24 April 2007

My Terabithia

Did you have a magical place when you were a child? I had a few. The first was in my backyard, where a huge forsythia bush (actually, bushes, I think) created pockets underneath its branches. Those became rooms for playing house, places to hide from other neighborhood kids, and a spot to tell secrets to my best friend Heather.

My other two spots were both at my grandparents' place. I've been thinking of one of them for a month now, ever since my family went back to the small town of Palmersville, Tennessee, to bury my grandmother next to my grandfather, near the farm where he was raised and which he farmed after his retirement from the Air Force. I used to spend several weeks each summer with my grandparents...a city girl plopped down in the middle of the country with fields and woods galore to explore. For several years there was a small "island" formed by the diverted water of the creek that ran across the road from my grandparents' house. That island became all sorts of adventurous places for me, as I considered myself "Peter Pan." I knew every inch of that little piece of land, before time and water, and I'm pretty sure some ditch digging on the part of a neighbor farmer, took that little island away.

The next year I set about finding my next "spot," and soon came upon a place that truly did give me a feeling of awe and magic. On the edge of a field behind my grandparents' house I found a locust grove surrounding a small pond. Even in the heat of a summer afternoon it was cool under those trees. And unlike most of the woods, there was little brush under the branches, making it a perfect place to sit and think, throw stones into the pond, or have a picnic lunch. I remember one spring break I shared my spot with a friend, and we played up there for days. I had named it "Terabithia," after the book Bridge to Terabithia, by Katharine Patterson, because this was my place for imaginary creatures and daring stories.

Even after I outgrew those imaginary adventures, that locust grove held a spell over me. While I began spending more time at my grandparents' house riding the four-wheeler and racing across the fields rather than tromping through the woods, I would still always stop and wander through my Terabithia, and smile. Sadly, I can't remember if I stopped by that magical spot when I was last visiting my grandparents' house in 2001, helping them pack up their few belongings and move to Louisville. What I do know is that when Mom and I drove past the farm last month, the locust grove had been cut down by that neighbor who now owns my grandfather's old farm.

A little spot of magic, gone. Except in my memory and imagination, where Terabithia, and places like it, can flourish forever.

23 April 2007

Blast Off to Derby!

The 2007 Kentucky Derby Festival has officially started. This past Saturday was "Thunder Over Louisville," an all-day airshow followed by a 30 minute fireworks extravaganza. For the first time ever, I experienced Thunder live and in-person, and Scott and I had a blast!

I'm not much of one for huge crowds, so the idea of spending an entire day with 800,000 other individuals watching an air show and fireworks has always had a downside for me. Particularly the idea of port-a-pots without toilet paper! But for the last 2 years Scott and I have been talking about doing Thunder the "right" way, i.e. paying to go somewhere with access to real bathrooms and a roof over our heads in case it's rainy or cold. It was fitting that we'd go to Thunder together because we actually starting dating the night before Thunder in 2005, so this was our 2nd anniversary. So we paid for the right to park in the Kentucky Center for the Arts and have use of that facility. Behind the KCA is the old Belvedere lawn, and we set ourselves up out there, enjoying the 75+ degree temperatures and nice breeze off of the river.

The airshow was a lot more fun than I thought it would be. It was over 5 hours long, so we were entertained the entire afternoon. Scott knows a great deal about planes and helicopters, too, which certainly helped make it interesting. In fact, hearing him talk made me wish I'd paid more attention and asked more questions of my maternal grandfather, a career Air Force pilot, when he was alive. We ran into several friends of mine, and Scott "texted" with one of his friends that was somewhere in the crowd. But mostly we just enjoyed the show. It was a good way to celebrate two years together.

So in two weeks Louisville will be in the spotlight as the Run for the Roses captivates our attention on that beautiful first Saturday in May. Lots of native Louisvillians sort of roll their eyes at the Derby, because the actual day is really for all the visitors and fancy horse people who can afford the luxury suites on Millionaires Row. It's the two weeks leading up to the Derby that are for us local folks. But I've always loved the Derby, from the silly pre-Derby "bed races" for charity to the actual race itself. It's a beautiful time of the year to be in my city (as some friends who haven't visited in years may have a distant memory of the beautiful weather and the taste of the mint julips), no matter how you take in the race itself.

Anyway, check out the website, read up on the horses who may be in the race of their lifetime, and let me know who you'll be placing a bet on (whether real or imaginary).

