding on the boat.



And curling up next to someone on the couch.



Or on the floor when they were sick and watching cartoons.



He let the kids dress him up and play with him, with no complaints.



And boy did he love going with us to the beach.



It seemed like he always wanted to be where the pack was, following me or the kids around.



He knew where the kids were is where I was.



And he loved, loved, loved going for rides with me in the car. He was totally my co-pilot.



And my foot warmer.



And my best friend.


The one to whom I whispered all my secrets, even the ones I was scared to say out loud, and who loved me anyway, and never told a soul.

Mossy Rocks: A Dream

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

I just had this weird moment over coffee, where I remembered seeing a flash of mossy green rocks. Something beautiful in the landscape. It felt like I forgot to do something. I paused and thought about what it was I was forgetting, and I realized it was in my dream last night. I rode in a car, face to the window, as we drove by a myriad of beautiful landscapes. The feeling was one of almost a panicked forgetting that I wanted to go back to see something later.

In my dream, we were on a vacation, and driving around on flat roads, with landscapes by the roadside. In my dream, it felt like the beach, but with these cool, emerald green landscapes that were almost vignettes. I’d pass one, and think, “How beautiful. I need to go home with the family, then come back and photograph that when I have time to by myself.”

And that memory of wet green longing is what I remembered this morning.

I think maybe it is partially my mind trying to balance my obligations and the needs of my family with my desire to spend time on my own and explore things. I also think it is my mind telling me I need to reconnect with nature. I don’t get that anymore now that the lake house is gone. I think that is a gaping hole in my heart and my stomach and my soul, and I need to figure out a way to fill it with something else. And I think the photography facet, the fact that I wanted to photograph these landscapes, is my yearning to create.

There’s no story here, no revelation. I’m just writing it down so that I don’t forget the longing, and to remind myself to find and photograph the mossy rocks in 2016.

Recipe for a Good Weekend: The Five Bs

Monday, September 1st, 2014

I know everyone else says their Labor Day weekend was great, but I’m pretty sure mine was the best.


First of all, I have an 11 year old now. We took him and five of his friends to the G braves game. The main thing you need to know about the Gwinnett Braves is that THEY SELL BOILED P-NUTS AT THE STADIUM.


It makes me feel a little off-kilter when I see how big the boys have all gotten. . .


(l-r) Jonah, Milo, Jack, Ben, Aidan, and Rollie, at the Gwinnett Braves.

(l-r) Jonah, Milo, Jack, Ben, Aidan, and Rollie, at the Gwinnett Braves.


They talk. A LOT. Mostly about farts. They are at a crazy age where they are still little kids, and yet almost teenagers sometimes. They listen to REALLY bad music. I mean, really bad. They think it’s good. One of them went so far as to say, “Parents don’t get it. Pop is the music of the future.” And “Mary broke her middle finger. Now she can’t use it any more.” Me: “Use it for what?” Kid: “Playing the recorder.” So, these six stayed up til like 1 am, laughing, inhaling pizza, talking smack, and playing video games. And now my basement smells like puberty.



And then there was this:

Oh, baby.

Oh, baby.

On Saturday, my sainted husband took the kids and dog to the lake, and Brett came and picked me up. Brett is my ex-husband from high school. I have known him since middle school, through high school, and into college. We have somehow stayed in touch, even though we have not lived in the same city (and sometimes country) since college. He is like family now. And the fact that he gave me first dibs on tickets (after his own family, of course) meant a lot. So, it’s not often that married folks get to spend an hour or so riding in a car, hanging out and chatting. And Brett and I got all day. (Luckily, we made it through the hellacious turn he made off of 316 into the gas station parking lot. There were squealing tires. Brett is very wild.)


So, we drove to Athens, parked at OMG-IT-WAS-SO-FAR. And then we walked. A lot. Fitbit says I walked over nine miles, which explains why on Sunday I felt rather similarly to the way i felt after running a half-marathon. And I didn’t even drink any bourbon while running that one.


