Wal-mart on a Weekend? What Was I Thinking?

walmart-high-costSeriously. There is something that chemically happens to me between Monday and Friday each and every week that makes me forget that I have sworn off coming to this consumer Mecca. I don’t know how, but I seem to find myself pushing, nudging, and damn near getting run over inside and outside of Wal-Mart. It starts with an “I just need a few….” or a “Chase just needs some more food”, or the proverbial, “We’ll just be in and out”.
Then it happens. You’re there. Between the beer aisle and the Milk aisle. Some lady (usually a woman with a purpose and a few kids attached to her) runs into you and gives you the look of, “Why did you hit my cart? Don’t you know I’m at my whit’s end?” It’s all I can do to keep my religion and sense of humor.

Then there are the shopper zombies. They have a dazed look on their faces and are probably communicating with one another with less than audible clicks and cries, “30% off 50lb bags of kitty litter” they’re probably saying to each other.And for some reason, someone higher up on the retail food chain decides that restocking in the middle of “weekend madness” is a great idea. The words, “Chumming the waters” probably crosses their minds if not their lips.

Sweat begins to form on my brow and the small of my back. I cannot make it to the completely backed up cash registers fast enough. I just have to get out. I feel like the tiny bottle I’m in is filling up with sand and I won’t have room to breath if I don’t get the hell out of here soon. After we make our deposit, the greeters in the front quickly size me up and down and decide that since all of our items are in little plastic bags that we must not be criminals. They let us pass with only the visible inspection and the stroke of the yellow highlighter pen.The electronic doors open with all the fervor of the doors on Battle Star Galactica and the philanthropist are there to paw at your change. “Buy some wrapping paper” or “We are selling popcorn…” Thinking quickly I take a fake call on my cell phone and the children turn beggars let me pass without a clue there is no one on the other end of my call. It hurts inside, but only a little. Besides our car is in sight.

just to navigate the shark infested parking lot. The predator that rules this part of the planet Wal-Mart is parkingspacious overzealous. One false bob or weave and me and my family could be a memory. We make it to the car, put our things in. Waiting to take our space are two of the illusive species mentioned above. I can feel their stare boring into the back of my skull. I shrug off their stares as I do the right thing and return the cart to the holding pen. There it will soon be rescued by a very small, boy-like creature with and electronic lasso that will help him control hundreds of discarded, uncared for buggies by the end of the day.

We hop in the car, securely fasten our safety belts, and prepare for warp speed out of this Twilight Zone episode. Quickly now, past the lady who was selling kittens when we arrived. (They are now marked down to free because she only has 4 left). And….and…..and…..

We made it! The tension melts away like the polar ice caps and I swear off Wal-Mart under my breath once again. I vow to never come back on a weekend again. Then I wait for the reaction in my brain that will erase my memory of this horrible experience like Men In Black. That way I can come make my weekly deposit next Saturday…or maybe Sunday.

What Else Can You Say?

zeezeeAwe….Bless her heart…She’s so beautiful.
Poor Zoey. She’s had it rough for the last week. No jumping, no spazing (yeah right). It got me thinking… No matter what happens to you, you are still the same. Sure, we grow or digress, but we essentially stay the same.
She still jumps and spazzes and there is just no way to stop her from singing out loud when she hears a siren. That could be the same for us humans too. Even though we go through happy times and sad times, good times and bad times, we can still be that same little kid running wild and free. Doing all the things that felt so normal when we were smaller like climbing trees and playing games. Laughing when things are funny and not minding your manners.
I can only imagine that Zeez feels a little, well, not herself. And that’s why we say those things….Awe…Bless her heart…Isn’t she beautiful! Because we know what she feels like. And she knows we know too.

Secret Places

secret-lake-003-webIt’s those secret places we find that live on in our memories for ever. Gabby and I trekked out on a whim this morning to a local community park. Little did we know that we would find such a gem tucked away in the woods a little off the beaten path.

We would love to tell you where it is, but that would spoil the secret. Right? Well, maybe we will invite you on a picnic and then you can find out where it is.

When I was a little boy, my friends and I found a secret place. We named it limesink pond. It had vine swings and fallen trees and plenty of mystery. We devised ghost stories and endless legends. I hope Gabby and I can find lots of these places as she continues to grow.

Art’s In The Heart 2007

artsintheheartArt’s in the Heart was this weekend and the weather was awesome. Not much of a problem finding parking or some great food. Ireland hosted this year and If I wasn’t already hurting a little from College Football Saturday, I probably would have had a Guinness for the family across the pond.

