Dixie Peach: November 2007

Cooler than the other side of the pillow.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday Shuffle - Celebrating an End and a Beginning Edition

November comes to a close and with it NaBloPoMo. It's my second year of participating and my second year of completing the task. Maybe I'll be picked for a prize and maybe I won't but the important thing is that I crossed the finish line. I can sometimes have trouble seeing a long term task to completion - hence my collection of single hand knitted socks. The biggest reason I could never become a marathon runner, besides the fact that I wouldn't run if I were being chased by a pack of knife wielding demons, is that about 2/3 through I'd become disinterested and stop somewhere for a cup of tea and book browsing.

And the 30th of November commemorates an important date in my life - it's the anniversary of the day I arrived in Germany. Ten years ago today I landed in Germany and began my life with B. It sounds corny to say but I can hardly remember what life was like before I moved to Germany. Of course that's not completely true but the bad parts seem less bad and over the years I remember them less clearly.

I've heard from a lot of people that B and I are a wonderful love story and I won't disagree with that. I've also heard from a lot of people that it must have been fate that B and I found one another. How else could one account for us to meet each other while we were still 5000 miles apart? But I'm not completely convinced it was fate or destiny or whatever you call it. I'm not sure to what I'd attribute our finding one another.

Years ago a friend and I had a discussion about destiny and if the grand, important events of our lives are us fulfilling our destiny. The conversation was spurred on by my having just read A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving which became one of my all-time favorite books. Without giving away the plot for those of you who haven't read this book, the main character, Owen Meany, learns early in life that he will have to perform a certain important duty at some time in his future and he directs events in his life, and in some instances the lives of others, so he will be able to perform this duty. Is what Owen does his fate that he can't change or is he making it his fate?

My friend said "Consider this: Let's say you're in deep, tall grass and you have to find your way to a clearing. You know it's ahead but you can't see where the clearing is located and it's up to you to find the right way to get there. So you walk along, not seeing what's ahead because the grass is too tall, and eventually you find the clearing. Then you turn around and you see the path you cut through the tall grass when you walked. Does it seem that you found the clearing because you took the right path - you were fated to follow that path - or does it only seem like the right path because you can't see any others...only the one you made yourself? And how do you know you found the clearing? Maybe there was more than one and this clearing happens to be the one you found first.". I didn't have an answer for her questions. I still don't have an answer. Maybe there doesn't need to be a definitive answer.

All those years ago when I was unhappy in my life I wanted happiness. That was my goal. It was my clearing. I wasn't exactly sure what was going to make me happy but I would know it when I was. I met B. We fell in love and ten years ago I moved to Germany. We got married and I live a happy, contented life. I reached my goal. I found the clearing. Now when I look backwards do I say that it was meeting and marrying B that made me reach my goal of happiness or was that the path I happened to take? The romantic in me makes me think that B and I were destined to find each other and build a life together. That we're each other's reason for being in the world. And then I think that other paths could have led me to the feeling of contentment that I now have. Maybe I could have been just as happy in life if I were living a completely different life. I don't have a good answer but I do know one thing. I am where I am now. I found my clearing and regardless of how I got here, I'm happy that I arrived.

What I do know is that it's Friday and on Fridays it's Bixente the iPod's fate to shuffle. Fulfill your destiny, Bixente!
  1. Black Dog - Led Zeppelin
  2. Toys In The Attic - Aerosmith
  3. Whip In My Valise - Adam Ant
  4. All Because of You - Blackmore's Night
  5. Help Yourself - Tom Jones
  6. You Win Again - The Bee Gees
  7. Ordinary Day - Great Big Sea
  8. The Holiday Song - Pixies
  9. All Over You - Live
  10. Alt Wie Ein Baum - The Puhdys
Have a great weekend, y'all. After 30+ days of continuous posting I will take the weekend off. Time for me to start on my Christmas decorating and do a little cookie baking.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

In Which I Act Pitiful to Gain Your Sympathy

Did I mention that wearing the 24 hour blood pressure cuff was irksome? And it was! It was if "irksome" is this season's new word for "insanity inducing painful". I'm fairly certain that this device I wore all day and all night yesterday appears on the CIA's list for "enhanced interrogation" methods.

By the time it was midnight, I was about to scream. It had been going off every fifteen minutes but would do it twice per session so eight times an hour I was having the shit squeezed out of my arm. It had switched over to night mode around 9pm but I was still having it go off four times an hour. I was still concerned that I kept getting error readings but later on it got over whatever was throwing it off and began taking proper measurements again - at least it would after one false start.

Sleep wasn't looking like it would be a reality so I stayed up to watch the Republican nominee debates on CNN. I have to say it seems insane for me to have my blood pressure measured while I'm watching politicians say things that make me want to slap their heads off but sometimes they're so ridiculous that it's good for a giggle. I, however, was in no mood for amusement of any sort. By 3:00am my left arm felt terrible. It had good color and it was warm but it was also terribly painful from having it squeezed so hard so many times and my arm from the elbow down was very swollen. At one point when the cuff pumped up it squeezed my arm so hard I thought my fingertips would burst open.

I finally abandoned the dog and pony show Republican debates and made a stab at trying to sleep. Sleeping on my left side was out, sleeping on my stomach was out, sleeping on my back always makes me feel like my boobs are sliding up and threatening to choke off my breathing so that left sleeping on my right side. And it worked. I wasn't sleeping because every half hour I'd have the cuff pump up and start the shooting pains down my arm only to have it happen a second time three minutes later because the first attempt was always in error. But I was at least able to close my eyes and be quiet - that is until I was dying to shift my position and there was no position to where I could shift.

It was at that moment that I developed a whole new appreciation for my husband and what he has to endure. You'd think I would already have a good idea of what the paralyzed endure but having my right arm bound up and unable to move it freely made me realize that B puts up with stuff that would have me become a sniveling baby within ten minutes. I mean just how does B put up with not being able to shift into a more comfortable position? He hates to wake me up unless he really has to so if he's laying funny or his shoulder or ear becomes weary of being laid upon, he just puts up with it. Me? I'm way too much of a crybaby to deal with that sort of thing.

By the time 5:15am rolled around the cuff was back on daytime readings so any rest I may have gotten was again back to being interrupted eight times an hour. I was absolutely miserable laying there with tears in my eyes and couldn't wait until I could get back to the doctor's office. I finally got up at 6:30am, washed my face, brushed my teeth, brushed my hair, dressed and was out at the streetcar stop before 7:00. I arrived at the doctor's by 7:20 and waited another half hour before the doctor's assistant removed the devil's plaything from my arm and got the readings off of it.

My doctor, upon inspecting the results, said "Your blood pressure is a catastrophe.". And a good morning to you too, Frau Doctor! But it was. The median reading was 184/118. It even sucked during the night readings but in my defense it's not like I ever slept. What is puzzling the doctor even more is why my blood pressure would shoot up like this in less than a month. When I had seen my doctor on November 8th my blood pressure was its customary 120/80. When I saw my gyn on November 15th my blood pressure was 188/124. She asked me if I had headaches (no) or bouts of dizziness (no) and the only symptom I could report was that my hands and feet had been feeling swollen a little too often.

The doctor ended up giving me some medication to tackle things as they are now - a combination drug to lower my blood pressure, lower my pulse (because it had been running about 95bpm) and to relieve the swelling in my hands and feet. I've taken one pill and just now my blood pressure was 146/98 and my pulse was 72bpm. Much improved except I still have no idea why one week I'd be perfectly normal and the next week my blood pressure would be ringing the bell. I'll be on this medication for a week, see the doctor next Thursday and see where I am at that point.

I don't like the idea of having to take blood pressure medication every day but I like the idea of having a stroke even less. And if it keeps the Cuff of Hell off my arm, I'll comply.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Marathon of Irk

I'm more than halfway through my twenty-four hours of having my blood pressure taken every fifteen minutes. Unfortunately I believe this contraption hates me and wants to make me miserable.

When I first was hitched up to this gear I was told to be as still as I could while it was doing its thing - you know...don't be waving my arms around or be putting on clothes during it. I heeded the instructions but when the beeper would go off to tell me it was about to get going it would pump up a bit, an error signal would go off and the cuff would deflate and then three or four minutes later it would try again and that time it would work. Nice. That means I get annoyed by this thing twice as often. Then around 6:00pm I had to turn B on his side for his dermatologist to see an healing wound on his leg and ever since then it no longer takes a full measurement - only the pumping up halfway and then an error signal. All I can think is that the cuff isn't making good contact with my pulse point and so it gets an error message.

It's on night mode right now so it only goes off every half hour. I don't know if it's taken enough measurements to be any good to the doctor but every time I looked at what my blood pressure was, it wasn't good. Stuff like 185/120. Yikes.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Quick and Dotty

Full day, not enough sleep, halfway cranky disposition, mandatory posting. What does that add up to? You getting the bulleted list treatment.
  • Lindor chocolates by Lindt. Damn your smooth chocolaty goodness. Damn your delicious power of addiction. You must be Satan's eyeballs.

  • Yesterday when I went out to fetch bread at the bakery I saw the mail dude down the street delivering packages. Since I was expecting a package to be delivered any day I hung around the front of my building. He delivered a package next door and then brought packages to the delivery door of the auto club office that's at the front of my building. I reckoned he had nothing for me since he passed by my particular entrance so I went on about my business. When I returned I found a "We tried to deliver a package to you! Come pick it up tomorrow at the post office!" slip in my mailbox. And so I did. And while I was gone to the post office to pick up the package I missed delivery of yesterday I missed the delivery of another package today. Is this an example of irony or just dumb ass luck?

