Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Le Turtle Trifle

Seeing as how I've had zero time to blog lately, and seeing as how I have had a request for this particular recipe, I am going to cheat today and blog about a recipe that I think everyone should have in their recipe box. It is easy beyond compare, it tastes really great, and it makes you look as if you went to study at le Cordon Bleu in Paris. So, be sure to print this recipe off. You will make it more than once. (I do not know its provenance; a copy of it appeared on the breakroom table last year, and I swipped it). My eternal thanks go out to that unknown individual.

Le Turtle Trifle (when you speak of this recipe, you must use a phony French accent, which I know you all can do...I've heard you)

8 oz. mascarpone cheese, softened (can sub. w/ 8 oz. of cream cheese)
1 ½ c. whipping cream
1 ½ t. vanilla extract
1 (2lb) frozen pecan pie, thawed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/3 c. chocolate fudge topping
1/3 c. caramel topping
½ c. chopped toasted pecans

1. Beat mascarpone cheese, whipping cream, and vanilla extract in lg. bowl at med. speed (2-3 min, or until smooth and firm).
2. Place half of pie cubes in bottom of 4 qt. trifle dish or tall, clear 4 qt. bowl. Spread half of whipped cream mixture over pie cubes. Drizzle w/ half each of the chocolate and caramel topping. Sprinkle w/ half of chopped pecans. Repeat layers.
3. Cover and chill at least 1 hr. or up to 8 hrs.

Reading: Eclipse
Listening to: The Bad Plus
Eating: Cookies from the cookie exchange.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Robert Morgan

Saw old friend Bob Morgan last Thursday night for the first time since the last visit I made to his and his wife’s farm in Ithaca. That visit back in 2002 (I believe) was one born from a journey made to see the last of the Ithaca urban family leave Cornell on their own career paths. Donna was packing up to go back to Manhattan; Paul, not long after, would be taking a temporary teaching position at Wake Forrest. Everyone else had already packed up and left Ithaca years before.

As we drove to Jacksonville Thursday evening, I told E of Bob’s career, a solid career as a poet and fiction writer; a career that became even more solid after a phone call from a talk show host in Chicago, praising his latest book (at the time), and asking him to please come and visit her book club. When Oprah Winfrey picks your book to be her book club selection of the month, you’d suspect that your life would change in very drastic ways. Not so with Bob when Gap Creek, the fictionalized account of his grandmother’s life, was picked. Bob was older then, held a firmly established position in the English department at Cornell University, had at least eight books of poetry under his belt, and probably as many works of fiction, too. He and wife Nancy didn’t really need anything else that money could buy, except a farm closer to the university, a farm that turned out to be very similar to the farm they had lived in before, a place where you could sit Sunday evenings and eat, drink and listen to Bob spin yarns. Bob had a habit of crossing his legs when he spoke, and as he spoke, he would begin a stirring motion with the top leg. It was as if he were stirring up the words for his stories with that leg, gettin’ a good momentum on them so they would tumble out of his mouth together in the most beautiful sentences. When Bob spoke, you could feel yourself becoming mesmerized, all else would fade away except for the sound of his voice, and the stirring of his leg…

We were not disappointed with Bob’s talk. He had been invited to JSU’s Houston Cole Library by the Friends of the Library, and he spoke on his latest biography, Boone. As he began to speak to the audience, the sound of his voice again mesmerized me, all else faded away, and although he was standing at a podium with one leg casually crossed over the other, the top leg began what was most certainly a noticeable stirring…

At the closing of the talk, as the audience broke out of Bob’s spell, I looked over at E to see his reaction. His paraphrased words were that he had become so engrossed in what Bob was saying, that when he snapped out of the spell, his hand automatically went to his chin for fear that he had been drooling. And as we slipped down the eleven flights of stairs to avoid the overcrowded elevators, E asked if I had noticed what Bob’s leg was doing during the talk…

Reading: Grapes of Wrath
Listening to: Cookin’ & Workin’ with Miles Davis

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Whatcha needed was a good lubin’…

Acted as designated driver to On Tap in Beermingham this past Sunday. It was the Catoe’s first time out in my vehicle and they commented on the smooth ride and the fancy features. Having recently fallen in LOVE with a no-frills, stripped down Corolla that I met through happenstance, I remarked about how I would like my Sonata better if it had NOT featured electric windows and keyless doors. I’m kinda simple that way (not that I don’t love the Sonata). Well fool! Don’t you know not to talk about your car in front of it? You’re thumbing your nose at fate if you do that. I’ve learned over the years never to talk about how great my car is running, or how nice or not nice I think my car is (especially if I’m standing near my car, or sitting in my car), cause just when you say something out loud about your car, that’s when it gets back at you by doing something you don’t want it to do (like the year my car stopped dead at the traffic light in front of the Mall during day-after-Thanksgiving traffic, or when another one of my cars stopped dead in Coldwater, AL and I had to hitch a ride with the strange foot-fetish man who gave me the really nice pair of steel-toed boots).

Well, evidently, I was thumbing my nose at fate all day Sunday, because while downtown last night, my key got stuck in the ignition. Not just wheel-locked-up-so-jerk-it-to-the-side-a-bit stuck, or if-you-try-some-other-silly-idiosyncratic-moves-that-worked-on-other-cars stuck. Nope, zee key was stuck and was not coming out for me (or for anyone, for that matter). And I couldn’t just leave the key in the ignition and lock the car safely, because of all those fancy safety features. The car would not lock as long as the key was in the ignition. And the service department of Dave Menegay Hyunda was closed for the evening. So, I drove back to RBC and parked the car for the night, leaving the key in the ignition with the doors unlocked, because you can still do stuff like that in parts of RBC without worrying that someone is going to make off with your car.

So, as I was ranting to myself later about how I purchased a new car so that I would have peace of mind, and not have to deal with little problems like this, my cell phone starts ringing and it turns out to be the customer service survey company for Dave Menegay Hyunda and they want to know if I am happy with the service I received the last time I had an oil change. “Well, it’s funny that you called this evening…” and I explained to her what was going on and how extremely unhappy I was at the moment because I had a rather expensive, not-even-a-year-old car sitting in my driveway with a key stuck in the ignition, and couldn’t lock it, and couldn’t get through to the service department. After a very long moment of silence, the young woman asks, “Should I call you back at a better time?” And I respond, “Well, yes. Perhaps if you do, I’ll have a better attitude with which to answer your questions.” Click.

When I walked into the service department this morning, I was very quite and polite, and I explained to the nice gentleman behind the desk what had transpired. I also told him that I was keeping it under control for the moment, and asked him if he could tell that I was keeping it under control? You see, it was costing me money by not being at work, and I had already paid enough for the car…

Well that tack wasn’t getting the results I wanted, so I tried another tack, one that involved a little method acting. I believe that I was not only digging deep within myself, but was also digging deep within the fertile coal mines of my coworkers Tami Brooks and Nicole Papa when I said the following, “Well, I don’t know what I’M gonna do, but somebody HERE is gonna make ME happy this morning. Can YOU make that happen?” Translation for the reader: the part about “making me happy” was me speaking. The “Can you make that happen?” part was Tami Brooks; and while I was saying the “Can you make that happen?” part, I was doing the cute little chugga-chugga train dance that Nicole does in my doorway every day at work (I hope that some of you have seen this phenomenon, because it is truly phenomenal). Either I was so damn cute doing the chugga-chugga dance, or they recognized that under the librarian façade of cardigan and sensible shoes raged a finely-tuned seething mass of red-headed whup-ass…I was asked to wait in the Customer Lounge (which, by the way, does not have alcohol). I didn’t have to pace the Customer Lounge area of Dave Menegay Hyundai for long. My ride was returned to me with the explanation that the key had gotten stuck because “what I needed was a good lubin.” Great. Thanks. Give me that damn key. I think your butt’s gonna need a good lubin’ when my foot is headed up it…

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Taken for granted.

On my recent business trip to New York, I was able to meet up with a dearly missed Ithica urban family member, whom I had not seen in over ten years. When the ever-fashionable Donna, who lives in Manhattan, found out that I was coming, she offered to shepherd me around during my stay. It was wonderful to be able to meet up with her and shoe-baru around the town on foot. At one point, she proclaimed that she felt she took her beloved city for granted some times, but that seeing NY through my eyes was making her appreciate it again. What’s not to love and appreciate about NY? It is easily one of the most well-laid out cities, and has some of the most famous architecture, restaurants, museums and people contained within a very small radius. I was quite shocked at how, if one really wanted to, everything could be reached on foot. Ah, to walk in a city again…

Donna and I covered as much ground as we could, from The Village (Greenwich-which is where we spent a wonderful couple of hours and some serious money at the Blue Ribbon Wine Bar, one of NY’s smallest bars), to SoHo (where we saw a movie being filmed-no one famous), the edge of Tribeca (former home of my deceased ex-boyfriend, John Kennedy, Jr.), Little Italy (smelled terrific, but too full of hipsters), the Bowery (which is the home of the famously loud, former apartment of Donna’s boyfriend, the Russian), St. Mark’s (haven for young runaways), the Chelsea neighborhood (which was my temporary neighborhood for the weekend), and Upper Manhattan (pure pulse of traffic, museums, and Broadway). One evening was spent at Mario Battali’s restaurant Otto, which was located in The Village, just a stone’s throw from Washington Square Park. There we shared the most delicate thin crust margarita pizza, a beautiful arugula salad, and a fabulously tasty vanilla gelato with a shot of espresso poured over the top (you know me and coffee poured over ice cream…yum). I was also able to finally meet the illusive Russian boyfriend, a handsome and graceful charmer who sported a perfectly tailored pinstriped suit-jacket, jeans and a man bag…and perfectly coiffed hair. He was only in for a moment, but for that entire moment, I knew that I was in the presence of a well-manscaped European man…he looked every bit the part. Immediately following our Italian meal, we hoofed it to the Brooklyn Bridge and, surrounded by the magic of a perfectly breezy autumn evening and lit up by the lights of the city (and the fine spirits we had consumed with dinner), we walked across the bridge and back. It was a moment to remember. Words of Whitman’s Crossing Brooklyn Ferry carried on the breeze:
“And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence
are more to me, and more in my meditations, than
you might suppose.”
So Walt had been thinking of Donna and me all those years ago!?!