We only stayed about an hour, but there really are some great artist there. We found an artist that specializes in black acrylic on white canvas portraits. Check my links for his website. In fact, I will post a few artists pages there.

Afterwards we walked down the Riverwalk and let Gabby play on the slide. What blast. We ended the day on a good note and had a lot of fun. See ya next year, Art’s in the Heart.

The Man, The Myth…The Legend

What a great weekend. It was good to see my old friend Swee. It was also good to see his little boy. I mean, his “minnie Me”. Kelby and Gabby got along great. Kids adjust to situations better than we give ’em credit for. Gabby was very shy at first. We finally broke the ice between the two of them with a common thread amongst kids under age five…DVDs.

For some reason kids under five will stop dead in their tracks to watch Elmo or Happy Feet or whatever. They look like little zombies. Sometimes they’ll break their concentration for a snack, but it’s got to be a really good snack.

We caught up on old times and talked about some new ones to come. Grilling out and talking about Glory Days never gets old with good friends.

Thanks for the visit Swee… and tell Sandersville I said hello. Oh yea…congratulations…you sooooo deserve it!

Long Gone

Today was like any other normal day. We get up, get gabby ready, get ourselves ready, feed the dogs, and rush off to work and school leaving “the boys” behind. Butler and Chase, the dynamic duo.

Butler and Chase have both adjusted differently to the move to Grovetown. Chase is still “dealing with issues” from when I was working in Atlanta for six months. He seems sort of…lost. The combonation of that with us moving to a new house, him turning 15 in January, and the cateracts growing thicker in his eyes have made him a little, well, crazy. I don’t mean to be irreverent, but it’s true. The dog suffers from separation anxiety.

As soon as we leave he does all kinds of things in his crate to try and get out (he never did this before) and when he finally gets frustrated enough to quit, he pees in his kennel. This happend so often that we stopped putting down the blankets for him. Before temperatures reached the 90s this summer, I put him outside for a couple of days. Then the summer heat crept the thermostat up to above 90 and we brought him back in to abuse himself in his crate.

Finally, the temperatures dropped again and I began putting him outside during the day. I came home the first couple of days to check on him. I needed to make myself OK with leaving him outside all day, I think. He was fine. I would come home at lunch and he’d be lounging in the grass just soaking up the sun. Then I skipped lunch one day and worried he’d be running around the yard acting crazy when I got home. Nothing. Not even a whimper.

But today, changed everything. I got home just as the sky was about to bust loose. I ran inside, let Butler out of his kennel, ran to the back door to let Chase inside. Butler ran out, but no Chase…He was gone. There was nothing left in the backyard except the towel we left in his kennel (with no door), and the hole he dug under the gate. My heart sank. My gut followed. I began to think where he might be. I searched around the yard. Maybe he just dug the hole to act out. Maybe he was under the canoe. Maybe….well (it hit me) Maybe…he’s gone. 15 years of friendship, love, and care (both ways)….gone. “Not like this,” I thought. “He can’t be far.” Who was I kidding? A 15 year old dog with cateracts dug a hole under a gate and went blindly looking for his friend. Now his friend was looking for him and they might possibly never find each other again.

I called Amber. She didn’t know he was gone. She began to panic. We hung up. I rolled up my sleeves and prepared to jump in my truck and ride and howl out the window if need be to find my friend. I spat out a quick whistle and yelled his name. After searching out the entire back yard, a went through the gate that he’d dug under to start seaching the neighborhood.

Just then…my long lost friend ran up to me from the front yard. Where had he been? Did someone have him and let him go when they heard my whistle? Was he on the front porch the whole time? WHO CARES? He was here!

He was filthy. I took him into the house too relieved to be pissed off anymore. I turned on the warm water and he jumped right into the tub. I gave him a bath and dried him off.

He was home. That’s all that mattered.

“It’s not the 99 sheep you still have that you celebrate, it’s the lost 1 that comes home”

Before this incident, we (Chase and I) weren’t getting along. I can’t imagine life without him and today I came too close to having to do just that. Now, those feelings along with our contempt for each other are long gone. Glad to have you back “good buddy”.

Thanks for being my best friend.

Laughing Out Loud

gabbyinthetubCome on…you remember. Mr. Bubble.

It is truly amazing to watch Gabby laugh out loud at the simplest things. It reminds me of myself. Myself before becoming a grown up. Maybe that’s why we relate to children so well. They are our window to the past. The past that we can only visit through the eyes of a child.

Until next time…

…GO. Laugh out loud!

