For those who say you can’t live in a metro area because you’d miss “the wildlife,” listen to this tale of coyotes who routinely sing the song of their people beneath my bedroom window.
Technically, they are in my neighbor’s yard, but still they hoot and holler and there are babies, I can tell on account of the yelping pups who sound quite adorable trying to mimic their parents.
Luckily, we’ve been keeping Winnie and Duke with us at night by way of a gate at the top of the stairs, otherwise all hell might break loose when they go charging through the doggy door at 3 am only to be met with a pack of “real dogs” who know how to hold their own.
It’s possible this is an Atlanta-metro problem, on account of the lush green spaces (such pretty cities we have!) but the real problem of course is destruction of habitats, which in turn forces them to move closer to us for tasty food like cats. Best to put Mr. Whiskers on a leash, friends.
Like usual, my neighbors on NextDoor are all up in a tizzy about the coyotes because my neighbors on NextDoor are all up in a tizzy about everything, everywhere, all at once.
“We have to trap and kill them!”
“They will eat Fluffer Butt!”
“This is so scary, why won’t the city do something?!”
At this point I’ve rolled my eyes so far back in my head they are stuck. My mom was right.
I sympathize with people, I do, but also, like, umm, they are wild animals. Their homes have been destroyed most recently for the development of a subdivision promising 63 “moderately priced” homes “starting in the mid-800s!” in which you can, “Customize!”
I don’t get the housing market.
Don’t get me wrong, the houses are beautiful. I wish I could afford a million dollar house, but alas when I asked the bank if I could get a $5 million dollar loan, my customizations would include a helipad, a bowling alley, and a working Dunkin’ Donuts, they asked me for a paycheck stub to which I said, “Oh, I do a lot of things, but none of them pay actual money.” Then I stole a pen and ran away. #YourPensSuckWellsFargo
The coyotes however, are rightful owners of the land but without an appropriate FICO score they are forced to walk the streets at night, running in and out of backyards and terrorizing people so much they are forced to stuff pennies in a can and shake them from their porches. The people, not the coyotes.
Pennies. In. A. Can. #WholeNewTakeOnPennyCan
Someone also uses pots and pans, but don’t worry the “Coyote Authorities” told them it was safe.
Listen, I don’t have any real solutions here. I’m not a “Coyote Authority,” but I am watching that Nat Geo docuseries on Pablo Escobar’s hippos, so I AM an authority of invasive hippopotamuses taking over South American lakes and rivers. Maybe cocaine is the answer in some way?
I also know that this problem isn’t going away and that trapping and killing them is not a viable solution. What I don’t get is what the people want the city to do. Write them a citation? That’s sure to stop them in their tracks. No coyote wants to get caught up in a lengthy and expensive civil case that lasts for years. Or would it be criminal on account of the trespassing? I need legal advice.
All I’m saying is, I wish we had an unruly pack of alpacas rather than coyotes, but this is the hand we’ve been dealt. And I don’t know what the answer is, but can we please just stop with the pennies and start with keeping our domesticated animals inside at night. Or maybe I’m just saying this is a fact of city life and we should just suck it up and stop all the bitching?
We went to the Georgia coast for the first time last weekend. We kept meaning to get there, but every time we’d have a free weekend we’d fill it with yard work, or lounging on the couch all day, or going to Disney, there was nothing else. So, we decided to do it and just book the room and be committed. We also decided to take the dogs because ultimately we dream of being that family who travels everywhere with our dogs, only our dogs are shitheads with serious anxiety about most situations. So, we booked a hotel for two nights at a dog-friendly place, which generally aren’t the “nicest” hotels, but that’s okay we don’t want to be the people staying at a four-star hotel getting complaints because our dogs bark whenever someone walks by the door. People at two-star hotels are way nicer, and usually much more forgiving.
I should mention here that the Georgia coast is fucking lovely. The “fucking” is necessary there because that’s how lovely it is. I so want to tell y’all about St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island and Savannah, and I will, but first I have to tell you about something else. The flat tire. Well, the almost flat tire…
Friday we went to St. Simons Island where the dogs are welcome on that beach after 6:00 pm and they were actually pretty good doggos. Winnie, who is terrified of everything, was terrified of everything. But Duke, a much better traveler as he had two years of experience before Covid, was a very good boy except when other dogs won’t say hello to him he takes offense immediately, he shows no grace, and he gets pissed off and starts his barking and jumping on his hind legs like a goddamned madman. But that’s just normal Duke.
Our goal was to make it to three beaches: Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island Beach, and St. Simons. So with the last one checked off the list, Saturday morning we decided to head for Driftwood Beach, which as you may know is a beach littered with driftwood and it’s marvelous! See below.
