family

Hiking – As Good As It Gets

It’s Friday and all I can say is – FINALLY!  I’m one of those folks who lives for the weekend.  And when the weekend comes, I try to make the most of it.

Last weekend, my brother and I went hiking.  Hiking has become one of my favorite activities.  After being cooped up in an office all week, being out on the trails is quite restorative.  

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Being 51 years old, I can remember the time before cellphones and the internet.  I gotta say – those were some good days.  We didn’t have crap being shoved in our faces 24/7.   Living in a rural area, we had an antenna for our television.  We could count on ABC, CBS and NBC and when the weather was good, we might get PBS.  We knew our neighbors and we looked out for each other.  

I spent my childhood playing in the woods, floating on inner-tubes in the river and hanging out at the fish house where I got my first “job” heading shrimp.  I was in second grade.  That job gave me spending money and later helped buy my school clothes.  It taught me the value of honest work.

I look at the world now and realize that we (my generation) were the lucky ones.  Our parents weren’t hovering over us every moment.  Seriously, it never occurred to my folks that it might not be safe for my sister and I to be floating on inner-tubes in a river by ourselves.  They told us where we could float and they expected us to listen.  And we did.

I see kids now – still in elementary school carrying cellphones.  Their little faces glued to the screens.  I can’t help but wish that I could wave a magic wand and drop them in the middle of 1976.  No cellphones or video games to occupy their time/mind. Instead, they’d have the opportunity to explore the world around them, to build forts, walk the woods, catch clams and chew on sour weed.  

The world wasn’t perfect then.  It’s not perfect now.  But for a kid – growing up “unplugged” was about as perfect as we could get. 

Maybe that’s why I like hiking so much.  For a few hours, I’m on an adventure, exploring new paths with no unwanted interruptions.  I’m unplugged and I’m lucky.

Memories

I can’t hear John Conlee singing Rose Colored Glasses that I don’t think of my Uncle Frank.  That song carries me back to the early 80’s when CMT was new.  I sat on the sectional in his living room – listening to John sing as my family sat at the dinner table.  I can see my uncle sitting there. He was loud and somewhat irreverent and oh so funny.  He wore British Sterling and smelled like a million bucks.

He loved listening to Floyd Cramer and on Christmas Eve – after dinner had been served – he’d pop in a CD.  Some of us would find a comfy spot and talk; others danced.  It was wonderful.

I miss him.

My father misses him.  Somehow, that makes the missing a little worse.

And during this Christmas Season, we will recall the the epic Christmas Eve Roman Candle Fight between my dad and uncle.  We’ll laugh and joke around and we’ll listen to old songs and remember.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Perfect Day

Perfect days are hard to come by – but when they come along – you gotta dive in head first. Saturday was beautiful – sunny, highs in upper 70’s and a wonderful sea breeze.  After being stuck inside all week, I had to be outside.  I started with a visit to the river.  

The hermit crabs were doing their thing, crawling over the rocks and each other.

100_1432While the North Carolina coast doesn’t get to experience much in the way of the changing of leaves, nature didn’t totally forget to paint our little corner of the world.  We get wildflowers and berries and on occasion – something other than pine tree needles.

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Boaters took advantage of the day, too.  And while I’m sure this sailor was disappointed at having to be towed in, I loved watching the activity. 

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Sailboat being towed – New River

I met up with my writers group for lunch – that’s always a good time.  

And then I took a detour – went back to my childhood and visited some precious memories.

I grew up on the water.  My father was a commercial fisherman.  I spent my summers hanging out at the fish house. After “heading” shrimp (actually de-heading them is more accurate), I’d go home, get into a swim suit and go back to the fish house where we kids would climb onto the shrimp boats and jump off the sides – swimming in the slough.

My father is retired now.  My brother, however,  is trying to keep the family tradition alive.  He works as a school teacher, serves in the Army Reserves and in his spare time is repairing a boat my father and uncle built some 33 years ago.  

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My father overseeing my brother

There’s still quite a bit of work to do.  The outriggers need to be painted, the fish hold needs some work and the wench needs to be repaired.  But when they finish, she will be beautiful.

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outriggers

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the wench

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The view from the cabin

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a brown pelican

My perfect day reminded my of a line from one of my favorite movies:

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

                                                                                                                           -Ferris Bueller

Here’s hoping that you can slow down and enjoy a perfect day!

Best Decision Ever

If you’ve followed my blog then you know that my posts have been a little hit or miss this past year. There’s a reason for that and that reason was my youngest son.  It was the beginning of his senior year. I had just announced that I was going upstairs to work on my latest novel when he spoke up.  “Again?”

Now honestly, who thinks that a 17-year-old boy even notices that his mom is locked away, plotting out the latest scenario for her current WIP…  I didn’t.  He was busy playing online games with his buddies, going out on dates, working, etc.  I assumed he was happy with catching up at dinner.  I was wrong.  I’m sure you can imagine my surprise to realize that my teenager actually wanted me around.

At that moment, I knew I had a decision to make.

And so I chose…

I chose to put my writing on the back burner.

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Myrtle Beach 2015

Don’t get me wrong – there were times when I wondered why I was sitting in the living room, watching the television as he played a video game.  I still had a story to tell, a blog to think about and it wasn’t like he “needed” me. He was obviously occupied with other things.

But – there were times when he’d seek me out, just wanting to talk about his day and I was so glad I hadn’t locked myself away, that I had stayed available.

My son graduated June 15th and on June 28th, he left for boot camp.

And this past year, with my hit or miss writing…  Best decision ever. 

Disney & My Electric Fry Pan

Many young families are financially challenged.  Mine was no exception.  I look back on those years with fondness as they contain some of my most precious memories.

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When you are financially challenged (poor), you get very creative. While other families are going off on expensive vacations and wonderful weekend trips, we were firing up the charcoal at the local park or gathering the necessary gear (a box) for a frog hunting expedition.  Our kids loved the outings but we wanted to be able to give them a Disney experience.

We set our goal. We scrimped and saved until finally we had enough.

After loading up our Isuzu, we headed south.  Staying on Disney or even close by was out of the question.  Instead, we stayed at a Motel 6 about thirty minutes away.  As our budget was very tight, we realized we’d only be able to eat one meal a day in Disney.  So, I packed a cooler full of prepared foods.  All we needed was a microwave and dinner would be served.

Being from the south, I grew up believing that Pop-Tarts were okay but sausage was better.  I pulled out my handy-dandy electric fry pan (You read that right – I carried my electric fry pan with me on vacation as I wasn’t sure the motel room would have a microwave – we are talking Motel 6, twenty years ago) and started cooking the sausage.  It never occurred to me that this might not be the best idea…  I’m sure you can imagine our panic as the smoke detector started blasting and there we were desperately trying to disable it – so that the sprinkler system didn’t activate!  At this point, I must admit my Ohio born husband wasn’t feeling the love for my backwoods ways…

We spent two wonderful days at Disney.  On our way home, we stopped at a rest area – had a picnic and tossed a ball around.  During the last leg of our journey home, I asked our boys what their favorite part of the trip had been. I was sure they’d choose Space Mountain or maybe the dinosaurs from Epcot.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  They unanimously agreed that the rest area picnic was their favorite part.

I was floored.

My husband muttered, “After spending all that money, all we needed to do was drive to a rest area and have a picnic?”

The moral of this story – It doesn’t cost a lot to make kids happy – they just want your time and attention… And it’s a really good idea to avoid frying sausage in a motel room.  In fact, make sure to leave your electric fry pan at home.