Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Train they call "The City of New Orleans"

Summer is well on the way, and so much has been happening ~ our days are packed and I thought my blog would be reflective of our busy life.  However, the busy days have prevented me from documenting all the fun....I never neglect to photograph ~ much to the chagrin of my daughters...they good naturedly grin and bear it when I whip out the camera at all moments of their lives - day and night/ 24-7! Most of the time they ignore it but occasionally, they greet me with raised eyebrows and a look of "Really, Mom?" But, to their credit, they always co-operate.  The "six pack" (our ever present, alternating groups of girlfriends) also never fail to let me "creep" into their private moments and snap away.  For this, I am really many Mamas of teen girls are made to feel welcome and comfortable enough to snap a photo any time they see a good opportunity? My girls and her friends just take it in stride and make good natured jokes about how they may be appearing on the "Blog" when an unexpected flash goes off in their face.  So - the catch up begins!  Anyone that knows us, knows that we pack a lot of fun into every day....and since Ellen and Sara are going to camp all of July, we are packing a lot of family fun into June.  We last left the blog with the sweet celebration of my birthday......I got the idea to jump on the Amtrak train and visit my family and friends in Tennessee ~ and the next day, Sara, Ellen and myself were on the train headed north.  Elizabeth had already committed to going to North Carolina with a group of friends so she was unable to make this trip.

I LOVE riding in a train ~ the gentle rocking and swaying back and forth as you glide down the tracks

Nine hours of time to your self - to read, to blog, to listen to music, to enjoy being with each other, relaxing with no where to go, no directions to follow, no gas tanks to fill, no 18 wheelers to run you off the get the picture!

The ability to get up an walk around to the dining car or observation deck.

The clickety-clackety sounds of the wheels on the train tracks,

Every time you look up there is a new and beautiful sight - it is hard to take your eyes off the windows....

Watching rural America go by while you do absolutely nothing and don't feel the least bit guilty for it!

Here we are in the dining of the times that I crossed my photographic boundry.....and got this "if looks could kill" face from Sara!  The dining car was fabulous  - Food is amazing ~ were it not for embarrassing my poor girls, you would have some beautiful photos but instead, words will have to do.  I ordered steak and it was served to perfection.  Sara simply ordered chicken tenders and they came freshly prepared, crispy and served with a side order of home made mashed potatoes.  The service was equally impressive.  (No, I am getting no kick backs or freebies from Amtrak)

I quickly snapped this photo ~ Sara ~ being the blog loving, good sport that she is, even pasted somewhat of a very embarrassed smile on her face so you could see that the waiters still dress up in three piece suits, down to white shirts, ties and vests ~ so nostalgic.  Thank you Sara!

After dinner - more reading - just love our Kindles (no freebies from Kindle either!)

Watched a beautiful sunset over the horizon

A late night trip to the concession stand!!!!! And at midnight we arrived at our final destination - Newbern, Tennessee - not my hometown; but, it is where my mother grew up and her whole side of the family still resides.  Whenever I get to go home and visit, it always calms my soul.

The only down side to riding the train to Tennessee is that it comes in at midnight; in a small town 15 minutes away from Dyersburg where my mother lives and I grew up.  Thankfully, my cousin Amy Jane, joined my mother in picking us up and decided to come home and spend the night with us. My mother has had a long time love affair with making pottery and has recently delved whole heartedly back into this hobby.  I couldn't be happier as we are the recipients of what she thinks are not-so-perfect pieces, which I think are quite lovely! She is presently working on conquering making a coffee cups, and once she achieves that goal, she is moving on to plates.  This explains the welcome gifts you see in the pictures above for the girls - their own box of clay to create masterpieces!

So where did that lead us next - you guessed my mother's new pottery studio (aka basement, storm celler) She has fixed it up quite nicely to accommodate her new hobby and she has been churning our coffee cups like there is no tomorrow!

Now Amy Jane, she is a master ~ literally, she has a masters in fine arts and can whip out beautiful pottery...plates, bowls, cups...pure awesomeness. I have commissioned her to make me a set of plates ~ 24 of them ~ enough (almost) for the whole family to use during our annual Thanksgiving celebration.  Here is the master at work and how within minutes she brings a blob of clay to life.


This literally took less than five minutes to create - however four years have gone into
learning how to make this bowl in five minutes! 

Now the spotlight is on my mother - Her Prototype - measured and remeasured!