Donna and I ended our sadly short time together only hours before I was to be at the airport for my return flight. I met her outside MoMA, and she whisked me past the queing line of tourists, in the doors like a VIP. You see, Donna had a special privilege pass via her employer, a pass that would allow her and a guest free admission to almost all of the museums in NY. I had witnessed the full power of this pass only two days earlier when she had rather quickly gotten us into the International Center of Photography to see the frighteningly in-your-face and incredibly moving works of photojournalists Susan Meiselas, Cornell Capa and Eugene Smith. Getting us into MoMA was nothing for Donna. She sashayed up to the desk, flashed her ID, and bam! we were in. For the next hour and a half, I felt Warhol, Pollock, Duchamp, Monet, Picasso, Chagall, Klimpt, and Giacometti pumping through my blood like drugs. And not long after, I found myself on a plane, returning to the South. I left NY feeling invigorated by the good food, the good company and the healthy dose of art. And I left Donna seeing her city in a different light. It’s sometimes good to be a tourist in your own neck of the woods…

So yesterday, a friend and I found ourselves playing tourists in Birmingham…off on mini-holiday to see the Leonardo’s at the Birmingham Museum of Art. All the way from Turin, Italy, this particular collection of sketches was something that neither of us wanted to miss…it was possibly a once-in-a-lifetime exhibit. I have to say that it was a spectacular day, and not just because of the Leonardo’s. The museum was also hosting a collection of New Deal Farm Security Administration photos taken by Marion Post Wolcott. Her photos captured the social and economic extremes of life in the rural South during that time. An old share cropper sitting in a cane chair, railroad tracks of mending on his pants, fingers missing from his time in the field or mill; jars and jars of fruits and vegetables, canned and shelved, a poor woman’s pantry art installation; a row of well-dressed race spectators off-set by a row of legs clad in trousers made of down-on-your-luck, standing in line for…food? What a glorious collection of photos to see. And it was all free of charge. Imagine having such a beautifully cared for museum, a museum that tastefully houses meaningful art, and exist just down the road about an hour away…amazing that it took so long for us to make our way down there…no excuse. Mustn’t take such things for granted.

As a post script: I now own some Ras-el hanout, therefore I will be making some pork brochettes soon. I also have some other treats... And, if anyone cares to know, Turkish Delight really is delightful in a strange chocolate-covered-jelly sort of way. And as its packaging alludes, it really is full of Eastern Promise.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Thermodynamics of Hell

In light of the Milton 400 Paradise Lost Pub Crawl in November, I wanted to reprint this favorite urban university myth. Supposedly, this was an actual question given on a chemistry mid term at the University of Washington:

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?
Most of the chemistry majors wrote proofs using Boyle's Law, (gas cools off when it expands and heats up when it is compressed) or some variant. One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate that souls are moving into Hell and the rate they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let’s look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Some of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there are more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This leaves two possibilities:

If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until All Hell Breaks Loose.

If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell Freezes Over.

So which is it? If we accept the postulate given to me by Ms. Teresa Banyan during my Freshman year,"... it will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you," and take into account the fact that I still have not succeeded in sleeping with her, then #2 cannot be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is Exothermic and will not freeze.

The student received the only "A" given.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

On the road, and through Gadsden, Alabama…

A quote from Uncle Walt, this one from Song 48 of Song of Myself:

“Why should I wish to see God better than this day?
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then,
In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass,
I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is sign’d by God’s name,
And I leave them where they are, for I know that where-soe-er I go,
Others will punctually come for ever and ever.”

On September 24, he came walking up to the library, like a modern Whitman, or Kerouac, or Jesus, on his way from San Francisco to Boston, not yet favoring his bloody Achillies tendons (not figuratively or Britishly bloody, but literally bloody from his new high-topped trail boots). Like so many profits through the ages before him, he was carrying a message with him, many messages really. But they were not messages from his own voice, they were messages from the people he had met along his way. You see, B. J. Hill was walking across America to “bring the voice of the people to our next president,” and he was coming to collect messages (big and small, those whispered and those shouted) from people in Gadsden. And in his well-traveled book, he collected our messages.

Now, unless you’ve found yourself in the position of having no choice but to sleep outside (and some of you out there are saying, “But Carol, he made the choice to walk across America, so he knew he’d have to sleep outside…” yes, I understand that, but nonetheless, play along with me for a minute), you don’t know how happy the offering of a room for the evening can make a person (the thought of a hot shower, a place to wash your clothing, an actual bed to sleep in is almost too good to be true). When Gadsden Times reporter Andy Powell mentioned to library director Amanda Jackson and Councilman Ben Reed, “Wouldn’t it be nice if B.J. could stay at a cabin at the Falls…,” it was done. Had it been me instead of B.J., I would’ve thought myself Coleridge’s Kubla Khan and spent the evening comparing the cabin at Noccalula Falls to Xanadu, and Black Creek to Alph, that sacred river that “ran through caverns measureless to man,” as I am a firm believer in entertaining hyperbole (Mr. Hill may have been doing just that later that evening, we’ll never know for sure unless he fesses up one day).

The cabin must have been a success, for the next morning B.J. arrived refreshed back at the library to resume his trek at the point he left off the day before (no cheating allowed when you’re the Walk America 2008 Guy, you see). Last I saw of him, he, several messages heavier, was heading out our back door, having just eaten a piece of sweet potato pie (courtesy of the Ebony Enchantress), and walking in the direction of the Pitman Theatre on Broad Street.

BJ, we want to thank you for making Gadsden a stop on your route across America, and good luck on the remainder of your journey. We will be thinking of you as you eventually head back north, and as the weather begins to change. We hope that all those miles and all those words do not weigh heavy upon you. We wish you many comfortable sofas upon which to surf, and lots of communion along the way with interesting and kind people.

You may follow B.J. Hill’s journey yourself through his website at Walk America 2008.

Another journey…

I want to mention the passing of a friend, Jennifer Pritchett. Jennifer was a mate to my sis back in high school, a popular girl who would be friends with you whether you were popular or not. Jennifer was what a lot of people should be, someone who was optimistic, funny, caring, and kind. She and my sis supported each other through their battles with cancer. We will miss Jennifer.

About to read: one of the many books borrowed from E (and hoping that he forgives the marginalia I leave behind like rabbit poop…d’oh! At least it’s in pencil)
Listening to: Frank Sinatra, the Reprise Collection.
Cooking: Salmon with roasted red pepper cream sauce from my new tapas cookbook (I hope I don’t eff it up).

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Word of the day...

After seeing Kris and Ben riding along Walnut to day care, they rolled up (whilst honking that especially manly old-school bike horn of theirs) in the back parking lot of the liberry to say good morning. Ben was so very sunny in his special way, and was characteristically oozing charm from every pore. When Tami came out to go about her business, Kris and Ben began chatting good morning with her too. It was discovered by Tami and myself that, according to Team Catoe, today’s Word of the Day was Gooder (as in, “Wow, that grant you just wrote could have been gooder.”), and that yesterday’s Word of the Day was Wiener. Our task was to use our Word of the Day many times as we possibly could (and, I’m sure, as naturally as we could).

As we watched Team Catoe ride off down 7th, Ben blowing kisses and waving goodbye, Tami queried, “Do you think they would mind stopping by every morning with a Word of the Day…”

Monday, September 29, 2008

Enter at your own risk...

Caveat: A grad school musing of what may be boring (but could possibly be interesting) content. This post is actually an essay analysis I have just written for LS 500, so some of you will read this and wish you had 1) poked both your eyes out, 2) drank a bucket of snot, or 3) drank a bucket of snot after having poked both your eyes out.

I hadn’t a clue as to what on earth Nancy Babb’s essay Cataloging Spirits and the Spirit of Cataloging would be about when I first saw the title. My initial thoughts were that perhaps this essay was about the ghosts of those individuals who had suffered early cataloguing woes, those thoughtful pioneers of cataloguing-past who, like the settlers of the early American frontier, had traveled down the bumpy and rutted bibliographic roads before us, blazing a more standardized trail, leaving us with the rules and regulations of information organization neatly marking the path. But no, Ms. Babb’s essay Cataloging Spirits and the Spirit of Cataloging was about the problem of spirits…the spectral kind…and how, when an information package (politically correct term for book) is found to be authored by a spirit, cataloguers should enter that information in a way that is easy to understand and be retrieved by users. Who would’ve thought such a thing could be an issue, authors who had authored from the after-life? Evidently it was a legitimate issue in the cataloguing of the past, and still is an issue in cataloguing today.

What exactly is the confounded issue, you ask? Well, according to Babb, the issue is this: spirits have been communicating with humans for ages. While these spirits communicated with humans (via ouija board, séances, mediums), humans recorded in some form or fashion these “conversations.” Once these conversations were recorded (be it in book, audio, video, photo, etc.), cataloguers faced the conundrum of determining who the author was, spirit or medium, and giving proper credit to that author.

As alluded to in the previous paragraph, necrobibliography (yes, that is a real word, and no, it is not a dirty term) has been around for a long time. Spectral authors began to gain popularity during the early 19th Century religious movement known as Spiritualsim (“communion between departed human spirits and mortals’”). These authors would communicate from the grave by rapping out their communication (tapping or bumping), spelling things out via a ouija board, automatic writing, or speaking through a medium. Numerous volumes of works were credited to spirit authors. Not surprisingly, one text entitled Jap Herron, was authored by none other than the very deceased-at-the-time-of-publication Samuel Clemens himself.

So, how do cataloguers deal with the issue authorship when the information contained within a book was created by a spirit, but was written down by a human? In the past, authorship was defined as the person who was the maker of the information (book), the person responsible for the existence of the information (book). Also in the past, the human medium was given credit over the spirit for the responsibility of the existence of the information, with the spirit given secondary credit in some form or fashion. But thankfully, through the years, and through many different cataloguing codes (the Paris Principles of 1961 to the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules), we saw a simpler and more standard way of cataloguing a text when the author is a spirit, and we saw the cataloguer not being subjected to making a call that may or may not be of personal debate. Ultimately, the spirit won top billing over the medium (the spirit, after all, is the true author). Go spirits!

