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potty accidents and a new bff

April 17, 2014

photo (17)We got a puppy. Yes, he is very cute. He is also a handful. We might be crazy.
Ever since Sam, or beloved Weimaraner, died a few years ago, we’ve been thinking about getting a dog. We don’t ever expect to replace him. He was our first. He’d get the newspaper from the bottom of the driveway, play dead, and most importantly, get a beer from the fridge.
We still have Lizzy, our rescue. She is the sweetest, weirdest dog I know. She appreciates that we took her away from the horrible Mack Road Animal Control. We never had to train her. She sat, shook hands, and generally did whatever Sam did right from the beginning. But she’s getting old.
We didn’t exactly mean to get a puppy just yet. We’d only started talking about it. A rescue is always preferable, but we wanted a baby, so The Kids could raise and train one from the beginning. If that was to happen, the dog must be small, so they could walk the pup without much assistance. As big dog people, this was a challenging thought. It didn’t take as much to convince me, but The Man came around.
At first, the idea was to get a dog for Christmas. I’d talk to Santa, who would bring it on Christmas morning. That was a terrible idea, really. Santa would have to keep up with the puppy before Christmas, possible juggling him/her around from home to home, until the big day. Not only that, but Santa would get all the credit for the coolest present ever.
Now we’d just wait until the right dog came along. Let him find us.
A couple of weeks ago, a good friend called while visiting Nashville. She was holding a 4 month old Morkie (Yorkie/Maltese) pup who needed a home. He was fully housetrained and wouldn’t shed. After a 5 minute family discussion, we called her and said YES! Much to our dismay, he was adopted by the time we decided.
Puppy on the brain.
We began the search. It may work for your family, but we aren’t fans of paying over $1,000 for a pet. There are too many dogs who need good homes. We looked on rescue sites within a several state radius. If we found a pup, buy the time we called, it was spoken for. Hours were spent calling, internetting, discussing, and getting turned down.
When we found the Mennonite family in Abbeville, we knew we’d come to the right place. They charge a very nominal fee for the vet bills incurred raising and vaccinating the puppies until they go home. Their family pets are the parents, and they’re kept with the babies until a forever home is found.
We drove the hour plus ride to meet them. The one white paw made the decision easy. This four pound, black fluff with puppy breath came to our house a week later. We named him Teddy, short for Theodore Roosevelt Wright, as a nod to The Boy’s former obsession with all things presidential.
I’d forgotten how much work it is. A puppy is a lot like a baby, without the breastfeeding and diapers. Diapers might actually come in handy, but I’m thankful for the other part. Since we got him Masters Week, we had guests in town, so it didn’t seem fair to put him in a crate, only to bark all night. Out of consideration for our company, I slept with him all week. Yep, it was for everyone else’s benefit. He’s quite the snuggler.
He’s pretty smart. We have him about 75% house trained after a week. If he has an accident, it’s mostly our fault. He warns us. Well, he didn’t warn us before he peed on my friend Courtney’s bed. I didn’t say he’s perfect. He’s perfect for us, though. He fits right in.
We can’t wait to teach him tricks. I want everyone to see him while he’s young and floppy, but we’re looking forward to having him for a long, long time. I’ve already taken him, on my lap, to carpool every day. He accidentally had his first bourbon the other night, when he knocked over a drink. Calm yourselves. He had a lick. He is hilarious when he chases a ball as big as his head. He trips over his own feet. We love him so much already.
We got a puppy.

