Catching Up

So… how’ve you been? I’ve missed you guys!

I’ve been traveling– to Arkansas for a family wedding, and also to visit Mom and help clear out her house, then up to Indiana to spent a few days with the Gaithers. The Arkansas trip was difficult. The wedding part was wonderful, Bud and June’s (Russ’ “family of choice”) granddaughter Mandy married Danton, and it was just beautiful. (Bonus: I got to see my sweet ‘Bloomr reader and niece-by-love “Blondie” and her sister Erin!)

But the difficult part was that Mom is having a lot of adjustment issues. She has moved to a really lovely ‘luxury senior living’ place called Fox Ridge, and though she chose to move there, the reality of the change has been very hard on her. She keeps insisting that she would still be perfectly fine living alone back in her house, but despite all of our best efforts to keep her there as long as we possibly could (it’s been over a year since Daddy died), it became glaringly apparent that it was no longer safe or wise for her to live alone. And let’s just say… acceptance is not her strong suit! So between weathering Mom’s tumultuous transition and actually closing out the home that Mom and Dad lived in for so many years, it was a really emotionally grueling trip. Endings are hard. THANK GOD for my brothers and sisters and their spouses and children– I have never been prouder or more grateful to be connected to these people, and I love them with all of my (aching) heart.

The Indiana trip, however, was wonderful! It’s been a while since we’ve  had some good ol’ hang-out time with Bill and Gloria, and the entire trip was so relaxing and much-needed. B and G are such gracious friends and hosts, and the setting is just beautiful. Madi celebrated her 20th birthday while we were there, complete with one of Gloria’s famous raspberry cakes, which she loves.The girls and I were completely captivated by the swans in Gaither’s pond, and every evening at dusk we rode down with Bill in his golf cart to feed them. A pair of the white ones and a pair of the black ones both have babies, and they have to keep them penned up until the cygnets get big enough to avoid becoming turtle food. The little ones could not have been cuter, but the mom and dad swans did their best to look very intimidating every time we approached them. They arched their big swanny necks and lowered their heads menacingly while approaching the fence with their pigeon-toed, mincing little steps– which was actually more funny than intimidating, but hey, it’s tough to look like a hard-ass when you’re a dang SWAN, for crying out loud!

Bill loves to show off his beloved little Indiana town, so of course he made sure that we made a special trip out to see… The World’s Largest Ball of Paint! I am not even kidding. Not only did we SEE it, we added a coat of paint to it– and we have the documentation to prove it.

Behold the glory:

**First of all, Bill had to bust out the red convertible so we could go see the giant ball of paint  in style. Madi is practicing her Royal Wave…


**Bill gave us the back story of the paint ball while driving past the endless Indiana cornfields–


**See? It’s the truth!


**They take their giant balls of paint pretty seriously around here.

**We’re all agog. OK, Bill and I are agog– the girls look a little skeptical. And yes, THAT’S the ball of paint, not the World’s Largest Lemon.

**But they quickly got into the spirit of the thing, and  after we added a purple layer of paint (the 23, 269th coat) we each got a souvenir slice of giant paintball AND a certificate!

**It’s official.

**Special thanks to the entire Carmichael family– we had so much fun!

COMING SOON: More Indiana photos

15 Responses

  1. jonny

    When ou seen the world’s largest paint ball, you’ve pretty much seen it all,

  2. jonny

    Hmm, didn’t look that bad before I pressed Say it! = / Let me try again —

    When you’ve seen the word’s largest paint ball, you’ve pretty much seen it all.

  3. bettyrwoodward

    We’ve missed you too! Glad you had a good time in Indiana after the emotionally hard time with your mother. It must be difficult. Thanks for the beautifully poetic description of Gather’s pond. We are off ‘up north’ for a couple of weeks from Friday so will see a bit of Rachel and her family which will be lovely but wont be on here!

  4. tori

    small j– You are so right. We can die happy now.

    bettyrwoodward–Have a lovely, lovely holiday and kiss that talented daughter of yours for us!

  5. jonny

    Well, this has hit me a little hard for some reason, but Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry is no longer with us. Passed on at 86. R.I.P. good sir.

