Thursday, January 30, 2014

Five Lights From Home

On Tuesday my day started as usual except for the “not walking.” For the last weeks, the weather here in the South has been cold, and even though I have bundled up and made some walks, when the temperature falls into the 20s and even lower with wind chill, I conclude, “Eh, I don't have to. I don't wanna.”

So, I don't.

In the early stages of a kitchen renovation, [not time for that story now], I had asked my sister early Tuesday morning to ride with me to look at two slabs of granite that David and I had narrowed down as choices for our counter tops.

At 10:00 am, my sister called and said, “It's snowing. Do you still want to go?” I, a veteran of “burn” stories on snow predictions from teaching school and wishing for a snow day, thought, “if it comes,[rolling my eyes a little], most weather reports indicated it would be 'this afternoon.'” We're used to hyped up local weather as news ---- and most of us take it with a grain of salt. No pun intended.

We headed to Kennesaw, about ten miles northeast of home.

As the snow fell outside Atlanta Stoneworks, the granite place, my sister and I took our time evaluating the two pieces of granite. We chatted up the owners, a family business, and found them charming and hilarious. As we got in the car around 11:15 to come back, she said, “Are you still meeting Celia for lunch? I wouldn't. It's getting bad out here.”

I called Celia, who was already at the restaurant, and I said, “I'm game if you are.” We chose to proceed with our lunch date. We always have trouble finding a time to get together.

After all, it couldn't be that bad – it was coming “this afternoon”; I had plenty of time.

Meanwhile, it continued to snow.

I left for the restaurant, which is located about nine miles from my house, and had a great lunch and visit with Celia. We talked books, family, books, friends in common, Downton Abbey, and books.

At 12:30, David called me on my cell and said, “I'm leaving work. How much longer for you?”

I said, “I'll leave in a few minutes.”

Thirty minutes later, I left the restaurant. I had taken a potty break since, you know, it might take me a little longer to get home.

It was snowing.

I cavalierly wished the restaurant staff a parting “I hope you get home soon” as I confidently walked to my car, looked at it covered in snow, and then saw the traffic on the main thoroughfare in front of me already jammed up. I called David, who was still sitting in traffic near our house [he works about five miles from home], and said, “I'm heading home.” He told me to stick to the main roads, and that he would see me soon.

My car windows were covered in snow and a kind of icy slush, and as I backed out, I couldn't see that well. I cranked up the max defroster on turbo and pulled from the parking lot. I took a right on a lightly congested road, but as I headed south and home, traffic began to thicken.

Snow continued to fall, and as if someone had yelled “Fire,” cars began to enter the main roads of my route home. I drove about one mile – and then – the gridlock became real.

In my car on a side road near Barrett Parkway, I sat and inched forward, and I waited. Waited. Waited. Waited. Waited. On the car's digital clock, it turned from 1:45 to 2:15 to 2:45.

Meanwhile, David called. It had taken him 45 minutes to get home, and he had heard the news and knew that road conditions and traffic had turned bad quickly.

“Where are you?”

Me: I'm trying to get on Barrett Parkway. It's stacked up. I mean like I've never seen it.
David: Just stay the course. Listen to the radio.

I rarely turn on the radio, but I did – I turned to our local News station WSB and began to hear the horror stories of Atlanta's snowy, traffic mess. Their advice “stay where you are.” I was in my car in front of a car dealership. Didn't seem like a “stay where you are” kind of place. Holiday Inn. No. Testosterone. More cars. Yes.  So, I stayed exactly where I was. 

In my car. On the road.

I was still fifteen cars from turning onto Barrett Parkway, and Barrett Parkway was a parking lot.

The Southern courtesy and politeness of allowing people to pull out from a business in front of you, or with their blinker flashing in front of you to change lanes, or even leave space for a person who needed to turn left into the opposite directions was still intact.

Everyone wanted to get home. We were all in the same situation.

My sister reminded me I had my camera -- I took this picture after five o'clock and on my fourth hour.

At 3:00, I made a right onto Barrett Parkway and began what would be another six and a half hour trip to get home.

Every fifteen minutes, David, worried and frantic, called me to check on me. He couldn't believe it when I told him that I hadn't moved since he called last. As the hours passed and I moved at the rate of a mile an hour, I told him the landmarks I saw. I'm in front of the Wells Fargo. Carrabba's. Car Max. The church.

I set small goals:

I'll be home at 6.
Only fifteen more light changes, and I'll cross this intersection.
If I can just get to the next light.
Five lights from home.
I'll be home at 7. 8. 9. Please 9.

The situation was in God's hands. David and friends of mine prayed for me. I had plenty of gas. My body went into Survivor Mode – I didn't have to go to the bathroom. I wasn't hungry. I wasn't scared. No one slid around me. My car was warm. The time passed. The people in the cars around me were all on good behavior. David kept telling me that he would walk to meet me. Enveloped in love and prayer, I felt strong – and knew that everyone in the cars around me was suffering in the same way. Misery loves company, and I had it. :-)

 This is Barrett Parkway near Old 41. 

