Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Happy Birthday, Jessica!

Today, Jessica is eleven years old!



We got a late start on our celebration because we had to wait for my car to be ready at the car place where it was being fixed, and then go pick it up so we could return Pa's truck to him (I'd been driving it for the last few days while my car was being worked on).

We met Granny and Pa at Subway (Jessica's choice) to get sandwiches to take back to Granny and Pa's house (also Jessica's choice), but we didn't actually sit down to eat until about 7:00, by which time Elyse was tired and cranky. She laid down on the sofa and slept through Jessica opening presents:


It's hard to believe Jessica is only a couple of years away from being a true teenager. In many ways, she already is one; she's certainly working on developing a teenager's attitude and sense of independence.

We're proud of her and so happy to have her in our lives! I just wish, as I've probably written dozens of times in the past few years, that I could figure out a way to make it all slow down.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Happy Birthday, Elyse!

Elyse is officially eight years old today!

We celebrated by going to Stevi B's for an early dinner, and then going to Granny and Pa's house to eat birthday cookies and watch Elyse open presents:


Earlier in the day I went and had lunch with her at school. It was their first day back after the two-day weather holiday. (Though Anna didn't have to go back today--Rockdale took it as yet another bad weather day.)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Snow Days!

It snowed last night, and school--every school that affects us: Gwinnett, Rockdale, Gwinnett Tech--was cancelled for the day!

This is what we woke up to:





Not exactly a Winter Wonderland, but an inch or so of snow, enough so that Elyse could go outside and build a small snowman on the patio:


(Jessica didn't get to go outside because of her injured ankle, but she did sit by the sliding glass doors and communicate with Elyse via walkie talkie.)

It wasn't truly a "no school" day; officially it was a "Digital Learning Day," which means the kids had school assignments on their e-class portals. Here's Elyse working on hers:


There's a famous line in a "Star Trek" episode where a long-lived character says to Captain Kirk, "Immortality consists largely of boredom." So do snow days. I don't know that either Jessica or Elyse would agree with that, but by the late afternoon we were all going stir crazy.

And tomorrow (Thursday, January 18), because today the temperatures are not s'pose to get above freezing so all the snow and ice will be here for a while and therefore the schools will still be closed, we get to do it all over again!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Jessica is Sidelined

This afternoon, Anna sent this message to Jessica's teachers:

"I took Jessica to visit the Urgent Care facility today after she slipped yesterday and complained of severe pain in her right ankle that continued this morning.  They did X-rays, and she has a fracture in her ankle.  She will not be in school today."

I'm not going to post any pictures of Jessica in her brace or trying to use her crutches (which she is strenuously resisting); mostly she's been resting on the couch with her leg elevated, watching "The Addams Family" and "Cupcake Wars" on Hulu.

We hope she recovers quickly!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Happy Birthday, Annie!

Today is Anna's birthday! We went to Granny and Pa's house for lunch (Chinese food from Oriental Garden), mostly to celebrate the birthday but partially also to escape our own house, which was having a new roof rather noisily put on it).

Jessica has spent several hours over the previous few days working on a bag for Mommy, using Granny's super-duper sewing machine. I wish I had some pictures of Jessica working on it, but I do have some pictures of Anna opening it:




Thursday, January 4, 2018

Chris and Jeff Rocking Out in Jeff's Bedroom, Lilburn, GA, 1980


Jeff’s wearing a Star Trek T-shirt and mine says Star Wars, but there was no rivalry between those two science fiction universes back in late 1979 or early 1980 when this picture was taken. One was an old TV show that had been off the air for more than a decade, the other was a fairly recent, wildly popular movie—but just a movie, singular, and not a whole franchise, or, for some people, a way of life. (By the time this picture was taken, Star Trek: The Motion Picture may have been released, but it wasn’t very good so I don’t think it counts. Also, I don’t think The Empire Strikes Back had come out yet, and besides, Star Wars is the only real Star Wars, as far as I’m concerned.)

