just 3 years ago…


Three short years ago, we were living with pirates.


Two of them, to be exact.


One of us was learning what fearless meant (and how to incorporate it into his daily life).



Another one of us had eyes that were in the process of changing from blue to green.


Two of us were discovering how to be partners in crime.



But all of us were all anxiously awaiting the arrival of someone very, very special…

a third (or, for my in-laws, a seventh) grandson…


a fourth great-grandson…


another little brother…

…and we were finally less than a day away from meeting him.


the should haves

one of the giant pink Gerber daisies on our breakfast table

The world has lost a lot of souls in the past few days.  One of those was a friend of mine, who just yesterday lost a long and hard-fought battle against inflammatory breast cancer.  This morning, I received notice that she had passed away and it really, really rocked me.  My friend lost her life on her 41st birthday, after spending the last 4 years in an ugly, ugly battle.

Forty-one is young.

I realized this morning, too late, just how marvelous I thought this woman was.  She and I had volunteered together at our children’s school for several years.  Never, not ever, did I hear her grumble about having to do a menial task or gripe about trying to cram in an event set-up or sigh about being asked, yet again, to help out.  She was the go-to girl, in an adorable baseball cap with a smile on her face every time you saw her. While I knew she had cancer, I had no idea of the severity of her disease nor the intensity of the treatment which she was undergoing right alongside of, say, helping set up for a school sponsored road race.  She laughed so easily but never at the expense of others.  She was stunningly beautiful, inside and out.  Laura Vickers was one spectacular woman, and I spent today thinking of her and wishing I’d done more to let her know how wonderful I thought she was.  I should have done more to let her know how wonderful I thought she was.

So I decided, well before 8 a.m., that we were going to spend the day celebrating life and doing whatever made each one of us happy instead of finding ourselves disgruntled at the end of the day and saying, “wow, we should have done x”.

For some of us (first name starts with J, ends with -ACK), that meant spending the entire day in pj’s.

For others, it meant serious time playing trains with Mommy.



Another wanted companionship as he danced around the butterfly-tree in our neighbor’s yard.

(Yes, Maria, it works!!)


IMG_4777I mean, seriously…I get to kiss this little face goodnight every single night!

For me, it meant not feeling guilty when I skipped a run and instead curled up in a chair with a good book right smack in the middle of the afternoon.

We stood on tables (some of us, at least) just to do it.



We sought out things to make us happy.


Today, we celebrated the lives we have…not our days gone by, not our unanswered desires, but simply, the wonderful things we have right in front of us.  Each other.  Health.  A safe country.  A roof over our heads.  Food on our table.




These three tiny plaques hang over our kitchen door and are the last thing we see as we exit our house.

Today was a much needed reminder of the heavy weight of all the should-haves.  So we made sure we made today count–for ourselves and in honor of those who are no longer with us–which is something we should have been doing all along.

Carpe diem, dear friends.

so much depends…

Forgive me if this reads like a funky discourse on modern/Imagist poetry (though obviously “economy of language” has never been my strong suit).  Sometimes things just come together in eerie ways for me–ways that are not forced or conjured, but hail from tidbits and nuggets and ideas that spring into my head throughout the day and then swirl around in there until, I guess like some sort of slow-churned homemade ice cream, they freeze together into something one must share.  This could be one of those times.

Oh, William Carlos Williams, I finally get you.  I got you, of course, a while ago, but now, my man, I really, really get you.

It’s been a week of wildness.  I took a much needed, yet seriously spontaneous, road trip with a dear friend of 34+ years to Charleston, South Carolina to surprise my oldest friend, Allison, on the occasion of her 40th birthday.  My traveling companion, Lari, just barely loses the “Longest Time of Being Friends Award” by a few short weeks, solely because Allison’s grandmother and my Mama B. insisted we meet prior to the start of first grade; if you’d known these two women, you would fully understand.

Lari and I drove 5 hours plus serious change, only to show up on Allison’s doorstep at 10 p.m. with one of us [ahem] sporting a full-body chicken costume whilst the other hid in the bushes to document the moment.

Allison had no idea we were coming.



The story of the chicken suit goes way, way, way back and is wickedly funny.  Perhaps a future post will feature The Chicken Lovers of America Handbook (featuring illustrations and a Preface by John C. Collins), copyright 1982, in its entirety.  It just depends.  Good things come to those who wait.

