To Quote Jim Morrison, Summers Almost Gone


Never should such a pretty man say such ugly words, but in the words of the beautiful Jim Morrison, Summers Almost Gone.  The bugs might still be here, but the fun is certainly over.

During the summer I am AWOL.  By this I mean, Always Winesoaked Outside Lineforming.  In terms everyone can understand, I move to our house at the lake, in a tiny little town, outside the technology sphere, drink alarming amounts of white wine and lie in the sun until I grow yet one more set of fine lines and wrinkles.

Here, in this tiny house, I fail miserably to achieve any of the sun drenched fantasies I concoct all winter.  While I do run for about the first week I am there, I find that my running schedule interferes with either my desire to sleep past sunrise or cocktail hour, which starts approximately after 11:00 am.  The green juices and raw foods I consume during the year fall by the wayside as I become intimate with the chips and cookies which the kids that surround me demand. I never ride into town to the farmer’s market, on an antique bike with a handmade basket on the front, to collect fresh vegetables still dewy with organic goodness. The wind has yet to whip through my long gauzy skirt, my hair doesn’t flow in the breeze.  I do manage to swing by Bojangles for butter soaked biscuits occasionally, though, and can now distinguish between generic and Nestle’s raw cookie dough with a 70% scientific accuracy while wearing a blindfold.

ImageI wear my swimsuit coverups as high fashion. I think drawstring pants are the bomb-diggity. By the end of the summer, I find I closely resemble Orson Wells, in the later years.

 ImageMy brain atrophies.  I read smut and fluff.  While I began, in June, to read back through all books by Pearl S. Buck, by this time, the end of summer, I have just finished up the literary high of the adventures of Sookie Stackhouse.  I begin a blog in my head and then wander off in another direction because it is incomprehensible to me to remember how to power up my computer. (Hey, look!  A squirrel!)  My only accomplishment this entire summer has been to completely fold all the towels and swim suits on top of the dryer – one day.  Just one day I managed to complete that and it didn’t give me the mountain top high I expected.


My diminutive little cottage has a sweet master bedroom, with a giant, fluffy bed for The Goose and me, that stays somewhat out of the maelstrom.  The rest of the house is chaos.  Downstairs, there are enormous “kids” piled three to a bed, in the three beds, other mattresses dragged out from closets, four more kids on the sofa, one in a chair and some, in enos, strung from trees.  I say kids, though they range from 16 to 21. They each possess two feet that are constantly muddy, 25 outfits thrown haplessly on the floor, and all manufacture crumbs wherever they sit.  They each drink only 1/4 of each soft drink can they open and leave the rest to stick on wooden surfaces.  They roam like weasels in the night, sneaking beers and baking whatever they can get their hands on while I’m sleeping.  They cook everything on broil.


Friends and family come and go daily.  We never know who will be there from night to night.  Many mornings I awaken to find a whole new cast.  Family comes and we float until we’re prunes, going through Dora band-aids and margaritas like Imelda through shoes.  I issue the “be on good behavior” decree to all kids, they disregard it, and all goes on as usual and we find that we like it that way.  Sometimes there is dancing that causes my daughter to ask me the next morning to never dance again.  Some ladies, who are old enough to know better, participate in headstand contests after dinner and some Imageslink away in shame. Friends bring their pontoon over and we idle away hours sunning like seals. We draw endless sharpie tattoos on each other and everyone writes graffiti on the wooden outdoor shower walls.  We document the sayings that were funny at the time, like “I’m not above malt liquor” (courtesy of my new sister, the MILK), “twerk on Kirk”, which has something to do with my not dancing anymore and the lyrics to “Grey Goose”, the filthy worded theme song of the summer.  Elementary aged children should never be allowed to enter the outdoor shower.

ImageThere we have no internet.  No television.  To make or receive a call, one has to go out the front door, stand by the street and position one’s self just right.  Then, we yell and hope someone hears us.  If there were a convenient pole, like on Green Acres, we could possibly try climbing that.  For entertainment, we buy DVDs at the flea market, of current movies, complete with people coughing and walking in front of the camera.  Sometimes we get lucky and there are Japanese subtitles.  In this way, we feel we are expanding our linguistic education.  Cricket can write the dialogue from the first half of Hangover 3 in Japanese, from memory.