What a beautiful (Hot) day it was for a walk in Athens. Oh, the people-watching. There is just not much like an SEC football town on a Saturday. So, we walked all the way from the intramural fields to North Campus. We found Brett’s cousins’ tailgate. (what the heck did people do to find each other before cel phones? I have trouble remembering.) They were gracious and gentlemanly and had lovely girlfriends (ah, to be 20-something again), and had ice and beer and . .  no mixers for the bourbon. That’s okay, it seems I can be charming when i want to – i sweet-talked some poor Clemson boy for Coke. He didn’t know what hit him.


Then Jason and his friend Brian showed up, and wheee! Seriously nothing better than a sunny Saturday, drinking bourbon, and people-watching with two of your oldest, favoritest people, and about 80,000 strangers.

Brett, Me, and Jason. I love these two like the brothers I never had.

Brett, Me, and Jason. I love these two like the brothers I never had.


So, it came time to move on. Kickoff was at 5:30. Brett and I bade goodbye to our gracious hosts, hugged Jason, and set off to grab something to eat. I cannot begin to explain the crowds. We grabbed a hotdog from a corner vendor (flashbacks of my bachelorette party, anyone?), walked through the arches, and sat on the steps of one of the North Campus buildings and just watched people go by. There are old fans, and young fans, and couples, and the endless stream of ridiculous plays on the red and black dress. We finished up and headed towards the stadium. We took the scenic route and sat on the steps of Park Hall, just like the old days. I could have been sitting next to Kevin Fagan, doing the Red and Black crossword, smoking before class. Park has a great view, kind of up on a hill from the stadium, and the streams of people going by, and the sun hanging low in the west, and the sweet, sweet anticipation of kickoff never cease to wow me.


So, we headed towards the stadium in a bourbon haze, in a sea of red, and then we purchased the most trashy red and black t-shirts ever made. They are unable to be worn around children, or in polite company. (They cracked us up, and fueled by bourbon, it seemed like a good idea at the time. I am hoping that Brett will get a photo of Lucy wearing his, and send it to me. Brett and I both suspect we will get nothing but disapproving shakes of the head from our spouses, though.)


And then, a wave of people walking into the stadium, and to find our seats.


It's pretty fun to watch Gurley hurtling towards you.

It’s pretty fun to watch Gurley hurtling towards you.


Great seats! Okay, the good thing about the seats were the location, the view and the overhang, shielding you from the sun. The bad thing is that it was probably 95 in the shade, and then the heat was rising from below and it seemed to just sit up under the overhang. I was never so thankful for the free fan. Talk about a way to feel southern. Dress in the same colors as the other 80,000 people around you, drink bourbon on early 18th century steps, and then use a fan to cool yourself off.


Well, I declare, I thought Brett might have a heatstroke up in that stadium. He’s almost a Yankee now, living out there on the west coast. I guess he just wasn’t used to our heat. Bless his heart.


(That was my best Scarlett O’Hara. That’s all I got.)


So, then? The game. Brett and I spent the first half being uneasy and nervous. Dawgs just didn’t look too . . . inspired. Well, that all changed, and we got quite a show in the 2nd half. That’s all I’m gonna say about that, because I believe in jinxes, and I’ve had my heart smashed to pieces the last two seasons, and I’m not sure if I’m ready for any outward emotional investment yet.


So, we got out of the game and rode the shuttle back out to the car, and drove back to Atlanta. All in all, it was a good day to be a Dawg.




Sunday, i woke up early, feet blistered, and packed a bag for the Lake. And i got there about 11. And it was, you guessed it, so hot. But i read on the dock, and the kids swam, and I drank beer with my two best friends, and I caught a bass and ate a persimmon and some berries right off the tree and vine, and then we at a steak dinner. And I watched the second half of the replay of the game, and it was just as good, and I got maybe a little excited, but JINXES. And then my husband and I did one of our favorite things, which is to sit on the dock, and listen to music, and gaze at the stars. (And a few fireworks across the lake.) The stargazing was not its best last night, a cloud covered most of the lake, but the Big Dipper and the moon were hanging low and bright in the clear western sky. It was hot and I had not showered, so i went swimming, and night swimming in the still lake, gazing at the crescent moon, with the faint notes of music in my ear is pretty damn near heaven.