19 April 2007

Hannibal Lecter would be proud

"Whimsy" is one of my favorite words, both the way it sounds and the definition. I first fell in love with the word while reading Thomas Harris's Hannibal, the sequel to Silence of the Lambs. Harris must have had a thing for the word, too, because "whimsy" showed up everywhere in the book (which, considering the story, is rather remarkable)! I remember discussing that odd circumstance with my friend Brad, and saying that it was about the best thing I got from the story, because I didn't like the way Harris developed the relationship between Clarice Starling and Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

But I digress. My point is, ever since then, I've been on the look out for whimsy, both the word and the experience. Maybe that's because I'm not naturally a very whimsical person. I'm very grounded, very logical, very predictable. I'm a natural born planner...tell me a deadline and watch me go at it. When you're organizing your calendar months in advance and setting one year and five year goals (which I have), that doesn't leave a lot of room for whimsy to wander in and shake things up.

I think my love of e.e. cummings's poetry is a bit of whimsy, for cummings is by his very nature whimsical. I think that's why I find so much humor in a clever bumper sticker, too, even if I don't agree with the message. And the whimsical nature of it is one of the extra bonuses of taking belly dancing - it's so out of character for me. You could have knocked my Mom over when she found out I was taking these lessons. Scott didn't quite know what to say when I first told him I was thinking about signing up for classes.

Whimsy came again today and surprised me with an opportunity to spend some time with dear friends in an interesting and relaxing place. Completely out of the blue. So for my friend who extended the invitation, thank you!

It's amazing how much whimsy you can find in the day to day if you are just looking for it.

17 April 2007

An Egyptian Shimmy

Despite a chronic shortage of sleep, I woke up feeling pretty darn good this morning. The reason for this is that last night I had my first belly dancing class in 4 months or more. I took a 6-week series last fall with my housemate Lisa and we both really liked it. But then a combination of finances (i.e., Christmas) and the legislative session meant that I couldn't take any more classes for awhile. But there I was last night, shimmying away and loving it.

I'd wanted to take belly dancing classes for awhile, and I'm so glad I finally signed up for them. I know those of you who know me well are finding it a very funny (and possibly frightening) image. I mean, I definitely don't have a dancer's body, and then there's the fact that I'm the biggest klutz I know. "Grace" is not my middle name! But I really love it. It makes me move my body in ways I never dreamed I could. It's a good work out too - I'm always sweating at the end and I wake up the next morning feeling muscles ache in a good way.

But don't worry, you won't see me someday with a hip scarf on and zills on my fingertips, dancing away in front of people. This is just for me and just for fun!

16 April 2007

Job Joys

Scott just called me and gave me the good news that he's accepted a job offer with the Kentucky State Police doing facility security work. This has been a 4 month process from the time he took the state test to qualify even to be considered for the job, through a short interview about the actual job, to a state background check, then a very long interview where he was grilled about his background (financial, personal, legal, military, etc.) and including an FBI background check, and finally, an offer. Whew! What fun.

I tried to warn him that getting a job with state government takes forever. I don't think he believed me at first, but he did by the end of the process. The good thing is that once you're in the system, it's remarkably easy to move around if you choose to do so. I'm just glad Scott will be able to do a less physical job than he has, and one that has lots of potential for future advancement. It doesn't hurt that he'll be working in Frankfort with me, either!

13 April 2007

New Frontiers

Well now, I think I'm just a little freaked out by this blog thing. I've been pondering the idea of starting one for a couple months now, and asked for the thoughts of my boyfriend and a friend. But I still didn't expect to actually set up a blog today, much less writing a blog post. I've no real purpose for this blog other than to let friends of mine know what's going on in my small world. I regularly check the blogs of a couple of friends, one of whom I never actually talk to on the phone, and very rarely even email. But I get to find out what's going on in her world by reading her posts, and it makes it easy when I do see her every couple of years to know what she's been up to.

Though I really like politics and spiritual issues, neither are meant to be the focus of this website. For one thing, writing too much about politics (at least from a partisan perspective) could very well get me fired. But also because I'm not really interested in writing a blog and expounding upon some of my "Deep Thoughts." I mean, really, I don't think my thoughts on political, social, ore religious issues are all that interesting to the larger public, assuming anyone who doesn't know me personally ever wanders upon this blog. Not to say I'll never mention any of these things, just that they aren't the purpose of this little spot on the Internet.

So here I am, trying to figure out what exactly to write about, instead. Talk about intimidating! I guess I'll talk about my life, my friends and family, my great city and state (Louisville, KY), and anything else that comes to mind. Bear with me as I figure all of this out. I promise, there will be more stuff on here, eventually (like a picture or two). In the meantime, thanks for paying attention!