Sister Trip

A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking. ~Earl Wilson, American journalist

The pressures had been building for some time.

An aging parent. A fur-kid with arthritic hips. A new laptop that I didn’t have time to set up properly. A work-in-progress that was going nowhere, thanks to some web design projects demanding my full attention.

In short, an overburdened psyche.

So I did what any rational person would do — called my sis and persuaded her to take a vacation with me.

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Isn’t it Time for Vacation Yet?

Dallas here.

I’m mad at my Mama.

For months she’s been promising me a l-o-n-g ride in the car.

‘We’ll put you in your crate,’ she said. ‘And go on vacation. All the way to Mississippi. You remember.’

Yes, I do. But nothing has happened.

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Back From Vacation

I just got back from a ten-day “vacation” along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and I’m eager to share some of the sights that caught my attention.

Before I do, I’ll bet you’re wondering why I put vacation in quotation marks, aren’t you?

The simple answer is that I don’t really consider it a vacation. To me, vacations involve going some place you haven’t been before, seeing scenery and people you haven’t seen before, perhaps sitting on a beach or poolside with a tall, cold drink decorated by a paper umbrella.

And resting. Lots of lazing around, resting.

This trip wasn’t like that.

First off, it was Mom’s trip. She wanted to go south to visit relatives and check on her other home.

Problem is, Mon doesn’t drive. She needed a chauffeur, and I drew the short straw.

Actually, I drew the only straw — Domer had to stay here and work at his internship; the Sheltie elected to stay with Domer.

Now driving Mom on long trips is an exercise in patience:

  • she has a bladder the size of a Lima bean, necessitating frequent potty breaks
  • she’s reached the age where she can’t lift heavy things like suitcases
  • she insists the trip be broken into two days with a motel overnight stay
  • motel room must be lit and warm for her comfort
  • she snores!

There was LOTS to do once we arrived — clean the house, visit kith and kin, buy groceries and supplies, make sure everything is working the way it’s supposed to (call repairmen as necessary), etc. I did manage to post a few blogs and work on my novel, as well as address my company Christmas cards (really!), so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

Anyway, you wanted to see pictures, so here you go:


1) I found this turtle hanging around the front yard one morning. He stuck his head out long enough to peek at me, then promptly retreated to his shell. When I returned from my walk, he was gone!


2) This is a heron of some sort. I couldn’t get close enough to determine whether he was a blue heron or another variety. Nevertheless, he spent a lot of time perched on this dock, probably looking for food. Wonder what the Sheltie would do with long-legged birds to chase?!


3) Beautiful, isn’t it? Living in a land-locked area the way I do, I find being next to the water restful (just not during Hurricane Season!)

Tell me, have you gone on vacation yet this summer? What interesting things did you see and do?

Beating the Heat

Staying inside the air conditioning and away from the sizzling heat isn’t my idea of much of a vacation.

Nevertheless, because the temps were so high (mid-90s, at least) and the humidity matched, that’s just what we did during our recent trek to south Mississippi.

We in the Midwest region of this country are familiar with high temps and humidity. We suffer through them for a few days, then joyfully praise the Creator when a welcome cold front slams through, reducing the heat and stickiness.

But some sections of our land haven’t been as fortunate. People in Texas and Oklahoma have endured weeks of heat; in fact, the entire South has had day after day of scorching temps, punctuated by popup thunderstorms, which refuse to cool things down or dump the prayed-for rain.

Makes for drought conditions, leading to things like wildfires and a ban on fireworks. Bummer.

There’s something refreshing about our Midwest summers. Sure, daytime temps get up there in the 90s, but like as not, the evenings cool down. People can talk walks after supper and even open their windows at night!

South Mississippi wasn’t like that. Far from it. We’d go to bed at night, and the temperature would be in the 80s; waking up the next morning, it was still in the 80s (and if it’s that hot at 7 a.m., you know it’s going to be unbearable by noon!).

It’s the kind of heat that sucks the breath right out of you the moment you venture outside and drenches you with sweat by the time you go back in.

My poor Sheltie in his long, silky coat, truly suffered. He’d go outside to potty, then race back in, claiming a spot on the cold tile floor or next to the bathtub or in front of the air conditioning vents.

