Monthly Archives: July 2013

Happy Independence Day!

Fourth of July -- Independence Day by bjebie on Flickr

Fourth of July — Independence Day by bjebie on Flickr

For many of us, this will be a day of picnics, fireworks, and happy gatherings of family and friends to celebrate the joys of freedom. For others, today will be a day like any other, stationed far away from home as they safeguard the freedoms we enjoy.

From the very beginnings of our nation, there have been brave men and women guarding our backs or leading us forward into the free world we know today. From the very beginning men and women have stood up for us, for our rights, for our very existence, forging their way blindly to create a more perfect union.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor. (Declaration of Independence)

Today is a day to remember our past and to celebrate our heritage as Americans–with liberty and justice for all.

 

Alone in a Crowded Room

alone in a crowded room

Most days, it takes a lot to blast me out of my cave. Family events will do it because they’re few and far between; running out of coffee will do it (that’s a given!); a new movie will do it if the movie falls within a finite range of interest (sci-fi, zombies, super heroes, and Tom Hanks); and benefits (or favors) for friends. That’s about it.

A Gathering of Angels: Sunday Funday for Annette!

This past weekend, after the Big Reveal, after the Ocean Pond Clubhouse adventure, I attended a cancer-fund-raising-event for a friend. Annette is an awesome woman, a fighter, a kick-ass warrior who normally plows right through life with a vengeance. Several months ago, she was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Calling in the angels, her friends and family began working together to raise money to help pay for Annette’s medical treatment. As a waitress, Annette works without the handy perk of medical insurance, much like everyone else I know in this part of the country. To add insult to injury, her treatment involves the need for a shot, one shot, that costs $6,000 per injection. I can’t even begin to imagine what miracle drug must be in that syringe that would warrant a $6,000 price tag, but the doctors say that this is her chance for recovery. Annette’s tumors are shrinking. She looks great despite everything she’s going through, and she has the support of friends and family and a community that has accepted her with open arms.

I stood on the periphery during the event, wandering from the bar inside to the patio out back trying to engage in conversation with people I see at my brother’s gigs, friends of Annette’s, friends of friends, acquaintances, even strangers who have gathered for a common cause. I’m not good at small talk. I’m not really comfortable in crowds. I can’t say that I’d rather I’d stayed home because I wanted to be there for Annette, for my brother who’d helped organize the event and was playing under a leaky tent in pouring rain through thunder and lightning, for his girlfriend Barb (Annette’s sister and a longtime family friend). I wanted to be there in the mix, adding my positive energy to the flowing glow of love that swirled around me. But I still felt like an interloper standing on the fringe of the party not knowing how to engage.

Why is that? I often wonder what it is that makes me so uncomfortable. Have I spent so much time alone that I’ve lost my social skills? I don’t think so. I’ve never had the desire to hang out with the crowd, to be one of the guys, to join the team. Even as a child, I was a loner. I had friends but I was happier one-on-one. My brothers are the same way. We are quiet, introspective people, alone but never lonely. I think it runs in the family.

Family–when you least expect it!

After forty years, I reconnected with a cousin at the event. He’d made contact with my brother a couple of years ago and come up from south Florida to support Annette. He immediately reminded me of my brothers with his calm, happy demeanor. He is gentle and kind and quiet. I watched him move through the crowd like me, a part of it but separate. I admit, I don’t really know my cousin well after our short time together but I felt a kindred spirit gazing back at me, a person happy to observe, to support, and to stand on the sidelines, happy to be alone in a crowded room. Maybe he’s even a cave dweller like me. I hope to get to know him better and find out.

 Just for Fun!

A black labrador dog is decorated for a Fourth of July Picnic

There is no way in the world I would be able to get my look-alike black lab Bella to stand still long enough to attach a holiday bow but I thought this photo (from Pinterest) was appropriate for how I’ll be spending my 4th of July. I hope you have a safe and happy holiday! See you soon!

World War Z: We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Cave!

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If you read yesterday’s post, A Cave After My Own Heart, you know that one of the highlights of my visit with family this past weekend was the opportunity to explore the 109 year old Ocean Pond Clubhouse. It’s a beautiful place situated seemingly out in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by an alligator and snake infested swamp. Very picturesque. Now, imagine the creaking, creeping sounds generated by an old wood-frame house buffeted by wind and rain, all of the attendant shadows from dimmed lamps, animal skulls, and an intermittent moon layered over the after-images of a horror movie flickering on the insides of your eyelids. And not just any movie, a zombie movie! World War Z!

