Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Rabbit & the Catoe

Thanksgiving morning, while waiting on the cornbread dressing to bake, I made a wee rabbit for a wee Catoe.  The scraps of gingham were from an apron I made for my Christmas parade float costume.

This, turned into...


And then once stuffed and stitched closed, ended up in the proper hands.

I remember a time, not too long ago, when grasping and pinching were so not easy for this one. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Words Count

After the good food and conversation of Thanksgiving, Mom brought this out to share: a letter from my Dad to a very young me.  Evidently there was a time in my life when going to school made me quite unhappy.  This letter changed that.  Oh, how it changed that.

"Dear Carol,
I can write this to you because I went to school and Vicki can read it because she went to school also.  Everyone has to go to school so they can learn to read and write.  I will be very happy when you can read and write.  Be happy when you go to school and you will learn much faster.
Remember I love you.

How lucky am I to have a Dad who would write such a letter of encouragement?  And how lucky am I to have a Mom who would keep this letter to give to me so many years later?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Home is wherever I'm with you...

Embroidery sampler gift, made by Bridget Page.

On November 1, 2014, All Saints’ Day, Eric and I exchanged vows at the Gadsden Museum of Art with most of our family and our closest friends in attendance.  The ceremony was epically and blessedly short (five minutes), and was hilariously cheered on midway through with a cry of “YAY” from the smallest of our guests (Anna Kate evidently cheers after the “amen” part of prayer when she prays, which may be both the most impossibly adorable thing I’ve ever heard of AND most sensible.  I may drop the “amen” and adopt the “YAY” for myself in future praying), and a standing ovation (what awesomeness!).   This five-minute ceremony left us plenty of time to eat, talk with guests, and dance with a handful of the most hard-partying youngsters, most of whom were under the age of ten.   Our wedding week was filled with cooking and communing (we opted to cater our own gluten free non-rehearsal dinner on Friday evening and the wedding reception on Saturday…could not have done this without the expert advice and assistance of our dear friends Todd and Dawn Rains, who cater professionally).  It was magical!

And although brother and sister-in-law McKenna and Steven jokingly claimed that our wedding would be covered by the Gadsden Times, friend and columnist Glenda Byars did give us a nod in her weekly column:  "And on a crisp autumn Saturday, Carol York and Eric Wright were married in a unique and precious ceremony. The bride was beautiful in antique white and the groom was appropriately handsome and smiling. Carol said later, 'The saying is correct, Eric: Home is wherever I am with you!'"

Photo used with permission, copyright Elisha Page.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Dying Maple

Countless hours were spent swinging under the canopy.  There were some late summer picnics on a blanket under there, too.  We hid things in the branches and in the little fairy hole at its base and were careful to not disturb the big brown spider that mom pointed out to us one afternoon.  It was loved by cicadas and Monarchs and little girls. It will be missed.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Bait & Switch of Sorts

Quick update on the months of August, September and October:

August never happened.  I don’t remember August at all, so…it just didn’t exist this year.  June, July, September, October.  Yep.  That was how my calendar looked.

Mid-September was our annual family trip to Ft. Walton Beach Florida where we rested up in the calm that is before the inevitable storm of fall programming (for me) and football season photo assignments (for Eric).  No obligations to anything except eating, swimming, and hanging with family. 

Late September was spent with the entertaining and controversial YA author Chris Crutcher, who was in town for our Gadsden Reads Banned Books Week.  Several public speaking engagements, a visit to the Etowah County Detention Center to speak with our female Substance Abuse Program inmates and two school visits (Gadsden City High and my alma mater, Southside High…Go Panthers!) then Chris was back on a plane to Washington State.  An incredible writer and a wonderful person with which to converse.  He GETS people.  He GETS behavior.  He GETS teenagers.  And the students love him.  They flock to him to ask him questions, or to tell him how his stories aren’t just stories, he's writing about their lives.  It is pretty powerful to be in a room where Chris Crutcher is talking to a hundred-plus students, students who keep asking him great question after great question, students who stay after his talk to ask him more personal questions before wandering away to their next class.  We want to bring him back.  We have to bring him back. 

Tex was in attendance of Chris’ library talk.  He came into my office a couple of hours before the event and wanted to know who Chris was, what kind of books did he write, where was he from, and was there going to be free food.  When I mentioned that Chris wrote young adult books about being a teenager and other stuff, Tex just sort of nodded without too much interest.

