Monday, September 29, 2014

A Look at the Old South

So, earlier this month when my Italian friends came to visit, one of the things they wanted to see was a big Southern plantation house like in the movies.  Well, there aren't so many of those around anymore  (thank goodness!)--but there is a small town nearby that escaped being burned during the civil war, so it is famously full of grand old homes.
It was a fun place to spend the day.  We walked around taking a zillion pictures and even got to go inside a few houses.

Very Tennesse Williams to me--I can just see Big Daddy coming out to drink a bourbon.

My friends are always stunned by the fact that Americans build their houses out of wood.  I have to say,  it is kind of odd when you think about how difficult wood can be to keep from fire, insects, and decay.

I prefer these Victorian types.

When I was a little girl, we moved house a couple of times.  I remember my mother coming in excitedly to tell me all about the new house we were going to move into.  I would catch her excitement, but my imagination couldn't follow her words.  "A new house!" I would think, and in my mind's eye I would picture something like the houses above.  Some kind of house with a cupola and a hidden stairway, a mysterious attic and a big porch.  A place where magic happens or you meet a ghost who can take you back into her world for awhile when no one is paying attention to where you are (I read a lot of books).

Ha!  We always moved into a contemporary ranch-style house.  I was so disappointed and then grumpy.  Why couldn't we ever get a really beautiful house?  I remember my mother looking so crushed at my reaction.  She had no idea what vision had been swimming around in my little head, and hadn't she explained it all out for me?

Another thing, in the houses we toured there was so much crochet!  All these fabulous crocheted bed covers, which I love.  I look at these and think of the time they took to make and the complicated mental work they involved.  These tell us things about the lives of women in the past, don't they?

And to top it all off, there was this Gothic touch.  Really, a vulture on top of the church cross.  Too Flannery O'Connor for me! (My husband suggests it might be an album cover, which is not a bad idea, eh?)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Martin Luther King Jr.

These are portions of the wall outside the Martin Luther King Center.  We visited the center a few weeks ago with some or our very dearest old friends from far away.
We visited the house King lived in as a boy,

a large Victorian house set across from a row of smaller homes and shotgun houses.

These houses are all still occupied.
African Americans lived together here, the well off and the poor.
At the end of the street is the old fire station.  It is a museum now.

We also stopped in Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King's father (and grandfather) were preachers.

Martin Luther King Jr. is an example to me.  An example of perseverance and courage.
These words get me every time:

"Like anybody, I would  like to live a long life.  Longevity has its place.  But I'm not concerned about that now.  I just want to do God's will.  And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain.  And I've looked over.  I've seen the Promised Land.  I may not get there with you.  But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land."

I am not a religious person really, though I am a spiritual one. King worked so hard for right and justice in the face of so much hate and so much danger.  He's beyond the norm, truly heroic, truly inspiring.  If I could have just one fraction of his tenacity, his capacity for good works, and his faith in the common man, I think to myself.

Friday, September 12, 2014


It's sad when a big old tree has to be taken down.  Some of them here in the Buffer Zone have been senselessly cut down to make room for big houses and trucks that need to maneuver around on tight lots to put up big houses.  But, I think this big guy in the picture was sick.  You can see he had some hollowness that looks like rot in his trunk.  A lady pointed out what she thought was a bluish tinge to the inner bark which she believed to be an indicator of lightening damage.  I wasn't so sure.

Also, here is our last little harvest of pole beans before I cleared out the plants.  The velcro like leaves were yellowing--getting what I think of as "plant fatigue" as August winds up and the hot days stretch on into September.  You know how you start off pulling a few beans and then there are more than a handful, so you put them in your pocket or the front of your shirt because you didn't really mean to start pulling beans in the first place?  Well, that's what was happening here.

It's raining now.  Here at the school week's end, I'm feeling a little bit of "person fatigue" haha.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Dream Cars

This weekend we went to a fantastic show of concept cars.  This is the second car show I've seen at the High Museum, and both were amazing.
The cars are so big and shining.  Imagine driving any of them!

This big old guy called the Scarab was a little bit caravan.  Check out the front and back details.

My favorite was this wing-y futuristic model the Ghia Gilda.  I'd love to take this for a spin!  Looks like flame would shoot out the tail pipe at the back.

Loved the door handle! 

This car had a glass bubble like top.

And this one was some sturdy gangster-like model.  A chic girl in white fur would emerge from this.

There was another cool one that I LOVED (a super low Ferrari that looked like it might fly), but my camera was not in my hands and when we got home, we realized no one had even snapped it once.  Alas.
(Funny.  Around our house, we really do say "alas.")

