Sorry, President Reagan

Kidney stones will always remind me of the week Ronald Reagan died.

President Reagan’s body lay in state at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, before being flown to Washington D.C. for his funeral.  We lived just a half hour from the library, and the naval base where the party was departing was just ten minutes away.  The route planned for the motorcade from the library to the base went right by our neighborhood.

Naturally, I dressed up the boys — we had just three boys then — in their finest red, white, and blue, purchased American flags, and told them all about how they should be respectful and quiet when the Big Black Car with the Very Important Man went by.

At the same time, my husband was in the air on his way to Florida.  He was a very expensive courier for his company that week.  He had to go to Orlando, pick up a part, turn around, and head back to California.  It was a long ordeal, but he was only on the ground on the East coast for five hours.

During that time that he was on the ground in Florida, I began to have a bad backache.  This was not unusual for me, since I was a nursing mother of a four-month-old with two other toddlers to take care of.  I spent a large part of my day bending over or crawling on the floor.  But as the day went on, it got pretty bad.

I called David and told him that I wasn’t sure what was going on, but maybe I needed to see the doctor.  I knew everyone at our church was getting ready for the annual Father’s Day campout in Yosemite, and I hated to bother anyone, so maybe I would wait until he got back and go in the next day.  He boarded his plane and took off, bound for a stopover in Denver.

When he got off the plane in Denver, he had a voicemail from a very tearful wife, saying I didn’t know what was happening, but I had to call somebody and go to the hospital.  I didn’t know who I would call, but I had to do something.

He called me back repeatedly during his layover and got no answer.  He of course imagined the best possible scenario:  me, lying in a pool of my own blood, with our three small children weeping over my lifeless body.

The truth was not nearly so shocking:  I had called a friend, she had taken me to the ER, and I had turned off my cell phone because in those days hospitals were pretty vigilant about keeping cell phones off inside their doors.  Oops.

I had called a friend who I didn’t know really well, but she ended up being the perfect fit.  I didn’t know it at the time, but she was a former firefighter who had EMT skills under her belt.  By the time she arrived, I had lost the ability to make any decisions.  She took my doctor’s office to task over the phone for putting me off, and then called someone to come get my two older kids.  She packed Andrew into his car seat carrier, put together some bottles for him, and off we went to the hospital.

As we sat in the waiting room, she kept telling me to be louder.  When I am hurting, I get very quiet and pale.  She told me I’d better start screaming or we were never going to get seen.  I didn’t do it, but the suggestion made me laugh.  When sitting became unbearable, she went to the desk and asked if it was alright if I laid on the floor in the waiting room.  Not surprisingly, the nurses decided that they could find a bed for me after all.

An hour later, I was on Demerol (read: high as a kite) and Andrew was full and happily resting in his car seat.  Remember poor David, up in the air, thinking I’m dead?

By the time he hit the ground in LA, I had passed the stone, been discharged from the ER, stopped at Trader Joe’s for a snack, and was back home with our other two kids.  My friend stayed until David came home, just so she could corroborate my story about JUST HOW BAD IT HAD BEEN.

It was a very intense few hours for all of us, except for Cameron and Ben, who got to hang out at their friends’ house while they got ready for camping.

We missed the funeral procession.  I will always be a little sad about that.

The Move

The week of the move, we had a painting party.  We expected maybe four or five people to show up.  To our delight, TEN people showed up.  It was amazing!  Even our friends with babies brought them along, setting up makeshift playpens with boxes.  We had more than enough to do.  We painted all of the trim (which was dark wood) and covered most of the downstairs with this crew.  There are some spots that still need touching up, but a huge amount of the work was done, and we were grateful.
The living room
Here’s my friend Shelley all alone painting around the door that leads to the garage.
“Hey, we’re all done trimming this entryway, so let’s go stand on the kitchen counter.”

Jaime and Amy fit perfectly to do the top of the kitchen.
We ended up staying that night until around 10:30, but we felt really happy about what was done.  Thank you to everyone who came.
Then a few days later, moving day arrived! 

Loading up
Ben put a sign on the door that said “I love moving!”  I did not feel the same way around six hours later.
The new place is just a short ten minute’s drive away, over a little back road most of the way.  This road feels a little bumpy in a regular car, but according to my husband, in a moving truck , it feels like “THE SURFACE OF THE MOON.”

I’m not sure why, but all of our bed linens ended up in a pile in the driveway.

Below you see a picture of the Most Difficult Piece of Furniture We Own.  You may see a picture of our dining room hutch in this post from last week.  The important thing to know about this hutch is that it does not come apart.  It is one piece.  We have moved it from Massachusetts, to San Francisco, to L.A., to Charlotte, and every time people’s eyes get really big when we tell them that it’s a single piece.  David understands how it needs to be moved by now, but he is always nervous about it.

I call the photo “Scaling His Personal Everest.”  My parents think he looks like General MacArthur.  I can see that.

Notice Wayne in the foreground, a good ten feet away, hands firmly in pockets.
He was not getting involved, and was not ashamed to say so.  Smart.

Proof that the hutch made it into the house.  Then we could all breathe a sigh of relief.

Maddie drinking Gatorade.  Moving is tough on 3 year olds.

 By the time we were all sitting around eating dinner that night, Maddie had crumbled to a shell of herself.  I asked her to go upstairs to put on her pajamas and she begged me to make that her “last job.”

I get tired just looking at these pictures!  Oof.

Who’s Excited?

And Then I Saw the Mannequin Head in the Hockey Mask

This past spring I found myself with a free afternoon and a babysitter for the kids.  I had to meet a friend in Plaza-Midwood to scope out her wedding location for flowers and decorations, but the meeting went quickly and then I found myself in sunny Charlotte all alone.  I decided to stop in at Ruby’s Gift, which is a shop in NoDa featuring local artists.  I knew I needed a few gifts for our upcoming trip to Massachusetts, and I wanted to look for a Father’s Day gift for my husband.

