Our anniversary was last weekend. I was out of town. The Man wasn’t with me. I played in a tennis tournament in Rome. Georgia, not Italy. During a couple of my matches, I discussed with my opponents the fact that it was Mother’s Day weekend. We agreed that, although we were away from our children, playing tennis out of town was a great present. The reactions about being away for my anniversary were totally different.
One man said, “you made your husband babysit on his anniversary?” Um, sir, no offense, but I don’t make my husband do anything. We don’t have a dictatorship. We’re partners. Last I checked, it wasn’t just his anniversary, either. Also, and I’ve said this a million times, he isn’t ever babysitting our children. It’s called parenting.
A woman, who later told me she’d been married for twenty years, asked me how I broke the news to The Man. When I asked her what news needed to be broken, she told me how her husband would’ve been offended that she wanted to be away on their anniversary. Honestly, I’m pretty sure my husband was relieved. No pressure, right?
We don’t do much for anniversaries anyway. Last year, for our tenth, we drank a nice bottle of wine and went out to dinner. We talked about our marriage and how much fun we have together. I’m not inclined to believe that the magnitude of the celebration directly parallels relationship quality.
Similarly, the size of the diamond doesn’t prove anything. I rarely even wear my engagement ring. The Man never wears a wedding band. He has one. It is a sterling silver band. It cost me about $30, and that includes overnight shipping. I think he wore it for about a year. Bleach ruined the silver patina, so that was his excuse. He hasn’t worn it since. A wedding band is a very attractive accessory. It’s not a hill worth dying on, though. We’re pretty happy in spite of the lack of rings.
It’s rough for The Man, because Mother’s Day is very close to our anniversary, and my birthday is ten days later. For Mother’s Day, I’d like to be completely off-duty. That’s my gift. Anything tangible should be handmade by our children. This year, The Girl gave me a metal washer necklace decorated with nail polish. I love it. For my birthday, I usually end up getting something I need. This year, that’s a tennis racquet.
I should clarify, just in case he’s reading: I don’t need a vacuum, washing machine, dishwasher, or anything else related to cleaning house. Those are household purchases, not gifts.
For our anniversary, we don’t typically do presents. One year, though, The Man splurged and planned on surprising me. It was the year of our fifth anniversary and my 30th birthday. On anniversary night, I cooked at home, and we drank the bottle of champagne my dad sent us. The Man didn’t say much about the five year milestone. Mother’s day passed with barely a mention. Because it was a big year, people started asking if he’d done anything. A friend delivered a monogrammed tray, because she wanted to be sure I opened a present that year. I wasn’t mad, by any means, but I was starting to wonder about the radio silence. It was unusual.
The morning of my birthday, I woke up to a bright, shiny diamond anniversary band. I was shocked and overly excited. Later, as The Man told the story, his friends admitted to being nervous for him. They’d wondered why he hadn’t done anything for our anniversary or made plans for my birthday. As it turns out, he had a plan all along. He knew there was a gift coming, and it was a good gift, so he was good. The only suggestion the guys made was to give the gift on the first of three occasions, rather than the last, ten days later. Come out of the gates kickin’ and avoid any confusion.
We didn’t do gifts this year. Heck, we weren’t even together. We do a lot of things together, but we don’t to everything together. We love time away from the kids as much as we like adventures with them. Apparently whatever we’re doing is working for us. My dad sent our yearly bottle of bubbly, and I’m sure we’ll go out to dinner at some point. We’re thinking about taking a kidless trip this summer.
Either way, we made it another year. Eleven years ago, on our wedding day, I walked out of the bridal suite and cussed (the s word) when I saw Brice. We hadn’t gotten married yet. It was supposed to be bad luck. If this is the bad luck, I can’t wait to see the good stuff. Cheers!
Because of the above statement, here’s the disclaimer. What happened to the victims of last Friday night’s beating was atrocious. I’m truly sorry for their pain, suffering, and the fear that will linger for the rest of their lives. Also, pertaining to the disgusting brawl that occurred downtown on the Friday April 27th, gunfire in what is assumed to be a safe place is scary as hell. Besides, no one in the video I saw seemed to be worried about police or anyone else catching them acting a fool. These things shouldn’t happen. They need fixing.
That being said, let’s not give up.
Listen. Augusta has its problems. All cities do. Remember a couple years back when First Friday was so sketchy it all but stopped? Large bar front windows were broken, fights erupted in the streets, and cars slowly drove up and down Broad Street, their propped open trunks full of beer and liquor. It felt like small-town anarchy. You know what? It got better.