put your drinkin’ shoes on and leave the jean shorts at home

April 9, 2014

masterscantspell If you’re reading this and don’t live in Augusta, I’m going to assume that you’re a golf fan. If you’re not a golf fan, you’re probably married to one. It’s not that there aren’t other reasons to come to town. It’s just that no one in their right mind would be here this week, braving the crowds, if they didn’t have any plans to hit the tournament (read: tunamint).
In fact, many Augustans get out of town. They spend weeks, months even, cleaning out closets, sprucing up yards, and stocking up on new sheets and towels, in preparation for renting their house. It’s a lot of work, but it’s all worth it when you get a big, tax-free check from the renters.
Most people who stay do so because it’s a great week to live here. There are complainers (always are!), and everyone tries to avoid the traffic, but it’s basically one big adult spring break. Having beer during the day is more acceptable than usual. We usually offer perfect weather, although the pollen will be out of control. We move our televisions outside, eagerly anticipating the afternoon coverage.
We’re glad you’re here. I do have a couple of tips for you, though.
Please, forthelove, do not wear jeans (or worse, jean shorts) to the golf course. I’m not asking that you get all fancy or anything, but respect the sport. Khaki pants or shorts and a collared shirt for the guys, and dresses, skirts, or nice shorts for the women. We like to call it Southern casual. Wear shoes you can walk in. ‘Cause you’re gonna walk a lot.
Speaking of shoes, ladies, forget the fancy heels. It’s completely acceptable for women to wear running shoes with a dress. You’ll see people in golf shoes, too. This used to puzzle me, but spikes handle muddy, smelly grass better than any other footwear.
Because we had a monsoon on Monday, you’ll be glad you listened to me. I’ve had many friends who insisted on wearing cute shoes to match their outfit. They were the first ones to slip and fall in the stinky mud out there. If it happens, I can promise none of your friends will leave the tournament, so you’ll be forced to walk around with what looks like a bad potty accident up the back of your precious seersucker.
For the first time since 1994, before he was an amateur, Tiger won’t be here. Like him or not, it’ll be noticeable. Ticket scalpers will tell you about the direct correlation between Tiger’s performance (or attendance) and sale prices. I won’t miss his cheering section. It’s like a wrestling match. Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing better than the loud roar that follows a flawless putt. It’s the “Get it in the hole!” or “You da man, Tiger!” as soon as he tees off that is borderline offensive.
Speaking of loud roars, if you want to witness the cause of such excitement, don’t stand near me. I like to call them the Faraway Roars, because they always seem to happen far away from where I am. I have seen a couple of holes in one on 16, but otherwise, I have to wait and see the replay when I get home.
Don’t bring your phones or cameras. They ain’t kidding. Once Wednesday is over, no cameras allowed. Cell phone s are never allowed. Really, people. Never. There’re several banks of courtesy phones around the course, and you can pretty much call China for free. “How will I find my people,” you ask? Set a time, pick a place, and meet up. It’s like the olden days. You’ve got this.
If you decide to bring a phone anyway, you’ll get caught. Trust me here. As soon as that hot pink Otter Box iPhone comes out of your pocket, an official will come out of the azaleas and vaporize you.
Hopefully, everyone in Augusta will treat you with respect, kindness, and southern hospitality. When done well, there’s nothing better. Please wave back, say thanks, and don’t be afraid of conversation with a stranger. Ask for directions. We want to help, and especially this week, we love showing off our town.
Walton Way is Walton Way, Washington Road is Washington Road, and The Partridge Inn is the Partridge Inn. For some reason we don’t shorten them to Walton, Washington, or The Partridge. It is what it is.
Otherwise, have a big time. Enjoy our restaurants and bars. Relax in our houses, and know that hours went into making them yours. The weather is supposed to be perfect. Eat an egg salad or ten, and remember that a beer held too long will only get warm. Welcome, y’all!