Turning the Page


We boarded an airplane in Columbia, South Carolina Headed for Orlando on Thursday. I thought a lot about the reason for our trip. Amber, my wife, and April, My sister-in-law are both closing the chapter on their twenties Saturday. We decided to do it with a “grown-up” trip to Orlando, Florida. Knowing that their twenties would soon be behind them roused a few questions that must have gone through their minds a time or two in the last couple of days. Some questions like: “Have I accomplished anything?” “When do I begin being older?” And “Is thirty still old?”

I know that first question, “Have I accomplished anything?” will be much easier for Amber to answer than myself. I was in a crappy job, about to bring a child into a crazy world, and really doubting myself a lot as I opened the “thirties” chapter of my book. I had much to be thankful for, but I didn’t feel like I’d accomplished anything. I now know that isn’t true. In retrospect, I had graduated college, gotten a job with a Fortune 500 company, gotten married to the love of my life, become a homeowner, and was about to be a father in less than a year. Seeing that in black & white, it would be hard for anyone else to understand how I could feel so un-accomplished. Anyone except someone turning the big three-0.

I mean, I hadn’t run up the corporate ladder, invented the next sensational widget, published a book, or conquered the world. I know now that those things are as meaningless as praying for snow in Ecuador. Yeah…it has to be easier for her. It really doesn’t matter who you are though, your twenties are pretty hard to let go of.

As for when do I begin being older? That question is tough as well. Some never ask it. It just creeps up on you with a polite eve’s drop of “Mommy, that MAN looks like uncle George” or “Excuse me, SIR” That’s when you realize with earth-shattering gravity, that YOU are “that MAN” or the “SIR” being whispered about.

No, Amber has it easier there too. She’s beautiful, vibrant and young. Without getting too mushy, it starts on the inside and works it’s way out.

Finally, “Is thirty still Old?” Only if you just got to college and are surviving on $5 bucks a week and a Sam’s Size box of ramen noodles. I got to thinking about it and I would like to be able to party like a rockstar and have no hang over, but I wouldn’t change anything I have now for it. No way!

I have to say my twenties were wild, crazy, and a little blurry, but I don’t miss ‘em. I love the things that are associated with me getting older, Sunday papers and a steaming cup of joe, a thick rare steak, and nothing can replace the sounds of your wife and daughter giggling when they are about to play a trick on you.

Turning the page on your twenties can be a little bitter, but the next chapter is very sweet.

Going Home

For those of us that uproot ourselves and find a new place our home. Going Home-Home can conjure up all kinds of feelings. Excitement, Nostalgia, and homesickness.

Five years ago, I left the only home I have ever really known, Valdosta, and took root in Augusta, GA. I left behind my family, friends, as well as a number of other firsts in my life. Among them my first home, first car, first school, to name a few. The excitement wells up inside me like that summer beach trip you went on as a kid. To say the least, I was really looking forward to going home and seeing my family again.

On Friday, Before the trip I had finally nailed down a possible departure time…then changed my mind again and we left that night around 7:20P.M. After a few bathroom breaks and a lotto ticket stop, we found ourselves stopped on the south bound I-75 interstate highway for about an hour. Gabby was fussy and so were we. We thought there must have been an accident or something in the rainy beginnings of the labor day weekend. Nope. Just some jerk cop left his blue lights on. He must have done it to slow traffic down. I could go off on a tangent about how what he did was illegal because it prohibits interstate commerce and is therefore unconstitutional, but I’ll spare you. We finally got going again. We pulled into mom’s driveway and I could hardly wait to see her. We were exhausted. We just poured out of my truck and into bed.

That night, I dreamed like a kid on Christmas Eve. I awoke to the sound of speechless laughter that only a grandparent and grandchild can create. The weekend continued with much of the same. My only regret was that our time was so short. Not enough time to see all of my friends or ride by my old house. Nor was there time to eat at one of my favorite restaurants, The Wooden Nickel. Nor was there time to do much at all in my native home.

I feel awful because not only was it my mom’s birthday, it was Marshal’s, birthday on Saturday. We didn’t make it by to see him, Tammy, or Haleigh. I wanted to get by to see my buddy Scott too, but the clock ticked away at our time. I heard he is doing so awesome now. Running his business well and living life to the fullest. We ran to Target on Saturday afternoon to get some diapers and we ran into Brett. He probably thought I was talking his ear off. I just miss him, that’s all. We didn’t make it by to see his wife and new baby either.

Yep….the only thing that sucks about going home…..is leaving.