  • Week before last when I was at the gynecologist she took my blood pressure and it was high. Really high. And this was strange because normally my blood pressure is as steady as a rock. My gyn wrote me a note to give to my primary care physician who I was going to be seeing at my home later in the day and Dr. K was puzzled herself because I'm normally super steady blood pressure woman. So now I have an appointment to go to Dr. K's office to be outfitted with some gadget that'll take my blood pressure something like every half hour for 24 hours to see if it's just a fluke or if I need to be put on medication. My sister went on blood pressure meds when she was my age so it wouldn't be out of the question. My problem is that how is this gadget not going to elevate my blood pressure because I have a feeling it's going to annoy me no end.

  • Number one on my to-do list for tomorrow. And the next day. And may days after that.
Back tomorrow. I'll be the one making the funny buzzing and puffing noise every half hour.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

I know you'll forgive me for this

It's getting late in the NaBloPoMo season and I'm running dry. I blame weekend posting for this.

Suffer though a meme. For those of you who believe in Purgatory, I believe it may be possible that reading this meme will get you a day knocked off. Two if you do the meme on your own blog.

Gently lifted from Hilda:

Here Are Five Things

I've always wanted to do:

1. Live in a five star hotel.
2. Work in a museum.
3. Drive across the United States.
4. Knit a cardigan.
5. Visit the Maldives.

Found in my bag:
1. Wallet
2. Passport
3. An insane amount of lipstick
4. TicTacs
5. Sock knitting project

Found in my wallet:
1. 258€ and change
2. Appointment card for hairdresser
3. Mall gift card purchased last Christmas season
4. Picture of my cousin's 2 year old daughter
5. AT&T phone card I didn't use up before I left the US

I'm currently into:
1. Knitting
2. Granny Smith apples with gouda cheese spread
3. Bath & Body Works body lotion in the cucumber melon scent
4. Playing games on
5. Christmas Tiles

Feel free to swipe if necessary. If I can get you through another day of your own NaBloPoMo posting then I will feel my work is done.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Point Me to a Brick Wall, Please

I'd like to beat my head on it for a while. Just for six or seven hours. Maybe ten.

I was knitting the second in a pair of socks I'm making for a charity drive. It's a pattern that I know very well but I'm sick to death of knitting. I've knit this same pattern for three other pairs of socks and I've simply had enough of it.

I got all the way down to the final 3 /4 inch of the foot of the sock and then I could start the toe decreases. I probably didn't have more than 90 more minutes of knitting - certainly not more than 120 minutes. I was looking so forward to finishing this pair of socks so I could get on with two other projects I have on needles and then I realized that I'd knit part of a pattern round wrong. I've done this plenty of times - all I needed to do was unknit one needle's worth of stitches and I could continue on as normal. And it went well until I got to the double decrease in the pattern and I dropped a stitch. Open the gates and let all hell break loose! I tried to pick up the dropped stitch. Four other stitches came off the needles and ran for the border. I broke out into a sweat and tried desperately to catch things and set them right but within five minutes it looked like a monkey had a go at it.

I guess I can forget that career as a neurosurgeon.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

When Money is No Object

Today is the birthday of B's physiotherapist so I went to Karstadt to find her a birthday gift to present her with on Monday. I like this lady a lot but I never know what to buy her. This time I opted for a nice bottle of French red wine. I know she and her husband like red wine and I chose the bottle based on the fact that it was from France and that it cost 15€. France is known for their red wines! 15€ sounds like enough for it to not be incredibly cheap crap! Obviously I don't know shit about wine if those were the two factors in my decision making. I just hope it doesn't taste like red battery acid.

I also bought a Christmas gift to give to B's dermatologist. He'll make his final visit for the year next week and so I have to give him his gift at that time (the man comes to our home on his own time to check on B's skin and he's never charged us or the insurance company a cent). Now I know exactly what to buy Dr. N - booze. Over the years I've bought him very fine scotches, whiskeys, and cognacs and you know what? I have no idea if the man even drinks. However, he and his wife do a lot of entertaining so I'm sure someone's drinking that Glenlivet and Rémy Martin we've presented him over the years. This year for his gift I chose a bottle of champagne - Veuve Clicquot. Know how I chose that brand? I once saw the name in a book and remembered it.

Anyway, getting to the real part of this story and not just this side tale of how I don't know my ass from my elbow when it comes to buying hooch (I think my drinking a bizarre concoction of goodness-knows-what while I was in Memphis proves that as well) I thought about the demise of my beloved American foods section (beloved only now that it was gone - oh, sweet American foods section, we hardly knew ye!) and wondered if they had merely taken those items formerly sold in that section and merely mixed them in with the other grocery items. You know, popcorn in the snack foods section, pickle relish in the pickle section, the Hellmann's mixed in with the swill other fine brands of mayonnaise for sale. When I had been in there previously I didn't have time to look around very much except to get the specific item I was there to purchase but this time I had more opportunity to poke around to see what I could find.

And there it was and pretty much in front of my eyes as well. With a big ol' sign that said "American/Mexican" over the section. I'm such a dork that I nearly whooped when I spotted it and I scooted over as fast as I could fearing that it was merely a mirage and would disappear within seconds. But it was real. And there was my beloved Hellmann's. I became so giddy I nearly lost control and bought a 5€ box of cake mix that I don't need but I settled for a couple squeeze bottles of Hellmann's and a jar of pickle relish and a jar of peanut butter. Oh! And a couple packages of strawberry Twizzlers. I love strawberry Twizzlers when I'm watching a movie.

And you know what? I spent more on those American luxuries than I did on the bottle of Veuve Clicquot. Perhaps Dr. N would like some Twizzlers next year. They're great for parties.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday Shuffle - Resurrected Dots Edition

It's day twenty-tree of NaBloPoMo and I have yet to resort to a bulleted list! Or pictures of my knitting!

Don't cheer too loudly. We've still got a week to go, my friends, and the bottom could drop out any moment. Like now.
  • My left foot is sore, right where the toes meet the ball of my foot. Not agonizing pain or something - just a dull ache, like a headache in my foot. I can't decide whether I've injured it somehow and don't remember doing it or if I'm getting arthritis in my foot or maybe it's just time to start all the "It's hell getting old." talk. Massaging my foot helps though.

  • Know what is really awful about having a quadriplegic husband? You guess it. He can't massage my feet for me.

  • If you're tempted to email me and tell me I'm being selfish to complain about how my husband's disability effects me, save yourself the effort. Use that time instead to come over and massage my foot.

  • I'm in the mood to watch a good horror movie. Not one of those slasher things because they alternately bore me and annoy me. Something suspenseful and creepy and ghosty. Something where stuff jumps out and I shriek a little. Any suggestions?

  • Currently I'm reading The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. I bought it when I was killing time at the airport in Memphis. It's a novel so it can (and does) have all sorts of historical inaccuracies but it's still a pretty good read - a good yarn for a rainy late fall afternoon. You feel sort of virtuous for reading something somewhat educational but it's like eating granola - it feels "good for you" even if you know that it's full of fat and sugar.
Okay, you did your time with the dots. Time to be rewarded with a shuffle.
  1. You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb - Spoon
  2. She's Rather Be With Me - The Turtles
  3. 22 Grand Job - The Rakes
  4. Killing the Blues - Robert Plant/Alison Krauss
  5. Life On Mars? - David Bowie
  6. Song Of Joy - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (That certainly satisfied my appetite for something creepy.)
  7. I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl - Queen Latifah
  8. Girl - The Beatles
  9. Whiskey In The Jar - Thin Lizzy
  10. Tupelo Honey - Van Morrison
See y'all tomorrow. If I have to resort to a knitting picture for content, I'll apologize in advance.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Gratuitous Post of Obligation

But it's heartfelt! And well intentioned! And really, really sincere! And it fulfills my NaBloPoMo requirement for the day!

I hope all my readers who are celebrating Thanksgiving today are having a lovely, happy, safe holiday and that you are surrounded by loving family and friends. I'm thankful that you allow me to give you a glimpse into my life through this blog.

Someone eat some pie for me, okay?

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Potatoes - With a Floor Show

My city's Christmas Market is scheduled to open next Monday (I'm practically wet-my-pants excited about that!) and so the regular weekday market stalls that occupy the old market square have been moved out to make room for the Christmas market. To where do they move them? They line the street on which I live. I walk outside my building, go through a breezeway and there it is! Clothes for sale! Purses! Socks! Household gadgets! Produce! Pork and beef! Chicken! Fish! Bakery items! Eggs! Pickles! The list goes on.

I like it when the market is up along my street. Not only is it more convenient for me but I like to watch the folks in the market. I like to see what customers buy and I like to see the sellers and how they hawk their wares. I like to see old ladies bargan with the sellers for things like a new jacket (Oh I can't pay 25€ for that. I'm on a pension. But if it were for 20...)

My favorite spot is to sit on the ledge of a fountain that's turned off for the winter because I can see the guy selling spices who like to chat with the egg guy and they get to laughing so hard over something that goes completely over my head and because they're right next to my favorite produce stand. The one where they play CDs or the radio all day long and they sing along.

Today it was 70s pop music. When I was there buying some potatoes they were singing along to T. Rex - Metal Guru to be exact but I stuck around and sat back down on the fountain ledge to listen when Slade came on with the next tune.

So cum on feel the noize
Girls rock your boys
We'll get wild, wild, wild
Wild, wild, wild

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Brittle as Kindling

Perhaps you recall back to August when B had to go to the dentist. He was nearly out of his mind with fear and I was doing my best to reassure him that things would be fine. There was nothing to be nervous about and novocaine can work wonders. I have had loads of dental work done over the past 30 years - caps, crowns, veneers, fillings, onlays, root canals, impacted wisdom teeth, and so on - and if I, the original scared baby, could handle it, he would do fine.