I slept late (9? Is that late? I guess i am old.) I ate cold pancakes and drank coffee on the screened porch. And then Tiller and I rode the jet-ski, and we went to Goat Island, and it amazes/saddens me that she is so big now that she doesn’t even hold on to me when we ride. We did not see the goats, but boy was the lake busy today. And then i got back to the dock and i took Rollie out. Or should i say, he took me out. Yes, my boy is old enough to drive the thing, and I am just along for the ride. That is both wonderful and scary at the same time. (Still not old enough to take it out on his own, of course.) And my favorite part about that is that we get to have some time together, just the two of us, and we have fun, stopping to swim, and exploring the lake, and stuff like that.


So, i had to come home. Which makes me sad. When i was little, i used to cry about leaving the lake. I love it so. I still get sad to come back home. And now, back to the real world. The work week. The grind. But I feel pretty certain there will be a little Tuesday daydreaming about day drinking in Athens, 100-yard punt returns, fishing, swimming, and the stars.

Recipe for a good weekend: Boiled peanuts, Baseball, Bourbon, Bulldogs, and Bass.


*Photos courtesy of Brett Shell. It’s really hard to hold a drink while shaking one of those pom-poms and taking photos at the same time.


Friday, April 12th, 2013

I fight to keep my kids away from the tv. Even when we are at the lake, with all of nature around us. So today, I finally said, turn off the tv. We’re going fishing. We did it old school. We walked around the whole cove. We stopped to poke sticks in ant hills. We saw a snake and just watched it. We talked about the birds we saw. We untangled fishing lines from trees. I stayed patient. The dog followed us and laid down and rubbed his face in things that smelled dead. We laughed at a startled turtle flopping off a log into the water. We talked about the old outhouse and what it was for. We peeked in a deserted house. I showed the kids how you could use a vine like a whip and how cool the sound is. We poke more sticks in anthills.

We didn’t catch a thing.

We walked back home. We sat on the dock. I made them bait their own hooks. They did it and didn’t cry, poke eyes out, or let the dog eat a hook. I drank a Moscow mule as the sun set. We laughed.

We came in, took a shower and heated up leftovers. We ate them on the screen porch, by candlelight. We talked.

After dinner, we went down to the dock. We had left the lights on for night fishing. We caught three fish. (Not exactly a mess o’crappie, but enough to keep’em interested.) tiller brought her blankie. We watched the poles, and we looked at the stars. We talked about Jupiter, and life on other planets. We talked about the moon.

The kids got cold. Rollie grabbed my hand to hold as we walked back up to the house. He’s 9. Almost ten. He might not reach for my hand next April.

We had a really perfect day. The kind that I think I’ll recall 20 years from now.

Or maybe just on a Thursday afternoon next week when I’m sitting in a cubicle, wishing life were more simple than it is.







Spring Break 2012

Monday, April 9th, 2012

We did the Spring Break thing. A few days on Hilton Head (Todd had a shoot this week: Bad advertising world! Bad!) and then we did the lake for Easter with the whole family. About 24 hours of my family in one small 2BR lakehouse is all I can take, no matter how much I love them. I think this is normal?

So busy after being gone – work, laundry, trying to get back into a diet and exercise happy place. I feel like a train that derailed in a fiery crash of fried, fat, beer and excess!

Highlights of the week, not in photos: Fishing with my kiddos at dusk. Morning kids swimming with dog while I drink coffee at lake. Watching Brody revel in lake life. Puttering around with my dad for a day at the lake, fixing stuff, for once not snapping at each other. A rarity. Mom’s potato salad. My kids’ awesome manners while out to eat in HHI. I almost cried. Watching Venus in the Pleiades (spelling?) from the dock on a clear night. On the water at the beach. Seeing kids’ faces when they saw dolphins up close. Hearing their contagious laughter in the car on 441 – They had a “make each other laugh contest” and were killing Todd and I with their laughter. Such sweet music. Driving home on a sunny, perfectly-warm Easter afternoon with only Rollie and Brody in the car. Windows down, listening to an old mix CD of some of my all-time favorite songs, discussing them with Rollie: He asks a lot of questions, like “who is it by? What is it called? What is it about? Why do you like it?” Memorable discussions of songs – “Mayonnaise” by Smashing Pumpkins, “This Must Be The Place” by Talking Heads, and “Tempted” by Squeeze. R. thought it was so funny that I used to sing it to him as a lullaby when he would cry as a baby. Teaching kids to jump rope in the driveway last night. “Cinderella, dressed in yellow. . . ” (What are your favorite jump rope rhymes?)

