Boy was 2008 a crazy year. I believe the last month sums the year up nicely. It’s early December and hadn’t started the week-long downpour, Nathan and I had just made plans to actually spend Christmas Eve and Day with my mother. She was so excited! We were planning to head to Gainesville (Georgia) on the 22nd or 23rd and spend several nights before heading on to Birmingham and then New Orleans for Trisha & Daniel’s wedding. Well, not a day later, Nathan gets a call about the schedule for a job which he thought was a job he was already scheduled on but turned out to be a new job. Yay, new money! Except that they wanted to have final delivery on the 24th. Boo! We were planning to be out of town. SO, Nathan gets the schedule shifted to the weekend before with final delivery by end of day on the 22nd. Of course, that means he worked on my birthday and on the Saturday before my party. 😦
THEN India got sick and almost died and racked up a HUGE vet bill.
Luckily, Nathan had just booked a job that paid for it. YAY!
My mom came up for my birthday, there was a tad bit of drama that I only heard about second hand, and we all had a fabulous mid-December.
Moving on to Christmas week. Nathan has been ridiculously booked all year (yay!), but none of his jobs have ended on time. NONE! Sadly, Nathan has been booked on a per-job basis on most of them, so that means no extra money (even on the one that went a month over!) plus it leaves him double and triple booked when start times overlap hold-overs. We’re going to have to make some changes on that one. Of course, lots of folks think it’s a good thing when the deadline gets pushed back because it takes off some of the pressure. It just makes scheduling difficult. So, as per the usual, despite working all day Saturday and Sunday, the job was not complete on the 22nd due to some changes left to be decided upon. They knew we were leaving town the afternoon of the 23rd at the latest, but Nathan didn’t get home until after 7. We left on the 24th.
Christmas at Mom’s was fun. My brother was there and he didn’t arrive until after we did (and we left in the afternoon 2 days late, but he got home from work in California on the red eye the morning (5ish, I think) of the 24th and had to get a rental car because his car was backed into in the parking lot of his condo and had been in the shop while he was out of town, but still wasn’t finished. Those Audi’s take a while to repair). We stopped at an antique store about an hour north of mom called Fran-tiques (I assume the owner is named Fran) where I bought antique cameras and Nathan got a cane with a sword in it! Mom was just glad we were able to be there for Christmas Day and completely understood the whole work thing. Adam pulled up in a white PT Cruiser, and we were so patriotic with my Vintage Red Pearl and Mom’s Opalescence (light blue), in the drive way.
Mom likes to come up with jobs for us when we come to visit, so Nathan & Adam got some bonding time while fixing the garage door and Mom & I cooked the mashed potatoes and squash casserole. Mom hasn’t really cooked since she moved in a year ago, so we were lucky the stove actually worked. She has a job at a school nearby and they have a fantastic chef who runs the cafeteria, so she eats a big lunch and then buys chicken salad and pimento cheese for dinner. Mom also forgot the half-dozen times she completely clogged the drain with potato peels back in Winston-Salem (where the plumber told her to never put potato peels down the garbage disposal) and completely clogged one side of the sink with potato peels. Oops. Adam & Nathan spent Christmas afternoon figuring out how to dismantle the disposal and clear the pipe. It was better than the time she accidentally poured hot wax down the other side (another job for Nathan at our last visit). Dinner was excellent, and we ended the night with a rousing game of Apples to Apples (a fun and silly game with no real winners or losers so it’s perfect for my overly competitive family, uh, brother).
Christmas day didn’t start until the afternoon. Adam was still on Pacific time, I woke up at 9 and then got drawn back into the warm snuggles of Nathan and the blanket and slept until nearly noon. Alfred and the cats really made out like bandits. New toys, new bowls, and several donations to the India vet fund. 🙂 We ate left overs and talked about how we needed to hit the road for several hours.
We finally left about 5 hours after we had planned to, and didn’t get into Birmingham until almost midnight (yay time zone change!)
