Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Don't tell anyone ...but I have a crush. He is wonderfully handsome, over-the-top talented, endlessly creative, hilariously funny, a true southern gentleman... and my goodness, you should see the dimples on this one! We've been carrying on for years - shhhh. And I saw him today. It had been months since I'd seen him last, and then BAM, there he was... right there in the gym, talking to Rosie O'Donnell on the TV screen, cool as could be. And me in my sweats and T-shirt and ratty tennis shoes! Devastating! I think this is why they call it a CRUSH.

Yes, my crush is Harry Connick Jr. I think I actually gasped when I saw him on The View this morning. I don't have many crushes on celebrities, probably due to my annoying insistence on living in the real world. They are almost always disappointing when you get a glimpse of what they are probably like in real life. But this is one guy who has yet to disappoint. (Well, that Copycat movie put me off him for a year or two, but everyone makes mistakes.) Now he's back in my good graces and doing his thing better than ever. Yummy. That's all I have to say about that.

I have been lucky enough to see HCJ in concert. His music was always on in the background when Cutie Pie and I were falling in love (which is probably another reason I like him so much). Once, when I was on a business trip in NOLA, a rumor circulated that Harry Connick would be performing at a little hole-in-the-wall bar. I knew it was too good to be true, but I herded my colleagues and made everyone go to the little hole-in-the-wall bar and wait for my Harry. Yes, you guessed it. His dad was the one performing. No junior. But it was really fine, because his dad is just as yummy and talented as his son! I love to see a person well-shaped by his kin. What a great testimony to family. Now that is one family I would love to have supper with sometime. Did you know HCJ has three daughters? We have so much in common. I would even be nice to his ridiculously sweet and beautiful wife. Swear.

Monday, January 29, 2007

People, I Could Make Ice at this Temperature

Yankees everywhere: Don't laugh. But it is 34 degrees in Atlanta today. That's thirty-freaking-four. And that was the high. Brrrrr. That is bitter. OK, I know it's not really bitter, but for Atlanta... it is bitter. I walked over to a neighbor's house a little while ago and gave myself an asthma attack. And what is it about our immune systems that cause them to completely fail us the day, the hour, the minute it turns cold? They say it's because we're indoors, touching our faces, spreading germs on door handles and such, but how does that occur so quickly? Theoretically, you'd think it would take a few weeks for the germs to get cranked up in our bodies and subsequently spread. We've had a rather mild winter here so far - I was wearing shorts the day I planted my cold-weather pansies - but when it turned cold a week or so ago, BAM, everyone in my family immediately got sick. You Yanks must have kick-butt immune systems. And see how sneaky the winter is here? See that gorgeous blue sky behind the Georgia Pines? Makes you think it's safe to venture outside. Ugh, give me a roaring bonfire and 60 blankets please.

Dear Cutie Pie is sick today. Really, really sick...as in I'm-almost-worried-about-him sick. He stayed home from work today for the first time in 11 years. So I'm making chicken soup. Doesn't it look good? You need smell-o-vision to truly appreciate it in all its yummy, chickeny glory, but trust me... it is worthy. I will eat it tonight too, as sort of a preventative measure. Number one, Cutie Pie and I are not allowed to be sick at the same time. It's in the Bylaws. Number two: I have a girls weekend planned in a few days, and I would be devastated to miss it. When I have my mid-afternoon break today, I'll be reading my new magazine, dreaming of warmer days, and desperately trying to fend off germs and bacteria of all sorts. En Garde! Wish me luck.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Slumper Party

Big Stuff is having a "slumper party" tonight. She and her friend, who is referred to as Anne Shirley when she is completely devastated or in the depths of despair, have done the party part. It's almost time for the slumper part. See how cute they are in their PJs with their freshly washed hair, making puppets for a puppet show that I will be required to watch in a few minutes? I love having Anne over because she says things like, "We have to stop gazing at this collection. We have been gazing and gazing at it for hours." When asked tonight what she plans to be when she grows up, she confidently said "a Princess," as if there had never been a question in her mind. You have to love a girl who knows what she wants. She also asked Cutie Pie and me why moms and dads kiss each other all the time. I said, to the sounds of much groaning and squeals of ewwwwww, "Because they're in loooovvvvvveeee." Anne says indignantly, "You're not supposed to be in love anymore! You were supposed to be in love a long time ago." To which we said, "If we weren't in love, we wouldn't have YOU!" Uproarious giggles. Then she says, "Why does the man always have to protect the woman? Why can't the woman protect the man?" To which Cutie Pie replied, "Amen, sister. I like you Anne Shirley!"

