Showing 1 - 10 of 113 posts found matching keyword: family

Mother's Day means more Renaissance Festival. We went last year and had a good time. The weather was nice, so we went again this year. It's a tradition now. I suspect Christmas started much the same way.

Not much has changed. Just the important things.

Coca-Cola really is in trouble
See what this sign looked like last year here.

You could still see the imprint of the word "Coke" underneath the new vinyl letters. Was the festival no longer serving Coca-Cola products? What did they drink now? Pepsi? That's not the Renaissance. That's hell!

I shouldn't have worried. They still sell Coke. It is the Georgia Renaissance Festival, after all. What else are they going to sell? Dasani?

Maybe we'll find out next year. We have a tradition to keep now.

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Mom dragged me out of bed Sunday to attend the 86th Cotton Pickin' Fair in Gay, Georgia. I was not enthusiastic about this.

Gay's twice-a-year Meriwether County "fair" is very similar to what Coweta County's Powers Crossroads Festival used to be, with arts and crafts vendors vying for attention and dollars. The Cotton Pickin' Fair supplements this with some antique dealers and a touch of history and civic pride. Bully for Gay! However, I wouldn't put it on my list of reasons to wake up early.

I've lived to be 41 years old without ever attending this semi-famous event. I wasn't interested in breaking that streak, but mothers never care about personal-best records. So one hour later, I was standing in front of a stage watching the Sole Momentum Cloggers and Rachel's Line Dancers amid the smells of cotton candy and barbecue.

Guess who's family founded the town?

We strolled through the fair for a few hours in perfect (unseasonably cool) weather. Mom bought a pair of carpenter bee traps, a $3 sausage biscuit, and a collar tag for Audrey's harness. I had a $5 helping of boiled peanuts from the Greenville Lions Club and a good time. Thanks, Mom!

In the end, the Cotton Pickin' Fair turned out to be way more fun than Mom's Saturday surprise: the "opportunity" to help pick-up and deliver two overstuffed sofas that she purchased at an estate sale. (The next person who tells me that I have it easy living in my mother's basement gets a punch in the teeth. Assuming I can raise my arms again by then.)

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to catch up on some sleep.

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About a zillion posts ago, I posted a pic of my grandmother's newspaper wedding announcement. At the time, Cam asked for a pic of my grandfather to accompany it. Never let it be said that Walter doesn't follow through! (Eventually.)

Down in front!

Okay, I confess. That's not just my grandfather, and this certainly isn't his wedding photo. This is three generations of his family circa 1979. From left to right, that's my grandmother, my mother, Trey, my grandfather, and my aunt Kelley standing in the backyard of my grandparent's house. I still haven't identified the dapper little member of the Lollipop Guild in the front row.

(This reminds me of a true story: not too many years after this, I attended a Georgia State University initiative for "gifted" children on Saturday mornings. A local magazine ran an article on the class. I was mentioned, described as a snaggletoothed youngster who wore a fake watch. I cannot deny that I had snaggleteeth, but my Mickey Mouse watch worked just fine, thank you!)

I'm guessing that my father was the cameraman. He was big into photography back in the day. I have no idea why the family was framed so far to the right. That's bad composition technique. Visual scanning tendency in Western culture leads the eye naturally to the bottom right of an image, so you should balance the composition by keeping focus away from that edge. Sorry, Dad, but not everyone is cut out for art school.

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Mom went out of town for the week and left me in care of her two-and-a-half-months-old puppy, Audrey, who has been conditioned to Mom's 9 to 5 schedule. I also work 9 to 5. However, my 9-5 is on the other side of the clock. As you can guess, I haven't been getting a lot of sleep.

As much as I love dogs, I'm not big on puppies. Audrey is no exception. She's cute and all, but I'm not sure it's worth the trade off in trouble. For example, the first thing she did on the first day Mom was out of town was start digging into a fire ant pile. I grabbed her and tried to brush off the ants. So far as I can tell, puppy went unscathed. I got bit. A lot.

While I was treating my wounds, puppy turned her demonic path of destruction on my geriatric poodle. July's no fan of puppy, but that never detours Audrey. She nips and nips and nips until July finds a safe hiding place. That day, there were no places safe from puppy. Through the use of either her needle sharp teeth or razor sharp claws, Audrey cut open the sebaceous cyst under July's right eye. I left the bathroom to find blood everywhere. The house looked like a war zone.

Since then, Audrey has spent a lot of time in her kennel.

Even when she's sleeping, she's stalking

Mom came back yesterday, which is good. If she'd waited much longer, there wouldn't have been much of a home to come back to. The little devil is her problem now.

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Maybe because the United States government has devolved to a Marx Brothers comedy, it seems I've been watching more movies in 2017. Frankly, I think we can all use the distraction.

15. (1074.) Cannery Row (1982)
I'm no fan of Nick Nolte, but I still enjoyed his take on the stereotypical genius-hiding-from-the-terror-he-created. Even better was Debra Winger in the stereotypical part of the prostitute-with-a-heart-of-gold. And keep your eyes peeled for the well-intentioned-but-dangerous-giant-retard! This feels too lighthearted to be an adaptation of a Steinbeck novel, but I still enjoyed it.