All in all, despite the mess, the chaos, all my hollering and complaining, it’s a simpler, happier way of life. The big news in our little town this summer is that the fire men have TWICE run the firetruck into the firehouse.  No murders, no political theatrics.  None of the bad feeling that comes along with being plugged into CNN.  I am delighted to have missed most of the Zimmerman business.  My heart resounds with joy to be in the dark about Weiner.  (Now, see?  I just snickered to myself over that because I’ve been with teenagers all summer.  I’m going to need some time with educated adults to be able to act my age again.) I’ve enjoyed being out of the loop. I live in constant hope of a worldwide EMP that will let us all live small again.  (Except for the hair color problem.  This does worry me.  Being gray in a post apocalyptic world seems somehow less glamorous.)

In the end, I yell and scream, everyone cleans up. There is vacuuming, dusting, endless loads of washing, we clear off the dock, put covers on things, pull out the carpet cleaner and turn off the lights.  The little house gives a big sigh and it looks as if we were never there.


Coming home, everything feels big.  I’m amazed that we need this much room in which to live. I can’t remember where things are.  My animals have shunned me, having fallen in love with their caretakers.  My old cat looks older and skinnier and glares at me from her place atop the microwave as if to say “Really?  Almost three months? Just pour me some milk, you naked, upright animal with thumbs.” I’m starting to feel that old pull inside me again to clean out some closets, find a calendar and organize us all.  I am going to put gas in my car for only the second time this summer.  It seems my hair has taken on a very “sun in” tinge and, jumpin’ jesophat, my dermatologist is going to need DMV tools to restore my face.  This morning, I caught myself yelling, for the first time all summer, to HURRY UP!  I watched the traffic report.  I regarded the giant pile of mail.  I got a text from the library that I was late.  And just like that, we are all forced back into the real world of school, schedules and shoes.

The real world sucks.


Willy Wonka Super Scrunch


The Goose and I went away this weekend to do pre-spring cleaning at the lake.  Spring cleaning, for me, is a deep and labor-intensive operation, involving turning the entire house inside out and washing it.  It involves heavy duty laundromats, construction trailers, muriatic acid and bodily injuries.  It feels fantastic.

Usually, I spend a week, a glorious week, alone, cleaning from dawn until dusk, taking long runs, eating only what I want, whenever I want, directly from the container and then sleeping in the middle of the bed.


Cleaning with The Goose, aka Edward Scissorhands, is much less intensive and usually involves washing one load of towels and him trimming down one of my plants that should not be trimmed, causing me to cry.


This is really neither here nor there for my subject.  I’m just warming up.  On the way home, we like to meander through winding roads and rumble through thrift stores and flea markets.  We are single handedly trying to bring back the 70s and recreate our childhoods.  For instance, I love Hull china.  I get that it’s atrociously ugly.  It really is.   So much so that my mother threw all ours away when I was little, declaring it trashy.  My dad had bought it and he used it for our dinner every Wednesday night, when Mom was at choir practice.  It’s a great memory.  So, I snap up odd, ugly pieces at flea markets and I order it off Ebay.  I ordered so much one month that Cricket called it the “Hull of the Day” every time UPS came.  Same with anything plaid.  Thermoses, lunch boxes, bowling bags.  The Goose loves anything that reminds him of his Mamaw.  He recently bought tiny little snuff glasses like his grandmother would dole out thin, pulpless orange juice by the ounce in.  He likes pictures of Jesus holding sheep, collies howling at baby lambs and the Last Supper depicted in ceramic. He likes the jelly jars she would give him to hold the snakes he caught.  We have to be careful or we could actually veer into tacky…


All this reminiscing got us talking about our childhoods today.  Somehow, I brought up the delicious memory of the Willy Wonka Super Scrunch candy bar.  I can taste it right now, plucked from the racks of the Majic Market in Tucker.  I was never a candy kid and still don’t crave sweets often, but that candy bar was da bomb. He remembered Gold Rush gum, in it’s great little bag.  Also, Gator Gum, that tasted like Gatorade.  How ‘bout  that gum with the liquid center?  It came in a blue that exactly matched my turquoise Gloria Vanderbilt pants AND shirt.  I chewed it every time I wore them, just for the matching sensation.