Birmingham is where my youngest aunt and her family live. They’re a family of 5 living in a 2 bedroom (with a third created out of an office) 2 bath house in Homewood which is a cute suburb. They’ve lived there since the oldest, Curtis, was a baby and it’s a great house! Of course, they aren’t keen on growing up practically on top of each other, but they’re definitely a close family and I think the smaller house (which is quite a bit larger than ours) didn’t hurt. They let us drop some of our stuff there (remember, we had Christmas gifts and enough clothes to stay in Tennessee for several days as well) so we wouldn’t have a temptingly full car in the big city and wouldn’t have to drag everything into the hotel. We were having such a great time hanging out that we left later than planned as well (go figure) and didn’t pull into New Orleans until after 9.
Once in New Orleans, we stopped by the bride’s mom’s suite to say hi and then hit the hay. Saturday was beautiful (Nathan thought it was a little muggy), but it was a great day to shoot a wedding. We didn’t have to be anywhere until 1, so we wandered the French Quarter in search of lunch which we found at this sketchy looking dive called Coop’s Place. Turns out Coop’s is a local favorite. The food was great! We ordered way too much. We didn’t eat it all (nothing beats shooting a wedding on a stuffed stomach).
After lunch there was time to change and walk a few blocks to the house where the wedding took place. It was a fun little walk and the house is fantastic. Three stories (of steep stairs) and a courtyard. The ceilings were 20ft or higher! Trisha was on the top, of course, getting her hair and makeup done. She was so calm! Even when the fruit trays were late, she was firm but not bridezilla. Her dress was incredible and her hair was done by the boyfriend of her New Orleans hair stylist who had only done it once before at her hair and makeup trail. We had such a good time upstairs that the hours flew by, and she was hurrying to get the last touches of her ensemble complete in order to finish the ceremony before the reception guests arrived.
Nathan was hanging out with the boys during all of this. His iPhone saved the day when they needed to find out how to fold a pocket handkerchief. I can’t wait to see his pictures. We haven’t gotten to that part in the edit yet. Hey! It’s only 40 gigs of photos. Nathan’s angle for the ceremony was incredible, though. Ooh! I can’t wait to post some pics.
OK, so I think I’ve blogged a bit about the wedding and will blog more when I have photos ready… so moving on, it was great, everyone had a great time, the after party was fun and the fried shrimp at Coop’s was the perfect midnight snack. We were amused by the bartender who, when asked if the kitchen was open, replied that he hoped so since they had cooks in it. Apparently midnight is a good time for the regulars.
On our way back to the hotel, we stopped and bought some art from a street vendor. Nathan & Jack, the paper cutting artist. He only uses found paper.
Then we went back to the hotel to crash (after inquiring about extending our stay and being told we should be able to, but to check back in the morning). I didn’t get to crash immediately, though. I got an email from a client who needed some shots I did for her the week before. I had prepped them and thought they were online, but I didn’t have access to the internet and my phone doesn’t like the ftp site. Adam Richey (not my brother but Nathan’s friend who helps us out on shoots and such) had uploaded something similar when we were in Huntsville before our Chicago trip, but he was in Cookeville until Monday. I emailed back that I needed her to check the ftp site and if they weren’t there to let me know asap so I could call around to my friends and find someone in town with enough computer knowledge to get it done. After stressing and trying to figure out if I could fix the situation immediately, I gave up and crashed out.
Sunday in New Orleans was awesome. We called Big Fatty’s because we thought Lisa was from NOLA, but the guy who answered said she wasn’t but he was and suggested Cafe Maspero. We wondered through the art galleries and watched the people. Trisha & Daniel had invited us to watch the game in their suite but ended up running errands all afternoon instead. We ate at Maspero and really enjoyed the jambalaya and the muffaletta. The red beans and rice was sadly bland beyond repair. It was as if they absorbed and neutralized spice. I put in salt, pepper and hot sauce and they just never got any better. Oh well. There was an awesome flea market near the hotel that we perused for a while and of course we stopped at Cafe du Monde for beignets and coffee (YUM!!) We bought a box of beignet mix for the Shields family and for Kay & Hal, our neighbors who fed the cats. We also purchased a really cool carved, batiked mask from Indonesia.
Our favorite way to see a city is to pretend like we live there, so when Trisha & Daniel invited us to go to dinner with some friends at their favorite restaurant in the whole city, Tan Dinh, we were super excited. Well, I was super excited. Nathan was a little wary because it was Vietnamese, and he wasn’t certain he liked Vietnamese food. But he was a trooper and went along. Daniel ordered for us, and we all ate family style. OH MAN!! The food was so incredible! I’ve had Vietnamese and liked it before, but now I’m completely spoiled. It’s worth driving to New Orleans just to eat and then drive home. We rode the ferry over which was really cool. Really cold too.