16. (1075.) A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014)
Seth MacFarlane has built a cottage industry on a very particular style of non sequitur nostalgia comedy. He tones it down a bit in this live-action western that strives to be a 21st-century Blazing Saddles. What can I say? I laughed.

17. (1076.) Brute Force (1947)
Burt Lancaster leads a prison break in this incredibly violent (but well named) film. It's a slow build, but totally worth it.

18. (1077.) Snowden (2016)
Mom said, "Let's see Snowden." I said, "I don't like Oliver Stone films." She said, "Tough." So we watched Snowden. It does go a bit too far out of its own way to deify the guy, but otherwise does a pretty good job of explaining what he did and why he felt it was necessary to do it. Why are men like Snowden treated like traitors while men like Trump are elected president?

19. (1078.) Storks (2016)
Mom said, "Let's see Storks." I said, "Sure." Now I know where babies come from. Thanks for nothing, 6th grade sex education class!

More to come.

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Everyone say hello to Mom's new dog.

Meet Audrey

Audrey is an 8 week old Havanese parti-colored puppy. She already likes to chew and nap. If she grows to enjoy a glass of wine, she and Mom will be best friends forever.

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MentalFloss.com has compiled a list of the most distinct last names by state. That's the name that appears most often in each state compared to the frequency of that name nationally. Imagine my surprise to discover that the name associated with Georgia is Stephens.

The Internet Surname Database says that Stephens means "the son of Stephen" and derives from the Greek "Stephanos," meaning "crown." It claims the name was popular in the Middle Ages because it was the name of the first Christian martyr (St. Stephen, who was stoned to death).

Maybe that's all true. Maybe Georgia is full of Greek Catholics who were named after saints. However, that has nothing to do with my last name.

Sometime in the late 19th century, probably around 1875, my great-great grandmother Rosa and her four children traveled from Lebanon to America. U.S. customs officials apparently misunderstood (or didn't care) when she told them she had come to meet her husband, Stephen Basil. No one in the family ever changed it back, so the family name has been Stephens instead of Basil ever since.

For the record, Rosa was a practicing Catholic, and most of her descendants remain so. However, you can see that my name has nothing to do with Catholic martyrs. I wonder how many of Georgia's other Stephens are descendants of my great-great grandfather?

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In real life, the treats go straight in her mouth

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My mother has had Chewie put down.

This is actually only the second time I've ever mentioned Chewie on this blog. I never really liked the little jerk. Yes, he had a rough early few years. His life was much improved when my Mom rescued him. However, he never became what I would call an affectionate or an obedient dog. But Mom still liked him. She's put up with me for all these years, so I guess she must have developed some fondness for stubborn assholes. Go figure.

In recent months, Chewie developed Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, the dog equivalent of Alzheimer's. He walked in circles, got stuck under furniture, and stood by his full dog dish barking for food. Even for Chewie, he was becoming higher maintenance than usual, to the point that Mom could no longer meet his needs.

So that's the second dog we've lost in 2016. (The third if we count Dad's puppy, Tyr, who died in March.) We're running out.

Three little puppies living in a zoo

Cancer found one and then there were two

Two little puppies sitting in the sun

One lost his marbles and then there was one

One little puppy left all alone

Watch yourself, July. It's dangerous out there.

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"Am I interrupting you? What are you doing right now?" my father asked when I answered the telephone.

"Nothing important. I was just reading an article from Ezra Klein about why Hillary Clinton's private reputation is so good but the American public hates her," I said. "He calls it The Gap."

Dad laughed. "Of course they'd publish that now. They just can't believe that the American public could be right about something."

I said, "Your response indicates that you believe there's no point in ever investigating this reputation gap. Don't you think there's value in examining the difference in someone's public and private personas?"

"I'm open-minded, but it's just election year spin. If they really wanted to investigate that gap, they'd do it next year."

I shook my head, though dad couldn't see this through the phone. "This is the ideal time, from the news industry's point-of-view. Capitalize on everyone talking about her during the Democratic National Convention."

"Have you been watching? There's been open revolt from the Sanders supporters. This party is tearing itself apart. I haven't seen anything like this since McGovern in 1972."

"What about last week? A week ago today, delegates at the RNC tried to pass a resolution to end-run Trump. Is this so different?"

"That's not the same thing," Dad harrumphed. "These people are angry at a party leadership that openly schemed to give their preferred candidate the nomination."

"What's new about that? Isn't that what the Republicans did in 2012 with Romney? That's what parties do, manipulate things to get their choice candidates elected."

"It's not fair! It's against the rules!"

I remained unswayed. "What rules? American political parties can do whatever they want with their candidates."

Dad practically growled. "Well, since we're not talking about facts, and I can see I interrupted you, I'll just let you go." Click.

I admit that I edited that conversation from my memory of the telephone call, but I think both Dad and I come out looking better in my version than reality. (He refuses to admit his own bias — he wants to Make America Great Again® — and I'm intentionally argumentative. About everything.) Frankly, we behave better when we don't talk about politics. Or government. Or sports. Come to think of it, maybe we never behave better.

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