So someone tell me why I was in a near panic, sweating and trembling, when I had to go today to have an old filling removed and refilled and the corner of a broken tooth built back again. It didn't even hurt - the novocaine injection smarted a bit - burned and all that - but I had tears in my eyes when she was drilling. Maybe I was just anxious because it's been a lot of years since I've had dental work done or it was because my mind was on something else or maybe it's just because my hair has heinous roots and have a fierce need to go get my hair colored but I was as shaky and jittery as a junkie. When I left the dentist office and stood out on the street at the front door of my apartment building to get a breath of air (I live in the same building as my dentist office but it's a separate entrance), my legs were still quivering. Maybe it was the sound. The sound of the drilling and then the sound of her smoothing off the filling is torturous. Amnesty International should be aware of this sound.

I had to come home, lips numb and fat feeling, and have a nap. For two hours. I slept like a hibernating bear. I slept so deeply that when I woke up it was already dark outside and I couldn't figure out what time it was or what day it was and for a moment I wasn't even sure where I was. I thought briefly that I was in my brother's apartment.

And I'm still exhausted. My mouth has unnumbed or thawed or whatever it is you want to call it but I think all the anxiety has whipped my ass.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

They Just Waited for Me to Leave Town

I believe that not long before I left Germany for my vacation in America I reported to y'all that the small verging on tiny American foods section in my neighborhood Karstadt (that's a department store for you not-living-in-Germany types) had begun to once again sell Hellmann's mayonnaise. Tiny, overpriced bottles but my love of Hellmann's knows no limit. They'd also about a year or so ago began to sell pickle relish, another thing I must have that I have found no acceptable substitute for in Germany. This had thrilled me no end (I'd been relying on family and friends to send me my fix) and when I was in Mississippi last month I didn't bother to buy any Hellmann's or pickle relish because I was freaking out about my luggage being overweight and I figured that if I submit to their coercion buy my stuff at Karstadt then they'd continue to stock it. "Order more Hellmann's and pickle relish, Hans-Dieter! Some sucker is buying it like crazy!"

Last week I found myself down in the small grocery store that takes up half of the basement floor of Karstadt - the first time I'd been there since I returned to Germany - and found it completely changed. It was always overpriced and I only went there if I needed one thing and it wasn't convenient to get to a normal grocery store. Now it's been turned into some sort of upscale grocery store - mostly the same stuff and the same prices but if you give it a gourmet sounding name I suppose you can justify what you charge for a carton of yogurt. I wandered around trying to find the one thing I went there for - the arrangement of the store having been completely changed - and I realized the American food section is gone. Gone! No trace of it remains. You know I didn't ever buy them but I like having the option of going there to buy s'mores flavored PopTarts or tiny packs of Oreos if I wanted them. And once in a great while I'd lose my mind and buy a box of blueberry muffin mix to the tune of 5€ a box. And! And! It was my one source of microwave popcorn in the kettle corn flavor! But I can get over all this. I don't need the popcorn and I can make blueberry muffins without the aid of a mix but taking away my beloved American foods section ends my ability to buy Hellmann's and pickle relish with no more effort than it takes for me to walk the 200 meters to Karstadt. Now that's just cruel.

Luckily the internet and the ability of people to envision that suckers expatriates like me will go to great lengths to obtain the foods they crave has made it possible for me to order these products and have them delivered to my home. Expensive and not always convenient if they're out of something you're desperately needing but it fills a need. I began to make a shopping list this afternoon - I have one big jar of Hellmann's (thanks Kara!) and one jar of pickle relish I'd bought before I left town but B's wanting me to make potato salad and that means the end of those jars in short order - and I had a near stroke when I couldn't find pickle relish on the website I'd used most recently. I looked all over and they didn't have it - I suppose because they sell mostly British food and I guess pickle relish is more American. They do, however, have a grand selection of barbecue sauce and apple sauce - and so does every freaking grocery store in Germany because those are common items here. Way to fill a need there, guys!

But I remembered another American foods website and there it all was. PopTarts. Muffin mix. Microwave kettle corn. Glorious Hellmann's. And pickle relish. Sweet, sweet pickle relish.

I think I need to set up a Hellmann's and relish subscription with these folks.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Just in Case Santa's Watching

While I was busy telling the tale of my trip home to Mississippi I missed out on tags and blog awards so this is the weekend where I play catch-up. Two memes down, one award to go!

Carol, being as she's a lovely, sweet lady and a deserved recipient of this award in her own right, has bestowed upon me the Nice Matters Award. She likes me! She really, really likes me!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

And being as I'm so danged nice and all it's my turn to pass this award on to others that are pretty nice themselves.

Sari of The Geek Inside: Sari is just crazy nice. Want to know how nice? When I said to a group of mutual friends that sock monkeys freak me out, Sari sent me my first sock monkey. And she's sent me clothes for my big sock monkey, Lottie. I am a sock monkey lover because of Sari!

Kitty of Joie de Kitty: Sugar looks up to her to see how sweet it should be. She's wicked nice and wicked smart to boot.

Katy of Thoughts of a Titan: Katy has always been so friendly to me. She's been a reader of mine for years and I think she's just lovely. And her son is so cute you could eat him up.

Marsha of Family Adventures: Marsha is another longtime reader of mine who has always had the kindest, most supportive things to say to me. She's like having a personal cheerleader.

Know what? All of my readers are nice. That's why you're here.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Because 200 Isn't Enough, Here's 7 More

Those of us living the expatriate life have to stick together. We all make an effort to integrate in our adopted countries but when things get frustrating, connecting with those who have and still do stand in your shoes can be an enormous help. One of the best benefits of this blog is that it's connected me to some really great people living as expatriates all over the world and I appreciate the friendship and support they've given me over the years. There's a group of expats living in Germany who are getting together this weekend in Dresden and I know right at this moment they're having a fabulous time together. I wish I could have been there as well but I just got back from leaving B at home for 2 1/2 weeks, plus Gerd is sick and that means my MIL is occupied taking care of him. And I didn't have the guts to take a train during a rail strike, even if they aren't striking today.

Another expat, Ann ona Moose, has tagged me for a meme and of course I am delighted to comply because us expats stick together. It's the seven random things meme and here are the rules. I'd normally say they're "guidelines" but this is Germany and that means they're rules. Nothing like a little stereotype on a Saturday evening, is there?

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself: some random, some weird.
3. Tag 3 people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).
4. Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.

Okay....let's hit it!

1. I love to knit socks but I hate wearing them. I hate wearing all socks. Just putting them on annoys me. I wear them when I absolutely must but if I can get away with skipping sock wearing, I do. And when I do wear socks they need to be as thin as possible and preferably all cotton.

2. The entire time I was married to my first husband, I never called my then MIL anything. She lived in Texas and I seldom ever saw her or had much contact with her and I never asked her what she wanted me to call her and she never told me. I couldn't figure out whether to call her "Mom" or "Anita" or "Mrs. [fill in my former married last name here]" so I called her nothing. I would go to great lengths to avoid having to call her by name.

3. And strangely enough I've never asked my current (and final) MIL what to call her. I think. Actually I can't remember - maybe I did and I forgot. Anyway, I call her either Mutti (mom) or by her first name - I flip back and forth. Generally by her first name if we're in public and I'm trying to get her attention, and Mutti if we're at home. And it works in reverse about the same - she calls me Kimberley if she's trying to get my attention in public and Mein Kind (my child) if we're at home.

4. I would rather have a foot and hand massage than a regular body massage. I'm a little hyper-sensitive about anyone touching my back - if the doctor tries to put her stethoscope on my back I have to actually force myself not to pull away - but if you massage my hands and feet, I'll be yours for life.

5. I hate to clean house when it's very overcast, rainy or snowy outside and I also can't do any housework once the sun has gone down with the exception of cleaning the kitchen after dinner. I really need to have at least partial sunlight to do any housework more complex than picking things up and putting them away or doing laundry. Needless to say, in the winter when Germany can have weeks and weeks of dreary weather I have to force myself to do housework.

6. I have two book related Christmas traditions. The first (and one that Hilda mentally shakes her head at...heh!) is that I have to read The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger sometime between Thanksgiving and the end of the first week in December. I've been doing it
since 1978. The second, and one that I sometimes have to rely on a re-read to accomplish, is that I find within a book series, preferably a mystery series, a Christmas themed book and read it. This year's Christmas themed book will be Wreck the Halls by Sarah Graves.

7. I love cupcakes. I hope Heaven is filled with dark chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting and red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

I'm going to break bad by disregarding the rules and not tagging anyone since I can't keep track of who's done this meme and who hasn't. Feel free to swipe it if you wish - give me some linky love back here if you do.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Shuffle - Interview Edition

Two weeks of your patience has paid off - I'm finished with the tales from my vacation and we can now get back to regular stuff. I can hear you cheering from here.

A few weeks ago Carol posted the answers to some interview questions posed to her and she offered to interview her own readers so I took her up on it. And she even ties in my vacation to it.

1. When you went home in October, what was something that happened that surprised you, that you never expected? What was something that you expected to happen that never did?

I hope I can explain this well. Even though I knew the Peach Pilgrimage was happening - I knew it was going to happen the moment I announced that I'd be coming home for a visit - it still surprised me. I think I have a hard time - too hard - believing that people would really want to go to all the effort it requires to make such an event happen. In some crazy, self-deprecating way I feel so unworthy to have friends do this for me - for no other reason than they want to visit with me and want me to have fun. I was so bowled over by A arranging the suite at the Peabody and her doing it just because she wanted me - for all of us - us to enjoy it. I scratch my head and wonder what I ever did in life that was so good that I was blessed with friends like these.

What I expected to happen that never did was me buying a pile of books and me going to the movies. I had the opportunity a couple times but either I got too busy or I chose to do something else like go see my mother. I can always have send me books - they can't send me my mother.

2. Name 5 things about B that constantly amaze you.

~ How incredibly well-adjusted he is. The bitterness one may expect in someone who has experienced the misfortune of having an accident that has left him paralyzed for life simply isn't present in him.

