I just have a lot to say.

Archive for the ‘LAKE LIFE’ Category

April 2nd, 2016 by

“Let My Turtle Go”

Mother’s Day weekend, May 2013

Phillip and Brett had a joint birthday party at the lake.

photo 5 - Copy

Brett’s parents loaded the kids up on their pontoon boat and disappeared for a couple of hours. It was overcast and freezing. I cleaned up from lunch while they were gone and enjoyed a nap on the porch under a blankie. It wasn’t my fault the weather was yucky and they were gone so long.

They returned frozen and happy with tales from the island. And with a turtle. They found a baby turtle, freshly hatched, about the size of a silver dollar. Brett’s mom told my son that he could keep it. She put it in a red Solo cup. She told me that her boys had an unused tank—that she bought at a yard sale—that she would bring to my house later that night.

Thanks, Friend.

She brought the secondhand, secondhand tank and filled it with water and plugged it in in the playroom. She put some large rocks in it for him to climb on. She put blood worms in my freezer (which I forgot about until two years later when a storm knocked out our power for 48 hours and my refrigerator started bleeding).

Thanks, Friend.

My family soon learned that Brett’s family had a longtime love for turtles, stemming from a children’s book called Let’s Get Turtles that Brett and his brother made their mom read 1000 times when they were little. It’s about two boys who got turtles.

One time, they had a turtle named Shel that they kept in the yard, but he ran away. Not quickly, I imagine, but stealthily and unnoticed.

They weren’t using the little tank anymore, because their turtle had outgrown it. They found their turtle in the parking lot at the New Orleans zoo and brought him all the way home to Dothan, I assume, in a red Solo cup. They named him Zoos (pronounced Zeus). Phillip named his turtle Poseidon.

Poseidon lived in the little tank in the playroom from Mother’s Day until Christmas. We all grew so attached to the little feller that I asked Santa to bring a large tank to put upstairs, so he could be with the rest of the family in the den. We watched Poseiden pu-u-ull himself up the rocks, then dive into the water, then pu-u-ll himself back up on the rocks. He reminded me of the kids in the deep end at the Azalea. We tapped on the tank. We talked to him and giggled at him. We nicknamed him Little P.

One time, Chuck bought some goldfish to be his friends. He nibbled at their tails. They were the most skittish goldfish ever. We sensed he hated them, so we got rid of them.

Little P grew and grew and grew. People came to our house and said, “That turtle is huge!” Brett’s mom said he would grow to the size of the tank. Zoos was bigger than Poseidon and their tank was bigger and we didn’t know a thing about yellow-eared sliders and had never stolen a single turtle before, so we believed her like she was Google. Regardless, Little P didn’t have much room to frolic. We decided this past Christmas that in the springtime, we would let him go.

We discussed returning him to Lake Eufaula, but there is a pond in our neighborhood. We would like to wave to him as we drive by. Biscuit and I would like to look for him on our walks. We wanted to set him free, yet keep him close. There was a little colony of turtles—and no gators.

April 2, 2016

Abby was home for spring break. It rained and rained and rained. Then, Saturday dawned sunny perfection. Emma read online that fingernail polish wouldn’t hurt his shell.  We all love pomp and celebration.


If you’re ever at the duck pond and see a superhero turtle with a red P on his back, please tell him we said hello.

Thanks, Friend.



February 16th, 2016 by

Wiley’s Song

Although the season was technically summer, the attitude was definitely fall. School was in session, the days were shortening, and football had returned. Even the gasping and grasping heat of August in the South had eased a touch, as if Mother Nature, too, were ready for the leaves to fall, as if she, too, were looking forward to turtlenecks and cardigans and the National Peanut Festival, and as if her favorite holiday were Thanksgiving, as well, and pecan, her favorite pie.

Parents fret about big kids going to college for the first time, or maybe about big kids going to kindergarten for the first time. But all ends lead to beginnings, like the end of delicious summer brings the delights of autumn, so the end of childhood brings the joy of adult relationships with children, for growing them up was the ultimate purpose through the years, the effort, the exhaustion. All nature sings, “Job well done.”

Change, when brought gently, like the seasons, is life renewing.

