Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Next Episode: A Journey!

But not so fast—the packing took a bit of time. Thankfully, we were only going to be staying overnight, so we only had to back about a thousand pounds of stuff. The laundering kept me up until 1 a.m., however. There was one particular pair of pants that needed to be brought with us for Boy, and they didn’t get finished drying until very early Saturday morning. But they did get dry, and I collapsed on the bed and in what seemed to be about two minutes, the clock was going off.

The plan was to leave at 7:30, stop and get some fast food breakfast, then head up I-65. Despite my usual misgivings about such planning, we actually managed to leave the house at 7:30. Ish. More like 7:40, with slight shading of 7:45. But close enough.

Dropped by our favorite multinational conglomerate and got some of their fresh hot conglomerate, and then we were rolling.

The drive up to Larry Anderson country was beautiful—the trees have just started turning, and the sky was bright with just a few puffy clouds, and we only had to make one stop! The one thing that always surprises me about the Huntsville area is the huge number of cotton fields—even ol’ southern me tends to think of cotton being a bit deeper south, but cotton is king up north, too, I suppose.

A few of the fields had been picked and some still had a couple of weeks to go—but most were snow white with bolls. And they find a place to plant this stuff everywhere. You can be driving along in a built-up commercial area on an otherwise unremarkable suburban parkway, come to a gap between a strip mall and a Wal-Mart, and in between will be a cotton field.

Another surprising thing about the drive up was the Armadillo Line—the furthest north I saw one was between Cullman and Decatur. Hard to believe something so slow can get so far north so fast. (I remember just a few years ago you had to be below Montgomery to see any.) Anyway, I saw six of those, along with four big fat raccoons, several furry things, three coyotes (not a single one with a bowl of birdseed or a tiny “Help Me” sign), and only a single possum. I would think that they had become endangered, but for the fact that one night a couple of weeks ago we came home and one was waddling across our driveway, headed for the neighbor’s house.

Anywho, we managed to make it to the swanky Holiday Inn – Research Park in a bit under two hours. It sits on an outparcel of the just-as-swanky Madison Square Mall, and the moment we pulled in, Oldest started jabbering and squealing about going shopping. “OOO!! THEY HAVE A PARISIAN!! AND A MCRAE’S!!” Just like the ones at home.

She then started a running inventory of every single business she could see on both sides of the road—restaurants, bookstores, hardware—obviously, she was desperate to try to convince us to do anything other than go watch dumb old soccer. Can’t blame her for trying, I suppose, but it would be nice if it were not quite so loud, and if she would admit defeat when it becomes apparent.

Pulled into the hotel lot and went to check and see if by chance our room was ready, because I am deranged like that. Of course, it wasn’t ready, so it was on off to go to the field, Bell Mountain Park, which turned out to be the place where all of our games were.

Right off the road to Gate Three of Redstone Arsenal (everything is close to an entrance to Redstone, by the way), it was a very pretty set of real, American, football fields and baseball fields. The soccer boundaries were drawn over the top of the football gridiron, which made it a bit tough on our girls, but that was secondary to the competition.

The tournament was put on by the Kicks Soccer Club out of Huntsville, and they had it pretty well sorted out. (If you notice by clicking over to their website, their name is actually the Kicks Futbol Club, but I absolutely refuse to call soccer “football”, not to mention misspell football as “futbol”. Further, if they were really clever, with all that cotton up there, they would call it “futboll” and have a big fluffy cotton boll made to look like a soccer ball. Hmph!)

Our first game was against a team from Brentwood, Tennessee, and they ate us up. Final score was something like 8-0. Our girls had only one practice in the last two weeks and it really showed, not to mention that one of our forwards had a huge cast on her arm, which we had to cover in bubble wrap. I really think it was throwing her timing off, but there was enough tentative play to go around. And then Bec got smacked hard in the eyeball with a ball.

They stopped and she came out, and I did the dad-march around to the other side of the field. You don’t want to get them any more frightened than necessary, so you try to be calm and upbeat, but you just know she’s lost an eye or she’ll be in a coma by the time you get there. I just keep repeating, “It’s can’t be as bad as a line drive; it can’t be as bad as getting beaned by a fastball…” Doesn’t help any. Got around there and she had a cold cloth on her face. She was all red and sweaty and sniffling, but more scared than really hurt. I played with her ponytail a bit and finally got her calmed down, and then told her I was going to go back and sit down. That sure is a long walk.

