I did a big thing today.
First of all, before I go any further, you need to know that the last time I left my house for anything more than running across town for our daytodailies or escorting our littles to their various activities or running to Macon for an appointment was this past June when we went to the Mouse House for several days.
Gone. From Home.
Miss Sophie was in the best of hands, and all was well.
Until we got home.
And the smell of things gone sour hit me as soon as we came in.
We lost everything in the freezer and other refrigerator. EVERYTHING.
I was devastated.
So then I pretty much figured, well, what else do you expect when you are gone from home?
But today. Today I did a big thing.
I left home.
For an adventure.
It started a couple of weeks ago when I started thinking about the book release for Renea Winchester that was scheduled for today up near Atlanta. We have never met in person, but she has become very dear to me and has been a great encourager. And when people are dear to you and something big is going on in their lives, well, if you can, you step it up and celebrate with them. It’s just what our people do.
Turns out the Fella came in that night talking about going to a car show. Up near Atlanta. Interesting, I said, since I too would like to head out that same day. Up in that same direction. Long story short, the two things were a half hour apart which is practically next door in the Atlanta time/space continuum. So we decided to go up together. Up until yesterday I was still a little anxious. What about Miss Sophie? What if the power went out? What if it rained? What if? What if?
I finally shushed all those voices and decided the joy of meeting my friend and celebrating with her outweighed all those what ifs. Aub decided to stay home with Miss Sophie and study before heading back to school. All the stars aligned, and we were off. (like a herd of turtles, the Fella would say with pinpoint accuracy)
We dropped the Fella off at the British Car Show Fayre in Norcross and headed on our way. We made the necessary “pit stop” along the road that ran between where he was and where I was heading. (Did y’all know there are Targets with Starbucks in them? I’ve never…..I mean, you knew that bathroom was going to clean.) When we found our destination, a nice young man told us where to park. This book release celebration was being held at Farmer Billy’s farm and home. Folks were parked all along the yard and road. It looked like a fabulous turnout.
Signing the friendship wall.
When Cooter, our Princess, and I walked up, we saw the Friendship wall and each of us signed it. What a neat idea. (It made me wonder where I can hang a Sharpie for friends and family to sign their well wishes when they come to visit us.) As we headed around we saw them–Miss Renea and Mr. Billy. They already had quite the crowd lined up to sign their books. There was someone there selling wonderful smelling tamales, aprons made from feed sacks and old jeans and overalls, and beautifully carved wood figures and walking sticks. It was my first book release party, but I’m thinking maybe they’re not all like this. I loved it.
The trap that caught Cooter’s eye sitting on top of the rain barrels
In the midst of all of this what caught Cooter’s eye as we stood in line for the signing was a trap sitting up near the house. “Look, he has one like we do.”
I laughed. He was right. (We’ve had some rascally raccoons coming up and eating the cats’ food. They have now been safely and kindly rehomed.) We wondered what kind of critters Mr. Billy has had to use his trap for.
The closer we got the more excited I was.
We got closer in line and it was about to be our turn. We were so excited. We found out there was another author there whose book release was later on today. He was moved to the front of the line so he could get to his own on time.
Renea Winchester and Raymond Atkins celebrating together on a day that is special for both of them. I love the bond between writers.
How much do you love this? Each author celebrating with the other even on his and her own special day. When Miss Renea brought the author forward, apologizing for going out of order, I was starstruck yet again. Mr. Raymond Atkins. His very first book (“Front Porch Prophet”) just arrived on my doorstep three days ago. Really? I have never been so tickled to let someone ahead of me. And to see the two authors together–really. good. stuff.
A moment worth waiting for (but I’m glad I didn’t wait any longer!)
Then it was us. I introduced myself, so excited that we were finally meeting face to face, after months of messages and emails. The moment did not disappoint. What a beautiful soul she is, inside and out. Our Princess leaned in to me and said, “She looks just like Princess Anna.” (from Frozen for anyone who hasn’t been on any kind of media for the past year) When I told my writerfriend, she brushed it off, attempting to point out nonexistent wrinkles. Please, she’s every bit as beautiful as Anna and then some.