On Saturday morning, we loaded up the beach buggy and the umbrellas and chairs, snacks and water, and we headed for the beach. The dogs came along because dogs are welcome all the time at Driftwood. As soon as we headed out Jerimiah looked concerned. He pulled into the Starbucks parking lot which was right across the street from our hotel (lucky us!) and said, “I picked something up in the tire.” He then got out of the car and checked the tire and saw a huge bolt sticking into the tread. Jackson got out and they conferred and the next thing I know we are at Firestone.
Now, this is where the story takes an interesting turn. We had obviously picked up a very large bolt in the tire and the tire was losing air. We all heard it. It was hissing air. But the tire sensor was not registering that we were losing air. I should mention here that last year we bought our first “nice” car. It’s an Audi Q7 and it is the most money we have ever spent on a car and for good reason. This car is top-notch nice and we love it. However, when all you have driven for most of your life are small Volkswagens (I know, I know Volkswagen owns Audi, but they are not the same) and Chevy pick-ups, let’s just say there are some things to learn about luxury cars and we usually learn them a little too late.
Like Saturday at the beach.
At Firestone they told us they couldn’t get us in until well after lunch. Then they told us to go to some other tire place down yonder. Meanwhile, the dogs are in the car, along with all our beach shit, it’s like 10 am on a Saturday in Georgia. It is hot, is what I mean to say, and we are all standing in a tire store parking lot wanting to be at the beach.
On the way to the other tire place, we decide to try Sam’s Club. We have taken our cars to Walmart to have the tires serviced before so we know they can usually get us in quickly and they are fairly inexpensive. So when we get to Sam’s Jerimiah goes in and Jackson and I start taking all the things from the back of the car to look for the spare. Meanwhile, there is hissing, but the tire is not going flat.
We get the back unloaded and voila! No spare. Just a can of “slime” and an air pump. What the what?
“Where’s the damn spare?” I squeak out.
Jackson says, “We don’t have one.”
Jerimiah comes back to the car and looks at us looking in awe at each other and he’s all, “Oh yeah, I was afraid of that.” Then he tells us that Sam’s Club can take a look at the tire in an hour. So we decide to sit there and wait. Meanwhile, Jerimiah takes the dogs for a walk around Sam’s Club and Jackson and I go inside to look for bug spray because the bugs at the coast are no joke. We do not question why there isn’t a spare, because what can you do?
Inside, I notice that there are no cars currently in the bays and three guys are just standing around. I figure I will go ask if they can squeeze us in a bit sooner and that’s when I meet Matt, the tire guy at Sam’s Club. Matt is very nice to me, although he was kind of a dick to Jerimiah. He tells me to have Jerimiah go ahead and pull it in. (eye roll) So I’m all, “Oh thanks! Because we don’t even have a spare!” And then Matt stops and looks at me.
“What kind of car is it?” He asks, very seriously.
“An Audi Q7.”
“Oh no, I can’t help you,” Matt says.
“You’ve got run-flats.”
Alright so some of you already knew where this was going because you’re not a dumbass like me. I had heard the term “run-flat,” but only for military vehicles. I had zero idea normal, everyday cars had run-flats. If you are kind of a dumbass like me (we really aren’t dumbasses, but you know, we kind of are) then you know that a run-flat is a tire that will not go flat. You can drive on them, up to 50 miles but probably a lot more, which is why we don’t have a spare tire. We have an air pump to pump up any air we have lost and then drive to the nearest tire place to get a new tire. Which in theory is no big deal, only when you are in Brunswick, Georgia on a Saturday in July and you have “very big, odd” tires, well, there is a problem.
You see, you have to replace a run-flat with a run-flat. And our tire size is 285/45/20, which I know by heart now having called about 15 tire places in a hot parking lot last Saturday. And they are hard to get. They have to be ordered.
We had a couple of options at that point. We could chance the tire back to Atlanta or we could spend a few more days at the coast and wait for a tire to get in or we could try to find someone who would patch the tire. Sam’s Club would not patch the tire. That is their company policy. Walmart, and many other places, will not patch a run-flat because they don’t want to take liability if something goes wrong. It’s an expensive tire and people will sometimes drive them until they actually do go flat just to avoid getting a new tire which makes the whole situation worse.
I get that this is way more than you wanted to know about car tires today and I salute you for sticking around.
At this point we were all hot and sweaty and a little bothered, but I gotta say, maybe it was the salt air, maybe it was the fact that we were all together, maybe it was because we were on vacation, but our spirits were still high. We never once got short with each other or complained. Whenever one of us would start to feel defeated we would look around the car and laugh a little. Honestly, this time was coming. We are road trippers and we are generally VERY lucky. We’ve never had any major problems with a car on a road trip (someone knock on wood) and the fact of the matter is this wasn’t a “major” problem, it just was a problem we had to conquer as a family.
