Friday, March 30, 2012

It Matters in Metter

A huge part of being me — and it runs in my family, so it's a gene, I assume — is the ability to find contentment and adventure in the mundane. Which is why being in Metter, GA (population 4,130), yesterday morning while Harleigh underwent a "medical procedure" (colonoscopy) had me at a fever pitch excitement. [NOTE: My 20-year-old daughter, much like her mother, has no qualms about sharing personal tidbits of information about herself, so the mention here will receive, I'm sure, a rather tame response compared to all her college friends privy to the pre- and post-colonoscopy details she was more than happy to dish.]

It started with a 6AM drive to Candler County Hospital that snaked us through towns like Pulaski and Register, townships with darling still-operating post offices and restaurants with names like Uncle Shug's Chicken Barn and Opie's Fry Shack.

As we neared Metter, I began to see lights, a distant sign of something a smidge bigger than what we'd been through. Once in the center of Metter, punctuated by a 4-way stop and gas stations which open at 8AM, we almost missed the Candler County Hospital altogether. Devoid of stories of concrete and windows and the usual massive hospital parking lot bathed in stark white lighting, instead we drove into what appeared to be an elementary school, hours before opening, with a few teachers there early, their windows casting a warm glow from what I imagined might be hobnail lamps on worn and honey-toned maple desks, complete with an apple and wooden ruler.

What would make most moms say "No child of mine is going under anesthesia in this po-dunk excuse for a hospital" had this gal instead feeling all warm and homey and exclaiming "Oh honey, this place is too cute." I think this comforted my girl, who knows that when "cute" and "modern technology" (heck, it's a hospital, they've got regulations to fulfill in order to operate) combine, it's a win-win.

The lobby of the hospital just begged for a large butcher-paper-covered bulletin board with artwork interpretations of a still life in macaroni noodles on construction paper done by first graders. The linoleum flooring and tile walls, the doorways and scale of rooms . . . all of it took me back to elementary school, and it felt safe. After a pit-stop in the lobby bathroom — an endearing one-ie (a nod to the size of the facility, and much appreciated by anyone like myself with IBS) — we headed back to outpatient check-in.

[SIDE NOTE: I loved everything about this experience so far, which began when back in the hamlet of Norcross — how I refer to my outside-the-perimeter-of-the-big-ATL hometown — I'd been communicating to various Candler County Hospital administrators. Every time I'd call, I'd get a person. And everyone knew everyone. When, with a billing question, I was told by Harleigh's Statesboro physician to call the main hospital phone number and ask for Nikki (no last name, no department), it was heaven. In an age where you hit #1 to get to a menu, then spend the next 5 minutes hitting keys like a half wit to get to a "customer service" rep with an attitude, you better believe I reveled in calling a number, asking a human being for Nikki, and getting Nikki.]

With Harleigh in the capable hands of a beef-fed grandmotherly nurse with an ample bosom and a penchant for calling everyone "darlin'," I settled into a chair in the waiting area for an episode on the overhead TV of "I Love Lucy" and to begin reading Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

I struck up a nice conversation with the only other person in the waiting room, a woman with a cast on her arm, a hoodie covering her shoulders, and a bad romance novel in her lap. Her husband, who was scheduled for a colonoscopy before Harleigh's, was back getting prepped. She was (not because she seemed, but because she admitted) whacked out on pain killers from tendonitis  surgery the day before, and her son was asleep in their pickup truck out in the parking lot waiting on daddy's procedure to end so he could cart them all off to sister's weekly doctor appt. for injections of some sort. I had the common sense to let the conversation trail off or I'd never enjoy the peace and quiet of my book or the guilty pleasure of yet another episode of "I Love Lucy."

I was told by Shannon, the outpatient check-in lady (and by this time I was on a first-name basis with most of the hospital staff) that breakfast starts at 8AM. So around 8:30 I headed to the cafeteria which again felt like going back to being seven. For $3.00 (and a generous dose of "have a bless-ed day" from the hair-netted servers), I got real scrambled eggs (Miss Inez told me they were real), link sausage, and grits. The breakfast buffet variety far exceeded just those three items; it was like a meat extravaganza, and with cafeteria tray in hand, I settled into a cozy booth in a postage-stamp size dining room and read while half-listening to orderlies and nurses at the table next to me. Their thick southern accents almost begged translation, and the sweetness of country life oozed from every pore of every person and wall surrounding me.

Sometimes when I'm in the ATL hospital monstrosities, I feel a feudal system of medical personnel surrounding me. I figure that the surgeons probably dwell in Tuxedo Park or hoof it in from Country Club of the South, and after performing surgeries to the piped in swell of classical music, then return home to Bitzie and an obligatory evening cocktail party at the estate of Grant and Mindy Rutherford across town. Here, in this Metter hospital, everyone from the janitor to the brain surgeon (well, I'm exaggerating a tad, not sure they do brain surgery in Candler County) are all of the same stock. The physician performing Harleigh's colonoscopy is probably the second cousin of the aforementioned ample-bosomed nurse, everyone in the procedure room is recounting the town middle school's last evening's production of "Annie Get Your Gun" and abuzz with the excitement of this weekend's tractor pull, and my sweet girl is going under to the familiar twang of Taylor Swift.

