A New Addition (not THAT kind– get a grip, people!) Public Bath Houses and ‘Angels in the Attic’! **edited to add**

My laptop died.

Sorry to break it to you so harshly, but I didn’t know how to lead up to it gently– HELLO, I’m obviously still in shock.

*pauses for moment of silence*   *hands together, lips moving*

In related news: This post is being brought to you by a brand new one! It cost too much money (unplanned for and right after Christmas) for me to type that in all caps, but once I get over the vapors, I’m gonna be really happy and grateful.

Russ and I were such a study in contrasts when it became undeniably clear that my old beloved lappy had indeed bitten the big one. (The mother board was kaput, needed a $1400 part– I’M TALKIN’ DEAD!!!) Must be a male/female thing. I was fussing and full of angst and despair… Russ was calmly getting his car keys and saying, “Let’s go to Best Buy.” I think I was gearing up to agonize over the inevitable for a couple of days, and Russ just cut to the chase. “You cannot function without a laptop, you are a writer, you have deadlines coming up, we can pay it out with no interest, let’s just go GET IT already.”

This take-charge attitude may or may not have also been slightly influenced by the fact that I have been using (hogging) HIS laptop in the interim.

Anyway, before I knew it I was standing in a big store blinking and bewildered in front of the dazzling array of Macs they spread before us (and also desperately trying to get my nephew The Computer Genius on the phone for an emergency consultation). Russ was all, “What’s the newest version of the one she had? How much goat does it have?” (Oh wait– he might have said RAM.) “Got a 15 inch screen? Yeah, she’s gonna need that.” I wandered away at that point (too many choices, I was starting to glaze over) and went to walk around in the appliance department to calm myself down, since there wasn’t an antique mall handy.  (You guys know that strolling down dusty aisles filled with quaint furniture and old dishes works faster than Xanax with me). But just when I had barely made it over to the gas cooktops section, Russ was already calling me on my cell phone and telling me to come to the front of the store, we’re done. So wham, bam, thank you Russ– I’ve got a new computer. And according to my new favorite tech (oh hai, LeNelle!) at MacAuthority who switched my hard-drive over at no charge whatsoever (btw, if you ever run into Mac trouble and happen to have one of their stores in your area, run do not walk– they rock so hard), I am now blessed with, and I quote, “A totally suh-weet machine!”

Please feel free to leave suggestions as to what I should name this baby in the comments. I would turn this into a contest, but I don’t really expect you to become that emotionally involved. I’m still trying to bond with the new little guy, myself– it feels slightly disloyal to my old lappy to have moved on so quickly, but hey, life is for the living, seize the day, blah di blah blah… *sniffs mournfully, pours one out for my homie* (I’m offering that translation for those of you who aren’t as down and gangsta as I am. You’re welcome.)

I’ll leave you with a few more quick photos from the holidays. Every year Russ and I give each other the same present– a few short days away together, just the two of us. For years we went up to Eureka Springs, one of my favorite little places in the world, and we’ve also ventured as far away as New Orleans, but for the last couple of years we haven’t wanted to go quite that far from mom and dad’s house so we’ve driven over to Hot Springs– always a fun getaway, with an historic downtown arts district to wander around in AND it also happens to be the city where Russ and I met and married which, you now, makes it all romantical and whatnot. Last year we stayed at a chain hotel, which was fine and just a couple of blocks away from the main wandering-around street, but this year I did a little research and came up with a great vacation rental place– an ‘historic loft’ right on Central Ave. called Angels in the Attic.

Since it was the off season and we wanted to stay for three whole days, the nice owner Wanda offered me a great discount rate which I gratefully grabbed before she had a chance to change her mind. I had originally thought I would break tradition and have the girls come with us since the place was so big, but they both opted to stay with Nanno and Papa– although we did persuade Madi to join us for our last night there, and she promptly fell in love with the place and wanted to move in permanently! It really was fabulous in a funky, this-feels-more-like-New-Orleans-or-Savannah-than-Hot-Springs-Arkansas kind of way.

