Attack of the 3 ft Baby!

Happy Halloween! Let’s hope you don’t see this little girl in the dark shadows as you stumble into the kitchen for a midnight snack.

You spot her at the end of the kitchen. Quickly you realize that this is not your normal niece. It’s her alter ego, little Miss Hyde. Frightened, you turn to run but slip on the tiles. As you climb to a standing position, she’s there!

She lets out a low growl and you pick her up to cuddle the monster out of her! Wasn’t this your little niece, K?? What’s happened to her!?

You laugh crazily in disbelief and try to freeze little Miss Hyde with your breath. She turns her head and snarls.

You give the baby to your mom for help. Your other niece, E, stops eating colored sprinkles and yells at you “Save yourself Carolyn!” She puts on a brave face, but does not see K behind her…about to attack. You push E out of the way just in time and run to feed the alter ego it’s only kryptonite: leftover spaghetti. That’ll do it. You heat up the meal and give it to K. 

She eats and eats and eats, smooshing the Hyde monster deeper into her belly and you see her return back to her normal self. You pat yourself on the back for such quick thinking about the food. Everyone has left, leaving just the two of you. She smiles sweetly at you and you return the smile. After some time, you get up and start to walk out the door. You lean back to say goodbye…and slowly..slowly K turns around to face you. [Cue laughter from end of Thriller video]

Old School

Good news, we’ve got internet. Bad news, now I have to start looking for a job.

Here’s a rundown of our first few days in Arkansas:
1. We furnished our apartment a la college style.

2. We got a flat on the highway and I had to stare at this optimistic sign for 20 minutes while the tire was changed.

3. Ryan tested the fire alarm and it passed. Who knew a single serving size of popcorn could produce so much smoke.

Counting down the days until…

we have internet. I must say, though, that this weekend felt especially long. Could be because we don’t have internet. The first day here, I went straight to the library (where I’m at now) and haggled with the lady to give me a card even though I don’t have any mail stating I live in town. It was pretty scandalous. I found some movies and books to read…but I also found something that starts up this week and hopefully I’ll meet people through it. We’ll see.
Ryan spent the majority of his time absorbing coloquial phrases (“I preciatecha”) and figuring out the correct number of fingers people use to wave while driving. Apparently, there are many variations of this wave (well, I take that back. There are only 5 variations depending on how many fingers you have) and he is on the verge of declaring this town as a ‘one-finger wave’ community.
I’ll be back in KC to see a show this week and will use that opportunity to post some very random pics.

I Met Bert from Mary Poppins.

Okay, no I didn’t. But the whole experience felt Mary Poppins-esque. Meet Sam. He is a descendant of my marital namesake and owns 280 acres of the original property purchased by Great Great Grandfather C in North Central Arkansas. Well, Sam and I got to talkin’ in the cemetery during the family reunion and he mentioned how the kids would have to walk to the small schoolhouse. Instead of taking the roads, they would cut through their pasture and would end up right where they needed to be. I asked Sam if it would be alright to walk that same trail since I hadn’t gotten to see the C farmstead up close and personal yet (We were having a C family reunion at the schoolhouse in question.)

Sam glanced up in time to see the entire reunion waiting on us to get back from our excursion. Who does this little pip think she is, in her bright yellow shirt, everyone was thinking.
So Sam strolled with me through the cemetery to the edge of the pasture. Then, he stooped really low under some tree branches and started to describe the natural landmarks we’ll need to guide us to the farmstead. I was instantly taken to the scene in Mary Poppins when Bert is showing them his drawing of a pasture. Little Michael Banks then exclaims that there needs to be a path! So Bert takes out a piece of chalk and quickly draws in a brown dirt path, complete with bridge. The transformation of the drawing immediately piqued your curiosity..and after that, who wouldn’t want to jump into the chalky dream with him?

Bert’s drawing: pre-dirt path

Sam starts describing the path we need to take in our pilgrimage. He said, “It’s a bit overgrown, but you should be able to make your way there easily. First, do you see those three pine trees all by themselves apart from the rest? The way is just about 30 yards to the left of them and then you’ll curve around to an opening in the trees. From there you’ll go through a second gate…and then a pond… and then you’ll curve around to the back of the farm. Now I can see the path you’ll need to take from here just because I’ve used it for 80 years. Can you see it though? It’s a faint curve in the grass, just barely visible.” I scrunched my nose and squinted. I saw nothing, but didn’t want to let Sammy down, so I focused. Then all of a sudden… the slightest shape started to form and I saw it. Once seen, it couldn’t be unseen and I eagerly got the rest of the group ready to go.

So, let’s start the jaunt, shall we? The school marm rings her bell and tells you to go home. It’s 1pm and mama’s ringing a chicken’s neck for lunch. You can just taste the fried goodness in your mouth and you hurry off, pushing other kids out the way. You hop off the side of the stairs and hit the ground running.

To be accurate, this is the second schoolhouse built. The first one was quite a bit larger when the tornado hit. But when they rebuilt it in 1924, a lot of children had started going to other schools and so the space was not needed.

You run through the cemetery and wave at Grandpa as you scurry by.

You catch a glimpse of the pasture over the fence from the cemetery. The path is a bit overgrown, but you quickly find the way. But, can you see it?

What if I zoom in a little bit closer? Now can you? Two brown curved lines mark your path as you run through the cemetery opening.

Too hungry to worry about opening the first gate, you hop over it while whoopin’ and hollerin’. All that answer you are the bzzzz of insects and wind through the trees.

You jump down and gain your bearings. Once on the path, it’s a leisurely walk under the warm October sun. And then you see them. The pine trees, Sammy was talking about. Separated from the rest. Alone in a sea of green.

