Tuesday, February 28, 2012

All In A Day's Work, Part 3 - Hello, Anyone There?

In mid spring I was leading the youth in a dinner theater production.  We were just a few days away from the big show and I needed to prepare the dining area with large window decorations and set the tables with fancy tablecloths and long centerpieces.  Since I am a morning person and I couldn't sleep for all the stress, I woke long before daylight and drove to the church to finish these tasks.  When I reached the building it was still dark.  I hauled my goods from the car and set about working.

After an hour or so I heard the back door open and close.  I knew that it was nearly daylight and I had learned through the years that pastors often arrive at the church fairly early.  I assumed that within a few minutes he would either poke his head into the lit up fellowship hall where I was working, or settle into his office to work.   When I heard his keys drop onto the table on the other side of the door from where I was working, I called out to him.  

I knew the minute I opened my mouth that no one was there.  I grabbed my keys and ran out of the building.  I stood out on the sidewalk near my van, and it was just barely light.  When I looked back at the building there weren't any lights on inside.  I hopped in the car and decided that although my heart was racing and I was wide awake, I wanted another cup of coffee.  As I poured a cup of joe and paid for it at the convenience store a black away, I had a little talk with myself.  It was with a determined mind that I returned to the church and circled the building looking for a car.  There weren't any.

I parked and sipped my coffee from the safety of my vehicle, and contemplated how I was going to handle this situation.  Whenever I watch a horror movie I strongly criticize those who ignore obvious warnings.  So ignoring my intuition was not an option.  Fortunately the pastor arrived within a few minutes and I casually joined him as he strolled into the church.  I didn't mention my episode with the keys or that I had even been in the church earlier that morning.  He did his work and I did mine, and when the secretary showed we all met in her office for a quick meeting.  

At some point we heard tables and chairs being drug around in the Fellowship Hall, down the hall from us.  It is not uncommon in a church for this to happen.  For instance if the women are having a luncheon a few of them will show early, or even the day before and set up the room.  So we thought nothing of it until we convened our meeting and went to see who was setting up and for what event.  We were shocked and speechless to find that there were no women, men or anyone else setting up anything, anywhere in the church.  I then shared my story.

Tomorrow I will tell the final tale of All In A Day's Work.  I get chills just remembering it.  Click here to read Part 1 or Part 2.  To make sure you don't miss the rest of this story sign up for the Hammock Tracks newsletter, in the right hand column.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Atlanta Wrap Up and Home Sweet Home

As most vacations do, ours rapidly came to an end.  We did squeeze another illegal run down to the pond on the golf course to feed the geese.  We went with a stealth like nature and no one seemed to notice us.  

The boy had become the pied piper of all birds with bills.

The next day we found a few more geocaches for a total of seven, and then headed up to see Kennesaw Mountain.  It was here that one of the fiercest battles in Georgia during the Civil War, took place.  Bloodhound took them through the trenches and since it had become quite blustery my son wore my green wool coat.  Isn't he the cutest little druid, complete with a walking stick?

When you reach the top of the mountain the Appalachians can be seen to the north, and to the south there is a great view of Atlanta.  At the very bottom and center of the picture is the hotel, where we had spent the week, and in between the two is the Dobbins Air Force Base.

The wind was howling up here and the sound it made as it bent the tops of the trees, combined with the history of this site was quite chilling, to both body and soul.

A split rail fence marks the trenches created by the Confederate soldiers.

And then it was time to go home...

It was amazing what had transpired in our house during the two weeks we were out of town.  A few days prior to our return we learned that our washing machine had given up the ghost.  Our son had taken his laundry into the laundry mat and our daughter had decided to do her's by hand at home.  She now has a new appreciation for the washing of clothes before the invention of the washing machine, and her fore arms are thick with new and sore muscles.  She had no idea that a bath towel could be so heavy when soaked.  And my son has learned which neighborhoods have the best laundry mats. 