The rooms were laid out shotgun-style on the second floor of an old storefront building that you entered by ascending one of two (front or back) creaky sets of stairs. The living room and kitchen area faced the main street and had huge airy windows that made it really feel like a loft. Then there was a long narrow hallway that ran the entire length of the place, front to back, and the bedrooms opened off of that;  it kind of  looked like it could have been a rooming house or something back in the day. The bedrooms didn’t have any exterior windows, but they did have transoms and some glass-block interior windows between the rooms, so they weren’t too dark. I’m a big fanatic about light and windows, but this was actually kind of cozy, and the high ceilings kept me from feeling claustrophobic. Wanda apparently used to own a design/decorating shop with her daughter, and when they closed it she used a lot of their leftover inventory to outfit the place, so it is really done well. It has a vintage, cottage-y/Paris apartment vibe which I loved– lots of off-white distressed furniture, antique dishes, beautiful throw pillows and artsy chandeliers. Totally worked for me. Russ liked the fact that it had an entertainment center with a large screen TV to watch movies on in the living room, and a very unusual HUGE tiled soaking tub in the master bathroom. Madi just loved all of it, and kept wandering around saying things like, “So, how much would it cost to live in a place like this…?”

Our last day in Hot Springs, Madi and I decided to do it up right and go take a hot spring mineral bath at one of the grand old palaces on famous Bath House Row.

This is such a cool thing to do! I’ve only gone a handful of times and not in about a million years, but I knew Madi would appreciate the step-back-in-time, slightly run-down, marble-tiled, tiny brass elevator, faded-splendor experience of it all. We went to the venerable  old Buckstaff –their motto since 1912 is “We bathe the world!”

OK, now this is usually the point where I would break out pictures of our little bathing adventure and hilarity would ensue, but oddly enough they don’t allow cameras in a place where there are lots of female tourists in all shapes, sizes, ages and ethnicities shuffling from vintage bathtub cubicles to hot pack rooms with heat-flushed faces whilst clutching big ol’ white bedsheets to their respective bosoms. Go figure. I just hate that I couldn’t photo-document it for you guys, because they also have THESE bad boys…

…and I just KNOW how much you would enjoy seeing a shot of my (panicked) red sweaty face poking up out of one! Sorry. Maybe next time I can think ahead and rig up some kind of hidden spy cam in my belly button or something.

Anyway, here’s a few interior pictures of Angels in the Attic that we took– just wanted to share it with you guys in case you ever need a great place to stay in Hot Springs!

***Living room



**Russ checking his watch, wondering why it takes girls so dang long to get ready to go eat lunch, for crying out loud.

**Closeup of magnificent chandelier I reeeeeeeeally wanted to steal, but Russ said it would compromise my testimony which I think is a big fat lie because God knows how fabulous this would look in my entry hall and He would totally understand.

**Big blue tub– I spent about an hour in there with a ton of bubbles, a good book and a glass of red wine. (Um, that should read ‘grape juice’ for all of my Baptist readers.)

**And finally– Madi in the mirror, shooting the back entrance to the loft.

EDITED TO ADD:  You know, as long as I’m doing a (completely uncompensated) commercial for good ol’ Hot Springs, I might as well give you a link to my dear old friend Rosemary’s gorgeous new flower/gift shop! It’s called By Design, and it’s right up the street from where we were staying downtown. I showed up completely unannounced and unexpected (after 20 years or so!) and we had a huggy, tearful reunion right in the middle of her gorgeous store. She truly does create uh-maz-ing  floral designs, check it out!

25 Responses

  1. jonny

    Well, since you already have two girls, I guess the new addition could be a boy. Because of your admiration for Mark Lowry, he could be a Mark. People may start talking, though = / Russ, Jr. ??

  2. tori

    I’ll just settle for a laptop, gender unknown.
    How in the world are you? How was your trip– we want to hear all about it, interested in doing a guest post for Babybloomr…?!)

