“You are not going out with that boy unless his parents are driving and that's that. I'm not just Spitting Grits here, young lady!”

. . . My father, John Thomas Cravey, USAF, to me in 1956.

Familiar Chant

“We’re Number 1, We’re Number 1!”

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What a familiar chant this is around The University of Alabama and in the state: National football championships, national gymnastics championships, and even debate team championships. Fans will yell this even when it’s not close to reality.

Now this chant takes on new meaning.

A reporter for the (Athens, Alabama) News Courier, Kelly Kazek, wrote a story that has been run on Web sites and in news outlets in Alabama and nationally: Alabama, the state, is now No. 1 nationally for the occurrence of EF5 tornadoes, outstripping Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas.

Hooray.

According to Kazek’s story, the upgrade of an EF4 April 27, 2011, tornado brings Alabama’s total of the most severe tornadoes to seven, breaking the tie with Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Kansas.

That day was a bad day, not just for Alabama. The Storm Prediction Center’s report on storms for that day prove it; tornadoes are represented by red dots. NOAA’s National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in Birmingham posted an assessment of that day: “April Severe Weather Events Set New Tornado Records for Alabama.”

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This time, being Number 1 ain’t what we had in mind.

Glittering Catastrophe

I knew I was in trouble before I got home from Anchorage, Alaska, after attending my 50th high school reunion.

I talked to my four-year-old granddaughter, Joanna Leigh, two days before I would get on the plane for the long, long trip home. She said, in the sweetest voice, “Mama Jo, I have a special surprise for you when you get home.”

“You do-o-o-o?” I answered. “I’m so excited to see it. I’ll be home in two sleeps,” I said, trying to reassure her that I would indeed come home.

She needed reassurance. She has separation/abandonment issues from her mother’s disappearance from her life, and I left for Vancouver to pick up the cruise ship worried about how she would deal with my leaving.

So she made me a really special present.

My husband got back on the phone and said loudly, “This is really special.”

Then he whispered, “it’s glitter, not glitter glue,” which, of course, sticks to surfaces. Pure glitter, he meant.

Then he added in a lower whisper, “and it’s everywhere. I’ve tried to get some of it up.”

“Oh, ma gawd,” I thought.

I drug in at nearly midnight last Monday. She was awake and couldn’t wait to show me.

“Oh, ma gawd,” I thought, for real this time.

Today I spent all morning scraping as much as I could into a bowl. Then I vacuumed and vacuumed and vacuumed, over and over. I vacuumed EVERYTHING: her art table, the crayons, the markers, the paper, the floor, her bed, the lamp, the bottoms of my shoes, my hands, and finally, my own rear end, which sat in the chair covered in glitter. I even vacuumed the ceiling fan for fear that any glitter on the paddles would just get slung, the next time it got turned on, to those few places I didn’t vacuum. 

No Bippity Boppity Boo

A glittering catastrophe. Now I’m nursing my back from vacuuming for two hours.

Life turns on dimes. How fast can you go from being a Queen catered to by everyone on a cruise ship for seven days to a household drudge? In a New York minute. Now I will turn to my pictures, videos, and memories before the whole trip sinks into the vast past and I forget I went.

Afraid that I would hurt her feelings by cleaning up the glitter mess, I took a picture.

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Alaska, the Inside Passage, Reunion, and Grits

Special Notes

I am leaving for Alaska via the Inside Passage today, and will try to blog along the way. Why I’m going is discussed in the previous post.

Meanwhile, last year I discovered a wonderful place in Alabama to buy stone ground grits, and I posted a blog about McEwen & Sons Coosa Valley Milling and Hardware Co. In May, they had a fire which destroyed the store part of the operation, but I was relieved to get an e-mail from the owner, Frank McEwen, saying that the mill is in operation and taking orders for grits, polenta, and their other second-to-none products. Go to www.mcewenandsons.com to order.

I have also in past posts suggested that a good way to celebrate July 4th is to serve grits. Why?

Find out here.

Senior Pictures, Pictures of Seniors

Summertime! Water fun, weddings, backyard cookouts, trips to the mountains, fireflies, even noctilucent clouds (which you can find out about at www.spaceweather.com). And graduation, which means U.S. high schools and colleges putting gazillions of seniors out on the streets.

It’s also the season for one of America’s great pastimes – no, not baseball. Reunions.

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Reunions come in all kinds, sizes, and shapes -- like school classes, families, all kinds of military gatherings including fighter pilot aces, athletes celebrating a special win. Name a meaningful past event or cohorts; people will get together.

Reunions are also big business in America and generate tons of summertime spending; I’ll do my part in a few days to stimulate the economy by contributing more than my share to this business segment.