We laughed, some of us slept (ahhh, glorious pitch-dark, 65 degree hotel room sleep!), we ate, we drank amazing wine and we celebrated 40 years of life, together.



The coincidences leading us down the path to a 35-year long friendship are nothing short of miraculous.  The fact that my Mama B. and Allison’s Grandmother were in the same bridge club and, way back in 1976, both had tiny granddaughters moving from Atlanta to little old Vidalia just set things into motion.  Lari, Allison and I were all plunked in Mrs. Jordan’s first grade class together at J.D. Dickerson Elementary and somehow our little triumvirate was never separated as we forged our way through twelve grades.  We’ve all made a devoted, highly conscientious effort to stay in each other’s lives, through the bumpy and the smooth, the simple and the complicated, the near and the far, the easy and the difficult.  The pinpoint accuracy of our good fortune amazes me.  So much happiness depends upon each little element.

I rode that wave of happiness–which this time hailed from a weekend of laughing so hard you end up hoarse-voiced from crying–all through this week, despite the curve balls we were thrown.

For starters:

You must, along with us, ask why on earth this sweet, dimpled thing would ever cause any trouble?


Our little Reverend had a most electric week.  His frog, Swimmer, passed on to that great Lillipad in the Sky while I was in Charleston.  I noticed early on Friday that Swimmer had a foot in the grave and another on a banana peel, so Tucker and I tried to get his affairs in order. Despite the small, coffin-shaped, frog-sized box and serving spoon sitting right next to his habitat, Tucker was not able to give Swimmer the funeral he so desired (the “he” here being Tucker, not Swimmer…I wager that Swimmer was possibly quite relieved to exit his 4″ by 4″ home on Tuck’s desk; the earthquakes produced by Theo’s visits had to be dropsy inducing, at the least).  Instead, the ever-efficient Russ gave Swimmer a hygienic burial at sea which I learned about in a pitiful little voice mail from Tucker on Saturday night bewailing the fact that he didn’t get to “bury Swimmer or even say a prayer for him!”

Clearly, Tuck holds a vengeance.  He takes that “eye for an eye” thing to heart, though his five-and-a-half year old self wasn’t exactly sure where his fury should take aim.

See that lone top tooth Jackers is sporting?


That puppy’s gone like the wind after Tucker’s ill-fated scuba-diving re-surfacing attempt in the big bathtub; Tuck dove under the bubbles, held his breath as long as possible and then popped up, in true, dramatic Tucker-form, right smack into Jack’s chin, knocking out Jack’s (slightly loose already) top tooth.  Seriously.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you:  Story Number 1 to be told around our Thanksgiving dinner table in 20 years.

After being reassured that a new tooth would indeed grow back even though we couldn’t see any sight of it just yet, Jack was back to full form within a few hours.


…and that wily little brother of his is still his best pal (even if he did swipe part of Jack’s Tooth Fairy stash and refuse to disclose its whereabouts–fodder for another post entirely)…


But back to that poetry allusion…


Last night’s Unexpected was a Firefly Catching Extravaganza (yes, ’round here we call them fireflies, not lightnin’ bugs).  With pj’s on and Mason jars in hand, we tiptoed out to the fort at dusk last night.


Does this scream summer or what?


It took awhile for the fireflies to be brave (or stupid) enough to venture through the fence to our neck of the woods…but we found ways to kill the time and to perfect our attack plan.

Pensive Jack plots how he will catch the most…


…while Tucker the Brave swings upside down, glass jar in hand.  (This sort of dangerousness doesn’t even register on the radar at this point in our lives…).


Once they came out, however, it was magical.  The weather in Atlanta had given us an unheard of 70 degree night and the fireflies were loving it as much as we were.  I think in the end we had a jar of around 20 of them–Tucker, of course, had let some out in his attempts to hold them after they were caught.  We let them go, but only after taking them into the one windowless bathroom in our house and letting them do their stuff.  A-mazing.

It was sort of like this:

(we found these fabulous little lights at High Country Outfitters a few months ago…they float from room to room at our house…)

But release them we did, after all our gentle and dedicated work to catch them.

Fly away, little firefly…


Here, I’ll make it easier for you by tilting the jar sideways.  I know your journey here was a tough one.