  6. tori

    Just saw that, too. Made me especially sad since we are looking forward to moving to our own little version of Mayberry– Bell Buckle. He created an indelible character, for sure.

  7. jonny

    And gave so much room and opportunity for others to do the same.

  8. Barbara M. Lloyd

    I just had to smile. Here y’all were with the master of presenting Southern Gospel music to the world….and he has this unbelievably star-struck look on his face gazing at a huge ball of paint.It’s kinda the way Russ looks at a fruit cobbler. I’m glad you had so much fun and sweet Madi celebrated her 20th birthday in such a special way.

    But it hurts my heart thinking about you and all of your wonderful family having to go through and make decisions on the contents of that home where the walls are filled with echos of laughter, tears, and so many, many memories down through the years. I’m praying you will be able to let the sadness fade ….and will be able to embrace all of those memories by moving them deep down into your heart….never to be forgotten.

    Our God was so thoughtful to take you from such a sad time in your life….smack dab into a fun world of swans and signets, a huge paint ball, a cake baked by Gloria for our Madi, and a ride in “the” red convertible. But then, that’s just the kind of things He does.

  9. tori

    I just love you, Momma Lloyd.
    You always make me feel better.

  10. JanetB

    Amen, Tori. Ain’t that the truth?

    “It’s kinda the way Russ looks at a fruit cobbler.”

    That there is snort-worthy! :D

  11. jonny

    “But it hurts my heart thinking about you and all of your wonderful family having to go through and make decisions on the contents of that home where the walls are filled with echos of laughter, tears, and so many, many memories down through the years.”

    It hurt me, too. Lately I’ve had many homes that were a part of my childhood before leaving California for Europe re-visit me in numerous dreams. I miss those places, times and the people who were around then that were dear to me. You and your family will SO be in my heart and prayers the next few weeks because of this, Mrs.Tori !!

  12. MostlySunny

    “but hey, it’s tough to look like a hard-ass when you’re a dang SWAN, for crying out loud!”


    I understand completely cleaning out your Mom and Dad’s house and moving her into an assisted living place. Been, there, done that. No Fun! And it’s so hard when you know this is the right thing for her – and she might know it in her head – but her heart hasn’t caught up yet. So many memories — and they seem to grow even more when you “can’t go back”. My mother-in-law still says (after 2 years) “I wish I could go back and…” But she knows she can’t. And I guess the reality is the really hard part of it all. New routines, new friends, new everything. It’s hard for an old person…and it’s hard to watch as their child (and in-law child). But just know Tori — and all your siblings — you did the right thing! You did. You saved her from herself – what she could do to herself, thinking she still can do everything she used to do at 72! Another chapter…

    Bill G – what a hoot! Looks like you guy had fun

    From Barbara M. Lloyd – “and he has this unbelievably star-struck look on his face gazing at a huge ball of paint. It’s kinda the way Russ looks at a fruit cobbler.”

    Thank you all for making me laugh today! Happy 4th everyone!

  13. jonny

    Happy 4th !

  14. LindaB

    So sorry your mom is having a rough time of it, Tori. I’m praying she grows to like that place and enjoy the people there. Life sure gets hard sometimes.

    I love that raspberry cake. The smell of it baking is HEAVEN.

    Happy Fourth of July everyone!!!

  15. JanetB

    Tori…I feel for you. I really do. All of you are in my prayers.

    When we finally got my parents out of their house (it took years, but it had to be done), the day they packed up & were driven away by my sisters…I sat on the floor in the middle of an empty bedroom & just bawled. I felt so guilty…like I had failed them…now they had to move away & it was all my fault.

    It was hard, hard, hard…but honestly, it worked out for the best. They got to spend time with family that had never had the opportunity to be around them on a daily basis. (One of my nieces told me that she had no idea that her grandmother was so goofy! Well…yeah. lol) And, at the end, they were exactly where they needed to be. God knew what He was doing. Imagine that! :)

    I refuse, though, to go by the old house. It’s too different now – and I prefer to keep my memories of the place untarnished.

    Anyway…I’m glad you all got some needed R&R with Bill & Gloria. I mean, a ride in a red convertible? What beats that for a good time? Not much!

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