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We talked about how great it was that there were, seemingly, no rules.  Kids today never get a chance to try anything without getting in serious trouble.  A kid in my day could do literally anything and never get more than a stern talking to.  I once knew a girl that confiscated and consumed the entire wheel of her mother’s birth control pills in the Plantation Skating Rink bathroom, for what reason we could never discern, and got nothing but a swat on the tee-hiney and a night in her room, without her 8 track. No trip to the hospital, no DFCS investigation, no psych stay.  Life was just simpler.  She grew up fine and, I hear, had no reproductive problems later in life.

No bike helmets, no seat belts.  My mother actually told me that if the car caught on fire and I was wearing a seat belt, I might not be able to get out, so probably safer to just not wear one.  My dad used to let me ride, on top of 235 bales of pine straw, going 82 miles an hour, around 285 in the back of his truck.  I think the basic rules of gravity and centrifugal force might just have been different then.

Image     In these politically upsetting times, it’s just too bad that things can’t be cleared up in an hour by Keith Partridge and his manager. (I know, ladies, just take a minute and look at him.)  I feel sure the Monkees would have a better take on war and foreign policy and I know Ponch and John wouldn’t be so hard on kids today, just trying to have fun and grow up.  I, for one know that if I could, again, eat my lunch from an I Dream of Jeanie lunchbox, everyday would be just a little bit better.  I suggest everyone slip on their mood rings and call their senator, their congressmen, their principal, for goodness sake, and propose a bill to just stop and turn things back a little, just to the 70s.

ImageOh, gosh, even though my new blog is BEAUTIFUL, leaving a comment, nice, hateful or otherwise is tricky.  It’s done with the little heart up there in the right hand corner.  Very sneaky, sis.

Frat House Summer

This summer I lived in a frat house.  It sounds like more fun than it actually was.  

My son  goes through life in a giant traveling circus of chaos.  Early on, I made the decision to be “the house” where kids hung out.  My house was “the house” when I was growing up and I always enjoyed it.  The thing I didn’t take into consideration was that I was a girl.  I was an only child.  Also, my parents just, well, cared more?

I have given up, somewhat, it’s true.  This is strictly because of my selfishness and because multiple children just wear one down.  People used to tell my mother that having an only child just didn’t really count and it would make her furious.  I have news, it’s just too easy, especially if your child is a girl, and those of you with singles really should be more put together and help out the rest of us by vacuuming for us or bringing us meals. 

I have several friends with six, yes, six kids.  My son Shep’s best friend is one of six.  This allowed him to spend over 75 nights with us during the summer without his mother knowing he was gone.  

Shep is a social creature. His circus consists daily of a band of about 6 boys, over 20 pairs of their shoes, all over size 12, that take up the space of a Buick in my mudroom, a wardrobe of preppy clothes that would make a Kennedy jealous (all needing dry cleaning), an ever changing cast of “hot girls” and about 41 gallons of milk.  You know how, in those old Bible movies, a swarm of locust would arrive and decimate a town in about seven minutes?  Uh huh.  That.  

Boys are hungry.  My oldest, a girl, lives on air and french fries.  The Goose and I eat out mostly but we are left with the problem of the boys.  They are ravenous.  They want to eat every single day.  Creating a meal would be a mystery that I have no wish to solve.  I don’t know how other moms do it, but I am living for the day that some smart girl with kitchen skills finds Shep and begins cooking for him.  Maybe he can bring something home for us?

The fantasy I had of just hanging out at the lake all summer with the boys, like something out of a Hardy Boy’s book, just didn’t pan out exactly that way.  I pictured snapshot moments of bonding and wholesome marshmallow roasting. It went more like an 80s rock video. 

This summer I chaperoned, chauffeured, pulled kids on wake boards, ordered pizza, washed clothes, washed towels, washed towels, washed towels (did I mention that I washed towels?) and then did it all over again the next day.  The boys had a rotating wheel of girls so beautiful and, um, well, mature looking, that I felt like Mrs. Doubtfire in their proximity. Since Shep will start driving on his own next week, this was probably the last summer I’ll be needed as an integral house mother at the frat house.  He won’t need me for the hour and a half transport.  I won’t be driving when they forget I’m in the car and blurt out everything going through their boy minds.  Since I now know what’s in their minds, I feel this is a good thing for all of us.  As for me, I am trying to forget the lyrics to every rap song ever played. 

I hope, though, when the boys look back through the lens of time, they’ll remember this summer as the best one ever.  I hope it’s the jewel at the end of their childhood and I certainly hope they forget the language I used when asking them, over and over, to please clean up their $^!(!Image