Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Elyse and Mommy Go Tubing

There are entries here from 2014 and 2015 about Jessica's trips down the Chattahoochee, but before today Elyse had never gone. This morning she did.

While they were floating down the river I went to Betty's Country Store, which, despite my having been to Helen many, many times in my life, including quite a few times with Anna and a few with Anna and the girls, I had never been to.

One of the things I love about stores like this is that they often have a good section of local books:

They also had a big ice-filled cooler of the kinds of soft drinks I love--Sioux City Sarsaparilla, Cheerwine, Fanta Orange, and several others:

They also had Brach's Chocolate Stars, which I have a great fondness for:

I bought a drink, some chocolate stars, and a mini Moon Pie, and sat outside for a few minutes to have a snack:

I was disappointed in my drink, but didn't realize the reason for that until several hours later when I was home and looking at the pictures on my computer. Can you read the bottle? Blenheim -- usually a very good drink -- DIET Ginger Ale.


Somehow I totally missed that when I was picking the bottle out of the cooler (I was just excited to find a Blenheim), but also while I was drinking it on Betty's porch, and then driving around Helen with the bottle in my car. Well, at least I saved a few calories, I guess.

After this, I went to the bridge by the Troll Tavern to watch for Anna and Elyse to float by. I walked around that area, scanning the river and inspecting every pink tube that I saw coming down the river. I walked and watched, and walked and watched, and walked and watched, for about forty minutes, doing time-math in my head -- "It's been an hour and thirty-five minutes since they first started down; they should be here any minute now. Now it's been an hour and forty minutes..."

Well, I totally missed them. The young woman who sold them their tickets said it usually takes an hour and a half to get to the bridge, but Anna and Elyse were going down the river pretty fast and made it to that point in less than an hour and twenty-five minutes, or I would have seen them.

But while I was waiting under the bridge, not knowing they'd already gone by, I took this picture of a really nasty street lamp:

I hung around the bridge until it had been two hours since they first started out, then, figuring they couldn't be going that slow, I went to the end point to pick them up. They were already there waiting for me; they did the whole trip in about two hours! (The Helen Tubing people say it usually takes two and a half.)

As I learned when I picked them up, Elyse and Anna had one unfortunate misadventure on their trip down the river: they lost hold of the Helen Tubing pushing-off stick (which we bought when Jessica and Anna went for their first tubing adventure in 2014) at a deep part of the river and couldn't get it back. This really upset Elyse, who has always had trouble containing her emotions and recovering from disappointments; she was probably the only person in a pink inner tube crying on the river this morning. We assured her we would get another one next time.

We'll be going back in a week or two, or Anna and I will, at least, so Anna can make another trip with Jessica.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Panola Mountain State Park

Today we drove down to Stockbridge (about a forty-minute drive) to visit Panola Mountain State Park for a walk in the woods. At least Anna and I were there to spend some time in nature; Jessica and Elyse were busy filming Elyse's nature show:

Jessica is a great executive producer; if she has something she can record video with, she immediately assesses her surroundings and comes up with an impromptu show for her to shoot, usually with Elyse as the star.

I wasn't filming the Daddy nature show, but I do sometimes use my phone's selfie-cam to make sure I get included in this blog:

Here, the girls look out over the granite surface of Panola Mountain:

Before we left, the girls played for a few minutes on the playground:

I don't have a picture of it to post, but we also got Elyse a snowy owl in the gift shop, which I think was her favorite part of the whole trip.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Happy Anniversary to Us!

Today, Anna and I have been married for sixteen years!

This is me at Stone Mountain the day before our wedding--or maybe a couple of days before, I don't remember exactly. I was 34, so young! Of course, I didn't know it at the time. (I don't realize how young I am now, in fact.)

I hope Molly and Theresa don't hate me for posting this, but here are Anna and her sisters just before the wedding:

(I haven't seen Anna in so much makeup since, and frankly I prefer it that way.) 

This is Anna and me at our reception, married for only a couple of hours, talking to some of our guests:

We had our reception at the 173 Carlyle House in Norcross, which was a great facility, but a bit far from the church--15.5 miles according to Google Maps. If we were doing it all over again, we might try to find someplace not quite so far away; I don't know if Vines Mansion was doing receptions back then or not, but today that's one place we would look into.

Anyway, to bring things up to the present, this is my breakfast on our anniversary:

Dunkin' Donuts Chocolate Glazed Donut-flavored coffee with White Chocolate Raspberry creamer (and also a little half-and-half because I don't like it that sweet) -- a perfect combination! (Yes, my coffee is that light.) Also a chocolate chocolate-chip muffin, thanks to Elyse.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Stone Mountain Dinosaurs -- Again

This afternoon we went to Stone Mountain, primarily to get the girls' membership cards made, which we accomplished, but also to get some candy from the hundred-dollars-a-pound candy store (it's not really that much, but almost), and, because Elyse wanted to, to see the dinosaurs again.

We didn't take any pictures of the candy, but here are some of the dinosaurs (and us). The first three are the girls waiting to get their membership cards made:

(You might notice that all three of these are the same picture, cropped different ways.)

This is Jessica taking a picture:

And here's the picture Jessica took:

Anna was not intimidated by the T. Rex:

Here again is Jessica taking a picture:

And the picture she took:

All of the pictures from here to the end of this post were taken by Jessica:

A couple of Jessica's selfies:

And a few backseat selfies with both girls:

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Christmas in June

I like it when, at certain craft stores, Christmas starts in June:

But they also have plenty of Thanksgiving stuff out too:

(Also lots of Fourth of July stuff, but that's not surprising since it's only about three weeks away.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Morning Walk at Ronald Reagan Park

This morning while Elyse was in her craft class, I went to Ronald Reagan Park to go for a walk and get some exercise. I'm afraid I may have stopped to take pictures so often that the walk wasn't all that exerciseful, but I did enjoy it.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


This week Elyse is taking a craft class at JoAnn in Snellville, which happens to be right next door to the Petco. We arrived a little early this morning, so we went into Petco to look at the animals before the craft class:

(The ferrets are asleep and not dead, I promise.)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

For Laura

Six months ago today someone who was very special to me lost her life-long battle with depression. I can't tell you how sorry I am she's gone.

Her name was Laura Travis when I got to know her, but for more than half of her life her name was Laura Caudle. She was only 14 when we met, 15 when this picture was taken, 46 the last time I saw her, and just a few weeks short of her 48th birthday when she died. She is survived by her sister, Kate; her husband of twenty-five years, Keith; her daughter, Lisa; and two grandchildren.

I am grateful that I knew her when I did. She was good for me when I was 16 and 17; it was a great gift to be close to someone who was smart and funny and loved books. It was because of her that I read Stranger in a Strange Land and learned to play backgammon. She helped shape who I am today.

We grew up and went our separate ways, as people do, and stayed only loosely in touch as adults; we both married people who were good for us, and had kids, and led our own lives, and, frankly, probably didn't think about each other all that often. But the world feels emptier without her in it.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Freeman's Mill Park

Today was the last day of Lilburn Day Camp, which the girls and Anna have been going to all week, and therefore the last day when I would have the whole day to myself for a while. I decided not to go on a big drive this week, but I did want to go somewhere for at least a little while, so today I went to Freeman's Mill Park in Lawrenceville. It has the twin virtues of being close (only about thirteen miles away!) and being interesting, and also I'd only been there once before, several years ago.

Here are some of the pictures I took:

Some of the areas by the dam and the sluice, seen from the proper angle, remind me of the ruins of Machu Picchu or Angkor Wat or one of those places I've never been to but have seen pictures of: