Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Severe Weather

April for us often means tornadoes.  We were kept awake last night by the severe weather and the warnings of James Spann.  We are mentally preparing for more tonight.  Our basement is ready for Eric, Booker and me...plus neighbors Joel, Angie, their two boys and possibly Jillian, Danny and their son Noah.  We have a neighborhood of many homes without basements and I am afraid for people without basements.  I think of Reba.  I'm sure Eric does, too.  It has been three years and two days since I found her mailing label in our roses...

Smith Institute, about twenty minutes away from Gadsden, was hit badly.  Eric worked the area this morning with his camera, documenting the damage. His text to me later, "Man, it's bad."  He found our friends Jacob and Hilary who live in that community.  They were okay.  Their house was not. Virginia and Kenny ended up with their garage pushed into their kitchen.  They are okay, too, though.  And Tami and Jimmy, whose home is down the road a piece from Virginia and Kenny's place, had debris in their yard, but no damage.  As far as we can tell, there has thankfully been no loss of life.

My talented friend Cookie Beck wrote a poem and posted it to Facebook during all the weather related activities last night.  For such a stressful time, it was a moment of clarity and hilarity for this Alabama girl:


he reads Tweets
and says things like
"complicated polygon"
"lead circulation"
"possible rotation"
and he apologizes that
we are missing 'Wheel of Fortune' right now.
don't you be sorry, James.
your suspenders
are my Tornado Safe Place.

Y'all be safe out there.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

We Share the Same Sky by Elizabeth Mozley McGrady

We Share the Same Sky is the account of author Elizabeth Mozley McGrady’s 2007 pilgrimage to New York City; a pilgrimage that was of particular significance to her spirit, a journey to right a life that was no longer her own.

Interspersed with the history of both McGrady’s beloved home state of Alabama and her equally cherished yet temporarily adopted home of New York City, We Share the Same Sky would easily serve as a guide book to be carried in the worn backpack of a literary and gastronomic tourist of either place.  There is much in this book to marinate over, be it the detailed accounts of delectable meals in celebrated (and not so celebrated) New York restaurants or at her Grandmother Libby’s table, the descriptions of breathtaking architecture and scenery, the references to great literary works, or the reflections of the “inner consciousness” that cautions, “You are not at peace because you are not as you should be.”

Through McGrady’s journey, we recognize how our sense of place connects us to others, to our surroundings, and even to ourselves.   We are reminded that no matter where we travel, simple things connect us all, be they food, religion, family, history.

McGrady’s memoir is penned with intense introspection balanced by self-deprecating humor. It is an excellent read.  She will be at the GPL Local Author Day on May 17, 10AM-3PM.  I will be purchasing my own copy of her book then, as the copy I’ve been reading belongs to the library…

Author Elizabeth Mozley McGrady and I have crossed paths before.  We attended the same high school in Etowah County over twenty-six years ago, she being two grades ahead of me and friends with my older sister, making her a celestial being to us underclass mortals.  I knew her then as Beth Mozley.  She and I have, at times, figuratively and literally walked in each other’s footsteps since then.  We were recently brought together face-to-face for the first time in so many long years through my dear friend Dan Donaghy, who was visiting Gadsden from Connecticut again as our GPL writer in residence for a series of poetry writing workshops and speaking engagements.  Dan and I are chums from the days of Ithaca, NY.  Beth and her husband Travis, who currently live close to Gadsden, but not within spitting distance, drove in on a rather dreary night to hear Dan’s reading at the Back Forty Beer Co.  And there, the pieces fell into place.  At the end of the evening, I could not help but reflect on the rather serendipitous series of circumstances that brought everyone together at that place, at that particular time.  But I tend to do that sort of thing often.