Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Don't Try This At Home (Part One)

Last month, Larry and I gathered all our daughters in New Orleans for five days of eating, drinking and parade watching. Bonnie is a grad student at Tulane and is involved with Krewe du Vieux, one of the earlier parades that make up the carnival season. I can’t go into great detail about exactly what the parade entails (this is a family blog, after all), but suffice it to say it’s all about satire and poking fun at the latest scandals in the city, in a no-holds-barred, nothing-is-sacred manner. It’s a riot.

Also joining us were Larry’s sister Leanne and her significant other Don. It’s rare that we're able to get all four of the kids together now, as three out of four are out of state (and number four is soon to be), busy with their lives and jobs and school. We made this trip their Christmas present, flying them down so we could all spend some family time together. A grand, grand time was had by all, and the trip was chock full of priceless memories,  one I’d like to share here today.

Being a party of eight people, sometimes getting around as a group was troublesome. Bonnie had her car, a Ford Focus, not really built for trucking the whole family around town. We traveled via a hodge podge of street cars, interesting cab rides and good old hoofing it. Larry had been adamant, when we left Bonnie’s to go to dinner that first night, that we could all fit in her car.

As is often the case, we all looked at Larry like he was crazy and proceeded to go split into two groups, one in Bonnie’s car and the other in a cab. It was a bit of a hassle, as our cab driver insisted Bonnie was taking the long and difficult way to get there. So after dinner, Larry insisted we could all fit in Bonnie’s car. At that point, a little weary from the day and not willing to debate further, we said okay.

If you aren’t familiar with the Ford Focus, stop reading this right now, open a new browser window and find a picture of one to look at. We fit eight people in one of those. Bonnie drove, Jessica sat up front, with Elsie quasi on her lap. Leanne, Sarah and Don sat in the back seat, and I laid across the three of them, like a pickle slice on a hero sandwich. Larry went in the trunk.

Yes, you read that right. Larry went in the trunk. He offered to go in the trunk. It was the only way it was going to work, and he knew it, and by God, he was going to make it work. So he folded up, we moved some stuff out of the way, and in he went.

We are laughing about this now because nothing bad happened. No cops, no rear-end collisions, the thought of which makes me shudder. Every once in a while Sarah would call out, "Larry?" to make sure we heard his muffled "Yep!" While we were laughing quite heartily, the Ford Focus was less than amused, as its seatbelt warning dings gained steam each passing moment because there was no way to buckle anyone in. Each pothole or facsimile thereof threatened the structural integrity of the car’s frame. She creaked as we went around corners. Her belly scraped the pavement a couple of times. We got a few strange looks at traffic lights as people caught a glimpse of the human jenga puzzle within.   A very large black man in a very large truck did a double-take at me, and then waved.

We finally reached Bonnie’s house and found we couldn’t open the doors on the curb site - we were sitting too low. So we opened the cars on the road side and proceeded to spill out into the street in clown-car style. Larry emerged from the trunk relatively unscathed, and said, "See? I TOLD you we could fit eight people in that car!"

We then proceeded to drink way, way, waaaaaaay too much, late into the evening.

On my next post, I’ll give you all the gory details of two crazy kids in love, a tattoo studio, and what one woman would endure, to prove she could.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Chew on This

I’m a Ford girl. Not even quite sure why, other than memories of Ford commercials burned into my subconscious as a teenager. My first car was a 76 Ford Gran Torino, which I hated with a passion, but I’ve since moved on to other Fords that I’ve loved, ultimately to my F-350. What it sucks up in gas it makes up for in practicality. No more piling up scrap metal into the trunk of my car to take to the dump, or seeing how many bags of shavings I can wedge into the back seat. And being able to tow stuff, well, that opened up a whole new world.

That said, I have to admit that my favorite Super Bowl commercial last night was from Dodge, where they featured Paul Harvey’s commentary on farmers. It was visually beautiful and quite poignant, and brought the noisy fourth-quarter football bar patrons to a hush as it drew them in. Think about this the next time you buy and/or eat real food.

"And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, ‘I need a caretaker.’ So God made a farmer.

"God said, ‘I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the field, milk cows again, eat supper, then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.’ So God made a farmer.

"God said, ‘I need so
mebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt and watch it die, then dry his eyes and say, "Maybe next year," I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from an ash tree, shoe a horse with hunk of car tire, who can make a harness out hay wire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. Who, during planting time and harvest season will finish his 40-hour week by Tuesday noon and then, paining from tractor back, put in another 72 hours.’ So God made the farmer.

"God said, ‘I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bales, yet gentle enough to yean lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-comb pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the leg of a meadowlark.’

"It had to be somebody who'd plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed, and brake, and disk, and plow, and plant, and tie the fleece and strain the milk. Somebody who'd bale a family together with the soft, strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh, and then sigh and then reply with smiling eyes when his son says that he wants to spend his life doing what Dad does. So God made a farmer."

Regardless of your religious convictions, can I hear an "Amen"?