Friday, April 28, 2017

Southern Storm Elves

My brother smelled a blog post.  He was right.  Early last week, on Tuesday night, here in Nashville (ok, the suburbs of Nashville) we had some spectacular storms. There was lightning, thunder, rain and heavy winds. Trees were downed, electricity was lost, beers were spilled. (It really was a lot more damage than my witty commentary lets on.)  Most importantly, my big stick tree lost some major branches.  I call it a stick tree because, normally after every windy day, I find sticks of all sizes in the yard. Usually I just meander about the yard, morning coffee in hand while I pick them up and pitch them into the brush pile, but this was different. These were massive branches. You can see the far branch there next to my jeep was taller than the car itself.  These were so heavy I couldn't even lift them to move them to the brush pile. 

It happened during the day and when I got home that night I worked with a pruning hand saw (my chain saw has gone on to that big garage in the sky) to get those branches next to the house moved away from the air conditioner so that I could see any damage. Thankfully, the damage was nil. (Ok, so  I ruined a good pair of khakis but they were tight in the seat anyway, so not really a big loss there.) 

As I sat down to dinner, (late) I mused at the busy schedule I had for the weekend and the fact that I'd need to rent or even buy a new chainsaw to get these heavy behemoths out of the yard. I had to leave the branches where they were from Tuesday night until - most likely - Sunday. (Saturday was already full of prior commitments.)  

Then....well....strange things happened. 

Saturday morning, bright and early, I'm up and out of bed, headed for the coffee maker.  I'm normally up during the week at 4, but on the weekends sleep in until about 7, so the sun is up and the birds are singing. As I reach for the coffee grounds, I glance out the front window and see - nothing. (Cue frozen moment while I blink a couple of times and expect the view to change.) Well, yeah, I see grass and a couple of squirrels and my neighbors house across the street.  BUT what I don't see is the big branch that has been irritating me for 4 days.  Remember the branch taller than my car? It was literally gone. Gone!

Leaving my coffee for a moment, I head out to stand on the porch.  All the branches are gone.  Not just the one in front of the house, but all of them are just gone.  Even the few smaller branches I tossed into the brush pile are gone! The entire brush pile is missing!  The big city trucks with their big chippers would have alerted me to the work being done, but there was nothing the night before or early in the morning. I was stumped. I got coffee and stood by the window musing over what had truly transpired.

I came to one conclusion. 

Elves. Southern Elves. I mean, it couldn't be 'cobbler elves' as this wasn't shoes.  I hadn't left any cookies out for any of the North Pole type elves, and they don't clean up fallen branches, anyway. It also comes to mind that the Wizard Dresden (Dresden Books, by Jim Butcher) leaves pizza out for the elves that clean his apartment, but again, no pizza was left out on the porch.  We aren't affluent enough to have our own Harry Potter type house elves, so that leaves only one thing.  

Southern Elves.  Southern elves never-heard-of-before clean up fallen branches and wear camouflage (so you can't see them).  In the middle of the night they work quietly and completely carrying off the branches for bonfires and crafts.  It's the only explanation.  

Oh, but if that's the case, I think I owe them a case of beer.  I mentioned this to my neighbor who admitted he was the one to came out in the night and using an electric chain saw (electric?  really? In the south?) he chopped up all the wood for bonfires and marshmallow roasting.  Not making any fuss or sound, he was able to round them up and get them into his back yard in a matter of a couple of hours; all while I was on the couch watching TV. 

I thanked him. I praised his thoroughness. I shook his hand.  I retreated to my coffee.
No, I'm not giving him a case of beer.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Wax on, Wax Off

When you think of visiting Nashville, you probably don't think of wax figures.  You probably think of finding Marv and giving him a big hug or a hearty handshake.  Yes, most do.  But in truth, Nashville has just become home to the newest of attractions, one of only 22 in the entire world, Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum.  Joining the ranks of cities like Berlin, Bejing, London and Hollywood, Madame Tussaud's Nashville location is set to open TODAY.  

But there's a catch, so to speak. 

It will be Madame Tussauds’ first music themed attraction and the only location in Tennessee. This group & family-friendly attraction will provide an interactive experience, where you will be able to touch, see, feel and photograph the figures. (Within reason of course.)

Step into immersive iconic scenes and musical performances that are unique to Madame Tussauds Nashville. Take a musical journey from past to present, in this one-of-a-kind, music themed Madame Tussauds. Celebrate your favorite country, rock, jazz, and blues artists in brilliantly themed interactive settings.

So there you have it. A great new reason to visit the South, and Opry Mills Mall.  Like you needed a reason before.  

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Thank You For Being a Friend

When I was a kid, I had a lot of friends. As I grew, my friends grew with me, and as I changed from High school to college, I garnered more friends; and lost a few along the way.  That's  how friendship works. Proximity, interests, even work can give us new friends both permanent or temporary.  

When I came to the South, I had no friends living here.  I had to move from Colorado to find work. Colorado was in the midst of the 'oil crisis' and there were guys who had PhDs in Oil Engineering looking for the same jobs I was and it was getting harder and harder to cope. Nashville welcomed me. That's the south.  They accept and bond without question.  This is all part of that 'laid' back attitude that the south is known for.  All the more shocking when things go differently.

More than just the city; the people accepted me. I had new friends and new family almost from day one. People talk to you in the grocery line as if you've known them all your life. I know I go on and on about the Good Ol' Boys and the Good Ol' Boy Network, but without the friends I've made, the South would have been bleak indeed.

Everyone who reads this blog knows of my neighbor Bubba.  Neighbor Bubba (not to be confused with Brother Bubba) is not an actual person, but more a writer's amalgam of a lot of southern men I have known and admired.   One of these men whom I have had as an honest to goodness neighbor has recently moved from my neighborhood.  And, oddly, the friendship seems to have moved with him.

Our relationship wasn't too deep, but we spent many a long hour in projects and conversation along the way.  The man was a veritable fount of knowledge when it came to home repair and the use of power tools and a quick sense of humor that kept the work times lighter.  I miss that information as much as I miss the camaraderie we had while working. Even my wife enjoyed his jokes and easy going manner.

Without him, the Everlasting Living Room Project would not have been as easy.  He was there to help dismantle the fireplace.  Later, his expertise and knowledge were invaluable in getting the joists installed properly and to code.

So, now what.  Now, I guess I have to go and make  friends with those new folks that just moved in down the street and hope they know how to swing a hammer. I just hope they ain't nawtheners...