The One In Which I Drone On

Almost two weeks ago, when we were in Texas, there was a story on the news that I was paying no attention to.  I was moving between the rooms in the place we were staying, doing my usual–gathering up, throwing away, tossing in the washer, and generally trying to make sure we wound up leaving with everything we brought–mostly by keeping things from getting lost under the couch or bed or whatever.

Cooter found some unfortunate child’s little tractor under a chair while we were there, so we know it can and has happened.

But this news story, though it did not capture my attention at all at first, did grab me right at the end.  Something about drones and how people were worried about them being a serious invasion of privacy.

I found myself shaking my head.  All political issues and whatnot aside, all I could think was–

How about I’m just trying to live my life such that if those high-tech drones, or you know, God, were watching closely, it would still be good.  

And I continued on with the task at hand–taking care of what needed taking care of.  Because if those drones or my Mama are peeping in, I don’t want to be caught with a mess for all to see.

Tonight I’m thankful for laughter and thoughts that seem to come out of nowhere and share some brevity when things get so serious.  I give thanks for a Mama who taught me to dance in this life like nobody was watching but reminded me often that there was nothing I could ever do that she wouldn’t find out about.  (She wasn’t joking–I grew up in a very, very small town.)  That sort of parenting prepared me for living a life that is viewable.  Not that it always is–I have my fair share of moments that aren’t for public consumption.  But for my Mama’s sake, I try.

As for those drones?  Send ’em on, I guess.  Just be sure they swing by Amazon and pick up a thing or two off my wish list to bring with them.  At least until Amazon gets their own drones, like they said they would.

It’s a whole new world, y’all.

Love (and wishes for a little privacy) to all.

Parrot AR Drone via Wikimedia Commons

Parrot AR Drone via Wikimedia Commons

“Grandmothers Are Very Good Cooks”

Last Sunday we spent the day at Lake LBJ in Texas.  My Fella’s aunt and uncle have a house there, and his parents, siblings, and their families all joined us there for a day of hanging out, visiting, and having fun.

The day was warm but not too hot.  The water was just right, and wasn’t much over two feet for a good ways out.  A beautiful day of merry memory-making.  Laughter, story-telling, looking through old photographs, good food, and time together.  Priceless.

At one point, Cooter came up and asked me if we would be eating supper there.

“Yes, buddy, we are.”

“Oh YAY!” he all but shouted, complete with fist pump.  I laughed in surprise.

“Why are you so excited?” I had to ask.

“Because I can’t wait to see what we are having.” He looked very serious. “Grandmothers are very good cooks.”

Bless him.  Yes, baby boy, they are.  And yours was one of the best.

I’m so glad he knows and remembers.

I love that he saw his great Aunt and immediately saw a Grandmother.  He was drawn to her and she doted on him too.  A little while after he finished his supper, he came up and asked me if he could please have an ice cream sandwich.  Behind him was his Great Aunt K, standing there with her hands and face begging with a smile to PLEASE let him have one.

And of course he could.  Ice cream sandwiches and grandmothers–those are two of life’s great joys.

This Sunday is a day of remembering and honoring.  Many folks will be feeling the pain of loss on this day.  It will be my fourth one without my Daddy here with us, and just writing that blows my mind.

Instead of being sad though, I’m going to give thanks for the ones who step in when there’s a space.  Who listen and show compassion and offer a smile, a hug, or an ice cream sandwich or strawberry frozen yogurt when there’s someone to love right there in front of them.

Folks like Great Aunt K, my Aunt, my knitting diva friend and her dapper Fella, my sisterfriend’s Grandma and so many others.  They don’t try to fill the shoes of those who are no longer here, but they sure do fill the hearts of those who are.

And for that I give thanks.

For his wisdom and how my little guy sees the world, I am very thankful.  I give thanks for those who love the ones who are theirs and also the ones who aren’t.  Because, in the end, don’t we really all belong to each other?

And in the words of my Mama, “Happy Everyday!”

Love to all.

But It’s Our Mess

We flew out to Texas on a plane.

ON A PLANE.  This was a huge big ol’ deal, since it had been ten years for some of us, never for one of us, and one has severe nut allergies.

