Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Happy mail, comfort and optimism

- A good mail day - what I like to call "happy mail." Friend Michelle has sent me some books, there is a party invitation, my replacement Starbucks card, loads of catalogs, and a beautiful purple sweater.

- Coming home after mucking through a cold rain all afternoon, getting a fire going in the fireplace and knowing I do not have to go out again until the morning.

- It is still raining this morning, but I get to leave a little later than usual and I can go through the Starbucks drive through on the way in to work. Yay!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Shining through, vortex and picture project

- The sun shining through the branches of a Live Oak tree in Jefferson County, Florida.

- On Thursday, 42 relatives make the rounds hugging each other (sometimes multiple times) as we say our goodbyes at the close of Thanksgiving day. One cousin by marriage calls it being caught in a "love vortex."

- Going through piles and piles of family photos with sisters and laughing at our hair styles over the years. We wonder if we will be laughing at our current hair 20 years from now.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pilgrims, mad dashes and abundance

- My pilgrim salt and pepper shakers make me so happy that I move them around to different areas of the kitchen. After the holiday, they live among the crockery inside the cabinet and still make me smile as they peer around the dinner plates.

- Realizing I am short one egg, I tear up to the grocery store on Wednesday night. A woman in the parking lot offers me her cart, saying they are short of carts inside. She tells me this is her third visit here that day. We wish each other a happy Thanksgiving and go our separate ways.

- During this morning of pot stirring and thinking of everyone I will see in a few hours, I have reflected upon those early adventurous souls who made friends with native Americans and sat down to eat together, sharing their abundance. I am thankful for them and for all I have. Happy Thanksgiving everyone (including my friends outside the States.)

I will be with family for the next few days - have a great weekend, my friends!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Semi-homemade, cooking talents and Zen

- This stack of ingredients makes me giggle a little every time I pass it. It is for the ton of sweet potato casserole I will provide for Thanksgiving dinner for 42 people tomorrow. I took over this dish from my mother, who pronounced it "just like hers" last year. I know fresh potatoes seems more like me, but this is faster and easier. I guess we would call it semi-homemade. :)

- A similar gathering on Tuesday at the printing company resulted in a potluck spread that showcased the cooking talents of office staff and pressmen. My favorite - the shipping manager's coleslaw with finely chopped jalapeno peppers in it - a nice (and fiery!) accompaniment to other rich food.

- My account of visiting a client that morning and the client's one-eyed and very loving rescue dog, Zen, sparked a conversation of everyone's pets. I loved hearing one co-worker speak of his dog and how the dog follows him around "talking" - he pulls out his phone and displays a screen shot of him that is passed around the table.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Good excuse to walk, irony and air of mystery

- To avoid lining the pockets of that parking garage owner who gets $3.50 for 20 minutes parking, I find street parking in a residential neighborhood about a mile from my client's office and walk to my appointment. The fresh air (not to mention the walk) lifts my spirit and I get to study old Atlanta buildings, like this one, up close. I think it might have been an apartment building, but I'm not sure. The name "Pavilion" is on the front in smallish letters. I love that round window in the front.

- I pass the Lattetude Coffee Lounge and Bistro and enjoy the irony of the admonishing sign and the very laid back hours. :)

- The mansion on the hill is the Peachtree Circle apartment building, said to have been a school for girls long ago. It has a certain charm and the peeling paint suggests an air of Gothic mystery.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tableau, smiling faces and anticipation

- The annual Thanksgiving food tableau at my church (photo taken with a friend's iphone) - the food was donated to two local food co-ops. This tradition began about ten years ago with a Slavic congregation who used to meet at our church in the afternoon; they did it as a surprise the first time.

- Going through mountains of family photos from our family home for preliminary sorting prior to division between sisters. Family faces float through my dreams in black and white and color.

- Sitting in a shop dressing room talking to my sister by cellphone about next weekend and what board games we'll bring. Finally saying to her that I am sure the shop employees wonder what happened to me.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Banner day, wee neighbors and nice neighbors

Photo by ALM

- My niece's dog Hank is a celebrity now - this picture was published on the Ducks Unlimited website. He mostly just likes to play and bark, so modestly accepts this honor. Today is his first birthday.

