Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It’s an Auburn Thing. Or a College Thing. Or Maybe a Tradition Thing. But in This Case, Definitely a Sad Thing.

For decades, whenever my alma mater has a significant victory to celebrate, hundreds, even thousands converge on a small intersection in downtown Auburn, Alabama. Called Toomer’s Corner for Toomer’s Drug Store that sells the best lemonade on the planet, and has done so for generations, the oak trees that grace this little crossroads are soon dripping with toilet paper.

Yes, when we have something to celebrate at Auburn we roll our own trees. Weird? Maybe. Wonderful? Absolutely.

Most memorably for me, I took part in this celebration when Bo Jackson won the Heisman in 1985. I wasn’t there to take part  when Auburn won the National Championship in January. So Petunia and I did the next best thing—we rolled our Christmas tree in celebration.

Why am I writing about this when football season is over? Because someone took a sports rivalry a little  too far and poisoned the 130 year old oak trees at Toomer’s Corner. They were hit with such a high dose of Spike 80DF, an herbicide which is regulated by the EPA, that the trees’ deaths are almost a certainty. If they don’t die, they’re expected to become so disfigured that they’ll have to be removed.

The trees aren’t showing any signs yet, so how do we know? A man called into a sports talk show in  Alabama, bragging about what he’d done, and signed off by saying “Roll Damn Tide!” (Tests of the soil have verified his claim.) Perhaps even more disheartening is seeing how many people have “liked”  the article online titled Auburn's historic Toomer's Corner oaks poisoned with herbicide, likely to die”—12,000 and counting. To see if the number has gone any higher, go to .

Not everyone is a college football fan and may not get why this matters. But traditions do matter. They  bind us together and unite people across space and time. Auburn will find a way to continue our unusual, but proud, tradition. Whereas the man who did this will likely end up spending a lot of time alone, in a very confined space. He gave his first name and hometown when he called into the talk show, and I could make a joke here about our rivals, but I’m going to be charitable to the school he "supports,” and assume he doesn’t have a college degree from there, or anywhere.

Which is sad for him really on a lot of levels. Just think of the cool traditions he’s missed out on.  Don’t even get me started on “The Flush.”

Saturday, February 12, 2011

One of us gets PINKed up and another gets PICKed Up

Petunia’s favorite book of the last several months is Pinked Up. It involves a little girl “pinking up” her daddy so they can go to a “pinknic.” My apologies to anyone who’s wanted to check it out since October because until last week it was in our possession. Petunia decided she wanted to pink up her daddy. So for Christmas he was given a couple of pink shirts and a pink patterned bow tie.
A few days ago we broke out the bow tie for the first time and pinked up Amp for work.  I’ve been trying to get him to wear bow ties for years, but Petunia was the one that pulled it off. No surprise there. She’s a pretty persuasive kid. She even gets me to accessorize from time to time. (It helps that she makes beautiful necklaces for me.)
And sometimes that persuasion of hers is used for something other than improving her parents’ wardrobes. A couple of weeks ago I was feeling a little out-of-sorts, second-guessing something that I’d done, as I am wont to do. While driving alone I consoled myself by saying “It’s okay, you’re just a little bit odd.”  (Case in point—using the word wont.) When I returned home, still feeling a little melancholy, Petunia lay on the warm bathroom floor while I was brushing my teeth, and said “Mama, do you ever think you’re a little bit odd? Because sometimes I think I am.” She said this in the most sincere way, without any preschool drama or sadness—totally content to consider herself a little odd.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard her use the word odd, and for her to use it on that day of all days, and to use the exact same phrasing as I had earlier, was, well, odd. Or a little bit miraculous, depending on how you look at it.  

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Introducing Petunia & Forever Family Day

So the whole pseudonym thing seems kind of silly, but I’m going with it in an effort to protect the innocent—at least they will be protected if anyone ever happens to read this who does not know us personally! I have about 30 nicknames for my daughter—Bug (as in Snugga Bug, Hugga Bug, Love-a Bug girl), Lovey Girl, and Petunia being among those that get used most frequently. When I gave my 5-year-old daughter the option of choosing from among her nickname’s for use on this blog, she went with Petunia.  Petunia is not a name I would wish on anyone as their given name, it seems more fitting for a guinea pig, but we read it in a book once (oh who am I kidding, we saw it on a show, but if it makes you feel any better, it was probably on PBS) and she thought it was hilarious, so a new nickname was born, along with the associated rhymes (Petunia, Po-tat-a, I love you, A Lotta, etc.) because that's how we roll in our family. 
Amp (my husband, aka, absent-minded professor), Petunia and I celebrated our Forever Family Day recently by going for a bike ride at the Biltmore Estate. It was a glorious 60 degree day in January, and it was wonderful. Until we went out to dinner, and Petunia’s late bed-time the night before caught up with us. Which is fitting I guess. We’re a family after all, and not all family celebrations are idyllic.
Our family of three was formed when we adopted Petunia from China four years ago. In adoption-speak many people call the day you are united with your child for the first-time, Gotcha Day. To me, “gotcha” sounds too much like something you say when you’ve played a prank on someone. Maybe it gets at my insecurities about parenting—“Ha Ha! I’m going to be your mom! The jokes on you!”
We call it Forever Family Day and even Forevermore Family Day because I don’t want to deny the part of Petunia that is Chinese, and that existed before we knew her. And I especially don’t want to deny that in a remote mountain village in China, two people with really excellent DNA created this wondrous child. And I have a strong suspicion that they, and perhaps others, ache for her every winter at the time of her birth. How could they not?