The game finally got over with, and then it was time to go check in. Maybe.

Drove back to The Inn, and was met with the news that our two-double bed room was still not ready. And we had to unpack, and someone needed to change her jersey. I pleaded and wheedled some (a skill learned long before my kids taught me all the new variations) and the best he could do was a smoking room. NOTHING is worse than a smoking room, so I settled for the next best thing, a king with a fold out sofa bed. And a rollaway. You know, it’s really not very easy to get six people in a hotel room.

But we did. Got the bell cart and loaded it down with the payload, then we all headed upstairs.


Yeah, how ‘bout that. Honestly, I promise, they have been places—they do realize that civilization is relatively widespread, but every time they seem fascinated that all the stuff at home exists other places, too.

So, anyway, they all pile onto the bed and turned on Nickelodeon and Rebecca’s eye was spontaneously healed.

I kept trying to interest someone in lunch, but to no avail, so I threw my head back on the couch and started snoring and drooling until time to head back out for the second game. I did manage to catch just enough of Alabama’s game to see that Auburn had managed to beat those pesky Missippippi Staters, and to see that Ipsa Dixie’s predictive skills have taken a sharp upswing. The final turned out to be 45-13, and your Possumblog Sports Center Staff had predicted 42-14. Pretty fair call, I have to say.

It got time to head back out, and with it came the plaintive cries of, “BUT WHAT ABOUT LUNCH?!” Bunch o’ derned little crybabies! I just gave them the Maurice Chevalier-bemused-shrug and pointed to the television. Probably would have worked better if they knew who Maurice Chevalier was, but whatever.

Back down Memorial Parkway, where we met up with our Huntsville host team, who were very bad hostesses by resolutely refusing to lose. At least it wasn’t as bad as the first game, this one we only lost 1-0. ::sigh::

Then back for some supper. You know, when you’re in the verdant rolling foothills and wide plain of the Tennessee Valley, nothing hits the spot like seafood, so we made our way back to Red Lobster for some really not bad fish, and then it was back to the hotel to get everyone bathed and bedded down.

The rollaway had still not managed to get there, and Catherine was very, VERY concerned about it.

“Where’s the other bed?”

“It’ll be there when we get back.”

“What if it’s not there?”

“I’ll call for it.”

“On the telephone?”


“But what if they don’t ANSWER!”

This went on for many minutes, until we got to the hotel. Boy, how I hoped there was a roll-away in our…nope. Here it comes—“DAD!! THERE’S NOT NO ROLL BED IN HERE! THEY DIDN’T BRING IT TO US! WHAT’RE WE GONNA DO!?”

Obviously, panic. No other recourse, child. I remember the Great Roll-Away Panic of ’78, when people were selling all they owned to get five minutes on a folding bed of any sort, even if it didn’t have wheels.

“I’ll go get it, sugar, just calm down for a minute and go get your bath.” Bathing was not what she wanted to hear about.

I went back downstairs to the desk and asked them if they could get our roll-away to our room. Sure, no problem. Except. “You DO know there’s an extra charge?” WHAT!?! What manner of foul evil is this?! “Yes, ma’am, I reserved one when I made my reservation.” The bigger question was if it would actually FIT or not, but she and the bellman both assured me it would.

Back upstairs, and out of the tiny utility room came a rolling bed. I figured if it didn’t quite fit, we could always put someone in there with it folded up, like Tennessee Ernie Ford did in that episode of the I Love Lucy show.

Catherine was very pleased to see that I had gotten the bed. I carefully lined it up between the sofa and the real bed and found I needed only about six inches or so to make it work. Thankfully, the couch was about eight away from the opposite wall, so I asked Reba if she could scoot it over a bit. Too heavy. I moved around to her side and with a MIGHTY shove, found out that the sofa bed was actually very light and I very nearly rammed it through the wall. I scared the poor floor lamp half to death, though—it was between the sofa and the wall. I moved it out of the way and finished the heavy lifting.

Finally got everyone bedded down at a decent hour, but not before much anguish about who would sleep where. Finally got it down to Catherine on the bed with Mommy and Daddy (with Cat on the side closest to the bathroom) then Middle Girl on the folder, then Oldest, then Boy.

Then it was time to wake up again.

Next Episode: Packing, Eating, Uplifting, Playing, Eating, Driving

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