Originally published in the Metro Spirit, Augusta, GA on April 10,2014

15 in 5 – Masters Edition

April 3, 2014

Because I love a list. Especially a random (ish) list.
photo (15)1. If you’re reading this and don’t live in Augusta, welcome to golf week. That’s why you’re here, right?
2. If the weather pans out according to the 10 day forecast, I’m sorry. You missed the perfect weather last week.
3. If the weather people are wrong (and with a 50/50 chance, anything’s possible), you’ll probably notice a fine yellow dusting on your cars and chairs, in your beers and eyes, and hanging in the sky over the big golf course. The sunshine’ll make up for it, though.
4. If you notice things looking a little less shady (referring to the sun, not sketchy behavior) around here, it’s not mind trick. We lost thousands of trees during the ice storm/earthquake week. Right here around the golf course, most of the debris is gone, but go out of town just a bit, and you’re sure to see tall piles of limbs.
5. We work all year for this week. (Though it isn’t all Augusta has to offer)
6. Most everyone who lives here loves, err, well, appreciates this week. (Otherwise, they leave)
7. Please wait patiently if you’re stuck in a line or waiting for a table. We have a few extra people in town. Feeling antsy? Order another drink. This too shall pass.
8. Speaking of ordering another drink, did you know that the cutoff for beer sales on the golf course used to be 4pm? There was a mad rush to the concession stands at 3:59. Thank goodness we don’t have to do that anymore. Now it happens at 4:59.
9. If you plan on drinking more than one beer out there, you must decide if you’re a stacker or not. A stacker keeps all of his/her souvenir cups, carrying around a tower of green cups. Rarely is a tall tower handled with grace. Don’t be afraid to buy something in the pro shop, just so you’ll have a bag in which to carry said tower.
10. Not interested in golf? Just came to shop? Go early in the week. Once the droves of practice round fans have come through, the pro shops are pretty picked over.
11. If you just came to shop, pay attention while you’re out there. You’ve got your hands on a well sought after ticket, and it might be a good idea to watch a little golf. You might surprise yourself and like it. Years ago, when I went for the first time, I didn’t know a shank from a chip shot.
12. Walking up to Amen Corner that year, I got it. It’s beautiful out there, and the sport isn’t nearly as boring as you’d think. As an aside, I recently learned the same thing about NASCAR. Well, except the beautiful part. It’s fun to watch, though.
13. That was the year Tiger won for the first time. He’s not coming this year, due to a recent back surgery. It was announced on April Fool’s Day. I guess there’s still a chance he was kidding, even though all sources say he isn’t. Like him or not, his absence will be notable.
14. Wear golf shoes if you have them, and if not, wear running shoes. Trust me on this. You don’t want to slip and fall and be That Girl. Your friends aren’t gonna go home with you just because you slipped in the mud. Dress appropriately, too. Your “White Trash” tank top won’t cut it.
15. When eat doubt, eat more egg salad. Or pimiento cheese. Or ham on rye. Whatever butters your biscuit. Don’t forget the cold beer. It’s Tunamint Week, y’all! Welcome to Augusta!

