#TBT: My Boys

I was eight years old when I got brothers.  They were older than me, not babies, so I was leery at first.  A baby brother would have been a dream because I could tote him around in my dolly stroller and dress him up in my dolly clothes with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of bossiness.  (Martie never let me boss her around even though I was a full 20 months older than her.)  Instead I got these wild things who ran non-stop into and out of the woods, who double-dog dared me to launch myself into the creek from a rope swing, and who sometimes pushed me out of hammocks onto some very pointy rocks.  I was crazy about them.

Barracuda!

All the girls that we went to school with were crazy about them, too.  Martie and I got phone calls all the time from these much older girls who’d ask, “Vawn nere?”

Martie would look at me, her forehead wrinkled into a question mark, and hold out the phone to me mouthing, “I don’t know what she’s saying?”

“Hello?” I’d say, and then I’d hear, “Yah, Vawn nere?”  I’d look back at Martie, my forehead wrinkled into a question mark, and shrug.  It took us a little bit to realize that Popular Girl Tammi wasn’t really calling to talk to Martie or me, despite her asking for us, but was calling to determine if Vaughan (Brother Bear) was home.  Oh.  Vawn nere? = is Vaughan there?

“He’s fahr,” another girl said admiringly of Brother Boo.  By this point I’d caught on to the lingo.

“Yes, fire would be a good descriptor for him,” I’d say, knowing that my version of fire and her version of fire were two different fires.

Hotties

After the boys learned to drive, and it was early as they had been clamoring for that privilege since they were able to sit upright, they’d worry the mess out of Madre and Poppa to go somewhere.

“I’ll run over and get some milk from the dairy farm,” they’d promise and then roar off in the old Cadillac, always returning with the car but sometimes not with the milk.

“I’ll just go get the dog food, no problem, can I have the keys?” they’d ask, right before they disappeared down the country dirt road, not to return again for two hours.

“I’ll mow the grass,” Brother Boo yelped, and he’d drive lines up and down the yard all afternoon.

That grass mowing business left me raging with jealousy.  I had been begging to mow grass since I was too short to even reach the push mower handles.  My cousin, Reid, was tasked with that chore before we got brothers and then afterwards, the boys took care of it, so Martie and I were never allowed the privilege.

“Show me how to do that,” I remember asking Brother Boo.  “Please, I want to do that.”

Y’all, for three whole minutes he patiently taught me.

“Let the clutch out slowly, you want it to be smooth,” he said as I positioned myself on the seat.

I tried slow and smooth just like he said but at nine, slow and smooth were not yet in my vocabulary.  I wobbled all over my one line, mad at him because I couldn’t get it right.

“Are you sure slow, because this isn’t working,” I snarked.

That soured Brother Boo on the game and he said, “No, actually, it’s easier if you just pop the clutch.  I was messing with you before.”

So I, ever trusting, popped the clutch and nearly flew backwards off that lawn mower.  Brother Boo laughed at me, claimed his rightful place in the driver’s seat and smoothly drove off to finish his mowing.

Glory

Later, once we all knew how to drive and had cars with which to do it, our brothers would drive theirs until they had no gasoline left, and then ask if they could borrow ours.  Brother Bear was particularly charming in his requests and he’d fly off after we handed over the keys.  Hours later, he would return from his party or his game or his date and he’d leave the car in the front yard with almost enough fuel to drive three miles to the nearest store.  Oh, it was irritating!  It happened EVERY TIME he borrowed a car yet Martie and I still willingly handed over the keys when he asked for them.

As kids do, we all grew up and turned into our own people.  My brothers started a band and played on big stages for a while.  They got married and had families and pursued other dreams when the band faded away.  Sometimes we stay in touch with regularity and sometimes we have to have marathon sessions for catching up because it’s been too long.

 

Band Member, Boo, Bear, Band Member, Band Member

Band Member, Boo, Bear, Band Member, Band Member

When Poppa got sick, Brother Bear was able to fly in to lend his support.  I picked him up from the airport and drove him to the hospital where we sat with the rest of the family in a vigil for hours.  We soon realized that the vigil would continue for longer than hours, more like days, and Brother Bear and I took turns staying overnight with Poppa because he couldn’t be left alone.  I’d drive home at midnight to sleep and then in the morning would relieve Brother Bear so he could take a turn at my house.  He’d take off in my car, pick up food and then crash for a few hours before coming back to relieve me.  It was a terrible time.

