Thursday, October 25, 2012

My Very Own (Personal) Early Voting Miracle


Earlier this month, my incredibly organized downstairs neighbor and friend, Susan, sent me information about early voting here in Atlanta.  At first, I didn’t think early voting was something I’d be interested in doing  since I love the tradition of participating in my civic duty on election day itself, especially since my normal polling place here in midtown includes a walk through the absolutely beautiful Ansley Park to the indubitably historic First Presbyterian Church where I cast my ballot.

But as my retired hours became busier and busier and I became more and more sure something just might happen to keep me from voting  on the assigned day, and my vote would, because I am the center of the universe, be the very vote required for my candidate to be victorious, I decided I needed to go ahead and get it done early.  That way,  I could relax and know I wouldn’t be the one responsible should our country go to hell in a handbasket as of November 7.

So, this past Monday, as I was en route to my home away from home, the Atlanta History Center, to learn how to weave on the big old loom at the Smith Family Farm, my Civil War era ensemble languishing in the back seat of the Corolla, I decided to stop by the Buckhead Library to take advantage of early voting.  It turned out to be quick and easy and I was in and out in just a few minutes, proudly sporting my I'm a Georgia voter! sticker on my chest, with visions of warps and wefts and shuttlecocks and heddles dancing around in my head as I carefully backed out of my parking space.

Here's where the miracle comes in:

  • It was not that the car I backed into wasn't a Masurati, which it could have been as this was Buckhead.
  • It was not that the car had no people in it so that I had go back into the Buckhead Library to interrupt presidential early voting to announce that I'd just hit a car in the parking lot.
  • It was not that the people sitting in the car weren't hurt or weren't mean and nasty even though they were none of those things.  They were a couple maybe even more elderly than I and they were sweet and understanding when they saw the dent in their fender that was caused by me.
Here's the miracle:

After we'd stood around a few minutes sharing information, the couple had custody of my insurance card and I'm pretty sure I'd made some stupid jokes about my bad eye and my blind spot and how glad I was that I wasn't wearing my Civil War dress, etc. etc. etc. At the point, the very nice man said something about how it probably wouldn't cost much to fix, and the repair people would probably just hammer the dent out.  With that,  we walked back around the car to look at the damage one more time.   And that's when, just like in The Song of Bernadette, we observed a miracle.

The offended fender (which was probably made in Detroit) had popped itself back out while I was going on and on to the very nice couple about the whole thing being my fault and what an idiot I am.  Yes, that fender had unoffended itself; indeed, it had taken its own initiative to pop itself back out.  That sucker had just popped itself right back out from where it had before been dented in!  

The very nice couple and I just looked at each other in stupefaction and touched that fender to make sure we weren't hallucinating.  At that point, the very nice lady handed me back my insurance card, saying they wouldn't be needing it after all.

Okay, it wasn’t a major miracle.  It wasn’t like I'd gone into the Buckhead Library and voted early and as soon as I clicked on the new-fangled computer submit-ballot button, a brass band started up, and red, white, and mainly blue balloons were unleashed, and someone came over a loud speaker announcing that my candidate had somehow already won! thanks to, yes, that early voting lady, the one who was very carefully backing her Corolla out of the parking lot not hitting anybody, the one with the Civil War era ensemble languishing in the back seat.

But, it was still a miracle and we are all in need of miracles.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Wore Slap Out

Photo: Hawheeeeeeeeeee...

wore slap out – a Southern colloquialism that describes, at least somewhat adequately, how grandmas feel when their precious progeny finally buckle up and head for home.

Don’t get me wrong; I love my grandkids.  It’s just that they are very, very busy and my home is very, very small.  

In an attempt to define grandkids' kind of busy, I’m going to try to quantify five-year-old Miles and three-year-old Georgia’s recent visit that ended, thank you God and Jesus, Thursday afternoon at 4:29 PM, despite daughter, Melissa’s worries that they might hit rush hour traffic. 

Number of:
  • Grammy's knick-knacks rearranged by Georgia:  472
  • knick-knacks moved by adults to get them out of Georgia's sight line:  327
  • crumbs on the floor: infinity
  • times Georgia hit Miles: 73
  • times Miles hit back: 6
  • times Georgia told on Miles for hitting her: 6
  • bath salts poured into bath: all
  • Grammy’s bran muffins eaten by grandkids:  just 1 as the rest were hidden
  •  cups of milk poured: hundreds
  • pictures colored by Miles for Grammy: 3
  • times Georgia lost her bear, Beary Manilow : 326 
  • Nick Jr. shows ordered On Demand: 8 (well worth the cost no matter what it was)
  • parks visited: 2
  • swing pushes: infinity
  • times I went down a slide: 4 
  • times kids were told to stay with us: 500
    times they listened: 0
  • times we mistakenly thought we could go to a restaurant as long as we dined al fresco: too many
  • escalator rides to nowhere: 2
  • Pumpkin Patches we visited: 2
  • times Georgia dropped her pumpkin: 15
  • times we got lost going to and returning from the zoo: 5
  • animals we saw at the zoo: 35 (1000 counting the naked mole rats)
  • times we had to pick up a kid so he/she could see: 72
  • animals we got to feed:  just 1 but it was a GIRAFFE!!!!
  • things climbed on in spite of our admonitions not to do so: 85
  • animals brushed at the petting zoo: I don't know.  I was sitting on a bench at that point.
  • times we rode the train despite telling the kids we were all out of money: 1
  • times Georgia and I rode the Merry-Go-Round despite telling the kids we were all out of money: 1
  • times Miles climbed the very tall climbing wall: 2
  • minutes Miles waited patiently to climb the climbing wall: at least 30
  • times we lost the children: only 1.  We were sitting and resting while they played on the playground at the zoo, patting ourselves on the back about how careful we are with them at all times.  While we were talking and resting and watching so carefully,  they somehow managed to see the little kid door into the naked mole rats building, which they visited unchaperoned until they gleefully exited via the tunnel at the other end of the building while we were dutifully watching the playground where we were sure they were. 