A sweet afternoon party–punctuated by fear and popcorn

I think I’ve mentioned before that my youngest daughter is a zombie freak. She is both terrified and fascinated by the idea of a zombie apocalypse. So, for her birthday, after the big reveal that we are actually going to Scotland rather than Tahiti in July, after the conferring on her the title of Lady of Glencoe by a tall, good-looking Scotsman in full kilted regalia, with sword and sash no less, we went to the movies to watch zombies take over the world. Once again–YIKES!

For once, I am very happy that the movie is, so far as I’ve read, nothing like the book. I’m only about a third of way through and I’ve yet to encounter the thread that ties to the movie beyond the fact that these are, indeed, very fast moving undead. Or walking dead. Or the reanimated. Call them what you will, they are extremely creepy, resourceful, and although not Walking-Dead-gory, scary as hell.

If you haven’t seen World War Z, I’ll try not to spoil it for you. Besides, if you’ve seen the movie trailer, you’ve pretty much seen the movie as there are very few remaining surprises. (Don’t you hate that?) I knew when to cover my eyes, when to look away from the screen, but for this movie, I wish I’d thought about ear plugs. During what could have been the goriest of scenes, the camera tended to focus away from the action, but the sound effects were explicitly clear, emphasizing the gnashing of teeth and the snap of the bite.

BOOM!

The first inkling of trouble comes with a boom off in the distance, sounding much like the M-80s the kids down the street from me have been setting off in anticipation of the upcoming holiday. The noise sets my dogs to barking and sends chills up my spine. I know, it was only a movie, but the aural sensation, even without the visual, is spectacularly jarring.

Back at Ocean Pond, in the big old house with a million windows and creaking wood floors, each sound exacerbated a sense of doom. Forget ghostly specters; forget crazed ax murders. That scraping noise, that clawing sound? That backfire out on the highway? That could only be one thing: they’re here! Zombies! Which makes my next present for my daughter a no-brainer (pun intended).

world-war-z-book-summary-19

Are you a movie fan? If so, take the poll and let me know what you think.

A Cave After My Own Heart

Being away from the cave is usually an interesting event for me. Putting on my social face and going out into the world is definitely not stepping into my happy place, but occasionally, I have to just suck it up and do it. This past weekend, it was for a good cause. Well, two good causes actually. I had fun but I’m happy to be home.

Ocean Pond 02

My daughter and her family are house-sitting at a beautiful old fishing camp not far from their home. The house, built in 1904, is as Walton-esque as it gets with a wide wrap-around, screened-in front porch lined with rocking chairs facing a huge three-pronged lake and a rabbit hutch cozied into a corner.

Ocean Pond: The End of the Road

Just driving down the single-lane dirt road with over-arching pin and water oaks laden with Spanish moss transported me to a state of quietude and peace–once I’d gotten over my wariness of entering this respite from home with its real threat of alligators, rattlesnakes, and snapping turtles. (And it is a real threat. People have gone missing in this lake, fishermen stepping onto the shore at the wrong time and at the wrong place.)

OP trees 02

Inside, the first floor of the house is set up for entertaining. There are two industrial strength kitchens with massive gas ranges and restaurant-ready refrigerators. Four dining rooms hold massive wooden tables and enough chairs to seat a small army. Typical lodge artifacts line the walls: fish, alligator skulls, lures, nets, paintings and posters and newspaper articles about adventures long forgotten. I could imagine this place in its heyday filled with fishermen lounging by the fireplaces (of which there are many), drinks in hand, telling fish stories while waiting for the evening meal to be served.

The house was built as a bed and breakfast for camp members, and was, according to the articles on the walls, a good place for a Saturday night dinner out on the town with friends from New York, or LA, or Savannah. I admit I couldn’t quite picture that scenario given that this place is situated precisely at the end of the road less traveled but I suppose these members must have been hearty folk to begin with to spend their days on waters infested with every manner of dangerous critter. And it must have been a hoot to drag their guests, willing or unwilling, out into the swamps for a meal.

The second floor is the caretaker’s home, a four bedroom, three bath apartment with tall windows (with original glass) and thick carpet over creaking hardwood floors. There are cabinets and closets galore, a central dining room, and a living room on the north end overlooking the lake. It’s homey and comfortable and “creepy as all get out” in the words of my grandson.

Rocking chairs 02

It was a little creepy but it’s a cave dweller’s dream, nestled far away from the hustle of life. I drank my morning coffee while I lounged in a rocking chair older than me on a porch built before my grandfather was born. I felt at peace while I rocked and dreamed and realized that this was a cave after my own heart.