~ I'm amazed at how well he speaks English. He never went to school for it - he taught himself. He doesn't speak it perfectly - and I don't either - but he's very good and gets better all the time.

~ I'm amazed at how patient he is and how he can think about a problem until he finally comes up with a solution. Whether it's a challenge in a computer game or him having to fix a problem on his computer or him trying to figure out how he wants to invest some money or trying to find the perfect new television for us - he will think about, research, consider, compare and whatever else he has to do, no matter how long it takes, until he finds the right solution. I'm all "Does this work? Okay, yeah, that's good enough then." because I don't have that sort of patience.

~ I'm amazed at his sense of trust in me. He is absolutely vulnerable to me. If I wanted to I could harm him in so many ways and yet he never wavers in his trust. I think all close relationships carry a sense of vulnerability and those in the relationship must trust one another but B is even vulnerable to me in that he's got to trust that I will feed him or take care of any other physical need. Most relationships outside of a baby/parent relationship don't have that deep a vulnerability.

~ And I'm amazed at his depth of love for me. If I did something really good to deserve the wonderful friends I have then I must have done something extraordinarily good to have the love B has bestowed upon me.

3. What's your favorite German food? What American food (other than Sonic, ha ha!) do you miss?

Oh I love currywurst. And Thüringer bratwurst fresh off the grill. And schnitzel, especially with hollandaise or a broccoli cream sauce over it. And I swear, french fries in Germany are way, way, way better than what you find in America. European potatoes just have more flavor than those big ass Russet potatoes used in America.

There's a lot of American foods I miss but one that I have difficulty replacing in Germany is a nice, thick rare steak.

4. Can you name an experience in your past that had an immediate and significant impact on your character? Forming it, strengthening it, challenging it, etc.

My father's cerebral aneurysm. It left him in a vegetative state for nine months before he finally passed away. My mother refused to have him put in a nursing home and had him brought home from the hospital so she could, with the help of hospice, care for him herself. I saw what love can do when you're given challenge. I saw how love can make you do things that are difficult, painful, disgusting, horrific - things you never thought you could do or even tolerate being around. I saw how you can do what's important for someone you desperately love just because you have no other choice - it has to be done and you love that person so much. I think that experience directly prepared me to meet B and for me to take on the challenge of his care.

5. What's you favorite holiday? Why?

My darling, dear, dear friend, Susan, will immediately know the answer to this because she'd answer the same - it's Christmas! Susan is also one of the reasons I love it so much - she shares my enthusiasm for decorating for Christmas and when I lived in Virginia we'd spend the months before Christmas shopping at all sorts of places looking for unusual or one-of-a-kind decorations - tree decorations especially.

I love the preparations for and the traditions of Christmas. I love to see houses absolutely covered in Christmas kitsch. Know those houses they show on the TV news that are coated in flashing, gaudy lights and figures? I cheer them when I see them and yell "Yeah! More! More!". I love the Christmas market with its lights and music and sale stands and the yummy, trashy food they sell. I adore Christmas music - I play is constantly during the holiday season. I am crazy for Christmas movies and get disappointed if I don't see all my favorites.

And I love the quiet of the day itself. By the time Christmas day itself rolls around I'm done with the rush and flash and anticipation and am ready to reflect on the meaning of the day.

Okay - that's five asked and five answered. And now I wish to offer my interviewing services - leave me a comment if you'd like me to interview you for you to answer on your blog. Check back on the comments on this entry for your questions. You NaBloPoMo participants may especially be interested in an interview since that'll knock off one of your daily posts!

It's Friday. Time for a shuffle.
  1. Girls In Their Summer Clothes - Bruce Springsteen.
  2. All That Heaven Will Allow - The Mavericks (Written by Bruce Springsteen - I think Bixente the iPod has a crush.)
  3. The Show Must Go On - Three Dog Night
  4. Highroyds - Kaiser Chiefs
  5. Himmelblau - Die Ärzte
  6. Clean Town - Mando Diao
  7. Laughing - The Guess Who
  8. Black Night - Deep Purple
  9. Tortured, Tangled Hearts - Dixie Chicks
  10. The Fool On The Hill - Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66
Happy weekend, folks!

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

My Trip Home - The Final Day

This post is part of an ongoing tale of my trip back home to Mississippi to visit my family. To start the story at the beginning, begin reading from October 30, 2007.

During my whole vacation I was hesitant to buy much. The airlines are so strict regarding how much one's checked luggage can weigh and I was worried that I'd go over. I'd bought a pair of shoes, three pairs of jeans, five t-shirts and then folks had given me things. Yarn, homemade peach preserves and a cookbook from Robin. A bunch of Cajun spices from Michele. Kara had sent me mac 'n cheese, Hellmann's and yarn. As it was I was convinced that I'd have to ship home some things so my luggage wouldn't be overweight.

When you're worried over something it's usually wise to check into it so you can be sure your worry will be worth something. So when I checked-in online for my flight I checked the weight restrictions for luggage. Two checked bags not weighing more than 50 pounds each.

Craaaaaappp! I could have bought more stuff! I could have bought a lot more stuff! I had a lot of money leftover!

Too late. Looks like Miss Virginia would be the recipient of my leftover American dollars that aren't worth the bother of turning them back into Euros.

On Saturday morning I got all my things packed and had to say goodbye to Sam. He was leaving to go to Memphis with some friends to see his first rock concert. He was so excited to be going to this concert I am not sure he really realized I was leaving for good. Afterwards I took the car back into town to visit Mama one last time.

Each time I say goodbye to my mother I think it's the last time. So far I've been wrong but each goodbye does take me closer to the time it really will be the last time. And this time felt more final than other times. Every trip back home is more difficult for me to accomplish and I'm afraid that this truly may be the final time I can pull off the trick. Still when it was time for me to go I tried to be upbeat. Mama walked me outside and I hugged and kissed her for the final time. "Don't start crying!", she said. "You know that's not good!".

Too late. I tried to swallow it all down but I wasn't successful.

I waved goodbye as I got in the car and when I drove off I forced myself not to look in the mirror. By the time I reached Sister's house Mama had already called her in tears. Maybe she was worried it really was the final time too.

I had to be dropped off at the airport a little early since Sister and my BIL had a dinner party to attend that evening. I sometimes think she likes to rush me out of the car and into the airport so we don't get into some long, drawn out, tear filled farewell. Still I couldn't stop the tears even though she and her family do come see me. I get to see them usually every other year.

I was there by 4:15pm and my flight wasn't until 7:00pm. I checked in my well-under-the-weight-limit luggage and then couldn't decide what to do next. I knew that once I went through security I wouldn't have any fresh air until I landed in Amsterdam, about 13 hours from then, but the non-secure side of the airport doesn't have anything of much interest. I sat outside for a while until the diesel fumes of the shuttle vans threatened to choke me and then I resigned myself to head through security. At least there would be shops and restaurants.

The only time I went into a bookstore while in America was when I was leaving it. I'd been afraid to buy books because of the luggage weight issue so I just didn't bother with the temptation. I found a book, bought it and now I think I should have bought more. I still have American money left over, even now. I stopped and had some supper and then headed to the gate where I sat for a good hour and a half.

I'd selected a great seat for the flight to Amsterdam. On the aisle with no seat in front of me. Lots of leg room! Unfortunately I'd selected a seat that was next to a 300 pound man with an upper body that went well out of bounds of his seat. He was a nice enough fellow but I suppose he's either not flown much or thought somehow that flights to Europe look like the ones you see in the movies but he seemed genuinely surprised and not just a bit annoyed that he was crammed into a narrow seat with no legroom. Welcome to economy class, my friend - next time book business class!

I spent the next 8 1/2 hours sitting with my upper body crooked sideways to accommodate his bulky shoulders and arms. I suppose I could have been cranky and told him to stop touching me and to keep his big ass body over on the side of the seat that he paid for instead of invading my in-flight real estate but I figured the misery of sitting next to someone I've royally pissed off would be worse.

I didn't get any sleep on that flight and ended up watching more movies. La Vie en Rose was wonderful but I love Edith Piaf anyway. Did you know she was a knitter? Fabulous singer and a knitter! By the way, that's another thing I never did while I was in America. I never went to the movies. Simply no time.

When our flight landed I said goodbye to my husky seatmate and his wife (and resisted the temptation to ask why he didn't lay the hell all over her side during the flight), grabbed my stuff, hustled into the airport for...what? Nothing. I had a 4 hour layover and I was exhausted. I called B to let him know I was back in Europe and I'd call him again once I was boarding the plane to Hannover so Gerd could be sent on his merry way to pick me up.

I was so tired. By now I'd been awake about 19 hours and I still had a good 12 hours to go before I could entertain going to sleep. The airport was crowded and it was even hard to find a quiet place to cool my heels for a while. I was about half scared to close my eyes anyway. I was afraid that I would fall asleep and miss my flight and I hadn't come this far to not make it back to Magdeburg.

When my flight to Hannover landed I grabbed my bags in record time and got out to the waiting area just as Gerd walked in. By now I was almost staggering from exhaustion but it didn't prevent me from having the shit scared out of me by Gerd's driving.

Once we parked in front of my apartment building I left the bags with Gerd and ran inside. This was longest I'd been separated from B since I moved to Germany and I couldn't be apart from him another minute. I was literally throwing off my jacket and tossing down my purse as I burst through the door and I was greeted by the most wonderful smile in the world and the best kisses.

Home at last.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My Trip Home - The Next to Last Day

This post is part of an ongoing tale of my trip back home to Mississippi to visit my family. To start the story at the beginning, begin reading from October 30, 2007.

Sister needed the headlight fixed on her Prius and that meant a trip down to Tupelo. We had to be there by 8am so we headed out early, my BIL following us in his truck so we wouldn't be stuck down there for hours. After stopping for breakfast - Yay! No one was out of grits! - we arrived back home where I had enough time to call B and to pack a few things before I headed off to town with Sister so she could go shopping and I could, in the meantime, visit with Mama.

