A roundabout rambling report on a surprisingly small amount of information

Over the Fourth of July weekend we headed up to my parents house in Southwest Virginia, where my kids got to experience playing outside in temperatures that were bearable (or even cool in the mornings) and that did not require a trip inside to wring out their underwear and dunk their heads in a bucket of ice cubes. When we stumbled out of the car after our six + hour trip, Noah stretched, looked around, and said, “It’s COLD here!” (It was probably 80 degrees.) Atlanta, you’d better watch it with all the one thousand percent humidity days, or your number one spot in a certain five-year-old’s “Favorite Medium-Sized State Capitals” list is going to be in serious jeopardy.

The first day we were there we took Noah up to the park that overlooks the town, which is a Veteran’s Memorial now, but used to be the spot where the pool sat. The pool had a high dive, and when you stood on top of it, you could see what felt like miles in every direction. I dove off of the high dive for the first time in my life up on that high dive, and in my flailing attempt to be graceful I somehow managed to remove the right side of my bathing suit from my body. I didn’t notice this until I had climbed the ladder out of the pool. It wasn’t too many summers later that the new community center and pool were built and the old pool was filled in and landscaped over. No one ever makes the connection between those two events, but I have my suspicions.

One afternoon we went to visit my dad at the college where he’s been a professor for the last twenty (whoa) years. Rosie looked right at home, strutting around the sidewalks, like “Ah, yes. THESE are my people.” Later I’m pretty sure I saw her Googling “#1 Party schools, U.S.” on my parents’ computer.

The college has a nice duck pond, with some crazy looking bird things that cannot be ducks, I’m sorry. So maybe the college needs to think about how accurate it is to call it a “Duck Pond” and start thinking up other more accurate terms like “Weird-Ass Birds That Look Sort of Like Black and White Turkeys” Pond, or “Swimming Avian Creatures” Pond. I think I might contact the administration about that.

What with the non-sweltering temperatures, there was plenty of time for some hardcore frolicking and romping in the grass.

Afterwards we had dinner in a nearby town at The Harvest Table, a restaurant that supports local agriculture by serving foods bought from the surrounding farms. The Harvest Table is owned by Steve Hopp, who (among other things) is the husband of Barbara Kingsolver, author of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (a book I talked about in a previous post) and a bunch of other widely-read, critically acclaimed novels. My mom is in a book group that Barbara Kingsolver will occasionally participate in, and once when she was taking part, my mom sat next to her as she told the group how she is pretty introverted – so much so, that she bought herself a special pair of red cowboy boots to wear when she is on a book tour to help gird up her confidence when talking to fans. To which my mom replied that her daughter had a pair of cowboy boots as well, that she refers to as her “kick-ass boots.”  This confirms what I have known all along, and that is that Barbara Kingsolver and I are incredibly similar. Except for the introverted part. And the growing and cooking all her own food part. And the being a finalist for a Pulitzer part. And the being published at all part. But otherwise!

Half-Pint enjoyed checking out the hard maple candy at Mr. Oleson’s general store and also wreaking havoc in general by rearranging all the handmade wooden furniture to suit her toddler feng-shui needs.

Driving back home we went the back roads, passing farms and rolling hills, and it reminded me of the time I was driving back on that same road from an athletic banquet late at night near the end of my senior year of high school and after cresting one hill encountered two pairs of shining eyes staring straight into my headlights. There were two black dogs directly in the middle of the road, and I slammed on my brakes and swerved to miss them, nearly wetting my pants in the process. Later when I got home, I told my dad about the incident (the dogs were fine, the car was fine) and I remember him very sternly telling me that if I were ever in that situation again, “You HIT those dogs.” Meaning, if there were ever to  be a choice between an accident with a dog or an accident with the side of the road or oncoming car, that I should hit the dogs instead of risking a much more serious wreck. It’s a horrifying hypothetical to consider, for sure, but a totally great saying, I think. I’m going to start adopting it as a pet phrase from now on when I have to make a similar (but much more ordinary and less death-defying) choice. Like, “Dude, I just about busted my kneecaps when I tripped back there, but I decided to drop the tuna casserole to catch myself instead. I really HIT THE DOG on that one, bro.”

Anyway, it was a lovely drive.

Back at my parents’ house there was a sprinkler, that Noah finally decided to jump through after running a wide circle around it for twenty minutes. Once I convinced him to go through it (by running through it, fully clothed, myself) he couldn’t get enough, and now asks me daily when we are going to get our own sprinkler. I told him we’d consider it once the weather didn’t make the water immediately vaporize, and until then we could use the sprayer in the kitchen sink. On the dishes. He didn’t seem as excited about that.

Once when I was in high school (?) I read about a great trick you could play where you simply rubber banded the spray lever of the kitchen sink sprayer so that when a person turned on the water to wash their hands, instead they would be hit straight in the chest with the water. It was so easy and genius, it was totally worth the (wet) disapproving looks. I like to tell Noah funny stories about when I was younger, but I think I’ll conveniently omit that one from my repertoire.

Rosie wanted nothing to do with moving water thankyouverymuch, and instead was content to trail my dad around yelling “GRAAAAAMMMPS! YAAARRRR YOOOOUU? GRAAAAAMMMMPS!” And then once she found him putting on her best wide-eyed blinky eyelash stare and saying “Tinky-tinky!” This was his cue to sing Skin-a-ma-rinky dinky dink. He was pretty much powerless against the blinky eyelash stare. We’re all powerless against it, let’s be honest.

Twenty-four hours after we arrived the internet went out at my parents’ house and we were without it for the rest of the visit. It was….nice. We didn’t even kill each other! Instead, we put together about 4000 puzzle pieces together over the course of the four days, read books, took naps, and just generally lolled about. Holy cow do we need more of that in our life. I am going to start the Lolling About Initiative in our household. More lolling! Less….not lolling! Effective immediately! I think it could catch on.

In summary, we took a trip to Virginia last week. We had a good time.


1 Jo(s)e(ph) { 07.12.10 at 9:49 pm }

the swing is green!

2 Julie Ross { 07.13.10 at 7:41 am }

I love that Rosie parked herself between gumballs and lighter fluid! So cute!

3 WhiskAwayNic { 07.13.10 at 9:21 am }

Wow, I JUST finished Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and I dream of starting a massive garden in a small town. And now, thanks to my husband’s Kentucky roots, Barbara is actually a distant relative of mine. Woo hoo for awesome writer connections!

And my college bff taught me the sink sprayer trick. Apparently her mother pulled it on them every April Fool’s Day, even once they learned to expect it.

4 Allen { 07.13.10 at 11:12 am }

would you folks be ok with me coming to loll for a week?

5 Elissa { 07.13.10 at 2:17 pm }

It’s funny that I have always known where you were from because before the summer that we met, Luke referred to you as “The Short Girl from Virginia.” :)

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