Late Sunday night, my friend Kevin finally noticed my facebook and twitter posts about being in NOLA. I thought he was still in Cookeville for the holidays, so I hadn’t even emailed him. We decided we would meet for lunch on our way out of town. The hotel, Hotel le Richelieu, had a 1 p.m. check out time, which I suspect is kind of a necessity in a party city like New Orleans. I felt the need to pack and organize everything before bed, so Nathan and I had time to get up and laze around. Go down the street to buy a matching mask for the one we bought the day before (it looked so sad and lonely.) and then gather our things and check out.
Quick blurb about the masks. They represent two soul mates who were of warring tribes. They met and did not realize they were enemies until after they had fallen deeply in love. Unlike so many tales that start this way, these two decided to make it work and created peace for their people through their love. We thought it was a pretty great story.
Ok, so back to the story which seems a bit long winded, but I promise, we are getting to the ridiculous part…
We meet Kevin for lunch at Juan’s Flying Burrito, and while enjoying delicious fish tacos and jerk nachos, Nathan gets a call. It’s the people from before who have a change they need made NOW! Can we have it by end of day (it’s 1:30ish central time, so that’s only 3 hours)? Well, no. Nathan had to tell them there was no way to get it done by the end of the day because:
1. it was a fairly complex roto job that involved people walking in front of a blank wall where they would like to have a logo put to cover something they didn’t care for on the wall and to give more brand identity to the spot.
2. we had NO internet.
But, we were on our way back to Birmingham where we would have internet, so we’ll get there around 7 or 8 and get right on it. Hurray! They will have it by end of day tomorrow.
We were basically done with lunch, so we paid up, said our goodbyes and hit the road. Now some folks may not know this, but Mississippi is basically as desolate as Kansas (and about as straight and flat). So we had just passed the last bit of civilization when Nathan got a call from the client requesting a mockup by end of day so they can discuss placement of the logo. Great! We’ll stop at the next hotel or cafe or whatever has wifi… There’s nothing. We finally get to an exit with a gas station where we stop and get the laptop out of the trunk so Nathan can install the software he had brought just in case of such an emergency. For some reason my battery was close to dead (close enough that the little hard drive would drain it immediately). So install what we can, now we’re on the lookout for wifi AND power. Called the client to say “we’re working on it” and kept looking. Finally, we realized that the iPhones could save the day. They had emailed the logo to Nathan, but he had everything else. If we could download the logo to my phone, plug it into the laptop and pull the image off using iPhoto, put together a mockup which we then put back on the phone to email, we didn’t need the internet. We just needed power!
New quest. We needed a battery adapter to plug the laptop into the cigarette lighter… There is NOTHING! Not even a Burger King where we could stop and have it our way with a booth and a power outlet. Nope. Finally, 2 hours later, we come upon a truckstop. HURRAY! Nope, they don’t have it. But the Love’s 15 minutes down the street does. So off we go, stopping at the Pilot along the way. Pilot has not one, but 4 different styles to choose from. I now have a 2 plug, usb, cigarette lighter or plug straight into your car battery charger thing. We can edit on the road.
So, we turn Nathan’s email account on on my phone, download the image, plug the phone in, try to remember how Nathan had done this before. Figured it out but couldn’t find where the image was saved. Found it. It’s really small. Try a couple of other tricks to get a larger image. Massive failure. Give up. It’s just a mock up. Plug the borg set up into Nathan and his seat (mobile edit unit one), and away we go. Nathan’s email address won’t send outgoing messages from my phone. Try again. Give up, we’ll send it from my email address. WE ARE HEROES! And only an hour later getting to Birmingham thanks to our little side trips. Time to get to work on the real job.
Oh, by the way, the logo needs to come down which reveals the ugly thing on the wall that is the reason for the logo. Can you just copy and past some bricks over it. Thanks. We’ll get right on that (right after dinner, we’re exhausted from our adventure in rural Mississippi).