A couple of weekends ago, there was so much going on in the Augusta area, it was hard to choose where to go. Everyone had an event planned. A TV station had a family festival on The Common. The Westobou Festival hosted The Blue Porch Revival at the Old Richmond Academy, which included a vodka tasting, a blues band and food from Kitchen 1451. The Spirit had The Chicken River Bluegrass Festival at the canal head gates. Goodwill’s Dragon Boats paddled Lake Olmstead. Artists young and old worked on collaborative art at Social Canvas at the Morris. Sacred Heart had its Annual Garden Festival. Every weekend during the spring and summer, Augusta offers a local Saturday Market, boasting produce from local farms, baked goods, and crafts. They even have a yoga class. On Sunday, Augusta’s Roller Derby team, the Soul City Sirens battled (and beat!) The Rome (GA) Rollergirls. I’m sure I’m missing dozens of things.
Don’t tell me there isn’t anything to do here. “Well that was LAST weekend, Jenny,” you say matter-of-factly, “it’s not like that EVERY weekend.”
Ok. This weekend, you’ve got Fort Gordon’s Marine Mud Challenge, The Augusta Canal’s Moonlight Music Cruise, Friends of the Library Book Sale, Augusta Players’ The King & I, Ft. Gordon Dinner Theatre, and much more.
No, not all of these events are downtown. They’re all related, though. We all live in Augusta. How many of you living in Co County tell people you live in Martinez? I’m not the bettin’ kind, but I’ll put money on the fact that most of you say “Augusta.”
Now, now. I’m not asking you to move downtown. I’m not asking you to come during a time you feel unsafe. Just as you wouldn’t ask me to move to the suburbs against my will (and it would be), I’m not going to make you go anywhere you’d rather not.
I’m asking this: don’t give up. Believe it or not, some people still believe in downtown. We like it. We walk around on sunny days when Augusta hosts the Ironman, Arts in the Heart, Westobou, or the bike races, and we’re proud. There is an energy in Augusta right now, and it’s palpable. It really, really, and pardon my francais, sucks when uneducated-up-to-no-good idiots try to ruin it for the rest of us. If you think living in Columbia County or South Augusta or North Augusta or Aiken precludes you from responsibility, please reconsider. Just as I enjoy a festival at the Evans Town Center Park, playing tennis at Riverview Park in NA, eating at Sconyers restaurant, or going to Phinizy swamp, y’all have enjoyed events in my county.
Regarding the violence, if you’re one to say “see, that’s why I will NEVER go downtown Augusta,” please stay quiet. We’d love to have you, but just because it’s not for you, please don’t badmouth. But remember: please don’t ever say there isn’t anything to do in this town. We’ve offered.
It’s not all going to change overnight. The commissioners must work together, with the Mayor, to make it better. The Sheriff must adjust to his job and find a balance. I don’t know about you, but I don’t plan on giving up. I’m not from here, but I live here now. I don’t walk away easily.
Lately, when I go downtown for lunch or dinner with friends, finding a parking place takes a few minutes. Parking has always been an issue, and I’m sure those who work downtown find it to be a royal pain, but at least it means people are down there. If the restaurants causing the spaces to fill left downtown, I’m sure someone would complain about that, too. “We don’t have anywhere to eat, so we need a longer lunch break.”
We’re never going to make everyone happy. Things will happen. Visit any city in this country and tell me you’ll be safe everywhere. I’m waiting. Oh, you can’t. That’s right.
Do me this favor. If you’re not willing or able to help, please wait it out. Be quiet while you wait. Bad mouthing something you aren’t going to be a part of anyway is a waste of your energy. Make fun of me if you will, but I’m not willing to give up yet.
Worry about the victims. They need your prayers. Rather than complaining, figure out how you can make improvements. Don’t let the bad guys win.
You see, I, like many of you, have a black thumb. We had a fake, dusty Ficus in college. I’ve had few houseplants in my time. Those that did make it home suffered greatly. We had one on the mantle in our first home. It looked so nice up there, all green and earthy and stuff. In the four years we had it, it got watered four times. That might be an exaggeration. Maybe it was three.
Somehow it lived, until one day, when only one green leaf remained, the soil barren and hard, I threw it away. Now that I think about it, that’s so sad. I killed it. I literally starved it to death.
I literally love when I get to use literally in the correct way.
