Monday, February 26, 2007

Mississippi Unplugged

Back home again, snug in my Denver home/office existence but I'm still stubbornly clinging to the serenity of the past week. I hadn't had a real vacation in so long, I'd forgotten its value – eagerly following the daily trail of fun and whimsy and NO WORK.

Nearly every morning, I was awoken by the sweet urgings of my three-year-old nephew, Robbie, who was sent down below – where they keep the edgier aunties – to get me on my feet. It often went something like this:

Robbie (softly): "Aunt Hedder, you got to wake up."
Me: "Zzzzmph? Heeeeeey. Zzzzzz. Heeeey, sweeepee, wazzup?"
Robbiereferring to my butterfly eye pillow): "They told me not to be ascared of your mask."
Me: "Howzat? Mmmmmgoodforyoupunkin. Zzzzzzzz."
Robbie: "Aunt Hedder. Your da last one."

And so on. By the end of the week, he got more forceful, pulling back covers, rocking my immense form and pulling me out of the sack by the appedages. Honestly, it was the sweetest alarm clock I've ever had and I'm missing it immensely.

Other highlights include:

Ripping it up on Friday night with my sisters, Julie and MaryAnn, at Mosaic, a tapas bar in downtown Ocean Springs with belly dancers, hot Latin men and yes, hookahs. So much dancing, drinking and enlightening those around us – include a batch of lovely Air Force cadets – to the joys of inhaling fruit-flavored smoke. Hard to believe we were in Mississippi.

Heading out for a day of fishing (or in my case, photographing) on the open waters of the Gulf. Captain Robert went way, way out and tied us up to a triple oil rig, a massive structure that awakened some bizarre longings in me. (I get that way around large amounts of steel – you should have seen me trying to contain myself touring a Navy ship. It wasn't the sailors, trust me.) Anyway, the Cap'n, his first mate, Ricky, and sister Julie put eight or so lines in the water. My brother pulled in a beautiful Red Fish which he was immensely proud of - see above. (It was, in fact, the only time my modest brother said: "Heather, take a picture of me!"

Sadly, the Fish Feds soon came along and made him throw it back. Seems we'd traveled so far from land that we ended up in Federal waters where the Reds are an illegal catch. (After Chef Paul Prudhomme had caused a sensation in the early 80s with his Blackened Red Fish, there was a feeding frenzy so now they are protected.) The Fed was actually quite nice about it as he could have easily confiscated the boat and fined Captain Robert $5,000. Still, when my brother asked politely if he could not fish at all in FedWaters the officer guessed, "Well, not unless you're the President or something … " which caused me to launch into a tirade, "Don't even get me started on that guy …. !" Julie quickly stepped in to calm me – a skill she picked up being married to Kris, a fellow patriot also known for political tirades. After we watched the Feds motor off and watch the silvery gleam of the fish float away, my brother mumbled, "Well, at least we got a photo of it" to which I replied, "Can we go back to the State of Mississippi now?"

Went through a box full of old family photos with my father. He would tell me who it was, where it was taken and guess at the year and I would scrawl this info on the back. "Well, I'll be damned, that's me with my first hunting rifle … And this here is your great-grandparents, Joe and Gertie Pease, probably in South Dakota … and look! Your grandmother as a young girl, just look at that bathing suit – ha!" Delightful but it also made me painfully aware that time keeps marching on, ready or not.

When I began to learn the guitar, I stated very clearly that my goal was to play well enough to impress drunk people; congratulations to me, I have reached that point. The first night, the Sisters and I got completely blotto and I broke the instrument. With drunk folks, two chords are all you really need, though I did have a special song I'd rehearsed. I played "Jambalaya" by Hank Williams in honor of MaryAnn, the fiery redhead who married my brother and brought this new Southern experience into my life. Although I really fucked it up, she didn't care. She started bawling and insisted on video taping the performance again. I'm hoping she was drunk enough to have left the lens cap on.

Drinking perfectly made-up high class cocktails created by Julie, the world's most skilled home bartender. I remember something with lemons, limes, ice, Cointreau, tequila all served in a chilled martini glass.

Getting my baggage 24 hours after my arrival, after it had enjoyed untold adventures in Nashville - Robbie became obsessed with this and would mention it randomly throughout the week. One conversation:

Robbie: "That man delivered your bag so you can change clothes."
Heather: "That's right! So now I don't have to wear Aunt Julie's underwear."
Robbie (sternly correcting me): "Girls don't wear underwear!"
Heather: "Um, really? Who you been hanging out with, Robbie?"
Robbie: "Girls wear panties."
Heather: "Ahhhhhhh … yes, of course."

The whole week led up to a day/evening at The Farm, yet another extension of the Clisby Empire out in the Mississippi woods. RMAC has enough acreage to hold a barn, a cooking shed and lots of toys with wheels – tractors, trucks and best of all, the coolest little dune buggy that goes over EVERYTHING. Robert had cleared enough trails – and sand pits for burning out – that there were plenty of places to rip around. They invited up some friends (who brought their ATVs) and we ate crawfish, drank beer, shot rifles, played horseshoes, barbecued sausage and just hung out. Later, we made a beautiful campfire and told ghost stories. The half-moon was gorgeous and I picked at my guitar. It was a beautiful, perfect night and I felt immensely grateful.

Vacation's over but that lucky feeling remains. Gotta find a way to keep it with me always.


Flea's Thoughts said...

I want a vacation like that and your alarm clock is too adorable. Can he sub for my two wonderful doggie alarm clocks that decided they would rather sleep in this morning than get mommy up for work LOL :)

ClizBiz said...

Oh no! Maybe you need a third doggie to play bad cop ... ?

Kath said...

Hedder...I like that name. Get used to it!

Welcome back honey...glad you had a blast :)

Howard said...

Congrats on your guitar prowess. And glad you're home!

hotdrwife said...

Hey Hedder,

My brother would be dually impressed by the fish catch your brother made.

And I will demand to hear the guitar playing sooner rather than later.

Glad to have you home!

PS I have a Loaner 3 yo in case you ever really get lonesome for a wake up call. Mine usually start with, "Mommy, I STINKY POTTY!!!" - and so the day begins.

ClizBiz said...

Calm down everyone - Hedder only plays her gee-tar for drunk people so prepare to be lit.

Me and Bug are kindred spirits - I like to begin the day with Stinky Potty, if all goes well ...

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