Originally published in The Metro Spirit, Augusta, GA on 4/3/14

there really is no such thing as free lunch

April 3, 2014

quietMany years ago, when The Boy was four, he went to Pre K at a church, as part of a Mother’s Day Out type program. We loved the program. I could walk my babies to school in our little red wagon. I’m all nostalgic just thinking about it. I can’t think of many things we didn’t like about that little school. Except one.
Silent Lunch.
What? They’re four. Isn’t this play school? Sure, they’ll learn their colors and numbers, but it’s supposed to be fun. The Boy came home and said he’d gotten in trouble for playing I Spy at lunch. No one asked me, but if they did, I would’ve told them how cute that is. A table of four year olds playing I Spy, while they eat their PB&J and Goldfish. I didn’t want to undermine the teachers, and I didn’t tell him to deliberately talk during silent lunch, but I let him know there wouldn’t be home consequences for getting in “trouble” for it at school.
Now, before I tell the rest of the story, know this: I love my kids’ school. We couldn’t have better teachers. I’m not trying to stir up trouble or the like. I’m not planning to raise a stinkstorm about it. I am confused, though. I’ve heard the reasons for and against, but there’s one thing I don’t like about our school.
Silent Lunch.
We aren’t the only school who does it. From what I hear, most do these days. “Kids need to stop talking and eat,” and “The talking gets out of hand so quickly,” and “Blah,” and “Blah,” and “Blah.” They’re kids, folks. They’re asked to sit still all day, with the brief exception of PE or a quick recess. Shouldn’t they be able to chat with their buddies while they eat?
In most elementary schools, Silent Lunch only lasts for part of the time. It’s that way at our school. I see what they’re saying. Let the kids eat first, then, as long as it doesn’t get too loud, they can talk quietly. It makes sense. BUT.
The Boy isn’t my talkative kid. My daughter is the one who should be getting in trouble for talking to her friend at lunch. Fortunately, she is also a serious rule follower, and she knows when to be quiet. The Boy has been sent to the trouble table for talking during Silent Lunch.
Look, I’m all for rules and teaching kids to follow them. I also think they should eat. If my kid does wrong, he should be punished. I’m just not sure about the need for this rule. They also need a break.
The Boy was separated from his friend this week. They can’t sit next to one another at lunch anymore. They were talking about a book they are writing, not picking on anyone around them or talking loudly. If you want the truth and can keep a secret, they’re writing the 8th Harry Potter book, which is good, since college won’t pay for itself. For copyright reasons, I can’t disclose the name, but JK Rowling really missed an opportunity.
In all seriousness, I respect the school for what they’re trying to do. The teachers who supervise in the lunchroom don’t want to be police. I won’t get in the way of rules already in place, either. I do think kids need time to be kids. Because of increasing standards and state regulations, recess is limited. They go to music, PE, and art less now than ever. Sure, school is for learning, but it’s for learning about more than reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic, especially when they’re at the elementary level.
If you think I’m nuts, I’m inclined to agree. Hear me out, though. The next time you’re at a restaurant with friends, suggest Silent Lunch. It’ll be fun. Set a timer. No talking until the timer beeps. Sounds silly, right? We’re supposed enjoy mealtime, unless we’re in prison. Let that settle in. Silent Lunch would be great for prison. Lunches in Richmond County may not cost us a single cent, but our kids are paying the price.

Originally published in the Metro Spirit, Augusta GA, 3/27/14

15 in 5

March 20, 2014

Because I love a list. Especially a random list.
1. Apparently, the US Postal Service is on a hiring freeze. Couple that with an aging workforce with sick and personal days to use before retirement, and you’ve got a bunch of temporary workers wandering the streets with mail. I get it.
2. Are the temps required to recognize numbers? I don’t mean to be a jerk. I truly don’t. Even if you don’t know the route well, though, matching the address on the envelope with the number on the house seems like a no-brainer. Bless.
3. I did feel bad for the USPS, when we were having all that ice and rain. A job where you’re required to walk from house to house in inclement weather doesn’t sound fun.
4. We had one of those “appointments” with the gas company last week. At first, the rep told me they’d be by between 8a and 8p. Now that’s just silly. They get away with it, because there’s only one company who can reconnect the gas. I asked if they could be any more specific. She narrowed it down to sometime between noon and 4p. That’s doable.
5. I sat in my house for that entire four hours, and I can promise you no one knocked on my door. We don’t have a doorbell button, we do have a barking dog, and my teeny tiny rental car was parked in the driveway. They said I wasn’t home. I wanted to get mad, I really did. They offered to come back between four and midnight. Okay, I got a little mad.
6. I didn’t cuss.
7. I apologized, in advance, to the girl who took my call. After all, it wasn’t her fault. She drew the short stick.
8. In the end, so we wouldn’t have to sit at home all night, they offered to call when they were “en route.” After they called, forty-five minutes passed, and still no gas (wo)man.
9. I called to ask what “en route” meant. I apologized to that girl, too. She politely told me it meant “on the way.” Bless.
10. Question (and my tone isn’t any more than an inquisitive one – I’m curious): Why can’t the gas (wo)men give everyone a heads up when they’re “en route,” instead of crazy-long windows of time? Once you’ve gotten the call, if you aren’t in the driveway by the time they get there, you miss the appointment altogether.
11. It seems as if it should go without saying, but please, please, PLEASE don’t send your children to school sick. Don’t send yourself to work sick. It may seem impossible, and you may be tired of your kid and want him out of your hair, but if he’s still sick, you might as well ask him to lick his classmates. It’d be a more direct assault, and they’re all gonna get it anyway. 24 hours fever-free and no signs of the (yes I’m talking about the stomach) bug.
12. We’re about to emerge from the winter of ice and stomach bugs. Sure, we might still have a cold snap or two, but the pollen count is on the rise. You may sneeze even thinking about it, but don’t forget the trade-off. We get azaleas, dogwoods, and camellias. I think it’s worth it.
13. If you’re getting your home ready for Golf Tournament Week, good luck. Even though we don’t rent, I’m thankful for houseguests. If you’re coming to stay with us that week, THANK YOU. You force me to clean out closets and dust baseboards, just like everyone else. My goal is to get rid of one bag of donate/recycle/trash every day until then. That’s half Lenten promise, half necessity.
14. We try to give up something as a family for Lent. Instead, this year, we’re taking something on. We’ve gotten in a terrible habit of being around each other for dinner, instead of being together for dinner. At restaurants, we always have a kids’ table, when we’re with friends. If our kids are eating at home, we’re nearby, but not necessarily sitting at the table. For the remainder of the forty days, if we’re home, we’re all at the table. I already like it better. Here’s to hoping we can create a new habit and keep going.
15. We’re building a screened porch. By “we” I mean “he.” I support his efforts, though. Screened porch weather is nearly year-round in Augusta. I look forward to many a margarita on this porch. Due to bad weather and various unnamed or unknown other factors, construction has come to a halt. Maybe “he” gave up building things for Lent. KIDDING, BABE. (You’re amazing and wonderful and I shouldn’t judge, because I’d smash my finger hanging a painting on the wall.) Smooches!

