Sunday, April 25, 2010

Nashville Here We Come!

We left Texas and sailed into Oklahoma with a rousing chorus of "OKLAHOMA".  Having been in the musical in Regional Theatre, I sang every part with harmonies. My husband started giving me looks 3/4 of the way through "Surry With The Fringe On Top " so I switched to singing under my breath.  Oklahoma seemed to zip by.  We seemed to be through it before I could get through "The Farmer And The Cowman Should Be Friends".
We spent the night in Ft. Smith, Arkansas.  Home of the dead animals.  Well it seemed that way.  We arrived there just after the storm and as we were unloading, I noticed two nearly naked baby birds on the sidewalk outside our hotel room.  One was tiny and already gone but the other was larger and still fighting for life.  Since I used to be in animal rescue, I kicked into rescue mode, scooped it up and ran in the room, wet a towel with very warm water and wrapped it up until I could think of a more permanent solution.  I was sad to find that I had arrived too late as the little bird breathed its last just a few minutes later.  A search of the area found a third dead baby over in the mud.  The storm must have blown them out of their nest.  The only one I could find was at the top of the second story roof tucked in the gutter.   That was a long way to fall and on to the sidewalk too.  Poor little things.  The girls of course wanted to hold them and pet them.  So I let them.

It was a hard lesson to learn but Nature is the best teacher and I don't turn down any opportunity to teach.  The next morning, as I was walking the dog, I found a little grass snake that didn't make it through the storm either.  The girls were thrilled to get to hold it.  I figured they would never develop a fear of snakes if they practiced  holding one that didn't move.

As we pulled out of the  hotel, Abby hollered out with all she could muster, "Good-bye baby birds.  Good-bye baby grass snake.  Good-bye muddy bird"  Abby doesn't leave anyone out. 
Needless to say, we were thrilled to cross over the "mighty Mississip" and into Tennessee.  The girls and I hopped out of the car and did the "We're finally in Tennessee" dance which looked an aweful lot like "Ring Around the Rosy". 

I had had this little ditty floating in my head for 2 days so we decided we ought to at least see Graceland while we were here in Memphis.  Neither of us are really Elvis fans but as the lyrics say, "for reasons I cannot explain, there's some part of me wants to see Graceland."  We headed on over and on the way, found a place to stop so we could all use the bathroom.  As we were pulling out of the parking lot,  I noticed, just out of the corner of my eye, a couple of people getting out of a car and one of them collapsing on the ground.  I brought it to Rick's attention and since we are foster parents and always up to date on our CPR training, Rick said, "Oh great.  Here we go" and turned the car around.  When we came upon the scene we found a young overweight man lying on the ground and his friend, also a young man trying his best to rouse him.  Rick called 911 and I went to see what I could do.  Since all we had ever practiced on were CPR dummies, this was new to us.  I felt for a pulse and found one but could not detect any breathing.  When I opened  his mouth, I heard what sounded like a snore so I knew he had an intake of breath.  I knew he was not sleeping as his color was not good but I was hoping with all my will that the snore meant he was breathing because although I would have done it, I did not wish to do rescue breathing on a stranger with a mouth full of braces to boot.  Rick had made his call and mercifully took over, and by laying his face right on the young man's nose, could detect shallow breathing.  He was out of danger and we could hear the sirens in the distance. We breathed a sigh of relief and waited around while they took this 18 year old boy to the hospital.  After our ordeal, it was too late to go to Graceland so we searched for a hotel in the area that would take pets.  Our search proved fruitless so we got back on the road and spent the night in Jackson.  Today we will be in Nashville and then Franklin and will start searching for a rental home this afternoon.  Our travels are near an end but the journey is still in it's infancy.  If you're interested, I will give you a tour of our new surroundings as well as a play by play on the house hunting.  I hope you've enjoyed the ride along the way and I'll see you in Nashville.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I Used To Be Fine...But I Got Over It

We were sad to say goodbye to New Mexico but happy to be on the road and closer to our final destination.  As we entered Texas, I made my husband stop for another picture.  I wanted to hug Texas. 