We decided to drive down yonder to old what’s his names tire place. It was almost noon at this point and the temp was heating up. Turns out old boy closes up at noon on Saturdays. So, in another hot parking lot, we took the dogs out for a walk and started calling. Jackson called car dealerships around the area, who were less than helpful, if they answered. (The nearest Audi dealership was Jacksonville!) Jerimiah called random numbers he got from each tire place we had been to. I called tire shops like Mavis, Firestone, and Goodyear. No one had the tire, no one could get the tire quickly, no one could get us in. The Mavis in Savannah gave me another option: Just buy four new tires that are not run-flats.
“That seems extreme,” I said, as I looked out onto the massive yard in front of the tire shop while Duke took a big shit right into a ditch filled with water and mosquitos. “How much?”
“Ohh, I don’t have that size tire in stock.”
The Firestone guy asked where we were.
“Oh, you’ll need to go to Savannah to find a tire like that.”
The Goodyear guy in Savannah told me I’d have to go to Atlanta.
“That’s where we live. I know we can find 20s in Atlanta. Please help me get back to Atlanta!”
For his part, the Goodyear guy did try. But best he could do was get me a tire by Tuesday, which would be no big deal usually, we’d just stay a couple extra days and have a great time, but I had my pre-op appointments on Monday.
We all got back into the car. Jerimiah looked defeated. Jackson was sweating. The dogs were licking our faces. I said, “Jekyll told me to call Brunswick. Brunswick told me to call Savannah. Savannah told me to call Atlanta.”
We looked at each other.
“Well, let’s just go to the beach,” Jerimiah said. “We will figure it out.”
He started up the car and then the sensor came on: “Tire pressure is low in driver, left rear!”
That’s when I was like, “The Mavis lady told me to call RimThyme, which seems nuts. It’s like one of those places that sell spinning wheels. We don’t need spinning wheels. Or do we…”
That sparked an idea with Jerimiah who had been Googling tire shops all morning. He’d come across one called, “Rent a Wheel” in Brunswick so he called them and thirty minutes later our tire was patched and we were on our way to the beach! For real, “Rent a Wheel” saved us! They got us right in, were appalled no one would patch our wheel, “It’s just a normal tire inside,” the guy said, ” And besides, the bolt was in the tread, not the sidewall.”
Although when he pulled the bolt out of the tire he did say, “This is some Jeeper Creeper shit!” The bolt was actually massive and we still don’t know where we picked it up at, but check out this bad boy:
It was about three inches long and what even is that? An eye bolt? I dunno. In hindsight I should have taken a pic next to something for scale, but just know that the tire dude was accurate with his “Jeeper Creeper Shit” comment. If we lived there we’d think someone was out to get us! Damn it, maybe it was all the barking…
When the tire was patched and ready he told Jerimiah that would be $20. All Jerimiah had in cash was $25 so he gave it all to him and was like, “If I had more, I’d give it to you. You saved me today.”
Then we left the tire shop and promptly went to an ATM to pull out cash to take it back to the tire guy because the truth of the matter is, when you tell someone “If I had more…” in a situation like that, you just go and get more.
When Jerimiah returned with cash to “tip” him, he was so surprised and shook Jerimiah’s hand. He was the nicest person we encountered on our whole trip. Brunswick, Georgia, you hear me? We all know you have some issues (RIP Ahmaud Arbery) and you need to get your shit together, but please respect your “Rent a Wheel” people.
So yeah, that was our Saturday morning on vacation. We took the dogs to Driftwood, we walked, we played in the water, I cut myself when I fell into a hole with rocks (Driftwood is not a swimming beach, it’s a walking beach, for future reference) and then we took the dogs back to the hotel, went swimming for a bit in the pool, then got them situated in the kennel and went out Saturday night for dinner (Tortuga Jack’s on the water), mini golf, ice cream, and an evening stroll on Jekyll Island, where we were looking for the Loggerheads, but instead found a family of deer eating Loggerhead eggs. (shocked face!) It was a lovely evening and at dinner, Jerimiah thanked us for being calm, cool, and collected throughout the whole ordeal and we thanked him for the same. And also for being the kind of guy who goes back to the ATM.