To tell the truth, the visit was a great one and the kids were pretty good, considering their ages and my small Atlanta home. I would have liked for them to stay longer, but when they finally, thank you God and Jesus, left, I was wore slap out.
Number of lies I just told about wanting them to stay longer: 1
Number of sweet memories of the trip: infinity




Monday, October 1, 2012

What I Learned from the Gypsy Farm Story

 Black Jack at the Smith Family Farm

It was one of my first days volunteering at the Smith Family Farm at the Atlanta History Center and I wasn’t all that enamored with the visiting school group.  Oh, the children were cute and inquisitive and relatively well behaved; it was the adults who were bugging me.  The kids were on a field trip and they were from a Megatively Conservative Mega Church Private School and, since I couldn’t blame the kids for sending themselves to such a school, I could only blame the parents (some of whom were serving as chaperones).  Everyone was vanilla and coifed and all the same, generally the kind of people who don't interest me all that much.  However, I was on my best behavior, trying to be helpful without anyone figuring out I had absolutely no clue as to what I was doing.

I’d heard Ava, our Kitchen History Maven, telling the kids that she was cooking up some carrots they’d been keeping down in the root cellar, and minutes later, I found myself outside, standing next to the door of said root cellar, wondering if there really were any carrots down there and what else might be down there and if there really was a down there.   

The Smith home, an1840s era house and detached kitchen, are the real deal, having been moved to their present location from Dekalb County in the early 1970s, but the additional out-buildings, while historical, aren't from the Smith family.  In addition, some of the accoutrements are faux (although firmly-documented fine faux) because, well, because everything can’t be all real all of the time, even in a place as wonderful as the Smith Family Farm at the Atlanta History Center.

So, there I was standing by the either real or faux root cellar as a field trip mom stepped up to me and said, “Root cellars give me the creeps.”   

Like she would know anything about root cellars, this lily-white, suburban, probably gas-guzzling SUV driving, tennis-playing trophy wife, I thought.    But I went into docent mode anyway, using the only information I had.  

“Yeah well, the Smiths stored things like carrots down there,” I said, hoping she wouldn't ask me anything else that would indicate I'd already given her everything I had.

“My parents kept their homemade wine in ours,” she offered.  

What?  This transparent mega-church-going, private-school-sending mom had parents who kept bootlegged booze in a root cellar?  I was envisioning some color spilling on to her pallid cheeks, like Two-Buck Chuck Premium Red on a perfectly pressed linen napkin.

“You grew up on a farm?  Where?”

“Up in Michigan.”

“Your parents were farmers?”

“Well, not really.  At some point, they got a wild hair and they bought a farm.  From gypsies.”

“Your parents bought a farm from gypsies?”

“Yeah, and when we moved in, there were still gypsy wagons on the property and apparently they’d kept their animals inside the house.”

“You mean dogs and cats?”

“More like goats and chickens.” 

It turned out that this woman had grown up on a former gypsy farm and her parents had raised their own chickens and goats (outside) along with cows and vegetables and grapes for wine making, reading books as they went along to figure out how to keep everything alive, all while running a family business in a nearby town.   And these very same parents now lived with this women here in Atlanta because she was a divorced mom of three who was struggling, finishing up nurse’s training, specializing in flesh wounds.  

It was like at the beginning of the Wizard of Oz, you know the part when the black and white goes all technicolorish as Dorothy and Toto start out on the yellow brick road? Suddenly, this lady's family story and personal history brought her into a full and interesting light, and she became a reminder for me to avoid judging what could be a great book by what seems to be a stereotypical cover.  Here stood this colorful, vibrant woman who was interesting and absolutely worth getting to know, with a story only she could tell.  All I needed to do was open my mind and listen.

 By the way, there really is a root cellar under that door at the Smith Family Farm at the Atlanta History Center.  Just like the woman I talked to that day, it's  real.


For more information about the Smith Family Farm at the Atlanta History Center, see:

Smith Family Farm

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