Friday, July 31, 2009

Grill Girls

There are five daughters in my family, plus my mom makes six Wise women. We are a mostly independent bunch, though I guess I can't speak for everyone.

But I like to think of us as having a strength unique to women, solidified for us by years of hard living and the necessity of grit.

So it comes as no surprise to me that most of the women in my family are Masters of the Grill - the outdoor cooking space most often designated for the men in the unit, a place for them to gather and guy-talk while handling big hunks of meat because, for some reason, cooking outside is much more maucho then slaving over a hot stove confined by four walls.

In true Wise-fashion, the Wise women push those boundaries.

Naturally, it was born out of necessity, as most traditions-turned-lifestyles are. There really weren't men around to fire up our grill. So when our lives gained some sense of normalcy and we wanted a cookout, we had one.

And the girls grilled.

We still do.

I think sometimes it baffles the current men in our lives. I was getting ready to put steaks on the grill the other night and Lucas took the plate from me on my way out the door.

"I've got it," I said. And he handed it back, maybe a little despondent. Maybe the grill is his terrority - I don't know. But I grilled the steaks.

Katie thinks nothing twice about grilling chicken (herself) instead of putting it in the oven or on the stovetop.

Over the Fourth of July, Mom grilled out and she cooked the hamburgers. Though she has been known to say at friends-and-family cookouts, "I need a man to grill the hamburgers for me" and either one volunteers or she designates one - one who may need to feel a moment of manliness.

Personally, I'm a master of both charcoal and propane grills. Last summer I bought a $17 charcoal grill at Wal-Mart and assembled it on the beach at the lake. Thirty minutes later, about twelve friends and I were enjoying hamburgers and hotdogs. That grill lasted all summer, too.

My realization that we Wise women had arrived at being grill masters was yesterday when Katie got back to the house from shopping.

"I got two things today," she said. One was a bamboo silverware seperator for the silverware drawer.

The other?

A grill brush.

"I got this for us," she said. "So we can clean the grill."

I think that means that,despite our gender, we've arrived among the many, the proud, the men...of grills.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I'm not a mom.

But I know what it feels like to enjoy eating dinner without having to cut up someone else's first.
I know how it feels to get out of the car and not get in the backseat immediately to help a little person out.
I know how it feels to walk into a store without having to worry about the little hand grabbing yours. And whether or not that little hand is running off.
I know how amazing it is to have a conversation with an adult and not be interrupted.
I know how intelligent it is to watch a movie with a rating above G.
I know how serene the kitchen feels when cooking dinner in silence.

I'm not a mom.

But I know how absolutely vital (essential, really) it is for moms to step outside their mom-role for an hour, a trip to Wal-Mart, a dinner, the drivethrough...just a reconnect with reality - the reality of being a woman.

I grew up with a phenominal mother - the one who loved being with her kids, who rarely took time for herself, who missed us when we weren't there. She is still that mother, to this day. And I will most likely be a lot like her.

I love the kids in my life - the ones who's lives brush mine, the others who are more a part, the others who I take care of regularly.

I love their honesty.
Their creativity.
Their love of life.
Their thoughtfulness.
Their reasoning.
Their chatter.
Their snuggles.
Their movies.
Their compliments.
Their dependance on me.

But last night, I was me, a part from them.

Me = single. Childless. Not a mom.

"I know I'm not a mom," I told Katie in the women's restroom of the Grand Ole Opry. "But it feels good to be out with just us - no kids."

And for five hours, it was nice.

But now back to the cuddling. Who can say no to that?

(but for the dads and other people involved in the lives of their women - they need a break sometimes. Even just a little one.)

Grand Ole Opry

Grand Ole Opry?

Mission accomplished.

I've lived an hour and 45 minutes from Nashville for about 6 years and have never been to the Grand Ole Opry. A shame, really.

But no more shame, as of last night!!!

The idea of going has been swirling in my head (as many things are!) for awhile now and when I found out that the Eli Young Band was going to be performing there this Tuesday night, I texted Katie and said, "Make no plans for Tuesday night. We're going to the Opry!"

So we did.

I'm not a big fan of tourist-trappy places because I don't like to contribute to the hype of a PLACE just because someone says I'm supposed to like it.


The Grand Ole Opry is where it's happening. Everyone should go at least once in their lives, especially people who live as close as I do.

Actually, people who lives as close as I do, should go like, um, once a month. At least. When we left last night,Katie commented that we should go back every week.

It's that good.