We have a four-year-old lake neighbor who has yet to master his Ls and Rs, who has a vocabulary many grownups would envy, who was such an unexpected gift that his family and friends still struggle to believe he really and truly exists.

2012 spring 084

The summer before his third birthday, when he was still TWO, barely TWO, but yet TWO, he was over for a visit. I offered him some milk. He said, “Actuawy, I would wathew have wemonade. We have pwenty of miwk at my house.”

(“Actually, I would rather have lemonade. We have plenty of milk at my house.”)

He sounds like an old Southern woman. He told his mommy to please get a watermelon at the “mahket.” When he turned four, he told us, “I am four, this time.”

And so, it came to be Labor Day, as we were packing up the summer, when he showed up at our cabin by himself and invited us to his pahty. He wanted to host a pahty for no weason, just because we are fwiends.

hiding with Wiley

“May we bring lemonade?”

“Wemonade is always welcome at a pahty,” he told us.

We made s’mores. We melted our marshmallows over the fire in his daddy’s Big Green Egg. His daddy had boiled some peanuts and had leftover sausage biscuits from breakfast. We took watermelon and wemonade.

It was a feast. A smorgasbord. A pahty. For no weason other than fwiendship with a wittle boy who almost wasn’t. And now, when my brain flips through my memories of summer 2015, the last image I see is his face, slathered with chocolate and marshmallow.

“Would you wike to come to my pahty?”

Phils and Wiles - Copy


October 23rd, 2014 by

Love Languages

My friend Cindi’s love language is cream of chicken soup. Her husband Michael’s love language is winning. The reaction from their combined love languages looks like this:

(Click here to see Much Ado about Very Little.)

Maybe Maria von Trapp and I need to start at the very beginning.

It’s been over a year now that I’ve been meaning to tell you this story. It happened soon after Labor Day 2013, right after my twin daughters left for two different colleges. Before school started, they took me kicking and screaming to the Verizon store to get an iPhone. Actually, Abby got an upgrade, and I inherited her old one.

Picture me at sitting at the kitchen table at The King’s Inn at Lake Eufaula on Labor Day, bemoaning my sad state of technophobia to my friends who are Early Adapters of Technology. We make each other laugh, but we do not see eye-to-eye. They move quickly; I move slowly. They like new (Michael more than Cindi); I like old. However, we all err on the side of overreaction. We all figure a hearty guffaw trumps an understated giggle every single time.

With my hands flinging, I wailed, “I just want a phone that plugs into the wall in the kitchen! I just want a phone with a long curly cord that will stretch across the room! I just want a phone that I can lean on my shoulder and talk on while I’m washing dishes! WHAT WAS SO WRONG ABOUT THE GOOD OLD DAYS?!”

We cackled until the laughter triggered asthma attacks, parted ways, and returned to the Real World.

Later in the week, Michael stumbled across a handset advertised online that plugs into an iPhone. It’s big and clunky and fits nicely on a middle-aged mom’s shoulder, while her iPhone is tucked safely and snugly in her jeans pocket.

He chuckled to himself and purchased the darn thing.

(He likes to win, remember. He likes the last laugh.)

We didn’t see each other for a couple of weeks. Michael the Impatient Hare couldn’t wait any longer to see my reaction. He made Cindi take my gift to handbell practice one Sunday afternoon and told her to record me as I opened my surprise (on her iPhone—the latest version, duh.)

I was delighted, thrilled, overcome.

Honestly, I haven’t used it. It sits on my desk in my little home office, where I listen to Pandora as I pay bills, play on FB, and avoid household responsibilities. I smile at it several times a week. It makes me feel all warm inside, just like Cindi’s homemade cream of chicken soup makes me feel.

It is, to quote Hannah Montana, the Best of Both Worlds.

I suppose my love language is sacrificing my dignity for your merriment.

Take me home, Lord Jesus!


March 29th, 2014 by

Reese’s Poop

Life holds delicious mysteries for mankind to dissect and debate. Often, we prefer stories for which the answers seem to be lost to history. Who built Stonehenge and why? Do Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster exist? Was Atlantis real? What happened to Jimmy Hoffa? Did Wilson eat the poop?

Wait . . . I better back up.