   What I needed to do was hold on for dear life! 
Not too long after Amarillo, we saw ahead of us a huge wall of ominous clouds.  The girls were excited to see a real thunderstorm and couldn't wait to catch up with it.  It wasn't just a passing thundercloud though but a huge cell moving across the Southeast and we were moving with it.  For over 3 hours, we drove at a snails pace in thunder, lightning, hail and driving rain with an occasional rainbow sighting which brought loud squeals from the girls.  Seeing the futility of it, we decided to take our leave at the next exit that looked inhabited:  Shamrock, TX.  Did you know Shamrock, TX boasts the tallest water tower of it's kind anywhere?  Neither did we.  We were just happy to see the one and only restaurant still open for business.  When we pulled up at the front with the elements churning all around us, the waitress opened the door and motioned us in.  The busboy ran out and took Abby for me while Angelina and I ran for the open door. When we were safely inside, we saw an interesting collection of locals hovering around a television in the corner watching the Weather Channel.  They were openly concerned.  Apparently the storm sirens had been going off. Apparently a tornado had touched down a few miles from there.  And apparently it was getting worse.  The waitress must have seen my concerned look and said in her thick country accent, "Don't worry darlin', if we get a twister, we have a walk-in.  We can all pile in there."  By "walk-in", I believe she meant the refrigerator.  Now God bless these sweet people for their shelter in a storm and for their concern for the safety of myself and my children and even my dog. (Yes, they asked the owner if they could bring our dog in the restaurant.)  But the look of concern she saw on my face was not for the howling wind and hail outside.  No.  It was for the fact that the air was filled with the long forgotten smell of cigarette smoke.  It was the fact that she offered us a seat in the NON-SMOKING SECTION.  It was the fact that my eyes had taken in the tiny salad bar containing iceberg lettuce, jello, and some pink stuff that looked like drowning marshmellows.  Oh my word!  What have we done?!
After my husband joined us, we were seated in a booth in the aforementioned section and perused the menu.  As always, my first concern is 'what will I feed my children'.  The only non-meat item on the menu was a grilled cheese.  I occasionally make grilled cheese for my kids from my home-baked bread and either veggie cheese or organic dairy cheese so it wasn't completely foreign to them.  At least they would recognize it as food.  When I placed their order, the waitress replied, "french fries, chips er tater tots?"  Oh my word!  Do tater tots still exist?  You  mean the FDA hasn't banned them as being a plastic non-food item?  The waitress only raised one eyebrow when I asked for a side of sliced tomato instead.  As expected, the sandwiches came on Wonder Bread.
Throughout our short and surpisingly inexpensive dinner, we learned from the Weather Channel that the storm was big and it was heading east at the same rate we were so it was no use fighting it, we were stuck in this little town for the night.  Fortunately, when the rain subsided a bit, we found a very nice hotel right next door to our sheltering restaurant.  We got a beautiful, newly remodeled room for the night and woke up to clear skies.
As my husband often does, he got up before anyone and went about town to gather supplies and get the "lay of the land".  He came back into the room just chuckling to himself.  In the local grocery store, he asked the checkout girl if it was always this windy here to which she replied, "If it ain't windy, you better write it down."  She asked one of the regulars, "Hey Leonard.  How ya doin'?"  His response, "O, I used to be fine, but I got over it".  And as Rick made his way to the door, a large man in overalls, that didn't quite button on the sides, rushed ahead to the door and said, "Here.  Lemme get that for ya."  I thought about these kind, friendly and genuine folks and their concern for strangers in a storm.  Just listening to him relay what he'd encountered and thinking of the kindness we'd been shown the night before, I knew then that we were on the right path.  Ok, eating is going to be a challenge, but we've overcome bigger challenges than that and will again.  This is our adventure and yes, for a moment, I was worried...but I got over it.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Vest In The West - Part 2

We headed north out of Bandalier and made for our next intended destination: the home of Georgia O'Keeffe, but we missed the turn and ended up at Ghost Ranch, one of the artists frequent haunts.  The landscape was simply breathtaking.

An ancient wagon was the perfect backdrop for nature's beauty.

We spied a lonely log cabin on the road out.  And could not resist stopping by for a closer look.

And if it really matters, here's the vest.  Have I mentioned how huge this thing is.  Perhaps if my husband gains 30 lbs. it will actually fit him.  I finished the back the night we pulled into Santa Fe...
And I'm working feverishly to finish the front and join the shoulders before the next post. 
This thing could fit King Kong so wish me luck.

