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I got the best smell tonight.

When I drove up to my driveway, before turning off the car, I was closing the car windows, and caught a whiff of childhood. Freshly cut grass.

As I was getting my gym bag out, locking up, closing doors, I looked to my yard, and confirmed what my nose already knew. Someone had cut the grass this afternoon. Not this morning, the smell was too strong for it to have been very long. The clippings looked too fresh. Someone, most likely Rebecca, or Daphne, had come home from school and done this.

I thanked them by enhaling deeply, then let my thoughts wonder back to why this smelled so good to me. Childhood. Summer evenings. Fireflies. Family and the neighbors who had 1 daughter a few years older than me. Being outside. The end of the day relaxing smell of cut grass.

I can recall that moment of laying down in the yard. Where our yard met theirs. Hearing my parents and the others talking. The dampy dew of the cut bits. The smell of it in my nose. Rolling around in the fading sunlight of the day. Searching for the special 4-leaf clovers, among all of the 3-leaved ones; that only seemed to come into view when the lawn was mowed down.

I was only in grade school – that moment, that memory. Yet I will always equate the smell of a freshly cut lawn, with those days, when my life, was completely – carefree.

I wonder how much of this will be read by the people in my life who come after me. I mean it could be that this form of journaling is completely outdated and nobody will ever read these words. It may be that the entire world of computer and the internet are closed down and thrown out as some aniquated notion of ‘the olden days’. Which begs the question, am I writing this solely as a way of getting the thoughts out of my head – or does part of me wish to tell a story of my life to those who might wonder, who was Marcella?

Although most of my journal is just a daily telling of the boring things that occur. Like bits and pieces of things I learn as I am growing. Nuggets of truth that show me how to be the best human being I can while walking around on this planet.

I think some times its a bit of both. I know that there are parts to this journal that I enjoy just getting to tell a family story. Where I can put down in writing something funny that has occured in our lives. Like how we got our fire pit, or the fake dunk. Stories that tell the people who come after us, who were the Yearwood-Stinchcombs.

So at this moment its a Saturday morning in December, and here’s a peek into our home. Its a bit chilly outside, ok cold for me – just fine for the rest of the family members. I am usually the one who is picked on because I like the warmth of hot air – anything below 70* has me pulling on long pants and a sweater. Get below 60* and I’m searching for my wool socks. Yes even in FL I own wool socks and sweaters and blankets.

The shades are pulled down on the east and western windows, to block against the light. But the northern ones that look into our backyard are open. And a couple of the windows too. Bear doesn’t like to be too warm. The ground is still a bit green, from where the grass has not yet died out. There hasn’t been much rainfall this season, and we have not been running the sprinkler system, trying to conserve water. There is fog covering everything I can see like a blanket.

Its barely 8am, and I’m up – well obviously if I’m writing this. LoL Barry is still snoring, snuggled in the bed. I’ve been listening to his melody for over an hour. In the backround there’s an owl who gives a bit of harmony to the song. Somewhere in our neighborhood men are powering up their lawn tools and hammers can be heard banging. RJ has decided to get up and turned on the tv for some morning cartoons, although I remind him to keep them turned down low so as not to wake everyone eles up. The radio in Daphne’s room is still doing its best to drowned out any sounds that might filter into her room. And there’s the perculating sound of tea, brewed fresh and hot, from the coffee maker dripping down into the pot.

I did do a few things prior to sitting down here on my laptop. I threw on some pj pants and a t-shirt from my honey, cause Daphne had a friend stay over night. Otherwise it would have just been the t-shirt. Although with the cold moist air flowing through the house, I might have done the pants anyhow. I’ve got my hair pulled back into a pony tail, and after stepping into the house proper – grabbed the broom to sweep up the debris on the floor in the dinning room and kitchen.

RJ is in his shirt from yesterday and some pj pants – his hair is all messed up. And after a quick ‘pat’ good morning, he tumbled into bed with Barry for a time. It was only after I was getting the breakfast ready that he came to meet me in the kitchen. Asking if he could have a muffin with cheese on it – and then giving me a very sad face when he was told he could eat with everyone else. With a much longer ‘pat’ – he was off to the living room to begin waking up. Although to his credit when asked to perform small tasks that would help to tidy up the living room from last night’s movie n popcorn, he did.