Also while we were gone, one of our kitchen chairs had been broken.  They are over one hundred years old and when my girl sat in one it gave up the ghost and left her lying on her back.  So I returned home knowing that my oldest was now going to take up the hobby of antique chair repair, which meant we may or may not have a refurbished chair in the next few weeks.  I'll keep you update on this fiasco repair process.  

The most disturbing catastrophe was the loss of our coffee maker carafe.  It seems that while our oldest daughter was hastily vacuuming in preparation for our return she knocked the pot to the ground and it shattered.  Normally this wouldn't be a big deal, but we didn't find out until we were an hour from home.  Morning without coffee is not an option and Bloodhound reverted to some previous life, stunned me with this coffee making talents and gladly boiled a pot for me on Saturday, using a pyrex measuring cup and a tea pot.  

Just in case any teenagers are reading this blog let me clearly state that leaving your parents to find their bed without sheets at one in the morning after a long drive, is not a good thing.  I told my daughter that she could spend the night out as long as she didn't leave us any messes.  As I beat my head on the door frame of my bedroom I was firmly convinced that this scene fell under the mess category.

But by far, and without a doubt, the biggest mess we found upon returning home was in my son's open Lego box.  Evidently, even the animals cannot behave themselves when we are out of the house.  Or maybe the teenagers failed to empty the litter pan, and the cat needed a cleaner place to do her business.  I am really not sure what caused this, but if you are ever out of clean litter for your cat box, trust me when I say you can always just add Legos.  Cleaning it was like sifting for gold, and on that note I'll let your imaginations take it from here.

So Saturday was spent buying a new washing machine, finding a new coffee pot, emptying the fridge of  science projects, and disinfecting the boy's Legos.  And Sunday was consumed with twelve loads of laundry, yard work, and time spent shooting evil glances at Bloodhound because there was no one else to blame for this post vacation apocalypse...and I needed a scapegoat!

Home Sweet Home

Friday, February 24, 2012

All In A Day's Work, Part 2 - Turn off the Light

This is part 2 in a series.  If you'd like to read part one it is here.

As I continued to juggle home schooling and working as the youth and children's director, my pastor approached me one morning to express concern over the electric bill at the church.  Evidently there had been a substantial increase in this expense and the finance committee was concerned and wanted to take every step possible to reduce it.  He asked that I please make sure that all the lights were turned off when I left the building.  I assured him that I would make that happen and I assumed that this would be the last time we would discuss this issue.  

I was a bit shocked and somewhat ashamed when he pulled me aside a few weeks later to remind me of this situation and inform me that I had made a habit of leaving my office light on.  He restated the need to reduce our electric bill and asked that I not leave lights running.  I walked away from our conference a bit disturbed and quite disappointed in myself, as I was not in the habit of ignoring the requests of the church leaders.  I then made signs reminding me to turn off the lights and asked the youth to help me in completing this task.

The following Friday evening I met the youth at the church so we could pack the van and head out on a weekend camping trip.  Now if you've ever met a large group of children who are about to embark on a weekend get away, you know that describing them as hyper squirrels is an understatement.  They are loud and usually active in a way that is not acceptable inside of a church building, or any other structure designed for adults.  I was trying to get our bags packed, retain some sense of order, and constantly thinking, "Don't forget the lights!"

After herding all of the youth into the van I returned to the building with my son and one other boy to survey the building for damages and to turn off the lights.  As we walked through the building picking up small bits of trash and returning chairs to their upright position, we also turned off the lights in an orderly fashion.  When we reached my office I made a joke of it and said, "You saw me turn this off, right?"  They assured me that they had witnessed me turn it off, and we ran down the stairs and out to the van that was jumping and swaying to music and loud voices in a way that is typical to a fifteen passenger van, full of teen-agers.

I hopped inside the driver's seat and had the before-we-pull-away-from-the-church speech.  If you've ever been on one of these trips you know that it takes a few minutes to cover the basic rules of riding in the bus.  Assured that I was in control and we all knew what was expected, even if this was a delusional assumption on my part, I proceeded to get buckled up and ready to drive.  As I started to pull away from the curb, the youth began to quietly chit chat and the sound of various chip bags and goodies being opened, could be heard.