Now that I’m thinking about it, we do have a sweet little shamrock that’s been kickin’ for some time now. The Boy’s teacher brought it from Ireland. That’s probably why I take it seriously. I’ve talked to it before. Is that the first step in becoming a plant lady? I guess we’ve had it a year or more. I’m pretty sure it died a couple of times and came back to life. That’s my kind of plant.
Currently, we have three other live plants in our house. They’re all in the same room, and so far, they’ve been watered regularly. Dried out leaf removal has occurred a couple of times. How often are you supposed to water houseplants? I suppose I could Google it. For now, I’m doing ok.
The Girl and I were inspired a few weeks ago. On a whim, we went to Lowes and bought plants and fancy organic soil. We bought seeds, too, but I’m not getting ahead of myself. I told myself that if I can grow something, anything, that we can eat, I’ll consider our first effort a success. I cheated and started with live, already growing plants.
My mother in law is a Master Gardner. She planted window boxes for us, and she’s always giving us wonderful shrubs and flowers to add to our yard. We even have three loquat trees. They don’t bear fruit yet, but they’re not dead either. My brother in law knows more about plants than most nursery owners. He gave me some tips about starting a container garden. I hope I followed his directions appropriately.
We planted three kinds of tomatoes (beefsteak, roma, and classic heirloom), two cucumber seedling thingys, zucchini, strawberries, and herbs. I’ve had some herbs before, but they came in a plastic bag from my MIL’s garden. People have told me they’re hard to kill. So are Cast Iron plants, and ours didn’t make it. We shall see. I have mint, rosemary, basil, chives, lemon thyme, and two kinds of parsley. I’m fancy like that.
I used the herbs yesterday in my homemade vegetable stock. I impressed myself. It felt so pioneer-y.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect to have a bountiful crop each weekend. I’m not starting a farm stand or anything. The Man thinks we should have chickens. Save for the fact that our dog would eat them, I think we need to see if we can grow a tomato first. We can grow kids, but they’re not left in the yard all day needing water and sunlight only to be forgotten during a week at the beach. Wait. How long can kids survive…never mind.
Imagine our surprise when we noticed a bright red strawberry on the vine! The Girl shrieked. The Boy asked if we could eat it. Absolutely, kiddo. We’ll cut it in to four even slices and call it shortcake. It might even show up on Instagram. There are a few little green strawberries in there. Everything else has more than doubled in size. I’ll admit it: it’s pretty exciting. Our limited and small success makes me want to try more. For now, I’m crossing fingers and toes for one tomato.
When we were shopping for supplies, I noticed they had grape vines ready to plant. I was tempted to add them to our basket, but I feared a certain raisiny death. They were the white seedless variety. Surely those make wine, right? Look, I grew a strawberry. Anything’s possible.
I do not hate babies. As a matter of fact, when we had one, we enjoyed having one. Ours were great babies, sleeping through the night before two months old and eating like champs. I never even read baby-wise. They were just easy. I miss when they were that little. I love babies.
They (The Royal They with all the answers) say each phase of parenting is better than the last. So far, that’s mostly been true.
Although I wouldn’t advise that anyone wish away years of their child’s life, I’ll offer this to parents of screaming infants and obnoxious toddlers: it gets better. It gets a whole lot better.
Parenting kids who are between the ages of six and ten is, well, great. They (just The Kids, not the TRT) are still young and innocent, and they don’t hate me yet.
They understand what I mean. They may not always obey, but they do know what I’m saying. They don’t get in trouble for much besides fighting with one another. There’s the occasional cuss word (Boy) or backtalk (Girl), but the coloring on the walls and pulling off their, um, filled, diaper doesn’t happen anymore.
No more diapers. Although mine have been out of diapers for some time now, this one will always top my list. When they were in diapers, it wasn’t that big of deal to change them. Now, I all but refuse. Actually I have refused a couple. I try to schedule visits based on the last time the baby pooped. Having your kid use a full-sized, flushing toilet is liberating. That’s probably an understatement.
Nap time schedule restrictions are nonexistent. Don’t get me wrong. I loved naptime when both of mine were sleeping. The Boy took two naps a day for awhile, and he kept his afternoon nap until he was 5. His sister wasn’t so easy. She napped well until she was 2. After that, even though her then 4 year old brother was sound asleep, she wouldn’t do it. She would stay in bed for a couple of hours and not complain. When you have two toddlers, you take what you can get. Because naps were still so necessary, we couldn’t plan to do anything during the hours of two and four each day. I don’t miss fighting with a kid, trying to convince them they’re tired, when really I just wanted a break. I miss the quiet time, but now they just play in the yard or watch a movie. I still get my time.