After a particularly trying night, I left the hospital, weary to my bones and sad.  The two of us knew before anyone else, I think, that Poppa as we knew him would not be coming home.  I got in my car and started it up for my drive across town.  I glanced down at my dashboard and you know what I noticed?  My brother had filled up my car.  My tank was full.  I laughed through my tears all the way home.

Handsome

This Thanksgiving, the four of us could not be any further apart.  Not one of us will see the other today.  It’s okay, though, because we don’t need to see each other to know we are loved.  Our hearts are connected by more than that.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

 

 

Yes, That Sounds Normal

I ran into an old high school friend this weekend. He’s a police officer here in Nashville, and it seems to me that a friend like that is a handy thing to have.

I also was involved in an accident this weekend. Some guy behind me “lost his footing on the clutch” and smacked the back end of my car pretty good. I was at a red light, in heels and church clothes, and of course, got out of my car to assess the damage. The guy, a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, didn’t even put his car in gear or open his door.

I hollered, “What exactly are you doing?” and got the lame clutch excuse. He yelled it out his window and my head nearly popped off in anger. My bumper was fine, surprisingly (and I’ll say here, my car’s engine has given me lots of fits since January but it seems the body can take a hit pretty good), and when he saw that nothing was lying on the ground, he yelled again out the window, “Thank you!” and drove off, waving his cigarette at me as he drove merrily away, leaving me standing in the turn lane in my heels and skirt.

It would have been nice had I run into the police officer friend at that intersection but, no. That would never happen. Instead, I ran into him when I was at the grocery store getting “girlie supplies.” “Girlie supplies” consist of cookie dough, prewashed grapes and the neon hot pink box of *those* supplies. Why hot pink? Why such a loud color? Of course that’s when I saw my police officer friend. Of course.

Anyway, below are some pictures of my recent life. And while I’m talking about pictures, don’t forget to send me your Throwback Thursday pics. I already have some good ones and will get them up this week.

Madre's Flowers

Madre’s Flowers

Sounds Game

Sounds Game

Martie, Tigger, Jimmie

Martie, Tigger, Jimmie

Coach, Pooh, Tigger, Martie, Jimmie

Coach, Pooh, Tigger, Martie, Jimmie

Jimmie, Pooh, Martie

Jimmie, Pooh, Martie

Coach, Tigger, Jimmie

Coach, Tigger, Jimmie

My Greenway

My Greenway

Home, Part 2

In light of our nation’s recent events, I feel the need to celebrate my family once again.  Thanksgiving this year was spent at the homestead, reminiscing, loving, just enjoying each other’s company.  I feel so fortunate to have a family and to even like them!  Here are some additional pictures.

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This is Precious.  Or Girlfriend.  I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t know which one this is.  Madre treats these varmints as if they are her children and since this girl is my “sister”, I’m ashamed I can’t remember her name.  That’s okay, though.  Madre, when she’d get mad at us as kids, could never remember our names either.  Turnabout’s fair play.

IMG_1849

This was our Christmas tree one year.  Poppa said we weren’t to have some tree just go to waste after being gussied up for a few weeks. No siree. We got a live tree with a giant bulbous root on the bottom of it, and because it was a live tree we could only have it decorated for three days before we had to plant it.  We decorated it in a frenzy and sat maniacally by it, just staring at it and absorbing as much of it as we could before we disrobed it and hauled it out to the yard to plant.  We did this for a couple of years but this was the only tree that has survived the planting.  The other trees either croaked off shortly after being planted or were killed in a freak thunderstorm.

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This here is Poppa’s truck.  Have you ever seen a manlier truck in your whole life?

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This is the baptizing hole.  It is exactly what you think it is.  Local churches would bring their members here for a full immersion.  It isn’t used for that anymore which makes me a little sad.