I captured this look when she realized it was not "centered"; potter's language for "feeling" that it
just isn't right, not balanced, won't work....that is the best that I can explain it being a non potter. 

She labored on with it and did finish it even though it was not up to her standards.  We all signed it and she will still use it and always have good memories while drinking her lopsided coffee in the morning!
Sara finished her coil mug.  There are many times on this blog that I have commented on my mother's complexion, but this picture commands one more comment......amazing!

 Grams gave tips and helped Ellen complete a pinch pot!

Believe it or not, it is hard to roll out coils in "real" clay!  We all tried and it took about an hour for us to
learn the proper technique to make the right size coils to make coil pots. This ain't no grammer school play dough stuff!

Pinch Pots Perfected!

Despite the intense heat outside - 95 plus ~ it was quite cold in the pottery studio (boy, that sounds so much more impressive than basement)!  I looked over and Ellen was all tucked into her shirt to stay warm but had her little snack of nuts and was happy as a bug in a rug just watching all the creativity going on around us.  

So much more happened on our trip, but I am going to have to sign off and leave you sitting on the edge of your chair wondering; biting your nails, gnashing your teeth,  and wondering......your mind not being able to concentrate on anything else until tomorrow, to hear the exciting details of all the fantastical things to come.  I promise to be back tomorrow ~ no more long weeks of waiting between posts.  Going to be more timely here.  Oh - before I go.....the little tea pot of flowers welcomed us as first glance, it looks just like some flowers in a vase, right? Upon closer inspection you will find that it is composed of various flowering herbs that could be used to make herbal tea ~ lavender, rosemary, etc., and the 
vase is an adorable clay tea pot.  Isn't that special?


  1. I want your mom's 'studio'. And I don't want to have to wait for it- I want it tomorrow, so that I can get more creative without making my house a mess! Guess I'll have to claim a space in our new house (whenever we find one) for that... The cups are amazing! And what a fun grandmother. I love that kids can learn so much from their grandparents- such different thing from each side. I cannot wait to bring my kids down to La!

    I was, once again, showing Charlie the pictures on your blog- the ones from your train trip- and he asked where you were that there were two suns. (See picture #7) Kiddo has an eye for details... He has also decided that we should take the train somewhere. I said, yes, maybe, one day... When they are old enough to sit quietly and read and enjoy the peace! Not while we are in the run-and-screech phase... lol.

    The girls look so beautiful- summer does that- adds that tan, that relaxed look, those pretty highlights! i miss them so much. The girls, not the highlights. Well, the highlights too... lol. You never turn the camera on yourself! Pass it off sometime... Hello Pot, I'm Kettle... I had to beg Tim to take a few shots of me with Maggie, and then I realized I was a hot mess, surrounded my laundry. oh well!

    Summer up here has really taken shape as we get into such a fun routine. Tim and the boys get up together while Miss Maggie and I "sleep in" (aka take her first nap together, since she has been waking up to play around 4:00am). But we head to the playgrounds for play dates, come home to eat lunch, and then nap... only to wake up and hit repeat! The second round usually involves the sprinklers in the back yard, or bubbles, or (lately) tennis and baseball. On to dinner, and then back out to ride bikes until bath and bedtime. WE ARE TIRED!!!! lol But I'm loving it, and they are too! These day will be gone before I know it, so I'm trying to enjoy every second. And Miss Maggie just tags along, napping and eating and smiling. Such a sweet baby...

    Okay, can't wait to read the next "Summer Edition" on the blog! Keep 'em coming- it's great to hear about life down there.

    Love to everyone!!!

  2. Even if I only have one commenter ~ your one comment makes up for the hundreds I don't have! I too now want a pottery studio but between the mounds of knitting supplies, endless boxes of smocking material, sewing machine and odds and ends all over, gardening tools everwhere and pet stuff galore....Gary would check himself into an institution..we cannot pick up another hobby! not one more. I was wondering about those cute little pink items on your chair...thought you were showing off some gifts! Glad to hear someone else has unfolded laundry on their chair and I was happy to see you still have the mate to our chair! Summer is so nice.....Everyone looks so healthy and happy...wait a minute ~ everyone is so healthy and happy~ no school, no colds, great weather, fresh fruit and veggies....just love summer! Now I am off to work on part two of drum roll please - Day two of the TN visit - it is a doozie!


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