One of the featured artists at Ruby’s is a painter named David French.  He largely paints scenes from Charlotte, and David and I both loved his panoramic scene of North Davidson street between 36th & 37th.  It’s where we usually go on date nights, so it holds a special place in our hearts.  I decided to purchase it for him for Father’s Day.

The only problem was, the painting wasn’t mounted.  It was enclosed in plastic with some foam board behind it, but I could envision a long, expensive process of getting it custom-framed in my future, and I really just wanted to be done with the gift that afternoon.  I asked the cashier if they had any mounted ones available.

Here’s where the story gets exciting.  She said to me, “No, but let me call the artist and see if he’d be willing to mount it for you.”  Next thing I knew, she was on the phone with David French, who apparently lives just a few blocks over from Ruby’s.  He replied that he couldn’t leave the studio just then, but if I was willing to stop by, he could exchange the non-mounted painting for a mounted version for a small price.

The cashier gave me directions on how to get there, and concluded them by saying, “It’s pretty crazy,  You can’t miss it.”  Meanwhile, flashing through the back of my brain was every warning I’ve ever heard about going to a strange location alone.  Don’t do it!  You’ll never make it out alive!  Surely the artist is a crazy person locked up in his lair, waiting for someone to be stupid enough to be lured in alone!

Because I am a very rational person, I ignored all those voices in my head and got in my van and began following the directions.  On the way I called my husband to give him a heads-up in case I really did die.  But he didn’t answer his phone, as usual.  At least I had the comfort of knowing that I had tried.

I got to the street where this man lived and as it turned out, the cashier was right on the money.  There were a score of normal houses, and then on the corner there was a very bright, somewhat dilapidated home with a two-story, open garage in the back.  The lot was overgrown with weeds, dotted with eccentric metal sculptures, and hemmed in by rusted metal gates which opened just enough for the van to fit through.  As I drove slowly up the gravel drive, I looked out my window to see a mannequin head fitted with a hockey helmet hanging from a tree.  Comforting.

To put all of your minds to rest, I had decided that if the studio looked enclosed and scary, I would drive by.  But as I approached I saw the doors wide open, and the artist and an intern/helper person were both working within eyeshot of the road.  OK, probably no death coming my way this afternoon.

I walked up, shook the man’s hand, and introduced myself.  We made the exchange and he showed me around the studio.  At that time he was working on this painting:

You can buy “Soul” here

This painting was commissioned by the girlfriend of the owner of Soul Gastrolounge.  If you click on the image, you’ll see him looking over the railing at the top of the stairs.

Mr. French told me about the work he had started doing for some locations in Matthews (locals, look for his stuff at Renfrow’s!), and offered his business card to me — but not before turning it over and crossing off a phone number he’d jotted on the back.  I drove away happy that I had made the stop.

The end of the story is that David liked his present, although we’re still trying to figure out where to hang it.

Here’s one of my favorites:

Amelia at Amelie’s — because this is how I feel there, too


 FACT:  I used to own these Keds.  However, I did not pay $125 for them.

They’re bringing them back!

FACT:  Every time I hear the opening strains of “I Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum come on the radio, I yell out “DRUNK-DIALING SONG!”  Softer hearted people might like it, but I can’t stand that it was the song of the year last year.  Seriously, what good ever came from drunk-dialing your ex?!

FACT:  There are two actors who I most associate with my husband.  I think these guys are a little bit to blame (credit) for my falling for David:

1. Jimmy Stewart



2. Danny Kaye

Here’s Danny (R) hamming it up with Bing Crosby in White Christmassource

(Congrats, Melanie, you got it right! I asked this question on facebook and twitter last week and Melanie got it right away.  She also said she’d like to see David dance like Danny.  I second that.)

FACT:  Danny Kaye in White Christmas reminds both David and me of a more modern small-screen character…

Cosmo Kramer from “Seinfeld” — source

Run Away! Run Away!

This weekend I am attending a women’s retreat with about twenty other ladies from my church.  We are going to the mountains, and –joy of all joys– it is supposed to be COOL there.  Last year it was inappropriately warm and humid.  And though I acknowledge the sovereignty of God over the weather, I say, what good is a trip to the mountains if it’s like that?!  No sweaters…no cold mornings…boooo.  It looks to be different this year, Lord willing.

The word “retreat” nearly always reminds me of the military command from Monty Python’s The Search for the Holy Grail, where Arthur would order retreats by shouting “RUN AWAY!  RUN AWAY!”.  I’m thinking of asking my doctor about this British humor disorder.

Anyway, your prayers would be appreciated for the community of women in attendance, as well as for my husband who will be manning the fort here alone.

(what is the deal with the military references, Kelly?!)

Just one other thing to tell you…last night as David taught our small group, Maddie sat sweetly in her rocking chair next to him and sang her new melodious tune called “My Poop Smells Bad.”  Really.  If you want to know the words, you just repeat the title over and over and ascend the musical scale with each repeat.

You’re Not Too Good to Shop at Goodwill

Yesterday I had maybe one of my best-ever trips to Goodwill.  In the picture above, please find:

5 boys’ long-sleeved dress shirts
7 pint sized mason jars (I am mildly obsessed with mason jars of all shapes and sizes)
6 tiny canning jars with lids
8 single-subject notebooks
15 folders with various sports on the front
4 large containers Elmer’s school glue
3 pairs children’s scissors
1 name brand air filter for furnace

My total at the register?  Thirty-five dollars and change. 

It looked like Target had unloaded their leftover school supplies to this store.

Do you think women in ancient times came back to the village and bragged about how much they had bartered for?