Suddenly one loud voice from the rear of the van exclaimed, "Your office light just came on! Oh my gosh! Look! Look!  Her office light is on!"  The bus jerked as all of the youth turned in their seats and strained to see my 2nd floor window.

My blood ran cold and for a few seconds the bus got uncommonly quiet.  And then the riot of questions and ghost comments began.  It took the two and one half hour drive to get their attention off of this unusual event, and focused on the purpose of our camping trip.  When the youth returned on Sunday the pastor was awaiting them.  I am sure that he expected to hear about the highlights of our trip, but instead he was greeted with the story of the ghost in my office.

This is not the end of the queer incidents.  More to come, later.

This post is linked here:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Atlanta Day 3 - A Day In The Life of A Middle Aged Mom and Two Kids on a Hiking Trip

The kids enjoyed our impromptu hiking earlier in the week so, even though we don't have the proper clothes, I decided that the weather was perfect, and I found another trail to explore.  And did I ever find a doozie of a place to climb!  As most trails do, it started out with a gradual incline and a wide path and we were full of energy, the kids more so than mom, of course.

I would compare taking my son hiking to walking with a pet squirrel that has never been free to explore the outdoors, but it is afraid to scurry off too far from it's owner.  He would flit to the left and descended on a rock over the river, and in a blink of the eye he had crossed my path to climb up on a rock overlooking the path on the right.  All the while chatting like a tree rat and describing his view in detail, many times declaring that I should drag myself up to his position and see what he could see.

His sister on the other hand has a very organized and determined brain.  She overheard the ranger say that every 200 ft. the trail would be marked with red paint on the trunk of a tree.  Her four mile hike was reduced to multiple 200 ft. intervals.  Her only mission?  Find the next mark!

In collecting rocks, they had a common interest.

My slow meandering trail gradually became a steep rock climbing experience that even drained the energy of my small people.

When we reached the end of the four mile trail all of the snacks had been consumed and the natives were crying for more food.  Once their bellies were full we started the drive home, and they were able to sleep and arrive back at the hotel refreshed.  Mom on the other hand was a walking zombie.  When they cried out, "Let's go play wii in The Pub downstairs."  She growled in response, "We are bathing and going to bed."   However, she did consent to a quick walk down on the golf course to feed the geese.  As they were chunking pieces of hot dog buns to the hungry beaks,  I reflected on how much more refreshing a hike in the woods is without children.  But their exclamations of "This is the greatest day ever," are music to my ears, too.

And this is...Day 3 in Atlanta...A Day in the Life of a Middle Aged Mother.

This is linked here:

So You Call Yourself A Homeschooler?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Atlanta Day 2; The Roswell Mill

Our wanders today took us down to the old mill in Roswell, and not only did we get a Georgia history lesson, but there was plenty of natural science soaked up, too.  After running across this bridge the kids and I started the slippery trek up to the dam and the remains of the old mill.

It was a slow climb and the water beckoned for close inspection more than once.

And wee girl knows a good platform when she sees one..."Take this picture, Mom."  When I saw the large rock behind her on the opposite bank I had to agree and I snapped it.  We didn't set out from the hotel on a hiking trip, as you can see from her blue dress and Mary Jane's.

After a few minutes we could begin to see the remains of the turbine and hear the roar of the water as it fell over the dam.  

We admired the view from this angle...

...and then climbed up and looked down the river from above the dam.  And Mom, don't worry, the kids weren't as close to the edge as you think.

Then we followed the path that the water took as it was diverted away from the river and into the mill.  At some point this wheel that the water turned, had been moved out of the mill house and rested up against this water pipe.

This is the final leg before the energy was converted to operate the five story mill. 

