Archive | August, 2013

At Lake Rabun for a day

21 Aug

This weekend my husband surprised us with a mini road trip to visit the lake house his parents had while he was growing up. I have seen many home videos of a young David being a silly, sweet, and crazy little boy there. It’s not a long drive up to Lake Rabun, but on the way there we encountered many big wrecks and it looked like this outside (I was a little apprehensive about our hiking intentions):

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I think David learned a lot about life spending his summers there (and choice cold weather occasions too) and began his appreciation for the outdoors. Maybe his adventurous nature gave birth there. It was very fun to see him so animated talking about the different things he and his siblings and friends used to do there and to see it all in person.

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Of course it was clear at the Lake until we started our hike up to Minihana. I had to take off my glasses so I could see in the rain. Then I forgot I couldn’t see with my glasses off either.

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He loved it… until mama dipped his hand in the water!

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I would love to be able to spend time in the mountains by a lake and a waterfall as my children grow up. It’s one of my goals to be able to have that for our family. The way this weather is going, maybe a new lake will form in the city. Now, how to get the mountains to come to us too?

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Their old dock and playground.

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Walter was such a trooper. Love that boy!

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On the way home we passed the school bus graveyard on 85. This is only the first line, there are hundreds of them with cars piled on top too!

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The Year of Walter

19 Aug

I cannot believe I have a one year old son. I imagine that my perception of years will pass by even faster watching this boy of mine grow up. I can’t believe how he’s changed already. A year ago Dave and I were still at North Fulton staring in awe at our new little one.

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Look at how tiny!!!

I was in labor that day for about 8 hours. Dave had worked in the yard all day and was exhausted when I told him that I thought I was going into labor. He showered up (much hotter last year than this year!) and ate a little dinner while my contractions became longer, stronger, and closer together. We tried watching a little TV. I thought taking a bath would relax me but it only made my labor speed up! North Fulton is far away, so we called our doula (who was running a half marathon that night! Everyone started out exhausted!) and told her to meet us there. It wasn’t very long after I got there that I got in the shower, enjoyed labor in there for an hour, then began pushing. 15 minutes later Walter came out into the world! When I told Walt that story this morning he seemed very fascinated. I know I always love hearing my birth story.

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Month 1 – No smiles or anything yet, just a cuddle bug!

Month 2
Month 2 – This is when he really started looking like himself

Month 3
Month 3 – Marine onesie outfit from Daddy

Month 4
Month 4

Month 5
Month 5

Month 6
Month 6 – Couldn’t even sit up fully by himself yet!

Month 7
Month 7 – Getting all those teeth!

Month 8
Month 8 – About to start crawling!

Month 9
Month 9

Month 10
Month 10 – At the beach!

Month 11
Month 11 – Standing, cruising, and about to start walking!

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Month 12! What a big boy!!!

It is amazing how in one year you can go from a baby who can’t hold his head up to a walking, babbling, silly little boy who is sweet as pie. I can’t wait for every exciting year to follow! Every time I look at Walter I feel so blessed. Well, sometimes I feel a little exhausted if he’s throwing food or books on the floor, but most of the time, blessed.

A Pilgrimage

16 Aug

after softball

Back in 2008 I went on what could only be called a pilgrimage. Inspired by Eat, Pray, Love and some opportunities that presented themselves, I traveled for three weeks to New York. At that time I hated to fly. Over the years I missed several flights due to my extreme fear. So when my best friend at the time needed to take his car to Syracuse to get his emissions tested, I rode with him. I stayed a week with him and his family in upstate New York at the very beginning of summer, playing by the lake, picking strawberries, steaming oysters, and visiting the Oneida Community that I had studied in one of my history classes.

I then spent a week at Sarah Lawrence College studying poetry with a hundred other writers. We stayed up late drinking and woke up early to write, read, edit, and play softball. My father grew up in Bronxville, so it was lovely to be able to spend time in his hometown.

At that time in my life I used to go to New York City every year with my father to take in a couple Broadway shows and eat at fantastic restaurants. He flew up to meet me and I took the train into the city like his father used to do every day for work. Several of my new friends and some others that I knew from Georgia Tech also stayed in the City after our poetry week and we had a grand time together.

Before I took the train home to Atlanta, I went up to an Ashram for three nights, eating vegan and taking several yoga classes a day. I had never done yoga before except earlier in my trip in Syracuse, and because of this trip yoga ended up becoming a central part of my life for at least a year.

It was a very memorable adventure for me to experience so many different things in such a beautiful state as New York. I put myself out there and found so many beautiful people and places. I found myself in so many different ways.

While walking around Brooklyn one morning with one of my new poetry friends, we were looking at brownstones and walking around the Bridge when we saw a piece of paper floating in the breeze. It was such a powerful journal entry.