Rebecca met me next, taller than me now, she just slouched down to me as I wrapped my arms around her frame. Whispering good morning senitments about how much I loved her, and that I hoped she had slept well, I was rewarded with grumbles. Which I will take any time I can get them, even if her hands never left the opposite arm, as she hugged her body, while I did too. She looked around, and then toddled back to her bed.

I love prepping food. The act of chopping and mixing and cooking for friends and family, is something that I really enjoy. So early mornings, on the weekends especially, I like to make breakfast for my family. I put on water for hot tea; and having my coffee maker brewer, does make it so much easier for me to enjoy now. I pulled out the stuff for the oatmeal bake because Daphne asked for it; and I do like to see her smile. It was fun to slice up tomatoes, kiwi, and the mango for them. Mango because Rebecca wanted to eat it for breakfast, and I did buy it specifically for her. Yep, seeing her smile is something else I like. The tomatoes were for RJ. If you guessed smiling RJ face, you win.

Just as I was nearly finished pulling things out, Daphne came out. I asked her if she was awake yet. She blantently said, “nope.” I let her know that breakfast would be ready in about 10 minutes. She gave me a horrified look. I let her know that it would keep till she was more awake if she wanted. Watching her shoulders slump back down in relief, she nodded and went back to her bed too.

So as I’ve written this, the breakfast has been baking; and my family doing its natural routine of waking for the day. If you wonder why there’s no mention of Bronwyn, fear not; she’s fine. She slept over at a friend’s home last night. Which is another normalacy for us; at least one child gone, but replaced in numbers by another child’s friend. So there was still 6 for breakfast, even though I think that it will be a while later when Daphne and Calie are up to enjoy.

I’m off to rotate the laundry, and start another load to wash. The sun is slowly burning off the fog. There’s still a mess all over the table and blankets and pillows all on the living room floor. But that is for after our breakfast, unless I can get RJ to do it while that tv is going.

Fine. Detach from the details. That’s what I should do. Fine. I’ll try. I”m just going to need to repeat Step #1 – and listen to more music to keep my mind occupied.


This is the 1st song that I can ever remember hearing. My Daddy and my Uncle Bob were hooking up Daddy’s new stereo system in the living room. Then I remember listening to this song. It was one of Daddy’s favorite albums, by Paul Simon. I liked the album cover because of all of the colors.

I was told to stay out of the way. I sat on the end of the couch. I can still remember the woven criss-cross of the fabric under the backs of my legs. My feet hanging off the end. The way the wood of the end of the arm rest had little scrapes in it. I would follow it with my fingernail – deepening the groove.

I can not ever hear this song without thinking of that moment, the couch, Daddy and Uncle Bob making adjustments. Daddy trying to get Momma to dance, who refused after a single twirl. When in fact, Daddy doesn’t like to dance; and she does.

I sometimes listen to the lyrics and think – YEAH crap I learned in High School. But also about how much I love colors. The details of a single tree dancing in the sunlit breeze. Or the color of water as it flows down the creek. Or my children’s bright eyes.

So yesterday my Daddy came over to hang out for a few hours before the Super Bowl, we were hanging around outside by the bonfire, having a beer (or two).  At one point Rebecca complained about having to have pizza ~ again!  She didn’t want pizza anymore.  Her dramatic declaration reminded Daddy of me as a child.  We went to China for 3 weeks back in 1984, and by the end of the trip I wanted to never eat Chinese food again.

Of course we then really started talking about that trip and the funny things revolving around food that had happened.  I promised him that I would write about it here in my journal, for prosperity’s sake.  It is the least I can do for my Daddy.

In July / August 1984, my family took a 5 week trip to Hong Kong and China. Because the ‘Red Wall’ had not yet come down, the only way to even book the trip into China was to go to Hong Kong first, and then book a trip from there. So we spent 10 days in Hong Kong, exploring the city.

Mindy and I could locate 5 McDy’s from our hotel within a 4 block radius. This was special, because the only ‘fast food’ restaurant in all of KSA was a Kentucky Fried Chicken, and you had to travel an hour to get to it. Daddy wanted to eat local fare. He and Momma would bring us some McDonalds and then leave Mindy and I in charge of Scott while they ate out at the more colorful places. We didn’t mind in the least.

