The previous night we had toodled out to a farm in the county to listen to some amazing country blues and a young elvis-type character from Tupelo, sitting in the tight quarters of an upstairs loft, snacking on things from the table of homemade refreshments and exchanging smiles with friends as our kids made the rounds from lap to lap.
Alexe and I have lived many different sorts of lives. We have been graced with opportunities at every turn, and at this point we could be living almost any type of life we choose, anywhere in the world.
And we pick here, small town, rural Mississippi. We choose friends gathering to eat in backyards over fancy restaurants, canoeing and bike riding and walking in the woods over amusement parks, and walking to our daily work rather than spending chunks of this precious life commuting.
There will be more, we will travel, take on new and larger projects, etc., and that only makes this time, right now, more belly-settling-ly happy.
In the meantime, last section of brickwork in the kitchen for the section of counter to the right of the sink. Copper piece is being shaped, will pick that up on Monday. And this means, after the ceiling paint goes up, (drying right now, as I sit in a BTC booth with the kids for Sunday brunch,) the floor can be sealed.
Friday we had a mid-day play date. Every now and again it's fun to play super-dad, but wow, we're good with the two we have.
Another part of living in a great community, kids are comfortable wherever.
With four I had no luck getting anything productive done, so I focused on tuckering them out. We took a long walk around the back fields, hiked to the top of the hill through the oak forest:
And each kid had four turns on the tire swing.
Friday night at Fiddler's Loft. Kenny Brown, and Daniel Lee Perea headlining.
Caspian was happy as a clam, and made good friends with all sorts of folks, his biggest win a new young lady in town, a cellist and composer. (This town is taking off.)
Annaliese was slow to get over her disappointment when her friend didn't make it, but she soon worked her way around the room to the front, and came back to our seats only when she had a question. (Such as, Daddy, can we go up on stage? We're going to have to wrap the house up and dust off the guitar.)
Miss Dixie came by yesterday with Ole Miss paraphernalia, and the kids still haven't taken it off. It was perfect gear for the rodeo.
The rodeo. I don't know why we are so tickled by this culture, but we are. The new john deere tractors parked out front and around the arena, the hats and boots and button up shirts and huge belt buckles, the smiling faces everywhere. I have my guesses, the absence of pretension, the genuine desire to be seen as a man, or a cowgirl, that doesn't have any of the posing or embarrassment that seems to be everywhere. It's refreshing, clean and clear, a world with challenges, hard work, and pleasures, all in their time and place.
This is an awesome view:
But this has a depth that is easy to criticize, and completely miss the excellence.
The first annual Bulls and Barrels rodeo, held by the local Rotary club.
We had a blast. The kids were mostly off in the crowd, visiting friends, or going down to the rails for a closer look. Alexe was beautiful and happy to be out of the kitchen.
Annaliese may have been the most thrilled to be there. She screamed and shouted for every rider, the clown, the fighters, and the cowgirls racing around the barrels (on horseback.)
The beasts were impressive.
The MC made three jokes that I remember, one at this point, when this bull was refusing to be budged by the horse. "This bull is like Obama, we just can't get him out."
At another point, during a game of Poker, (volunteers from the crowd sit at a plastic table in the middle of the arena, bulls are released, the last person to keep their seat while being run down wins $250,) said of a larger fellow who left his seat the moment the bulls were released, "Where'd that big boy go? Did he smell a pan of cornbread up in the stands?"
Third one, when a rider was thrown immediately after the bull was released, "That ride was shorter than Lindsay Lohan's last trip to rehab."
There's a clown in that barrel.
This team of three, fighters in blue and clown in the barrel, did an amazing job of keeping the riders safe after they were thrown. The moment the bull tosses the rider, they turn to find and trample him, and these three dive in, put themselves between the bull and rider, and distract him until the rider can get to the rails.
Happy. Alexe caught a John Deere hat thrown into the stands by the clown, (in her words, "I won a hat!") and she's wearing it in the BTC kitchen right now.
This picture takes some explaining. At one point the MC called all the kids down into the arena, and we let Annaliese and Caspian race down along with 100+ other kids.
The hoard gathered around the clown in the arena, and then they released two calves. The hoard of kids, ranging from very young toddlers to 12 year olds, went nuts chasing these little cows.
I lay it out that way, to build up a defense for our parenting. We did not put our kids into an arena with freaked out cows with advance knowledge of what was going to happen. And yet, there they were.
And they had a great time, until one of the calves ran down Caspian. I have it on video, it's not pretty, and it scared the shit out of us. I was on the far side of the arena, where I had followed Annaliese to make sure she figured out how to get into the arena. (Again, before we knew why they were going. Lame, but our only excuse.) Alexe was over the rails and had Caspian in her arms in seconds, and the calf came barreling at her. She caught his head between her legs, and held him as he kept trying to fight her, until one of the bull fighters came and pulled him away.
Caspian was very upset, but after making sure he was physically ok, we fixed the tears with a lollipop, and he was back cheering and climbing through the crowd a few minutes later.
Overlooking the trampling, we had a great time, and took two very snoozy kids home around 10 for bowls of cereal, (it had been hours since dinner, after all, and the popcorn and lollipops only go so far,) and straight to bed.
I am more than satisfied with the childhood we've picked for these two.