The Way to Truly Enjoy Hospital Waiting

It's all in the observing. But it can't be overt. It's got to be disguised behind a book or a blank stare at a TV screen. People are fascinating. A phone conversation between Paw Paw and his middle-aged daughter about picking up little oh-you've-got-to-hear-what-she-did-at-iHop Amber can be as riveting as a Steven Spielberg blockbuster. The mundane of real life, as evidenced in the success of "Seinfeld" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm," is palpable and dramatic, relatable and funny. As opposed to the big screen, where you walk away thinking "if only I could be that pretty, that smart, that whatever," living in the moment, even if it's in lil ol Metter, GA, reminds us that we're all from the same stock. Don't let those moments, as simple and fleeting as they are, slip by you without appreciating them in all their mundane glory.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Pollen Count, New Baby, and No Thrifting

Atlanta is bathed in yellow dust. Everywhere. Thank gosh I don't suffer allergies. With a big hairy dog, there's lots of yellow to be traipsed into the house. I'm forever vacuuming and swiffering, and never seem to stay ahead of it. Luckily, his white fur has stayed super white; otherwise, he'd look like a big jaundiced baby. [When Gideon semi-closes his mouth, like the bottom right picture of the collage, we think he looks like Sam the Snowman from Rudolph. Gideon himself thinks the resemblance is uncanny.]

Worked at church this morning for Easter clean-up day, one of my favorite volunteer activities. We are literally cleaning house for His arrival. There's something really compelling about preparing things for a loved one's homecoming.

Then off to Piedmont Hospital to see Molly and Jamey and new baby Hammond. What a handsome boy. Loved spending time with Molly, chatting and, of course, holding the sleeping baby Hammond my entire visit. Luckily, no new visitors were vying for Hammond-time. I had him all to myself. Heaven.

And, gang, don't count on any thrift-store-find posts. With my upcoming beach vacation, every time I think of going into a thrift store here in the hamlet of Norcross, I think about that money being spent on a whole slew of to-be-discovered thrift stores in my beach destination. That's a no-brainer.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Gideon turned five on Saturday, St. Patty's Day! 
I made him wear a holiday bow tie, and he camped out at the front door for all the world to see, like a proud lion guarding his den (only in this case it's more like a circus lion in a goofy costume).

[I love the bottom right picture. He's got Ben the Bachelor butt-crack hair. 
Sorry, Giddy, I tried to brush it in a different direction!]

My dear girl came back from New York today. Met the group at the train station this morning so that I could help get everyone back to their cars. She headed straight back to school :-( Got to snuggle with her for a bit while waiting for luggage. 

[A text below from her this past week where I commented on some photos posted on Facebook of us taken at the train station when she left. This one made me smile, really big.]

Mom gave me these pretty silk flowers which made their way to a basket on my coffee table.

And a mason jar gets a gingham ribbon and a butterfly and holds Shabby Chic clothespins (love this line at Michaels!) and a sprig of pussy willow.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Big Apple Mission Trip

On Friday afternoon I had the pleasure of hosting the GSU BCM New York Mission Trip team at the office for a few hours. With the Amtrak train station 5 minutes from where I work and the need for three cars to be parked safely somewhere for the week, my workplace was the perfect meeting point for the kids (and their administrator, Miss Donna). After hanging out for a couple of hours, two co-workers (thanks Buzz and Sarah!) and I took the team to the train station.

(My girlie is the one with the wavy hair and glasses.)

I made them snack/dinner bags to take on the train.

Each bag had a water bottle, a wrap sandwich (which I tucked in at the last minute), raisins, an orange, breakfast bar, cookies, peanut butter/cheese crackers, lollipops, wet wipes and a gumball prize capsule with a scripture on a strip of paper and gum inside.

I had two sandwich options.

Harleigh is the only child I know who when she calls and asks "watcha doin' mom?", thinks nothing is out of the norm when I answer "ripping fabric into squares for cloth napkins, then wrapping them around water bottles and securing them with jute." Paper napkins just shoved into the bag? Not on my watch.

You can follow Harleigh's trip on her NY Mission Trip blog.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Baby Blocks

For Molly's baby shower, I wanted to have a craft. We gals at work are a creative group, so I knew that most of those attending would enjoy something crafty. I came up with the idea of painting blocks. Bought plain solid wood blocks at Hobby Lobby, painted them all white, sanded their edges for a rustic look. Then for the shower I set out the blocks, paints, brushes, rounded-corner squares of scrapbook paper, and old Golden Books about the alphabet and words (for inspiration and ideas). I also had a small bowl of paper squares, each with a letter of the alphabet, so that the girls could take one and we wouldn't duplicate letters.