I don’t have a problem with spiritual writings in the least, for if I did NOT believe in spiritual writings, then I wouldn’t have any truck whatsoever with books like the Bible, the Koran, the Torah, and any other text that was written by some type of divine inspiration. What I do have trouble with, and actually take offense to is someone writing a text (while under the influence of something, spirits, alcohol, or drugs) and then trying to pass it off as the words of Mark Twain from the grave (I believe that Ol’ Sam would not only turn over in his grave at such a ridiculous notion, but would also dig his way out of his grave to slap upside the head the fool who would try to hustle such a scam). I ask of you, what is stopping me from getting out my ouija board this very weekend, and for the next year, devote every weekend to the writing of a sequel to my all-time favorite book Absalom, Absalom, and then claiming that Mr. Faulkner himself gave me the words from the grave to pen this tome? Bloody ridiculous! Or bloody brilliant? Hmmm....this makes me think of a story that was told to me recently, a truly frightening story of a head librarian in small Alabama town. Small-Alabama-town-librarian made the following statement: “I sure wish Charles Dickens comes out with a new book soon.” Well, small-Alabama-town-librarian, evidently there’s hope yet.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"Come to farm a crazy land..."

Just recently finished this here book called Hunting Mister HeartBreak by Jonathan Raban. It is the story of a Brit who, in the 1980’s, came to America following the footsteps of a 1780’s immigrant and author who wrote on how to reinvent oneself as an American. Raban himself tries this reinventation (I made that word up) in the same way, from blending into the crowds on the streets of New York, to not blending in at all in the rural South of Guntersville, Alabama. I laughed so hard at the familiar hilarity of situations in this book (having lived in both the state of NY and in AL, I recognize and sympathize with his tribulations), that I almost cried. Raban was quite adept at catching on to what’s what. He is one sharp student of human nature, and is quite poetic in his descriptions of what he observes.

Pg. 163 “People in Alabama knew the stigma that was attached to the name of their state. It was like saying you came from Gomorrah or Sing Sing. Strangers instantly got the picture. They saw flatlands, cotton fields, Klansmen, blacks in tarpaper hovels, rednecked white supremacits talking loose and dirty over quarts of Jim Beam, George Wallace, Bull Connor…the body of a man swinging by his broken neck from the top branch of a tree. For the Alabamian, the worst of it was that there were still things in this picture that were true-or at least not so untrue as all that.

Although I am disheartened by the truth of Raban’s statement in the above paragraph, I have to applaud the image he invokes of quarts of Jim Beam, George Wallace and Bull Connor. All three are potent, and taken in the right amounts, could cause nightmarish behavior.

I knew I was going to like this book when I saw that Raban quoted John Berryman’s Dream Songs in the beginning (Berryman, the very dead-from-suicide poet who is still somewhat confusing to me, regardless of how often I revisit Dream Songs). The fact that Berryman is referenced right off the bat indicated to me that what lay beyond that quote was going to be a fantastic and possibly confusing journey. I was right. What lies between the pages of Hunting Mister Heartbreak is a journey that we can all understand, the journey of becoming someone else.

Listening to: Jack Johnson
Reading: Terribly confusing essays on the organization of information (for class).
Enjoying Most: This wonderful Autumn-like weather...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Prom Night 2008: Hotter than hell, and twice the fun!

The stunningly awkward photo you see here was taken by Amanda, and was given the special "Prom Treatment" by Dame Catoe.

So, it’s been exactly one week and two days since the Prom @ the Pitman fundraiser, and I find that I still haven’t the right words to describe what went down that night. Tami aptly likened it to being at your own wedding…you work so hard on the details, you’re so sick with worry before it starts, then everything moves too fast once it gets going, and then it’s over. Yep, that’s pretty much how this was. *Sigh* After all of the planning, decorating, sweat & blood that went into the prom, when it came right down to it, I was terribly nervous for the evening to get started. First, when it came time for me to get dressed, I was at a loss. I had the dress, the combat boots, the jewelry…but hadn’t a clue about makeup or hair. I was going goth, but I didn’t want to be uncomfortably freaky. Luckily, Dame Catoe had kindly agreed to give me fashion advice for the evening, so I headed over to the Catoe’s in minimalist makeup, and even more minimalist hair. I had a horrible case of the nerves and was beginning to wonder what it would look like if I didn’t even show up…one gorgeous corsage (courtesy of E) and one dose of vodka tonic (courtesy of K) later, I found myself crouched in the kitchen, sewing the Dame into her mother’s vintage party dress (didn’t want any wardrobe malfunctions to scandalize their family name) and thinking of nothing other than how great the evening was going to be. When finished with the stitching, the Dame looked like a beautiful confection, a confection that would probably not be able to remove her garment later unless she found a seam ripper, but a confection nonetheless. Once the Dame accessorized herself with jewelry, and expertly applied jewels to her face, she then applied some jewels to my face. After a brief eye-exam-like viewing of me with a) hair down, hat on, b) hair up, hat on, we decided it best to leave the hair down, hat on. I was comfortable, looked like myself, and was done. From that point on, everything was a blur of retro fashion, flashing cameras and mini bottles of wine…

Memorable moments from the prom (at least the ones I know about, and can remember in my excitement):
1) Jacob making his entrance into the Prom with his lovely wife Hilary, and his larger than life hairpiece. Evidently, his father (who is a hair dresser) added an entire hairpiece to Jacob’s full head of hair, the results being a value-added crowning glory of such a magnitude, that I was again glad to have forgone the open-flame candles on the tables (he was highly flammable). To match the hair, Jacob was his own sweet, dead-pan, inappropriate, dry self. Within ten minutes of arriving, he was on the dance floor with not only his wife, but with a number of other beauties, and announced to me later that he had already “made it with five girls that night” (no one ever told him that dancing with a girl doesn’t count as making it…someone really ought to help him out by explaining all the bases to him…his wife may appreciate it). The next day, when Kris mentioned to me the that he was impressed with Jacob not “breaking from character” all night, I snorted and replied, “Well, he couldn’t break from character really, he’s always like that.” Hey Jacob, Tim Burton called, and he wants his hair back!
2) The further scarring of Tami’s children…early in the evening, Tami’s 14-year old daughter, who was helping us out by selling soda and water, and who is quite athletic, but was looking quite cute an empire wasted shirt, was horrified when someone asked her when her baby was due (although she is from the small Alabama town whose name rhymes with Lardis, she is not fourteen and pregnant, which seems to be contrary to some other fourteen-year-old girls in Lardis). You could hear her muttering something about, “I better not be grounded anymore after this, not after what I’m putting up with…” When Tami’s fifteen-year-old son showed up, he was mortified when his mom’s boss tried to get him to dance with her, and when he refused, she furthered the embarrassment by saying, “No problem, I’ll wait. Just remember, I’ll be available for your senior prom…” Last I saw of him, he was using his sister as a human shield…
3) The back-door arrival of Cyndi and Kenny Nelson…Cyndi was stunning in the most shiny, light-catching turquoise dress that I’ve ever seen (the very one that she somehow managed to rescue from the washer just days earlier, and the very one that would later act as a light reflector in all of the photos), and she wore a very tongue-in-cheek beauty queen sash that read “Third Alternate Miss Faded Youth.” Her partner in crime was wearing a most fabulous burnt sienna, striped gangsta suit that, upon second glance, looked more like a pimp’s suit (perhaps a leftover from his days as a pimp?).
4) With the arrival of Eric, fresh from his Friday-night-high-school-football photo assignment, the polyester axis of evil was complete. Kris, in his awe-mazing Ron Burgundy sports jacket of ivory texturificness (with burnt sienna tie), Eric in his sleek and slim, forest-green fitted suit (also texturific), and Kenny in his sienna pimp skin…it was as if they were dangerous prom animals, having coordinated their polyester pelts, and were roaming free in their Pitman habitat, prowling for photo ops (of which, there were many).

Cutest couples (and their various manifestations throughout the evening, based upon my sketchy memory and from photos):

Jacob & Hilary, Jacob & Tami, Jacob & Jimmy, Jacob & Amanda, Jacob & Ashley, Jacob & Leslie…
Leslie & Scottie, Leslie & Nicole, Leslie & Nicole & Laura & Carol, Leslie & Jacob.
Kris & Laura, Kris & Eric & the Fan, Kris & Eric & their Flasks.
Eric & the Green Suit, Eric and that girl he was with (*snicker), Eric & the wall, Eric & His Bicycle Chain…
Liz & Chris, Liz & Laura, Liz & Chris & their tiny glasses of wine.
Tami & Jimmy, Tami & Jacob, Tami and Some Lady in Black, Tami & Sprout, Tami & Tami Sparks, Tami & Hilary, Tami & her hair.
Nicole & Stephen, Nicole & well, anyone she stood next to.
Nathan & Terica & their t-shirts.
Matt & his white patent leather shoes.
Cyndi & Kenny, Cyndi & Kenny & their champagne flutes.

The Monday after the prom, Jolly Green came into my office with a perplexed look on her face. In her hand was a ribbon of white lace and a baby blue rose, the very same ribbon of white lace and the very same baby blue rose that Jacob had been wearing the night of the prom.
“Jacob left this in my car.”
“What were you doing with Jacob in your car that would result in Jacob’s lace and rose being left behind?”
“I wasn’t the one in the car with him.”
“Who was then?”
“Jimmy…Jimmy and Jacob disappeared together for awhile…”
Oh, the joy of lost lace and roses! Hah! Just kidding! Evidently, the two of them went on a beer run, and when they returned, they sat in the car and promptly drank all of the beer without sharing with Tami. I believe she had thoughts of blackmail…

I want to give a big thank you to the spectacular crew of ladies (who worked in person and behind-the-scenes) who went out of their way to see prom beautification happen. Terica, Nicole, Leslie, Cookie and Ashley, if it had not been for all of your banner-making, balloon hanging, streamer streaming, King & Queen ballot-box painting, or crown bedazzling, we couldn’t have made it happen in such a pretty, pretty way! You are all so gooorgeous!