This mill was built by Roswell King after he bought the land in 1835 from the original owners, who had won it in a lottery drawing three years earlier.  This of course came after the United States had so cruelly eradicated the Cherokee Indians in what would become known as the Trail of Tears.  Mr. King was the president of the Bank of Darien, which is down on the Georgia coast where we live, when he came to North Georgia on business.  Although the white tenant farmers who came to work in the textile mill worked twelve hour days six days a week and were paid in company dollars, Mr. King was known to be a benevolent caretaker.  He didn't allow consumption of alcohol and he kept their pay consistent even in lean years.  The mill was in use until 1976.

It was a good day and it ended with feeding the geese on the golf course after it was abandoned by humans, and they came home with pockets full of lost balls.  All in a days work!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Flat Landers on the Golf Course

They say that pictures speak louder than words.  So, I will keep this brief.

My flat landers were very impressed by the hills in Atlanta, and the ones at the golf course behind the hotel demanded their attention.

Off they went...

Who needs snow and a sled?

She gave out before he did.

His goal was to find the biggest hill and stop, drop and roll.

And then as if hills weren't thrill enough, they found rocks.  "ROCKS!!!  Look Mom!  There aren't rocks where we live."  And they are right, we don't have them at home.

Eventually the lure of the water pulled them away from the hills and to the edge of the pond.

The geese were put out.  Evidently we are more invasive than the golfers who normally use this course.

But the geese weren't the only ones to get put out with our presence on the course.  Eventually the man babies golfers complained that we were in the way, and we had to return to the hotel.

But we hauled home some great treasures...rocks, six golf balls, and lots of dry grass and Georgia clay stains.  And for the record, no golfer has ever looked as happy on the course as these two did this morning.  And lastly...if you aren't sweating...it is not a sport.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

One Unusual Hilton

The Hilton in Marietta is unusual.  It is built on the original site of the Georgia Military Institute and the lobby has paintings depicting the original buildings and a few relics.  The GMI was built in the 1850's and grew quickly to ultimately house one hundred young college students, each year.  Unfortunately Georgia was burned from the mountains to the sea by Gen. Sherman, during the civil war, and in 1864 the institute fell victim to this demise.

The original layout of the college is depicted in this mural, painted on the wall in the hotel lobby.  Today the Hilton is situated in a very similar fashion and designed with a shape reminiscent of the main building of the long lost institute, and the parade ground is replicated by a long patch of grass adorned with three flag poles.



Also located in the lobby, is an original cannon that was confiscated during the war, but returned to Georgia in 1910.  The painting in the background includes Mrs. Brumby, the wife of Col. Arnoldus V. Brumby, the first superintendent of the Georgia Military Institute.

The most interesting artifact on display is an original document detailing the classes to be taught at this college.

And the personal items list is also framed.  I didn't see any of the usual swim suit, bug spray, and sunscreen that my kids usually haul off to summer camp.

I bet the cadets didn't have this long porch with comfy rocking chairs and pretty pansies, either.

But I sure have enjoyed these comforts and learning about this American history.

Friday, February 17, 2012

This Past Week

This past week I have been calling this home.  I've been in Atlanta living the life of a single woman.

A single woman who is...
therefore doesn't stay up late
enjoying warm waffles and omelettes cooked by someone else
not doing laundry, dusting or making the bed
not barking at kids or worrying about lessons
growing weary of the relaxation and thinks life should return to normal soon.

Last night Bloodhound and I ventured down to the small historic town of Marietta.

Please note the Australian Bakery in the background.  More to come on that!

We paid tribute to the male statue in the square, a Mr. Cobb.

Which also included this beautiful fountain.

I was excited to find an old theater, still in use.  

And eventually we found another way to relax without children.  We settled into a great coffee house to read, with a fabulous cup of green tea.  At least I did.  Bloodhound sipped coffee.  I am not sure that it was spectacular because he never mentioned it.  But quietly soaking in the warm room with the old walls, creaky floors, rich odor of roasted coffee bean, and reading without interruption was over the top wonderful.
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