So your question may be - what makes it so good??

And my answer(s) are:

1) It's deeply historical, for both Nashville and the whole of country music. Even if you don't like country music, you can't deny the influence these legendary artists have had on music in general.

2) The Opry House is beautiful and very old. The Grand Ole Opry used to be performed at the Ryman Auditorium but was moved to its current location in the '60s, I think. Our seats were in the balcony (because those were the only three seats left together) and the stairs up to the seats were barely wide enough for two people to walk side by side. The seats in the balcony were pews and our view to the stage was nearly vertical. The auditorium is tall and deep so it felt like we were sitting on the top of a cylinder looking down into the stage.

3) The Grand Ole Opry provides an entertainment line-up like no other. We saw Jimmy Newman, Sarah Buxton, a Bluegrass band, the Eli Young Band, Bill Anderson, the Charlie Daniels Band, Lil Jimmy Dickens and Trace Adkins. We went from the legendary prowess of Jimmy Newman, Bill Anderson , Charlie Daniels and Jimmy Dickens to the newbies in Sarah Buxton and the Eli Young Band to the superstar-ness of Trace Adkins.

To be honest, I had no idea who Bill Anderson was until last night. He's a country singer and entertainer, in his 60s, probably. But he's my grandpa - he just doesn't know it. He was the type of entertainer that made you feel like YOU were the only reason why he was there. I love him.

Jimmy Dickens is 88. And when his guitar is standing on end in front of him, it's nearly as tall as he is. His quote of the night was: "My wife said to me the other day, 'let's run upstairs and make love.' I told her, 'I can't do both.'" And when the full Opry House erupted into laughter, he said, "Been there, done that."

4) The stars aren't being paid to impress - performing at the Grand Ole Opry is an honor to them. So it takes away the superficial mask of entertaining. Sarah Buxton made a mistake while performing her hit song "Innocence." Trace Adkins looked like he'd just finished dinner, put on his hat and walked out to the door to sing to us. Jimmy thanked the audience for his house. Bill gave the audience a hug. Trace made fun of a Dollar General commercial about toilet paper's performance. Charlie Daniels threw his fiddle bow into the front row and hit a litle girl in the face. Anyone was welcome to walk right up to the stage and take pictures. Since the Grand Ole Opry is a live radio show, there's a host and tons of people walking around on stage, and even commercials.

5) The format of the show is exciting. Each performer sang like three songs and talked about life, made jokes, talked about the Opry and favorite memories of being there. There was no mention from the stars of new CDs or tour dates or paraphenalia that we should buy.

6) The radio host, Andy, I think, was a guy who looked older then he was and he announced people's birthdays from the audience and soldiers who had just returned from Afghanistan. He introduced the entertainers without a script and each one either shook his hand or hugged him when they were leaving the stage.

7) For what you get, you can't beat the price. Our balcony seats were $38, which yeah, sounds expensive. But we were entertained for 2.5 hours. And entertained well, by famous people (really famous people.) We decided, though, that the next time we go, we'll pay the $53 to have seats on the main floor. Trust me, the additional $15 would be worth it.

We were pumped up when we left.

And it was only 9:30 p.m. - in Nashville...with no children! That's kind of a big deal for us.

I'd never been to the Wildhorse Saloon so we decided to venture downtown and indulge in more live music and maybe some dancing.

It was karaoke night at the Wildhorse, a nice family environment restaurant/bar, with a huge stage and dance floor. Mindy and Katie got there with some other crazy line dancers and before long, it was closing time.

As we were leaving, we asked one of the waiters if he knew of any other good places to dance that Mindy could get into to - she'll be 21 in September. The waiter/bartender had been talking to a couple younger guys so they were all like thinking of places and explaining that on a Tuesday night, we'd be hard pressed to find anything.

Mindy said it had to be a place that would let her in. And one of the younger guys said, "Well, you could always try the carousel at the mall." We basically told them him that the conversation was over and that that was a really rude comment.

We walked up and then back down Broadway, which is just fun to do at night because of the music and the people.

Then we came home. And it rained HARD nearly the whole way.

It felt good to collapse into bed at 1:15 a.m. being dog-tired but having had so much fun.

Go to the Grand Ole Opry.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


It's easy for me to get caught up in the details of how things possibly could work out that I forget the steps to get to that point.

Perfect example:

I'll start worrying about the logistics of a job (i.e. where I'll live, moving expenses, visiting family, is it the right decision?) before I even apply. So by the time I think, "should I apply for this job?" I've already fretted, stewed and worried about every possible thing you could fret, stew and worry about in a new job and I end up not applying.