This guy told me to wait he’d be right back. I was suppose to help him move, make a few dollars. Wasted an hour and half waiting before I decided to come back to the Bridge. Glad I did, one of the locals gave me a buck. Made me feel pretty good. Some guys just walked by w/ oars and paddles. I would love a couple hours of canoeing. Maybe I’ll walk down to the water later and check it out. Maybe they rent them out by the hour. You never know, the Renter might be a Veteran and cut me a break. People are throwing the money if the light is green and they are unable to stop! I know that they mean well, so I don’t feel degrated or anything, because they throw it! She must write philosophy books, you never know? She seemed to have had the two women she was with convinced of something. They didn’t donate! People from India sure wear some colorful clothes. People seem very apprehensive about asking me for direction. That’s their lose. Let them get frustrated, confused, lost, etc.. All they have to do is ask! 1 hr 45 min. have $5 dollars so far. Another Veteran pulled over after the light. Insect repellent that Pete gave me seems to be working pretty good.

I love finding letters and notes that weren’t meant for me. It usually reveals an honest glimpse into someone’s life that you never would have seen before. It reminds me of Post Secret, which I could read for hours, crying over the things people need to express.

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From a time long ago…

14 Aug

My paternal grandfather came over to the United States from Germany on the eve of WWII. He was a young man, 17, and his mother was Nazi resistance. I don’t know why we don’t have that story researched and written down, given that my dad, brother, and me all graduated with history degrees. Louise, my great-grandmother, was definitely a unique and strong woman. She married, had a kid, and divorced a man I know very little about — the story I’ve heard about them entails a fur coat gift that was later reclaimed by the store for lack of payment. She then distrusted and worked underground against the Nazi movement. When she realized what was happening, she sent her son to the United States by himself to stay with an uncle who had a deli in New York City. When my grandfather arrived, he was told by this uncle that he could stay the night but he was on his own after that. I can’t imagine facing a brand new country and language with nothing but the good wishes of my family members.

He married, joined the US Army, worked as intelligence (since he knew German), wrote diligently to his mother, kept a steady job, had children, never spoke German again, and died after many happy years within a year of his wife. And this is where our story begins. Things left behind can reveal such mysteries about people you know so well.

I was a curious 12 year old when I lost my grandparents. After they both passed away, it was up to my family to organize and pack up their house. In their closet, among my grandmother’s purses, on the top shelf — where else — was an old sewing box. Opening it revealed many letters from long ago. What treasure! I remember being at first amazed at how cheap postage used to be, and in awe over the age of the letters — they started in 1935. They were from several different authors and showed that before my grandmother became a wife, mother, and career woman — who at one point worked for the mayor of Atlanta — she lived an exciting life in New York City. Where else could such dramatic things happen? A particular set of letters from a Mr. Eugene Paige of Attleboro, Mass. caught my young eye.

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December 31, 1935

Precious Bessy;

You shall never know how lonely I felt when I left you last Sunday night. My darling, little did I ever dream that I could ever love anyone as much as I do you. It was lovely of you to postpone those two engagements for me. I meant to thank you Sunday but after seeing you I forgot everything; but I want to do so now. I know now after it is too late that I should have let you know that I was going out.

I doubt that a minute has passed in the last two days that I have not been thinking and planning about the next six months. that will mean so much to us. My dear do you still feel the same? Will you marry me in six months if things are still the same with us and I have enough money along with a good job? My darling is there any doubt in your mind as to whether we shall be married or not? Now don’t be cruel and keep it from me. You know it is not a dream any longer. It is not something that may come true or may not. It seems my dear that God must have heard your prayers and is helping us out, because this morning my boss gave me a better job. This new job has opportunities along with it. That means that we have started our six months with a bang.

Now this is the truth my dear I really have a new job much better than my other.

How about it Bessy is it going to be Connie, John and Gene? My dear believe me when I say that I’ll love you as long as I live.

I saw my uncle to nite and told him about my trip to New York. He was very glad to hear that I had such a good time. He told me that he would like very much to have you come to Attleboro for a few days. What he really said was for you to come out and stay with he and his wife as long as you like. Will you please my darling come out as soon as you can. You won’t have to spend one cent out here and I’ll buy you your ticket, so in short it should not cost you anything. I know that you will have a good time, won’t you please come soon?

My darling your coming out may help us a lot. When my uncles see how lovely you are they will just have to help us to get married.

Little wife before I go to bed to night I’ll kneel by my bed and ask God to help us and thank him for all that he has done for you and I. He will not fail us my precious if in our hearts we really love each other and ask him to bring those two together and beat as one.

My dear you will write soon and tell me if you still feel as you did Sunday won’t you? Bessy you have the power to make my dream come true, so won’t you please say that you still love me and that in six months we may be married.

My darling it is almost an end to this old year and a beginning to a new and happier one for you and I. With the help of God and our love for each other we cannot fail in finding true happiness together for the rest of our lives.

Happy new year dear,

xxxxx I go on kissing you forever

Always Gene

~~~

I’m pretty sure I got my sense of poetry and deep love from him. Except if they had gotten married then I wouldn’t be here. And yet my Lino kept these close to her for 60 years. I love thinking about her as a woman like me with young loves and a sense of adventure.

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Looks like my grandmother had a great view

On a hot, summer day

9 Aug

There’s really nothing better than wandering around the Atlanta Botanical Gardens getting lost in all the loops looking for the prize of the topiary exhibit, and you ask this group of people passing by if they saw the large woman over where they just were, and they think you’re asking about some fat lady like you’ve lost her in the Gardens. After a good laugh, they gave us their extra map. Bless them!

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All about war

7 Aug

One of the things I love best about my husband is that he was a Marine. I am so proud of the determination and courage (and strength!) he had to have to go through that. But also it is something about him that remains a mystery to me — in a good way. There are things about him I might never know and that’s exciting. It was a seriously defining period of time for him that I can only hope to understand. I love hearing stories about it, and whenever I do, I am also so thankful that he came home alive and subsequently found me. He used to tell me that if he hadn’t met me, he would have kept going out to find wars to fight in, in the military or as a private citizen. It is a difficult concept for someone to understand who has a hard time holding a gun without getting scared. Some people just like war. Some for the destruction, and some to protect.

I’ve recently been reading about different wars. Fiction and non-fiction about WWII and the Civil War. It’s taking me a while to finish the collection of essays on the Civil War, even though they are fascinating. The author, McPherson, is a Princetonian professor who likes dispelling myths that have been gathering steam for the last 150 years. Like that Grant was an alcoholic. Or that Jesse James was a Robin Hood figure. Or that Europe really cared about slavery from the beginning and that’s why they didn’t help out the Confederates.

I find war — and history — very fascinating. Contemporary war is very different than it used to be. I know of some popular myths I could dispel with my husband’s first hand knowledge. He was there. He saw 9/11 like the rest of us, and had friends living in NYC. He joined up, and he went over there. So many people who talk about the military don’t actually know what it’s like to be a part of it. And that’s partly because people in the military don’t like to talk about it in public. They rightly think that many people will not actually hear what they have to say, so what’s the point? I think it has been this way since the Vietnam War. When I took a history class on the subject in college, I interviewed two of my dad’s friends who were in the war. We talked for an hour and a half. When we got done, they told me that was the most they had ever talked about it since they got back. How could that powerful fact not move me forever?

Somehow I’ve always been drawn to people in the military. In high school some of my best friends — and crushes, let’s be honest — were in the ROTC. Then I married a Marine. War is a very integral part of our history as well as our current climate. I’m not ever sure we will have peace on earth, though I’m not really positive why that is. I was talking to my brother recently who lives in Europe. He says he will never move back because it is so violent in the US. I mentioned this to David, asking him what he thought about that. Of course there are the debates about gun ownership, etc, but our overall violence rates are higher than Europe anyway. He suggested that our country was founded by aggressive people, who came over here and had to fight for their freedom. Maybe the love of the battle is simply in our blood. Either way, it is never ending fodder for discussion and examination.

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Mama’s vision, or lack thereof

1 Aug

I am a very visual person. I use my eyes a lot to read, create, take photographs, enjoy looking at David and Walt, use the computer, and to watch movies. I love looking at new scenery when I travel. And yet I’ve spent most of my life struggling with my vision.

When I was in third grade I started having trouble seeing the blackboard at school. I was actually excited about it cause I read these books where this girl had to wear glasses and I thought it would be cool to be like her. What a mistake, because my vision only got worse and worse and worse. Around sixth grade I started wearing contacts. That took some getting used to. I was legally blind without any corrective lenses. I’d have trouble finding my glasses on my nightstand if I didn’t remember exactly where I left them before I went to bed. I had to pay extra for special lenses on my glasses so that they wouldn’t be an inch thick (and they were still bigger than most anyway). By college I’d purposefully forget to remove my contacts at night for a month even though I didn’t have the leave-in types.

Then one year my father gave me Lasik as a Christmas present. It was a miracle. Only 5 minutes of ridiculously scary surgery, a day of keeping my eyes closed, and I could see again. Without glasses. Without contacts. I did have to wear glasses when I drove at night (or in movie theaters/concerts/classrooms/etc.) but 95% of the time I thanked my lucky stars that this had been invented. It was a life transforming joy not to worry about my vision any more.

Turns out it only lasted about 7 years for me. Two years ago I had a little bit of blurry vision. I went to go get my eyes checked and my doctor told me my vision hadn’t changed, but my I had astigmatism that meant if I concentrated on a computer or reading up close too much I’d have blurry vision when I looked away. It wasn’t really that bad though. I rarely wore my glasses for it.

Until a month ago. All of a sudden, basically in one day, I now have blurry vision all the time. I have to wear glasses to see. Not just to drive at night but to see my child across his nursery. It makes me very sad and a little scared too. What if it keeps getting worse?  And because I usually wore glasses before bed and in the morning growing up, when I wear glasses all day it reminds me of being unmade and unready, like if I were to always leave the bed looking slept in. Even if I wanted to wear contacts, which I really don’t, only glasses are good at fixing astigmatism.

So. I guess that’s that, unfortunately, unless another round of Lasik is in my future. One can only hope.