I painted all of the blocks below except the ones where noted. The shower group painted a little less than half the blocks, which left me with a bunch to finish, a "chore" that I gladly took on (and, honestly, was sad when the painting ended!).

I had a few blocks leftover, so one got a gator on it who wrapped around all sides.
 G is for glove and grapes.

Another non-alphabet block with butterfly and a flowery vine.
Q is for queen and quilt.

Another un-alphabet block got a beach ball, overalls with a chicken and a turtle.
I is for iron. U is for umbrella (thanks to Laura). F is for frog.

C is for cotton bolls, cow and clown. Un-alphabet block with a dice face. 
P is for peacock (another Laura original; her blocks are the loveliest jewel shades!)
Another part of the U is for umbrella block, this including adorable yellow rain boots (artist, Laura).
F is for fire, fish and fork.

A block with an H (for Hargather, the baby's last name) 
and a baby face (thanks to Molly's sister, Robin Anne).
I is for ice cream.
E is for elephant (another Laura gem!).
The two blocks on the right were done by Jenn. Each is like a little water color canvas.
B is for bear and bee. R is for rabbit.

O is for octopus (Laura's masterpiece).
J is for jar of jam and jellyfish.
N is for nest.

M is for monkey, mouse and moon.
An un-alphabet block got a spiderweb and spider.
On the right top, another side to Laura's peacock block.
An un-alphabet block gets a house and a pear.
A cat on the C block.

Three more pieces of artwork by Jenn. B is for boat. R is for rooster. S is for sheep and spider.

W is for watermelon. K is for knife and key. Y is for yolk.

X is for x-ray. Another side to Y — yarn. V is for vase and violin.

I'll be spraying them this weekend with a clear matt finish. And then they'll be gifted to Baby H, keepsakes to be handed down for years to come!

Friday, March 2, 2012


It's really hard for me to justify doing extravagant things for myself. I don't indulge in clothes and shoes. My home is modest and probably under-improved based on how long I've been in it. I don't treat myself to facials, mani/pedis, or hair coloring. Harleigh and I stopped going on vacations when she entered private school.

I don't spill all this to make a pity party for myself. Quite the contrary. As I've said before, I'm probably one of the most content people you've ever come across. But this year, I was tempted with living large. Going out on a limb.

I've been with my job for 15 years as of last December. After 10 years we get our three weeks paid vacation and a two-week sabbatical. I scheduled those two weeks at the time when we brought Gideon home. Not a relaxing two weeks by any means. A house full of puppy ain't no vacation. After those two weeks, I came back to work feeling stressed and overwhelmed.

At 51-years-old and with a three-week sabbatical for the taking, this time, I promised myself, would be different. I plan on taking off the first week, time at home to nest and pack. Then Gideon and I are heading to the beach for 15 days of reading, shelling, crafting, taking photos, walking, swimming and blogging to my heart's content. I've booked this dreamy beach house in Florida called Captain's Cottage. Private pool. The view kisses the ocean. Secluded beach (all  homes, no hotels) reached by a wooden walkway leading right out my back door. I get light-headed thinking about all that time to look at the sea, pad around barefoot in a rustic beach house pretending its mine, sit on the deck at night with a glass of wine and listen to the waves with Gideon at my feet. W-o-r-t-h-e-v-e-r-y-p-e-n-n-y.  I can't even imagine how much fun Giddy is going to have — his first visit to the ocean!

Here is where Dawn E. Girl will spend her sabbatical, the biggest decision on any given day being "beach or pool?"

Living in Pretty Surroundings

My home makes me happy. I know this love of home isn't lost on most gals in blogland; so many blogs I read gush or allude to the same sentiment. Here are some images from around Chateau Gahan.

The lamp I painted and made new shades for (for Harleigh's bathroom) now lives in my craft room. We redid her bathroom in light blue and light pink.

A church friend whose wholesale business was closing asked me over to scour the warehouse for anything I wanted (for free!!). I got this wooden "book" shelf. How cute.

When my Harleigh is home, I love seeing her come into the kitchen in the morning with her blond curls piled on her head and bunnies on her feet.

Got this bird feeder at Hobby Lobby and have so enjoyed watching the birds from my kitchen sink. Cardinals, finches and even bluebirds!

My front porch flowers are loving this warmer winter weather.

In my craft room, the wall of pictures holds a special place in my heart. Each framed piece and work of art has a story.

I got this little cloche at Goodwill, lined the bottom with a circle of flocked scrapbook paper, and kitty found a new home!

One of my shell projects is to cover the head of this ceramic bust. It reminds Harleigh of characters from Pirates of the Caribbean.

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