I love my mother - there's no question about that - but she can be so incredibly infuriating. She's always been stubborn and hell-bent and determined to do what she wants when she wants to do it and consequences aren't very far up on her list of important things. A discussion cropped up between us that she needs to be more diligent about her diet (she's a Type II, insulin dependent diabetic) and she came back with the claim that she was just fine and her way of doing things was just fine and that meant that I should be happy to run down to Sonic to fetch her a root beer float should she want one. I opted to ignore that request and instead was in search of a brick wall on which I could beat my head.

The conversation went on and I made the huge mistake of mentioning that a friend of my MIL's, a 90 year old woman with diabetes, had to have half of a leg amputated. Mama became properly horrified at that idea and I took the opportunity to remind her that she wasn't exempt from something such as that happening to her and Mama replied that if such a thing occurred we could just do away with her. As if she were Old Yeller or something. I was thinking that this is the sort of conversation that makes me glad that most of the time I'm 5,000 miles away from her because it disturbs me no end.

Sister picked me up a short time later and we no sooner had unloaded the groceries before the car dealership called to say we could pick up the car. We arrived in Tupelo an hour later, grabbed the car, went to the liquor store ('Cause the county we're from only allows beer and wine to be sold - or is it just beer? They change the rules sometimes.) and on the way home we had to stop at Sonic 'cause our breakfast grits were long gone. I can now say that I've eaten enough tater tots and bacon cheeseburgers to satisfy me for a while.

As it was my last night in Mississippi, kinfolk wanted to come by to see me before I left town. Think of the same crew showing up as the night we had our turkey dinner minus Mama, Aunt Cora, and my cousin Danny but added to our number was a friend of Sam's, Trey, who lives across the road from them.

We were making pizzas for this crowd and my niece, Misty, had thoughtfully arrived once again with a bucket of pomegranate margaritas. For someone who very seldom drinks, I'd had an enormous amount of alcohol that arrived to me in a plastic bucket. We had the radio set to play 70s music, with a lot of disco thrown in, so as we awaited each pizza to be baked there was a lot of singing and dancing going on in my sister's big kitchen. Even the four teenage boys there were getting into the groove.

At one point when we were all laughing and dancing and hugging each other I overheard Trey say to my sister "There's a lot of love in here." and he was being absolutely sincere. And she smiled and agreed with him. I did as well. We were knee deep in it.

This is how much my nephews, and Trey as well is seems, love me. They were flopped out on the sofa and all it took for me to get them to get up and do the dance to Crank That by Soulja Boy (Or is it Dat?...I am too unhip to know!) for me was to ask. And I have it on video.

I make no secret of how much I love my nephews. I love them beyond reason. But all the love I have for them doesn't change the fact that I can declare to the whole world that they have no rhythm. They can't dance for shit. But Trey? He was good. I wish I could show you just how good he was and how bad Sam, Bobby and Ben were but I swore I wouldn't show the video to anyone but family. But it's tempting. Very tempting.

Tomorrow: I head for home. Tears, farewells, unfounded panic over my luggage and I fly across the Atlantic next to a mountain.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

My Trip Home - I Forget Which Day We're On

This post is part of an ongoing tale of my trip back home to Mississippi to visit my family. To start the story at the beginning, begin reading from October 30, 2007.

By now my vacation days were flying by. It felt like I'd just landed in Memphis and now I was beginning my final week there.

After the Peach Pilgrims left on Sunday afternoon I spent a good chunk of the afternoon playing with Sam with his Nintendo Wii. I had to keep reminding myself to say "Nintendo Wii" because I afraid that if I kept saying "Sam, let's go play with your Wii." both of us were going to eventually need therapy. By the end of the afternoon I was so addicted to Wii Bowling that I was tempted to go to a real bowling alley until I remembered the reason I don't bowl is because I have a fear of ripping off my thumbnail.

Later that evening we went out for Mexican food and then sat out in the yard. Sister has a terracotta fire bowl and before we left for supper my BIL started a fire for us and it was just right by the time we got back home. The air was just cool enough for the fire to be pleasant and Sister and I talked and talked and talked. Later on Sam joined us and I had the best time making him laugh.

The weather was great up until this point but come Monday of my last week there the rain moved in and stayed for days. On Tuesday Sister and I loaded up Mama and we drove up in the west Tennessee hills where Mama's youngest sister lives for a visit. I hadn't see my aunt in over a dozen years and it was like seeing my mother a dozen years younger. One of my cousins, who I hadn't seen since she was just out of high school, was there as well along with her teenage son. I don't know why seeing her have a teenage son made me feel older but it did. I suppose it would have been worse had one of our mutual cousins been there - she's got a year old granddaughter and this cousin is a year younger than me.

Wednesday passed uneventful. The whole week I was always busy doing something - visiting with folks or shopping or the like - but the most interesting thing that day was I finally bought the Wii game Sam wanted me to get him for Christmas. It's official. I am his favorite aunt. Not that I had any doubt.

By Thursday the rain had slacked off quite a bit and Sister and I went out for lunch that day to Borroum's Drug Store - Mississippi's oldest drug store in continuous operation. On Thursday's the lunch special is cornbread salad and while you can get cornbread salad at other restaurants in town, they're the best at Borroum's. For those of you wondering what's in a cornbread salad, it starts, of course, with cornbread crumbled in the bottom of a bowl. Spicy pinto beans are layered on top and then regular green salad with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, etc. Ranch dressing goes on top of that, then more salad, more dressing and then it's crowned with shredded cheddar cheese and sliced jalapeño pepper. What's great about the cornbread salad at Borroum's is the lady who makes them cooks her own pinto beans so they're spiced just right and she makes her own secret recipe ranch dressing that's way better than any other dressing I've ever eaten. With a glass of iced tea it's a perfect lunch.

I love going out to lunch. Going out to lunch is one of my very favorite things to do. To me it's way better than going out to dinner. And the very best thing is going out to lunch with someone I adore being with and there are very few people I adore being with more than my sister. Out to lunch with my sister in one of my favorite spots in town. Bliss.

Tomorrow: The last day before I leave for Germany. Tupelo twice, a pizza party, Soulja Boy, and more pomegranate margaritas.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

The Peach Pilgrimage - Day 3

This post is part of an ongoing tale of my trip back home to Mississippi to visit my family. To start the story at the beginning, begin reading from October 30, 2007.

The last day of a gathering is always the worst. You know it has to end sometime but you dread it.

At the last Peach Pilgrimage we ate our final breakfast at Martha's Menu and this time was no different. I suppose this now means it's a tradition. Service has gotten a bit slow there since my last visit but it's a comfortable place and the food is good. I got my usual - scrambled eggs, bacon, grits, hashbrowns and a biscuit. Robin, after I assured her that the fried bologna was real bologna and not just some flimsy slice of Oscar Mayer got that and the tenderloin biscuit she got was declared to be the tastiest thing she'd eaten all weekend. My breakfast was served last and I was informed that they'd just run out of grits. The outrage! I'm the one in the group that can't get grits on any sort of regular basis and I'm the one who got ripped off. Damn that Martha! Offers to share the others' grits were given but I declined and suffered in silence - for about 3 seconds until the next topic of conversation popped up and I was engaged once again with talking with some of the most amusing, clever, interesting women I've ever known.

Everyone came along when it was time to take me back to Sister's house. Unfortunately Sister and Sam and my BIL were still at church and I couldn't remember the code to use to get in the garage door. I was about to offer the 18 acres on which Sister lives for the relief of coffee stressed bladders when Sam and my BIL drove up and we could get in the house.

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A, S and Lisa waiting for someone to come let us in.

Not to generalize but I think most fifteen year old boys wouldn't want anything to do with a bunch of ladies two and three times his age, but Sam's never been like that. He loves people, he really loves me and when my friends come around he likes to hang out with them if he can. We visited with him while everyone got geared up for their long trips home and he loved hearing our stories about the weekend. I feel confident that if I could have gotten him out of school he'd have gladly gone to Memphis with me. Sam simply has good taste in women.

The afternoon was passing by so finally we had to face saying goodbye. Hugs and strict admonitions not to cry were given but I am not always very good at taking direction. I also had to say goodbye to Lottie, my sock monkey, as she was going home with A to visit her horse farm and to take trips with her. Lottie's quite the world traveler and much like Flat Stanley, she can show up just about anywhere to be photographed. S will be taking Lottie as well for a while (I'm demanding that Lottie be photographed at the Rotunda of the University of Virginia) and then she'll be sent back to me safe and sound. I can only wish one of the Peach Pilgrims would deliver her to me in person.

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Thank you, Peach Pilgrims. You gave me one of the most wonderful weekend of my life and I cherish each of you. Your friendship and love means the world to me.

Tomorrow: The week winds up but not before I have cornbread salad.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Peach Pilgrimage - Day 2, Part 2

This post is part of an ongoing tale of my trip back home to Mississippi to visit my family. To start the story at the beginning, begin reading from October 30, 2007.

Lisa was counting on seeing my mom, Miss Virginia, when we were together in Mississippi and I knew Mama was wanting to see her and Michele again and meet Robin, A and S again. So we loaded up in the cars once again and headed over to The Plantation, the care facility where my mother lives.

At the time of the last Peach Pilgrimage Mama lived in an apartment but now she has just one large room that has her bed, her dresser, a few tables and a couple chairs. When we came in I commented that it was a shame she didn't have her couch anymore and Mama replied "Yeah, but if you have a couch then everyone wants to come visit and they want to stay and you can't get rid of them.". Thanks for the welcome, Miss Virginia!

It's that sort of thing I hear and think "It's the Alzheimer's talking.".