IMG_1821

This is Boo, putting on his shoes and socks after “rescuing” Madre’s new dog, Lucy Loo.  Lucy Loo, being a spastic puppy and new to the world, doesn’t fully grasp the meaning of “You are too close to the bank! Move, dog!”  With a surprisingly wimpy splash, Lucy Loo went over the side of the bank and into the water where she discovered that full immersion is not for her.  Kasi Starr leaned over the bank and snatched that puppy up by her collar.  However, as all good men are wont to do, Boo stripped down to his bare feet and leaped into the water where he was poised to rescue in a matter of seconds. Too bad it was all for naught as Kasi Starr had already performed the heroics and Lucy Loo was saved.  So Boo stood there for a moment in the water that was, at maximum, thirty degrees and experienced a refreshing creek mud bath from the knee down.

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This is Lucy Loo being a very unappreciative dog.

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This is Jimmie, holding Tigger.  She is my little monkey.  I wish I could hug her now, and Pooh too.  I wish I had a picture of Pooh and me.  Christmas.  I’ll get it then.  I am blessed, can’t you tell?

Happy Halloween!

So it’s a month and a half late.  Big deal.  I was busy in the month of November you know.

Pooh and Tigger came for a visit.  We went on a hayride and hung out by a bonfire.  I think bonfires are gorgeous and cozy but after a while, the smoke starts to cloud up your eyes and the heat melts the fake eyelashes that Martie glued to your eyelids and your hair starts to smell kind of singed and the kids get bored and tired and there are no more s’mores left.  At that point you go home.

But before all that, you take a picture with the best nieces in the whole world and you save it to show all your friends on your blog.

Don’t we look gorgeous?

 IMG_2095

Reposted In Honor Of My Best Friend: Happy Birthday, Martie.

Happy Birthday

A million memories are not enough to cover the expanse that is sisterhood.  I’ll share a few today, in honor of one of my favorite people. 

I don’t really remember when Martie was born.  I was too little.  But I feel like I remember it because someone took a picture of us:  me sitting up in an armchair holding this tiny baby with gigantic eyes and a shock of black, explosive hair.  I was grinning like a loon and you can see someone’s arms hovering around me to prevent me from dropping her I guess. If my feelings about Martie now are any indication, there is no way in the world I would have ever dropped that baby.   

I remember when Madre took Martie to the beauty salon and had that explosive hair permed into an afro.  It was the cutest afro you’ve ever seen on a tiny girl. Her kindergarten picture shows a little girl with giant eyes and a curly mop wearing my favorite Winnie the Pooh dress that I handed down.  I love that picture. 

I remember having a fight with Martie in high school.  We were mad at each other (I think I’ve told this story before), and I was grandstanding in front of our friends.  I spit my gum in her face.  In retaliation, she went into the house, grabbed my purse, stuck it under the tire of her VW bug and ran over it a few times.   

I remember when Madre married Poppa and we got two brothers.  (Let me say in aside here that my family is complicated.  I have step siblings and half siblings and full siblings and four sets of grandparents plus some grandparents that we adopted.  But you know what?  My family is only complicated in terminology.  They are my family – full blooded, fully loved, full hearts, all the way.)  At first, the transition from three females living alone to six people living together, three males, three females (we were the Brady Bunch, sort of) was tough.  We had growing pains.  I had always been the peacemaker and the quiet one.  That was until one of the brothers took Martie’s sand dollar and broke it open after she expressly told him he could not do that. Her eyes teared up and as the youngest of us, she got trampled on a lot.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  I was so mad.  So I hit him, really, really hard.  And I think I knocked him out a little bit.  Apparently you don’t mess with my little sister, I don’t care who you are or how much I like you.

I remember seeing Martie’s face when she was in the OR and they put Pooh on her chest, right after she was born.  That is one of my favorite faces of all time.   

I remember graduating from high school and after I got my diploma, I looked up and saw Martie’s face covered in tears.  It was the end of an era – we would no longer share a room.  We would no longer share clothes.  We would no longer fight over the radio or the light in our room or our makeup.  We would no longer stay up all night talking about boys.  We never again listened to Thriller in our pajamas and ate giant Hershey’s kisses.  I was leaving for college and that moment, when I saw her face, my heart broke a little. 