We have some interesting conversations on Slumper Party nights. Another spend-the-night friend, the Duchess of Redhead, sometimes has great spiritual summits with Big Stuff in bed after lights out. Last time she spent the night, I crept by their room only to hear them praying earnestly to God for long hair. "Long, long hair so we can be princesses. Pleaaaassseee God, long hair." I had to stifle my giggles and flee from the hallway as quickly as possible. I know, I know. She won't always let me pick her friends and orchestrate her life, and I will surely detest some of her companions in the years to come..... but I'll think about that tomorrow, Scarlett.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bedside Manners

January seems to be the month of check-ups. Good time for a tune-up I suppose. I had mine, and now the girls are having theirs. We paid our respects at the ENT on Tuesday. Today it was the dentist. I know you will say I'm strange, but I love taking my kids to the doctor. I don't even mind going myself, as long as there is no danger of a painful procedure being performed as part of the appointment. I'm sure there are some mean and uncaring doctors out there, but thankfully, I have not had the bad luck to encounter more than one, maybe two, in my life. They are always so nice to my kids. And to me. The nurses make a big fuss over the girls when they come in. They make up great little stories about what they're doing, such as, "Do you think I can find a princess in your ear?" or "Your job is to give Mr. Thirsty a kiss so the flouride doesn't set up camp in your tummy." They give them little prizes. Today Big Stuff got a mood ring from the dentist. She thought this was THE BOMB. She marveled over it all day. "What does black mean, mama? I think blue means I am very, very happy." And the thing I really like? The doctors make me feel like such a good mother. I'm sure they pump up every mom who schlepps in the place, but for those 10 or 20 minutes I am the Queen Mum. And really, how often do you get direct and effusive praise for the everyday things you do, like say, keeping your kids alive for another year? I may not have a thing in the world to do with where they fall on those growth charts, but dang, it makes me glow with pride when they tell me my kid is better than 98 percent of all the other kids in the world...I mean taller. I am also lucky that the girls are great patients. The doctors never fail to compliment them and marvel at their good behavior as they are being poked with things or asked to listen to the wind for the 48th time. And again, although I probably have very little to do with their behavior at that given moment, I just glow with happiness. They are good, I think to myself, really good! The first pediatrician I had with Big Stuff was such a gem. He was an older guy, on the verge of retirement. Very old school in the way that he would just spend all morning talking with you, if that was what he wanted to do, totally disregarding his nurse's promptings to move on, bub. He would also give you all these great home remedies and teach you a little about anatomy and germs and the inner workings of the inner ear during your visit. I read a lot these days about how your doctor should be your partner in your healthcare. I doubt that many young doctors in these big old HMOs feel compelled to make a bunch of nervous first-time mothers their partners, but Dr. W sure did. I loved him for that. And he never failed to say at the conclusion of the appointment, "Well, you're doing a great job, mom." Man, those are some sweet, sweet words!

Maybe the fact that the girls have escaped feeling dread at seeing the doctor has something to do with their grandmother. She was a nurse (isn't she pretty?) for a pediatrician, a dear man whose family became like our own and still is. Mema is an encyclopedia of medical knowledge and experiences. I always call her first before I call a doctor. She's also a great caretaker, and she doles out special treatment and makes you feel downright spoiled anytime you are ailing. She taught me that when you're sick, a doctor helps you feel better. That's all. No biggie. So maybe that is why none of us seems to fear doctors too much. Small Fry even thinks some of them live in fairy tale books I suppose. At her ENT checkup, the nurse said, "I'm going to call Lois in to look at her ear." When she left the room, SF whispers to me, with a puzzled look on her face, "Who is coming? Lo-Bis?" I said, "Yes, Lois is coming to look in your ear." She says, still more puzzled "Is Lo-Bis a giant?" I'm not quite sure where she got that idea... probably something about someone getting into her ear, getting giant mixed up with leprechaun.. who knows? But how cute is that?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Backseat Drivers

