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Notes From The Road Day 1

Vacationing with a salesman is never just a vacation. As Hunter-Gatherer says, “A salesman is never off the clock.” This is a fact that I have come to accept. In fact I plan for it. Yes never leave Home without plenty of things to keep me busy in the car.

As we leave for a six day road trip, he has already answered three phone calls and is now in a customer’s store helping them with a problem. That is just the kind of guy he is and one of the reasons I love him.

Living in the Houston area, just getting out of town is one of the biggest hurdles. At least we are now on the east side of town and the worst is behind us.

Today is mostly about getting from Houston through Louisiana, and into Mississippi.

I want to record this vacation in a way I have never done before. We love road trips and generally just wander wherever the road leads. This trip is very structured for us. The first place I asked to get off the freeway to look is Orange, Texas. In addition to being the birthplace and stomping grounds for Michael Berry, local radio host extraordinaire. I’m a devoted fan and have never been to Orange. I learned that Orange has also produced a large number of well known professional football players and a couple of coaches. Orange looks like many small Texas towns; probably a nice place to live. Probably won’t be going back, but at least I can say I visited the birthplace of the Czar of Talk Radio, Mr. Michael Berry.

We made it to Hattiesburg, Mississippi at 9:00 tonight, about 2 hours later than planned. Hubby kept apologizing, but it’s really ok. I sketched, wrote, knitted, and took pictures. Not a bad day at all.

I will leave you with some images from our drive through Louisiana, it is time for bed.

Ice cream in Lafayette

Road Trip

We are leaving tomorrow for a seven day road trip to Sparta, North Carolina. I said yes to an opportunity to teach at a fiber festival in Sparta so that we would make this trip which has been on our radar for about five years. Thus the life of two procrastinators living together for thirty years.

Other than teaching, the purpose of the trip is to go through some of the towns where my in-laws grew up and to gather a bit of family history for my husband. One of those towns is Laurel, Mississippi which is also home to the HGTV show “Home Town” which I believe will have begun filming again. We will be there in the middle of the week so hopefully we might catch a glimpse of some of the action.

Normally I spend hours trying to figure out what project to take with me. Not this time. Simplicity and Focus are my guiding words which will be evident in my packing and my projects. Hubby is kind of nervous because he knows how I would get in the past if the project wasn’t right. I’m not that person anymore.

I want to be fully present on the trip and aware of everything around me. I want to really see the countryside, the people, the buildings, everything there is to see. My plan is to keep a travel journal. I will take pictures, sketch, write, and observe. I’m taking my iPad Pro because I am learning how to sketch and letter using it, but I really want to go old school: paper, pencils – sketching and color – as well as a mini watercolor set. I want to use my other creative abilities to record our adventure.

I will take fibery stuff for the class, and I am going to a fiber festival, so this trip is not going to be void of all woolly loveliness. It will just be in perspective with the excursion.

You see, when I work on knitting, crochet or especially spinning, I loose myself in the process. If we were traveling on a well known path and the destination alone was the focus, this would not even be up for discussion. But, we’re not traveling that way. Everything on this trip will be new to my eyes. I’ve been to parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee before, but not these parts; and I’ve never step foot in North Carolina. The Blue Ridge Mountains just create a certain visual for me, I don’t want to miss anything. The beauty of my fiber arts is that if I capture the trip using these other methods, then when I come home I can translate those memories into fiber art. It really is a win-win situation. Hubby will have to experience it to believe it. He’s a perpetual skeptic.

Blue Ridge Fiber Festival here I come.

It’s going to be a grand adventure!

The Middle

Just Make Me Laugh

For most of my life I have opted for a good sit com over most any other form of television programming. Unfortunately my husband does not share this opinion; the ability to record TV shows has probably saved our marriage. I silently endure evenings with various alien or big foot hunting, animals eating animals, or Andrew Zimmern eating anything bizarre and disgusting. But, as long as that little red button is glowing, I know my shows await me for the next day’s viewing pleasure.

For the past nine years I have watched every single episode of The Middle. Who can’t identify with this lovable, crazy, disorganized family? While everything that happened with them was over the top, there was always that nugget of familiarity that allowed us to laugh at ourselves. Didn’t we all feel just a little better about our lives after watching the Heck’s antics? I know I did.

Above all, I love the relationship between Axl and Sue. Brothers and sisters have a unique bond and the teasing and jokes seem to be universal. Axl was forever rolling his eyes and giving Sue grief over her unique point of view and ways of doing things. In high school she embarrassed him on a daily basis, but in college he quietly made sure she was always OK. Through it all, he loved her and showed it in the way that was natural for him. Like Sue I openly adore my brother and have a tendency to want to cling to him. He, like the Heck men, is not one for being overly demonstrative in the traditional sense, but there is no doubt he loves me and would do anything in his power for me.

I Don’t Do Finales

The older I get, I find I don’t like watching series finales. Maybe it is because I don’t want to say goodbye to folks who have become like family, or that I just don’t like the lump I get in my throat when I know I’m going to cry. I try to delude myself into thinking that if I don’t watch it, the show hasn’t really ended. OK, I know that last one is pitiful, but I can’t deny the reality.

I had to watch the series finale of The Middle. The story of Axl leaving home for a job in Denver, was absolute Heck family gold. It was the perfect balance of laughter and tears; a bittersweet celebration of family. It was the perfect good-bye.

Frankie had tried to be stoic and “cool” so Axl would want to come back to visit, or just pick up the phone when she called. She had stuffed all those feelings way down deep inside, and was a time bomb waiting to explode.

While discussing their family cell phone plan, Axl said “Just take me off the family plan.” To him, this was a common sense solution to the problem of data use overage. But to Frankie this was symbolic of Axl leaving the family and she could no longer be the cool mom. She made Mike stop the car, jumped out and began walking back the way they had come. All her pent up emotions come flowing out, her family standing there, not sure what to say or do. Things were changing and there was nothing she could do about it. Through tears Frankie said, “This is the end of an era. The five of us will never be together like this again.” With perfect timing, love, and gentleness, Mike tells her, “That’s the way it is supposed to be.”

The family plan had worked well for twenty something years and now it was time for the plan to change.

Letting Go

I was usually the one doing the leaving. But now I see the change in the family plan from a different perspective. I am not just the child. I am the child, the sister, the aunt, the wife, mom, mother-in-law, and Mimi. We spend our lives living according to the established plan; everyone has their place, their roles, and and we are quite comfortable. A new person comes in or someone moves on and the family plan has to accommodate. But the family plan is still intact; we are all still connected because we are family. This was the truth I was reminded of as The Middle drew to a close.

I believe that many of us consider the weirdness of our family to be different from what happens in other homes – but it’s not. We are all more alike than different. Some are just brave enough to put it out there for the world to see. I think we should embrace what makes us and our families unique because only then are we fully who we’re created to be and able to impact the world around us for good.

Things will be different now that I don’t have the Heck’s in my life every week, but that’s OK…no, that is how it should be. Change is inevitable; it is how we deal with the change that determines the quality of the next phase of life.