Having confirmed they had DSL not dial up, we didn’t confirm the state of their mouse (I always use a Wacom but had not brought it on this trip). My family has a habit of buying ridiculously fancy mouses (mice?) that are impossible to use for detailed roto work. My uncle swears they have a regular old wired mouse in the basement (laser, not trackball, I hope), but you haven’t seen the basement. Plus my uncle is getting up there in years and has severe ADD and Parkinson’s. We figure it will be faster to go to the nearest Wal-Mart/KMart/Target, whatever is open and sell mouses (mice). An hour and $10 later, we are ready to go.
Nathan settled in on the newly acquired family heirloom table (bought for $10 from the Library of Congress by my some number of greats grandfather), with his new mouse and my tiny little 17″ monitor (he’s used to a dual set up that’s a lot larger). I settled in to visit with the fam and find out about that client of mine who hadn’t contacted me about the state of the images she needs. Turned out the images weren’t on line, but luckily Adam (Nathan’s friend, not my brother) was heading to the house in a bit to visit the cats and do some woodworking. It was actually all ready to go and was a simple upload. So glad he could do that! Thanks, Adam!
Nathan was up until 6 a.m. I kept him company by sleeping on the couch nearby. He had to quit when he couldn’t keep his eyes from crossing. At 8:55 (9:55 their time, so that shows great restraint), Nathan’s phone rings. They are hoping to see v.1 by lunch time (2 hours). So out of bed he falls, and back to work. Its just a little bit of touch up work, but this was a pretty tricky job because of all of the motion blur and the wall color is similar to the color of the people and their clothes. We stole a wifi connection from the across the street neighbors (they’re friends with our cousins, so it was all good). There were just a few changes and then we were ready to upload! Neighbor’s wifi disappeared, so we had to pull the cord out of the back of the family computer (which is in the corner behind a bunch of stuff and I had to do it all by feel) and sit the laptop on the chair, hoping that no one misses it and sits on it.
While Nathan slaved away, Jamie & I made the entire box (all 4 dozen) of beignets. It was fun and delicious. I think between the 7 of us, we had them all polished off by lunch time. They may have been better than the ones we got at the actual cafe. We made them a bit smaller (about 1″ square rather than the 2″ suggested size), so the powdered sugar to beignet ratio was nice and high. The sugar buzz may explain the next adventure a bit…
Turns out there’s a difference in “high-speed” and “high-speed” and my family buys the slowest, cheapest connection. So it was just a waiting game. Luckily, Jamie (my uncle) had plans! We were going to cut down a tree that was “too close to the house.” While they were preparing, I went out to photograph the 4 family cars they want to sell. During that, my oldest 20D (emergency backup camera) registered an error 99 and hasn’t worked since. Sigh. Time to call Canon on that one. I was inside fiddling with the camera when the tree cutting extravaganza began. It was the most terrifying experience of Nathan’s life.
A bit about my relatives. Catherine (my mom’s youngest sister) is a bit bossy (or a lot if you ask the kids) which seems to be a family trait. She’s generally not bossy to me, so I like her just fine. Jamie, her husband, has severe ADD and Parkinson’s and is incredibly stubborn. Curtis, the oldest, is 23 and happy-go-lucky. Rachel, 20, is laid back and wise (she was inside with me). Joseph, the youngest, is still in high school and temperamental and sarcastic as only a teenager can be, but still sweet. Put all of them in a tiny house with too much stuff and watch the hilarity ensue.
Nathan didn’t realize the folly of volunteering to help, so next thing he knows, he is at the bottom of an extension ladder stretched as high as it will reach, trying to keep it from twisting around the tree. My uncle is at the top with a chainsaw whacking away at branches which are falling onto Nathan. I feel it will be better told in his own words, so without further ado, my first guest blogger:
The plan was to drop the tree between the two houses. I was told the tree had to go because it was too close to the house. Claire’s uncle had set up the extension ladder. He’s a really good person, but he’s getting older and is a while from being in shape. I’m told he has ADD and is dealing with the beginning stages of Parkinson’s disease. He’s going to climb the extension ladder and cut an offending oak to the ground with a chainsaw. He primed the chainsaw on the ground. Then climbed to the top. My job. Hold the ladder. Do not let the ladder fall. Each step he takes on the way up twists the ladder alarmingly. He stops three rungs from the top. He wraps his arms around the tree and cranks the chain saw. At this point, I’m staring up at him watching his hand shake while holding the revving chainsaw quietly contemplating what to do should he drop said chainsaw.