The Annual Lake Friends Spring Break Easter Egg Extravaganza didn’t begin as tradition. Most traditions don’t set out to be traditions. During spring break more than a decade ago, it was a just pretty day at Lake Eufaula, and it was too cold to swim. The three mommies had nine children under 10 years old. One of the mommies said, “I have some plastic eggs in the cabin. Why don’t we hide them?”

egg hunt with Phillip

Throughout the years, we have accumulated, broken, and lost dozens of eggs. Currently, about 200 mostly mismatched eggs reside in an old, large, pink plastic bag from Leon’s women’s dress shop at Porter Square Mall. In black ink that matches the handles, words on it boast, “If it’s from Leon’s, it has quality.”

While hiding the eggs each spring, a mommy finds an arrow that was lost the previous summer during target practice. While gathering the arrows every summer, a kid finds an Easter egg that was overlooked the previous spring. Scout the Labradoodle must be locked up while the eggs are out, because he likes to hunt them, too.

egg hunt 2

We have entertained a guest or two almost every year. Being our guest is an advantage, much as being an extra on Star Trek was a disadvantage. Odds were high that the extra on the Star Trek episode would be killed. Odds were pretty good that the guest at our Easter egg hunt would find the golden egg. Odds were astronomical that the only two stinky boys in our group would throw temper tantrums when the guest found the golden egg.

I’m digressing.

egg hunt without Phillip

One by one (with the exception of the twins), the children turned into teenagers. Two spring breaks ago, to make the hunt less childish, we held it at nighttime. We don’t have much outside lighting at our cabin, so the kids needed flashlights. Even the stinky boys thought it was fun, whether they would admit it or not, and were finally too old to throw temper tantrums over the golden egg–at least out loud.

One of the stinky boys, Wilson, is a middle child, sandwiched in birth order between girls. One or both of his sisters hates him at all times. For a reason no one remembers, it was the younger sister, SB, who hated him on this particular day. She wanted to play a trick on him. She thought it would be funny to put rabbit pellets (from Emma’s furry friend, Caspian T. Bunny) into an egg and drop it in his bag. (We always use high-quality Walmart bags as “baskets.”) She enlisted the assistance of her parents, who were mischievous enough to help her do it. Her dad was actually the one who deposited the poop-filled egg in Wilson’s “basket.”

After the hunt, everyone gathered at the picnic table to count eggs and to see what treasures they had picked up. When Wilson opened the egg with the poop in it, he wondered out loud what was in it and tossed it into his mouth. The horrified and thrilled crowd silently gasped and held back giggles as he chewed.

“How did it taste?” Wilson’s dad asked.

“Grassy,” Wilson told us.

SB tore into the house. The screen door slammed behind her.

Her mama went to check on her. She was terrified. Wilson was going to kill her this time for sure. He had eaten bunny poop, and everyone had watched him. He was going to be furious and humiliated. Her well-laid plans were much more fun to plot than to carry out. What had she been thinking?! What torture would she have to endure for this?! What paybacks was she going to reap?!

The Easter egg hunt was over. SB cried all the way back to their cabin.

This took place on the second Friday of spring break. The next day, the three families packed up, cleaned up, and went home.

On Sunday morning, Emma found SB at church to see if she was okay, to see what Wilson knew, to see what damage he had done to his little sister.

SB told Emma that Wilson was not angry. She said her parents told him of the plan in advance. She said they exchanged the poop with Reese’s Puffs. She said he knew he was eating cereal, not feces. She said he played along.

Emma recounted to me what SB said. Emma remembered how upset SB had been. Emma said, “I saw it. It was poop, and he ate it. They all made up a story to make SB feel better and to keep Wilson from being embarrassed.”

Did Wilson eat the poop? Emma says he did. SB says he didn’t. Tight-lipped Wilson won’t tell.

I can picture them now in a future old folks’ home, reminiscing and arguing about the details. Certainly by then, the truth will have been long forgotten.

Perhaps, the answers to mysteries do not want to be uncovered. Once the truth is known, the curious move on to other topics. No one talks about who shot JR anymore. We want Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson to solve another murder. We want Indiana Jones to unearth another artifact. We want the Pink Panther to be stolen yet again. We want Inspector Clouseau to track down the thief one more time.

