Just in the nick of time

The early part of this week was hot for this time of year in Ottawa. All over twitter, I was seeing the #Hottawa hashtag in use as everyone tried to make it through the days without melting.

I had a few interesting conversations because I don’t like the heat, yet I’m from Florida. Born and raised. How could I not like the heat? Well, I just never have liked hot weather. I’m a moderate weather girl, preferring the comfortable temps of a spring and fall to the extremes that come with summer and winter. Hot weather reminds me of the many years without air conditioning in houses or cars, which is miserable in Florida, let me tell you. Heat rash, itchy sweat, lethargy. Heat drains me much the same way that being in a crowded room does to an introvert (I might know about that from personal experience too).

The worst summer, by far, was 1998. Perhaps because I was old enough to actually remember and document it. Perhaps because it was just a memorable year in general. Perhaps because it was just so hot it was burned into my brain. Or maybe that was just the year - for better or worse - I finally started making decisions for myself.

One decision I made was to go with my best friend to visit her father and step-mom on the east coast. To get there, we had to drive east from Tally over to US Route 1 around Jacksonville and down the coast to their town. This wasn’t the quick way, but the faster route was closed thanks to the rash of forest fires that year. 

The trip from Tallahassee to Jacksonville was fairly uneventful, probably because we left at approximately 2:00am-ish. Our methods of staying awake were questionable, but effective. What we weren’t prepared for was the drive down US Route 1. The smoke from the fires was so thick in places we had to slow to a crawl. The smell permeated the car and I’m not sure that car was ever the same again.

The most alarming part of the trip was the charred forest we drove by for miles, only to come to a lush green section that went on for just a quarter of a mile (if that) before we saw a gas station.

After that sight, much of the trip is a blur. I don’t think I remember anything about our return home. But I will never forget the sight of smoke, charred wood, and the visible evidence of just-in-the-nick-of-time work that was done to keep a bad situation from getting exponentially worse.


This post was based on the prompt “Share a memorable road trip story!” from Mama Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writer’s Workshop.

Toddler Talk: The things I don't want to forget

I used to have a pretty good memory. I could tell you my schedule for weeks in advance, recite everything I had going on and know when I was free or not free. Now I have trouble remembering what I have to do 5 minutes from now. I really can’t say it’s mommy brain, because my memory was getting bad before I ever had a child. 

I’m also not very good at documenting things. I tried scrapbooking years ago and I enjoyed it here and there, spending hours and hours making things just so. But because I’m not really that good at it, I lost interest. Finding the time to do it these days would be far too challenging anyway.

Thankfully, I have my blog to document things in a way that I love. And now is the perfect time to document some of Brandon’s journey. He’s starting to be more verbal, saying longer sentences and trying out new words on a regular basis. I don’t bother counting the words he has at this point (actually I never did that at all). He is at the point in his development where he mimics Matt and I on a regular basis. Sometimes it’s one word we say that he likes. Others it’s a whole sentence he tries out. Either way, I love hearing my little guy talk, especially since he has such delightful ways of expressing himself.

Cold blueberries - and raspberries!

Brandon says…
He really means…
play green
play Super Mario Galaxy 2
want song
put on Coldplay’s Viva La Vida (he’s been bred with good taste) ;) 
out (and vice versa)
down (and vice versa)
no okay
yes no problem
cold blueberries
frozen blueberries 


Some of the words and phrases are clearly things that we’ve said and he’s picked up on. “No okay” or “nokay” comes from us saying “No? Okay.” He now thinks that is how you say no.

The worst two words in the English language

“Hold on”. They seem so innocuous, don’t they? For Brandon, those two little words mean that he’s not going to get what he wants RIGHT NOW. Those two little words incite screaming and tears and angst the likes of which you’ve never seen. And for some reason, Matt and I keep forgetting! So, we say them. And, as the words flow across my tongue flying out into the peaceful air, I know I’ve made a grave error. Because those two little words are all it takes for veloci-Brandon to come out of hiding. Fortunately, calm can usually be restored if you give veloci-Brandon what he wants (almost) RIGHT NOW.

What are the things you want to remember about your child’s current stage?

Southern Comfort: 10 things I miss about "home"

Home for me is no longer Tallahassee, Florida and it hasn't been for quite a long time, though it took a while for me to really feel at home in Ottawa after I moved here. Even so, I still refer to Tally as "home" - after all, that is where I spent the majority of my first 23 years of life. In November, I celebrate my tenth anniversary of living in the Great White North and after all this time there are still a lot of things I miss from my hometown apart from the family and friends still there. In no particular order:

Sonny's BBQ - Many BBQ connoisseurs would say that Sonny's isn't "real" BBQ. That's fine with me; I'm not as picky as the BBQ connoisseurs (Paul!). The thing is, it's really good! It's not all that healthy - most "southern" food isn't. Everyone who goes to Sonny's knows which sauce they prefer. For me, it's original (now called mild). I love the sauce so much that I've thought about ordering it to be shipped up here. They charge way too much, so I have to settle for buying a few jars when I'm in town.

