Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Rose for My Angel

Today marks six years since my niece and Nathan's sister, Angel Ruth Hood, came into this world and then quickly slipped away. Although I didn't hold her for long, I instantly fell in love with her, and now I miss her so. Because I am in the mountains, this is the first year I was not able to visit the cemetery on her birthday. So before I left, I took a single pink rosebud to her gravesite, like I do every year, and remembered my sweet baby girl. I know that one day I will hold her again.

Always My Angel

Ode to An Angel (poem)

Angel, we remember you today and always . . . .

Love, Uncle Howie

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Jamaica 2.3: YS Falls

Again, I don't feel the need to be redundant. So before you read any further, click here and read my sister's blog post first. She is much more prompt than I am at keeping up with posts, and after reading her post I learned things I didn't know about YS Falls, and that was after I had been there.

In my very first blog post last summer, I mentioned that I hoped to write about many of my favorite things. If you read the post, you will see that waterfalls were the second item in the list. There is something about a waterfall that intrigues me, amazes me, calms me, and practically hypnotizes me. I have visited the incomparable Yguaz├║ Falls in Brazil many times, and I have hiked to several smaller falls in the mountains of North Carolina and Georgia. But I must admit that Jamaica has some of the loveliest waterfalls I have ever seen. The first time I traveled to Jamaica, Todd, Nathan, and I climbed Dunn's River Falls in Ocho Rios. Carla took some great pictures, and the caption to my favorite picture in that post was the best adjective I could conjure—Otherworldly. The waterfalls were so breathtakingly beautiful I felt as if I were on another planet or in Heaven.

YS Falls were less dramatic than Dunn's River Falls, yet still stunning in their unique way. I appreciate Todd and Carla taking me to different locations around the island with each trip. Getting to be with my family in such lovely places is truly a blessing.

Driving to YS Falls on the right, I mean left . . . whatever.

My sweet boy in the back seat.

Be sure not to break rule #5.

On the tractor tram to the falls.

Could a tree be any more gorgeous?

My boy.

The foot of the falls.

A shot using the macro feature of my camera.

I think Heaven will be like this.

Pink ginger.

My boy and me.

Check out the different stages of the palm fruit.

I thought I was taking a picture of Todd, but the camera focused on the lizard and snail. Looks like Disney put them there to frame the shot. If you can't see them well, click on the picture and it will enlarge.

Now you see the hummingbird . . .

. . . now you don't.

The Hoods deep in discussion.

All together.

Getting harnessed up for the zipline.

Tightening the screws.

Carla took this video of me on the zipline. I love hearing Nathan shout, "UNCLE HOWIE!"

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a chicken and do not relish extreme sports. I would never bungee jump. I had seen the zipline on several reality shows, and for some reason I always thought that it was something I could handle and even enjoy without being terrified. I'm glad I did it. It was fun, but too fast to focus much on the view. It would probably be worth it to pay the extra charge for unlimited trips so that you could get used to it and enjoy both the ride and the view.

The final segment of the zipline.

Great subject and composition.

A hummingbird on a heliconia flower.

I wanted to take this vine home with me.

The road back from the falls.

Mama and Carla always say Nathan walks and stands like me. Okay I believe them.

Ackee, Jamaica's national fruit.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Happy 7th Birthday Nathan!

Seven years ago today was the happiest day of my life. It was the day I became Nathan's Uncle. I did not know then how this little boy would change and refocus my life, but he has become the center of our family, and DeeDee, Granddaddy, Todd, Carla, and I all revolve around him. He has brought so much joy to our family, and we cherish the day he entered our lives.

This year on special occasions I have been posting poems or other pieces I have written in the past in tribute to members of my family. Today is no different. This is a poem I wrote about Nathan on his first birthday. It describes so many of his behaviors at the time. We miss the baby, and we miss the one-year old, but we really are enjoying our big seven-year old!

Who’s That Boy?

Who’s that boy with the blazing hair,
And a pair of big blue eyes?
That’s our boy, with six new teeth,
And a smile sure to hypnotize.

Who’s that boy giving everybody sugar,
With a “hmm” and a pat, pat, pat?
That’s Mama’s boy, with the stinky diaper,
Now what do you think about that?

Who’s that boy who can feed himself,
And always wants some more?
That’s Daddy’s boy saying, “Da-da-da,”
And dropping bread balls all over the floor.

Who’s that boy with his ankles crossed,
Sucking his upside-down passie?
That’s Grandmother’s boy, with a giggle and a squeal,
Snatching off earrings and glasses.

Who’s that boy rubbing his eyes,
And nodding his sleepy head?
That’s Grandaddy’s boy snuggled asleep,
On his shoulder ready for bed.

Who’s that boy reading a book,
And singing in the microphone?
That’s Uncle Howie’s boy reading and singing,
As if he were already full-grown.

Who’s that boy with a prophet’s name,
Whose middle name is Todd?
That’s Jesus’ boy we all know,
And his name means “gift of God.”

Who’s that boy turning one year old,
Who loves to open and close the door?
Nathan is that boy, and he changed our lives,
Though he’ll always be our baby, the boy is not a baby, anymore.

—Uncle Howie
July 18, 2002

Happy 7th Birthday, Bubby!

Did you know you are my favorite nephew?

I love YOU the MOST!

Uncle Howie

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Jamaica 2.2: Culturama

Before you read any further, stop and read my sister's blog post about Culturama.

She explains much better than I could exactly what it is. These are just a few pictures I wanted to add to Carla's post.

DeeDee telling Nathan not to be nervous.

Bubby wondering if he is going to be nervous or not.

A cute candid.

Not sure what he's looking at.

Still nervous, but adorable.

The Braveheart Scots' decapitation scene cracked me up.

Bubby with best buds Darren and Jaleel.

Checking out the program video.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Jamaica 2.1: Nathan's Pre-Birthday Party

This was my second trip to Jamaica, and I know I will write at least two posts, hence the title "Jamaica 2.1." This trip happened as unexpectedly as the first. I actually had no plans to go until I found a good ticket price online. Another influential factor was the fact that Mama and Daddy were already there, and I knew how much Mama wanted us all to be together again. Like last time, Carla, Todd, and I were able to surprise our parents and Nathan again.

Thursday evening we celebrated Nathan's birthday because we won't be there on July 18 when he turns seven. Todd grilled pork chops, per Nathan's request, and Mama and Carla rounded out his menu with garlic mashed potatoes, DeeDee's salad, and brownies. Todd also roasted garlic and grilled bacon-wrapped jalape├▒o and cream cheese poppers.

Todd grilling on the balcony.

DeeDee and Carla in the kitchen.
Note: DeeDee matches the curtains, and Carla matches the frig.

Making a wish.

Blowing out the candle.

Nathan was very patient during the meal and brownie sundaes. Finally, he asked about his presents. We started teasing him that there were no presents because it wasn't his real birthday yet. He didn't believe us for a second. In fact, he announced, "I'm gonna go look." He started opening cabinet doors in the kitchen, and it didn't take him long to find the hidden cache. Of all the presents, the Nintendo Wii was his favorite. DeeDee, Granddaddy, Todd, Carla, and I all pitched in on that gift, but it was worth it.

Something Mama would never have let me do.


Granddaddy, Bubby & DeeDee

"Excited" would be an understatement.

Do you think he liked his Wii?

Do you think Uncle Howie liked his sugar?

DeeDee and Bubby Wii bowling.

To read my sister's account of Nathan's birthday party, click here.