Or, for a second, I say to myself: you haven't even APPLIED for this job, much less been interviewed, much less been offered it, MUCH LESS ACCEPTED THE JOB.

And then I yell at myself.

"STOP IT!!!!"


And rest well.

Rest well in His plan.

Remember? He's writing the story.

So why is the pen still in my hand?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Um, need sleep

In the last 48 hours, I've worked 37.

And slept 8, which is really the number to note.

Basically, this means I'm susceptible to crying over, well, pretty much anything and the smallest problem is pretty huge through my sleep-deprived eyes. I've been able to stave off such episodes while I'm doing what needs to be done but when the right moment comes and I'm actually able to STOP, that's when the emotion comes rushing in.

That event happened when I was about 10 minutes from home from my last 6 hours of work. All I wanted to do was get home.

But suddenly I was stopped (or at least slowed) in the middle of the road, reduced to 10 mph in a lonnnnngg line of traffic because the state highway department decided that today (of all days), this road (of all roads) needed its lines repainted at this time (time of all times) when I happened to be so close to bed.

Evil conspiracy, I tell you.

I'm sitting there, putt-putting away, stewing.

Stewing about the stupid highway department.
Stewing because the SHD didn't put up signs letting people know they were going to come to a screeching halt behind a 10 mph moving truck with a blinking sign that said WET PAINT.
Stewing because the SHD could've caused an accident.
Stewing because the SHD never puts up signs when they're doing work.

I tried to access the KY Department of Transportation's phone number on my Blackberry. The page was too large to load.


In the meantime, I sent Katie a text message:
"I got behind the WET PAINT truck"

Her reply?

Without any sympathy from even my sister, I really wanted to cry.

But instead I made it home (jerked my car off onto a side road and got home that way), came in the house, a little shaky from not having eaten anything all day and my nerves racked from weariness.

I may have told Katie hi but then mumbled something like, "I swear..." and got on the computer...

...accessed the department of transportation's website, the highway department, and dialed. Transferred to someone in charge of the project.

I proceeded to tell her, as kindly as I could at that moment, that I thought it was irresponsible of the department to hold up traffic for "seven miles" and come around one of those curves going 55 mph only to be slowed down by 10 mph traffic.

Furthermore, I informed her it was "stupid" for them to be repainting stripes "on a road that's about to be tore up anyway."

"Do you want me to take your number and have someone call you back?" she asked.
"No, just pass along the message that I think this is really dangerous," I said.

I hung up the phone. And felt so much better.

Then I collapsed in the hammock first and then later, bed!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Creatively Blessed

Creatively, I feel like I'm on a roll.

I've been having....thoughts...that I've been thinking (revelation!) for a few weeks now. Nothing huge or anything I've been obsessing over but they've just been there, gaining momentum, gaining credibility in my brain, until the past few days when they've started to become more alive and then last night, when they exploded in my brain in Spectacular Brain Explosion fashion and kept me up till 12:30.

They're really great thoughts culminating into (what I think is) a really great idea. I'm going to spend a few more days letting them marinate and a few more nights writing furiously in my notebook, scribbling lines, illustrations and words...then, I shall let the creativity see the light of blog.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Kids III

"Holly, sing me a lullaby."

So I sang Jesus Loves Me over and over and over again...

...until, for the umpteenth time, while I was swinging in the hammock and she was examining the cherry tomatoes and I thought she'd quit listening, she joined in the chorus:

"Yes, Jesus loves me, yes, Jesus loves me, yes, Jesus loves me....the bible tells me so."

We continued to sing Jesus Loves Me alllllll the way to her house. Silence would come over us in the car and she'd pipe up from the backseat:

"Yessssss, Jesus loves me...." and we'd start at the beginning.

Again and again...

...until she was sitting in her living room and her dad was helping her with a movie.

"Yes, Jesus loves me," she sang. He hummed along but lost the melody.

"Holly, sing me a lullaby..."

Monday, July 13, 2009

Kids II

I think one of the reasons I love being with kids is that I get to experience the world through their eyes. The burdened messiness of being an adult melts into the backgroung and for a second, I'm reliving the wonder...the wonder of life and being alive.

It really doesn't take much to impress the five-year-old I spend a lot of time with. It never has.

Through her awefilled eyes tonight I discovered the buzz of hummingbirds, their shyness, and the adventure of being still and quiet while waiting for them to come feed. We were rewarded plenty of times, even with three flying in at the same time....