I want to also thank Mike Hilton of the City Parks and Rec Dept. for bringing almost his entire crew of workers over to the Pitman on Wednesday just to remove a few things for us, and then ending up leaving a small group of very tough-as-nails men to do anything we needed them to do. These rather manly individuals pitched in to do some very un-tough, but very necessary jobs for us. They moved our extremely sparkly pink-and-purple castle from the library to the Pit, and hung every stinking thing that we needed hung…Christmas lights, stars, clouds banners, and a shaggy red heart. I couldn’t believe my eyes, nor my ears when I looked up to see Lee hanging our glittery stars and heard Frankie and Bill telling him to stagger them more, cause they wanted the stars to look more realistic when they blew in the breeze…I also couldn’t believe when Bill, having watched me and Tami struggle with securing the quilt-batting-covered clouds to the wall, took my girly hammer (which looked like it came from Fisher Price in his big hands) and nailed the clouds up for us. But what really touched me most was when Frankie came over and began helping Tami and me glue red foil “hair” to the big red heart that we wanted to hang in between the two banners that were hanging from the balcony. When Tami and I had to go fold t-shirts, Frankie continued to work on the heart, and essentially finished it on his own. Then, while everyone else was taking a water break, he took the heart up to the balcony and hung it exactly where we wanted it. It was perfect.

I want to thank my co-worker and funny man Tami for making such a crazy suggestion of having a prom in the first place, my boss Amanda for not thinking the idea of a library prom a bad idea and Kay & Rachael at DGI for wanting to collaborate on such a crazy, potentially volatile program. It could’ve all gone wrong at any moment, but it didn’t. And it was magic.

Thanks go out to all of our volunteers for that evening: The Blinders (for playing such a rocking show), Logan (for DJing), and everyone who worked the front of the building.

Also, thank you to everyone who took photos, and who posted those photos to the Prom @ the Pitman Flickr pool, which may be viewed at this address:

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Day the Glitter Ran Out...

Final countdown to Prom at the Pitman: The Second Time Around. Just a few prom quotes before I go and throw glitter all over the floor of the Pitman…

Yesterday, when Tami and I asked if the large banner we were hanging across the front of the stage was centered, Amanda looks up and says, “Yeah, we need to get it centered, cause we wouldn’t want it to look tacky.” Right, no tacky. Something you could’ve told us last week.

“He’s going to die in his polyester nightmare.” –Tami, commenting on what would be happening to Eric the night of the prom when he wore his new-to-you forest-green, textured polyester suit (Kris will be in the same polyester boat).

Monday, September 1, 2008

Breaking the rules...

Talking with E about photojournalism a couple of days ago. He loaned me a book entitled Witness in Our Time (Ken Light). As I was leafing through, I came across the entry on Eugene Richards. I almost met Mr. Richards when he had a show at Hal Gould’s gallery Camera Obscura in Denver. At the time of the show, my friend Janis had her rare books bookstore Book Buffs located in the same building as Hal’s place, with spaces adjoined, but separated by an iron gate-like door. I was working for Janis at the time, learning the book trade from her, learning about photography from Hal. Hal had been around for a long time, was in his nineties, still photographed, still jogged everyday and was a gourmet cook. He would come to the gate door every morning to say hi to me, and would often tell me about the exhibits that he was preparing to put up. It seemed that he knew everyone who was someone in the world of photography, and if I listened carefully, I would get snippets of REAL information about these someones. Sometimes, Hal would have a show where the actual photographer would be there for the opening. This was the case with photojournalist Eugene Richards’ show.

I had never heard of Richards until Hal and his assistant Loretta were putting up his photographs. I watched the progress of the hanging through the bars of the door. The images I saw were so matter of fact and quiet, they screamed at me…drug addicts shooting up, shooting victims being treated in the ER…Richards had books of his work, well-known books with titles such as Cocaine True, Cocaine Blue, The Knife and Gun Club (which was photographed in the ER of Denver General, just down the street from where I lived). Hal and Loretta were buzzing with excitement about the show, and I couldn’t help but absorb some of the excitement from them. I was looking forward meeting Richards, and I decide to stop looking through the bars so that I would be able to view the exhibit as it should be viewed, with newness and continuity, the night of the opening.

I can’t remember what the weather was like the night of the opening, nor can I remember any of the photographs from the show other than the ones that I had seen days before…all of the rest of the images were erased from my mind by the one image that stands out to me from that evening, an image that I believe I have now somehow altered in my memory to show something that it may or may not have shown.

The night of the show, I locked up the bookshop, walked down the stairs of Book Buffs’ stoop, and made my way up the stairs of Camera Obscura. The narrow gallery was modestly filled with lookers, it was early in the evening. Mr. Richards was talking with his admirers towards the front, his wife was beside him, seeming to be occupied with observing the reactions of the viewers; Hal and Loretta were helping individuals navigate the narrow stairwell that led upstairs to the wine, and to what may be the biggest & best collection of photography books in the region. I began at what was traditionally the starting point for a show at Hal’s, and very slowly made my way around the gallery. I remember thinking that all of the photos were vessels of words, spilling out things that you didn’t want to hear, making you wonder how Eugene was able to see what he captured with his camera, and then be able to walk away with his sanity intact, and his responsibility for humanity light enough to not drag him down so low that he couldn’t sleep at night from the thoughts of what man can do to himself and to others. How does one keep from becoming too burdened by those images?

As I got to the back wall, far right corner of the gallery, out of the corner of my eye I saw an image that made my breath catch in my throat. I muttered to myself, “No, that can’t be what I’m seeing,” and skipped over the image, thinking it best to save it for last. I continued to move forward, and eventually found myself at the end of the photos. Only the one photo that I had skipped remained. I walked back over and planted myself in front of the photo. The image was from the ‘70s and was a portrait of Eugene’s first wife Dorothea. Dorothea was a writer, and had been diagnosed with breast cancer in a time when breast cancer was a death sentence. She and Eugene had agreed on a collaboration of writings and photos to tell her story, knowing that there could be only one inevitable ending. That day in the Spring of 2004, in a small photo gallery in Denver on the corner of 13th and Bannock, I found myself standing in front of what very well may have been the last photo that Eugene had taken of his wife before she succumbed to the disease. Dorothea’s white skin was glowing with an unnatural luster. Her lips were dry and cracked. Her hair was making a valiant effort to return to her beautifully round head. Her eyes were overflowing with tenderness. One tear hung in threat of spilling from her right eye, a tear that was reflecting an unrecognizable image (Eugene and camera?) But what was so terribly unique about the photo, and what caused me to start my very hasty exit from the gallery was the sight of Eugene’s hand in the photo. A moment before Eugene snapped the picture, he had reached out to touch his wife’s cheek. His hand remained in the photo, forever in that matrimonial caress. He did what a photojournalist should not, he became part of the story.

I couldn’t leave that gallery quickly enough with my emotion about to erupt out of me, and as I literally bolted for the door, I saw Eugene’s current wife, with her eyes watching my breakdown, trying to pull away from the well-wishers who were speaking to her and Eugene. I think she was trying to get to me, possibly to speak to me about what I was feeling, to see if I was okay, but I couldn’t stop. The five-block walk home must have served to calm my nerves, I honestly don’t remember.

Good photojournalists present to us images that should make us feel something, good or bad, and possibly move us to try to right some wrong, or to at least keep moving in an ethical and moral direction. And I think that there are times when good photojournalists present to us images so traumatic that we cannot be protected from the trauma depicted in them. It is possible that we, the viewer, mythologize the images that we find traumatic or overly moving (as we would in a traumatic situation). I was overwhelmed by Eugene’s photo of Dorothea that day, and I believe that I may have altered the photo in my mind. I really don’t know for sure if there was a tear in Dorothea’s eye; I really don’t know for sure if Eugene’s hand was in that photo. I suppose that I could order the book that contains the photo (with many others) as well as the story that they recorded together of her cancer struggle (Exploding Into Life), but I don’t think I want to know for sure. The image exists in my memory as it is. No one else saw the photo the way that I did on that day. Not even I could see it that way again. But I do know for certain that Eugene did his job as a photojournalist with that photo.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Green Issue Two/Too: Buying thrift for the prom or “Hey, let’s recycle an old building and some old clothes!”

It’s all quite fitting, to have a Second Time Around Prom as a fundraiser for the Pitman Theatre in Gadsden, Alabama. It is an opportunity to recycle in a huge way by preserving an already existing building, a building that is a long-standing part of our community, and is essentially the yin to Emma’s yang on Broad Street. It is also an opportunity to relive (and make better) an event that may (or may not) have played a huge role in your life: the prom. And while we’re recycling that old building and some of our prom memories, why not recycle some old clothing as well?

For your retro-pleasure, a tour of the prom, one outfit at a time (or, what I like to call, “Oh, but it is easy being green):

Tami with be blinding us with her Goodwill purchased, pre-bedazzled, red velour lounge dress (very much like a velour track suit, but in dress form), the kind of dress that looks like it belonged to an overly tanned, very bleached blonde woman who was married to a wealthy man she no longer loved, but refused to divorce because he kept her in the lifestyle to which she was accustomed, which was the lifestyle of strolling ‘round the pool in her stretchy velour bedazzled dress, martini glass aloft in her perfectly manicured hand. Tami says that she feels like she shimmers in her gown, and I reckon I believe her. I am of the understanding that husband Jimmy will be coming as one of the following: the Captain (of Captain and Tennille fame), a combination of Crockett & Tubbs from Miami Vice, or The UniPromer (full-on Ted Kazinsky hoodie, moustache and sunglasses).

How green are your Catoes? Mr. Catoe will be decked out in a retro-fabulous suit from the Ron Burgundy Weatherman Collection purchased at the American Thrift Store in RBC. Word on the street has the Dame keeping it high-classy-green in a vintage dress (perhaps the yellow column dress with the white lace overlay?).