So while mentally composing this post, I was bombarded by metaphors of jars and children and catching fireflies only to let them go after they’ve knocked your socks off with their sporadic yet impressive sparkling.  I had oodles of things to say about friendships that have basically run the length of one’s lifespan.  I had stuff to say about a son knocking out another son’s tooth, then stealing from the Tooth Fairy and then lying about it but following up this atrocious behavior, maybe 1700 breaths later, by snuggling up next to me and falling asleep with his hand on my face.  I had frustrations to release about being a single parent for four days while Russ was out of town for work.  I had a gripe about our new red picnic table with a funky screw sticking out of the top.

Then it rained–a long, windy, late night, thundery type of rain–and Russ returned and the boys took it down a notch and Mother Nature gave us a gift of autumnal weather in mid-July and, well, everything that depended on everything else just made sense.

So cheers to at least 40 more years.


Shout it from the rooftops.


William Carlos Williams is a genius.

And this is just to say that.

The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

re-enacting our last week at Amelia

By late June, our long stay at the beach was winding down.  Seeing as there are only so many days in a row one can load up three boys, 3 boogie boards, infinite digging apparati and a cooler, we opted to spend some of our last days exploring other places near and around Amelia Island.

First up, a visit to a true dive restaurant:  T-Rays.


Look up “dive restaurant” in the dictionary and this place surely has its photo there.  It’s an old gas station that has lovingly been converted into a burger shack by a father and son duo.  Our boat captain told us about T-Rays, also name dropping that it had been written up in the New York Times (to offer it authenticity, we guessed…).


There is no sign for it.  I googled the directions and fifteen minutes later we pulled into the rusty, crowded gas station.  T-Rays is decorated like any good dive should be–loads of collegiate items rivalling for space, bumper stickers plastered all over the walls, random postcards framed on various tables.  We loved it.


There’s just something fun about sitting at a counter in a clutter-filled dive while “Stairway to Heaven” bleats out of an ancient boom box sporting a tin-foiled-antenna.


Here Jack, Tuck & Theo take their meals outside.  We weren’t kidding when we said it was a dive.


Fortified by tasty vittles, we headed to a real fort:  Fort Clinch.  We were on a hunt for re-enactors.

(Re-enactors aside, Fort Clinch is a pretty awesome little place, chock full of all sorts of interesting nooks and crannies…).





The boys love coming out here to explore.


Only one re-enactor at Fort Clinch today.  Boo.  Guess we have to take our hunt elsewhere…


And so we did:  to St. Augustine the following day.  We raced a thunderstorm home and then let the boys take showers outside.


It was a first for them and an Unexpected they asked for daily until we left…


Next up:  field trip!  We loaded up the following morning and headed south to St. Augustine, America’s oldest city and front-runner for America’s Trappiest Tourist Trap.  It did have a few lovely places…


…but we didn’t see many of them because we were too busy getting our kitsch on and riding the tourist train (it was RED!  Theo had to!), gagging our way through the Ripley’s Believe It or Not collection and hunting for re-enactors, of which, St. Augustine has a plethora.

Wartime re-enactor with his musket:


Prisoner re-enactor (?) outside of St. Augustine’s oldest jail (why on earth is a jail on a tour?  We realize this begs the question of why on earth we were on a tour, but I told you about that red train, right?)


By far the best little gem we found here was the Pirate Museum.  I told Russ that if we’d been here a few years ago when Jack was in the throes of his pirate obsession, we might not have been able to leave.  Everyone needs a pirate hat like this one (modeled by Jack on his 4th birthday):


The Pirate Museum was done up right.  Lots of interactive things for the boys to touch and hear and lots of gory journal entries for the grown-ups to gawk at.




And it goes without saying that this place had some rock-star re-enactors, but they got all surly when I tried to take their pictures.  Come on, fellas…live a little.

A few other worthy photos:

From the oldest fort in America…


Tucker and Theo check out a cannon:


Our little historian read every plaque and stopped to watch every move made by the soldiers.


We didn’t go here though if you’ve been and it has seemed to help, please let me know.


We laughed like nobody’s business on this day.  Maybe a road trip was just what we needed.  Maybe a change of scenery, a different latitude, a left-turn in our day-to-day routine was all it took.  Maybe our three little fountains of youth were working extra hard, spinning their own youth-fortifying magic on us.  Whatever it was, it is worth re-enacting.