The truth is, when Jerimiah and I were sitting in the car trying to figure out what we were going to do, both of us were transported back to our childhoods. Both of us have memories of flat tires–no run flats in sight–and how our parents handled that situation, and well, it wasn’t good. I remember being afraid we would be stranded because my mom didn’t have the money to replace a tire and Jerimiah remembers his dad flying off the handle, which was common, he was a raging alcoholic who flew off the handle at anything and everything. And we were proud of ourselves and at each other for pushing ourselves to be better versions of the parents we had, to be far removed from that generational shit that has the potential to bring us down, for being the kind of people who laugh when there’s nothing else you can do, and well, for buying an Audi, it was just a smart decision.
Stay safe and sane and try not to get yourself into any jeeper creeper shit, y’all.
Whew, it’s been a whirlwind kind of summer so far. I haven’t even been here on the old blog in several months and it shows. It’s looking a little shabby around here. Sorry about that, but thank you for your continued support even in my absence. I’ve received at least two comments telling me that they could optimize my platform or something like that and one more calling me an “asshole,” which I mean, I should take offense to, but it is slightly accurate as of late so Imma let it slide.
Well then, how the hell have you all been? Good I hope, all things considered. I have nothing enlightening to say today, only here to catch you up on some things: 1. My dogs are still crazy. 2. It’s hot as shit in Atlanta right now and 3. I’m officially finished with grad school, all school actually, and at the end of the month I graduate, earning my second masters degree, but honestly this is the good one.
Yep, it’s official. My 150-page thesis, a collection of short stories set in the Ozarks, is off to the Trappist Abbey Monks to be bound, my signature pages are signed, all assignments are completed and as far as the world is concerned I’m officially: Melissa Goodnight, MFA. Though because of my friend Andrew and his absurdly wonderful outlook on life, I will only sign my emails, Melissa Goodnight, MFnA because really that’s more inline with the truth of things.
There is actually a ton more going on in my life than finishing up grad school, but there’s a ton going on in everyone’s life right now so I’m gonna spread my shit like a Roomba that got hold of the puppy’s accident, that is to say I’ll gonna make a trail of shit over the next several weeks to keep you all updated.
And also, you are welcome for that visual.
Wow, I really did miss you all and I’m super glad to be back. Back to having free time to write on my blog, back to reading what I want to read, and back to being able to make up outrageous lies for how to get out of social obligations since I can’t blame it on thesis anymore…
So as usual, stay safe and sane, y’all! Let’s talk again soon.
I promised yesterday that I would catch y’all up on my life and so here I am keeping my promise. I’m just as surprised as you are! I’m like a politician with promises, usually. I campaign hard on a couple of them and only squeak out one, but since I only promised this one to y’all then well, vote for me? Okay, okay, get to the good stuff, Missy. Right. So I didn’t post in the entire month of September which is frankly, crazy, but for good cause I promise. I turned 40 last month and my mom was here visiting for like five weeks, FIVE WEEKS, and we went on two vacations and school started (I started thesis this semester) and well is that enough? No? Okay, my kid turned 13 on October 1st, which as you know having just dealt with my 40th birthday and the breakdown that came with that, then realizing my little baby is now a teenager, whew. There were some dark days, y’all. Dark days.
But I’m back and almost normal now and although I still have thesis and finishing my MFA to deal with, my mom is safely back in Kansas, having joined us for a trip to NYC which was fantastic! She’d never been before and I so wanted her to experience it all. It was on her bucket list and helping her tick something off of it at 77 years old felt rather wonderful. Of course, I didn’t do it for me or for people to tell me how great I am (insert eye roll) I did it because I enjoy spending time with my mom and taking her on new adventures. It’s an added bonus to experience something like NYC with someone who has always wanted to go and who never thought they’d have the opportunity. I love that even at 77 years old, hard of hearing (though her new hearing aids are great) and with vision problems, she is still up for anything. I can see where I get my adventurous spirit from!
Aside from the trip to NYC I also got to celebrate my 40th with my best friend, Rachel! Her birthday is just a few days after mine and my mom’s birthday is the day after hers so we all met up at the halfway point between Atlanta and Kansas City for a weekend of fun! The halfway point was, however, Evansville, Indiana. Ha! No offense to my Indiana friends, it was better than expected. Waving to you in Bloomfield, Jessica!
Then there were all the other things I’ve been contending with, you know normal life stuff. Like how Jackson is too liberal for our family (that’s a whole other post) and how we might have to move again for Jerimiah’s work, and my dogs, oh lort, these dogs. Anyway, I’m uploading some pics for your enjoyment over the past month of my life. I hope you are all caught up now. I’ll be around again, just don’t expect too much from me, ya know?
I have been walking around for weeks now saying, “Whew” and making animal-like noises or holding a long sigh, or shaking my head in disbelief like a cartoon character. Seriously. I’m sure my family thinks I am tad bit crazy, but I am and this semester has really done a number on me and more than one time in the last month I have yelled, “This is bullshit and I don’t want to do this anymore!” Then I keep doing whatever it is I am doing. Because the truth of the matter is it isn’t just grad school that is knocking me down, it’s life. And it isn’t just me that is repeatedly being knocked down by this life. And some days it feels easier to stay down then to grab hold of something and hoist yourself back up, and then other days you pop right up by using just your own abs, still there are other days where you throw your arms out wildly trying to grab hold of someone else to stop you from falling. Or maybe it’s to bring them down with you? Either way it isn’t your best day and you know that.
What are you saying, Missy? I’m not 100% y’all, but I think I am saying I know what you are feeling right now because if it can happen to person it has happened to one of my family members, friends, neighbors, cohorts, or me in the last month.
I’ve witnessed a loved one lose their partner, their driving force, to cancer. I have listened to a friend desperately try to save her marriage. Waited for news about a grandma in the hospital, a child battling Covid. I have watched more gun violence in my community. I have went to bat for people who come to find out didn’t deserve it. Worried for a friend and a new job prospect. I had an icky reaction to my covid shot. I have been told that I am not a good person from people who have no idea who I am. I have watched heartache on the news, and heartache on my street. I’ve spent so much time trying to not worry, trying to make everyone happy, trying to be involved, but not too involved. Trying to stay connected to people. I have worried about what the next year will look like. If I am safe and comfortable doing things that were so normal and easy a year ago. I have lived my life on that thin line between anxiety and hysteria and I keep pushing back against toppling over that line and don’t like it.
If any of this is resonating with you, then it’s probably time we both take a step back. Stop spinning for a moment. Breath in, then back out. Focus on some good. Watch some doggy videos. Take a hot shower. Plan a trip. Look for the goodness that is still out there. I know it is. It is in your life, just like in mine, but sometimes the not so good tramples over everything else and we are left with those bleak feelings. Very bleak.
What has been good in your life? I’ll go first.
Jerimiah and I had our second covid shots last week.
We leave for Disneyworld in a week.
I have started planning J’s 40th birthday, and so far it rocks.
Jackson was invited to stay in the STEM program for 7th grade because even though he’s a virtual kid still, his grades, attitude, and personality shine through the screen.
Did I mention the new baby? It’s a girl and she’s my great-niece and she’s healthy and happy.
There is one week left of my semester and I start my thesis in the fall and all that is squared away and as of right now my grades in all four classes are: 126%, 100%, 107%, and 100%. I’m doing okay.
My dogs are becoming socialized and barking less at the mail carrier that they see every, single, day.
My mom is doing okay.
My friends are checking in.
My husband and son love me and show me in little ways every, single day.
Did I mention our first vacation in more than a year is next week?!
Now it’s your turn. What are you thankful for today? How are people showing up for you? I hope you have a hundred things on that list, but if you don’t, if you can’t conjure it up today, don’t worry. Don’t get down on yourself. There’s always tomorrow. And I’m always around. You know where to find me. And if I’m not there it’s probably just because I’m crying in the shower. I’ll be out in a minute…
The neighbor Dale and her husband Old WhatsHisName had a Ditch Witch up and running at nine in the morning. On a Saturday. Listen, I like Dale and Old WhatsHisName, but mostly I just like their dog Cookie. She’s a chocolate lab and she’s beautiful and friendly and she likes to play tug in her front yard with her favorite rope toy and she reminds me of my dearly beloved, Bentley, whom we had to put down two years and some change ago on account of her arthritis and her slow doggy dementia. She was nearly 14 years old and sometimes she forgot who I was, but mostly she sat at my feet and watched squirrels out the window and listened as I read her bits of essays and stories and she always, always let me cry into her neck fat. Dale and Old WhatsHisName are sort of afterthoughts. I like their dog so I tolerate them. I listen to Dale tell me stories about how she used to live in Charlotte too and really she didn’t like it as much as I did being a make-up exec is hard work and do I ever use eyeliner, because I have beautiful blue eyes, but…
The Ditch Witch at nine am was a bridge too far. Especially because I didn’t sleep well last night on account of it being week eight of my semester and why does everyone suddenly need me to do something for them and yeah I’m aware that I need to make some important decisions about residency and candidacy and my thesis in the upcoming weeks and when is the last time I cooked dinner for my family and hey they are opening school back up and Jackson is too afraid to go and I agree especially because a custodian in the district just died from Covid, but I mean half of the teachers are vaccinated and MAP test scores don’t really matter much this week and maybe we should just keep compounding this mom guilt on top of wife guilt on top of whatever it was that made me give that cash to that woman today in the Sam’s Club parking lot.
