Sunday July 10, 2005



We all got up very gradually today. We were all a bit frazzled. It's rare for me to sleep past 10 a.m. (unless I'm on the road). After we all got moving, Robbie "convinced" Vern and my Mom that since Nichole had gotten a shirt and some trinkets last night at the mall that he was "owed" something. This tactic worked. What did he want? He wanted one of those cheap Ataris that I bought Amanda last week! We'd been playing it a bit and he found the godawful graphics charming (as I do - Pong, anyone?).

So on the way out of town, we all swung back by the too-often mentioned CorpoMart for him to get one. Then we all had a poorly serviced Blimpie lunch and we went our separate ways. It was sad seeing the 4 of them walk to their transport vehicle as we headed for Saturn. But it was a good week. Robbie and Nichole were better behaved than they've ever been. They've never been difficult during their time with us but there are usually a couple of bumps. Not this time. They were as good as it gets. Now if they could just take that home with 'em.

Amanda and I came back home, I called my Grandmother for my Sunday tradition and then I prepared for rehearsal. Everything's back to normal - well, except for this incredible diet related headache!

Rehearsal wasn't too bad - wasn't too good. I certainly couldn't brag about it. I can say that I'm really sick of a couple of our staples right now. We're making arrangements to start swapping stuff out. All I need is a couple of weeks away from some of the tunes and I'll be fine.

My headache only got worse so I ditched to bed early tonight. Thankfully, sleep is the cure.






Saturday July 9, 2005





Well, I got some more bad news today. My great Uncle Nelson died on Thursday. His daughter Phyllis just relayed the info and my Grandmother let me know today. He's been fading for a while now but it's still a body blow to hear he's not still hanging on. Nelson married into this family via my Grandmother's sister Eloise. Nelson and Eloise were always wonderful to me. There were only about 3 adults (outside of my absolute immediate family that I spent the most time with, i.e. my Mom, Dad and Grandma) that ever really took the time to relate to me on my own terms and treat me like my opinion had value. My Grandfather on my Mom's side and Nelson and Eloise. I remember going up to visit them at their beach place in NC when I was about 12 with my Grandmother. They each took individual time with me and wanted to know about my goals and dreams. And when I shared it with them, they didn't laugh. Nelson was an amazing photographer for his area so when I picked up the camera, he was possibly my top inspiration. I remember seeing lots of his work but I also remember his favorite which was one he took of JFK, Lyndon Johnson and the Shah Of Iran. It certainly wasn't the best of his photos but it was the moment, what it meant to him and the fact that he intersected that moment in history. I can relate to that. I haven't seen him in years but I'll always remember how he would sit and listen to me and my Grandmother play at family reunions. He and my Dad always seemed to enjoy it the most. And I'll hold on to the morning that he and I walked over the sand dunes and watched the sun rise over the ocean. It was simple and unforgettable. Thanks, Nelson. I miss you.

Since it was my last full day with the kids, I couldn't let myself wallow. I had to keep going. Besides my Mom and Vern were on the way up. Of course, they got a VERY late start and wound up not getting in until dinner time. We asked the kids where they wanted to take them. They chose CiCi's (again?!?). So much for feeling better! So we took 'em there. It was a nice little family get together. We swung by the pet store after that to get 'em some supplies for Nichole's turtle and so Robbie could wonder whether the alligator was real or not. My Mom DID NOT go for the tarantulas or snakes.

On the way back home, we went to the mall so the kids (Robbie and AMANDA) could do the rock wall climb and go flippity-flop on the trampolines. We watched. Last year, Robbie couldn't hardly make it up the easy side. This year, he tore the whole thing up in record time. All the way to the top... Then they challenged each other for the throne of Flipdom on the trampolines. I'm afraid Robbie beat Amanda pretty bad. Although he nearly broke his neck in the process.

Groovy Golf came next. It's this little black-lit, disco themed putt-putt course in the nether regions of the mall. I can't believe it's stayed open but I'm glad it did. This was the perfect relaxing finale. Thanks to tips my Dad gave me growing up (Yes, I did some time on the green), I handily beat the crap out of everyone, even scoring one hole-in-one. I didn't do well enough to satisfy myself but I was still proud.

