Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Mississippi Relatives Came

Alatha was a school teacher for 2o-something years, and she is so great with the children!

The week before last my uncle and aunt from Meridian, MS came over for a visit. I would have loved to have gone to Meridian to see them because I have such a fondness for that town, but I just thought it would be too much with all of our traveling already. Duffee and Alatha came to us, and I am so glad they did. We caught up and ate some good food and swam and just had a great time. Duffee is my Mom's brother, and it is fun when they get together and catch up on all the goings on in Meridian. None of my cousins and their children could come this time, but we all talked about starting to do a "family reunion" with everyone. How fun would that be?

At the Pool

Everyone knows or has heard of the oppressive heat and humidity in the Deep South, and really in the summer the only thing to do outside is be in some sort of water. At Nonni and Papa's they have a refreshing pool and, as you can imagine, we spend alot of time in and around it when we visit.

Harris likes it. In this picture he just spotted me and wanted to get to me, after being happily towed around by Ruthie for a while.
Ruthie and Annabelle riding a noodle horse. They would spend the entire day in the pool if we let them. A couple of days they were in for close to 4 hours with breaks only to eat and use the facilities.

This is sweet little Victoria, also known as "Wickie." She reminded me of a 50s swimming pin-up in this picture.

This is Nipper, the Amazing Swimming Border Collie. Daisy, my Dad's Lab, will not swim. Nip is getting old and hobbles around on land, but in the pool, he is a champ.


Yu-um! David's Catfish House in Milton, FL serves delicious fried catfish, hushpuppies, coleslaw, and cheese grits. Oh, and sweet sweet sweet tea. We went for my mom's birthday dinner, and it was just as good as I remembered it.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Beach

Annabelle and Ruthie

Alee and Mac (and crack in the back)

Alee buried in the sand

Harry's first time in the sand

Nonni and the girls with their lovely sandcastle

Beautiful Navarre Beach, FL. We saw no tar balls, just algae. Oh, I hope the oil doesn't spoil this beach!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Visitin' in Luverne

On one of our Montgomery days we headed to the little town of Luverne, to visit Jay's relatives there. His Great Uncle James and Great Aunt Marie (Jay's mom's mom's sister) live in a little house off Main Street, just around the corner from the post office, oh, and everything else in Luverne. It is one of those quaint little Alabama towns with antique stores, tiny diners, drug and hardware stores not named CVS or Lowe's, grocery stores called The Piggly-Wiggly, and, in this case, a Pepsi-Cola distribution company. And we can't forget the Chicken Shack, home of the best fried chicken in Alabama. We went to Uncle James and Aunt Marie's and met their neighbor, who saw us pull up and came to say "hey." She used to hang out with JuJu when they were teenagers. Then Uncle J and Aunt M's son Jimmy stopped by to say "hey." We all sat in the living room while the kids played.

One of Aunt Marie and Uncle James' grandsons, Morgan, was there and became fast friends with Ruth and Mac. I fell in love with Morgan- just an adorable 12 year old with freckles and a big grin and the quintessential Southern accent. He reminded me of Jem in "To Kill a Mockingbird." You may be wondering about the name Morgan, as that is Jay and Harris's middle name. Uncle James is James Morgan, and Jay is James Morgan Hodges, but Jay is named after his mom's maiden name Morgan, which just happened to be the same as her Uncle James's last name, as he is related by marriage, not blood. Is that confusing? It took me forever to get it all straight in my mind. The moral of the story is, there were alot of Morgans running around that day in Luverne.

We went to eat at the Shack, which was delicious; collard greens cooked to perfection and crispy chicken. ( I had been to the Chicken Shack years ago with my friend Cary, who is from Elba, a wonderful small AL town not far from Luverne.) Afterwards we went to Uncle J and Aunt M's daughter Elizabeth's home nearby. It stormed, the kids played, the adults "visited," and Harry gave and received lots of sugar from doting relatives.

