The Road Trip

While we were recording an episode of Pickled Okra a few months ago, Jolene and I started talking about the possibility of her coming out to visit again over the Christmas holiday. I had a similar desire for a little vacation and all of this talk morphed into us planning out a road trip from western New York to Oklahoma.

We kept talking and planning, but there wasn’t much real planning because we were both so busy. We both knew we wanted to do it and booked my ticket to New York and before we knew it, there were about 2 weeks left before it was supposed to happen and we hadn’t figured much of anything out.

I spent an evening researching restaurants that sounded appealing and places to hear some live music in Nashville. Jolene found us a hotel in downtown Nashville and we figured out the route we were going to take and called the whole thing good.

We left the plan open so that we could stop wherever we wanted to along the way and the only place we had to be by a certain time was our Nashville hotel on Saturday night. It was a little strange for me to get on the road without hotel reservations anywhere, but we were able to locate good accommodations all along the way.

Thanks to Misti, we had ourselves a hashtag (#OkraToGo) and I tweeted throughout the trip with it.

I could give you a detailed recap here, but since it’s already been done, I’m going to point you in the direction of our podcasts that we recorded during the trip. We recorded one episode of Pickled Okra while sitting in the car waiting for a table at a restaurant, another once we made it back to Oklahoma, and then another over coffee at my kitchen table. You’ll get a complete picture of the trip there. Enjoy!

Episode 10 – Slips, Trips, and Blazers
Episode 11 – Emotional Outbursts
Episode 12 – Coffee Chat

Five Minute Friday: Tree

Paw Paw carried me up the hill as he looked out across the pasture for a mama cow and her new baby calf. I don’t really remember this part, only that I was out with him that day to check the cows. I think he’d taken me to give my mom a little break (she had a new baby — my brother, Kyle).

We got to the top of this hill and somewhere along the way the mama cow was located and she was none too happy to see us. Paw Paw knew he was going to have to run and he knew it wasn’t something safe or smart to do with little 20 month old me in his arms.

There, on top of the hill, was a tree. One of its branches was low enough that he could reach up and set me down on it. He put my tiny arms around the trunk of the tree and told me to hold on and not let go. I don’t think I was scared just then, but I knew he was serious. Maybe I should add that I was speaking in full sentences at this point, so it wasn’t like he was sticking a tiny baby up there with no clue what was going on. I was a toddler though and we should probably be glad this all happened in the 1980s and not now, otherwise I might have ended up on the news.

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Paw Paw told me to sit still and hold on tight to the tree and that’s exactly what I did. I trusted him absolutely. He went to lead the mama cow away from me and to find her baby. I don’t know how much time passed, but the next thing I remember, and the strongest, earliest memory of my life is what happened next.

Running up to the tree where I sat high above the ground, here came the mama cow. She ran right up underneath me and the top of her head brushed the bottom of my little bare feet. I hugged the tree tight and squalled just as loud as my lungs would permit. That scared the cow and she turned to run away from my bellowing cries.

A few moments later, after what felt like forever, Paw Paw returned and rescued me from my perch. I recall telling this story, especially the bit about the cow rubbing my feet, to anyone that would listen. I know Paw Paw can tell it better, so maybe I’ll ask him to refresh my memory on all the details. And maybe I’ll go find this tree.

Photo above was taken around the time of the cow adventure, maybe even the same day. I feel like that might have been the outfit I was wearing when it happened.

I’m participating in Five Minute Friday and you can, too!

Some Things Stay

June 14, 2004

Wherever I am, there will always be breakfast. Whether we wake up at seven or two. I’ll make it. I hope you don’t mind that I’m worthless at making eggs. Bright pinky-red strawberries in shiny silver bowls. Sweet smells drifting upstairs. A little dog content under the table and my daffodils in a vase. Coffee. An open window letting in the morning breeze. Shelves lined with my teapots. Sitting at the table cross-legged. Making every day last a year.

Earlier today I was digging through my old journal, the one I started in the early part of 2001 and that I kept regularly for most of the next 10 years, only slowing down with posts a few years ago. It is odd, being able to look back in time like that. The things I worried about seemed so big then. Now, looking back, distance and maturity makes them appear much smaller.

It’s less the events and more the person writing them that interests me. She seems so different. I wonder, if I could tell her anything, would I? I’ve watched enough movies about time travel to know how much havoc that can wreak. It’s probably best that space and time keep me from communicating with my younger self.

In spite of all the differences, there’s something about reading those words and finding in them something that is still true. So little about my life looks the same as it did back then. But there are parts of it that I can trace from the beginning of that journal, clear through today, a few true, steady things that remain.

When he started to speak, I couldn’t concentrate. I was sure he had spotted me in the audience, and I was trying to guess what he was thinking. How did I look to him? How different was the woman of twenty-nine from the girl of seventeen? — Paulo Coelho, By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

I am a quarter inch taller. I have mastered most of the ways an egg can be prepared (still rotten at poaching). If you look closely, you may spot a snow white hair or two peeking through my black roots. There are fewer questions in my eyes and, I think, a touch more confidence.

Really though, looking past external, circumstantial changes and the sometimes naive tone I had, so much of it is the same. A few years ago someone asked me if I felt I had changed much in the last decade of my life and upon examining where my head and heart were about things, I concluded that I didn’t feel I had changed much at all. Not at the core of my being.

Maybe it’s a flaw, looking back as I do, like Lot’s wife. I am not convinced. There is something steadying about turning and seeing who you were and knowing that many of the things you have faith in, hope for, and love remain the same.

As it happens, this 2000 page anchor of a journal once bore a title that makes more sense to me now than it did when I plucked the words from the pages of a book…

Some things stay.