Small Fry has a new interest in traffic signals. And in telling me how to drive. Today on a short trip to Publix, she asked me over and again..."Red is for stop, right mama? Red means go. Green means stop? No, Orange is for stop. Mama, that light was green. You didn't stop. The policeman will get you." I continued to answer her questions and explain my choices until I began to weary. Then, after a few minutes of silence, she says, as if it just dawned on her, "I am not driving." And all was well in minivan land once again. If only Cutie Pie could have a similar revelation when in the passenger's seat. Alas, he just cannot give up the wheel. Which actually suits me fine. Makes it much easier to read a magazine or flip through the radio stations.

Small Fry has been facing another issue of import lately. Since her sister told her that she was once inside mama's tummy, she has been living in dread that we might make her go back there. This brings her to tears a couple of times a day. No matter how often we reassure her (and mama!) that this will never, ever happen, she strongly fears that somehow we're going to stuff her back in there and leave her in the dark. Regardless of faces like angels, sisters can be a bit on the sinister side sometimes, can't they?

Take a moment

Say a prayer for our troops today!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Hang Time

Cutie Pie was out of town last night. This is a rare occurrence at our house, since he doesn't travel for his job on a regular basis. Many of my friends have traveling hubbies, and it can be pretty hard on them. Many are not comfortable being alone at night. And then there are those moms who are alone every night. Single moms, or temporarily single moms...I have a dear cousin who will not see her husband at night for probably a year, as he is serving in Iraq. This is unimaginable, and her bravery is quite breathtaking. For me, a husband who comes home every night is a much-looked-forward-to part of my day. It's that time when you can say, "Whew." And "Here." And I am ever so grateful to be allowed the privilege of having him here every night. It is a major comfort, for sure. But I do enjoy the random bachelorette night. I used to love traveling for my job. Check into a nicer hotel than I would ever pay for myself, eat a big ole' expensive dinner without looking at the price, take a long bath with the bathroom door open, lay in bed and read or watch inane TV show 'till all hours, with the lights on. Sleep in the middle of the bed. This is good stuff, once in a while. Now that I don't do any solo traveling, I must say I enjoyed my night alone. (Well, alone in that my little ones were asleep in the next room, but still.) There were a few hours last night when no one needed me. No one expected me to do anything or be anywhere or say anything. I puttered around the house, and it was delicious and decadent. I ate beefaroni out of the can. I drank wine. I did laundry and cleaned the kitchen, which I enjoy doing when I don't have to do it. (OK, how weird is that? Sometimes I feel like I have to clean up -- to avoid letting the people I love, including myself, live in a pigsty-- but at the same time I feel guilty cleaning up because that means I'm not spending "quality time" with someone in this house. My therapy bill would be huge if I could afford to be in therapy, huh?) I did not sleep in the middle of the bed though. Some things must remain sacred, and his side of the bed is waiting for him tonight pretty well unrumpled.

It's strange when you live with a gaggle of people. Solitude is scarce, yet required, in order to think one's own thoughts. I once heard a psychologist discuss personality types. He helped us determine our type, using the Myers Briggs test. I was classified as INFJ or "introverted intuition with extraverted feeling." He described me perfectly when he said that introverts need time and space to process thoughts and feelings. They enjoy being with people, but become drained after a short time of lively interaction. They crave order and predictability. I observed that this seems to be a personality type that is in direct conflict with being a mother of young children. How does an INFJ deal? He just shrugged. "You just have to wait it out." Alrighty then.

Here is one secret about our "bachelorette night." Don't tell Cutie Pie. I made pancakes for the girls this morning. This is completely his realm, but it's the only thing I had in the house. They really weren't that good. They were a little burned. They are so much better when he makes them. I'm looking forward to tomorrow morning.