I remember the moment that I realized that there was nothing Martie could do, ever, that would make me stop loving her.  Of course I probably realized it early in life but this particular moment was one that I could articulate.  Right then I called her. I told her that.  I told her that there is not another person on this earth who knows everything there is to know about me and loves me anyway.   I know everything there is to know about her and I love her anyway, love her because of it, love her because she’s Martie and she’s awesome.  I can’t imagine my life without her.   

I remember Martie calling me once.  She was so upset, so heartbroken.  Someone had hurt her badly and I remember the anguish in her voice when she said brokenly, “I don’t love a little bit.  I love all the way.  There is no little bit for me.”   That’s who Martie is.  She is full of life.  She does nothing halfway.  When she’s in, she’s all in.  It’s beautiful. 

So I say this:  I don’t love you a little bit, Martie. I never did.  There is no little bit here.  I love you all the way, as full as you can get.  A million memories for us.  A million smiles.  A million tears.  A million hugs.  A million of all good things for your birthday because you deserve it all, as full as you can get, and once we get to the end of a million, we’ll start all over again.  Happy Birthday, my forever friend.  I love you. 

Laugh

 

Vegas, Baby!

Martie

Memorial Day

Saturday was one of the most gorgeous days of my life.  Sometimes you just get one of those days that has so many perfect moments you just don’t know what to do with yourself.  I don’t mean to make any of you jealous, but I’m going to share that day with you. 

Memorial Day weekend brought lots of plans for me.  I’m nothing if not a planner.  I had the whole weekend mapped out by Thursday afternoon and took off down south to the homestead on Friday evening.  Madre and I planned to ride horses Saturday morning.  We also planned to pick blueberries.  Later that evening we were invited to a cook out with Martie and family.  After that, I was going to drive back to Nashville so that I could make my Sunday morning run.

Saturday morning I got up at the crack of dawn and drove from Martie’s house where I had spent the night to Madre’s house.  I got there early and was ready to go.  After running some errands, we saddled up the horses and launched our journey.  You’ll see a separate post about that later, but now I can tell you that it was a gorgeous ride.  The sky was exquisitely beautiful as it often seems to be after big rain storms.  The weather was perfect, breezy and warm.  We rode for about three hours, just kind of leisurely and slow.  I last rode a horse in September and can’t say I have any great skills but I can plod along just fine.  My butt now hurts.  I thought you’d like to know.  I also got a really sweet farmer’s tan. 

 After we gave the horses a bath and turned them out, we picked blueberries.  Several years ago, Madre and Poppa decided to plant a few blueberry bushes.  Now a family of 6 can have all the blueberries they want for a year out of just a couple of blueberry bushes, maybe three or four.  Madre and Poppa planted 14 of them not knowing this, so every year they extend the invitation to pick blueberries to everyone they meet.  Everyone.  I’m more than happy to do my part in weeding out the excess. 

Later I whipped Madre’s arse in a couple of games of Spite and Malice.  That’s okay because she will whip my arse next time we play.  It all comes out in the wash.

Saturday evening we were invited to a cookout at Coach’s parent’s house.  (Does that sound complicated?  Let’s call them my sort of in-laws.)  Granddaddy and Grandma are nice people and I’ve always enjoyed them.  Granddaddy cooked ribs and chicken and the rest of us brought side dishes. 

The girls played outside like children are supposed to do.  They played hide and seek, tag, and rolled down the hill in the grass over and over again until they got so itchy they had to stop.  It gave me so much joy to watch them run around the yard with no shoes on in their dresses, cheeks flushed and hair blowing back in the wind.  Their tinkling laughs and giggles were good for my soul.  I love that childish abandon when it comes to having fun.  We ate watermelon and had a seed spitting contest.  I won.  That’s what having a big mouth is good for, apparently.  I also won the affection of every single mosquito in the county.  I have the bites to prove it.