Now, if you were on the street a couple of days ago (Broad St., that is, at approximately 3:30 on Wednesday), you would’ve seen the very “green” suit that Eric had purchased on sale for $3.88 at the American Thrift in RBC. Mr. Wright was kind enough to drop by the spot where Kay Moore (of Downtown Gadsden, Inc., and co-conspirator on the Prom @ the Pitman event), Tami and I were having a bit of coffee from Martha and Junes to let us see said suit. The green suit is actually deep green in color, and we three ladies marveled at its texturedness and fabulousness. Tami’s comments were, “Wow, that’s the most unnatural fiber I’ve ever felt. Think of all the polyesters that died to make that suit.” Some alterations must be made to the pants of the suit, but the jacket fits like it was MADE for him (like, forty years too early *snicker*).

In a very dramatic upset on the prom duds front, Cyndi Nelson, who was striving for a traditional bow-and-sequined-smothered number in any screaming color that she could find, bid her way into ownership of a very classy, frighteningly tasteful (she could even wear it to a REAL formal event) lavender gown from Ebay. At least it still falls into the recycled category. Cyndi bid on the dress, I believe thinking that there was no way that she would win the dress, and was hoping to still locate an explosively ‘80s dress. So far, no dice. Cyndi is going to look gorgeous and normal, and there’s not a damn thing we can do about it (but I’m still looking at the thrift stores today, so there’s hope yet). Husband Kenny will be keeping it real in a ‘70’s leisure-ish suit from (again) the American Thrift in RBC. The suit is evidently a nice vintage number from a shop that existed in Gadsden back in the day (I don’t know which day, though). You got to keep greatness from escaping the area…

Sister Vicki cheated a tiny bit by purchasing a new dress from TJMaxx for a whopping $16.99. She will, however, be going slightly green with insert for the neckline that I will be making from a black linen shirt from Eagle Rock Thrift in RBC. Her dress is very mod, a Jackie-O-ish, knee-length metallic black linen sheath, with big wooden beads around the neckline. She will be tres jolie! I will have to let her borrow my very Jackie-O-ish, snap-close black leather handbag (vintage from the defunct no-kill-animal-shelter thrift store in RBC, which I miss terribly).

TMI Alert!!! Some folks may not want to read this paragraph due to the graphic nature of the subject matter. The name of this individual has been altered to protect her identity, but most of you will be able to figure out who it is with no problem whatsoevah! Mandy is proudly recycling her junior-high backless prom dress after having lost a good deal of weight since the birth of her second child. But it seems that the backless part of the dress is giving her all kinds of trouble. Evidently, they just don’t make a backless, strapless bra to fit her sized rack. I could hear her making calls yesterday to all of the local bra hawkers, asking for a backless, strapless in her particular size, to no avail. After much loud sighing and a great deal of exasperation, she decided that she may just go for the white-trash, redneck look of wearing an old white regular bra (yellowed with age) with missing hooks, allowing both the back strap and the shoulder straps to show. In addition to wearing the regular bra, she would perhaps wear the largest granny-panties that she could find, and hike them up so high on her waist, that the bra strap and the panties would meet in the middle of her back. She would then add a black fanny pack that was full of loose cigarettes and sanitary napkins (not the packaged, stick-on-the-underwear kind of pads, but the kind of pads used with the old-fashioned sanitary napkin BELT-youknowhati’msaying women!), so that when she would have to pay for anything, cigarettes and pads would spill out everywhere. She’s also going to stop shaving both her pits and her legs starting today, so she should have a nice winter coat by next Friday. I’m planning on pretending not to know her.

Semi-pro golfer Dave and his lovely wife Brandy will also be recycling. Brandy is evidently going to go green from her own closet due to the fact that they have just returned from a fantastically long, and not-so-cheap vacation at the coast, a vacation that proved quite dangerous for the fast moving Brandy (slow down on those steps girl!). I’ve heard that Dave is in the market for some gently used Duck Head khaki pants, a thin tie and possibly some Ray-Bans…

I am planning to dress as I wish I had back at my senior prom…as a goth girl. I have a lovely two-piece black satin dress (fitted top, with an a-line, ankle length skirt), purchased last year at the Salvation Army for a steal of $6.99. The dress itself is not outlandish at all, and can be used at other events in the future. Hair, makeup and accessories will be the key for me. And because I am so terribly low maintenanced, I will have help on the make-up from dear friend Dame Catoe, and possible some hair pointers from hair-professional Kris (I figure roll the hell out of it, tease it till it cries and use an ozone-depleting amount of Aquanet). My goal is to get my hair to ‘80s Litchfield cheerleader standard, with hair so high, I’ll have to scrunch down in the seat of the car in order to get all of me to fit. Crap, that may not be a good idea, as there will be candles on the tables inside the Pitman and I wouldn’t want to be near an open flame with that kind of hair…all that joking about me looking like Carrie would just be fodder for the paper when the whole place went up in flames because of my freakin’ hair. I really may just have to go Pre-Raphaeilite with a touch of Marilyn Manson make-up.

Just one last thrift store musing before I sign off: Thursday, I took Jolly Green and her son on a tour of the thrift stores of Gadsden and RBC in order to introduce her to my world of economized living (Jolly Green is the Tami from the paragraph about the lounge dress). We had some time to kill between us getting out of work and us having to have her son back at school for a band exhibition w/in two hours, so we had to hustle. The first two thrift stores may have inflicted some major damage on the psyche of Son of Jolly Green, because at one point I thought he was about to pass out from the odor and/or the heat, not to mention the horror of some of the items one can find in these thrift stores. He couldn’t imagine having to purchase underwear or a mattress from a thrift store, so I gently reminded him that we have individuals within our community who couldn’t afford to purchase for themselves anywhere else, so this was really it for them. And I told him to keep in mind that I often had to purchase clothing in shops like this because I couldn’t afford the items that I wanted from name brand stores, but could often find what I wanted at the thrift store if I was patient. At this point, even if I had the money to buy from a department store, I would probably still purchase thrift because I had really grown accustomed to the idea of recycling gently used items. Son of Jolly Green ended up agreeing with me, and even warmed up a bit to the idea of purchasing used until he saw his mom holding up a burgundy three-piece leisure suit intended for his father. Said suit was heavily textured, and had majestic peaked collars reminiscent of Pike’s Peak in Colorado. But the true selling point was the waist of the jacket, which was tailored in the back with a top-stitched, belt-like sash, sporting a panel of not one, but two pleats. It was like a mud flap for the ass. All one would need to complete this ensemble would be a pair of cordovon leather square-toed zip boots, a shiny gold silk shirt unbuttoned to the navel and a silk scarf jauntily tied at the throat…and his dad would look like the landlord for the Three’s Company gang (oh, Mr. Farley). After scraping Son of Jolly Green off of the floor, we left the store sans suit, with our hearts a little lighter with the though of someone other than Jimmy showing up at the Prom in that suit. If anyone out there is interested, go to the Community Thrift Store in Alabama City. Keep an open mind when you enter the building. I have purchased name brand clothing, several vintage cameras, and some nice antiques there. And they are always running 50% off of most items and the staff are incredibly friendly. Think of it as a truck stop with clothes, furniture and household items, but no food or showers.

If you read my last blog, and are interested in another Compact perspective, please read:

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Green Issue

I’m thinking green again, this time because two of my coworkers approached me with a program series proposal on going green in Gadsden. As difficult as some folks may think that prospect would be, it is totally do-able, and the GPL is going to help people make it happen! Brandy and Nicole will be the dynamic duo of this hurculean effort (they’ve been kind enough to ask me to help-hurrah!), with the goal being to inform and assist those community members wanting to be kind to their environment. Go Brandy and Nicole!

When first approached with this idea, I thought back on an article that I had read about a group of American individuals who had decided to sign a contract to not purchase anything new for a year (some exceptions were made). This was a contract based upon the Mayflower Contract, and can be read here (I will post more local "green" soon):