*originally published in the Metro Spirit, Augusta, GA 3/13/14

Can you email wine?

March 11, 2014

For some reason, I’ve been inundated with Customer Service battles lately. Because of the ice storm, many of y’all have, too. It’s never fun. I’ve heard some pretty horrific stories about one of the big cable companies (starts with a C).
We’re battling with the US Postal Service again. In the grand scheme of this life, it isn’t a big deal. My health doesn’t suffer because I didn’t get my March issue of Vogue in a timely manner. It is annoying to discover that we’ve missed a birthday party or wedding shower, because we didn’t get the invite. Wait. Maybe this isn’t so bad.
The other day, our mailbox contained our neighbors’ checks, their bank statement, and an envelope from The National. Based on a quick pat down, that envelope holds some pretty valuable badges. I’ve already walked them next door. I hope anyone who gets our mail is doing the same.
I’ve introduced myself to our various mail carriers. I’ve visited the post office. I’ve also called the customer service line. Nothing helps. I’ve done everything short of actually getting angry. Getting angry rarely produces any result other than “Wow, that lady is crazy.” I’ll admit it though, this is making me a little crazy.
I can usually negotiate with customer service reps and sales people. I’ve had a call center job before. Their job isn’t easy, and most of the general public isn’t all that nice. While the younger me acted rather aggressively when trying to get my way, I’ve learned it doesn’t help. Sadly, many service oriented people seem surprised by pleasant behavior. Try it. If you look them in the eyes and genuinely mean your “please” and “thank you,” you’ll get better service.
That being said, a certain firmness or gun sticking is required. Last week, a good friend was nearly duped. He was in an already vulnerable situation, dealing with a funeral home. It doesn’t matter which one. I think this was an isolated incident for this particular home, though I know things like this happen all the time. My friend, Timmy*, didn’t want to haggle with them, even though he had a prearranged contract with said funeral home. He threw up his hands and assumed they were correct.
One phone call and three or four questions later, and the funeral home realized their mistake, saving Timmy about a thousand dollars. I wasn’t mad at the salesperson – just asked them to clarify. It was worth the ask. A thousand dollars worth it. That may not be much to you, but I can think of about a thousand things I’d do with an extra thousand dollars.
I’m hoping to be as effective with the USPS. I’ve dealt with some very nice people, but they can’t seem to solve our issue. It’s been going on for two years now. I know, I know. I shouldn’t rely on the mail anyway, when I can get electronic versions. I doubt my wine of the month can be emailed. Whoever has my Publisher’s Clearinghouse prize had better fess up. There’s a small reward for any and all of my missing mail.
According to the USPS, sometimes people have days when they don’t get any mail. The last time they said that, a battered bundle of rubber banded mail showed up 10 days later. They also told me I could mail my complaint via US Post, and they’d respond via US Post. The wonderful ladies at The Hill station tell me I need to find the Zone supervisor for my route this time around. I’m optimistic. If anyone knows his/her drink of choice, let me know. I’ll come bearing a handle of tequila if it means we’ll get our mail.

