Category Archives: Summertime

Hop to It!

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The day seemed normal enough for the Curtis family as they made the trek to a Saturday afternoon birthday party. The kids were tucked in the backseat of the truck as they ambled down the country road, and Shannon sat in the passenger’s seat, giving the three girls a rundown of the upcoming phone call. No one had any idea that they were moments away from a vicious attack.

“Now Uncle Rusty may not be home, but we still want to leave him a happy birthday message on his machine.”

“Don’t you think it’s funny that we’re going to a birthday party and Uncle a Rusty is having a birthday in Louisiana?”

“Umm huh,” Shannon replied as she scrolled through her contacts. “Now wait for my cue, girls, before you start singing.” She half turned in her seat. “It’s ringing.”

“What time were we supposed to be at this party?” Nathan wanted to know. “At this rate we won’t get there before . . . Whoa!” He suddenly slammed on the brakes and threw the front seat as far back as it would go. “What in the devil?!”

“What is it?” Shannon demanded as she watched her husband start a swatting frenzy. “Is it a spider?”

“My lord!” Nathan yelled as he attacked his jeans with gusto. Shannon still couldn’t see the assailant, but Nathan flailed as if he’d kicked over a hornets’ nest. The girls joined the screaming enthusiastically, and suddenly an inch long grasshopper appeared, bouncing across Nathan and ricocheting around the dashboard. It was at this moment that Uncle Rusty’s voicemail picked up.

A real killer ...

A real killer …

“Hey there, Rusty! It’s Shannon, Nathan and the girls.”

“I see him, Daddy! He’s on the gear shift!” shrieked Savannah.

“Now he’s on the window!” yelled Sadie.

“Don’t kill him! You’re going to kill him with your palm!” wailed Sydney.

“We were just calling to wish you a happy birthday!” Shannon said, holding the phone in one hand and clamping her ear to her head with the other. “The girls and I want to sing to you just as soon as we get our act together.”

“Get this bug out of here!” Nathan bellowed as he punched buttons for the windows. The grasshopper had now made it to Shannon’s side of the truck, and as soon as he landed on her collarbone, she pinned him with her free hand and prepared to return him to the wild. She would have sung “Born Free,” but they were supposed to be cueing up a different ditty at the moment. Nathan stomped on the gas right as Shannon got the prisoner’s discharge papers in order, and this unfortunate burst of air rushing past the passenger’s window caught the little hopper right as she made the toss and propelled him right through the girls’ back window in a marvelous boomerang effect.

At this point it’s just hard to describe the joy that ensued, but Shannon said she’s pretty sure Uncle Rusty’s birthday well wishes sounded like something out of a Stephen King movie. I’m picturing the one with Kathy Bates and the sledge hammer. I guess you never know when terror may strike.

Happy birthday from The King of Horror!

Happy birthday from The King of Horror!

© 2014 – Traci Carver

Why Build Less When You Can Biltmore?

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Just another one of my options for places to rent

Just another one of my options for places to rent

“So did you ladies see the bear?” The grey-headed shuttle driver peered at us in his overhead mirror.

“Bear?” I said. “We could have seen bears?”

“You just came down from parking lot A6, didn’t you?” I nodded. “Well, half the security guys are headed that way because of a bear sighting.”

I looked at Mom. “I wonder how much the tickets cost that included the bears?”

“Whatever they cost,” she said, settling her purse in her lap, “I’m glad we didn’t get those.”

After touring such opulent establishments in France last year such as Chenonceau and Villandry, I knew that no trip to Asheville would be complete without a perusal of the Biltmore Estate.

The shuttle twisted and turned as it made its way to the grand house, and all the while the driver spouted interesting details about the history of the estate. “Forty-three bathrooms, ladies. That’s how many are in the house, but you can’t use a single one of them. You’ll have to make the trek back outside if you need facilities.”

No bears and now no bathrooms? What kind of scam were they running in this joint? Fifty bucks couldn’t even get you a decent potty break? And how cruel to show someone indoor plumbing and then tell her to hoof it back down four flights of stairs. Thank goodness we didn’t have a toddler with us. They have a bladder the size of a pistachio and it’s extremely vulnerable to the power of suggestion.

The inside of the home was lavishly decorated, but at times the lighting made it hard to see certain pieces. This was of little consequence to me; but for Mom, whose love of antiques has burrowed so deeply into the marrow of her bones that she bleeds mahogany wood stain, the visual handicap was borderline criminal. She stood over one piece in particular, squinting at the intricate wood design, murmuring, “I wish I’d brought a flashlight.”

Of course, the afternoon was filled with adrenaline surges as Mom, in eager anticipation of the antiques around the next bend, tried to fall down a small flight of stairs. Twice. So between lunging, yelping, and losing a few years off my life, I walked around the mansion with my eyes peeled wide for a number of reasons. Ooh, look, an indoor bowling alley. Ooh, look, an indoor pool. Ooh, look, Mom’s about to crack her thigh bone and need an ambulance.

gardens

Once outside, the gardens were just as impressive as the house, and for the 6,000th time, I wished I could grow something other than mildew on a shower curtain. But we all have our skills, and mine seems to be keeping septuagenarians out of trouble. Or at least the ER.

gardens 2

© 2014 – Traci Carver

Roads: They’re All the Rage

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Let the games begin!

Let the games begin!

I hate driving. I didn’t always, but now that I’m older and driving is simply the process that must be endured in order to transfer your body to a new destination, I view climbing behind the wheel as a task akin to a booster shot: let’s just get it over with. So while my trip with Mom to Asheville was fun because of the location, navigating from point A to point B was another matter entirely.

First of all, there are the roads surrounding that delightful town. Three different interstates converge to form the perfect storm with corkscrew on-ramps that spit you out into the flow of traffic doing 35 miles an hour. The first thing you notice once you’ve straightened the steering wheel is the succession of three semi’s bearing down on you doing 70, and suddenly you understand all the fuss about high performance cars capable of going 0-60 in three seconds.

Once you’ve cheated death and exited the freeway, your next test of womanhood is to steer with one hand, follow that blue dot on your navigation system with the other, and keep a calm demeanor so your passenger doesn’t realize you’re about one car length away from a stomach ulcer. I was doing a decent job of this until Mr. I’m Local and You Tourists Really Get on my Nerves got behind me on the four lane.

My first crime against humanity was to drive the speed limit. This really torqued the fellow following so closely that one glance in the rear view mirror told me that he had broccoli for lunch. He decided to extend his fury through his horn just as I was trying the decipher the road name on a tiny green sign the size of a lasagna noodle (uncooked). Then, as if I hadn’t already qualified for a capital punishment sentence, I looked over my shoulder, turned on my blinker, and then moved into the right lane since there wasn’t another car coming for eight miles. This aggressive act of vehicular maneuvering incited another series of rash horn trumpetings.

At this point, I started an internal tirade: Hey, buddy! What’s your deal? Are you illiterate or just choosing to ignore my Florida license plate? Is it just possible that the plate gives you a clue that I may not be familiar with the area? That I may be chauffeuring my mom around to another cleverly hidden antique store? That your bullying horn antics make me want to say something unladylike because you’re jumping on my last nerve?! HUH?!!

Mom threw a glance over her shoulder. “Boy, he sure has his Fruit of the Loom’s in a twist about something. I’m glad you’re so calm when you drive. I’d be a nervous wreck. Oh, look!” She swiveled her head and tapped the window with her pointer finger. “Village Antiques!”

© 2014 – Traci Carver