Sunday, June 28, 2009

Farewell To Lou-Lou - Part One

When I was dating my first wife, one of my best friends Scott called me. He was upset that his cat's kittens were attacked by a dog and only three had survived. He wanted to know if I wanted any of them. Being his friend and trying to help him out, I thought I would be nice and take one to Rhonda.

If you are reading this, you "probably" know who Rhonda is as we were pretty much joined at the hip in high school. Rhonda LOVES cats and I was a normal boy jerk in high school that loved to be Mr. Man and act like I loathed cats. I was trying to "make up" for my old ways by bringing her a kitten.

Little did I know that Rhonda did not want the kitten and I was left "holding the cat". I can remember very well spending the night at my parents where NO CATS ARE ALLOWED. I had to sleep with the kitten on my chest all night long.

This is where the story begins. I have a cat that I did not really want, one friend that needs me to take it from him, and another friend that does not want it. I also have a kitten that has slept on my chest and completely, and I mean COMPLETELY bonded to me after only one night. Finally, my girlfriend (at the time) convinced me to keep it and she would help me take care of it.

For whatever reason, we named the kitten Lou-Lou (I believe it was a name she had for a cat earlier, even though we knew he was a boy). Trying to be a good pet owner, I took the kitten / cat into the local vet and started its shots and medical exams.

Back then, I was in college, so my time was spent working part time, going to school, eating, sleeping, and playing with the new cat. Since I had never owned (or been owned would be more precise) a cat before, everything he did was new to me and just like new parents, I thought it was all new to everyone.

As an example, Lou-Lou would sleep on my clothes. Being a college kid, I had to be cheap, so I rarely used the dryer instead putting my clothes on one of those folding wooden racks. I started to notice that sometimes, the clothes would have fallen off the rack. One day as I was putting the clothes back, I was attacked by the kitten. HE WAS THE ONE that was throwing my clothes off the rack. I started "sneaking" up to the apartment to see that he was actually sleeping on the top of the clothes and could see out the window.

During this time, we took Lou-Lou to the vet for one of his final vaccinations. During his exam, we found out that the vet thought she heard a heart murmur. I had so quickly gotten attached to this cat that I was really shocked at how upset I was that he could be sick. We had an ultrasound done (yes, writing this I still cannot believe that I paid for it) so they could confirm the murmur. I was given pills and taught how I was supposed to give them to him everyday.

This was my first indication at how attached I had already become to this cat ..........

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Vacation Bible School week

Well ... J.C. is now with his Dad for the summer and Patrick & Andrew are now with their dad (me!) for the summer. We did get one time out on the boat so I could pull J.C. and Patrick around with the new tube.

J.C. has had a great time with his dad in Washington, D.C. with the Young Marines. He has seen the Pentagon, Smithsonian, Arlington, and stayed the week at Quantico (see his bedroom on the right!).

Vickie is starting to be up and about more after re-damaging her shoulder. She is sometimes very bored and cooks so much/so good for Patrick and I that I fear this will be a summer we will have to lose weight from, yeehaw! She is also starting to work in the yard. One of the women from my work gave her some tomato plants that are really growing and starting to yield tomatoes.

Patrick, Andrew, and I spent this week in Summer Camp, then going straight to Vacation Bible School every night. We did not get home until after 9 PM each night. This was rough on the three of us, but VBS was great and we had a wonderful time. The other issue that made this so difficult was that I planned two doctor visits, two trips to the library, and a special reading adventure during this week. Whew!

Vickie and I are very much looking forward to the coming calm, summer camp, nightly reading time, nightly Bible study, maybe some trampoline jumping evenings.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

How bad is your grammer?

While most people have memories of special meals or gifts with their mom, I will always remember a "special" time in my life more than any other. My parents demanded that we do well in school and we always did, until "Dana the engineer" hit the eighth grade. My mother came home one night after a parent-teacher conference so mad that my father had to step in. It seems I forgot to tell my mom that I had failed multiple grammar tests and was about to fail that subject completely. For the first time in my life, I got an E (old school grading) on my report card.

For the rest of the year, every Thursday night my mother and I spent hours going over and over my grammar homework until I was able to get an A. I did not miss another answer for the next two grading periods. Straight from failing to an A in one grading period.

In case I have never said it enough ..... Thanks Mom!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Small Potatoes

The dinner that my wife cooked tonight was very good, one of those where you want to kiss her just to smell the scent of dinner on her. It so reminded me of the days of growing up. I found out during the meal that my mother had visited during the day, and brought some home grown potatoes. Now these are not JUST home grown potatoes .....

I grew up in Eastern North Carolina, where the soil is very fertile. I am talking about soil that would grow anything, was completely black, and was the envy of farmers everywhere. Years after I moved to Central North Carolina, my father visited and did not understand planting or fertilizing grass as he was accustomed to it just growing automatically from the seeds of the grass near it. Dirt that makes you want to just scoop up a handful and eat the dirt straight. God's perfect soil, everything added.

Now when I was younger, my sister (aka THE slave driver) would wake me up on the hottest day of the year, usually somewhere around the end of July June. At the end of two 100 foot rows of potato plants, she would pull up the vines, and make me dig down 12 inches or so, the full length of the garden rows. We would collect and clean every potato from the size of your pinky fingernail, to the really big "baking potatoes". This might be a fond memory now, but even as a child, I had to rest for a day or two after this digging frenzy.

The next part of the process was my mother taking an old five gallon bucket full of these spuds, washing them as she would run them around and around in the bucket to clean off the skins. Then it was off to a boiling pot with plenty of oil and flour to make a paste on everything. Good Southern cooking always involves some type of cooking grease and these potatoes were no exception.

Move ahead 15 years to a time when that same sister now has two little girls. These same potatoes were now the golden fruits of intense battles between my niece and her Uncle Dana. The power that comes with making a 7 year old cry, just by first getting her "little tators" cannot be described, but must be experienced. This same little girl has now traded places with me in the war of the baby potatoes, her opponent being my son.

I assume that most people do not have these types of memories when they are finishing their starches. For me Small Potatoes rush in so many memories that it is difficult to tell which was better, the memories or the meal.