Take a deep breath, and check your vacuum.

February 26, 2014

The past two weeks are nothing but fog. Hazy. My calendar is somewhere. I’m sure appointments have been missed. If I didn’t show up for something, forgive me. I’ll make it up to you. It might help if you remind me what it was.
I hate to even tell y’all everything that’s happened, because it could always be worse. It’s so easy to become a complainer. But you know what? We only know what’s right in front of us. It isn’t necessary to compare and compete for worst days. Maybe it isn’t complaining. Let’s call it commiserating instead. Just nod with understanding for a minute.
So we had that ice storm. We lost power, like everyone else in Augusta. The night the trees came down was terrifying for us all. It was a war zone. After the storm, we came together and started to clean up our city. We threw away freezers full of food. We chain sawed together. We counted our blessings. It could’ve been so much worse.
Strangely enough, when we were still in the dark, we had an earthquake. I know, California, yours are bigger. It wasn’t enough to do damage, but it rattled our already fragile nerves. It could’ve been so much worse.
Last weekend, I was in a car wreck with my kids. It was terrifying. A sheriff’s deputy on a motorcycle hit us. It was nothing more than an accident. He made a quick judgment call, which resulted in two scared children, a hysterical mama, and his ejection from the bike. Fortunately, his injuries were superficial. The people who stopped to act as official witnesses, comfort my children, move my car, and everything else I can’t remember, deserve a hug. Penny, you’re the best. My angel. I wasn’t hurt, the kids are fine, and the officer got up and walked away. Minor property damage isn’t a big deal. It could’ve been so much worse.
30 minutes after the rubble cleared, my friend Debbie lost her long, hard battle with cancer. She was one special lady. She has everyone thinking they’re her best friend. She’s never met a stranger. Her parties were like no other. She and her beloved husband of 40 years, her sweetheart, Jimmy, always sat in their garage, cocktail or diet Coke in hand, waiting for their friends. The whole garage thing may seem a little strange, but this was no ordinary garage. It’s a carport, really, with a pool table, TV, refrigerator, popcorn maker, hot dog cooker, big comfy chairs, a heater, an ice maker, and a tiny sink for rinsing wine glasses.
She will be missed by so many. Right before she died, Deb’s BFF, also named Debbie, said “I’m about to see what it’s like to live without her.” It’s sad, right? You’re thinking, “It will be so weird and inappropriate if she says ‘it could’ve been so much worse’.” Believe me, it’s bad, but it could’ve been so much worse.
You see, Debbie’s spirit was so profound, she made friendships. Like, she built them. As if she was simply baking a cake, she brought people together. We experienced that, first-hand. Her chair is empty, but we have eleventy billion happy memories. We’d love to hear her laugh again, but more importantly, she isn’t in pain anymore.
My point, though it took me awhile to get here, is not only that I’ve had a bad go of it. It’s not my intention to see who’s had a harder time, this person or that. But if there’s an ice storm tree in your den, or you’re driving a teeny tiny rental car because your car was smashed in a scary accident where a cop flew through the air, or a loved one is sick, it truly could be worse. I promise. Sit back, take a deep breath, and find a good thing. Even if it’s tiny, like “Hey, my vacuum still works!” It won’t get rid of the awfulness, but maybe it will lighten your load. If not, wine works, too. Raise a glass to my friend Deb while you’re at it.
To quote my favorite Scottish prayer, “Life is short, and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us; so be quick to love, and make haste to be kind.” And hug your people, people.


*originally published in The Metro Spirit, Augusta, GA


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