Ordinary Miracles

My girls and I went to see Charlotte's Web today at the movies. What a great movie, you really must see it! I laughed, and sentimental sap that I am, even cried. What kind of goofball cries at a kid's movie? But man, was it touching! And not in the manipulative, make-a-buck way that most movies are these days. Really touching, really sweet, really true. Small Fry looked over at me during Charlotte's final speech and said (loudly!) "Mama, why are you crying?" I whispered, "I just like the movie." She says, "I know you are crying. I hear you sniffing." She kept stealing glances at me suspiciously, as if I was trying to hide something from her (well, I was). I also choked up when Fern showed up in the kitchen wearing the pretty yellow dress her mother had picked out, asking Mama to tie ribbons in her hair. I laughed through tears when Avery teased, you look like a girrrrrrl and she punched him in the arm, saying yeah and you hit like one! I cried again when Fern and Henry Fussy clasped hands and ran toward the ferris wheel. Although I have seen this movie a hundred times and read the book two hundred times, there is just something unspeakably tender about that little girl growing up, just a bit, in the most innocent of ways. Maybe now it's just more poignant to me since I'm relating to Fern not as a peer, but as a daughter of my own.

"Why did you do all this for me?" he asked. "I don't deserve it. I've never done anything for you."

"You have been my friend," replied Charlotte. "That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what's a life, anyway? We're born, we live a little while, we die... By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heavens knows anyone's life can stand a little of that."

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Coffee Talk

Here's a great thing to do.... meet your best friends for coffee once in a while. Sounds like something our grandmas would do, right? Man, did they have something! It doesn't require a bunch of pre-planning. You don't have to make an appoinment with each other three months in advance. You don't have to find a babysitter. You don't have to dress up. You don't have to impress anyone. You just show up at Starbucks or someone's particularly lovely and cozy home, sit in front of the fire, drink your cuppa and LAUGH! In my mind, this constitutes the perfect morning. This is one of the major perks of not having to go into an office on a daily basis. At night, I almost feel subversive telling Cutie Pie about it because I don't want him to suddenly realize what he's missing and insist I become fully employed once again. And really, there's nothing like friendship is there? You literally feel fed after coffee talk. Your little heart is once again beating full and robustly inside your chest. You can breathe easily. Your forehead uncrinkles itself from its "this is your mother talking" mode. Ahhhhhh. I do not take this for granted. This is very hard to find! Cool chicks like mine are darn near impossible to find in a girl's lifetime. Our conversation yesterday brings me to this old picture of my best friend and me when we were about 6 (the picture on the right is one of our daughters, ages 6 and 5). The first thing I'm thinking is that I would have loved for her to have been at coffee talk. She would have had many, many hilarious comments to add, and my Atlanta girls would love her. But she lives far away, so we sometimes do coffee talk over the phone ( is that considered phone sipping? )....which is also very nourishing but not as good as in person. When I visit her in Florida, we cram six months of coffee talk into a morning or two. She is an absolute treasure in my life. The second thing I think about when I look at this picture is that my family's pop-up camper is in the background, which was one of the aforementioned hilarious topics we discussed at coffee talk. In fact, the assignment for next month's CT was to bring in pictures of ourselves camping in our pop-up campers and/or tents when we were kids. We were pretty sure we would look like little clones of each other, due to the fact that our stories of family life in the 1970s were so very similar. Well girls, here it is. Did you also have the yarn-bow ponytails and horrid red, white and blue plaid pants? I thought so.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Lions, Tigers and Bears, oh my...(well, not bears...)

The girls and I visited Zoo Atlanta today with some friends. The best part: Small Fry asking me, "Mama, what is the tiger thinking about?" as he paced back and forth in front of his cage door. I don't know about the PC-ness of zoos...they are a little sad to me, but then again, when are we, as regular citified types, ever going to see such amazing animals up close and personal? It sure does strike a chord with my girls. They laughed out loud at the orange, dancing elephants (the elephants are covered in red Georgia clay... talk about your mud baths). They insisted that the panda bear was waving at them. The gorilla looked "mad" but it was decided in the end that that's just the way his face was made. The baby gorillas, which looked eerily like some little girls I once knew, were deemed "cute" but smelly. The "mingos" were smelly also, and why do they stand on one leg like that, mama? hmmmmmm.....let me break out my biology text, gals. I like it that my girls are curious. I'm waiting with bated breath to hear what kind of questions they will come up with next.
Oh yes, and when I asked my oldest why we had the day off from school, she said because it's a King's birthday today. :-)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Love Stories