So the Ditch Witch sprang to life at nine am and I rolled over to my husband all, what the actual hell is that and he said how should I know it sounds like some type of heavy machinery and I knew right then that Dale and Old WhatsHisName were doing some yard work because about a month ago I was violently awakened from the loud diesel noises of a wood chipper from Sunbelt Rentals.
I wish I had a point. And I was drinking a glass of wine on a beach somewhere all alone. I feel all alone all the time, but it’s not possible because I am with my family all the time and I love them dearly and also I need a fucking break and a vacation and someone to tell me that it will all be okay. I know that it’s usually me reminding you all that it will all be okay, and really I know that it will, but sometimes when you haven’t been sleeping and your medicine is making you sick but you have to keep taking it or you’ll really get sick and you have no means of escaping this life that is really actually quite beautiful and you are thankful for it so much but that sometimes sucks like it does for all of us right now in varying degrees you just have to get on your old blog and yell about Ditch Witches and neighbors who really aren’t that bad and things that are absolutely outside of your control and some in your control but you that you don’t have answers for and you have to say your dead dog’s or your dead kid’s or your dead dad’s name because it matters at that moment.
That’s all I’m saying.
Damn it, y’all. It will get better and I love you and you have pretty eyes and you don’t need eyeliner but if you want to use it then use it because you are responsible for your own happiness and one day when we can hug each other again I’m gonna hug you so tight you might have a hard time breathing but you won’t mind cause you’ll get it. I hope you get it.
Meaning, there’s no place like where your home is. The home that has your actual shit in it. Your bed. Your favorite toilet. You hidden stash of chocolate. But alas, for the next 24 hours my “home” will be in a rented Chevy Suburban since Jerimiah, Jackson, the dogs, and I are leaving tonight to drive to Kansas to get my mom, to then turn right around and drive back. Twenty-four hours of being in the car with gas and bathroom breaks with my kid, my husband, my dogs, and my mom (for 12 hours). This should be fine, totally fine.
Listen, we haven’t seen my mom in over a year and she wanted to come visit for Christmas and while she is mentally well, she is physically not able to make it around an airport without help. Plus, she would have to fly into, literally, the world’s busiest airport in December. So that’s a no. Plus, who is flying right now? And if you are, why? That’s all. Why? It’s bad enough to have to chart out the gas stations on the way to Kansas and back that you think might be the cleanest (that is to say all the Quik Trips) but how could you navigate a small space like an airplane and not constantly be bothered by the fact that you are sitting so close to other people. Like those people who flew from Mainland to Hawaii against doctor’s orders because they had all tested positive the day before but I mean, fuck everyone else on the plane, amiright?
So we are loading up today to make the trek and hope to be home by Saturday evening. We are taking the dogs because otherwise we would have to leave them outside all night (with the doors to the screened porch open of course, for shelter) because Winnie hasn’t learned to not chew up all our shit when we leave them alone for an extended period of time. We would board them overnight but Winnie, being a quarantine puppy, isn’t well socialized with people. That is to say people terrify her. She shakes and hides. So there is that. As you can see our dogs rule our actual lives.
We have all been tested. We have quarantined since tests and we are not making stops, going inside people’s houses, etc. We might make a couple of driveway stops to say hello to my sister and best friend, who are also not infected with the virus, with our masks on, no hugging, to say hello. Otherwise, nah dog. There are too many variables and too many people have not been tested and are around people who are not tested and who are regularly not taking this seriously. This, we have deduced, is the safest way.
So wish me luck. Or don’t, doesn’t matter much to me either way, but I do hope that you are wearing your mask, avoiding excessive and unnecessary travel (do as I say, not as I do) and are considering getting the Jolene Vaccine (The Moderna One) in the spring when it’s safe to do so.
We decorated for Christmas, woo, what at time. Well, we partially decorated. It’s more like a decorating weekend around here. Not that we can’t do it all in one day, I just never know what I want to do, how I want to decorate, what new items I may need to incorporate, then we realize we need something because we misplaced an item or it broke (this year it was the star for the “big” tree) and Jerimiah has to run to Target, then there’s the whole Jackson gets bored and spends hours chasing the dogs around trying to put a Santa hat on them, and then it finally happens (only with Duke this year) and hilarity ensues. At that point we are hungry and take a break for dinner, then decide enough already and watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation to start the season off right. Yesterday was no exception. So enjoy the photos of the mantle, the family room tree, and the living room tree. That’s as far as we got!
Hope you’re feeling a bit of Christmas magic this week!
We cancelled our Thanksgiving plans this year, more on that at a later time, but instead of having a houseful, it will just be the three of us (five of us if we count the dogs, some days I do, some days when I think I might kill one of them, I don’t). Still, even though there will only be three, maybe five, of us eating yams we bought the biggest can that Sam’s Club has. Why? They are yams, damn it.