We had a wonderful few minutes meeting Renea Winchester and Mr. Billy Albertson. Moments I will treasure. Moments I would not have had if I hadn’t stepped way outside my comfort zone and headed out this morning ready for adventure.
Cooter, ever the mischief maker, with the bunny ears–watching the goats.
Now. That made it all worthwhile. Every minute of it.
We continued our visit around the farm, peeking from a distance at the baby goat who has been under the weather, standing next to cool tractors, looking at the chickens and the goats.
And before I left, I got to sniff Farmer Billy’s fig tree. It’s okay, I asked him first. Y’all. That’s the smell of my childhood there. The one in the yard at my Granny’s–the one she hung the pie tins in to keep the birds from eating them all. Oh that heavenly smell. (Okay, that’s it–somebody tell me the right time of year to plant a fig tree and where I can find the biggest one still able to be transferred. This has got to happen. Soon.)
On our way back to get the Fella, we stopped to get a bite as we were all feeling a little peckish. We made another pit stop. (I’m sorry, y’all, but these are of the utmost importance for the under 10 and over 40 crowd–which was pretty much all of us.) We admired the cleverly made door handles
and were thoroughly confused by the sign in the bathroom placed OVER the hand dryer.
Ahem. Wait, what?
Thanks to Cooter, who hit the air dryer button, we used all options available for drying our hands. After he hit it, I kept waiting for the bathroom police to jump out of hiding and give us the boot. Didn’t happen, but I’m still troubled by that sign. What do they want from me?
We headed back down the connecting road to pick up the Fella. We had a wonderful surprise visit with his cousin and family. Love these folks. Wherever they are, it’s a party. Just is. They are so full of laughter and joy and good hearts, it can’t be anything else but all good. The children even got to drive off on their own for a little bit.
There they go.
Just kidding. But at one point when a few raindrops came down, and they flipped the top up for a little protection, we could see their heads bobbing and the car rocking and they were moving to some kind of beat. Only the radio wasn’t on. Ah, to be young on a Saturday afternoon again!
All too soon we were on our way. We are very fortunate that we have a DVD player in the Gomobile. They don’t usually get to watch it, but for long trips, yes please. This was the choice of the day. Is it okay that I love that my children are every bit as much the nerds that I am?
One of their all-time favorite shows…..time to pull out Season 2, I think.
Today was such a special day of surprises and spending time with people I love and call my own. I am thankful that I found the get up and go to get up…..and well, go. I am very thankful that the trip that the Fella wanted to make was just down the road from where I wanted to go. And that my oldest was willing to hang out with Miss Sophie. I appreciate the gift of her time and love so much.
As the Fella drove this morning, I read for a bit. And this part struck me and stuck with me throughout the day. In the very first chapter of “Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches,” Renea Winchester writes, “After growing up surrounded by people who knew me, I struggled with the aloneness that comes from living outside your raising.”
Today. Today I was not alone. Even at the book release party where I didn’t really know anyone exactly, I felt at home. The farm, the tractors, the garden, that fig tree, the smiles and welcoming faces…..that’s home. Sitting with the Fella’s cousins (shoot, they’re my people too, right, and I aim to claim ’em), swapping stories, sharing my heart, and hearing this cousinfriend say, “Let me just take a moment,” in empathy for what had been shared–that. right. there. That was home. Being with folks who are good and kind people, who were raised just like we were–there’s a comfort there that can’t be replicated no matter how hard one tries.
Being with good folks–and enjoying the day that’s been given to us. Maybe that’s our calling.
I’m thankful it was mine–at least for today. And so thankful that I answered it.
Love to all.
If you are interested in books by either of these authors, you can click here or here to order Raymond Atkins’ latest novel, “Sweetwater Blues” or–
here or here to order “Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches” by Renea Winchester.