...I discovered the sun set over the lake. We sat on the picnic table and she exclaimed at the colors as if we were watching a fireworks display. She popped up all of a sudden to teach me how to "arrrr" like a pirate. It took me a few tries before I got a satisfactory nod from her...

...I learned how to get comfy in the hammock with her nestled beside me. "Can I sleep here?" she wondered. Of course, I said.
"Do you want me to sing you a song?" She nodded.
"Which one do you want to hear?"
The one about Jesus, was her reply.
I can handle that...

...I remembered it's the simple things that matter like picking blackberries with hot pink sunglasses on and a small white bucket. What is it about being close to nature that makes us feel safe? She hasn't stopped talking about picking blackberries. When I pulled in the driveway this afternoon, she met me at the door, yelling, "HOLLY!! Let's go pick blackberries today. Right now!"
We're going again tomorrow.

I have held her hand through some of life's most important discoveries and in some cases, just been the reassuring figure in the background while she found the courage to walk barefoot in the grass for the first time, stand nose-to-nose with a two-day-old foal, ride in the wooden wagon and chase a puppy. Every time, I have experienced life again too.

She makes me remember the purity of being a kid, the joy in just being silly, and the safety of snuggling in the hammock watching the sun set.

Here's to the adventures yet to come.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Yesterday I was watching children from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

My morning shift (9:30-1:30) was with a smart child.
My afternoon shift (2-9) was with a socially-inadequate child.

I spend a lot of time with both of them in public and people automatically assume, given my age and the fact that I'm obviously overseeing them, that I'm their mother.

But I am not.

They are both special kids to me and I love them very much but there are those times, especially in public, when I want there to be the understanding that A) they are not mine and B) if they were, they wouldn't be acting that particular way.

Mind you, I am lucky because they do respect me and listen fairly well but they just have...quirks...that if they were mine, they probably wouldn't have.

During my afternoon shift, I was with "my" little girl at the pool, watching her awkwardly try to manuever a normal social situation for kids but for her, such a challenge. Yeah, I could have made it easier for her - I could have talked for her, introduced her, played with her, and while I did those things at first, I later sat on the edge of the pool and let her try it for herself.

It was painful.

I wanted to step in and make it better for her, make the other kids stop looking at her funny, help her say the right things, and understand what they were saying to her but on the other hand, I knew I couldn't.

I'm not always going to be sitting on the edge of her life to help her through. She's going to have to figure some of it out for herself.

But it made me think about this whole subject and that one day, hopefully, I'll have well-rounded kids - MY kids - who I'm not embarrassed for, who I don't have to excuse, who I don't have to apologize for. And yeah, my kids aren't going to be perfect and I know there'll be times where I will be embarrassed for them, have to excuse them and apologize for them, but at least, they'll be mine.

And their quirky personality traits will be a reflection of me.

Watch out, world!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sleep while you can! Or just blog.

It's been an emotional two days.

But instead of taking a cathartic walk (only to be bombarded by skunks!) at 9 p.m., I decided to clean my room and blog. M-u-c-h safer.

And I'm going to blog about silly things, probably...not anything important or earth shattering or funny or well-written. You have been warned.

So Skye decided about three nights ago that jumping in the bed was now allowed for her. It never has been and for good reason in the form of two inch long black hair that she leaves behind her. But one night, three nights ago, she ended up there and I don't remember how. I know I didn't call her. I think I was just patting her head next to me and when I stopped she jumped up there.

Yeah, I let her stay there...for a few minutes. She has this thing about me. One of my friends called it "obsession" the other day. She sees me, she hears my car pull up, she hears my voice and she is beside herself in trying to get to me. Or at least to make sure I hear her, which I surely do because of the obnoxious and continuous whining, laced with a bark, that ensues.

There's something about them.

I know. They're just dogs. And yet, they fill something in my life. My need to nurture, to feel warmth beside me in the bed (thanks to Jada!), to have something/one sad to see me leave and happy when I come home.

We just click, I guess.

This post really wasn't supposed to be about my dogs...again.

We'll move on to tan lines.

I always start every summer with the determination to tan evenly and deeply. About two weeks in, I give up. So right now I have various scoops, lines, and strap tan lines, including the ever-classy thong-line on my feet from the ever-present flip-flops. My arms, chest and back always tan "nicely" but my legs never do, except for about six inches above my knees.