The point of this is that the can of Bruce’s Yams is now sitting on our kitchen counter, because where does one fit a nine-pound can of yams? And Jackson has taken a liking to showing whomever he Facetimes with, his grandfather, his friends, his school study group, the can of yams sitting on our counter, while saying, “Look how crazy my parents are!”
Yesterday another sixth-grader yelled, “Oh my goodness, my parents have a six-pound can of strawberries on our counter!” And much to my hilarity I was sufficiently absolved of my yam guilt as Jackson said to his father, “Daddy, you and mommy are not the only crazy parents! Andrew’s parents have a six-pound can of strawberries!”
And just like that the world righted itself.
But by this time the question of how many yams are in the can had presented itself, leaving Jackson with a long division problem that he didn’t want to do, but one that Jerimiah made him do. Turns out, there are approximately 11 yams in the can. At least according to the “Dam Yam Hypothesis.”
So I have this term paper due on Flannery O’Connor and her collection of stories, A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories and if you don’t already know this, then you haven’t been paying attention. I’ve been complaining about Flannery O’Connor since the moment I was assigned her back in August, even though it was my own doing, like, I picked her from a list of authors and books, authors and books I would gladly trade with a classmate right now because I swear to all the holy peafowl the name Flannery O’Connor is getting on my last fucking nerve at this point.
Whew. Okay, deep breathes.
My paper is due…ummm… yesterday? Today? Friday? Our professor has moved the due date because she is gracious and kind and because we are all, “Uhhh, umm, about the final paper…” Our professor is cool. I like her. I hate Flannery O’Connor at this point.
Lately I’ve been waking up arguing with myself. I’ll be coming out of that dreamlike trance one is in upon their dog licking their face first thing in the morning and I’ll be thinking, “Flannery O’Connor is a raving racist.” Then my dog will lick my face more, and I’ll be all, “No, Flannery O’Connor was commenting on racism,” then more licks and then, “Flannery O’Connor was just a victim of her time.” Then finally I’ll yell, “Stop licking my face, God damn it, Flannery! Err, Winnie!” And I’ll begrudgingly start my day.
Life is weird.
Anyway, I better go work on this damn paper. Have a pleasant, Flannery O’Connor-less rest of your day, assholes.
Thursday of this week was a bit hectic. Jerimiah had to go to his office for a meeting (gasp) I hate when he has to leave the house for work. I’m so used to him being at home with us where it’s, you know, safe. And I never feel prepared on those days. Truly he’s only left about four days since the second week of March, but still. So, he was gone all day, the dogs were acting nuts, I had class, Jackson had class, I planned to cook a nice dinner and have it ready in the hour between when Jerimiah would be home (5:00 pm) and my class started (6:00 pm). In a normal year the time between five and six is also known as “Hell Hour” on account of all I’m trying to juggle. Of course I haven’t experienced “Hell Hour” in like seven months now so this week it took me by surprise.
It was a pretty uneventful day, save for the crazy dogs, then suddenly (as it happens) all hell broke loose. Jackson had a bit of a meltdown concerning math, I had started dinner, my phone was ringing, Jerimiah was texting me about an errand I had him run, and just when I was like, “The hell, Thursday?!” the baby squirrel showed up at the front door.
For sure. A tiny, baby squirrel who had fallen out of a tree and was in such shock that it was trying to get into our house, while the dogs lost their mind at the glass front door, then tried to climb the brick by our front door and fell again. I couldn’t take it anymore, so Jackson and I sprang into action (after I turned the heat down on the mushrooms I was sautéing.)
I immediately remembered the last time I had saved a baby squirrel, many moons ago in North Carolina. I’d Googled “Squirrel rescue” and a place had popped up and I called them and was schooled in squirrel rescue. In fact, I learned so much that I had saved the number in the event it happened again, and had just, last month, deleted the contact: “Squirrel Lady” from my phone. After all, she had been the Lincoln County, NC “Squirrel Lady” so she wasn’t going to be much help now. But I did remember some key points.
1. Don’t touch it without gloves.
2. Put it near a tree, the mother is probably around just waiting.
3. If it comes to you for help it’s probably in shock, they aren’t that trusting.
4. Only call someone to come get it if it looks terribly injured.
5. Do not try to keep/rescue/rehabilitate it yourself.
Number five came in handy a few times when Jackson begged to keep “Lee” as we named him. “Squirrel Lee.”
Obviously Jackson wanted to save Lee, so he put on his ski gloves and went for it. Meanwhile I was cutting the Brussel Sprouts to roast them, and hoping my kid wouldn’t get bit by a rabid squirrel. Hell Hour, geez.
