July 30, 2011 § Leave a comment
A brief warning: this post is long and photoless (a camera shouldn’t get wet), but there is a cool video at the end. You should read it all, and not even think about skipping ahead!
Day 118 was Fourth of July (I know, I am so far behind in posting). Our friends Cooper and Michelle were planning a trip down the Chattahoochee on the holiday, so Patrick and I along with our friend Melanie joined the group to “Shoot the Hooch.” Shooting said Hooch is something in my many years of living in Georgia I had never before done.
We met the 20-person plus entourage at the drop off point near I-75 and I-285 at about 1PM. We filled Melanie’s soft-sided Jets cooler with mini Budweisers and other canned beer and then secured the icebox into a kiddie float I had bought at the drug store earlier. It was a little air-filled turtle made for kids under three, complete with three inch leg holes in the bottom. It was perfect for keeping a small soft-sided cooler afloat on the river (or so I hoped). I had also brought along the super long 25 foot leash of Murphy’s that we purchased for his training class several months ago and never used. I figured we could tie it between someone’s rented inner tube and the handle of the turtle beer float so our beverages never drifted too far. Genius, I thought.
Once everyone had gathered and acquired rented floats or inflated their purchased ones, our large group set down to the river with Cooper’s home built flotilla leading the way. The flotilla was a masterpiece of wooden boards affixed to mattress springs resting on a series of inner tubes to create a 4x 8 foot floating stage. Individuals could attach themselves to the display that held coolers, dry goods, and occasionally people.
Patrick, Melanie, and I shoved ourselves off the dock by the river and connected the cooler (it floats!) and our tubes to each other prepared for our leisurely journey downstream. Once everyone had done the same, the group started down the river.
We had gotten about a hundred yards when Patrick realized that his tube was rapidly deflating. Half the air had gone out of the floating device and more was escaping as we went along. Melanie and I stood up on the rocky river floor (I didn’t realize it was so shallow!) while he went back to the rental kiosk and switched out tubes.
Meanwhile Garth Brooks’ song lyrics came tumbling through the sky at us. The thunder rolled. Mel and I stood in the cold water for about fifteen minutes waiting as the sky grew gradually darker. By the time Patrick returned, one flip-flop broken on the tedious journey, fat raindrops were beginning to spread over the water.
With the rest of our large group several minutes ahead of us and my car keys riding along with them, we decided to brave the weather and continue. So did the other fifty people or so floating along around us. We made it under the interstate bridge and secured ourselves to some dangerous looking concrete spike coming up from the river to wait out the torrential downpour and flashes of lighting that had beat us to the final bridge. It was scary. Wasn’t open water supposed to be the worst place to be in a thunderstorm?? The bolts of lightning flashing down from the sky seemed perilously close.
After several mini Budweisers the storm passed, and we headed out from our sanctuary into the drizzle that was still peppering the Chattahoochee. We wondered how far our friends had gotten before they too must have stopped. We didn’t have to go far before Cooper’s flotilla caught our eye resting on the raised bank on the right side of the river. We scooched over to the bank, and I went on a scouting expedition while Melanie kept shoeless Patrick company in the water.
I climbed the giant mud bank and wandered to the right, seemingly walking in some strange park with random park benches, or maybe even simply the back yard of the town home neighborhood that backed up to the river. Once I meandered back along the water I heard my name being called. I looked up to see a raging party of wet comrades throwing down on one of the homes’ back porch. Nice. They had found a drunken soiree while Patrick, Melanie, and I clung for life under a bridge. I joined the festivities and gratefully accepted the full-size beer that was offered before I went back to the bank to report my findings. After a few more minutes of gathering up the group we all headed back to our Chattahoochee River adventure.
We had a nice smooth relaxing ride for a while after the great thunderstorm debacle. Melanie, Patrick, and I floated comfortably along, connected by Murphy’s 25-foot leash, pausing occasionally to hop ourselves over a shallow patch of rocks.
Our next pit stop came when a raucous group of revelers congregated on either side of the river. On the right were a bunch of Fourth of July party people on their secret river beach. On the left thrill-seekers leapt from a thirty foot partake in the adventure. Michelle jumped with a back flip flair. Melanie climbed nimbly to the top, and I followed, imbued with the excitement of trying something new.
Melanie leapt off as I was navigating through the dirt and bumps on the path to the summit. Once I arrived at the big rock’s peak I realized there wasn’t too much of a queue. A couple of people building the courage to take the plunge and a few others just chilling. I felt my nerves rise into my throat, but I pushed the feeling back into my stomach and stepped forward. And jumped.