Martie sang for us and played her guitar. She has the most voluptuous voice, full bodied and rich.  It fills an entire room, and being outside and listening to it expand was amazing.  Coach watched her, enraptured, which is very special to me.  I love seeing those moments between couples.   Martie sang a song or two for everyone until we exhausted her voice and her good will with our requests.  It happens when you’ve got that kind of talent. 

When it was getting dark, we made half-hearted attempts to catch a few lightning bugs, then we piled up in our respective vehicles and headed for home.  I just sighed all the way to Madre’s house.  It was such a perfect day.

I felt and commented so many times throughout the course of the day, “I’ve got such a nice life.”  I really do.  I’m very fortunate.  I’m so thankful that I’m aware of it as it happens so that I can send up my gratitude and really squeeze every bit of loveliness out of it that I can.  I enjoy my family.  I’m so blessed to have a good one.  I love you guys!

I hope you all had a nice Memorial Day!  I say a big thank you to everyone who serves in our military, for our country, for us.  I ask for blessings for the families who have lost loved ones during that service.  I ask for blessings for the men and women who have served and who still serve.  My heart is filled with gratitude for all of you.   Thank you.  

 

People I Luff, Family Style; Or, A Handy Checklist

Okay, I can see where this here blog might get confusing in a short while.  I have a lot of people in my life, and as you can already tell,  these people will feature regularly here.  I’m just so popular . . . . It’s a tough job, but someone must do it.  I’m also very modest.  My everyday life is good fodder for run-of-the-mill discussions as it is.   But I’m also smart enough to surround myself with funny, smart, snarky people and therefore, my life is even more exciting.  It doesn’t always work so well for me (read: pencil lead in knuckle) but for the most part I am entertained.

  

Extraordinary lives require extraordinary people.  Makes sense, no?  I can view anything as extraordinary, I suppose, with the right attitude and lots of creativity.  For example, I was in downtown Nashville last night for a band competition and I walked by one of the karaoke bars.  I heard a woman in there murdering a Joan Jett song.  It was awful. Truly terrible.  But she had on a tiny skirt and a really nice spray tan and lots of hair dye so every man in there was completely enthralled.  It was extraordinary but maybe not in the positive, motivational way I am trying to embrace. 

 

But back to the task at hand.  I felt it was time to provide a handy list to guide you through the people in my life.  This volume is dedicated to my family.  I have them to blame for most everything.  Any dysfunction or weirdness I got was inherited directly from them.  I take no responsibility.  Plus, I’m the boring one.  I mean, yes I’ve got some personality, but I gots nothing on these people.  Shall we go down the list?

 

Madre:  Well, she’s Madre.  I couldn’t luff anyone more.  I’ve never seen anyone her age (or younger, for that matter) who can sling herself around on a horse like Madre can.  Once, when we were teenagers, Martie was upset about something and said to Madre, “You always liked Jimmie better!” To which Madre replied, “Of course I do.  I’ve known her longer.”   

 

Daddy-O:  Again, Daddy-O.  Not a lot of explanation required.  Awesome and super talented.  Wish I would have gotten just a smidge of that.  Sigh.  He laughs a lot which makes me happy.  After reading my first two posts here, he sent me an email that said, “You need a drink.”

 

Martie:  My younger sister, Martie, now she’s extraordinary.  She’ll be on here a lot so you should know about her.  The girl can sang.  She’s funny.  And she’s the pretty one.  My high school crush talked to me once, in Geometry class, and I was so excited! He came over to my desk and said “hey” and I nearly passed out from the giddiness.  I was already gearing up for a huge note-writing session to all of my girlfriends about this conversation in which the Cute One talked to me.  But right after he said “hey”, he said, “So is your sister dating anyone?  Cause I think she’s cute.”  So much for that fantasy.   Looking back, though, I realize that I was fortunate to not connect with him in any romantic way back in the day.  He still looks exactly like he did in high school.  I’ll let you infer what you will about that.  Anyway . . . one of my favorite things about Martie is that she signs her emails to me in this fashion:

 

Love you so very smooches,

Martie

 

Isn’t that cute?

 

The Squirt:  My youngest sister is The Squirt.  She’s the cute one.  She does all kinds of neat stuff like speak Spanish fluently, builds houses, and travels on a budget.  I’m not sure how often she’ll make an appearance but I luff her. 