We did it.  By grace and about a thousand wipes, we got there with no incident or problem, and we were thankful for it.

When we landed in Austin, we headed to baggage claim and then over to the rental car area.  The Fella had reserved a van, but we weren’t sure if it would have vinyl/leather seats or not.  We approached the agent, and I explained my need to be able to wipe down the seats before we could leave to ensure my child’s safety.  “So I really need for the vehicle to have vinyl or leather seats and NOT fabric ones.”

(I learned a long time ago from watching my Mama that it never hurts to ask.  And to be very specific about your needs.  The worst they can say is no.  It was rare that someone told her no, by the way.)

He heard me.  Which is huge for me.  He nodded.  “Yes, of course, we don’t want you to have any problems.”  He started working on getting us one that would fit the need.

When it was all said and done, the Fella found us over with the luggage and said with a smile, “They’re upgrading us. No extra charge. A Tahoe with leather seats.”

Wow.  Okay.  That really meant nothing to me except that I was thrilled to be able to wipe it clean before we got in.  Aub and my Fella seemed really, really happy though.  (Aub loved it so much she is thinking about naming her firstborn after it.  Ahem.  Please no.)

It was a nice vehicle.  Rode smoothly.  Had a radio and AC.  And IT RAN, so all was good in my book.  We enjoyed having it during our trip for all the to and fros we had to make.

We returned it on Monday and flew back home.  When we arrived at the Atlanta airport, we waited on the sidewalk for the Fella to go to the long-term parking area and get our vehicle.  As he pulled up to the curb and opened the side door, Cooter breathed in and let out a huge sigh of relief.

“Yes!  Our very own messy car!”

Oh buddy.  I get it.

When we got home, things were still in their spots.  No fairies or house elves or displaced princesses had shown up to tidy things up while we were gone.  It was cluttered, a bit messy, and exactly as we had left it in our scurry and hurry to get to the airport on time.

And it was ours.

There’s a huge comfort in that for me.  For all of us, I think.  To be home.

My writerfriend Cynthia at Flotsam of the Mind shared a photo essay over on her photography website called “Who We Are.”  She is a talented photographer, and the thing that I love is that she makes the clutter in her house look like art.

After returning home from our trip, I realize that our clutter and mess is some form of art.  It expresses who we are, what we love, how we live…..it is a canvas of our family.

I’m not saying I wish things weren’t a little neater around here.  Show up at my door and more than likely I will be apologizing for the mess or pulling a door to so you don’t have to get the full on “opening night” art show.  But returning home to it, seeing it with “new” eyes, I realize that the things that our mess says I’m pretty okay with.

We are busy playing, learning, reading.  We cook and we eat.  AT LEAST three meals a day.  Our puppy is happy because she loves her toys.  We love books. And more books.  The phone is off the charger because we just spent an hour talking to someone we love.  The keys are on the chair instead of hanging up because someone just ran out to the store to get something we need and can so thankfully afford.  The clean clothes are there, an amalgamation of the people who live here and wore them and will again.  The mismatched socks in the pile where I was doing a final sort (and then they are out of here)–nope, sorry, they’re not art.  They are still the bane of my existence.  (But I totally had an idea of mounting them on a canvas…..yes, that could be kind of fun.)

My point is, what surrounds us I am thankful for.  Ten years from now when Cooter leaves the house (or doesn’t as he threatens says quite often) for college, I will miss this clutter.  I will miss the scattered cars, Legos, books, pencils, stickers, sequins, clothes, socks, purses and shoes for days…..

So yeah, Cooter had it right.  It might be a mess, but it’s our mess.  And I am thankful for it but even more thankful for those I love who are here to create it.

What a beautiful mess.

Love to all.

I’m not as talented a photographer as Cynthia, and I’m not completely comfortable with our art show just yet, but here are a couple of shots I took after I read “Who We Are.”  These are both from our Back Porch Roost where work, play, and school all happen.  Sometimes all at the same time.  

IMG_8163 IMG_8164

Flying with Fear

We are back home. Back into our day to dailies with full force after a weekend of getting away, literally and figuratively.  A weekend of fun and laughter and reconnecting.

