I helped Dad with the hay this morning. It’s been a while since I’ve been out in a barn throwing bales of hay around, and it felt pretty good. All we did was move all the hay to one side of the barn, stack up a bunch of bad bales and re-stack the good ones. It wasn’t as satisfying as unloading a tractor trailer-load of hay, but it was nice. Of course, if I really want a tractor trailer, Dad said one’s coming in next weekend.

Scruffy was looking really rough. She’s very thin and not very quick. Her barks are very hoarse and shallow. The poor thing probably won’t be around next time Amanda and I visit the Rouge. She’s had a good life out at the house though. Dad said that just last week she was out on the trail when Mom was riding horses. She didn’t hang with them the whole time and straggled in late, but she was out there still. She’s been around for a while too. She and her sister, Sue Ellen, were left at the house when we moved in. I’m pretty sure I was fifteen at the time, so she’s at the very least sixteen years old. Not a bad age for an mutt who lived outside. She lived down here in Wilmington with Erin for a while too, and I think she stayed with Adam for a little bit as well.

My sister, Andra Dotsey, my future brother-in-law Josh Sawyer and my nephew Jackson Sawyer arrived after a bit.  Jackson was glad to see everyone, but he was a little shy about Amanda.  I mean he was smiling at her just as much as he was anybody else, but he would turn away, almost playfully.  Like I said, I think he developed a shyness.  While we were out on the porch we decided to carve a pumpkin that Mom and Dad picked up on our way home from going out to eat last night.  We showed Jackson how to reach down into the pumpkin and pull out the seeds.  He’s at the stage now where he’ll mimic just about anything, from sounds to actions, and that what he was doing.  It was almost a caricature, the way he’d reach in, pull out hardly anything, then fling it down.

Dad presented me with a surf board from Charlie Bowsher last night.  Nevermind the crack in it, it is hot pink and yellow and the logo o it says Allison.  I knew Charlie had that for me, but when he said he had an old surf board, I was hoping for an old wooden one or something; one that, even if I couldn’t use it, might look cool as decoration.  So if this gets back to you, Charlie, I do appreciate it, but, ya know.

The point of me telling that, however, was that he also had a bag of golf clubs.  I have no idea how good they are or are not, but I’ve wanted to try out some golfing.  Josh and I went to the side yard and he gave me pointers on how to swing.  I did alright here and there.  It was a pretty good time.  I’d like to go to a range and practice, maybe play with Ben Lambeth and Rob Peterson and, if he’s up to it, my brother-in-law, Michael Mercer.  Maybe by the next time I come home I’ll be at least decent enough to go play with my dad.  Look at that, 28 years old and I can barely swing a club.
Not long after Josh, Amanda and I picked up all the balls we could find, everyone but me and Amanda went to church.  We went to Northgate to look for a Vera Bradley thing that Andra wanted for her birthday, but just like at all the other Hallmarks we checked, they didn’t have the design we were looking for.  Instead we got her a wind chime thingy, after which we walked all around the renovated Northgate Mall.  (We also picked up a small stuffed tiger for Jackson.)  They chopped off a part of it to make way for a small plaza and a movie theatre, which looked pretty nice actually.

We headed over to Tripps after that, where both of my sisters worked at one point or another.  We were going to meet the rest of the family there for a birthday dinner for Andra.  Amanda and I were a little earlier than we expected to be.  Once everyone else got there we gave Jackson his stuffed tiger and we all ordered our food.  Jackson was absolutely hilarious throughout dinner.  He was copying everything Dad (who was sitting right next to him) was doing.  At one point Jackson kept looking up at the ceiling and wigging out about something up there.  I wish I’d brough my video camera for that.

Andra and Josh are so blessed to have a kid like Jackson.  You see that child with a big smile on his face more than any other expression.  He’s almost always in a good mood and he’s so friendly.  I hope when we start making cousins for him that they are as (relatively) easy to deal with as he is.

Zach Dotsey