If we’re out past bedtime, the next day isn’t completely ruined. We aren’t on a feeding schedule. Sure they have to eat (and I try to feed them regularly), but if we don’t eat at noon sharp, no one’s crying.
If they want a snack, they can get it. Just the other day, The Boy asked, “What’s for lunch?” You know what The Man told him? “Whatever you can make, son.” The Boy made a sandwich for himself and his sister. He put grapes on the plate and poured milk. Brilliant. I’m still willing to help them, of course. I’m their mother. The fact that they get so excited about learning how to do things on their own is thrilling. I just about blew The Girl’s mind when I taught her how to use the microwave last week. I don’t even need to share how she felt about making her own hot chocolate in the Keurig.
They still want to be seen in public with me. The girl told me that I’m the best mama ever because I take her to my friends’ houses with me. She thinks it’s neat to sit with me and a friend while we drink wine. I wonder when that will change. For now, I’ll keep it. She promised me that she won’t ever think I’m uncool. I wish I’d gotten that on video. The lady at Moe’s heard her say it. Besides, she pinky promised.
We haven’t gotten to the puberty part yet. Yuck. The anticipation of armpit hair, pimples, bad attitudes, bras, sweat, and broken hearts is enough to send me packing.
They can’t drive. They don’t go out until midnight. They aren’t dropped at the mall without an adult. They still need and want a babysitter. I love their independent spirits, but I’m glad to still have tabs on them.
Writing these words brings mixed emotions. The reality is bittersweet. They can do for themselves, but they still need me around. The Boy promises to hold my hand for many more years. The Girl assures me that she will always come home for a snuggle with Mama. Neither of these may come true. I’m enjoying the ease of this season, one when we talk, hang out, and play games together. I’ll reassure and encourage them while teaching them to do for themselves. They feel smart, and my job is simpler. Do you think it’s too early to show them how to use a corkscrew?
Because I love a list. Especially a random list.
- Reentry is rough. The Boy asked if we get a vacation after our vacation. We needed one more day.
- I enjoyed the fact that so many of you became golf fashion police last week. The violation updates were numerous and appreciated. The two most notable outfits were the daisy duke cutoff jean shorts and the gentlemen in the University of Florida orange and blue pants/shorts.
- Who lost a bet? The only other explanation for those atrocious pants is that one of your wives found the pattern on Pinterest and thought it’d be cute for y’all all to match. She had to have sewn them. No other woman would’ve let y’all out of the house dressed like that.
- Does anyone else find it ironic that the dude arrested for heckling people because of their attire at the golf course was arrested (inside the course) wearing a t-shirt? Talk about living in a glass house. Probably shouldn’t throw stones.
- No matter what you think about all those visitors, our town looks pretty incredible this time of year. There are some idiots, including those who still yell “get in the hole!” when Tiger hits. The bigger idiot was the one who yelled “redonkulous” every time Jason Day was on the tee box. I’m not aware of any official contest, but he wins. I’d love to be a fly on the wall when he goes back to his hours of DVR’d golf and shows his friends that somehow he’s even more of a fool than they. Actually, I wouldn’t. They can have that moment.
- There was great debate about the pimento cheese and chicken sandwich. I don’t typically eat either, but from what I saw, the pimento cheese was not the same, and the chicken was no more than a previously frozen chicken patty. I’ll stick with egg salad. Oh, and beer.
- I’ll admit to throwing away a few plastic cups out there. A tall stack is nothing more than evidence.
- Following such a wonderful week with my friends and family, the situation in Boston was jarring.
- Once again, we find ourselves in the wake of a terrible tragedy. The deaths and injuries are awful and shouldn’t be minimized.
- Unfortunately, the face of the marathon has changed forever. Athletes who once ran with optimism and pride will always have fear. The race, which has a deep history, continuing through two World Wars, will now be a memorial. Patriot’s Day, a great day of celebration in Boston, will be a sad day of remembrance.
- I’m sorry for the Saudi student who was questioned after showing up injured at the hospital. Authorities say he was seen running from the scene. One, It was a marathon. Two, it was scary. Three, utter chaos ensued. Um, I’m no expert, and I’m certainly not a scientist, but all three of those lend to a little motion I like to call running.
- We had to explain yet another terrible something to our children. Their friends were talking about it. I don’t mind being up front with them. I do mind that these things are happening. When we were little, we worried about tornado drills and taking candy from strangers.