He’d give me the look that begged, “C’mon, Mom, find the blasted zipper in this fur-suit and get it off me!”

I noticed a lot of people on the beach near the Gulf waters, where at least a nice breeze makes the weather more tolerable. Swimming pools and shopping malls also are welcome diversions. But not for dogs.

Somebody should build them a water park!

Of Tar balls and Heat

Now that I’ve just about caught up from being on vacation, I can write about my experiences.

We traveled to Gulfport, MS. That’s all the way down south to the Gulf of Mexico.

Right there where BP’s tar balls were coming ashore.

No, I didn’t see any. In fact, what I saw were pristine, sandy beaches, with brand-new palm trees, piers, roadways, and new construction.

The Coast has come a long way from the state it was in five years ago after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the place.

Oh, sure, there’s much to be done — like getting the residents back, getting the businesses back, getting the hope and joy and spirit of fun back.

But, fellow travelers, don’t expect to see slime all over the beaches.

It ain’t there.

Don’t expect to find a wealth of homes and businesses sprouting up waterside, either.

The Mississippi Coast used to boast fabulous antebellum homes with sprawling lawns, profuse flowers, immense live oaks, and splendid views of the water. Home after home lined Highway 90, from the eastern state line to the west.

No more.

Katrina took care of that.

The owners of such “mansions” either moved farther inland or abandoned the area entirely.

What’s there now pales in comparison.

“Homes on stilts” or “hurricane-proof” structures are the wave of the present, thanks to more stringent construction laws.

Which were needed.

But it’s still sad to see.

Many of the restaurants and other businesses, too, relocated, meaning you have to work a bit harder and drive a bit farther to find your favorite places. But, as I was told, there’s no recession on the Coast when it comes to food — everybody, it seems, is eating out and enjoying it!

What I wasn’t prepared for was the heat and humidity.

You expect July to be hot. It’s hot in Central Illinois; it’s hot out East; shoot, it’s hot in Russia!

But this was beastly heat, the kind that sucks the energy right out of you, the kind that’s flat-out dangerous to be in.

So I stayed inside. With the air conditioning. And felt sorry for those who had to be out in the heat.

Vacation time

Quick — what’s the worst thing about being on vacation?

The hassle of packing?

The agony of resting from work?

The relaxing of standards of diet and exercise?

Nope, it’s the being unconnected from things!

I took a few days off recently (more about that another time!), and even though I hauled my laptop with me, I found whole hours — even days! — passing without my turning it on.

To check e-mail.

To read blogs.

To do any work.

To simply catch up with the news.

I know, I know. Most people would say, “What’s the problem with that? You were on vacation.”

True, but when you like your “work” as much as I do, it’s not work.

It is vacation!

So, online friends, please forgive me for not commenting on your blogs or replying to your e-mail messages. I really didn’t fall down a hole.

I missed you, and your wit, and your thoughtful comments. I missed hearing what was going on in your world. I missed laughing with you, crying with you, seething with you.

I missed our connection.

And, even though there’s an immense pile of stuff screaming for my attention, it’s good to be back.

On being needed too much

You know, there are days when I just wish I could escape!

Maybe to some place like here:

Sunshine on lake

or here:

At the bayou

or here:

A sunny stream

Now don’t get me wrong. I love my family, I love my job, and I genuinely like most of my clients.

But sometimes it seems as if they conspire to need me, all at once! And it’s frustrating, not to mention stressful, trying to be all things to all people.

I cherish my “me time,” when I can write, read, bead, or just loaf. And I haven’t had very much of it lately.

Maybe that’s why I’m cranky.

Probably time for a vacation!

Running my own Web Design business, I have to be the chief cook and bottle-washer. I wear all the hats — receptionist, designer, sales person, public relations specialist, photographer, accountant, billing person, collections person, even janitor. I can’t imagine it any other way.

Serving my client’s design needs, making sure they’re delighted with the job done (and spreading the word to others) is a labor of love for me. Even a “rotten” day (and there have been thankfully few) is better than slaving away in a cubicle for “the man”!

But living in a family doesn’t mean one person has to do everything, does it? What happened to sharing the load?

Somehow, everybody (even the dog!) decided I’m the “point person.” The go-to person. The entertainment committee, food committee, sounding board, and a host of other titles.

It’s nice to be needed — just not that much!