  3. meb

    I love that kitchen!! And the tub, my goodness, even I could take a bath in that. I have such a difficult time finding tubs long enough to stretch out in. And while I have no idea what your front entry way looks like, I must agree that chandelier would look fantastic. :-)

    As to the name… “suh-weetie” maybe? I received it’s cousin, an “Air” for Christmas, after my big honking iMac almost bit the dust. Thankfully we had wonder techs at our Mac Store that brought her back to life. Enjoy your new lappy, whatever you may name it.

  4. jonny

    I just feel for poor Russ, the only guy in town; so to speak. Right now I’m just really wiped out. If something comes to mind, blog worthy, you’ll be the first to know.

  5. phwd737

    You had me at “Eureka Springs”, which I love as well, but then you went even further in my heart with “Hot Springs!”….how I miss Hot Springs! Wished we lived closer so we, too, could ‘get away’ to such a wonderful, just ‘my kind of cozy’ place like the one you found! Love the decor! (And Joseph would love the big TV screen):) Next time we’re in Arkansas, I’m going to have to check that out!
    ~Tricia Appler

  6. auburn60

    I’m sure this post is a wonderful story with great pictures but I couldn’t get past ‘pours one out for my homie’. You are so freakin’ Brentwood ghetto! I take my do-rag off to you.

  7. jonny

    OK, one thing that came up during my trip has been haunting me like Marley’s ghost. At age 47 through to 49 or 50, is a guy too old to have kids ?? Since this is a mommy blog, of sorts, I thought I’d go off topic and throw that one out there = /

  8. tori

    Well, OK Mr. small-j-jonny, that tantalizingly cryptic question has me cocking my head sideways like a big ol’ RCA dog! And I immediately thought of Mark Lowry’s great line about “if you wait too long to have kids, you’ll both be in diapers at the same time!”

    Here’s a list of some well-known older dads: David Bowie (at 53), Mick Jagger (at 57), Michael Douglas (at 58), Rod Stewart (at 60), Paul McCartney (at 61), Eric Clapton (at 59), Pierre Trudeau (72), Charlie Chaplin (at 73), Saul Bellow (at 84), Pablo Picasso (at 68), David Letterman (at 56), Larry King (at 65 and 66), Woody Allen (at 51), Warren Beatty (at 62), Dennis Quaid (50) and Jack Nicholson (at 53)

    So if I interpret that list correctly, all you need is A) an embarrassingly younger trophy wife and B) a crapload of money, fame and power!

    (Actually, I’m sure that under the right blessed circumstances, things could work out beautifully… Or you could just get a puppy. Or a new computer. Either way, mazel tov!!!))

  9. jonny

    OK, my head-cocking-like-a-dog blog world friend; I stayed with my brother, or at his place, during the three weeks. Or, it was my base camp. Neither of us are married, or have kids. He’s less than a year younger than me. We discussed the last time we met, three years ago, that the reason we don’t have any kids yet is cause we didn’t want the mother to be like our’s, or worse. We’ve never discussed this before that moment, and were surprised that we ended up the same on that one at some point early in our lives. I also didn’t want some garabge passed on through me, so have been working on the person I am to be the best husband, father I could be. I mentioned to my brother that I still hope to marry one day and have kids; Lord willing. He let me know, in many ways, that it was basically too late. There was a real risk of any kids I had at 47, or after, having lots of problems. This came up a few other times during the trip as well and had me concerned. Basically, before the trip, I felt good, or OK with moving on in that direction for the first time in a long time. But, with all things, it’s probably best to wait on the Lord. Especially when one does not have a c**p load of money, fame and/or power. The younger trophy wife may not be out of the question, though = )