I had a great evening on Saturday night. It was the first meeting of a new supper club I've recently joined. The theme was Southern Cooking...which suits me quite fine, let me tell you. We snacked on Redneck Caviar, drank peach Bellinis and ate a Southern chicken pie, a recipe from the host's grandmother. Oh yes, and chocolate bread pudding for dessert. (I'm sure Doc was getting a vibe across town....didn't I tell her not to eat that stuff??? But I digress...) The best part of the night was the conversation. It's not often that you have a good conversation with a group of fellows, especially when you've just met several of them. The topic introduced at dinner was: Tell us how you met and fell in love. Every person had a wonderful and unique story to tell. I particularly liked one in which the couple, both from the North, met when they were the only two people to drive into work during the Atlanta Blizzard of '93. Others started as friends. Some felt a spark right off the bat. I didn't get a chance to inquire, but I want to know: How many felt that "love at first sight" thing? Or not love at first sight, since we all know that is a myth, but something at first sight. Something that made you say to yourself, "Hey, this person is going to be in my life somehow, someway. Forever." That's how it was for me. I wonder how many other people feel that?
During Christmas vacation, Cutie Pie and I went to a B&B on the beach for a little R&R. Every night at 6 p.m., they had social hour, which Cutie Pie and I began referring to as Wino Hour ( a little tradition we quickly came to love and now sorely miss ). The B&B provided wine and appetizers, and everyone would emerge from their rooms to chat and share a cup of good cheer. We met a cute couple, going the second time around, who planned to be married at the B&B on New Year's Eve. They fell in love on New Year's Eve one year ago. They had been friends for years and worked together also, but last year, on NYE, he happened to reach over and brush the hair from her cheek. Electricity ensued and tada - they were getting married. The tiniest gesture led to this huge thing.
So back to supper club... It was so cool to think of this random collection of people at the dinner table, and rewind their lives to Before. Before careers, before kids, before houses and moves and Real Life, whatever that is. I got a glimpse of a moment in each person's life that turned out to be quite momentous. Very cool.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Thoughts I Thought Today

I was thinking today, while waiting in the carpool line, of the person I used to be, the person I am and the person I am going to be. (See previous post about becoming decrepit - this kind of news gets you thinking). OK, it was not the most in-depth thinking I've ever done (I only had about 4 minutes). But what I was thinking was...I used to be a much more interesting person! I used to think about things. You know, existentially. Now I'm mostly just a functional model of a person, and that's probably what I need to be right now. What child wants her mother to be interesting? Or eccentric? Or moody? No, what my children, and probably most children, want from me is to BE THERE. Be there to answer my question. Be there to make my juice. Be there to read my story. Be there to kiss my boo-boo. Be there, just be there, just be there. It's not that I've "lost myself" as so many women fear when they contemplate children...it's just that I've tucked myself into a box and placed myself on the shelf for the time being. I still feed that little heart beating away in the box. I give it food, water, nights out with the girls, the occasional lovely piece of literature or gorgeous sunset. It's just not out there on my sleeve at the moment. It doesn't make me sad, exactly...I just miss that girl sometimes!

Am I actually becoming decrepit?

I am getting old. My doctor confirmed it today. OK, he said it in much nicer terms and with much more diplomacy, but the fact remains. Oh yes, and he wrote a referral for me to get a mammogram. A mammogram? Are they serious?? Didn't I just start puberty last week or something? Also, apparently I am not getting fat (20 lbs in 3 years - ouch) because something is wrong with me (I was pretty sure I had a tumor, an overactive thyroid or was secretly pregnant with a really overweight embryo...), I am just getting older. And it's downhill from here, by the way. I will have to work harder and harder, eat less and less each year just to maintain my weight! (See photo for what I will be eating for awhile) Did you know about this?? Don't laugh, I'm actually reasonably well informed about health issues, I promise. I just wasn't expecting this to happen so soon. To ME. I really don't intend to whine about it. I hate those people who start complaining about being old the day they turn 30. I had one friend who started acting like a Grandpa at the ripe old age of 25, complete with groaning when he stood up from a seated position. Please. (And then they try to draw you into their misery..."Aren't WE getting old? Can you believe WE are so old?? - Speak for yourself, bub.) I feel young, really young...like 15. Well, maybe 25. But I'm hip. I'm all about music, clothes, spiritual exploration. I'm cute. I'm quirky. It's just that my body is not in sync with my mind and heart. It's like my kids whenever we go somewhere - the older one is always barreling ahead of us, while the little one dwadles and examines every leaf, blade of grass or piece of chewed gum she comes across. In my mind, I'm still examining life and turning over every interesting rock I see while my body, damn Judas, is barreling ahead, intent on completing the aging process in as efficient a manner as possible. Doc says I'm doing "Very Well" in comparison with many of his other patients. He says it takes many people by surprise, this aging thing. He's nice. But I HEARD what he said. And I WILL be mad for the rest of the day.