Me:  “He sometimes uses curse words and writes about sports and about teens who get in trouble.  Nothing that you’d be interested in.”

Tex (interest suddenly piqued):  “Really?  He writes cuss words in his books?”

Me:  “Yup.  Not all of them, but some of them.  Says that he sometimes finds out the most popular profanity at events just like the one we’re having tonight.  So, maybe you shouldn’t come…

Tex:  “Oh, I’m coming alright.  Is he selling books?”

Me:  “The library is.  We have The Sledding Hill for $10.”

Tex:  “I sure wish I had $10 to buy that book with.”

Me:  “Well, I’ll buy you a copy and you can have him sign it, if you even come tonight.  But I’m still not sure you should…

And so that is how I not only got a thirteen-year-old boy to come to an author reading at the GPL, but I also got a copy of The Sledding Hill into his hands.  Now, I don’t know if Tex will ever notice that there is no profanity in that book, but I do hope he notices characters in the story who share some similar hardships as those he faces.  They may be subtle similarities, but they are similarities nonetheless.  And I hope that he one day understands that there are other folks who have walked the same path that he walks, and that he’s not alone.  And all it took was the promise of a free book, free food and maybe some new profanity.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Ring Bear

Tex came by The Bungalow to earn some money this past Sunday.  I gave him his invitation to the wedding and strict orders to be sure and tell his grandpa and grandma they were invited to come with him.  I doubt that info made it home.  I may have to make a phone call...

As we were spreading pine straw down the sides of the front walk and around the crepe myrtles, Tex asked me if he could be our ring bear.

Me:  "You mean ring bearer?"

Tex:  "That's what I said, your ring bear."

Me:  "Well, we don't have a wedding party, so Eric's going to have the rings in his pocket..."

Why do I feel like Barney Stinson has a hand in this?

Addendum:  If you do not watch How I Met Your Mother, you may not understand this joke.

Friday, August 8, 2014

A Weekend in the Woods

Eric's approval for our cabin at Monte Sano State Park.

We couldn’t get out of town fast enough this past Friday.  A very late birthday trip for Eric and a week made of Mondays were the occasions.  Monte Sano State Park was our destination.  I had discovered their rustic cabins during a search for Civilian Conservation Corps buildings in Alabama (this search prompted by a discussion with a coworker during which we both expressed our desire to see the revival of FDR’s New Deal public works programs to relieve, recover and reform our nation…a discussion that led to many digressions on my part, thus my ending up reserving a historic cabin in a state park). 

Monte Sano State Park is located on a mountain in north Alabama that overshadows the city of Huntsville.  The park is home to fourteen Arts & Crafts stone cabins, most with working fireplaces and original hardwood floors, and all with stunning views from the attached screened porches.   There is no real roughing it in these cabins.  Although it was small, our cabin (Cabin #1) came fully furnished with the same amenities (or more) as a hotel:  two beds (one full –sized, one twin), a dining table with four chairs, stove, oven, refrigerator, coffee maker and microwave.  The bathroom was stocked with plenty of towels, wash cloths, soap, shampoo, lotion, and a hairdryer.  On our porch, we had two chairs and a table which we moved from facing the view of the woods to face the view of the bluff overlooking the valley where the chocolaty waters of the Tennessee  River flowed.  There was air conditioning (which we didn’t even have to use, the temperatures were so unseasonably cool) and cable (which we DID use ever so sparingly since we do not have cable at home and it is a novelty to us), and a blessed quietude that hung on the bluff that entire weekend, a quietude that was not even broken by the pulsing chorus of tree frogs that began to sing at nightfall.  And the fireflies…they danced out of the trees to the rhythm of the tree frogs’ song and surrounded the cabin like twinkling Christmas lights.  It. Was. Perfect.