Rick after passing a sign for body piercing: "That reminds me of a moile I once knew.  He said, 'It's a lousy job but you get alot of tips'."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Vest In The West - Part 1

We drove into Santa Fe Monday night and have spent two amazing days exploring the city and it's incredible surroundings so rich in history and culture.  Santa Fe is celebrating it's 400th year this year and if folks have been hanging out here since 1610 then by golly it's worth more than a passing visit.  If I could, I would have stayed a week.  There is so much to see and so much to show you of our trip, I  have had to divide it into two posts.  I hope you don't mind.
We spent the first day wandering in the Plaza at the center of the old part of town which is graced with ancient adobe dwellings and the beautiful St. Francis Basilica, built in the 1600's and rebuilt in the 1800's.

We strolled down the row of Navajo vendors selling their gorgeous handmade turqoise jewelry and woven rugs.
The next day we headed north of town to visit Bandalier National Monument, a pueblo inhabited by the ancestors of the Navajo from the 1100's to the 1500's.  The girls had a fabulous time running along the trails and exploring the caves.
A friendly beetle stopped by to say hello but the girls did NOT want to become acquainted.
Stopping for a rest and a chat with fellow travelors.     
Abby being Abby
The girls made a friend on the trail and instantly fatigue was forgotten for the thrill of foot races.
Tomorrow, our visit to Ghost Ranch and of course, the vest.

Rick as we were passing some cattle lying down in a field: "Look! Ground beef."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Enjoy Your Bliss, Sister

We spent a fabulous day on Saturday stopping at every overlook we came to, enjoying as much as we could of the Grand Canyon. By late afternoon, our brains could take no more of the spectacle. We were exhausted and at our WOW limit so we headed toward Sedona. If you've never been there, you need to make it a destination.
We arrived after dark and in the morning we were greeted by this.
And this.

We drove around town reveling in the beauty and checking out the shops.  The health food store here, New Frontiers, is amazing!  They actually have their own organic farm. As the woman behind the juice bar handed my husband his carrot juice she said, "Enjoy, brother."  That is spirit of the people here.

Then we took the girls to a trout farm and they really enjoyed feeding the trout.
By the end of the day, we had found the perfect spot to photograph Angelina in her finished sweater.
We dined at a wonderful restaurant with an amazing view of the red rocks at sunset and as the waitress brought me my food, she said, "Enjoy your bliss, Sister."
This was my "bliss" and I enjoyed every bite!

 Rick as we were passing a tacky Fred Flintstone campsite outside of The Grand Canyon:  "You know what Yabba Dabba Doo is don't you?  It's what you look for when you're hunting Yabba Dabba"

Monday, April 19, 2010

Southwest Potty Tour

I think I've seen the inside of every woman's bathroom between Long Beach, CA and Sedona, AZ. Who knew two little girls could pee so much. It does help to have a toddler potty in the car and as it fills up, lucky is the bush that is chosen to receive it's fertilizer. But it never fails that when you're in a remote place like the Grand Canyon, you hear those 6 dreaded words. "Mommy, I have to go _______"

I think the two videos below will give you just a slice of life on this trip with our two little girls who have not yet leaned to hold it.

Attempt #1 with the dog attached to my arm.

Attempt #2 I removed the dog to get a more steady shot.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Sweater In The Desert

After leaving Long Beach on Monday afternoon, we headed down to San Diego and spent the next few days visiting with family and saying our "good-byes".  Thursday morning, we pointed the van East and headed into the desert.  By early evening, we had crossed over into Arizona.  This prompted cheers from the girls and I simply had to get out of the car and do the "I can't believe I'm actually leaving California and going to Tennessee" Victory Dance.

I don't recommend that you try this unless traffic is light and you absolutely cannot contain yourself.
We spent the night in Lake Havasu and enjoyed a rousing chorus of "London Bridges Falling Down" while we drove over the London Bridge.  (Did you know there are actually about 7 verses to this song? And if you are a three year old all of them contain the word "poopie".)

As some of you know who read my earlier post, I have been knitting my daughter a sweater to match her doll's sweater.  I finished the shoulders in San Diego and am working on the sleeves as we travel through the desert.  I wanted my daughter to show progress on the sweater at each of the sites we encounter.

Here she is at noon in front of a fountain in Lake Havasu with the London Bridge in the background.  Just one and 1/4 sleeves left to go.
And look where we ended up this evening just before sunset.  Doesn't this just take your breath away?

