I Do Love to Plan a Trip

Mandy has the doctors’ blessings to keep playing; she’s learning how to protect her back and mitigate her pain. And so we’re launching ourselves, without the usual time to plan, into our summer adventures. Our friend Britt had planned to go with her on a two-week train-and-bike trip to northern New York, but they decided they weren’t up to the back-to-back 70-mile days that it would require. They’ve put their heads together and decided to go on a two-week rambling road trip to the Badlands, Corn Palace, Mount Rushmore, Glacier, and Arches. She’s gone to Tulsa for her three-week visit, leaving the rest of us to plan their trip. Britt’s planning the route and the side trips and the car campgrounds and the dayhikes they’ll do. Earlier this week, Britt tucked three pages of notes under my windshield wiper in the office parking lot.

2013 07 12 Britts Trip Notes for Blog Continue reading “I Do Love to Plan a Trip”

The Wedding in NOLA

Bryan’s little brother Michael got married.


I haven’t been involved the hustle that comes before weddings since getting ready for my own. It was fun to be caught in the edge of the whirlwind. As soon as we arrived in town, Mandy left again with the cluster of people headed to the wedding rehearsal. Bryan and I stayed behind to get the rehearsal dinner heated up and on the table – pans of pasta, french bread, salad, fruit, petits fours, brownies. And then there was the surge of people in the house after the rehearsal, more people than I’d imagined, stuffed into the big kitchen, laughing and talking, excited about being part of something happy. I got a plate of food and a Hurricane and retreated to a chair in the backyard.


At some point the next afternoon, Juliana and some people I didn’t know rushed into the house and took over the kitchen, with its big marble countertop, to make pralines. We went to do a few errands, an dress (black and white, but that’s fine) and about Aunt Dot’s dress (classy and gold-and-white, completely perfect.)


The day of the wedding was another whirlwind, though a somewhat more controlled one. We slept late and Bryan painted Mandy’s toenails. We scratched our heads over her tan lines, which she’d been working to smooth out, without much success. Julie did Mandy’s hair and makeup in the kitchen before running home to get herself and the baby ready to go. We fussed over Mandy’s dress and made sure her things were packed before sending her off for pictures.


I’d never seen Bryan’s dad or brothers in suits, and I was impressed by how handsome they looked. Michael met us at the car to open the door, a sudden gentleman escorting his grandma into the wedding hall. Kevin was there, and JD, dressed in dark suits and white vests and Chuck Taylors and boutonnières. It was a combination of classy and silly, and they all pulled it off very well. I was proud of each of them.


It was Mandy’s first bridesmaid gig, and she did a very nice job. Before the wedding, she helped Juliana get ready, and after the wedding she drank her officially-sanctioned Lemondrop without making a face. She looked lovely in the pictures and she danced with the little ones and she talked to the old people and she was gracious and thoughtful and she only ordered pineapple juice from the open bar and we were proud of her.


The rest of the weekend was good, spent in a sort of content wedding afterglow. On Saturday night, Mandy crashed on the couch next to Aunt Dot while Bryan and I went to supper at Deanie’s with my friend Cristina. We ate oysters and walked barefoot, far after dark, along the path at the edge of Lake Pontchartrain. On Sunday we had beignets for breakfast and took Emma to the bookstore. We ate lunch with Bryan’s grandma, and a sudden afternoon thunderstorm trapped us inside the seafood restaurant, and Mandy dumped an entire glass of ice water into her lap, and none of these details are really important but the total of all of them is.


Welcome to our family, Juliana.

Hey, Meat! Get In The Net!

When Bryan was a kid growing up just outside of New Orleans proper, his dad owned a small shrimp boat. He has lots of little-boy memories about waking up before dawn and trawling for shrimp. But the boat was gone long before Mandy and I were part of the family.

Louisiana shrimp boat at dawn
Louisiana shrimp boat at dawn (not the family boat).

Now Bryan’s dad’s (and brother) bought another little shrimp boat. He offered to take off work the Friday before Michael’s wedding so that Mandy and I could go trawling. Mandy was excited, because she loves shrimp and crab. “Hey meat! Get in the net!” She thought all this food-catching business was a great idea. Continue reading “Hey, Meat! Get In The Net!”

Crash and Burn

When Mandy was nine, she broke her right femur. Badly. We knew it had healed slightly longer than the other one. About a year ago, her lower back started to bother her. Her legs were still almost a centimeter different in length, so we added a lift to her shoes, and she felt a lot better.

Earlier this spring, Mandy’s back started to bother her again. At first we thought that she might need to be more consistent about wearing the lifted shoe, but when that didn’t solve the problem we took her in to the orthopedic doctor for another checkup. We got bad news: her damaged leg has continued to grow. Now the difference is between two and three centimeters. That’s quite a bit. Continue reading “Crash and Burn”

Laser Vision (Post-Op) (updated)



The drive home was fine except I was super tense and trying not to cry. I wasn’t upset at anything but the whole experience was very stressful. I’m not sure if I needed more Valium or needed to wait longer for it to kick in. The multiple attempts on my left eye weren’t confidence inspiring even though I knew we were losing suction before anything critical was taking place. Continue reading “Laser Vision (Post-Op) (updated)”

Laser Vision (The Operation)



Typical doctors office, we have a 9:30a appointment and don’t go back for almost an hour. Once in the back, they check to see which is my dominate eye (right) and give me a Valium. They proceed to put me in a hair net and place booties over my shoes. My forehead gets a sticker saying which type of surgery I’m having and in which eyes (custom, bladeless, both eyes). The surgeon then stops by to introduce himself and have one last look at my eyes in the microscope. He then walks me through the procedure and lets me know what he’ll be asking me to do. After that, it’s game time.

We get escorted to the surgical suite. Aly has a seat outside the window with a monitor that lets her watch what’s going on. I’m brought into the darkened suite and laid down on the reclined chair. Several times I’m asked about my name and birthdate and they make sure it matches up with the name tag I’m wearing on my head. I suppose this is to make sure they have the proper settings loaded into the computers based on the tests they’ve previously run on me. Continue reading “Laser Vision (The Operation)”

Laser Vision (Pre-Op)



I have been considering LASIK surgery for a number of years now, keeping an eye on my prescription to see if it was changing, asking various doctors if they thought I was a candidate and talking to friends that have had the procedure. Cost was always an obstacle, as was the fact that I only have two eyeballs. They tend to not heal themselves if you lose your vision.

I’ve worn glasses since forever and for the most part don’t mind them. They got in the way of playing catcher in Little League baseball but so did contacts due to the sand the catchers mask tends to pick up. My vision was such that I couldn’t get prescription Oakleys or other wraparound sunglasses for wearing while riding my bike and I made due with a pair of “old guy” prescription inserts for the Bolle sunglasses I wore. Continue reading “Laser Vision (Pre-Op)”

Snow Days

Mandy’s out of town, leaving Bryan and I with quiet days home together on holiday break. On Christmas afternoon, it began to rain, and slowly the rain started freezing on the roof and on the bushes and on the trees. And on the street. And then it was ice. And little pine-tree branches fell on our house. And then it was snow. It snowed for hours, and when we woke up the next morning, we had more snow than I can remember seeing since I moved to central Arkansas.

2012 12 26 Snowy Doghouse

Like a little child, I put on my boots and my rain pants and I went outside. But like the grownup my father taught me to be, I shoveled our sidewalk and then our driveway, throwing the white stuff off into the yard, making strips of piles of snow alongside the pavement. I love snow. I love looking at snow, and playing in snow. I even love shoveling snow. I love every single thing there is to love about snow. Continue reading “Snow Days”