Yet, there’s a major reason to go, a reason based on some little-known research. That secret will be revealed at the end of the post.

AHS Senior Class of ‘61

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I first heard the silly joke, “What’s the difference between senior pictures and pictures of seniors?” when my father told me he was going to his 50th high school reunion. I thought it was way over the top back then. (The answer to that stupid joke will be at the bottom of this post.)

Some people would rather be shot at dawn than have to attend their class reunion.

Well, I’m risking it all and going to mine. In Anchorage. That’s Anchorage, Alaska. By way of the Inside Passage on Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas, a cruise put together by a few classmates. There will be about 30-plus of us on board. I haven’t seen these classmates in 20 years, since our 30th reunion.

I leave Thursday to get on board. I’ve sent my money in. If I drop dead before next Thursday, well, I won’t live to regret it.

We will join lots of other classmates Friday, June 17, at (West) Anchorage High School, to begin our 50th Reunion. Over the top, alright.

We’ve had a lot of fun working on this Reunion for two years, some of us communicating electronically with the core committee in Anchorage. The work shows in the Web page, at www.ahs61.com.

A few days ago with a temperature here in Tuscaloosa at 101 degrees and my AC merely chugging along, I went to Belk to continue my spending by getting a few things. I couldn’t find them.

“Where are the socks?” I asked a couple of salespeople.

They were speechless, looking at me like I was a mental case. “I’m going to Alaska!” I added.

“Oh! They’re over there,” they replied.

Gravity Happens

Why -- looking like I look, missing all the opportunities for success I’ve missed, feeling totally inferior, not remembering stuff I should remember, having just had “procedures” I don’t want to discuss – why would I put myself through a REUNION? Yes, there’s that secret reason to be revealed at the end. But what about the CONCERNS?

Here’s my take on the CONCERNS:

Many had a tough time in high school. Here’s what I say to that: Who didn’t! We were teenagers. Give me a teenager who didn’t have a tough time and I’ll give you a corpse. Teenagers and psychopaths and sociopaths probably share many personality traits.

Many grownups still feel the sting of real or perceived affronts to their esteem. Here’s what I say to that: Who doesn’t? And let me say right here: If I committed an affront to any of my high school peers, I am most sorry for it. My excuse is that like everyone in high school, I was insane and busy dealing with the affronts aimed at me.

Regarding having suffered from an inferiority complex. Ha! This is what I say to that: I still am. Descartes should have said, “I feel inferior; therefore, I am.”

Many seniors don’t recognize the person in the mirror. I don’t, and I’m sure no one will recognize me. It’s all about gravity, pounds, bad hair color, baldness, wrinkles, dysfunctional knees and sexual prowess, bags, walkers, and whatever else we’ve added to our lives. Here’s what I say to that: It’s true. Most people won’t recognize you anymore than you’ll recognize them.

Get over it; the name tags will be HUGE.

Some will fear scorn for their fuzzy or no “accomplishments.” Here’s what I say to that: As long as we’re breathing, we’ll all continue to have to re-start our lives – for the zillionth time. I just had to re-start mine three years ago when my husband (miraculously, of 40 years) and I petitioned for and adopted our 18-month-old granddaughter.

We ALL remember envying other classmates’ looks, brains, boobs or other endowments, status in the “in crowd,” athletic heroics, scores on the SAT test, and a zillion other things. Here’s what I say to that: I envied Teresa Hanson’s pink Ford Victoria convertible. And Ginger Harris’s confidence. And Tom Kelly’s SAT scores. There, I’ve said it. But I’m going to attend anyway.

No Regrets

So we will come together for our 50th high school reunion – because we CAN. We’ve been given the gift of surviving long enough to have this opportunity. Seeing noctilucent clouds will just be gravy.

Those who will see their close friends, those who didn’t know each other, those who only knew each other as acquaintances – we all share this singular opportunity. All of us shared that one moment when the AHS door opened graduation night for us to begin our journey to adulthood. We all helped each other get to that point, for good or ill.

Senior Prom '61

The AHS Senior Class Prom, 1961. Both the King and Queen, sitting in the chairs, will be at our 50th High School Reunion.

And finally, the main reason, a best kept secret revealed in a New York Times piece two years ago:

“In general, the role of friendship in our lives isn’t terribly well appreciated,” said Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. “There is just scads of stuff on families and marriage, but very little on friendship. It baffles me. Friendship has a bigger impact on our psychological well-being than family relationships.”

ANSWER TO THE OPENING QUESTION:

As far as we, the AHS Class of ’61, are concerned, there’s NO DIFFERENCE between senior pictures and pictures of seniors.

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