Turns out Lee loved Jackson, so much so that every time Jackson would place him back by the tree, Lee would run back to Jackson to get picked up. It went on like this until I finally had to say enough and force Jackson to come inside so the Mommy squirrel had a chance to come back. The whole time I was terrified I’d find a dead Lee in the morning, and also had a dream of Lee trying to break into the house and cuddle in bed with me. I dunno, y’all. I dunno.
Anyway, Friday morning Lee was gone. And Jackson was happy, but also sad. And I was still burping up Brussels Sprouts from the night before.
The squirrel-Lee story.
**Please don’t try this at home, we are not trained professionals.**
I’m getting real fucking tired of saying this, but here we go, “The hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm somewhere over Alabama and it got us. It got us good.” I didn’t sleep a wink. Right before bed I got the alert that said it was headed our way. Now mind you, I knew it made landfall in New Orleans, but New Orleans is a good eight hours from us so I wasn’t too worried. Then I started to get weather alerts from DeKalb County all, “Y’all, some shit fittin’ to go down tonight. Pull ya umbrellas out ya tables, pick the pinecones up out ya yard, and remember to vote. The election is six days away!” They also “closed” school, but not really because we are still going virtually on account of the Covid, but essentially they said don’t worry if you can’t log on in case you lose power “cause you will probably lose power.” Seems to be some infrastructure problems they could be working on, rather than sending me salty texts at midnight, but whateves.
So early yesterday morning, right around the time I was falling into a good sleep, Lady Winifred Beesly of Atlanta started up on her barking at random noises she heard, only it wasn’t so random. It was pinecones hitting the roof and the windows at speeds no pinecone should travel. Then the creaking of the pines started. I don’t know if you have ever watched a pine tree sway in downgraded hurricane winds, but Imma tell you it’s spooky.
Pine trees are so tall, and their roots are so far into the ground, that they are flexible trees by nature. But that doesn’t stop you from looking out your window, watching the swaying trees, wondering if you would be safer if you woke up the whole family at three am and herded them into the guest room in the basement.
The good news is we made it through the night unscathed. Relatively. The street looks like it vomited pine needles, the plants are all a little wonky, and our old windows took a beating, but the worst part was when the doorbell rang at 8:45 am and our neighbor Dale was standing at the carport with Sir Duke Motherfucking Barkington of Charlotte on a leash. What?! How did that happen?
Turns out the wind was so strong, it knocked open our wooden gate. It didn’t unlatch, just opened it up wide enough for a petite standard poodle, who hates me, to slip out undetected and romp through the neighborhood until Dale and Cookie came outside and found him running around the empty lot by their house. “Looking like he was chasing butterflies.” Yeah, that fucking checks out.
Listen, it’s been a week. And I need these storms to be over and I need this damn election to be over and I need to incorporate more gin into my life.
Jackson took us on a “hike” yesterday evening. He discovered a new trail with his friend Bella a couple of weeks ago that was “way far away.” Way far away, is really just behind our cul-de-sac and he’s been wanting us to go “exploring” out there with him so he could go further out, so we harnessed the dogs and took out about five o’clock last night.
We only made it to the end of the cul-de-sac before our neighbor Mary (who’s just come back from seven months in Germany) stopped us to say hello, tell us she loved our yard signs (BLM and “Bernie, Ok Fine Biden”) and to warn that there is a mother coyote and her babies living back there somewhere. Cool. Cool. Cool. Thanks, Mary! (Side note: she also said she came back to vote “him out” and it was so different being back in the US where no one takes Covid-19 seriously.) Have I mentioned how much we love living in the brightest blue spot in the South?!
Anyway, we trudged off through the woods then, with Jackson and Duke leading the way, while I slapped at mosquitos and tried not to step on Winnie, who is so afraid of everything (she’s literally a 60-pound 8-month old puppy 🙄) that she kept running between Jerimiah and me every time she heard a twig snap.
Jackson was dressed, of course, as Police Chief Hopper from “Stranger Things” because we just finished the first season and he’s obsessed, and also he knew we might need the protection of the law, especially when we reached the “creepy, energy place that has a fence around it” like in “Stranger Things.” We were all, “Oh sure, okay. (Wink, wink).” Until we got to the fence with barbed wire and we’re like, “Oh damn, yep, that’s like in the show. Weird.”
So there you have it. We took a nice long “hike” on what we think is sewer easement land, stuck behind our cul-de-sac and a creek/lake we had no idea existed and right before a creepy energy compound secured with fence and cameras. Not weird. Not weird at all. Ps… we saw a dead raccoon, but no coyotes.
As usual, enjoy the pics from our little adventure.