It really was a great visit, unexpected, really, but I'm so glad Judi and Aunt Marie planned it. Family is family- not perfect, not always close, but always worth the effort to get together, hug necks, and catch up. Having family all living in the same town or nearby towns is something I only experienced during the summer when we visited my Nanny and Aunt and Uncle in Meridian, Mississippi. It always seemed so wonderful and idyllic- being able to just pop over to see your cousin or randomly meet them at the post office or drug store. I know it is not always wonderful and idyllic, but I lived hundreds of miles from my nearest relatives, and therefore it just seemed nice, just really nice to be so close. To have roots, and always be in one place. I loved growing up the way I did, but I always wondered what it would be like when people asked me, "Where are you from?" to be able to say "I grew up my whole life in _____," instead of the Navy-brat-moved-around-alot-not-really-from-anywhere answer. And funny, now I'm a Coast Guard wife and my children will have just about the same answer that I have.

I think I will always drink up and savor these family small-town moments, like our day in Luverne. It is just remarkable and unique, in a wistful way deep down inside me. I think it is in a small way a taste of longing for my true Home. My True Home. When my wanderings cease and I will be safe and loved and known- no movers with big trucks, brown boxes and rolls of tape. No goodbyes. No ache. Just Home.

Gone Fishin'!

We didn't buy these, but they cracked me up. The Mean Worm. Made by Hand?

Ruthie and Mac were so looking forward to fishing with PawPaw. It had been planned long before we came this time, and so it happened that we found ourselves in the "Biggest Little Bait Shop in Alabama" buying crickets and minnows and then down by the big pond in PawPaw's neighborhood casting lines. It was hot and we dodged a minefield of goosepoop, but we all managed to hook a fish- I even caught two! They were little Brim, and too small to keep, but it was so exciting to see the bobber go down and then yank and reel one in. Jay and PawPaw, being the resident experts, were so patient and good with Ruthie and Mac, showing them how to put a cricket on the hook so the cricket butt is facing out (that apparently, is what the fishies like the best), how to hold the rod and how to wind the reel when you get a bite. We will definitely go fishing with PawPaw again- and I want to catch me something I can eat next time. (Catfish? Oh yeah. What do you think PawPaw?)

State Farmer's Market

We stopped at the State Farmer's Market for some fresh vegetables while we were in Montgomery. It was Memorial Day so many of the farmers/vendors weren't there, but we saw lots of peanuts, peaches and plums- not to mention the preserves and pickled produce. It is a very "Alabama-ey" place to go if you are ever in need of fresh produce in Alabama's capital city.
It was here that Ruthie committed her first crime. She took a peanut from one of the open bins. Now I know the nice ladies would have given her that peanut freely, her being so darling and all, but I saw it in her hand when we were getting back in the car and I knew she would have to take it back and pay for it. Jay and I really didn't come down hard on her, since she really did not know what she was doing, and it was really sort of humorous to see her with that little peanut clutched in her hand, walking back in with Jay to "make it right." She was repentant enough without us having to say anything. I think it was a lesson learned, gently. Integrity in everything- even the smallest of things like a little dusty peanut. Gentle; the best kind of lesson, I think, for our precious daughter.

At JuJu and Paw Paw's

While in Montgomery we had fun at JuJu and PawPaw's. Harry practiced walking and started taking multiple steps on his own. He also had his first swimming time in a big pool, which he loved. We had dance parties and tea pah-ties, we read alot of books and played alot in the back yard. Oh, and we ate alot- whoo -eeee! Thanks JuJu and PawPaw, it was wonderful!

Visitin' in Montgomery

Well, we made it to Montgomery last Saturday and we had such a wonderful week there. We actually made the trip in one day, which was really by the grace of God. Harris was pretty miserable, but I think he would have been just as miserable if we had stretched the trip out to two days. It is a twelve hour trip, not counting stops, and we made it in about 16 hours.
Sunday Maggie came to visit. She was Jay's Granny's best friend and she is really like a grandmother to Jay and Greg. Maggie is sharp as a tack, but she has a lot of physical struggles that challenge her. She is so resilient and has really fought her way back to mobility from surgeries and falls and so many other things that have tried to keep her down. I am so thankful for Maggie, and glad that the kids have gotten to know her as their "Great Grandmother" during our visits to Montgomery, and through the sweet notes she sends in the mail. We love you, Maggie!