By: Shar Porier
The Banks County News
June 12, 2002
The 60-hour vacation?!
Yes! 60 hours free from work and chores!
What can one do in 60 hours? Doesnt sound like much time. Guess Im fixing to find out.
The alarm went off at 5 a.m. Hit the snooze for that extra 15 minutes. Got up, fixed coffee and started to pack.
How am I going to get all this camera gear packed and my clothes?
lets see dont really need this, or this
my clothes pile began to shrink.
After an hour of decision-making, my bags are packed. I have one suitcase and my camera bag. I was proud of myself. I had put normal purse-type things in my camera bag. Why carry two bags when one will do?
I hopped in the tub for a quick whirl.
I got dressed and loaded the car. Im off to the airport.
Early morning traffic through Atlanta is always a hassle, I figured, so I gave myself plenty of time.
The crazies must be on vacation, I thought, as I breezed through town. I exited the expressway in a record-breaking one and a half hours.
Airport parking lots full. Use Park and Ride, the sign said. Oh, great. Good thing I had extra time. I followed the signs to the lot and parked. A mini-bus picked me up at my car. Cool!
We got to the terminal and, surprise, curb-side check-in is back! Yea! I got my boarding pass and headed to the security check.
Coasted through there and quickly realized I had 2 hours before my flight. What to do. The concourse I was leaving from didnt have much to offer in the way of diversions. I thought about going back and checking out other concourses.
Ill just write a column or something, I told myself.
I reached for a notepad and realized I had packed it in my suitcase. A reporter without a notepad! Arrrgh!
I checked the little shops and got side-tracked with the headlines of newspapers. 14-year-old kidnapped from bed in Utah. More deaths in the Middle East. Suicide bombers. I felt for the families and the people. I wondered if the reporters for the big papers ever go on over-load from bad news. I felt for them, too.
Back to my mission and happier thoughts, I told myself. No note pads, not even a diary in the book stores.
I checked other concourses with no luck.
But, the plane would be boarding soon, so I grabbed a last cup of coffee. Thanks, Starbucks!
The flight actually boarded on time. But, of course, the take-off was delayed for one reason or another. We sat at the gate.
I watched as baggage handlers (Should be baggage maulers. Oooh, glad that one wasnt mine!) tossed bags onto a conveyor belt into the empty belly of another plane.
The wait turned out to be brief and Oh my, were actually leaving on time! This is too unbelievable. Things have gone so well. I must be in the Twilight Zone!
Off to Bowie, Maryland for a wedding. My cousin Sues son Ty is getting married. I thought about how long its been since Sue and I have seen each other and realized it had been nearly 10 years. I cant believe that much time has passed and the gangly teen I last saw was now a grown man, just out of college, ready to start a family of his own.
Bowie sits about half-way between Washington, D.C. and Annapolis. I thought about some sight-seeing as I looked out the window and watched the ground below fall away as we climbed through the clouds. I could go to DC one evening and to Annapolis before I leave on Sunday. Might be kind of rushed visits, but I didnt know if I would ever be going there again and it seemed important to fit them in.
As I put away my ticket, I saw the e-mail pages of confirmations for everything. Ok, now I have something to write on.
With the seat next to me vacant, I sprawled out.
I like the little jets feel safer in them. I love to fly. It gives me the feeling of freedom.
I glanced around at my fellow passengers. They were talking softly to each other.
In the seats ahead of me the inevitable photos of kids came out, along with the oohs and ahs. The man and woman talked about their dreams for their children.
The aisle across from me held two little old ladies who swapped stories about their families and great-grandchildren. They laughed and smiled as they looked at each other photos from their trips.
Behind me, two young businessmen discussed communication systems and the latest electronic gadgets.
Up here at 30,000 feet, strangers become friends, if only for a little while. There is no prejudice, no anger, no hate. We are one.
As I looked down at the rugged mountains, I thought of the song, From A Distance.