“Star Trek” and Star Wars aren’t the only science fiction represented in this photograph: on the top left you can see a Shogun Warrior, whose fists (if I remember correctly) could be shot from his arms like missiles at the press of a hidden button, and who probably had other weapons as well. On the shelf directly below that is a space vehicle of some kind from the Micronauts line.

At one point Jeff and I had quite a collection of Shogun Warriors and Micronauts. Among my many wonderful memories of childhood are the times when we could convince my mother to take us to Lionel Playworld, which was on Buford Highway in Doraville (though I may not have known either of those facts at the time), and which was (as far as I was concerned) the greatest toy store in the world. I can’t recall how much was actually bought when we would go; I think we had maybe ten dollars each saved—though in the late 1970s, ten dollars was a lot—and we could buy one or two things. Just being in Lionel Playworld was enough, even if I didn’t get to buy everything that caught my eye. We did eventually amass quite a collection, as I said, but most of the toys we had we got for Christmas or our birthdays.

Of course, most people might not even notice the Shogun Warrior and the Micronaut. The focus of the picture is me and Jeff in all our youthful, untrained musical glory. I got the guitar for Christmas just a few months (or maybe even weeks, or days) before this picture was taken. It was a black Memphis Les Paul copy, which had a mostly hollow body that was badly prone to microphonics. My amp, which isn’t in this picture (or in Jeff’s room at all), was a twenty-watt Crate amp.

This wasn’t originally the guitar I was going to get; Dad had an Explorer copy on layaway at Joe’s Music in Norcross, but I changed my mind at some point and decided I wanted the Les Paul. Though it’s been nearly forty years, I sometimes think about that and wish I’d gotten the Explorer.

The drums may have been more my idea than Jeff’s, I don’t know. I was eager to put together a band, and figured the guy in the bedroom right next to mine was a good candidate for the drums. How interested he really was, apart from a level of enthusiasm than an older brother can sometimes inspire, I don’t know, but he never really learned to play those toy drums. At one point, a year or two later, I somehow managed to get him outfitted with a bass, but we never really coalesced into a band. (Interestingly, it was that instrument, a cheap copy of a Fender Telecaster bass, that my cousin Scott played when he and I were in the band with Roy, so I did, in a manner of speaking, achieve my end.)

It took me a few years, but I finally realized that I don’t actually have any musical talent. Not enough, anyway, to become the working musician I once aspired to be, and definitely not enough to even approach the skill of the guitarists who were (or would become, in the months and years after this picture was taken) my idols: Steve Howe, Steve Morse, and especially Alex Lifeson. Within five or six years of this picture being taken, Jeff would become a much better guitar player than I was.

But this picture doesn’t remind me of lost dreams or a lack of talent—though I will admit that those are things I still occasionally struggle with. This picture reminds me of how great it was to be young and to have hopes and aspirations, and to have a brother you could try to rope into being involved in them, and, perhaps most important of all, how fortunate I was to have a mother who would put up with all the noise coming out of my bedroom (small though it was, that Crate amp I had could really wail), and who could macramé a lion for your brother’s bedroom wall, and take you to Lionel Playworld so you could dream of one day owning the entire collection of both Shogun Warriors and Micronauts.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Jessica and Dad at the Stone Mountain Historic Square

Tomorrow the girls go back to school after their two-week-long Christmas break. Jessica and I wanted to do something on this last day, so we took Elyse to Granny and Pa's house and then went to Stone Mountain to walk around in and take pictures of "the old houses," as Jessica calls the Historic Square (which, up until a couple of years ago, was called the Plantation).

Here are a few of the pictures I took there:


I would really love a study like the one above someday, though preferably without the magnolia leaf garland they hang at Christmastime.


The stairs at the end of the above hall go to the attic, which is closed off to the public and which I would really love to be able to go up and see.


Hey, look: Jessica's smiling! She doesn't always do that when she knows someone's taking a picture. (Not that I believe you always have to smile when your picture is taken.)


We didn't enter.