A Slice of Life: Day 1

March 1 is here which means day one of a Slice of Life.  Yes! I am taking the plunge and I’m going to write and post here every day for a month.  That’s 31 whole days during the month of March!  I’ve been following a blog called Two Writing Teachers and they’ve challenged their followers to write every day during March.  Today is day 1!  I’m going for it and you personally have my permission to hassle me if you see me slacking. Each day, I will draft up a daily dose of daily doings.  There’s plenty and today’s a perfect day to begin.

Here is a multiple choice question:  What is the benefit of living near the Georgia capitol?  (a) you have stately, gold-domed buildings to gaze upon during down town commutes, (b) you have seasonal XL traffic downtown, (c) you have parking garages, decks and sketchy lots scattered about (d) you can have your kids page under the gold dome, (e) all of the above.  If you picked (e), then you are correct!  Today, we experienced all of the above: traffic and buildings, a $13 parking spot, rain, paging and Georgia peanuts (little packages of Georgia peanuts are ubiquitous at the capitol!).

Our objective today: blaze through the rain and traffic, get to downtown, park and make the paging training session by 12:30.  All of that effort was worthwhile to page at the Georgia Capitol.  The Georgia Paging Program is a fantastic way for young people to learn about the legislative process by actually being right in the middle of the action.  House Pages hand-deliver messages from constituents and lobbyists to the representatives on the house floor.  Usually, these are small notes regarding upcoming bills and resolutions that are being addressed that day.  This process is kind of old school because all of these representatives could easily receive texts or email, but the Georgia General Assembly has reserved this job for our young students.  My paging- child said of it today, “It made me feel like I was doing something important.”  Here he is checking in at the Paging Desk. IMG_6157

What’s captivating is the activity going on all around.  There’s legislators chatting quietly in small groups, constituents sitting on benches with brief cases waiting for a chance to talk with their Senators, interns bustling busily about the marble floors and elementary school groups listening to tour guides under the giant rotunda.  The capitol is both quite and loud at the same time which is likely due to the abundance of sound-absorbing marble everywhere inside.   It is also one of the best people watching places in the state.  Everyone, it seems, was here today.


Putting on a coat and tie is just one of the perks of paging.  They also pay each page $10 for their service and provide lunch and snacks.  Here’s a glimpse at the page training session which we barely made on time.   We had about 30 pages working today, a robust number.  After the training, its time to await your turn.  These patient pages seem unaware of the stately men and women who have roamed these halls before and whose pictures hang above their heads.  Can you tell this picture was taken just before snack time?


While my ninth grader was busy paging, we took a tour of the fourth floor museum where we learned all kinds of interesting tidbits about the capitol.   According to our friend Chase, this painting of Lester Maddox is the only painting of a governor wearing a seersucker suit.  And, on the last day of the session, every legislator wears a seersucker suit in his honor.  It is a stellar tradition and Chase says he’ll be buying a one to wear in the next week.  The Georgia peaches next to Lester’s wife are a nice touch.


No annual visit to the Georgia Capitol is complete without a stop by the two-headed calf.  This weird exhibit has been wowing visitors for years and never ceases to amuse my youngest child. It is a bit strange to have this in the capitol.  Hopefully our visitors realize that all Georgia cows aren’t born with two heads!


At the top of the capitol looking down over the beautiful architecture and the cascading while marble steps, we heard that the session was adjourned.  It was time to check out our page. “If you don’t check your page out, they can’t leave,” they told us as we dropped him off earlier.  Down the stairs and a couple of steps around the corner, there he was looking very business-like, Alexander Stephens looking over his shoulder.


That’s it for our first slice.  Its a slice of Georgia life.  See you tomorrow.



Cheap Field Trips # 3: Bob’s Trail


Cheap Field Trips # 3

What’s lush, girded, roaring and peaceful all at the same time?  Well, it’d have to be the Bob Callan Trail, of course.

If you’re up for an interesting twist on nature, take a walk down the Bob Callan.  It’s in the middle of where you are and it’s totally free!  The trail traverses the region at the convergence of Interstate 285, Interstate 75, Cumberland, Akers Mill Road, Rottenwood Creek and the Chattahoochee River.  Remarkably, this diverse trail abounds with natural, architectural, and urban fascination.

I discovered the trail when  I saw a news article featuring a man traversing a newly paved concrete path beneath I-285.  What’s this?  Something natural under the Cumberland Connector?   We’ve got our next cheap trip adventure right here.


Thankfully, my youngest is usually game for an adventure, so off we went.

First, literally, the biggest challenge was to find it!  The whole place around there is under construction.  I circled the area for about 20 minutes looking for an access point.  Finally, we gave up,  parked in an office parking lot, and hopped over a silk EPA fence and into the trail.  Hopefully, by the time you read this the trail head parking will have opened.  Here’s what came up on Google Maps:

google map of trail head

Wide and paved, the trail is a fascinating confluence of  highly engineered highways and disordered woodlands. The trail seems to refill dead zones that were inaccessible when the highways came.  As my husband says,” I’ve spent all my time above.  Walking the trail gave me a sense of what’s beneath.”  There’s a hidden treasure down under the concrete canopy.   God’s art meets Man’s Art.  The man-made stuff obstructs; but nature finds its way around.  The trail gives you a glimpse into this battle that rages on beneath the thoroughfare, between the natural and the man-made.  In some places, the man-made is winning the battle; but, as you walk along, you see that nature is winning the war.  Little pockets of handsome purple flowers push up at the trail’s beginning.  A large mill-stone, broken in half by time and wear, is exposed in the creek bed.  A tree busts through a concrete retaining wall.  You know that over time, if left alone, nature would reclaim this strip of land back to its own quiet customs.