My brother-in-law with his ten dollar hiking stick.
Just as Sammy said, right past the pine trees was the little clearing in the woods. You pick up the pace, anticipating what new views you’ll encounter..all the while enjoying the breeze on your face.

And the silence.

You get semi-emotional imagining how many generations must have walked along this same pathway and give a silent thanks to Sammy for not selling his sought-after property. Every so often, frightening images of cookie-cutter homes built on this land take over your thoughts, but knowing how much Sammy values his family property calms you down.

You spot the second gate and don’t dare try and leap over this one.

You have always been enthralled with country life and spotting a “wild” cow on the property only adds to your odd obsession of farm animals.

Every so often, you day-dreamily walk along taking in the scenery and then periodically have to clean your shoes…

because you day-dreamily walked right into cow manure. You find beauty in even that and feel like you’re a part of the family.

A couple turns later, you spot the family barn. You get excited and start running down the hill avoiding cow ‘beauty’ as best you can.

You are in dirty woodsiding heaven as you walk around the C family farm. Even though you do not own the property, you take mental notes of what you would like to do to the grounds. Throw that wooden girl swingie thing on the porch away.. plant food in the little garden on the side of the home.. paint the siding back to a gleaming white. There’s so much to do and you get overwhelmed thinking of how busy you are not going to be, cleaning up a home that does not belong to you.

In front of the home, the same dirt road as it ever was. Family history..and you’re walking on it.
Let’s get one more good look at 81 year old Sammy Glen. He still drives the cattle on his property and he still drives his truck around town. As alert as ever, this is the poster child of living off the land and the positive outcome of it. Energetic, sincere, and grounded. A solid person.

White Haven Motor Lodge

Our new widows came in last Monday. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. However, when we arrived home around 9pm that night, the guys were still there working. None of the windows had curtains on them, so my only place of solace was the bathroom. That is, until one of the guys confessed that they broke glass all over our bed. R told him thanks, but we weren’t into that type of thing and that we’d just get a hotel.

Well. I took this as an opportunity to stay somewhere I’ve always wanted to go: The White Haven Motor Lodge. I pass by it every so often and it’s always intrigued me.

Don’t cringe at these photos, I was rushed. The hotel opened in the 50s & the guy at the front desk said that hardly anything has changed.

This is the front lobby. Don’t you feel like your grandma will enter the room at any moment with fresh-baked cookies?

And then, no room is complete without the all-time classic, Mediterranean with faux wood top dresser set. This includes a matching side table, desk, and larger round table.

At this point, my brain almost exploded trying to count the patterns in the room/bathroom. If we’re just talking wallpaper, I counted five.

But it was clean. And there were curtains. And there was no glass.

I was happy.

No Seriously, Cue it.

S and me before our night of toe-tappin.
Notice the strained smile on my face. Stress.
Music is a soul’s medicine, isn’t it. It can penetrate any armor you’ve put up around yourself. Mine, this week, has been the “wound so tight she’s going to snap” shield. R has been tip-toeing around me as I make list after list of what we need to do to the house before putting it on the market. Phone calls with friends have been short. The foam egg mattress we have on our bed has not helped me have a good night’s rest.

Wound tight.

..and then like a dam breaking, a night listening to music at the Nelson Art Museum helped me break free of my mummified state of stress. it massaged my temples and shoulders more than a masseuse ever could. just what the doctor ordered. I laughed and smiled and forgot all about the lists.

Not only was the act of listening to music helpful. To me, more importantly, it was the type of music. I’ve finally admitted to myself that I am a die hard junkie on Bluegrass. Old Country. I came into that genre late, listening to K’s burned cds my third year in college. The tunes caught my ear, and I never asked her to turn them off. But I also never instigated playing them. Then one night in a seedy dark bar, I caught a showing of a bluegrass band, The Wilders. It was in a room painted all black, and there was a crowd of maybe 75 people. The music started and the rest was history. I was a fan. Then for Christmas, my parents-in-law gave me a record player. I bought some records on eBay..a few of which were old country: Hank Williams Jr, Johnny Cash, early Dolly Parton. I also bought others, but those three were the ones I came back to night after night. These classically trained musicians of The Wilders, one of which meant to become an opera singer, became my doorway drug into this new world.

And the layers of the instruments. If anyone remembers the part in Amadeus, when Salieri describes his first encounter listening to Mozart’s music.

“On the page it looked like nothing. The beginning simple, almost comic. Just a pulse – bassoons and basset horns – like a rusty squeezebox. Then suddenly – high above it – an oboe, a single note, hanging there unwavering, till a clarinet took over and sweetened it into a phrase of such delight.”

I focus on the layers of the bluegrass bands. I try to listen to each instrument separately..and then as a whole. The sum truly is greater than the parts, although the parts are pretty sensational. Plus, Betse can kick some fiddle ass.

I don’t think my mom’s Motown/Rock/Broadway influence will ever leave me. But I can’t deny the new love in my life. Thanks for cheering me up, bluegrass.

Here are some songs from the Wilder’s website. Enjoy.
Two — Betse kicks it!


Photo du jour

Everytime I see this sign for a new District Attorney, I immediately think, “Tim Gunn? Is Tim Gunn from Project Runway running for something in KS? Oh, it’s Guinn.” No, I literally have that same conversation with myself everyday. Although, now it is condensed a bit to: “Tim Gunn? No, Carolyn, it’s Guinn, remember?” and finally: “Tim Gu– no Carolyn.” And then I drive on.

P.S. I almost killed myself trying to take this pic.