  10. jonny

    Well, last weekend I was in So Cal at a reunion concert for some believer bands that opened a lot of doors for Christian bands and artists today. During a wonderful little duo set by The Choir, an idea came for a song I started working on again here on this blog some time ago. For what it’s worth; and for those interested, here’s where it’s at now. As usual, please feel free to throw in your two, or in LB’s case three or four, cents = )

    small ‘j’ jonny


    Plunged in the water
    An’ felt like new
    Stepped out on the grass
    (The) frosted dew
    Hey, my problems they might be the same
    But I lift up my face
    Embrace gentle rain

    Well then just before the dawn
    thought “how could it last”
    No matter what’s tried
    Never changed the past
    But somethin’s goin’ on
    No, it’s not the same
    Stripped off this weight
    Faced the day again

    Cuz I’ve seen things of another world
    And I’ve heard things through a different light
    Oh, there’ve been things taken from me
    But I’m gonna make it through the night
    Yes, I’m gonna make it through the night

    I plunged in the water
    And I felt like new
    Yes, I breathed in tomorrow
    And felt like new
    All these problems they just might be the same
    But I lean back my arms
    Embrace warmth again

    Cuz …

    I’m gonna make it through the night (x3)

  11. chillybean

    If you are still taking name suggestions. I choose Nellie. (after LaNelle, the guru who helped you out!) Then, when the laptop starts going crazy with cool things it can do..you can say things like “whoa Nellie” or if you are stuck…”what the Nell?” or when her hair is all ratty and speech intelligible, you can shout “Nelllll…”

  12. jd2008

    As soon as I read that you needed a name for it, I KNEW.

    Ready for this?

    Tori 2.

    Alliteration rocks…

    Aside from the name,

    Oh my gosh! What has my family been doing in Gatlinburg all these years?!?!?


    Say hi to the family for me?


  13. jonny

    I 2nd all that chillybean stuff !!

  14. queenofeverything

    So I’m like new and all so be nice to me, after all I’m the queen, or at least it sounds good. I think you should name your new laptop, Mactoria. After reading about your trip, it’s obvious to me. Love the post and pics. Oh…and tell Russ I have a major infatuation with him since I was about 12. I think he was sporting a mullet back then. So glad you straightened him out. Lol.

  15. Pearl

    Just a word of encouragement to jonny. I know two gentlemen in our area in their early fifties who have recently had children. While their wives are a good bit younger, neither man is rich, powerful or famous. They are, however, incredibly blessed and wealthy beyond measure.
    And I vote for chillybean’s Nellie.

  16. jonny

    I am encouraged ! Thanks, Pearl = )

  17. Barbara M. Lloyd

    Well, Jonny dear, I’m voting for you to marry the love of your life and have that baby. If most people put having money first, the world would be a much, much smaller place. Be happy and keep that cup at least half full with another pot brewing.

    Nell or Nellie does sound like a good name, Tori…….or Angel.

  18. Gramma Jac

    I agree Barbara!!

    “A New Addition (not THAT kind– get a grip,people)” and what do we end up talking about–jonny’s potential new addition! Just think, if you became a parent, there’s a LOT of Gramma-knowledge on this blog!

    Maybe we should be asking if there are any other single readers!! :-)

  19. rachelbaker

    I love that bath!

    jonny – I’m really enjoying how those lyrics have progressed. The concept is great and they now somehow feel a little ‘fresher’, maybe more hope-full. I would love to hear the song one day.

    Also, seeing as you asked, I’m with Pearl and Momma Lloyd on this one. Firstly, you are right, waiting on the Lord is always the best thing to do. We’re supposed to seek the Kingdom of God first … and the rest will be added. If God gives you the opportunity to get married and have kids then don’t let worldly arguments bother you. I can imagine there are many benefits of being an older Dad, just as there are of being a younger one.