What a Grand Canyon it is and what an amazing country we live in.  My moments of awe were interrupted by trying to explain to my six year old the wonders of our Maker and trying to keep my three year old from meeting hers.  I did however find a moment to snap my model in her sweater.

One sleeve complete and 1/2 to go.

The last space of my blog posts on this trip, I will reserve for nuggets from my husband's vast resources of knowledge, wit and boredom.  This is a direct quote from today after he saw what he thought were buzzards circling in the desert: "There was a midget that died in the desert.  Noone knew it until they saw the hummingbird circling overhead."


Friday, April 16, 2010

Happily Homeless

It's been five years almost to the day that we moved to Southern California to live in my Mother In Law's home and to help care for her.  I have to say I was not too happy about the prospect of leaving everything I knew in South Florida, including most of my family, and moving clear across the country where I knew noone.  Our first little girl was recently adopted and not yet two years old.  (In this picture taken April 8, 2005, the day we arrived, I am holding my step-grandson who's parents moved out a few months prior.) We moved into a home that hadn't been cleaned in over 10 years and every room had been used to store mountains of "junk".  It took nearly two months just to clean it out and get it liveable and then we moved my husband's mother home from assisted living.  To say she was difficult to live with is an understatement.  My husband and I put her back into assisted living and cared for her from there.  She passed away after we had been here nearly two years.  Within 6 months, we had her house on the market and were planning on pursuing our dream of moving to TN and owning some property.  Unfortunately for us, we put the house on the market just as the market took a dive.  And there we sat for two and a half years without a serious bite.  Something very interesting happened the week she died, though.  That was the week I taught myself to knit.  What makes it so interesting is that my Mother In Law was an avid knitter in her day and lamented to the very end that she could no longer use her hands to knit.  Not being a knitter then, I didn't understand.  Now being myself an avid knitter, I have the greatest sympathy for her.  But at that point is where my life in CA really began.  I got a plot at the local community garden where I was able to take up vegetable gardening again.  My knitting took off and I began delving into felting and then spinning.  We got relicensed as foster parents and took in a newborn who would eventually become our second daughter.  I taught myself to bake bread and started grinding my own grains.  I discovered Waldorf and adopted it's wonderful rythms in my home.  Because of my daughter's severe speech delays, I began studying American Sign Language and laid the foundation to someday pursue my Interpreter's License.  I began teaching knitting and crochet and needle felting and sewing and spinning and created a beautiful community of crafting women who surrounded me with motivation and encouragement.  But most of all, I opened my heart to some of the most wonderful friends a person could have.  Friends who shared my interests and beliefs and abilities and lifestyle.  Friendships I will carry with me for a lifetime.  My life in California that started out so bleak, has become so rich.  And although I leave a large part of me behind, I am looking forward to the next adventure God has in store for us in Tennessee.  The house is sold and empty but my heart is full.  Tomorrow, I will share the first of leg of our journey to find our new home. (Last picture taken the day we left, April 11, 2010)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My Very Own "Polly" Pocket

Oooh!  I'm a bit giddy and just a little woosy with excited!  I placed my order today for a brand new Pocket Wheel These wheels weigh all of 6 pounds!!!  They actually will fit into a tote bag. No, no, get this, they are so small, you can even spin in your car!!!  (I suggest you have someone else drive.)
These wheel were originally made by their designer Doug Dodd but for some reason, he ceased making them about a year ago. They were nearly impossible to get your hands on until now!  Jon McCoy is now making these wheels, each one by hand and as of today, he has begun taking orders!  No foolin'  Wait time for your handmade wheel is approx. 3-4 months but, Oh, it will be worth the wait.  I will at last be able to throw my wheel in a bag and take it with me to spin anywhere.  This does not diminish in any way, the love I have for my Majacraft Suzie Pro but I have to admit she's feeling a bit heavy these days at 14+ pounds. And my Suzie is made of that luscious and soft New Zealand remu wood which easily dents with the slighest knock so my tender little Suzie is best left at home where she can be pampered.
So as I'm packing, I will be dreaming of my wee Polly coming to life in the hands of Mr. McCoy and when we are settled down in our new homestead in Tennessee, I will await her arrival with all the
anticipation she deserves.