April 1, 2009
It''s D-Day minus two. My wife, Lee, and our two kids are coming in for a visit Friday night, and preparations have begun.
I mentioned last week there were beds to put together for the kids -- they''re done. OK, full disclosure: As of this writing, one is done, and the second is still in its box. But it wasn''t the impossible chore I had feared. The first bed went fairly quick, despite the looming size of the boxes. By the size of these things, it seems like you''re assembling the Red October. But most of it is styrofoam packaging. You look at the assembled platform bed and think: Is this it?
While putting the first bed together, I recalled that my great-great-grandfather was a furniture maker, among other things. He wasn''t working with machined, pre-painted and pre-drilled pressboard sent over from Taiwan, but with raw lumber, which he fashioned into everything from desks to bureaus to rocking chairs. As I stubbed my toe screwing the 400th dowel screw into the 400th pre-drilled hole on a piece of pressboard, I wondered what he''d think of the family line now. He''d probably want to give me a good old-fashioned Victorian-era thrashing, and tell me to stop with the whining.
On the agenda
The wife and girls are coming for their spring break (they''re in California finishing out the school year before moving out for good in June). I received good feedback on how to entertain them while they''re here.
Of course, it''s a good time to visit because of Pilgrimage. Lee wants to do Tales from the Crypt; fine with me -- I hear it''s a must-see. There''s also the home tours, and Artisan''s Alley, and the Possum Town Yard Sale this weekend.
One person tagged my column online with a ton of ideas:
"Visit Sonic during happy hour, the sprinkle donuts at the Donut Factory, bargain shopping at Dirt Cheap, the Riverwalk, walk the dogs at the Humane Society, visit the exhibits at the MUW art gallery, take in a MSU ball game, girls love painting at Dandy Doodles in Starkville, enroll them in a class at Main Street Arts also in Starkville, sounds like you could walk to the local library, visit the Lee Museum next door, picnic at Lee Park, road trip to Noxubee Refuge, Hands on Museum in downtown Tuscaloosa, visit MSU and MUW campus, make a leaf collection with the marked trees on MUW campus ..."
All great things, and more than can be done in a week.
I also ran into Mother Goose on Main Street last week. I''ve met her several times before, but this time she was decked out in the Mother Goose Action Gear -- bonnet, boots, dress, the whole thing. She invited us to her storytime at the library.
How could we not go? Mother Goose is one of those people who makes a place what it is, and Columbus is Columbus partly because of her. I''m glad I met her early on.
Also on the list is crawfish. The eight-year-old is a native Mississippian, but only lived in the state for a year before going west. The seven-year-old was born in California. To my knowledge, neither has laid eyes on a boiled crawdad, much less eaten one. That will change in the coming week.
A few places are doing crawfish now; Huck''s is within walking distance and I checked out their Thursday boil last week.
In my mind, crawfish doesn''t taste exactly right unless it''s eaten outdoors, in 90 percent humidity, off a table covered with copies of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. But Huck''s was pretty good. They do about 400 pounds every Thursday, with potatoes, mushrooms, garlic, corn and lemon halves in the boil.
Huck''s and The Dispatch both back up against the same alley, so I can''t avoid the sweet smell of the boil, and leaving work I get to see the big tub of bugs during their last moments on Earth. Hey there, fellas. Going hot tubbing? Good luck with that. See you in a few minutes.
I''m a big fan of Cajun food, and what you get in California isn''t the same. You see crawfish there about as often as it snows here. So last week, I was like a guy coming in from 40 days in the desert when I ordered a pound at Huck''s.
The bugs didn''t stand a chance, mainly because I''m a lot bigger, and the fight was boiled out of them. I sucked the heads, ate the tails and flossed with the antennae. They hit the spot.
I can hear the kids now -- Eeeww! -- but it''s time to get them trained properly. The deprogramming begins this weekend.
Steve Mullen is Managing Editor of The Dispatch.