- An 8 year old was killed. As mine have waited for theirs after dozens of races, he was waiting for his daddy at the finish line. The Kids don’t know that part.
- So many have talked about “this next generation” and “kids today” with frustration. You know what? The Boy and The Girl give me hope. I hope the things they see now will cause them to act. I hope these shootings and bombings will remind them that life is precious. I hope they don’t live in fear because of the things they know. I hope they’ll learn from the mistakes and actions of others. I hope they know compassion.
- I choose hope. Cheers and God bless, y’all.
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 anyway. 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 houses. 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 ladies. We like to call it Southern casual. Wear shoes you can walk in. ‘Cause you’re gonna walk a lot.
Speaking of shoes, ladies, leave your fancy heels at home. It’s completely acceptable for women to wear running shoes with a sundress. You’ll see people in golf shoes, too. This used to puzzle me, but spikes seem to handle muddy, smelly grass better than any other footwear.
If it rains, 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 that happens, I can promise that none of your friends will leave the tournament, so you’ll be forced to walk around with what looks like a bad potty accident on the back of your precious sundress.
As it was last year, Tiger is a late favorite. Like him or not, golf is more exciting when Tiger’s playing well. But please, don’t cheer for him like you’re at 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 wait to see the replay when I get home.
Just about 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 azaleas are much more impressive than last year. The weather is supposed to be perfect. You’re welcome. Eat an egg salad or 10, and remember that a beer held too long will only get warm. Welcome, y’all!
Because I love a list. Especially a random list.
- Just because you and I are sitting at the same bar doesn’t mean you should participate in my conversation. Bars don’t always = buddies. I was talking to her, not you. Listen if you may, because Lord knows I’m probably eavesdropping, too, but forthelove, at least try to be discreet. If we seem to be ignoring you, we probably are.
- Shouting “Oy Vey!” at the ashtray does nothing for your credibility either, dude.
- Seriously, what is up with this weather? I fell for Phil’s end-of-winter prediction, too. I feel used.
- A young girl at the (dreaded) mall left the security tag on my pants. I realized it right before a very important meeting. The store manager offered to come to my house to remove it. She tried to teach easy removal over the phone. It didn’t work. I ripped the pants in the process, so I went to the mall, and she replaced them. I still made the meeting.
- The previous day, as I was trying on said pants, six or seven security tags fell out of the pocket. I alerted the previously mentioned young girl and assured her that I was not the thief. She was clearly flustered by the apparent theft.
- I hope the store manager learned what seems to be an obvious lesson. Something is amiss with the security. Not only was someone able to remove several difficult to remove security tags (I tried, remember), but I made it out of and back into the store without the peep of a store alarm.
- I did get a couple of 20% off coupons for my extra effort. The thieves got a better deal.
- Thou shalt not steal.
- The 5’ risen Jesus was stolen from my church last week. It’s not funny but definitely fodder for jokes, given the time of year. We all must find Jesus.
- Please bring Jesus back. He can take care of you without being present in statue form. Besides, I’d imagine there isn’t much of a black market for 5’ tall risen Jesus statues. It’s not like you can display it or anything.
- Thou shalt not steal.
- In the past month, The Boy has had lunch with a politician and our mayor. John Barrow asked him what he wanted to be when he got older. He told him he didn’t know. When Mayor Deke mentioned hearing that he wanted to be POTUS, he simply said, “I’m planning on it.” He finds these lunches to be necessary steps on his path to political success.
- Barrow told us to come see him the next time we’re in D.C. I’m sure he tells that to all the kids, but guess who actually believed him?
- The other day, my tennis team had a match at Newman Tennis Center. When we arrived, after parking in the upper lot between the courts and Forest Hills Golf Course, we were asked to move our cars or be towed. We have always parked there. I understand that Forest Hills GC is a private facility, I really do. I also understand that Newman is a city owned facility. It was Wednesday morning at 9am. Those parking spaces weren’t in high demand. I’m sure there’s a “good” reason for this, but to me, it looks like silliness. When we asked the Newman employee about it, she said she didn’t “know why, but they would definitely tow our cars.” If it had been a Saturday morning or Masters week, the spaces might have been needed by FHGC. It wasn’t, though. We needed approximately eight spaces. Instead, we moved our cars across the nearly empty parking lot. Talk about pedaling the bike backwards. Seriously, Augusta.
- Can’t we all get along? Cheers!