Once we got to China, we were part of a tour group. Mostly British and Australians, but everybody spoke English, even the tour guides. There was a main one, and then local ones as we traveled from place to place to place. Sometimes by plane (*that is a whole other story. LOL*), sometimes by train, and even by ‘cruise line’. More like a really big, overly packed, boat, that we sailed down the Yangtze river.

Everywhere we went we ate Chinese food. We had it for lunch, and dinner. Even at breakfast ~ Chinese food. Breakfast was always served by the hotel staff, before we left for the day to our next adventure. Nothing like having those Chinese flavors mixed in with your scrambled eggs.

Because you couldn’t drink the water, we had this orange soda at every meal. It was always served room temperature, which in the middle of summer, was hot. We couldn’t have ice, cause it was made with the local water. Daddy would drink their local beers. Momma slugged around trying to find decent coffee, usually settling for the hot teas. We children were ecstatic. Soda for every meal. Yippee!!!!

The meals for lunch and dinner were always full of freshly grown vegetables, always rice, and because we were ‘guests’ always protein. This is where I found out that dog and cats taste a lot like chicken. We were at one little town for a lunch stop. We were constantly told that none of the locals spoke English, that we should direct all of our questions / comments to the tour guide.

When one of the other men commented on how big the chicken pieces were. Everybody was eating, and started to notice that the chicken really did have a unique flavor. So when we asked, “What is this?”. We were of course reassured that it was chicken by the tour guide.

Not everybody agreed of course. Talk was really taking over and eventually one of the local waitresses replied, “It is not dog!” That is how we realized that more locals knew English than was let on. And I had my first taste of dog / or cat… it never was very clear.

By the end of the trip we children were begging for milk. So much so that I actually drank warm goats milk. I think my body was throwing a protest at not having it’s normal fare. I needed things like milk, cheese, and bread. Normal American stuff like potato chips and ground beef.

There was a woman from Australia that always sat in the last row of the bus, to keep her children corralled. They were more Scott’s age than ours; so Mindy and I tried to avoid them. But by the end of the trip she was our best-friend. We were even offering to babysit for her. She had brought ‘snacks’ for her small children. Things like cheese crackers. Peanut butter. Vienna sausages.

It was by this time ~ 2 weeks into the trip ~ That Mindy and I were declaring that we would never again eat Chinese food. LOL Of course this isn’t true. We both love sushi so much so, that when we get together, it is always one of our meals.

So while Rebecca may never want to eat pizza again, I am sure that come next week, she will be asking if we can order out. J

My fire pit. My wonderful, such a better use of the space, than what was there when we bought our home in 1998. I love how Barry can build just the perfect fire for me to sit around and just think, or one to have a glass of wine with a girlfriend. How as a family we have roasted many a hotdog for dinner. Not to mention all of those smoor’s.

How I got my fire pit is a story I tell people when they come to visit, and my sister, Stacie said it was one that needed to be included here. So for you Stacie. (*besides, Barry is working tonight, and I am needing something to do. *)

When we bought our home there was this really big, and very ugly plant/ bush thing in the backyard. It had long green stems and these red flowers. Not pretty like a hibiscus or anything. We thought that the red flowers might be nice, to give some color in the yard, so we kept it. Barry trimmed it back, because it was just wild looking.

Barry also installed, or I should say that WE, installed a very nice, very sturdy, fabulous clothesline along the back, from side to side. Full sun, plenty of room to get around, not any trees that were going to cover my clean linens with drippings. It was a thing of beauty.

I loved being able to hang out my wash each morning, baby on one hip, the other on a blanket under the palm tree. The way that the sun would help the bleach work it’s magic on the cloth diapers. The way that everything smelled sooooo good from the breeze blowing through. How it forced me to get outside everyday, even if it was just to my own backyard. But since we had not installed the fence around the backside yet, I had to at least get dressed.

Then the plant grew back. Which would not have been so bad except that the branches got so long that they were actually getting into my clothesline. I didn’t like the way that I would have to climb around the plant to hang laundry up. When it was long enough that the plant was actually touching my clothing I put my foot down.