A pledge to go a year without buying anything new
By Kara McGuire, Star Tribune
January 8, 2008
Karen Heimdahl used to be part of the throngs that crowd area malls at Christmas. But this year, bound by the Compact -- a growing social movement in which members vow to buy nothing new for a year -- she hit used book stores and consignment shops. Last Christmas her husband received gadgets from Best Buy. This year he unwrapped a hand-powered coffee grinder that Karen scoured eight antique stores to find.
"Buying new is so much easier," she lamented.
The American economy depends on consumers willing to buy the latest in fashions, furnishings and flat-screen TVs. Indeed, in the weeks after Sept. 11, 2001, shopping was cast as a patriotic duty, a way to help prevent the economy from tipping into a recession.
But the Compact, started by a group of San Francisco friends as a rebellion against what they see as gluttonous consumerism and its thoughtless destruction of the environment, turns that notion on its head.
Today, with a former vice president as the spokesman for global warming and higher energy prices hitting everyone's pocketbook, some Americans see going green as their new duty, or at the least, a money-saving measure. More mainstream Americans are going beyond recycling to considering their carbon footprint when flying, buying locally and second-hand shopping as an environmental statement.
A KPMG Consumer Survey conducted in December found 88 percent of respondents were very concerned about the environment.
For others, buying less is the harsh reality after years of relying on stock market gains and home appreciation to live beyond their paychecks. With talk of a possible recession, others are spending less to fluff up their cash cushion.
The Compact, named after the creed made by the revolutionaries who sailed here on the Mayflower, started in 2004 with a San Francisco dinner party. The conversation had turned to the downsides of recycling, and the group agreed to a revolutionary idea of its own: to buy nothing new, aside from a small list of exceptions that includes medicine, underwear and cleaning products. They could buy food without restrictions, including eating out.
Officially the Compact has grown from 10 friends around the dinner table to more than 8,700 members of online users groups today. Founding member John Perry figures thousands more are living the Compact life offline, though it's hard to track exact numbers of members and success rates.
"We never set out to start a movement," says Perry, who works in the high-tech industry. A 2006 story by a San Francisco Chronicle reporter, who was a friend of a friend of a Compact member, changed that. The story created buzz around the world. There are about 50 users groups on Yahoo from as far away as Thailand and Australia. One in Minnesota was formed last January and has 41 members, although it's somewhat inactive.
Candles for dad
It was fall of 2006 and Heimdahl was counseling a growing number of Minnesotans having trouble paying their mortgage and credit card debt when she read about the Compact in the news.
"For a while I had been feeling fed up about the consumer nature of our society," said the 31-year-old financial counselor for Lutheran Social Service. "I think part of it is what I do for my job too, seeing a lot of people have debt ... and not having anything to account for it."
Still, she didn't sign up right away. "My first thought was 'well, I don't need to do that, I don't buy much stuff anyway.' But then I realized that was an excuse."
On April 8, 2007, she and her husband were sitting at their desks in their Waconia home. Without a triggering event or much thought of how this would change her life, she signed up for the Compact group online. Although her husband, Andy, was just feet away, she didn't mention her new commitment until later that day. She worried about his reaction, knowing he viewed the Compact as extreme. But he surprised her. "He was actually very supportive."
"I wasn't sure she was going to be able to follow through," said Andy, 33. "In this consumer-driven society it seemed like a nearly impossible task."
It hasn't been easy. The week after she signed up, she picked up a box of candles for her father's birthday party. Driving to the party with her sister, she confessed her sin, which her sister brushed off. It was months before Heimdahl set foot in a big-box store again.
"Every three months is when I tend to have a cheat," she says. After the candles was the gift certificate she bought for a new motorcycle windshield for her husband. She didn't actually buy the item for him, but with the gift certificate, "the intent was there."
Then in September, an out-of-town friend had a baby. The new parents were hosting the Heimdahls and they wanted to show their appreciation. They purchased some wine for their friends, within the guidelines of the Compact. It was the newborn gift that forced Karen to break the rules. "I looked and looked and couldn't find anything [used] and I found this outfit and it was so cute and I caved. I regretted it, but not really," she said. That was her last new purchase. "Maybe I'm getting better."
Repulsed by the dollar bins
Her dedication has impressed her friends and family. Some have said they've made small changes -- like saying no to plastic bags or thinking twice about buying something they wanted but didn't need.
Andy Heimdahl, despite his initial skepticism, has also been living in the Compact spirit, fixing a wheelbarrow instead of buying a new one and making a coffee table for his wife for Christmas.
Heimdahl has changed too. "It's really taught me patience," she said. "Solutions will come if I wait." She found buttons needed for a sweater she knitted at an antique store. She spent more hours searching for the materials to make a compost bin than she cares to remember. She's also learned to garden and cook her bounty. "It's kind of forced me to slow down in some ways, which I really like."
And there's the financial benefit of not spending $10 here and $50 there. The couple retired a loan for their property up north and have more money in savings. "Our pocketbook really looks much better for it," said Andy.
During her time, she's tried not to keep a list of new items she wants, although the first snowfall renewed her desire for new skis and she'd love to get a cold press coffee mug before she and Andy go camping again in the Boundary Waters.
Heimdahl can buy both on April 9, when her Compact ends, but "I'm not going to go out on a shopping spree," she says. And the influence the Compact has had on her habits is here to stay. "Everyone can make minor changes with just a little shift in mentality," says Heimdahl. She used to love Target and enjoyed wandering through the store's abundance of cheap, trendy items. Now a walk by the dollar bins repulses her. "There's all this stuff and so much is unnecessary and disposable."

Monday, August 25, 2008

Pardon me boys...

Morning of the Beerfest:
Diener 5K in RBC (not me, E and his friend Natalie). Went down the road a piece to catch the race. Watched as E placed first in his age group (and broke his personal record). I then watched as E had to wrest his trophy outta the figurative hands of another individual when the organizers mistakenly botched up the judging. Funny thing was that E had grumbled about the humidity (rain) earlier and how he just wasn’t feeling it today (I’d like to say that he was whining about it, but he wasn’t). When I mentioned this to mom in between the warm-up and the actual race (I stopped by the liberry), I followed it up with, “Yeah well, if he’s not feeling it, then that means he’s gonna walk away with a medal or something.” Guuuh! See!?!

Within two hours after the race, we were on the road to Beerganooga for the second beertacular Beergrimage of 2008. I was frightened that perhaps this was going to be a normal trip, with rooms in a normal hotel, where we would behave in a normal fashion, but NO, nothing was normal…thankfully nothing will ever be normal when it is tinted with a hint of Fleegan (but what is normal?). The rooms that E had Hotwired for us were in the Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel, which I thought was just a quaint way of saying the Chattanooga Hotel. They were in fact rooms at a hotel that’s sole purpose is to showcase the much-loved Chattanooga Choo-Choo, which evidently began running in 1909 and stopped running in 1970. This hotel was not one hotel, but a compound of three hotels divided by old Pullman cars (which you may stay in for a price) and surrounded by a train track that is used by a vintage New Orleans street car, complete with cable. There are restaurants (Dinner in the Diner), gift shops and swimming pools. The front lobby is the old 1908 train station (beautifully domed with floor to ceiling rounded, multi-paned glass windows) that looks out the front on bustling Market Street, and out the back onto the rather mini-Versailles-esque gardens (complete with individual species gardens, water fountains and topiaried plants (boxwoods, wisteria, and sundry other topiariable things). We were in a miniature railway heaven. The rooms themselves were efficient and relatively spacious (two beds, tv armoire, bathroom with loo-vestibule and a small table with two chairs by the sliding-glass doors which opened out onto what E affectionately called the three inch balcony (it was just a decorative iron railing that was almost flush to the building, you know, a pretty way to allow you to look out at the pool, but keep you from falling overboard). E obtained our rooms in this familial paradise for the bargain price of $59 each, plus some change. These same rooms are currently priced online at $139 per night. Suh-weet! Nice job Slim!

Just a bit more on the hotel, and then I’ll move on to the most important part of the trip, the beer. The Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel website touts: It’s a hotel! It’s a song! It’s a train! Now, picture it: two singletons, no children, staying in a child-friendly hotel, full of trains, gardens, snack shops and such…and our friends, the Catoes, parents of le enfante incredible, staying in a swank hotel with a marble bathroom floor and grandiose lob-bay…well, I found myself looking around for the camera at one point because of the hilarity of the situation. The Choo was very nice and was remarkably quiet (except when Kansas Slim was inspired to sing a few verses of the song Chattanooga Choo-Choo), even with rooms that faced out into the swimming lagoon of Hotel Deux that happened to be filled at 10:30PM with tiny little squealing bodies (this was after our return from the Beerfest). Well, it was quiet until about 2:30PM, when the silence was unmercifully broken by some little devils knocking on Eric’s hotel door loud enough to wake me from my slumber next door. I heard the knock in my sleep, heard the ensuing giggles and the slapping of feet as the scamps escaped down the corridor. I didn’t wake at the initial knocking, but snapped to, muttering the word “Children!” when I heard the giggling (a bit like the hospitalized and comatose Dr. Guggenheim in Rushmore when he comes to briefly to mutter the name “Fisher”). I immediately slipped my trusty earplugs into place and slept unmolested the rest of the night.

Check out the splendor with your own two eyes:

The Beer (at least the ones I partook of and remember…my note taking went down the tubes almost immediately)/The Plan (Laura and I would get different beers and sample each others’…we all ultimately ended up sampling each others’ beer …because we roll that way):

New Belgium (Ft. Collins, CO)-They were only offering Fat Tire and Mothership Wit (no La Follie, nor Springboard). I had the Mothership Wit, Laura had the Fat Tire.

Highland Brewing Company (Ashville, NC)-They offered Gaelic Ale, St.Terese's Pale Ale, and the Kashmir IPA . I took the Gaelic Ale, Laura took the St. Terese’s Pale Ale and one of the gentlemen took the Kashmir.

(For all of you other attendees, please leave comments on the beers that you partook of, please. I know the there was some Good People, Magic Hat and Sweet Water, but I’m sure there was more.)

In a crowd of ball-shifting men and high-maintenanced women, the four of us got our beer on. I remember one beer tasting like roses, another tasting like a cream soda Dum-Dums…the rest are a blur. Oh beer, why do you make me forget!?!

The Music:
Sucked (we couldn’t stomach it out until the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies)
We witnessed with our ears and our eyes possibly the most awful attempt at entertainment (I was far more entertained at the dinner table of Mellow Mushroom where the tiniest schmear of hummus was shared by four ravenous individuals and where more pizza than you could shake a stick at disappeared into thin air). I think I may have heard the band play a song about Shake-n-Bake? Maybe I just dreamt it…although we watched some very baked people trying to shake-it to the music. And then, there was the guy with the purple face…

The walk back to the hotel after the beerfest:
Just beautiful! Love the city, especially at night. Nothing like the look, feel and smell of a city at night. The Catoes let us come up to their room for a nightcap of coffee. This was where we witnessed the caressing of the face of one Catoe by the foot of the other Catoe. It was really quite sweet, until the caress-faced Catoe realized what was touching his face and he had a conniption.

The trip home:
Stopped at World Market and purchased some much needed beer. I scored a Rogue Dead Guy Ale pint glass to replace the special Bush & Bull pint glass that I accidentally left in Denver over two years ago, a pint glass that I needed for properly making my Vietnamese coffee. E and I decided that we wanted something ethnic to dine on, something that we couldn’t get back in our Queen City of the Coosa. We thought Greek would be nice, so earlier that morning E did a Google search for Greek restaurants in the area. Mykanos, The Acropolis, and the Cracker Barrel were some of the suggested choices. After looking in vain for the Greek Cracker Barrel, we settled on The Acropolis. We had an equally small schmear of hummus, but for two less people, so it went a tiny bit farther (I did not get my hummus on on this trip, therefore I had to make hummus for dinner tonight). I had lottsa feta and Kalamata olives on my salad. Verrah nice.

I am so certain that I have not done justice to recounting this trip…but I’m tired and must rest my eyes.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Still Life: Hatless Little Boy, Crying in Parking Lot

Beerganooga countdown: Approximately 24 hours.