By this time, my Mom was in pretty bad pain. All of her problems were starting to creep up. I hate that it's this way. She wants to do but she just can't. She kept pushing, though, and I admire that. When we got home, the dynamic duo clamored for a final Freaks & Geeks. They wanted their Grandmother to see it. She didn't really appreciate it but they sure did.

They wanted to stay up even later but for Mom's sake, I shut the night off and we all hit the sack!




Friday July 8, 2005







Today we made the annual traditional mecca to Stone Mountain Park. This year, we decided to even take in the "water park." It was one step better than having a slip-n-slide from MegaMart and a water hose. Pathetic, that's what it is. Four slides under two names. I shot down the Southern Pipeline and scratched my back up. Then we did the other and I'd had enough. I waited for the other three to get their fill.

Then we went back into the main park. We started out with The Great Barn which we were too late to do last year. It was cheesy but fun. Robbie loved it. Nichole and Amanda shot Nerf-like balls (that were alledged to be fruit) at each other.

So what was next? Oh yeah - probably dinner. We went to the nice restaraunt for the first time, which is good - because I have really been eating terribly lately. My favorite part was the "hand-tossed rolls", which meant they literally tossed them to you across the room. Nice touch. Our waiter was Cat Fish. He wasn't the most attentive but Butter Cup made up for it by filling in. Yes, those were the names on their tags.

Then a little panning for gold and back to the 4-D theatre. It was still cool but the smells didn't work this year. That may be good for the skunk part but I was looking forward to the full experience again. Robbie and Amanda then went and tormented "the notorious spitter" while Nichole and I dug around the shops.

It was about time for the laser show to begin so we headed on down to the lawn. We munched on Dippin' Dots (How is it ice cream of the future if we can get it now?) and watched the show. It seemed shorter this year but that's not really a complaint. I didn't like the way they jumbled up the big finale, though. They had the whole "American Trilogy" thing beautifully and emotionally laid out. The new version just doesn't pack the wallop. Robbie still seems impressed to know that Robert E. Lee is a distant, distant uncle of ours (my Mom's Mom was Lola Lee). If I speak the truth, I am too. I know plenty of people that would hold that against us. I dare them to look back in their past and see what they find! My ancestors were also Revolutionary War heroes so screw you if you've got a problem with it!

We got back home around midnight knowing that the 2005 trip is nearly over. It's sad. In a few more years, they'll be adults and find these trips a waste of their time. At the very least, the wonder will be gone. My hope is that they'll take the same kind of time and care of their baby sister McKayla. I hope we get lots of time to spend with her, too! We must stay linked and pass down what we learn.




Thursday July 7, 2005




For some reason, the power was out today. Hmmm....I wonder if it could be from that tropical storm! It's still around. They say it's gonna get worse. I doubt it. I've never heard as much rain in as little a time period as I heard last night for hours and hours and hours. It was relentless! Since the power was out here, I decided to make good on the I.O.U.'s we presented them for their birthdays a couple of months ago. They made me take 'em to Best Buy, Toys R Us and Wal-Mart before they settled on a batch of CD-R's and beaucoups phone minutes for one and a remote controlled car for the other. See if you can figure out which got what!

Yep! So Nichole spent the rest of the day burning CD's from my collection. She did the whole Shady / Aftermath thing before moving on to more interesting fare like Kanye and The Killers (wouldn't that make a cool group?).

While we were shopping, I couldn't help but notice a pseudo-Atari system on sale for $15. Amanda had often said she never had one growing up so I bought it for her. Everyone should own something like that at some point! At this price, it was easy enough to make happen!

I had rehearsal with the band tonight (instead of a Tom Jones show at Chastain). It was alright considering how slack we've all become lately. We're still working to tighten up "Pepper" and "Someone's Trying To Tell Us Something". Frank got there late so we had an abbreviated time. And for some reason, I just can't pull "Phony" right lately. I'm just not feeling it or something. Maybe it's just me. I'm playing it okay. We need to try bumping up the tempo. We may have just slowed it down to studio speed. The problem has been since we finished recording.