And of facing our fears.

Head on.

This past weekend was the Fella’s family reunion that happens every couple of years.  While I’ve been to a gathering of his aunts and uncles on his Dad’s side of the family, we’ve never been to a gathering of Grampa’s cousins and their children as a family.  It was time to make it happen.

We had a decision to make.  Take a two hour flight from Atlanta to Texas or make the two day drive.  In the end, after lots of thought, the schedule made our decision.

We booked our flights.  Because it was just a few weeks out, the seat availability wasn’t ideal.  No big deal, I thought.  We could just request some seat changes.  I did that all the time when Aub and I flew back and forth from Japan.  TEN YEARS AGO.

Ahem.  Yeah.  Things change.

I called the airline and notified them that we would be flying with my child who has severe nut allergies.  All nuts. She was very understanding and said they could remove the peanuts from the plane but the airline could not guarantee there would be no nuts on the plane.  Okay.  Okay.  Got it.

As the time got closer, I became more anxious, but I also did what I needed to do to be prepared for a worst case scenario.  One of my sisterfriends said, “Be sure to carry an epipen on board with you.” I laughed and replied, “Yeah, or six.”  Can you say “over prepared?”

When we arrived at the gate, I spoke with the agent, and she said there would be no problem–that the flight attendants had it covered.  We hurried on board and got things ready for the flight.

All of the bags we carried on board were wipeable.  I carried wipes to clean her area and a sheet to put over her seat.  I forgot about the seat belt so that made me a bit nervous, but I did the best I could.  My people already knew we would not be eating or drinking on the plane.  I wanted no chance of ANYTHING going in her mouth that could hurt her.  It was a little less than two hours–they’ve done without food and water longer than that by their own choice.

The flight attendant announced there was an allergy on board.  She said they would not be serving peanuts and asked that no one eat any nuts while on board.

Oh my heart.  THANK YOU.

It was an amazing feeling to be heard and validated.  While it didn’t rid me of my anxiety, their kind hearted announcement eased it quite a bit.  My girl sat and played on her device and listened to music like the true preteen she is.  She is growing up before my very eyes.  But that’s another story.

We landed in what seemed like forever and no time at all, all at the same time.  Suffice to say I have no idea how I used to do the 14 hour flights to Japan.

After a long wonderful weekend of family and cousins playing and eating good food together, we got back on the plane yesterday.  We did it all by the book.  Got to the airport two hours early, checked in, and that’s when the magic was broken.  Our seats on Friday were not the ones I’d chosen on-line.  We had wound up all in the space of two rows, which was very doable.  I had assumed the person I called about her allergies had moved our seating around so we would be closer.  And maybe that was the case before, but for this flight, we were ridiculously far apart.  Cooter and Aub towards the back, our Princess and me in the middle on the same side, and the Fella in between us on the opposite side.  When we got to the gate, they acknowledged the food allergies, but they could do nothing about the seating.

Okay.  We can do this.  Breathe.

They made the announcement about not serving nuts and asking people to refrain from eating them while we were still in the terminal.  I was thankful for that.

We were allowed to board early.  I was told by the gate agent that between flights they would clean the tray tables four rows in front of us and four rows behind, so it was important we not change seats.  Okay. That’s great.  Really great.  (But I was thinking, they must be ridiculously fast or have cleaning fairies, because folks had just gotten off the plane.)

Oh, if it were only true.

When we got to our seat, I could see smeared handprints on the back of the seat in front of my girl.

Oh me.

I went to work with my wipes and the sheet and getting her settled.  We were ready when all the others came on board.

Before we were told to put our devices on airplane mode, I got a message from Aub, “Mama, the guy two seats over from us has nuts.”

Welp. Not good.

Because our messages weren’t going through quickly, and I was locked into my row by a passenger on the end who did not speak much English, I was left in limbo.  It was only after we landed that we pieced the whole story together.

So this guy had a big bag of Roaster’s Planted Peanuts.  He pulled them out.  The guy on the other side of him said, “Hey, you can’t eat those on here.”

Mr. Peanut replied, “Why not?”

Other guy said, “There’s someone with a nut allergy on board.  They made an announcement before we boarded asking us not to eat any nuts.”