Also near 0ld 41- I'm about three miles from home.

At one point, this guy pulled up next to me. 
I was like, really? Snakes?
Don't slide into me, Satan.

 I should have taken pictures of this early on to show how slowly we moved.
 5:40 PM, Trip counter 44.9.

 6:30 PM, Trip counter 45.3.
 8:36 PM, 47.6 trip counter
After this shot, I was over it. LOL.

We kept inching forward.

I knew that it was a time thing. I would eventually make it home.

At one point, the traffic didn't move for almost an hour. A tractor trailer had gotten stuck on a small incline, and a car had stalled in a lane beside it. The mass of cars in the three lanes eventually figured out how to get around it.

We crept on.

When I finally turned into my subdivision at 9:25 PM, my car made it almost to my house. We live on a hill, and I gassed it to make it, but it didn't. David came out to meet me, and we moved the car to the bottom of the hill. Others in my neighborhood who lived near me had left their cars too parked in all kinds of ways on the incline.

I thank God for my safe return.

Today, the neighbors met with shovels on that hill in our “hood “ and together we scraped away the ice and snow so that the abandoned cars could be moved to the safety of garages and driveways. A sense of community and camaraderie reigned.

We each had our travel stories of how long it took to get home, and even though mine was one of the longest for some reason, we couldn't top the stories that have been all over the news of people who spent the night on the side of the road, had been on the road for 17 hours, or walked miles in flip flops, or delivered a baby on the side of I-285.

My nephew Andrew, who just took a job with 911, asked my sister after hearing my story: “What on Earth was Aunt Harriett doing out in this mess? She's retired.”

Good question, Andrew.

And, none of your beeswax. :-)

ETA: My friend Margaret Kirkland sent me this ...

Friday, January 17, 2014

Time Flies, and Fruit Flies Like a Banana

Who has time to blog? Not I. I've been busy with it all.

What is it?

I have no clue, but I've been doing stuff.

Christmas came and went.

 I took no photos because we all look the same except for Lukas! the grand phew, who is a little past the age of one. He is bi-lingual, crawls like a dervish, and opens any unattended cabinet in a sixty mile radius. 

I actually don't know why I didn't take photos -- it's probably because others have better cameras -- Bryan, my brother Hunter, and I was too busy being entertaining. Except not.

We did the usual -- ate, played games, ate some more, worked puzzles,  and stared at our, hand- held electronics.
FTR: I don't really have a hand-held electronic. I stared though.

The puzzling level met insanity as they completed five puzzles in five days. 
Manic times!!!!!
We [they] had mad games of  Bootlegger, Telephone Pictionary, Quiddler, and Quirkle. We [I?] about busted a gut playing Telephone Pictionary because my brother Kenneth can't draw, and he made the clue of Petticoat Junction look like "when worlds collide." It's also hard if one is "culturally illiterate" as I was with  "Furbie." I was like -- what is a Furbie? I still don't know what it is, and I refuse to file it in my very full hard drive of a brain.

I wish I had saved some of those drawings; they were hilarious.
My nephew James drew a mean Iron Curtain btw. :-)

We had our photo made, minus brother-in-law Ralph, and the number of twenty- two seems kind of daunting. Every time we get together, I think of how proud my parents would be to know that we have kept this tradition alive for over sixty years. 

 the cousins with the "others"

 the whole clan -- and the Fab Four
Little 'phew at the bottom...

While hanging out during Andrew and Kayla's wedding in September, my nephew Glenn, the Georgia Tech student, almost grad [May 2014], came up with this clever but crazy numbering system for the family .

 We [someone -- Angie and Kayla] came up with the idea of a t-shirt  and -- "Welcome to the Family -- please take a number"  became the mantra.
{at least it's polite}

I'm number four, btw.

Now it's the middle of January.
Time flies, and fruit flies like a banana.

ETA: My sister and I have taken on this huge project. We [she really] are in the process of scanning all of the family photos. The collection belonged mainly to my mother's family, her parents and sisters, but also included those taken by my parents ....

We have some cool old ones --

My maternal grandparents, Will and Mima [Jemima], back row left;
 bottom left -- Aunt Eleanor, Aunt Ava, and unknown suitor.
circa 1938

Margaret, Mother, Sally, Kenneth, and me, circa 1984.
My sister and I obviously in competition for biggest hair.
 I won. Bwha.

Good blogs to come -- I've got picture material.

Oh, and my nephew Chapman? He had my name for Christmas, and he took my blogs from the last six years that are about my family and made them into a book. It was such a sweet gift, and he spent so much time laying it out and getting it perfectly done. Love him for that!!!!

 That's all I got.