Seating was scrounged up but Lisa insisted on sitting on the floor next to Mama. She didn't want to miss a bit of anything and wanted to be as close to Miss Virginia as practical. We told Mama was we'd been up to in the past 24 hours and she was appropriately impressed and happy that we'd been having a good time together. Mama knows that when I'm in Germany it's hard for me to have girlfriend time so she was thrilled that I could be with my friends for a weekend.

The conversation continued and casually I said "Hey Mama, do y'all still play bingo? You haven't mentioned anything about it.".


"Oh I used to play but you know some of these folks cheat. They'll call out five numbers and one of 'em will yell out "BINGO!". You know that can't be. That would mean they got every number drawn! That can't be! So I said to Edgie (who is the lady living in the room across from Mama's and who is actually rather close with Mama) 'Edgie! You're cheating! Let me see your card!' and she said to me "You just mind your own business! I can tend to my own card!'".

"Hmmm...I reckon the number caller doesn't check the cards when someone yells bingo, huh?"

"No...they can't do that. You know some of these folks don't know any better 'cause they've got Alzheimer's."

Right, Mama. Check, please!

The evening shift nurse came by not too long afterwards to hand out evening medications so I figured it was probably time for us to be heading on. As we were saying our goodbyes somehow Britney Spears got mentioned and Mama immediately piped up "Oh don't mention that hussy to me! I don't have any use for any woman who doesn't wear panties!".

I suppose in Miss Virginia's world if you go commando while cheating at Bingo you'll be given the rickety metal chair by the kitchen to sit in as you roast in Hell.

And as expected, the ladies loved Miss Virginia. You gotta admit, she's quotable.

Since we weren't 100% sure we had enough junk to sustain us all evening, a trip to Walmart was in order. We bought lipstick. We bought crackers. We bought cheese. We bought spray on cheese. We bought a peach scented candle. T-shirts and ball caps supporting local high school teams were bought. And since I love those crazy pink SnoBalls snack cakes, Lisa bought a box of twelve.

"Lisa! That's too many! Twelve is too many!"

"But you love them. Trust me, twelve won't be too many."

I shouldn't have doubted Lisa. If there's one thing she knows, it's what sort of stuff you really need for a girls weekend and the SnoBalls weren't in any danger of going to waste.

We left Walmart in search of some food that wasn't pork oriented and included some vegetables and as we sat in the restaurant watching UVa play Maryland on TV, getting updates from the LSU game from Michele's brother-in-law via text message I talked to Darling Mollie on the phone and got from her the story of how she met Nikki Sixx from Mötley Crüe and how he smiled at her. Mollie's had a crush on Nikki Sixx for about twenty years so this story was a treat for me to hear.

We returned to the hotel and got settled in for the evening but not before Michele had to press the alarm bell in the elevator. A lot. I finally had to slap her hand and call her a shit ass for doing it and we all just howled with laughter. I told you - Michele is the best sport in the world.

Snacks were dug out of bags, cheese was sprayed on crackers, SnoBalls were cherished (and by Robin, picked on for being fake, no-name SnoBalls) and I was given by Lisa a pedicure of epic proportions. Feet soaked in fragrant, warm water, washed, massaged, toenails trimmed and filed and when it came time to slough off the rough skin, Lisa became disappointed.

"You don't have any callouses."

"Well...I wear shoes all the time. I don't go barefoot anymore. It creeps me out to walk barefoot on dirty floors and with the dog my floors are bound to be dirty."

"I wear shoes all the time too but I have callouses. You don't."

"You sound disappointed."

"I am."

She still gave me a polish job that was (and still is...three weeks later and this polish isn't even chipped or rubbed off!) perfect. And it's peach colored.

I can't even describe how lovely that evening was. Being with good friends, eating complete crap and not caring it was complete crap, having my feet massaged and pampered, talking and laughing and feeling completely at ease. I hope y'all have times like these. An evening like this makes up for a lot of hard days when everything goes wrong. It's like having new life breathed into you.

Tomorrow: The Pilgrimage ends but not before fried bologna is served, I'm cheated out of grits and Sam meets (and charms) the Pilgrims.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Peach Pilgrimage - Day 2, Part 1

This post is part of an ongoing tale of my trip back home to Mississippi to visit my family. To start the story at the beginning, begin reading from October 30, 2007.

If there's anything better than lounging in a beautiful hotel suite for an evening it's lounging in a beautiful hotel suite for a morning. A had arranged for our checkout time to be 1:00pm so us girls could take our time getting up and getting ourselves beautiful.

Ever had the experience of wishing for something then suddenly having it come true? Robin can say that she has. As she was waking up in her fluffy, comfortable bed she wished that she had some coffee and as if on cue the newly-repaired door knocker sounded and in came a wonderful gentleman from room service bringing us not only three carafes of coffee but two different juices, ice water, sliced cantaloupe and honeydew melon, strawberries and a large array of delicious pastries. A had called down to have some coffee brought up and they brought breakfast. When Robin wishes for something, she does it right!

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Michele and I say, "Why rush through your morning when you can have a lovely continental breakfast in your suite and peruse a few knitting magazines?" Photo by Robin.

All good things come to an end and our stay at the Peabody was no different. It was time for us to leave the hospitality and service that was threatening to spoil us rotten for life and head on to more adventures. Hmmm...what to do next? I know! Let's go eat some more pork!

Corky's is another famous rib place in Memphis but it's different than the Rendezvous and as far as we were concerned that's enough reason to go eat barbecue again. Plus Lottie didn't get any ribs the night before and she was anxious to try a little pig.

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Lisa and Lottie. They're fast friends and Lottie's a big fan of beer and the onion loaf appetizer they serve at Corky's. A little barbecue sauce on it is divine. Photo by Robin.

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This is what happens when you eat delicious barbecue. You get like me, Robin and Michele with a big, happy grin on your face. It's no wonder Robin calls it "Piggy Prozac".

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Lisa and I outside of Corky's. We have a tradition that after eating at Corky's we sit outside the restaurant for a while and just let the barbecue vibe do it's thing. Photo by Robin.

After stuffing ourselves full and getting more than a few looks from the other patrons (Honestly, you'd think they'd never seen a sock monkey eating pulled pork before!) we set off for some yarn shopping and Michele's next opportunity to scare the hell out of me.

It was inevitable. Six women in three different vehicles were going to get separated at some point and when Lisa called Michele to find out where we were, Michele first had to grope in the back seat to find her cell phone. Oh, did I mention we were hurtling down I-240 at the time? Michele found the phone, we got our directions straight (with more gesturing from Michele) and when Michele hung up I glared at her and said "Give me that fucking phone! Don't put it in the back seat again! And keep your hands on the wheel!".

That's what I really love about Michele. It's the sort of situation we get ourselves into and we laugh ourselves sick over it. She's such a good sport about everything. I swear, you couldn't ruffle her feathers if you dangled her over a flaming pit of lava.

Now while Robin, Michele and I are avid knitters, Lisa and A and S are not. Well, S is - she's still a bit of a beginner still but she does lovely work - but she wasn't interested in prowling around a yarn store with us and chose to go with Lisa and A into the other shops in the vicinity. So while Robin, Michele and I were finding luscious new yarns, what were the other three doing? Well one was doing something and the other two were egging her on.

Here's S while we were at Corky's:

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and here's how S looked two hours later (photo by Robin):

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Those three just found a hair salon that was still open, walked in, and S got six inches cut off her hair. Doesn't she look so pretty? I don't know if I would have the nerve to walk into a strange salon and have six inches cut off my hair but S does love an adventure and it paid off. Her hair looked great.

By now it was late afternoon and we decided to head back to my hometown in Mississippi where we'd stay overnight. We checked into our rooms - yet another suite and two other adjoining rooms - and then it was time to go visit my mother at The Plantation. Lisa adores my mother and she was so counting on getting to visit with her again and the rest were dying to meet her. Well, Michele had met her during the last Pilgrimage so she was in for a repeat performance. For my part I was hoping Mama wouldn't tell any truly embarrassing stories.

Tomorrow: We'll finally get to those pink SnoBalls as well as bingo cheaters, Britney Spears, and a fabulous pedicure.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday Shuffle - Peach Pilgrimage, Day 1, Part 2 Edition

This post is part of an ongoing tale of my trip back home to Mississippi to visit my family. To start the story at the beginning, begin reading from October 30, 2007.

After our date with a bucket at Silky O'Sullivan's, Robin, Lisa, Michele and I made it back to The Peabody to wait for A and S to arrive. After getting our luggage situated until we could check in we found a table and got another round of drinks, albeit alcohol free ones. All of us except for Lisa. She was still on Diver Duty.

Twenty or thirty minutes later - it was hard to keep track of time at this point - A and S breezed into the hotel lobby and found us. More squeals, more hugging, more laughing. A was the one taking care of our accommodations so she did her thing at the registration desk. I was still somewhat in the dark regarding where and how we'd be staying. I figured we were getting a couple rooms to share. Boy, was I wrong.

Our bellman gathered together our luggage and as we were getting the girls together to go up to our room or rooms or whatever it was going to be, Robin told the bellman that we were not only together to celebrate my trip to America but that it we were also celebrating Robin's birthday. The bellman, being as he was a wise man and practiced in the art of schmoozing, claimed that she must be turning sixteen years old. Evidently this bellman was a master of the schmooze because Robin and I nearly fell in love with him at that point.

We rode up together, the six of us, the bellman, the luggage cart and our stash of beer and trashy snacks and when we arrived at the door the bellman unlocked it for us and that's when I found that we weren't in a regular room - we were staying in one of the celebrity suites plus two rooms that adjoined the suite. Plenty of room for us, our luggage, our Cheetos and the bucket!

Of course since it was us we had to have something ridiculous happen immediately. I'm not pointing any fingers and I don't have any proof but Michele someone broke the knocker on the suite's door. The bellman was properly horrified - not that we broke the knocker but that the knocker broke at all. Before he could get our luggage put away he was on the phone to maintenance to have someone come put this knocker back and now.