Kate Spade Crystal

I was waiting in line at Macy's yesterday to check out, and I saw a salesperson showing a woman some crystal patterns ( I am assuming this was A Bride, registering). The Bride looked at the glasses and said, "I would never, ever, ever (yes, she said it three times) want glasses with a pattern on them." I know, I know. You are not supposed to make snap judgements about people, but I had two thoughts. This woman is taking the "Queen for a Day" thing a bit far - maybe she thinks this will be the first and only time in her life she can be snooty, demanding and conceited toward everyone around her and no one is allowed to say anything about it. After all, she is The Bride. And 2, she has no idea how completely insignificant the pattern on her crystal glasses will be to her 10 years from now. Ten years from now, when she says she never, ever, ever wants something in her life, it will be something big. Something meaningful. Hopefully it won't be her husband.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Books I need to read when my kids are napping (or grown up)

I love, love, love to read. My favorite feature of a beach vacation I took a couple of years ago was the uninterrupted and seemingly endless hours of reading that I was allowed to do. I finished two books in a week and had started a third. My daughter happily played with her good friend, E, while E's mom and I made like chair ornaments and read. There is nothing so wonderful as being able to read a good book with one's toes submerged in sugary sand and the background noise of crashing waves and squealing seagulls and little children. I especially love to trade books with friends who really read (not just sticky romances or work-related tomes)- and then talk about what we thought! I used to read a lot on airplanes when I traveled for my job. Now it seems like the only pleasure reading I do that does not include Dr. Suess or a Disney princess is on vacation. But it's something to look forward to! Below are some of the books I have in my Palm Pilot - ((sigh)) one day, another sandy beach.

Give It Up!: My Year of Learning to Live Better with Less (Paperback) by Mary Carlomagno
For a year, the author gives up something different each month: alcohol, shopping, newspapers, cell phones, dining out, television, taxis, coffee, chocolate and — for good measure — cursing, elevators and multi-tasking. Living a simple life is very appealing to me.

1000 Places to See Before you Die, Schultz. Hey, everyone needs a goal.

The Dwelling Place (sequel to The Swan House) The Swan House is one of my faves because it's set in my town, it has real southern charm and the characters are deep.

A History of God, Karen Armstrong. I'm fascinated by world religions right now. I'm in a yearlong Bible study in which I will read 75% of the bible by the end of the study. It has been so exciting to see history and my faith intersect, and I wonder about the beliefs of others and how they came about. Now I think the author is an atheist, so I'll be taking the whole thing with a grain of salt.

Mere Christianity, CS Lewis. This is supposed to be another amazing book about faith.

A Brief History of Israel. I can't get enough of learning about this region. The result of 9/11.

Your Money or Your Life. I'm not great at it yet, but I'm always into learning more about separating these two things!

Honeymoon with my Brother. This is a story about a guy who got dumped at the altar and decided to go ahead and take his honeymoon trip. It turns into a great story about adventure, travel and overcoming the bad stuff that happens to us. Saw him on Oprah - great guy.

The Known World, Edward Jones. I can't remember now what this is about...but I noted that it won the Pulitzer Prize.

Winning the Whining Wars, Whitman. I have two girls. Enough said?

1776, David McCullough. I don't usually go for history but when I saw this guy interviewed, I was enthralled with this story of early American history. It's huge. Gotta find the right time and place to tackle it.

The books I read on my S. C. beach vacation: The Swan House, The Mermaid Chair
The book I read during Christmas vacation this year: A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson - this is a GREAT book about a guy who decided to hike the Appalachian Trail. The author is Funny (with a capital F), and he includes amazing information about nature, history and the AT regions.