We fed ourselves with blackened tofu salads and fresh spring rolls with bee sting sauce from the amazing Chef Will, whose food truck is located in the Lowe Mill Arts district of Huntsville, and other treats that we picked up at the Whole-Foods-on-steroids store Earth Fare.  One evening was spent at Below theRadar Brewhouse, which claimed to have gluten free options, but clearly didn’t fully grasp the meaning of gluten free by offering bangers boiled in Guinness and covered in Stout gravy as one of their safe options.  Yeah, nothing about Guinness-boiled sausages and Stout gravy sounds gluten free to me.  Because it’s not.  And the wait staff were a bit independent, if you know what I mean (they disappeared for no apparent reason for long periods of time).  But they did have an amazing array of beers. 
Chef Will, Lowe Mill, Huntsville, AL

Blackened Tofu Salad, Chef Will

What time not spend eating and sleeping was spent walking trails (or, if you are Eric, running), reading (The Body by Stephen King for me, California by Edan Lapucki for Eric), yoga-ing on the porch, or meditating (again, on the porch).  At one point, while the voice on Eric’s iPhone app urged us to listen to the sounds around us while concentrating on our breathing, a squabbling ruckus from an unidentifiable bird broke from the trees.  The squabbling ruckus was immediately meditated away.

View from our cabin.

Our cabin from a trail head.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

State of the Bungalow Address 19 July 2014

The Bungalow and garage just received a fresh coat of paint.  In some cases (the red doors), FIVE coats of paint.  We opted out of the DIY approach for this project (scraping, sanding, caulking in high places, knocking down wasp nests, replacing rotting boards and such) and hired the very entertaining, former policeman Hugh Cox to handle the job for us.  It took us a month to choose the colors (yes, a month of back and forth to Sherwin Williams, small pots of color to paint on a board that we moved around the outside of the house day after day, during different times of the day).  And once we chose the colors, we then hopped into the car and drove all the way to South Dakota so that we could get far away and marinate on our choices (actually, we drove to South Dakota to attend Eric's best friend's wedding in Sioux Falls, which is a whole other wonderful story for another time).  When we came back, almost a week later, Hugh and his team started the process of transformation.  It took awhile.  But now The Bungalow is sealed and painted and almost sea-worthy.  We would buy her all over again.

The Bungalow cleaning process, before paint.

The Bungalow, after a good scrubbing and paint.

Back of The Bungalow, post-paint.

Garage, after Eric finished out the front, pre-paint.

Garage, mid paint.

Garage, done!

Porch ceiling, before.

Porch ceiling, after.

Colors used, all Sherwin Williams:
Link Gray SW 6200-Body
Cast Iron SW 6202-Trim
Rare Gray SW 6199-Porch Ceiling
Rookwood Dark Red SW 2801-Doors

Next projects:  Staining the front door, spray painting the brass door hardware, and building a deck across the back of the house.  To be continued...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Fault In Our Stars

Saturday, while the menfolk of our urban family smoked and/or grilled lots of meat, us womenfolk went to the movies to watch The Fault in Our Stars.  We love John Green and his novels.  We love this particular novel very, very, very much.  So much so, it holds a rather sacred place in our hearts and bookshelves.  I was skeptical, as I always am when a book is made into a movie.  Rarely is the movie better than the book (except in the case of The English Patient and Legends of the Fall).  And although this movie was good, it was not as wonderful as the book.  The book is magical.  The book made me cry.  Ugly cry.  The movie only made my eyes a little sweaty.  And my nose may have burned some.  And there may have been a lump in my throat.

After the movie, we joined the menfolk and the kidfolk on the mountain and ate some of the meat that was smoked and/or grilled.  Children, slippery and pool-pruned, scampered about the backyard like woodland fairies.  Cafe lights illuminated our oasis...

Photo by Zoe.

Monday, June 9, 2014

State of the Bungalow Address 9 June 2014

Home improvement projects always occur in multiples.  Start one, and you end up with at least one other project that needs to happen in order to successfully complete the one that you started in the first place.

Case in point:  Eric and I hired a contractor to paint the Bungalow and the garage.  But the garage front was wonky and unplumb and needed to be fixed before we could move forward on the painting.  So, based upon some conversations with jack-of-all-trades and good friend Mike Utter, it was determined that some braces and some concrete board would take care of the job. Yesterday, Eric finished out the front of the garage with some (rather little) help from me. 

Now, if we could just figure out the colors of paint that we want to use.  We've had the chips for a week.  We have narrowed the body color down to a grey shade.  A grey shade of what, we don't know yet.  Green grey?  Brown grey?  Blue grey?  I DON'T KNOW.  I'll see Sherwin Williams later today about some sample paints...