Like I said, I'm not pointing fingers, but I find it funny that Michele is proudly displaying her knockers...err...knocker...while Lisa show us that if you're in the Celebrity Suite they'll let you bring in as much trashy junk as you want. Photo by Robin:

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While the bellman, who by then had told us his name was Marvin so we could ask for him any time we wanted something, finished getting us settled in we discussed what we'd do for supper. It seemed a shame to leave that gorgeous suite that we'd just entered to go out to eat and someone said half jokingly "I wonder if the Rendezvous (which is located across from the Peabody) delivers?". Marvin was taking his leave of us about then and we piped up and said "Marvin, does by chance the Rendezvous deliver to the Peabody?" and he replied "They do if I go pick it up for you.".

And that's when we declared Marvin to be the greatest bellman in the history of bellmen.

Marvin went to fetch us a menu and a few minutes later we were surprised to find room service at the door with two bottles of champagne accompanied by strawberries and cream. Oh it seems that someone out there knew just how to thrill us. Want to see six happy women who were well on their way to being spoiled rotten? Photo by Marvin, the greatest bellman in the world:

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From left to right: Michele, Robin, me, A and S and Lisa is in front.

Before we could get into the second bottle of champagne Marvin was back with our six large orders of ribs and we proceeded to get the dining room of our suite smelling like a back yard grill party. And I don't know if champagne makes one extra hungry but I don't think there was one leftover rib. There certainly wasn't any leftover champagne and as we talked and laughed and ate the miniature cheesecakes that Robin and Lisa brought with them another two bottles of champagne arrived. It's amazing how that can happen in such a magical place.

I was overwhelmed. It was hard for me to take it all in. I would walk around the suite and the adjoining rooms and marvel at how lovely they were. I was so touched and thrilled that these five women put their jobs and families and lives on hold to come to Memphis just to see me. And I couldn't believe how A, who is such an accomplished and talented woman, could arrange for us to be spoiled in that hotel. In a world where people put strings on everything, here was a friend who made that magic night happen just because she knew I loved that hotel and she wanted to give us all a treat and the only thing she wanted from it all was the joy she'd receive by watching us enjoy it. And so we enjoyed it to the hilt.

After eating ribs out of styrofoam boxes in a fancy hotel suite's dining room we grabbed our champagne and went into the living room to relax and do what we do best - talk openly and honestly and from the heart. And laugh. That's what we really do best. Laugh.

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Lisa and A in one of the truly few quiet moments of that weekend.

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This was more typical of us that weekend - Lisa, A and my sock monkey, Lottie. You didn't think Lottie would miss the Peach Pilgrimage, did you?

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Robin desperately trying to get online just in case we could find online someone we know so we could tell them where we were and rub it in.

As the evening grew longer and the Pilgrims grew more tired we eventually drifted one by one off to bed. Robin, A, S and Michele each got a queen sized bed while Lisa and I shared the king sized one. The one with so many pillows on it I would have had to cross them in an SUV if I wanted to find Lisa on the other side. And I slept like the dead 'cause that's what a Diver, a lot of grilled pork and champagne will do for you.

It's Friday and that means a shuffle. Bixente the iPod, do your thang.
  1. This Year's Love - David Gray
  2. Misirlou - Dick Dale & His Del-Tones
  3. Sweet Baby James - James Taylor
  4. Radio Nowhere - Bruce Springsteen
  5. Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine - The Killers
  6. Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On) - Robert Plant/Alison Krauss
  7. One - U2
  8. Roll With It - Oasis
  9. Twist Of Cain - Danzig
  10. Fool In The Rain - Led Zeppelin
Tomorrow - Day 2 of the Peach Pilgrimage: The power of telepathy, more pig, yarn and hairstyling, pink SnoBalls and Michele breaks bad. Again.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Peach Pilgrimage - Day 1, Part 1

This post is part of an ongoing tale of my trip back home to Mississippi to visit my family. To start the story at the beginning, begin reading from October 30, 2007.

Today we take a break from Mississippi and travel west to Memphis. And for those of you keeping count, this is Day 10 of my trip to the US.

Three years ago when I was last home for a family visit, friends of mine from all over the country came to see me in Mississippi and it was dubbed by my friend, Lisa, to be the Peach Pilgrimage. When I said I was coming back to Mississippi this year it was clear that we'd have to have a second incarnation of the Peach Pilgrimage.

The players this time around were slightly different. Some of those who came the last time weren't able to make it this year but Michele and Lisa had attended the original Peach Pilgrimage and were back again. And this time Robin, who had been saying for years that she would be damned before she missed this Pilgrimage, was in attendance as well as two more new Pilgrimage attendees. They don't blog so for the sake of anonymity we'll refer to them as A and S.

Now that we have the players clear, let's get on with our tale.

Michele was driving up from Baton Rouge and so she swung through Mississippi to pick me up before heading on to Memphis. Robin and Lisa live in the same area near St. Louis so they drove down together. And A and S were flying in from Carolina but wouldn't be there until early evening. Our destination? The Peabody in Memphis. I adore the Peabody and would live there were it possible and A knew this. And so what did A do? Through some connections she has she arranged for us to have accommodations there for Friday night.

Before heading west on Highway 72 Michele stopped for some lunch in town, gassed up her car, made a call to Lisa and Robin to find out where they were and then we were off. It was a good day for a 90 minute drive - sunny and clear and warm and there wasn't much traffic. Michele and I talked and laughed and in general had a great time. We reached Memphis about the time Friday rush hour was getting cranked up so the cars on I-240 were building up quickly. And that was the time that Michele's brother decided to call her, repeatedly I might add, to get directions around Baton Rouge. Michele was holding her cell phone in her left hand and while giving him directions she would gesture with her right. Seeing a problem here? It's Friday rush hour, we're on an interstate highway in a city were good driving seems to be optional and she's steering the car by telepathy evidently because she sure as hell didn't have a hand on the wheel. I said nothing but inside I was screaming with terror.

I should stop and explain something. Michele is a Cajun. Born on the bayou and all that. Talking with her hands is genetic. If she tried to speak without gesturing her tongue would probably unsnap from its roller and fall to the floor.

We reached the Peabody, both the car and our bodies unscathed, parked it and went do the lobby in search of Lisa and Robin who had arrived shortly before us. And it wasn't too hard to find them. Hugging, squealing, giggling and shrieking ensued and then we settled in at our table to enjoy the first drink of the Peach Pilgrimage - appropriately a peach martini.

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That's me on the left, Michele in the middle and Lisa on the right. Photo by Robin, who within five minutes was wearing the remainder of Lisa's martini.

Since A and S wouldn't be arriving for another couple hours we decided we'd walk over a couple blocks and see what was happening on Beale Street. We went into Tater Red's, walked past a couple more bars and then settled on Silky O'Sullivan's. Lisa wanted a bucket of beer but they didn't sell beer by the bucket. Instead we ended up with a Diver.

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A Diver is a specialty of Silky O'Sullivan's that, according to our waitress, contains beer, white wine, red wine, rum and grenadine. There may be more in it but they like to keep such things a secret. Officially all they'll say is that it's a full gallon of booze. Think of it as Hawaiian Punch that actually will punch you. It's tasty and a bit fizzy and you drink it from straws that are nearly as long as your arm. And you look like this doing it:

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We had a table outside on the street so every tourist who was even remotely intrigued by four women drinking out of a yellow bucket with long straws would stop and ask just what in the world were we drinking and we'd reply it was a gallon bucket of hooch. I was slightly surprised at the amount of people who acted as though we were drinking a bucket of rat poison. Lightweights.

But being that Lisa and Robin and Michele and I are wise, experienced hooch guzzlers we knew we'd better eat something to suck up all the alcohol we were downing before our livers and stomachs staged a revolt. And the perfect remedy for that is a sausage and cheese platter - a Memphis specialty - and seasoned fries. You'd be surprised at how fast you can sober up if you eat some smoked sausage, cheese, hot peppers, crackers and french fries. At least enough to stagger back to your hotel without tripping or needing to be carted back by one of the horse drawn carriages that lines the streets in that area.

Lisa was determined to bring the now 2/3 empty bucket o' hooch back to the Peabody. A and S would be arriving shortly and they needed to see what they'd missed while on their flight. We went to our respective cars to unload our luggage and when we arrived to the front of the hotel the lovely bellmen were happy to put our luggage on a cart to await our check in. And it wasn't just suitcases but grocery bags of Cheetos and beer and cheesecake and goodness only knows what else. Oh yes. We are a classy bunch. But the Diver? It stayed with Lisa.

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Now don't get me wrong. I don't want to make it seem as though Lisa is a lush because she certainly isn't but she did love that bucket and we had great fun making her pose with it. Eventually that bucket did get emptied. And the waitress said she didn't think we could do it. She just doesn't know the power of the Peach Pilgrimage.

Tomorrow, Part 2: A and S arrive, we find the greatest bellman in the world and we have a pig delivered.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

My Trip Home - Day 8 & 9

This post is part of an ongoing tale of my trip back home to Mississippi to visit my family. To start the story at the beginning, begin reading from October 30, 2007.

I'm such a tease. I told y'all yesterday that we'd skip ahead to Day 10 of my trip home and plunge into the forty-eight hours of festivities that comprised the Peach Pilgrimage but I've decided to go ahead and tell about a couple of things that happened on days 8 and 9 because they involve two of my nephews that I positively adore.

On Day 8, Wednesday, Sister and I put together a care package to send to my nephew, John - my eldest brother's eldest son. Books, DVDs, some grooming articles, some snack things, a phone card - just some things to make his days a bit easier to take because John's in the one place our family doesn't want him to be. John is serving in Iraq.