Mr. Peanut said, “Huh.  Sounds like their problem.”  And laughed.

He LAUGHED.

Y’all, that girl of mine comes from a long line of strong people.  And people who stand up for others.  Some are more tactful than others, so there was no telling how this was going to play out.

As it turns out, she turned to him and said, “Actually it’s MY SISTER with the allergy, and if you eat those, I could come in contact with them, and then I have to ride home with her.  If I expose her to nuts, really bad things could happen.”  Her little brother was sitting next to her, so she was careful with her words.

And Mr. Peanut’s response?  “Really?” He scoffed, and he was done.

Later the flight attendant was offering snacks, and she approached Mr. Peanut.  He told her no thank you, that he had those with him and pointed at the unopened bag of peanuts.  “Sir, you can’t eat those on this flight,” she said.

He pointed at my oldest across the aisle.  “Yeah, that girl already chewed me out about it.”

The flight attendant looked over at Aub and smiled.  And she told him Aub was right.

All of this was relayed between us as we hurried along through the Atlanta airport to baggage claim.  I was so angry at the time, I know for sure one thing–that it is good I only caught a glimpse of him as he was getting on the train.  The Fella wisely guided us ahead to walk instead.  As I walked, I calmed down.  You can’t fix broken folks.  You just can’t.  I don’t know why he didn’t care about my child, or any person with food allergies for that matter, but for some reason he just didn’t.  All I know is I am thankful that, for whatever reason, he didn’t eat the nuts on the plane.

“Because if he had,” my oldest told me as we waited for the Fella to bring the car around as dusk settled across the Georgia sky, “I don’t know what I would have done.  But I would have done something. There might have been a ‘domestic incident.'”

“Eh,” I told her.  “Some things are worth creating a domestic incident over.”

I’m proud of her.  Siblings of people with food allergies have to live with the allergy too.  And this one–she’s her sister’s greatest advocate.

Tonight I’m thankful for a wonderful time with family–cherished moments.  I’m glad we didn’t rule the trip out because of the time or distance or our (MY) fears.  I am thankful for good flight attendants who care and make every effort to keep all passengers safe.  I give thanks for a daughter who is strong and can speak up when the need arises.  Most of all, I’m thankful for a safe journey.  And that all of those epipens came home unused.  WIN.

I have learned two things that surprised me though.  That anger and brokenness in people can overrule their compassion–I guess I knew that on some level, but to be reminded of it like this in such a personal way broke my heart and really, really surprised me.  Call me gullible, but yeah–I wasn’t prepared for that.

The other thing that I learned is that it doesn’t matter if you don’t book a seat for Anxiety Girl.  She doesn’t care.  She’d just as soon sit in your lap for the whole ride.  Doesn’t faze her one bit.  She’ll still come.  UNINVITED.

Wishing us all the ability to let our compassion override all the other things we are carrying with us.  Every single day.  And that when we take the chance to fly with our fear, we land in a beautiful place.

Love to all.

auvi q and wings

It’s All Yours, Uncle Willie

So we’ve finished our whirlwind trip from my beloved plains of Georgia to the beautiful hill country of Texas. Before we left, my sweet sisterfriend surprised me by leaving a copy of Willie Nelson’s new book on my front porch–since we were headed to his stomping grounds, it made sense. Ever since, apropos to our journey, I have had “On the Road Again” playing through my mind.   

As I write, we are literally on the road again, heading south on 75 in my home state, having spent four days in Uncle Willie’s neck of the woods. (I grew up thinking he might actually be my Uncle, because that’s how my folks referred to him. Uncle Willie. Aub recently told me she thought the same thing when she was little.)  I’ve been toying around with a couple of verses for a Haiku, but y’all, I’m sorry. The old five-seven-five syllable setup just isn’t enough to fully encapsulate my emotions right now.

So instead I offer you a variation on the Haiku. Perhaps a Willie-ku.

(Y’all, I do apologize for that.  It’s been a long day.)

“On the Road Again” is a great song and all
good job, Uncle Willie, but I will let you have it–
once this road gets me home
I believe I will put up my feet and stay a while