  20. jonny

    Thanks for the feed-back on the words, Rachel. I don’t know why this set of lyrics has been so challenging. I can’t thank you and the others enough who threw in their two cents earlier and were responsible for helping me go further with them. I’m afraid one line may be changed, but I hope it helps add a greater sense of, respects more the reality of making a commitment towards life again after being lost in some very cold, dark places. Anyway, it’s at the end of the 2nd verse…

    Well then just before the dawn
    Thought “How could it last” ?
    No matter what’s been tried
    Never changed the past
    But something’s goin’ on
    No, it’s not the same
    Stripped off this weight
    Ignored the pain, again

    Cuz I’ve seen things…

  21. delightedabroad

    Talking of great lyrics… could anyone please tell me which version of the Father’s Prayer is most common??? (I do have an English Bible, it’s “GNB” edition.)

  22. tori

    meb: The kitchen rocked– mix and match antique dishes in the cupboard, are you KIDDING ME?! Perfect. Enjoy your new Air, maybe we can set up our new lappys up on a blind date or something.

    phwd737: Hot Springs is still so great– it’s changed, and yet not changed, ya know? City is growing and spreading southward towards the lakes, and the downtown is finally getting kind of revitalized with all of the galleries, etc., but it still feels like the good ol’ Spa City of our youth!

    auburn60: The mental image of you doffing your do-rag will cause me untold amounts of spontaneous bursts of laughter for years to come. Thank you for that.

    jonny: LOVE that new version– you must have had a great trip, it’s reflected in your lyric! And when you and your future trophy wife DO have a bouncing baby rockstar? I volunteer to babysit for free. I can be Auntee Tori. (Also love the Choir– they opened for Russ on several tours back in the day, and Derry is a long-time friend.)

    chillybean: ‘Nell’ may be the winner… Hey everybody– chillybean is actually Colleen, my (not quite yet but I’m betting will totally be one day) niece-in-law! She and my nephew Nathan (yet ANOTHER family Computer Genius) just spent Christmas in Arkansas with us all. You guys would love her. And she and I were the best Nertz team EVER!

    jd2008: Love the alliteration, but I can foresee potential problems with “Tori 2″– mostly because I know at some point I will be yelling things at my computer because it’s not cooperating and I might hurt my own feelings. (You gotta come over soon and see Char in her panda hat.)

    queenofeverything: WELCOME!!!! Yay, thanks for commenting, please come back all the time! I told Russ of your former infatuation, he sends his thanks– and please feel free to continue with it, in spite of his current mullet-free status. (‘Mactoria’ has definite possibilities…)

    Pearl: I’m with you. Hey, Russ was 43 when Charlotte was born– and I was 40!!

    Momma Lloyd: Looks like ‘Nell’ is winning! It might be too confusing to call it Angel, because that’s what we call YOU around here!

    Gramma Jac: Yeah, just think of the LOADS of unsolicited advice we could all heap on poor unsuspecting small-j-jonny!

    rachelbaker: I agree! (And the bathtub WAS great…)

    delightedabroad: Are hyou asking about the Lord’s Prayer SONG, or about which biblical translation version of the Lord’s Prayer is more common?

  23. delightedabroad

    Not the song, I’d like to know which one is said at services. I want to learn it by heart and so I’d prefer to join in the most common version.

    Btw, I’m so happy for you and Russ that you invest special time for each other :-)

  24. jonny

    Well, most of the changes happened before the trip. The line, “Embrace warmth” again was confirmed during Derri and Skinny’s mini set. I had three or four ideas for it, then settled on that one at the time. “Lean back my arms” stemmed out of that as well, but was worked in later. The whole thing involves various things I experienced living at a home for troubled youth a year and a half in Grass Valley. Walking bare foot on frosted grass, a man made lake they had there, at various times of the year the only way to find warmth when outside was to be in direct sunlight, etc. I was reminded about the direct sunlight thing though when at my brother’s in Placerville.

    I’ve not a big Choir fan, but really like the acoustic duo set they did. They now have a whole album of songs they re-did acoustically entitled ‘De-plumed.’ I told them that if the two of them ever make it to Finland, I would gladly arrange a gig for them = ) Oh, and they did a truly fresh, wonderful version of 15 Doors; one of their oldest songs.

  25. meb

    I’ll be in town early February. We can arrange the blind date for then. :-)

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