He joined the Navy about 18 months ago. He had been going to college at UC - Santa Barbara but he couldn't afford it any longer and so to get money for college and to get experience in the field in which he's interested - John wants to be an EMT - he enlisted. My father was in the Navy for 22 years and a veteran of World War II and John was always proud of that fact so he chose the Navy to do his service. After basic training he went into training to be a corpsman and later he was given the opportunity to be attached to a Marine platoon. John really wanted the chance to do trauma work and being attached to this platoon would give him more of an opportunity to do that than him staying with the Navy being based on a ship or perhaps at the National Naval Medical Center in Maryland.

At first John's unit was going to Okinawa but plans were changed at the beginning of summer and he arrived in Iraq a couple weeks before I got to Mississippi. I was sick at the idea of him having to go to Iraq. I make no secret that I am angry that the US is there in the first place and always have been and the thought of my nephew there - anyone's family, actually - upsets me no end. But me being upset and worried isn't what John needs right now. He knows he's there because he took an oath to follow orders and because he wants to help the troops there. He's there to help those who become injured and it's important work. I'm proud of him for doing work that's difficult but if there's anyone up to the challenge, it's John. He was always such a smart, good natured, helpful kid and now that he's grown (he'll be 24 years old on Friday) he's even more of a wonderful guy.

So while we pray for his safety and the safety of his fellow troops and the Iraqi people he encounters, we shipped him a care package so he knows we're thinking of him every day. Because he not only needs our prayers, he needs Cajun flavored trail mix from Walmart and something to read.

On Day 9 I spent most of the morning getting laundry done and whatnot so I would be ready to leave the next day for the Peach Pilgrimage. In the afternoon Sister was hard at work studying - she's working on her master's degree in nursing - so I told her I'd go pick Sam up from school.

It was a really gorgeous day - sunny and clear and about 75 degrees - so when Sam and I got back to the house we hung out in the yard for a while talking. Finally Sam said "Hey Auntie Baba (there's a story behind that name but we'll leave it for now), I know what I want you to get me for Christmas.".

In a lot of other kids I might consider telling me what to buy them for Christmas to be almost brazen but in Sam, it's fine. He doesn't mean it to be controlling or manipulative - he said it to me because he feels comfortable with telling me everything that crosses his mind. We've always been pretty close and he's such an upfront, honest sort of kid that I could never imagine any guile from him.

"What is it?"

"Well, we'll have to go to Walmart so I can show it to you."

"Why do you have to show it to me? Can you just say what it is and I'll get it?"

"I don't want you to get the wrong thing. But we have to do it before you leave for Memphis."

"Well Sammo, I'm leaving tomorrow before you get out of school. And you have play rehearsal tonight. We'll have to do it when I get back."

"You're coming back?"

"Of course! I'm just going for the weekend. I'll be back here on Sunday. Actually I'll be back here Saturday night but I'm staying with the girls in town. We'll go to Walmart next week."

"Oh good! I thought you were staying in Memphis until you went back to Germany. I'm glad you're coming back. I didn't like the idea of you staying a whole other week of your vacation away from me."

And that was the point where I'd made up my mind that I'd get him whatever it was he wanted at Walmart. Sam takes piano lessons but I'm not truly convinced he doesn't take violin lessons as well because that boy can play me like a fiddle.

Sam and I have such a good bond and it started the first time I ever saw him. I lived in Virginia at the time and had come for a visit when Sam was 4 months old. He was laying on a blanket in the living room with the craziest look on his face. I said to my sister "What in the world is wrong with him?" and she immediately knew what I was talking about because she laughed and said "He's doing his Richard Nixon face.". From that moment on I knew this kid was always going to entertain me in the goofiest of ways and that we'd always have the sort of bond where we could make each other laugh about anything. And that's really how it's been with Sam and me. We can tease each other without mercy and we know there's no malice involved - just the need to make each other laugh until we gasp for breath. And Sam also knows that no matter what it is, he can tell me anything and I'll understand what he's saying.

I love all my nephews and nieces and am proud of them all but during those two days I was extra proud and felt extra fortunate that I could be John and Sam's aunt.

Okay, for real tomorrow - buckle up and take a dangerous ride with me to Memphis. And I do mean dangerous.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

My Trip Home - Day 7

This post is part of an ongoing tale of my trip back home to Mississippi to visit my family. To start the story at the beginning, begin reading from October 30, 2007.

Let's just skip over day six of my vacation. It's not that nothing good happened - I was busy every day of my vacation - but this day was nothing particularly noteworthy.

Day seven of my vacation saw me taking a trip back to Tupelo. My BIL had an appointment with his doctor so Sister and I tagged along so we could do some shopping. Our first stop was to an outlet mall. I found a pair of shoes for $29.99 and although I didn't need them I bought them anyway. Now that I have them home I find that I am not all that crazy about them but I got them for cheap and they'll be fine to wear when it's a bit snowy or rainy outside. As I was waiting for the clerk to come ring up my purchase my sister told me she was going up to a clothing store and for me to meet here there when I was done.

The clerk rang up my shoes and said to me "You know it's senior citizens day and there's a 10% discount for everyone over 55. Of course I don't imagine you're over 55 years old."

Holy crap. I'm only 45 years old. If I look 55 I'm going to look around for the sharp-instruments-with-which-to-impale-myself outlet store.

I replied "Oh no ma'am. I'm not nearly that old."

"That's okay. I gave you the discount anyway. You were with that other lady so that was good enough."

My sister is 52 years old. And I was all but running up the mall to find her and tell her she got me 10% off my shoes.

After we picked my BIL up again it was time for us to seek out some lunch.

"Sushi!", Sister exclaimed.

Damn. I had been hoping she'd forgotten my promise to have sushi when we returned to Tupelo.

Until that moment I had spent the 45 years of my life as a sushi virgin and I was happy to do so. I have nothing against fish. Or uncooked fish. Or off-beat food. Or rice. Or seaweed. I've eaten my share of freaky things and sushi hardly qualifies anymore as freaky. I just had a feeling that I wasn't going to like it.

After being seated at the restaurant Sister explained the things on the menu and suggested that she get a couple of orders of sushi for us all to share and then we could have another menu item for ourselves. I couldn't tell from the sushi varieties what would be good to order so I let Sister handle that and I ordered for myself a chicken teriyaki bowl - chicken, rice and vegetables in a teriyaki sauce.

The sushi arrived, I put a weency dot of wasabi in my soy sauce, dipped in my piece of sushi - this one was cooked tuna and some other stuff -, popped it in my mouth and waited for the taste riot that was sure to follow.

Ugh. I barely had any soy sauce on it and all I could taste was wet something and soy sauce. Already things were starting off on the wrong foot. I was determined, however, not to give up. Sister loves sushi. My BIL was sucking it down like he was born to eat it. It's one of Darling Mollie's favorite things to eat. I was not going to be left behind by the I-Love-Sushi bandwagon so I tried another piece, this time something with raw tuna. The soy sauce seemed to be ruining my enjoyment so this time I ate the piece plain.

Ever eat something really repulsive and you can't seem to get it down? That's what was happening to me with this piece of sushi. The more I chewed it, the bigger it got. And I can't decide what was gagging me the most - the fish or the creamy gooey stuff that seemed to be wrapped with it or the wet, limp feeling it seemed to have against my tongue. If I could have spit it out in any way even approaching discreet then I would have. Surely this was Sister's revenge for me laughing about her getting me a senior citizen's discount at the shoe outlet.

"I'm sorry. I've tried. I can't eat that stuff. Just accept it that I will never love sushi and that it means there will be more in the world for you."

Sister had stopped laughing at me by the time my teriyaki bowls were served and I was happy to eat some lovely, crispy steamed vegetables and rice but I have to say I wasn't too keen on the chicken. I'd forgotten that a little teriyaki flavor goes a long way with me and after a few bite of chicken I stopped eating it in favor of the bits that weren't screaming at me "SOY SAUCE BASED MARINADE!".

I left lunch with a rather dissatisfied feeling. I think I ate myself hungry.

But there was more shopping to do! New jeans! And new short sleeved tops! Short sleeved tops weren't really anything I especially wanted to buy but I'd packed for mild to cool October weather and that week we were having gates-of-hell October weather. As it was I was in a long sleeved cotton top and was about to burst into flames from the heat.

We dumped my BIL off in Sears for him to drool over the power tools and Sister and I headed out to find those jeans and tops that I sorely needed. And you Lane Bryant shoppers! Have you tried their new jeans with the new sizing? I liked the jeans but the sizing thing was so complicated. I jumped through fewer hoops to get a German residency visa than it took me to get some properly sized jeans. And you know what? They still don't fit right. Oh they fit like a dream in the store but they don't tell you that they stretch out like crazy once you've worn them a couple hours so I'm still hitching up my britches every ten minutes. Too bad I didn't buy a belt while I was there.

Afterwards we headed over to the one place where B wanted me to go while I was in Tupelo - Reed's. Reed's is famous for their t-shirts and B loves them. I picked out for him a couple long sleeved t-shirts and found one for Gerd that says "The Cradle of Rock 'n Roll - Tupelo, Mississippi" that has on the back a print of an old photograph of Tupelo with a banner over the street saying "Welcome Home Elvis" and you can see the corner of the original Reed's department store in the photograph. Gerd doesn't really wear t-shirts as far as I know but he really likes Elvis and this t-shirt isn't your run-of-the-mill Elvis t-shirt.

We got back home from our shopping trip and later on I went back into town to drive Sam to his play practice at the high school. After dropping him off I went to get some supper at Sonic, ran into my niece, Misty, while I was there and then went by to see my mother at The Plantation. Trips to Sonic so far during this trip: three. Three trips to Sonic in seven days. A bit obsessive sounding, I'm sure, but I needed the treat. I'd survived sushi.

Tomorrow we'll skip ahead to the beginning of a very big weekend - Day 10: A Cajun, a Diver, ducks, ribs and a lot of loud, lovely women.

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