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Lantern Parade

I have been so busy going around and being a half tourist of my own town this week that I have loads to put up on this blog.  However, in the interest of time and attention spans, I am going to break all of it up into smaller posts.
Last night was the annual Lantern Parade in the city.  This was the fifth parade celebrating the construction and completion of a beautiful walking, jogging, biking pathway connecting points through the city in what was once dangerous wasteland where no one dared to venture (or had reason to)-- especially at night.  Now it is full of permanent art installations, fountains, trails, loft space and stylish apartments.
I met up with an old college friend I hadn't seen for over--well, for many years.  We were delighted and amazed.  Her young daughter was with us, so we watched a little of the parade, and marched along a little too.  Everyone brought lanterns, homemade or bought, and we all had a fabulous time celebrating how much we love our city.
People gathering before the parade.

The start of the parade.  Here come the really elaborate lanterns!

I realized pretty quickly that I would not be able to take photos of everything.  I had to just shut off my camera and enjoy the rush and sensation of being there in the moment.  
All of these joyful people and their creative individuality was infectious!  As we left, we were already planning our lanterns for next year.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Making Things: Granola and Crochet

I am a big believer in eating breakfast.  My ideal breakfast is oatmeal.  However, getting up before dawn and cooking is out of the question, so I keep bananas on hand even though I am not a great fan of bananas.  But it gets me a serving of fruit and is an easy grab-and-go food.  This week I made granola bars.  This granola is so delicious!  My oldest son used to love it when he was little, especially the little clumps of wheat germ.  He would pick them out gobble them up. (It wasn't in bars. We mostly eat it loose.)

cherry almond variety

I always aim to be a healthy eater, though I have to admit I love cheese puffs and Coke.  That is about my all time favorite junk food combination.  I know if I am craving that, then I am hungry and probably tired too.
Luckily, I don't keep those things around the house, so if I am to eat them, I have to go buy them which is an extra step that makes me reconsider and keeps me from caving in.  Most of the time.

Slowly, slowly I have also been working on a crochet scarf.  I love the fall colors.  I have hardly had any time to work on it, and it isn't repetitive enough for me to do in a relaxed half attentive sort of way.  I have to have my brain on to do it, so these evenings of mush mind have not been conducive to this pattern.

Ruden's scarf from Interweave

I'm half done.  By the time fall is here I may have it finished.  No.  I will have it done by then.  I'm just feeling sorry that I can't just push all my school work aside and work on this instead--much more fun!  I just love the leaf like design in this and the yarn.  I bought it as a kit, which I hardly ever do, but I couldn't imagine doing it any differently.

I know this week will be another busy one, though I am beginning to get my feet under me.  And then, next weekend is a long one.  Whoohoo!  Working on this scarf will definitely be on the agenda.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Books and Pho

Oh my!  I have been so busy with school and the change of routine.  One week feels endless.  I am getting up with the moon again and often working at home right up to the time I have to go to bed.  It's always a crush like this no matter how much I do ahead of time.

One of the initiatives I am working on this year is trying to get kids to read.  I have been collecting books so that I will have plenty around for anyone who comes to class without.  Focusing on this got me thinking about these little libraries we have around town.  Anyone is welcome to put one up at the edge of their yard or in front of their business.

At the entrance to the park

I love that this one is right where the sidewalk ends.

Anyone can freely take books they like away, and drop off books they don't need any more.  Of course, I LOVE this idea.  It's fun to see what people around the neighborhood are reading--or discarding even.  Today I took a book called Baseball for Everyone that I thought might interest some of my boys.  We also picked up a book about the Beatles which had a postcard inside and news clippings from the 1970's.
We put in some books that weren't really our style (though best sellers) that someone in our family likes to pass on.

We also experimented with making pho (a Vietnamese soup) this week.  We had fresh ingredients we didn't want to fade, so we made it two nights in a row.  The second broth was better.  It came from a packet.  The first was in a box.  (I don't think really excellent pho broth comes from either of those sources--but that second one was actually really good).  We didn't have quite the exact noodles either, but it was all yummy anyway.

Then today, I was finally able to get out and tidy up the garden.  It is looking wild, weedy, and neglected.  I've cut off the tomato plants in this picture because they have so many yellow leaves they are depressing.  The new growth is nice and green an healthy though.  I've tied bags of moth balls to the tomato cages in effort to keep away mice/rats.  It seems to work a bit.  At least we are getting a few tomatoes and not waking every day to find them chewed.
One big hooray: the tomatilloes we planted from seed are producing fruits!  It certainly took awhile.  We have had flowers and flowers and flowers and lots of bees, and now finally those little balloon lantern like pods.  We'll have to use those and our abundance of peppers to make a salsa.