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In the meantime, until the apocalypse,  there is a great deal of symmetry and concrete to appreciate.

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We stopped frequently, taking in the splendor of a building’s reflection in the water or the feel of cold, steel  bridge I-beams.  Eventually  we advanced past all the bridges, railings, graffiti, and traffic sounds to the place where Rottenwood Creek deposits itself into the Chattahoochee River.   Even here, the mouth of the creek was buttressed with a concrete hedge.  Yet, the water softened the view and made for a lovely sound as it spilled over into the river.

I looked at my phone while we listened to the water spill into the Hooch! Where had the time gone?  We’d lost an hour here beneath the concrete canopy.   Time to head back.

This place impacted me in a bizarre and wonderful way.  Now I think about that trail and the nature going on there every time we drive over the top.  I can hear the rushing water under the bridges.  The image of my son dwarfed by the massive concrete wall, his colorful clothes contrasting against the grey, stays strong in the back of my mind.

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This trip revealed that there are beautiful, natural places to visit in and around our concrete city.   I’d say “The Bob” is a good destination in and of itself.  But, its also a good stop over place to take a lunch or traffic break and well worth the effort to find.  We’ll be back for sure.

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Mrs Deal

Cheap Field Trips # 2

What’s gargantuan, gorgeous and gratuitous?

The Georgia Governor’s Mansion!  That’s right!  The Governor’s Mansion is absolutely free to tour and hosts regular visits throughout the year.  If you live near your state capitol, odds are you have a governor’s mansion to tour.  If not, a local public building or historic home will do. Many places offer free or discounted tours for youth.

In our home state of Georgia, the Governor and his wife throw open their doors and welcome the public to their beautifully decorated home at Christmas.  Living fairly close, we decided to check out the mansion one recent December morning and were pleasantly surprised!

After driving along a fabulous street with enormous and exquisitely landscaped residences, we approached the mansion on the left.  An attractive iron and brick palisade ran along the perimeter of the property.  Just east of the expanse of lawn and trees, we came to a small drive with a gate station attended by GHP officers.  Upon passing a simple inspection of credentials, we parked right on the grounds, close to the home.  It certainly wasn’t your Disney World parking lot with trams and a long wait. Instead, lovely magnolias and large oaks greeted us as we stepped from our truck and ambled past a school bus and a couple dozen vehicles.  The small crowd seemed to be moving toward the front door, and there, after a short wait of about 10 minutes, we saw the Georgia First Lady herself.

My youngest was decked for the occasion.

He looked up at me and asked, “Mom, who is the lady greeting everyone at the door?”

I whispered back, “That’s the Georgia First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Deal.”

“Oh!” he retorted with a goofy, surprised kind of smile.

When it was our time to approach the threshold of the home, my guy looked up and simultaneously, but cautiously shook the hand of the esteemed greeter. As a surprise, the first lady looked down at him and said, “I live in this house. Perhaps one day you will live in this house too.  But you gotta study hard and you can’t be mean, ‘cuz nobody’s going to vote for someone who’s mean.”

That’s a curious thing to say, I thought. But, certainly not untrue.

My boy nodded, smiled and quipped back, “I’m really mean!”

Now, I thought he was going to say something like, “Yes, Ma’m!” However, my children master the art of sarcasm quite early, so I shouldn’t have been surprised.  I was slightly concerned how she might receive this.

Evidently, she must be familiar with 10 year old boys because in the next second, she started up with a gleeful and endearing sort of laugh that seemed to last a full 20 seconds!

We stepped inside.

Once inside, my son thought a minute and then asked,  “Can we go back and take a picture with Mrs. Deal?”

I guessed that last exchange of dialogue and laughter convinced my boy that the two now shared a sort of bond.

“It couldn’t hurt to ask,” I said, thumbing in my purse for my iPhone.  I love a good photo opportunity and a challenge.

“Would you mind a quick photo?” I asked with slight apprehension, trying to cover my embarrassment.

She grinned. “Why certainly,” was her response.

This is how we began our lovely tour of the mansion!


Mrs Deal


The Georgia Governor’s Mansion was built in 1967.  It is an impressive, three story Greek Revival home with 30 Doric columns surrounding the porches. Each of the columns is made from California Redwood.  Once inside, we were hosted by volunteers who gave us little tidbits about each of the rooms, furniture and decorations.  In front of one broad fireplace, we ran into two lovely volunteers wearing colonial era clothing.  In the vast dining room, we took in the Federal period furniture and state chinaware.  We soon discovered that each room was decorated according to a different region of the state.  One tree was embellished with popularly grown Georgia products, like cotton, pecans, peaches and peanuts. Another was decked in Coastal Georgia ornaments such as shells and starfish.

After working our way through the first floor, we went down a flight of stairs and into the basement where we were greeted with cookies, punch and a local student choir.  It was a very festive way to spend a December morning.  This is definitely one trip we’d like to repeat!  It was really quite memorable and, best of all, it was free!!!!