Simply beautiful. White azaleas have always reminded me of how a dusting of snow looks sitting on bushes.Azalea bushes - In Ottawa, many people line their yards with cedar hedges, which is nice. But, in my humble opinion, they simply don't hold a candle to the yards in Tallahassee that are lined with Azaleas. Every March/April as springtime brings everything back to life, these bushes bloom in brilliant shades of pink, white and magenta - all over town (white is my personal favorite). When I'm in Tallahassee, springtime is my favorite season. 

Springtime Tallahassee - Since spring is my favorite season in Florida, I love the Springtime Tallahassee festival. My family went to the parade together every year. During marching band season, I was on the Flag Corps - good times!My older brother was in marching band, so we would watch for him and enjoy the floats and other parade features. When I was in high school, I got to march in the parade too and I loved it. Once we finished the parade route, we'd rush to see the rest of the parade and then check out what was going on in the downtown market that was set up.

Andrew's - My first restaurant job was in 1996/1997 working at Andrew's North - a restaurant that the owner opened during extensive renovations to the downtown location. Working at Andrew's North, I developed a taste for good food. Seriously, I ate at that place all the time. I try to go back at least once every time I'm in Tallahassee to get a Haight Ashbury - my favorite sandwich ever, which (last time I was there a few years ago) was still being served at Andrew's Bar & Grille. 

All things FSU - I attended Florida State University, as did both my parents and my Grandma C went there in the days when it was Florida State College for Women (FSCW). Our family are all fans of the football and baseball teams, so I suppose it's a family tradition. Go Seminoles!

Grits - Many people in the north have never had grits, a few have and like them, a few have and don't like them. If you've never seen them, think about Cream of Wheat, but larger grains because it's made from ground up corn, instead of wheat. You also don't sweeten them - they're usually a salted side dish. Mostly, grits are a breakfast staple, served with bacon, eggs and toast. But cheese grits are a favorite when we have fish fries. Fried catfish with cole slaw, cheese grits and hush puppies is a winning combination! One of these days I'll actually remember to bring a box back across the border with me.

Good ol' Southern hospitality - What I think of first when people talk about Southern hospitality is food. Southerners have food at just about every event - minor, major and everything in between. When you're invited to someone's house, the automatic response is typically, "what can I bring?" This is Old Bainbridge Road, one of 9 canopy roads designated as such by the County Commission. Source: Tallahassee Daily PhotoThe big joke at church was that it wasn't a real church function unless food was served. We had donuts Sunday mornings, dinner Sunday evenings, Wednesday night church supper and many potlucks at varying times. Food is central to the culture of Southerners and their hospitality, so it's been an adjustment for me to invite people over to my house and NOT put out food because it isn't generally expected here during non-mealtimes. (Actually, I still do it most of the time anyway. I can't help it.)

Canopy Roads - They're beautiful and a great source of pride in Florida's capital city. I haven't noticed any in and around the areas of Ottawa that I frequent - yet. I used to drive to work every day on canopy roads. It was a great way to start the day and a great way to end it. I even liked driving them at night, even though some sections can be spooky, as pointed out by this Tallahassee blogger/photographer.

St. George Island in the Gulf of Mexico.The Beach - I'm about as pale a person as you can find, so I don't attempt to tan and I don't swim in the ocean after an unfortunate incident with a jellyfish 18 years ago (I got stung pretty bad). But I LOVE sitting on the beach. If you're an early riser, you can walk to the beach and sit in perfect peace with turquoise water and white sand all around - and practically no people. One of our favorite beaches to visit was St. George Island, just two hours away.

Independence Day/Fourth of July - The happenin' place to be in Tallahassee (at least if you wanted to see the legal fireworks) was Tom Brown Park. There were musical acts, entertainment for kids and sometimes we'd sneak to the old drive-in theatre stage area to play. (We weren't supposed to be near there most years because of its proximity to the fireworks setup.) We ate hot dogs, cotton candy, listened to renditions of "God Bless the USA". When the Star Spangled Banner was sung, the entire crowd would stand with their hands on their hearts, united in support for a country we loved.

Hopefully, as the years go by, I'll get the chance to share each of these things with my son so that he'll come to know this piece of his roots and maybe even feel at "home" there.