I’ve been getting emails from sis every morning, detailing her trials of dieting (she’s just started the South Beach Diet, and we believe that this will be the lucky one-go fighin’ Vicki!). The one I received this AM had an added bonus feature detailing an incident that involved Nephew and a parking lot. In the hopes that sis won’t mind me sharing this (for commiseration with those who have gone through it already and as a caveat to those with little ones), I am just reprinting the email:

Oh, Carol--the most awful morning occurred today! Alex dropped my hand and ran away from me in the parking lot of Mustard Seeds. I grabbed him so hard I think I left bruises on his little arm. I said, "You do NOT run away from me in parking lots!" And he dropped like a stone. And cried, cried, cried. I had to drag him into the school, he lost his hat on the way, AND he threw a fit all the way down the hall into Ms Sherry's breakfast room. As he was lying in the floor, Ms Sherry said she thought he'd do better if I go ahead and leave. So I told him I loved him and yourgrampawillbehereafterlunch, bye! What a cluster fuck. I cried all the way to work. Carmen had to calm me down.

To which I replied:
Oh Vicki, that is the saddest thing about Alex! I know that he's fine and all, but yeah, what a cluster fuck. I sincerely hate that for you. You have to understand that you are a good mom, and sometimes that is going to happen, regardless of all the parenting that you can do...and you'll loose your shit when it does happen...but be glad that you only lost your shit and he only lost his hat. It could’ve been worse. Parking lots ARE mine fields. People don't watch what they're doing oftentimes, especially when they are in the mindset of the drop-off, pick-up. I mean, it can even happen in your own driveway! I read about it all the time in the Reader's Digest...wait, did I just admit to reading Reader's Digest? D'oh! You’ll all be right as rain…but he’ll probably do it again. You could always quit your job, take Nephew out of school and start homeschooling. And when you’re not homeschooling, you can lock him in his room. I think that could work until he’s eighteen or so.
You know you’re my favorite sister,

Monday, August 18, 2008

Pork sausage patties, two kindsa bacon, ham slices, link sausages and steak.

I’m still stuck in the meat-tacular groovitational pull of Planet 805B. The majesty of the multiple-meat breakfast just got kicked clean overboard.

A number of years ago, the legendary Glencoe cook Lurlene Smith first introduced me to the five-meat breakfast. Before that earth-shattering, bowel-moving day, I had always thought that one meat was sufficient to have on a breakfast plate, especially when you have eggs, biscuits and gravy, and grits to go along with. The daughter of a farming family, Lurlene was not satisfied with one meat at breakfast, cause you never knew who would be stopping by after church, or coming up out of the field to eat. Lurlene liked to serve what the rest of the family lovingly referred to as the five-meat breakfast. The featured meats would be anything from pork products like sausage patties, ham steaks, bacon, link sausage (two different kinds: the small kind that crisped up really well, and the large kielbasa kind that had the skin so tight that when you bit into it, it burst out like the pierced intestine that it resembled) and possibly sliced pork loin (left over from the night before), to ribeye steaks and roast beef (again, left over from the night before). As a neophyte faced with my first five-meat breakfast, I felt overwhelmed and very small in my big-girl breakfast chair. But after two mimosas and a lightening round of “If I hadn’t of married you, I could’ve been a nurse” between Lurlene and her husband of fifty-plus years, I was dizzy and hungry and confused…so I ate…one of everything. And when it didn’t kill me immediately, I ate again…and drank some more. And I thought from that day forward, I would never again allow myself to think that five meats at breakfast was excessive.

So recently, while discussing the upcoming Fleegan Sunday Brunch, I very casually spoke of the five-meat breakfast. Nothing more was mentioned until this past Saturday evening, the eve of the Brunch. Kansas Slim pulled out a piece of paper and began making a grocery list. If I recall correctly, the conversation went a little something like this: “So, what kinds of meat were eaten at the five-meat breakfast? Laura and I were trying to figure them all out.” Dreamily I began to recount the list that I have already detailed above, “Well, there was the entire pork family, bacon, ham, patty sausage…wait, you’re not seriously thinking about doing the five-meat breakfast, are you?!? We don’t have the proper permits and we have to notify the fire department at least a week in advance…” Slim just smiled and started writing. The lure of massive amounts of carnivorous fare was too great. It was to be a cage match between him and the beast.

Sunday: With enough smoke billowing out of the house to cause the smoke alarm next door to go off (hah! Just kidding), Slim cooked not five, but six meats for our brunch (in addition to blueberry pancakes, hashbrown casserole and biscuits...and let's not forget all of the contributions made by the rest of the Fleegans: tasty muffins from the casa de Jones, chess squares from Terica, fruit and champagne that was grown by the Woods *snicker,* facon and champagne from the Catoes, croissants and champagne from Tami Sparks...the food just kept coming). With bodies strewn about the floor of 805B Place, the collective meatsigh that went up after the plates were put down could be heard all the way to Chattanooga (Beerganooga for all you beergrims going on the beergrimage next weekend). Meatku was written to mark the occasion.

There were photos taken of the after, but none of the before. It's like it never happened, like it was a dream. A dream that left a greasy fat scum in the tub after I showered this morning (wow, that's a new gage for meat-a-rificness).

Listening to: Richard Cheese Lounge Against the Machine
Reading: About to start Hunting Mister Heartbreak

Sunday, August 3, 2008

If a tree falls in the woods…

It sounded just like a cartoon tree falling, like a creaky door closing. Even though I was not near a window to see it happen, I scrunched up my shoulders, closed my eyes and waited for the impact. It hit the front of the house. When I did look out, I saw that the large trunk of the sliver maple in the front yard had split from the base of the tree and fallen on the front part of the house. This is what can happen when you have co-dominance in a tree. Two large trunks fork off from the main trunk, forming two weaker trunks rather than one strong trunk. In an ideal horticultural world, you would not allow a tree to do this as it is growing. You would prune off whichever trunk was not growing true and straight while the tree was still young. This tree had been planted over thirty years ago by my grandmother. She had decided one summer that the yard needed some shade, so she went out to the woods and brought up this tiny little stick of a maple, seeing a great shade tree in its future. It was so tiny in fact, it was in great danger of being run over with the lawn mower. So, gran covered it with Vicki’s Barbie VW bus/camper (you all remember it…it’s the yellow one with the sixties stickers all over it and a bike rack on the back door. Barbie and Skipper always had to wear their bellbottoms and haltertops when they rode in the van…). And it grew for over thirty years. And we never pruned it. And yes, it provided massive amounts of shade. I can’t tell you how many seasons changed while I sat at the window of the front attic room looking out at that tree. And it all ended last night in a furious thunder storm. Instead of celebrating the passing of another graduate class, I sought bourbon and cigar solace at the safe house of Kansas Slim, and figuratively (and I suppose, literally) raised a glass to the passing of that beautiful tree. I’m really going to miss it and its shade.

On a much lighter note, the Moxie provided a very entertaining product launch party Friday evening. I was able to hoof it over from class just as the official party ended, and the after-party party began. The Felliniesqueness of what happened between 9 and 10:30 cannot really be described properly here. But, I’m beginning to realize that that is what happens when Fleegans gather together, an entire GadVegas floor show packed into a short amount of time. Good thing there were pictures taken, footage shot and witness seated at Mater’s Pizza across the street, otherwise people might not believe that some of this stuff really happened.

See Moxie photos and live action footage here at:

Reading: Purple Hibiscus
Listening to: Charlie Parker

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Corn on the Cob Chaser

So some Fleegans were at TNJ@B last night and the conversation was pretty typical. We had started off talking about cooking oil fuel converters for cars when I mentioned that I sure would love to be able to burn some high octane Original Recipe KFC oil, or even some nice Popeyes Spicy Fried Chicken From New Orleans oil. But then in a digression, I mentioned that what I really would've liked right at that moment was some of Popeye's corn on the cob. You know the kind that sits in a hot bath of butter water? Jaimie and Terica were like, "Awwwyeah!" Then Jaimie starts to wax poetic about how if she were in The Popeye's right now, she'd just ask for a cup of the butter water, and could they please salt the rim? "Oh, and could I have a Corn on the cob chaser to go with that?" she asks.

The big question of the evening for me was, "Does Popeyes serve the corn on the cob with a stick in its butt?" because someone in town does, but I can't remember who. Terica and I seemed to think that it was Popeyes...I think they also used to serve the corn in a plastic sleeve, kinda like the sleeve you receive your newspaper in on a rainy day. Imagine being the guy who came up with that one. A butter sleeve for corn on the cob...

IT man came in my office yesterday and threatened to shiv me if I didn't give him a dollar. I gave him a dollar and told him never again would I loan him money, with or without the threat of a shivin.' He went away. Today he was back, and he was threatening me silently again with his knife, only this time he was sharpening it while he was giving me the evil-eye. And while I ignored him as he was sharpening his knife while giving me the evil-eye, he cut himself and he bled because he wasn't watching what he was doing. Sighing, I told him to go wash the cut with soap and water while I went to get a bandaide. After I bandaged his finger, I told him that I would never bandage his finger again, with or without the threat of a shivin.' I think I need to get paid more than I do.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Song 52: Song of Myself (Leaves of Grass)

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab and my loitering.

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

The last scud of day holds back for me,
It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadow’d wilds,
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.

I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.

Monday, July 14, 2008

And that was John

The first time I saw John he was milling about the library, waiting for his mom and sisters to hurry up and get their books checked out. He had on a wickedly obscene t-shirt. I walked up to him, said, “Man, I love that t-shirt! But, you know, I’ve got all these kids running around here…” Catching my hint, he smiled slyly, “Yeah, thanks. I’ll just go out and change.” He left, and came back in with the same t-shirt on, turned inside out. About a week later, I saw his mom and sisters in the audience for the Harry and the Potters concert. Not long after, I saw John from across the parking lot, sporting the same offensive t-shirt. I waved at him and gave him a stern library-lady point towards the shirt. He threw up his arms as if to say, “But it was the only clean shirt I had!” I walked up to him and said, “Now, you know that the same rules apply to the outside of the library as do on the inside. I don’t like the rules any more than you do, but I keep my job by following them.” He turned the shirt inside out and stayed for the concert, and never wore that shirt in the library again. From that time on, if he saw me somewhere, he made a point to come up and talk to me. We had an agreement, you see.