So Barry trimmed it back again. A few months later, it was back. So I helped Barry really trimmed the thing back, down to the nubs. I mean there wasn’t a green bit left on the thing. How could it possibly survive? We even poured some bleach on the thing, trying to kill it. No such luck.

One day my family was over. Daddy, Scott (brother), and Tyler (brother-in-law), were hanging out one weekend. Once again, I had had enough of the plant, and took Barry’s tree branch cutters and started hacking at the plant. Of course, about half way through the men wanted to know what I was doing. I told them. They decided that this was job for ‘The Men.’… lol.

The four (4) of them came over and proceeded to chop at it. They talked about it and after hearing about the problem that had gone on a for a few years at this point; they decided that the root ball had to come out. Fine. They grabbed a shovel.

Well, after about 30 minutes they decided that they needed more shovels to help them to dig it out. After all, there were 4 of them and only 1 shovel. 2 of them in fact. Since we only owned one shovel, Barry got our next door neighbor in on this little project. So now there are 4 grown men, and 1 teen-aged boy digging this root ball out of the ground.

Yeah, like that was going to work. Rope. Rope to tie around the base of the thing, to give them better leverage for the yanking out, was the next thought. Which was used better when the neighbor across the street got in on the fun with a truck.

THEN there was water. See, my Daddy is a Florida Cracker. An original redneck of these backwaters. “This is sandy soil.”, he claimed. The best way of moving things in sand was with water. So out came the garden hose.

So picture this … 5 grown men, 1 teen-aged boy, 2 shovels, water, and rope attached to the back of a truck! Now this only took about 3 hours, or as Barry likes to say, “It really only took 2 cases of beer.”

Of course once they had the plant’s root ball out of the ground, the men were all congratulatory of themselves. Then they set fire to the root ball. Men!

When it was all said and done, they put away the shovels. Wound up the garden hose. Drank the last of the beer. Moved the truck back to Bill’s driveway. Tied up the rope and put it back in the shed. AND left a big fucking hole in the ground.

So I talked to Barry and convinced him that it would be a great spot to put in a fire pit. Especially considering that they had already started burning things in the hole. He agreed with me. “Until we figure out what else to put there.”, he said.

So far we have yet to find anything else to plant there. LOL It has been nearly ten (10) years. It has become a place for our family to hang out. We even have our own woodpiles, that Barry, Scott, and Daddy go out and add to each fall, with their “wood chopping” days. I am grateful to the plant that was there. Had it not been so freakish in it’s growth, I would not have my fire pit.

Ok, so camping in the rain is one (1) thing. Camping in the cold is one (1) thing. Camping with six children is one (1) thing. But to camp while it is raining AND cold WITH six children = a bad idea.

Friday was actually just overcast for most of the morning. Slight showers, that came and went. The harder rain came mid-afternoon. With all 4 adults off from work, and 5 of 6 children in school, it was nice to leisurely set up camp. 1 tent for the children, a smaller tent for the 2 girls who are BFF’s and a large double-room tent for the adults. Once the cook area all done, the wives went shopping.

So we toughed it out for as long as the children could take it. Or really as long as we 4 adults could take their whining… it was a good thing that we picked a very close-by campground. Only 5 minutes from our house. We couldn’t cook due to the rain on Friday, so we took the kids to the local pub. The rain let up and so we treked out to the site, and put the kids to bed. While we waited for them to fall asleep, we of course played cards! So grateful for the tarp that kept the rainy, wet bits from dripping down on us.

Saturday morning was nice, if not a little cool. We would have loved to cook a nice hot breakfast, but no such luck. The kids were great about using their imaginations and such for keeping occupied. Of course it helps when you have a guy who can create stuff from bits and pieces, using just his knife. Thanks John for the homemade fishing tackle and swing.

When we found that the night temps were going to drop down to the low 40’s.. it was decided that camping INside the Stinchcomb home, was a better option. We packed up what we could, but had to leave the tents up at the site. Storing what we had to leave in them. Stew slow cooked either by crockpot or campfire is good. Or so I was told by the empty bowls left on the table.

We have decided not to let this first (1st) time experience as a family group to deter us. We are already planning our next trip.

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