I can tell you specifically what I was thinking as I fell through the air: Cannonball! But fortunately, I managed to straighten out slightly right before impact with the waves, so instead of slapping my entire back against the river surface, I managed to only injure my butt. I swam back to the surface with the hugest wedgie I have ever experienced.
Soon we moved back to floating downriver as all the beer people had brought dwindled to naught. The journey was supposed to take three hours tops, and we had already been waterlogged for more than that. But the sun with its rays warm on our skin, was out in full force at this point, so the mood was still very pleasant.
Until the next thunderstorm. This time we all huddled on a small beachy area just off the river. There was no bridge or town home in which to shelter. We all became soaking wet and cold. By this time I think the general thought was, “Just stop raining and let us be done with this!”
Eventually it did stop pouring and we headed down the final stretch of floating. It was short and easy except for the disembarking at the end where you had to wade both yourself and your tube through a pretty strong current to get to shore. I nearly lost my own flip-flop at that point and worried about Patrick and his one bare foot just ahead. Melanie was the smart one with her river shoes. Finally, we turned in our tubes and jumped on a bus headed back to where we began.
Despite two horrendous thunderstorms, one lost flip-flop, and a giant wedgie-inducing jump, the day was great fun and the company more than fantastic. The storms were merely an annoyance, and maybe an extra few hundred words in this post. I definitely want to Shoot the Hooch again, but on a guaranteed sunny day, and maybe with a proper pair of river shoes, and not some silly pair of flip-flops.
Ross, the group photographer with his waterproof camera case made a cool video to commemorate the whole experience. Check it out. My jump is at 0:59. Yeah, I held my nose.
July 29, 2011 § 1 Comment
Julia Leroy is a former roommate of mine, awesome chef, and all-around cool gal, so when she opened her own fried chicken stand in Westside Patrick and I wanted to try it out. On Day One Hundred Sixteen we took our hungry bellies across the city to taste some darn good food at LeRoy’s Fried Chicken. That’s Luh-Roy, not Lee-Roy.
The restaurant is actually a walk up service style joint, with the menu printed in big letters next to the sliding windows where you place your order. We opted to share the three piece meal, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, biscuits, and a sweet tea. We debated eating on one of the two high tables set in front, but it was was too hot to rest our sensitive elbows on metal that had been absorbing hot Georgia summer sun all day, so we opted to take the meal to-go.
On the drive back from LeRoy’s the rumbling in my stomach prompted me to have a taste of one of the biscuits. It was so good. Moist and buttery, not dry at all. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I shared as little as possible with Patrick and secretly plotted how I could finagle having the second biscuit to myself as well. I’m a selfish eater.
We arrived home and laid out our individually boxed wares on the dining room table. I loved the clean lines of the food in its white containers; the logo stamped on the brown paper bag that held everything was a beautiful touch as well.
My last experience with fried chicken was the Popeye’s adventure with Andre, so I was expecting something tasty but possibly ruinous to my digestive system. I was pleasantly surprised (sorry Dre). Julia cooks her all natural locally raised chickens in lard which is apparently much better for you than oil. It made the skin thicker, but was still crispy. Being the weirdo that I am, I pulled half the outer layer off, anxious to get to the hot breast meat underneath. And it was so good. And hot. I surprisingly ate all of my piece of bird along with a healthy helping of mac n cheese. I knew her mac and cheese was good, and Julia’s collards are one of the few versions of the dish that I actually enjoy. Usually I find the greens too bitter for my taste. All was followed by a large share of the remaining biscuit.
Of course, after our lunch, both Patrick and I curled up for an afternoon nap; the perfect end to a full Southern meal.
July 27, 2011 § Leave a comment
On Day One Hundred Fifteen, I turning to a crafting technique I had recently discovered and wanted to try- Paper quilling, or paper filigree. The designs I had seen online were fragile and incredibly intricate, but from looking up tutorials it didn’t seem too difficult. Mostly just time-consuming.
So I popped in Black Swan on DVD, opened a bottle of wine and set myself up in the living room with thin strips of paper, a skewer, Elmer’s glue, and toothpicks. I was ready to partake in this ancient paper art.
It took watching Black Swan and a couple of episodes of Toddlers and Tiaras for me to finish my creation. I’m not sure what it is besides a bunch of paper swirls, but the process was very therapeutic.
