Monday, July 29, 2013

6 parenting tips for the new royal parents

While the new royal baby, George Alexander Louis, has an awful lot going for him--a mouthful of name, money and his pick of fabulous castles to call home--his new parents may need some parenting tips, and I'm not sure they have the best role models to turn to.

In case they want to swim outside the Royal Gene Pool for parenting help, I'd like to offer up these tips from my dad, who's been a parenting King for longer than I can remember!

1. Love unconditionally. Dad loves cars a lot. This was brought home to me when in the months following me getting my driver's license I hit everything in sight--and many things that were out of sight--poles, the garage, an MG convertible driven by a nasty man in a mustard-colored suit smoking a huge, smelly cigar. And as hard as it was to call Dad and tell him I'd hit something else, it was never because I thought he'd stop loving me. Keep this in mind when little George throws the royal crest, just to see if it will break or teenage George plows the Rolls into the side of the palace.

2. Have a sense of humor. (see above!)

3. Step outside the castle every now and again. Develop your own interests. It will make you more interesting to your child--and others. Daddy flies planes ...

(even landing them in the occasional corn field)

and rides motorcycles--sometimes with Mom strapped to the back.

4. Sing. I grew up with country music coming out of the radio and out of my dad's mouth--which of course I hated. But now, I wouldn't trade the sound of my dad's singing voice in my head for anything. And, while I don't sing so much, I do love music and play in a band.

5. Plan to keep on parenting long after the prince is grown. Don't get too busy being king and queen to check in on your prince--and whoever else might come along. Kids never stop needing their parents.

6. Stay married if you can. I am grateful every day that my parents are still married to each other and still live in the house I grew up in. Buck recent royal family tradition and try to stick it out for the long haul.

Finally, Kate and Will, if you need a few more tips, check out these things my Dad taught me over the years. Things that continue to be important to this day. Congratulations on the new little prince! Try to raise him right!

And Happy Birthday, Dad--a prince of parenting!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Around-the-world architecture tour ...

... in 37 minutes or less!

This has been the summer of colossal, all-encompassing museum experiences. First up, was the ENTIRE HISTORY of mankind (not WOMANKIND, NO, NO, NO) in 45 minutes or less. Now, I've seen ALL the marvels of architecture -- from the Great Wall of China to St. Peter's Cathedral -- without leaving Cullman, Alabama.

Ave Maria Rock Grotto at St. Bernard Abbey, "the only Benedictine monastery of men in Alabama" (If you'd have asked me, I'd have said there were NO Benedictine monasteries in Alabama, of men or women or even armadillos. How did they get past the Baptists?) "consists of 125 small stone and cement structures, the handiwork of creative genius (or obsessive fruitcake) Brother Joseph Zoetl, a monk at the abbey for almost 70 years."

The quote is from the flyer you get when you visit the Grotto--expect for the parenthetical comments. Those are mine. And it pretty much sums up the works, but it does nothing to capture the JOY the whole experience brought. It's like a much more orderly version of Georgia folk artist Howard Finster's Paradise Gardens.

Just take a look at these incredible representations--created from the images on postcards, because Brother Joe didn't travel, so they have no backsides. That also helps explain the bizarre relative scale of some of the creations. Like this one--who knew the Lizard Condo was so much bigger than the Great Wall?

They are all made of found and donated materials, like marbles (Brother Joe's lost ones, perhaps), shells and toilet parts.

To give you an idea of scale, that orange blob in the center left is the Abbey Tabby sitting on the roof of St. Peter's in the display called Roman Group.

I loved the leaning Tower of Pisa, a tiny structure stuck up at the top right of the Roman group like an afterthought.

This one was like a cross between the roadside shrines you see all over Greece and the fortune tellers at state fairs. It looked like if you put a quarter in, Jesus would lay your whole future out for you.

It's not all famous buildings and religious themes, though. Brother Joe had a soft spot for fairy tales. This is the Temple of the Fairies. I love the little bitty pipe organ in the lower right.

And here, Hansel & Gretal visit the Temple of the Fairies. This time a dragon, that looked a lot like a slobbering and happy dog, was literally chained up under the temple.

Go visit Brother Joseph and his creations. It is an unbelievable, fun time!

And when you're finished and starving, hit All Steak--who knew there were two places in Cullman a tourist would want to go?--for their orange rolls and whatever else is the special that day. YUMMY!!!!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The end of the convertible era?

After 15 years, I traded my 17-year-old Mustang convertible this week for the more grown up, fuel-efficient (boring) car sitting beside her.

It was a tough decision. I loved that Mustang, but her parts were going bad and dropping off. It was time to put her out to pasture.

This is my baby being towed in the spring--just the first of several times this year she had to visit the garage in an ambulance.

She was ready to relax, get out of traffic, have a nice cold quart of oil on the veranda. Funny how she got so old and I didn't! :)

She carried small, squealing children, who now at 6 feet+, have literally outgrown her. She carried saxes and costumery and dogs and beach chairs. And she carried me; offering a ride home in the open air after a long day in a cube filled with artificial ligh

Enjoy your rest, old girl! And thanks for 15 years of joy.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Celebrate Your Independence!

Happy 4th from the Seed & Feed Marching Abominable!

If you look closely, to the right of the fabulously tall stars and stripes hat and just behind the clarinet player in the bright blue shirt, I'm the sax player in the red tutu.

I had no idea I could play Stars and Stripes Forever that FAST!

Have a Stars and Stripey Day!

Monday, July 01, 2013

This must be a happy place

I started a new job today. It seems like I've said that WAY too many times in the last few years. A by-product of the down economy is how I explain it to myself and anyone else who'll listen.

But, my new job, has these great sculptures outside the door. Look:

It feels like a happy place, after just one day. Here's hoping it stays that way!