 

Pooh:  Pooh is my older niece. She’s amazing.  She has these gorgeous blue eyes and all of this dark thick hair.  She’s wicked smart and has a super trendy fashion sense.  I can’t wait to see what kind of person she grows up to be.  A lot like me, I imagine.  And everyone knows that I’m your favorite so I’ve got high expectations of her.

 

Tigger:  Tigger is my younger niece.  She’s also amazing. And slightly bossy.  It’s cute.  Following is a conversation I had with her a while back, about the state of my hair.  It was curly and all over the place because I was too lazy to do anything else with it. 

 

Jimmie:                 Hi Tigger!

 

Tigger:                  <Eyeing me with horror> “What happened to your hay-ar?”

 

Jimmie:                 It’s curly is all.

 

Tigger:                  <not buying it, nostrils flared slightly> “It’s wi-yuld.”

 

Jimmie:                 Yeah . . .

 

Tigger:                  <sincerely> “What if someone laffs at you?”

  

Coach:  Coach is the husband of Martie, father of Pooh and Tigger and brother-in-law of Jimmie.  Poor guy. That’s a lot of chicks.  Plus, he has our Madre and his own Madre.  I’m not sure why he hasn’t croaked off already from the estrogen overload.  One day he will have an absolute freak out and run screaming to the nearest gymnasium and throw himself amongst the teenage boys playing basketball and beg for some drugs, or testosterone.  As it is now, when we have a family get-together and other men will be present, he’s no more put the car in park before he’s sprinting to the man section of the house, looking for beers and guns and camouflage.  I babysit for Martie and Coach fairly regularly and he always makes sure I have a key and code for the house.  His latest note with code read:

 

Oh Jimmie!  You came and you gave without taking . . . Now press the code or the police will take you . . . . 

 

Poppa:  Husband of Madre.  All around general good guy.  Martie, who works in a salon and does my hair for free (score!), dyed my hair red once.  I had begged for it for a long time. I went to Madre’s casa to show it off (and visit) and Poppa took one look, grunted, and said: “Not your best look, is it?”  Well. 

 

JiJi:  Wife of Daddy-O.  One year for Christmas I asked if she would organize my cabinets for me as a gift. Sure enough, right after Christmas she showed up with some roundy shelves and some common sense and got me squared away.  What a woman!

 

Boo and Bear:  Brothers, with assorted wives and children. Gorgeous families and good genes and talent out the wazoo.  I’d hate them for all of that but I have big luff for them, so I suppose hate is out of the question.  We don’t connect all that often but it sure is nice when we do.  Unfortunately I have no funny stories to share about them, mostly because all the good ones happened in elementary school and we would all be mortified to revisit that particular era what with all the bad hair and excessive eyeliner and tobacco products and high top tennis shoes.  Yikes. Moving right along . . .

 

And finally, me again.

 

Jimmie:  When I checked the mail Saturday morning the lone piece of stuff in there was addressed specifically to me, not to “Resident” and said:

 

The Ultimate Outdoorsman Action Pack!

Enter to win your choice of a FREE Ruger Rifle or a PSE Deer Hunter Bow!

 

And the back said:

 

The 100th Anniversary of the 1911, Designed by John Browning. Life’s too short to shoot an ugly gun!

 

What the hell?!  Now this weekend alone, I have waxed poetic about girlie drinks and pedicures that include painting sparkles on my toes and pigtails, not ponytails, and did make up for the girls in our corporate band.  Is there something about me that says “Yes, I want to kill foodstuffs with a gun and/or bow and arrow and serve dead animal carcass that I shot all by myself”?  I don’t get it.  Boo, I blame you.

 

This, people, is the story of my life. 

 

I have many more people to introduce you to.  I felt like this list was enough for one day.  It’s mind boggling, isn’t it?  Personally, I’m thrilled to have all of these people at my back.  I’m a lucky woman!

 

Just for fun, I’ve added a picture.  I took this while on last week’s chocolate run.  Doesn’t that just make you smile?

 

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