July 27, 2011 § 1 Comment
Day One Hundred Fourteen found me scrolling through the On-Demand listings on my cable box looking for something to chillax and escape reality for a little while. Of course reality TV is perfect for that, so I stumbled upon a TLC show called “Toddlers and Tiaras.”
It was…something else. I’ve never been much of a reality tv watching gal, but to me, this is exactly what that type of programming should always embody. Spending time with a group of people so different from yourself that, like a rubber necker on the freeway, you just have to watch.
I ended up watching the second episode in the fourth season (which had just began). I don’t know why the first episode wasn’t available at the time. Maybe I was just drawn more to the premise of a super Pentecostal mom living vicariously through her new step-daughter in the world of child pageantry.
So like each episode (which I have now discovered since TiVoing several), the cameras follow around three hopeful contestants as they prepare for an upcoming glitz pageant. This episode featured Saryniti and her super religious new step mother Ca’Trina, old hat eight year-old Spiderman-like Chloe, and four year-old Halee, who frankly I don’t really remember.
And the glitz pageant is no ordinary beauty contest, but rather feature crazy looking three year-old princesses you’d see in John Waters films. They look like shrunken child drag queens. Spray tans, big hair, over the top make-up, and flippers (fake upper teeth) are a must. As Chloe says about both her gapped teeth and possible Halloween costume for the pageant, “I’m not going to be a jack-o-lantern for Halloween because jack-o-lanterns are fat.” This from the child whose mother takes her to get her eyebrows waxed because shaving them really messed ’em up.
You can’t make this stuff up.
I was really rooting for Saryniti, but everyone knew she didn’t have a chance since her mom couldn’t even remember to bring her hair brush. Chloe won the Ultimate Grand Supreme in the end (spoiler alert), but I truly believe I also came out a winner for discovering this total guilty pleasure show in its fourth season.
July 23, 2011 § Leave a comment
I love the website Post Secret. My friend Stephanie introduced me to the weekly blog, and I check it every Sunday. People from all over the world create art on a postcard disclosing some secret or thought or exclamation and Frank Warren, the creator and moderator of the blog, chooses several to post each week. I even have a couple of the books, which are alternately inspirational, depressing, and amusing to flip through.
On Day One Hundred Thirteen, I made my own post-cards for the first time, and sent them in to 13345 Copper Ridge Rd Germantown, Maryland 20874. Dropping the post-card into a mailbox is actually very therapeutic in itself, like a weight is being lifted off your chest. I guess that depends on the secret you are telling in some part. I can’t even begin to imagine how it would feel to check the site or flip through a book and find the words you had written confronting you. Hopefully I’ll find out.
Of course, the whole point of the website in that the secrets are anonymous, so I’m not going to post any pictures of mine. But here’s a recent funny one.
July 23, 2011 § 2 Comments
On Day One Eleven, besides almost hiking up Crowders Mountain and smoking a plank of salmon, I went with my parents to breakfast. Next to the diner where we ate was a hippie grocery store, kind of like Sevenanda in Atlanta (where I found my ear candles). My mom was interested in what the shop had to offer, so we headed in to browse.
I ended up on the homeopathic remedies aisle, checking out strange tablets and sprays and drops to cure things from stress to being overweight to bad moods to acne. I was enthralled and spent about twenty minutes examining each bottle. I had a roommate before who had a shoebox full of such remedies and suggested I take one to prevent a cold I felt coming on. I never took her up on the offer, mainly because she was always the one stuck in bed feeling sick (not to mention she led a healthier lifestyle than mine). But I decided to purchase a couple of items, partly because I thought it could be a new activity some day in the future. And on Day One Hundred Twelve I pulled out one of the magic pill bottles to fight off some crazy muscle ache, probably a result of my forays into the driving range, second golf lesson, and playing nine holes.
The small blue container holding many little white beads held arcina montana, a remedy to combat “muscle aches and stiffness, swelling from injuries, discoloration from bruising.” I twisted the top of the bottle five times to allow five little pellets come down into the cap. The instructions said to let five of these little beads dissolve under your tongue. They tasted like sugar, and nothing else.
I don’t know if it was the placebo effect or if there was something to this homeopathic stuff, but I did feel like I had less muscle stiffness. I can’t wait to try the Wild Oat drops I also purchased. That one “helps you to determine what to do with your life, when you are undecided about which path to take.” Or I could just flip a coin.