Did Wilson eat the poop? I hope I never find out.

egg hunt 2013


January 25th, 2014 by


As I’m prone to do, I spent most of the month of July at the lake. This year, all I did was sit.

I sat on the old vinyl couch on the porch and delighted in a Chilton County peach, entertained by diligent redheaded woodpeckers and Biscuit as she barked and barked and barked at whatever critter she had cornered up underneath the house.


I sat on the swing–but did not swing–and talked on the phone to Starla and Angie and Jordan and Aunt Jo. Cell service goes in and out when the swing goes back and forth and the clock on the phone changes from Slow Time to Fast Time (Central to Eastern) and back again.

I sat at the kitchen table with the laptop and recorded one notebook of Mama King’s treasured minutia–every single day of 1961, 1962, 1963, and 1964.

Mama King's diary 2

I sat beside My Favorite Son, oftentimes with his head (or his feet) in my lap, and read his summer reading out loud to him. (I know, I know, but it was Cold Sassy Tree, for Heaven’s sake, not Lord of the Frickin’ Flies. Besides, the seconds are TICK-KING!)

I sat on the back of the jet ski for long, late afternoon rides with that same Favorite Son. (He drives calmly when I’m on the back, not like an idiot as he does when Brett’s on the back.)


I sat on my huge sectional sofa piled high with Conners and Youngbloods for an inside cookout on a dark and soggy Fourth of July.

I sat another time on that sofa and watched The Andy Griffith Show and quoted every word uttered by Ernest T. Bass in “Mountain Wedding.” And, bless my soul, my babies can quote every word, too. (“I’m a little mean, but I make up for it by being REAL healthy!”)

I sat on the Ramsey’s porch and ate the pig that Henry cooked and drank a bottled Coke and llaauugghheedd.

I sat outside on a lawn chair on the night of July 6th and swatted mosquitoes and hummed “Stars and Stripes Forever,” once it stopped raining long enough for the Annual Lake Friends Firework Extravaganza and Near-Death Experience.

I sat in the lake and pulled those ugly water weeds near the lake’s edge that have consumed our beach. It is a losing battle, but I’m not surrendering. (Remember the Alamo!)


I sat at the game table and lost Every Stinkin’ Time to my daughters at Rummikub. 

I sat in my brand-new Cracker Barrel rocker and listened to the rain and caught up in my book journal and confessed to my prayer journal.

I sat cross-legged on the floor and listened to my almost-2-year-old friend Wiley as his vocabulary exploded. (“Op’n dat door!” “Abby’s house!” “Hi, Bliblup!” “’weet Bunny, Emmy!” “’mere, Bi’cuit!”)

I sat in and gripped the edges of the passenger seat when The New Driver and I went to Dothan or Eufaula to run errands.

I sat backwards in the front of David’s boat as he cheerfully tubed his 3 long-legged, ponytailed, squealing daughters, and then I saw his demeanor change when the 2 young men climbed on the tube for their turn. 

“May I have your permission?” he asked me.

I said, “Have a good time.”

The orthopedic surgeon had glee in his eyes as he unleashed his pent up testosterone on my sunburned son and his black buddy.

“You were never in any mortal danger,” he told them afterwards.

I sat in a folding chair at a folding table covered with a plastic red-and-white-checked tablecloth at the Byrd family reunion and cherished Isom and Lovey’s descendants and tasted the love that they brought to the potluck.

sittin 2

I sat again on the old vinyl sofa on the porch and made Angie laugh (that’s easy) and touched her to make sure she was really there and smiled because she was.

IMG_5891 - Copy

I sat at the picnic table and tapped my toes to some priceless picking of “Pow’r in the Blood,” while surrounded by Beloveds who helped us celebrate Chuck’s 50 years, and pondered the blessing of loving them.


I sat on my king-sized bed and snuggled all 3 of my teenagers at bedtime and shared the same old stories about when they were little. They still let me stroke their hair and kiss the tops of their heads.

I sat in the bathtub and sipped my sweet tea and took my own sweet time.

I sat on the worn-out dock and marveled at the sunset, thankful to have Biscuit to protect me from the geese.

Occasionally, I stood up. But only to move to a different seat.