After said two weeks, I end up not caring and focus more on watching the children I'm in charge of at the pool or concentrating on drinking a beer and relaxing in the boat.

So, until next summer, when I restart my resolve, so long to the desire to even care to have an even tan.

I realized today I'll be 26 in less then two months. Nice.

And so now, I'm really tired but I shall move on to Facebook and my new and needy Farm Town where fields await harvesting.

I'm such a nerd.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

There's a skunk involved

It was multiple factors that led to my recent epiphony.

Epiphony being that as long as I continue to battle with insomnia, I might as well use that extra time to exercise.

Multiple factors being that A) I can't sleep, B) there's not a lot of TV on at night C) watching TV at night makes me tired but then as soon as I think I've tricked myself into going to sleep - I can't and D) Skye woke me up at 2:15 this morning by placing her left paw on the right side of my face. I ignored her and groaned, knowing that the likelihood of me going back to sleep was slim. And I was correct. But when I did go back to sleep, it was a sleep full of dreams of sinking boats, land before water, and a toilet from my childhood...clogged. So when I woke up with a start at 5:10 a.m. with the intense smell of poop in my bedroom, I wondered at first if it was my dream or if it was indeed poop.

It was the latter. Apparently, there'd been a good reason as to why Skye face-pawed me three hours earlier.

(and yes, that's all part of the D section up there...I hadn't forgotten)

All of these factors led me to determine that if I can't sleep anyway, then why not just put that energy to a use other then laying in bed trying to solve my problems, the world's and everyone's inbetween.

All of this leads me to this story:

Tonight I got home from a busy but good day, ending with small group and an impromptu prayer time for me and my recent discouragement/depression regarding current Life Situation. Naturally, when I got home, I wasn't tired. So I decided straight-away to put my newfound epiphony to use.

I told Lucas I was going to take Skye for a walk and if I turned up missing to please oblige and come searching. I've been watching enough re-runs of WE-TV and Oxygen to know what happens when stupid ladies disappear into the night only to never return. Little did I know I'd be facing my own nemesis (es) tonight.

With Skye on her leash and Jada and Tobi (my sister's little dog) running ahead of us, we started walking in the night. We made it down one stretch of road and I turned the corner to make it a short walk. We were on our way back and I decided to let go of Skye's leash and give her some running room, which she enjoyed indeed.

I had just picked up her leash again when (SECONDS LATER!!!) Jada and Tobi dart under a fence on our left and start antagonizing something in the tall grass. There was lots of scurrying and rustling going on and the whole time I'm whisper-yelling at Jada to "come here!"

She came but Tobi persisted at whatever the thing was and would not come. Skye, of course, is going bananas and nearly pulled me to the ground in her mad-woman attempts to GET AT IT.

Still, I had no idea what IT was until I smelled it.

You've got to be kidding, was the thought in my head.

With Jada contained by me and Skye twisting circles at the end of her leash, I decided to leave Tobi, who wasn't listening anyway, and get away. I didn't know if skunks attacked after spraying or not.

I texted Lucas: "I think Tobi just got sprayed by a skunk."

"Nice!" was his reply.

I started walking with my dogs to get home but we were still a good ways off.

Skunk spray must be their rallying call.

I swear on my car title that from that exact moment till the time we got home, we were accosted by skunks on every side. And there was one that charged us and made me start running. At one point, I wanted to call Lucas and have him come get us because it really felt like I was going to die by skunk.

Really, I'm a big woos.

So I make it home, jumping at every shadow and light illusion. I put the dogs in the backyard and walk on the front porch to tell Lucas I still had to go back for Tobi.

"Um, wow. You stink."

Thus began my night of questioning: "do I stink now? huh, what about now? I just took a shower, what about now? I think I smell me now, do you? am I going to stink up everywhere I go? can you smell me in the house? I can't smell it nose is numb. Do I still stink?"

Long story short, we went and got some de-skunk smeller from his dad's ("does it work for humans? huh? maybe I should just Google right now what to do for skunks on humans. do I take a bath in it?"), looked a little bit for Tobi, couldn't find him, saw tons more skunks while driving, got home, my dogs reek and about 20 minutes later, Tobi comes back.

Now I'm sitting here at the computer and I really am thinking that I smell myself. I took all my clothes, including my (only good!) bra (which, yes, REEKED!), put them in a plastic bag and they are now outside, probably never to be used again.

My worst fear?

That everywhere I go, people are going to wonder what that smell is and I'm going to be asking, "do i stink?"