The Calm Before the Storm
Bud had his Orchestra’s Christmas Concert on Thursday, the night before we left. A concert day usually leaves him frazzled, because anything that can go wrong, usually DOES, and everyone seems to have some crisis or another that only Mr. W. can solve. While he thrives in this kind of situation, and most people would never know the stress he is feeling, I know what’s really going on underneath that smile of his. I know how utterly exhausted he is…and it worries me to no end.
I spent the day running errands and packing things in anticipation of our trip, then I went to the Christmas Concert that night. It was spectacular. The auditorium was filled with proud parents and future orchestra students watching their child or big brother/sister perform. The stage was a sea of black formals and red Santa caps, and the excitement and ‘good cheer’ in the auditorium was palpable.
The High School has 6 Orchestras this year, which each played a couple of songs. They also combined two of the top string orchestras and added winds so that they could do two Full Orchestra pieces, one of which was ‘The Waltz of the Flowers’ from ‘The Nutcracker’ by Tchaikovsky. The Full Orchestra got a standing ovation after that performance.
Bud always gets home late after a concert. He has to talk to parents, make sure the chairs get moved off the stage, tie up loose ends, and make sure that every student gets picked up before he can go home.
He was exhausted when he finally made it home. All of the mental, emotional and physical stress leading up to a concert really wipes him out! He always tells me after a concert that he feels like he has lost 10 pounds!
He had to load up the trunk and flatbed trailer. I admit I am useless in this department. You either have the packing ‘skill’ or you don’t, and I definitely DON’T. That’s sort of a man kind of skill. I just throw it all in there and hope it fits. I also didn’t know what tools and things he planned on taking. So…I took things that were ready to be loaded out into the garage to make it easier for him to load when he was ready to do it. I felt really bad for him.
We didn’t get to bed till around 2:00 a.m. We had planned on leaving at 3:00 a.m. When the alarm went off, I was dead after only an hour sleep. With thick tongue and groggy head, I turned to Bud with lifted head and squinty eyes and asked him if we could please sleep another hour. He had no problem with it at all. It was SO hard getting up!
I got a shower, and then loaded the cat and the chickens, one-by-one, into the back seat. Bud loaded last minute things like the coffee pot and ice chest into the car and trailer. We left without coffee or breakfast. The golden arches couldn’t show up soon enough about an hour after we left! The only fast food coffee I like is McDonald’s. It even beats most convenience store coffees in my book! I’m a coffee snob. My motto is, “If it doesn’t taste good, and you are not going to enjoy the experience, why drink it?” I had my usual travel breakfast- a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit. Bud had his usual travel breakfast- a sausage McMuffin with egg. We were flyin’ high after that! The whole world looked brighter and more colorful. Coffee can turn around even the worst of mornings!
We had to stop numerous times for Bud to adjust the tarp and things that were shifting in the flatbed trailer, or to take care of the chickens. The chickens usually sleep as long as it is dark, but become active when it starts to get light outside. Even though I know they won’t drink it, I usually offer them some water when we stop. Sometimes, if they lay an egg while we are traveling, I have to get the egg out of the cage so it won’t get stepped on. We got two eggs on the way up there this time.
Rietta (my affectionate nick-name for Henrietta) was being a total pill after the sun came up! She is ‘high-strung’ and has extreme anxiety issues. She had the other hens in her cage backed into their respective corners with their heads facing the corner, and she was in the middle scratching for goodies. If the other hens so much as turned and looked at her, she pecked them. Rietta had them so cowed, that they stayed in their corners for most of the trip!
I usually put scratch in the cage after we have been traveling for a while to alleviate boredom, but they will not drink. I can’t leave water in there because it will spill. When I offer them water in a bowl when we stop, they never take a drink. This bothers me greatly! 10-11 hours is a long time to go without water. Simba is the same way…he won’t eat or drink or use his litter box in the car, even when we stop for a break.
I had an epiphany while listening to the cacophonous cackling in the back seat: Get a couple of heads of lettuce to put in the chicken cages. I was driving my shift, so I dropped Bud off at the door of Walmart so he could go in and get the lettuce, and then parked. When he came out, he cut the heads of lettuce with his pocket knife into fourths (these girls don’t share very well) and we put one head of lettuce sliced into four pieces in each cage. That kept them preoccupied for a while, and had the added benefit of giving them some moisture.
We stopped at Whataburger for lunch in Texarkana…we always make sure to stop there to get one last good burger before we cross the border where no one has even heard of a Whataburger before. We always eat on the run, rather than stop to eat it there. The only bad thing about eating a Whataburger while driving is that they chop their onions and lettuce for the burger, and it always falls out of the burger, which is a driving hazard. Bud can’t resist looking down to find the onions when they fall out of the burger, and I always go into a panic and yell out, “DON’T LOOK FOR THE ONION! I’LL GET IT FOR YOU!” It scares me so much when he does that while driving. My whole body goes into shock until he finds the wayward onion, and his head comes back up to look at the road.
We had been hearing about some bad weather coming our way, and were really worried that we would meet it. Even asked some family members to be praying for us. Thankfully, we only had a little bit of drizzle the whole way there!We stopped at Coursey’s at around 3:45 for a smoked meat sandwich (which has become a favorite stop of ours) and we were off again!
Once we reach the gravel road, it takes about 20 or more minutes to get to our house. It’s an absolutely gorgeous drive, and one of these days I want to drive it with the sole intent of taking pictures.
We arrived at the house about 4:30 p.m. As I stepped out of the car, I was greeted by the now familiar woodsy scent that tickled my nose, and the amazing stillness that envelopes the place. It’s very much of a shock after living in the city. It’s something I can’t wait to get use to.