Amanda took the kids to see (their request again) The Pacifier. Man, I'm glad I didn't have to sit through a Vin Diesel movie, even if it is the one I'm mostly to be able to stomach. They liked it. Amanda even said it was tolerable.

Then the usual...which included yet another demand for Freaks & Geeks! I didn't really want to watch it tonight. I was tired. They HAD to see it. I guess that's a good thing. I'm glad to be able to introduce them to something they really enjoy!




Wednesday July 6, 2005




Ah, feeling much better now after getting some sleep and a decent diet back. See, even 24 hours'll do the trick!

In the morning, Robbie and I sampled the new Gabby La La CD. I got the disc in preparation for her Atlanta appearance with Les Claypool next monday. It's a weird little beast lemme tell you. It's like all the pixies and leprechauns moved to India to get enlightened. Check it out if you dare. The rest of the day, we just hung out around the house listening to music. I made them each CD's of their requests (mostly current pop stuff of course). In the evening, Amanda and I decided to take them to Shoki Japanese restaraunt. I've always wanted to take them there but figured they wouldn't eat anything. This year, they're old enough to handle it. They seemed to enjoy the chef's show. They pulled out all the tricks : throwing knives, the onion volcano and the burning smiley face. Robbie was transfixed. At one point, he was staring at the chef so hard he actually stopped, smiled and asked him if he was okay! On top of the show, the food was incredible. Even better than the last time I was there. 'Twas an expensive dinner but hopefully worth the experience for them. They even ate pretty well. They didn't do everything but they did enough. I consider it a success!

It's just as well we hung out today as the weather was terrible. Yet another tropical storm was passing through. Big fun! We made due. Luckily, it subsided long enough for us to go on a very, very long walk. We explored the new construction areas and chased fireflies. It was a nice, peaceful adventure with just the four of us. This trip has been more relaxed than the last couple of years and I, for one, prefer it that way.

When we got back in, the kids requested a Freaks & Geeks so that's what we did. I have no idea why but I'm so thrilled they like this show! Then we dug out the Sledgehammer box for one episode airing. This was a relatively lackluster episode but Robbie seemed to like it.



Tuesday July 5, 2005




I think my diet lately has done me in again. I wasn't feeling too well. Between that and still needing to catch up some work, I sent Amanda, Nichole and Robbie on to White Water without me to slow them down. I used the time to do a lot of groundwork on several things and generally do stuff that's been neglected.

When they came back, they gave me the detailed report. Everyone seemed to have had a good time. They even did The Tornado this year...including Nichole. I'm proud of her for doing that one. If I'd been there, she may have chickened out on that one (because I probably would've).

After dinner and chlorine rinsing showers, we settled back and introduced them to Freaks & Geeks. I wondered if they'd like it. By the end of the week it was pretty obvious! We washed that down with the TZ A Stop At Willoughby before the sleep train rolled.




Monday July 4, 2005



Got up this morning for my Indepedence Day jaunt back to Athens. Robbie and I went over to my Grandmother's for a while, then picked up Amanda before going to Missy's to get Robbie's stuff for the trip with us. At this time, Nichole was still insisting that she didn't want to come. I wasn't about to beg her. If she wants to play, she'll have to find someone else. I did tell her that I would prefer she go with us. Amanda said the same. Just as we were about to take off without her, she came out with her stuff. I'll take that as a good sign.

We got on the road for the long, boring drive back to the ATH. On the road, I introduced 'em to mashups so that we could both hear music that we liked. They loved a bunch of 'em. Some...not so much.

At their request, we hit CiCi's cheap pizza buffet. They remembered it and wanted to go back so we did. Then it was home for a nice firefly lit walk and in for the evening. We watched the Twilight Zone called "Nightmare As A Child." Again, they requested TZ after seeing it last year here. Robbie clearly likes 'em more than Nichole, though.

It's too bad that we missed the fireworks again. South Carolina had 'em tonight. Georgia had 'em on Saturday. I seem to miss 'em every year now.

Click here for last week with Robert Plant and a whole lotta mumbo jumbo (pun for those who get both parts fully intended).