Hope you all had a great Easter, Seder, spring break, etc.

More Lake Pictures

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

What Happens When the Candy is Taken Away

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

We’ll get to that at the end, but I thought I’d post some pics of the kiddos and family at the lake for Easter weekend.

Of Star Talkers and Cavemen

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Tiller Bundled Up On Swing
Tiller and I went to the lake on Friday, while Todd stayed home with Rollie for Sat. soccer. We got there late, so we went to Bojo’s for a late dinner. On the way home, driving back across the lake’s twin bridges, I heard her whispering,

“You stars are so small. You must be very, very far away.”

I love the little things that I hear her say when we remove big brother from the situation. He is so . . .older child (i can say that; I am one.) He talks over her, directs her, tells her what to do. She listens, apes, mimics, follows directions, does as she is told. Only when she is on her own, does her true and very own thought process become evident.

I am always amazed at her and the things she says and comes up with when I get a chance to listen to just her. Tiller sees the world in a very funny and colorful way. The filter that Tiller sees the world through is like no one else’s. It gives her a unique view on things. Take this exchange from Saturday morning . . . .

Tiller and I decided to hit up Waffle House, so that we didn’t have to do dishes and could get out and do our yardwork faster when we got back to the lakehouse. We walked into the Waffle House. It was full for a winter day at the lake. Full of hunters. In fact, the only people not dressed in camo or a Waffle House uniform were Tiller and I. I noticed that she pulled up for a second when we came in the door. I saw her take in the scene as we were walking to our table. When we got there, we took off our coats. I helped her with hers first, and then started to take mine off. As I did, arms trapped in my coatsleeves, I was alarmed as Tiller raised her finger to point at the two hunters closest to us, a man and woman.

As all parents know, it is never good when their kid raises a finger to point at a stranger in a restaurant. Not only is it, in the immortal words of Southern mamas everywhere, “not nice to point, dear,” but you never know what is going to come out of a kid’s mouth when they point something out. The only thing you can bank on is that there will be a lull in conversation and that it’s going to be said loud as hell.

It is usually something completely embarrassing, such as these gems i have experienced firsthand:

“Why doesn’t he have a leg?”
“Why are her eyes like that?”
“That person is really, really big, Mama.”
“That is the oldest person I have ever seen!”

Saturday morning, as I struggled to get my arms out of my coat, and at the same time hiss at Tiller, quietly enough where no one else in the room would hear, but firmly enough that she would know I meant business, “It’s not polite to point, baby,” she dropped her finger, and then gave me the dismayed look that she is famous for. She accompanies this look with two hands out to the side like the Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil statue. Her hands bounce up and down slightly as she says at full volume,

“What are those people? Cavemen??”

That’s my Tiller for ya. That’s my Tills.

A Good Birthday

Friday, October 8th, 2010

I will do a post for Tiller’s birthday this coming week. Right now, I don’t want to take time out from this wonderful day.

Early October on the lake is the absolute best. Cool for coffee on the screened porch and birdwatching. Finished The Exile.

Warmed up and the kids swam while I continued reading my book club book.

Fished for a while, didn’t catch anything, and didn’t much care.

Took the jetski out on a completely glassy lake. A bird followed us for a quarter of a mile, flying just feet above the water. Swam and built sand castles on the beach at Goat Island. It’s not often you get to spend your daughter’s fifth birthday on an empty island in the middle of an empty lake on a sunny early October day.

Some moments are almost perfect. Just wish Todd was here.

Worth It

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

If a grandfather, father, or anyone else ever put up a tire swing, rope swing, or any kind of swing for you, stop reading this right now and go write them or call them to thank them.

Trust me. They did not have an easy time of it.


But the look on your face was worth it.