I thought about those headlines and how it just doesnt seem possible that anyone living on this incredible, bountiful conglomerate of space debris could torment each other, hate each other, kill each other. We are so lucky to even be here. If only everyone in the world could see this for themselves
I watch as the rugged mountains gave way to beautiful green, rolling hills. So this was Maryland. I hadnt expected it to be so green, so much open space. There were lakes, rivers, creeks and estuaries everywhere I looked. The sun raced across them lighting them up like golden strings of fire, twisting and turning across the countryside.
We were preparing to land and I hadnt written a word. Lost in thought, the time had just slipped by.
The jet landed, I grabbed my bag and decided not to schedule my time during these few days. I liked the feelings of freedom, of amity, I had gotten on that flight. Holding onto them would be the only goal of this vacation!
Shar Porier is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers.
By: Rochelle Beckstine
The Banks County News
June 12, 2002
This person belongs to Beckstine Hacienda
After two years, one month and 13 days of home ownership, Ive come to a conclusion that most of you probably already know: you dont own your house, your house owns you.
13 Reasons why I believe this to be true:
1. For Mothers Day, I asked for a fish pond because I thought it would look good in the back corner of my yard. By asking for this gift, I committed my husband, Piper and I into three weekends worth of work. There was a time before home ownership when I would have read Nora Roberts latest novel or otherwise been non-sweaty and dirty.
2. I spend my pay check on different varieties of grass seed, searching for the magic combination that will make beautiful green grass sprout from my rocky red clay yard. I then spend Saturday, walking around and around and around the yard, 30 pounds of Piper and backpack strapped to me, looking down at the ground and twirling a little handle so grass seed jumps out of my little plastic thing-a-ma-bob and lands in perfect synchronation on the ground or so my husband tells me when he catches me hand sowing it.
3. I plan to learn how to use a pressure washer for the first time in my life because the house needs a bath. There is some dirt (or mold) beside the front door near the hose and I cant have that. I havent actually washed my car in over a year. Boy, do things change.
4. I walk around picking the rocks out of my yard, even the little pebbles because they could be stopping my grass from growing. With Georgias humidity and the heat wave weve been having, this is crazy behavior.
5. I dream of my house newly repainted, the carpets freshly steam cleaned, everything dusted and in perfect order and my back porch with some kind of shady overhang or even better glassed-in so the mosquitos will just fruitlessly bang themselves against the windows. That would be nice. My dreams used to center around car improvements or self-improvement (like having the time to take a few cooking classes or improve my vocabulary by reading a big fat book).
6. The house needed curtains so I learned to use a sewing machine. It is useful for other things, but I seriously bought a sewing machine because I wanted curtains with straight hems.
7. I walk on tiptoes around my new grass, brushing the dirt off the new tops.
8. My mosquito bites have mosquito bites, yet I still sit on my patio every night for at least five minutes.
9. I vow to find the root of kudzu and destroy it. Im still trying. I have nightmares about the huge ugly plant in The Little Shop of Horrors. That big ugly momma-jama is kudzu. I swear it. And she has little babies all over my yard. They grow a foot a day. If only I could find the mother of all kudzu, kudzu all over the world would shrivel up and die. So maybe Im a little obsessed, but have you met kudzu?
10. I curse when my little baby grass gets burned by the June sun.
11. I forego buying bubble bath (and I love bubble bath) so I can afford to add some patio plants to the patio I just spent three weekends crafting around my Mothers Day pond.
12. I get off work a few hours early so I can go home and surprise my husband by having the yard mowed when he gets home. After all, the house owns him too and he is the perfect helpmatedoing most of the heavy lifting and truth be told, he is the brains of most of our projectsI have yet to find something he cant or wont do. How did I get so lucky?
13. I come home every night with a grin on my face. Its mine. Its mine. Its mine. And so is the dead Oak tree and the live Oak tree right beside it. And the squirell who lives in the Oak tree and dumps all of my bird seed on the ground so he and his buddy can eat it. And the crappy nails that need to be renailed on my deck steps. And the toffee-colored walls and the beige carpet. And the green countertops. And ...
Rochelle Beckstine is a columnist for MainStreet Newspapers.