OK, so I’m back. Nathan got distracted in the middle of his story. So here’s how it went down…
Jamie announced after breakfast that at 3 everyone was to gather in the yard to cut down a tree. I thought he meant one of the spindly little trees in the front yard, but nope, he meant the big oak tree between their house and the neighbors house. We had intended to be on the road by then, but the upload was taking way longer than anticipated, so there we were, just twiddling our thumbs.
I’m not certain how Nathan got volunteered as Ladder Holder. The other boys had ropes around the tree, I think, to pull it towards them. They didn’t have them very high, and Nathan said he was surprised the top of the tree didn’t fall the other direction, whacking Jamie and knocking him, and the chainsaw onto Nathan. We also aren’t sure why no one thought to climb on the roof and cut the higher branches with a pole saw, or hell, just climb the tree and cut some pieces out first. Well, Curtis offered to do the latter but was shot down by his dad who didn’t want him to get hurt. So up the ladder goes Jamie.
Remember, I’m inside at this time with Rachel. Catherine comes in and tells Rachel to go say goodbye to her father and then goes back outside to ask Jamie if their life insurance policy is paid up. Jamie just starts whacking at branches with the chainsaw letting them fall (on Nathan) and spray sawdust and wood chips everywhere (hindering Nate’s ability to keep an eye on things and react to falling man/chainsaw combos).
Nathan was being pretty nice about the whole Parkinson’s/ADD thing. It’s really at the point where Jamie should NOT be at the tip top of a tall extension ladder resting on a large, but not that large, tree while wielding a chainsaw. The next door neighbor made eye contact with Nathan (who was standing in a shower of wood chips and branches) and mouthed “WTF” while Nate just shrugged and shook his head then resumed his valiant attempts to keep my uncle from twisting completely around the tree.
I’m not certain what happened next, but somehow Jamie decided to cut the tree from the far side so that the boys on the ground could pull in down. Rather than climb down and move the ladder, he just wrapped his arms around the tree and started cutting towards himself through the trunk. It really seemed like it was over. He was a nice guy…
As you can see, the tree came down between the houses and no one was seriously injured. I guess we underestimated Jamie’s pull with Jesus. Jamie cut through part of the tree and then the boys pulled it down. That’s Jamie in the green shirt. I have no idea what they did with the rest of the trunk. But they now have firewood and a big open space between the houses. It really goes a long way to explain why Catherine is so twitchy and worried all the time.
So that was the end of the excitement. The rest of our journey was pretty calm. We stopped to visit our friend Angie on our way to Cookeville and didn’t get to Nathan’s dad’s house until 1 a.m. We New Year’ed with Adam’s family and introduced Adam’s mom Linda to Apples to Apples. My dad cooked his traditional New Years Day lunch with greens and black eyed peas and other things that are supposed to bring wealth and health in the coming year. Nathan’s mom did a fantastic job choosing useful gifts. It was good to get home. We’ve worked on the house, loved on the cats and Alfred, and dug through the massive piles of emails, but I have to say TGI-2009! Let’s hope, if not for maintaining deadlines, at least payment for the overages (which we are already instating and its fantastic!) So 2008 was a crazy year of ups and downs. Lots of stress and lots of work. We got to go places and see things and people. It was fun, and I’m glad we get to try again in 2009. Here are more photos:
~ by rebeccaclaire on January 13, 2009.
Posted in life, Travel, Weddings, What I'm up to, work
Tags: Apples to Apples, Beignets, Birmingham Alabama, Cafe du Monde, Cafe Maspero, Canon 20D, Christmas Adventure, Coop's Place, Destination Weddings, Error 99, Family, Frantiques, French Quarter, Gainesville Georgia, Happy New Year, Holiday Mishaps, Homewood Alabama, Hotel le Richelieu, India, iPhone, Juan's Flying Burrito, New Orleans, NOLA, North Georgia Antique Store, Nowhere Mississippi, Photography, Prince Panji & Chandra Kirana, Street Vendors NOLA, Tan Dinh New Orleans, Travel, Vietnamese restaurant NOLA, Weddings