John came from a passionate, non-traditional family, probably of Scots-Irish descent (very much like my own family). His were the kind of folks who, if they liked you, you were like family; if they didn’t like you…well, then, you probably didn't want to mess with them. Mom was tough. Came in to my office one Monday afternoon to tell me that she had won the wrestling contest over the weekend. Beat all the men in the place. She was admirable in a salt-of-the-earth way (hell, she was just admirable in an admirable way). We connected in a couple of ways, one of them was hiking, the other was Native American lore. We also connected because the first time I met her, I understood her and (unlike my coworkers) tried to work with her when she came in frantic because she had received a nasty letter from the library saying that she owed an ungodly amount of money (I told her to pay what she could to stop the collection letter, and try to find the books, which she did). She did the best she could with her passel of kids, John giving her some trouble here and there along the way.

I liked John cause every time I saw him he was dressed in black. Even when he was walking home in the Alabama heat from his job at Walmart, he was wearing his standard black. He was a lean, good-looking young man, sort of looked like Harry Potter if Harry Potter had dabbled in the dark arts and had had long hair. He was the kind of young man who looked like he was on the edge of going over the edge, and I think he intimidated some folks because of it. But he was a good guy, trying to clean up his life after making some bad decisions; a good guy who, from the first time I met him, seemed to be trying to do the right thing. He was just attempting to make his way in the world, and sometimes got caught up in mischief.

Just last month, while at the mall for the teen rock band competition, John found me in the crowd. When I saw him, my heart sank. He was dressed in spotless new black clothing, but looked awful, stitches on his cheek, jaw bruised and clenched. I asked what the hell happened. He said that he had gotten jumped by some guys a couple of nights before while walking home in East Gadsden. Said he was really drunk, and couldn’t fight back. They had used brass knuckles on him (from the looks of his face, I do believe him), and had taken his phone. He looked scared as he told me the story; looked like a guy who had been beaten up for no reason other than someone wanting his phone…(why would someone do that when all I was doing was trying to get home). I commiserated with him for a bit before he walked off and I went back to work. I lost sight of him as he slipped through the crowd, a phantom of himself.

Today, John’s mom told me that on the Fourth of July his best friend accidentally shot him with a crossbow, and that John was dead. He was twenty years old.

We are responsible for everyone in our lives, no matter how big or how small a role they play in our day, no matter how much we like or dislike them, no matter how much we want to change them or not change them, no matter how much they do or don’t do things for us. You better make it count while you can…

John, I want to do right by you man, but I just can’t figure out how. I've always felt that if you can't do right by the living, then you sure as hell can't do right by them after they're gone. I am too full of grief for you right now. I have memories of you…kind, biting and funny. I now have memories of you in a cardboard box (because mom new that you would think it a complete waste to spend money on something wooden that wasn’t furniture and did what she knew you would want in this situation) in the middle of the kitchen of your mom’s trailer, the sides of the box covered lovingly with the signatures of your friends, a can of Budwiser in your hand, an arrow tucked in beside you. You look a little different than I remember. Your lip-stud is missing. And I can see where your jaw still looks tender from the brass knuckles that bruised it weeks ago, a wound that won’t heal…

The last thing I said to your mom before she left the library today was this, “You know, I may be completely out of line by saying this, but…John couldn’t have gone in a normal way…” To which she replied with a hearty laugh, “Yeah, Carol, who would’ve thought, an arrow, in this day and age…”

There is not enough vodka in Russia right now…

In a surreal post script: I’ve just received a MySpace friend request from John. Because he kept in contact with so many of his friends via MySpace, his mom is keeping his site going.

Friday, July 11, 2008

He runs! He golfs!

So, I’ve set up camp with my camera (Lola) at hole number 8 at the Library Links Golf Outing (we call #8 the money hole, for it carries a $10,000 prize for a hole in one), and I’m (to use Tami’s phrase of the day) melting my sunscreen off in the humidity, when up the hill comes Dave and his posse. They are jovial and amiable, and quick to pose in the standard golfer’s stance for me. I heard that they did well in the game, and that there was possibly some alcohol involved…

Monday, July 7, 2008

Stay gold...

I think I’m having withdrawals…I’m in the process of going for what will essentially be approximately 48 hours Fleegan free. Just last week I had Fleegan time on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday, and had major email time with Fleegans on all of the days that I didn’t see them.

Last Tuesday saw a hard-core handful of Fleegans at Blackstone for jazz and Rogue Dead Guy Ale; Thursday was the Bats-B-Gone party at the Catoe Parsonage, where I learned how to make Patti’s Famous Rice and tried to do yoga while inebriated (never again); Friday was all-day-in-freakin-food-drink-and-firework-paradise at the Finlayson compound, located in an area of Southside that shall remain unnamed because it has now been officially declared a Fleegan Safe House (even Rosco the dog knows a safe house when she sees one); and Sunday was the bottling brewfest and stockpot-fitting at Kansas Slim’s.

Now, today I was at work from approximately 7AM until approximately 6:30PM, so I’ve had a busy day, with a smattering of Fleegan email action. But still, I have enough idle time that I’m sitting here at the computer wondering what some of the Fleegans are doing right now. I’m sure the Joneses are walking across the street to retrieve Roxy from Jaimie’s parents house again (or else they are digging a moat around the dog fence to once-and-for-all keep Roxy from escaping); the Catoes are probably working on their built-ins and chewing on a leg of Ben for dinner; Eric is more than likely cleaning up the drinking/bottling/brewing mess that we left last night when we man-handled almost everything in his kitchen (I was beginning to look up into the cabinets to get down stuff that we had not used yet to say that yes, we had used everything in his kitchen…); I’ll bet Cookie is thumbing through her copy of The Outsiders, reading the touching part in the hospital where Pony and Derry have that moment together; and I’d say that the Woods are probably sterilizing their stockpot.

I only have 24 more hours to go until Tuesday night jazz and a shot of topshelf Fleegan…

Listening to: Thelonious Monk and Coltrane/Ruby My Dear and Epistrophy.
Reading: Selected poems of Pablo Neruda & Yehuda Amichai A Life of Poetry.
Eating: Tomatoes with feta, basil, olive oil, balsalmic vinegar, kalamata olives.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Low flying bats…and the subtle taste of maple syrup…

Thursday’s semi-co-ed Girl’s Night had a subtitle of: Appetizers and Alcohol. My measly hummus was very quickly overshadowed by everyone else’s contributions. The robustness of Terica’s Rotel and Velveeta nacho dip (yes folks, she used sausage in the dip---dip, dip horray!) was exactly the base coat that our stomachs needed for the beer and sangria we were chugging. Cookie’s dark chocolate ice cream bars with nibs of cookies were teasingly talked about and then stuffed in the freezer to be saved for the piece de resistance dessert that they were (and strangely enough, later when we did eat them, tasted like the most subtle maple syrup). Then Jimmy had to throw down the shnickity schnack gauntlet with his famous popcorn and M&Ms (damn, but is there anything that M&Ms won’t go with?), so the stakes were raised. Next, Eric came waltzing down the lane with his appetizer plated and ready to present and held quite level (which would have been a bother to one who is walking down the lane with appetizer held level and aloft on an steamy Alabama summer evening that Faulkner would’ve described as distilled and hyperdistilled), an appetizer which reminded me of my days as a young girl in Provence (just kidding, been to France, but never to Provence)…ovals of baguette, topped with a schmear of snooty European butter, sesame oil, ginger (which was hidden quite well), kosher salt, and thinly sliced radishes (See exhibit A). Again, the appetizer ante was upped. And then Liz, who was late BECAUSE of her appetizer, the appetizer that made us gasp when it was revealed, the appetizer created especially for us by Liz-mate Chris (Chris, who could not make it to the semi-co-ed Girl’s Night because of prior obligations, but who sent in his stead the nicest and quite possibly the most delectable salutations ever): skewers of tender, moist, grilled-to-perfection chicken with a yummy peanut dipping sauce…Liz brought the house down. It was almost too much…almost. With bats careening over our heads, out to find their own appetizers (evidently at someone else’s house from the looks of the mosquito bites on Eric’s ankles), some of the revelers took refuge indoors (the Dame and Sha’nille); the rest of us braved the busy air traffic and just kept our heads low. Happily, food was eaten and drinks were drunk. Last call was at ten, but Kris, with heart full of happiness, would not send us away from his table. The last of us left by foot and by car at approximately eleven.

The next day: Quiet Catoe Parsonage. Birds singing outside. Mrs. Catoe, preparing for her morning hair ablutions, makes a horrific discovery: An off-course bat had somehow found its way into the kitchen (possibly slipping in amongst the merry revelers as they made their raucous exit through the house the night before) and was hiding (unsuccessfully) under the soaking Crock Pot. There are no words for such a discovery, only loud verbal exclamations. A broom-wielding Mr. Catoe makes bat-meat out of the intruder.

Later that day, a small and weary group Fleegans met Downtown for lunch: Liz, who was in charge of picking up Jaimie, but forgot to stop for her; me, distracted and hard of hearing from entertaining 120 children at the Summer Reading Program; Nathan, whose charge (the Etowah County computer system) had up and quit that morning; Laura, frazzled from the bat-under-the-Crock-Pot incident only hours earlier; Kris, frash from a “special” Moxie Salon client; Eric, via text message because “news broke” and prevented him from joining us in body; and Jimmy who was about to go home (I ask, who gets to go home at Noon on a Friday?), and was the first to notice that his wife Jaimie was missing from the group. I looked around the table at one point and thought that we all were sporting the appearance of having been hit by a truck. How fortunate we were that it was Friday…

There will be a farewell party for the bat colony this Thursday for Girl’s Night. In honor of the bat extraction, I think it fitting that everyone wear something black for the occasion…