- The fern hanging outside my front door is still living and looks as big and lush as ever. Some wrens have been flying in and out of it - I think its denseness is a good barrier to the wind and cold, so they burrow into the middle of it. I wonder why they stick around - I'd be in Miami for the winter. :)

- My neighbor comes out of her condo leading her teenage son (who is blind) at the same time I am leaving for work. She tells me that yesterday he said "Bye Lynn!" as they were leaving. When I looked confused because I didn't remember seeing them, she said "No - you weren't out here, he just said it anyway." How nice and this time he got to say it in person.

I hope you have a banner weekend, my friends!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bird sanctuary, home town win and true test

- These colorful pots full of fall plants and floating plants in the bird sanctuary of R. Thomas Grill on Peachtree Street in Atlanta.

- Winning tickets to see Garrison Keillor last evening from my radio station, WMLB 1690AM - The Voice of the Arts. To be in the running, I just had to comment on their facebook page about which "small town with big stories" is my favorite. Guess which one I put?

- Mr. Keillor was wearing his trademark red accent items - this time, red tie and red sneakers. Friend Leisa and I enjoyed his observations on Thanksgiving "a day we gather among our kin who know us a little too well, and put civility to a true test." That's kind of true, but I am still looking forward to it. :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Up on the roof, Wrimo and good book

- Going up to the roof of the parking garage at Georgia Public Broadcasting because I was early for my volunteer work. The rain had moved out, but left lots of clouds. Those red brick buildings to the left are part of Georgia Tech.

- Reading in the New York Times Book Review that National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo), an organization in which the goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30, spawned a novel that I really loved - Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. This "kamikaze approach" to novel writing sounds as if it isn't for everyone, but it is good to hear that the risk taking approach of hammering out a novel worked for someone.

- Feeling a little sad to finish "Thirteen Moons" by Charles Frazier - a novel set in the mountains of western North Carolina mostly before the Civil War. It is about a young man who ends up running a trading post at the edge of the Cherokee Nation. I listened to the audio version and it was lovely to hear Will Patton's voice reading the beautiful wry prose of Frazier. I found this at my local library and it was with me during a trip to south Georgia and north Florida to visit family and countless hours of commuting and work trips. Recommended - whether you read or listen.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Two benches, gingerbread shot and good guy

- Two benches keeping each other company on a rainy day at Chastain Park, Atlanta, Georgia.

- A shot-sized sample of gingerbread flavored latte with whipped cream at Starbucks - so delicious looking I couldn't resist. But I order my regular grande non-fat latte to go and continue on in the rain.

- Hearing an account of the recent benefit dinner for the mission, and the keynote speaker Jeff Foxworthy. When the dinner and speeches were over, he stayed behind and helped stack chairs.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Apple pie, jewel tones and like

- A friend's daughter loves experimenting with different apple pie recipes - this one was as good as it looks. :)

- Book club meeting at a home I have never visited before. I mention to Peggy that the jewel-toned colors of her walls seem very Early American to me. She smiles and says they were indeed inspired by a family trip to Williamsburg, Virginia.

- We read the Anne Lamott book of our choice and I decided to read "Traveling Mercies" - her initial collection of essays. In one of them her young son says he is weary of her telling him she loves him so much. What would he rather hear? I like you. So that's what she says from then on as she tucks him in bed.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The road, welcoming stranger and worth it

- A glorious weather day. Could this be November? The photo is from the miles of countryside passed on a work road trip to visit the Covington, Georgia campus of DeKalb Technical College.

- I choose the wrong building in which to look for my client. I tap on the glass door of a woman who is intently typing to ask direction. Her face lights up with a huge smile, "How are you???" I ask if we have met and she says I just look so familiar. She walks outside with me and sends me in the right direction. I think we should all welcome strangers like that; I know it made my day.

- The oil change man sticks his head in the waiting room door and says, "You must do a lot of driving." Between work and family visits, I sure do. (The mileage since the last oil change gave it away.) If all work visits could be as pleasant as the one yesterday with all the nice technical school employees (and friend Rose) - then it is entirely worth it.

I hope you have a great weekend, my friends!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Favorite veteran, ship's cook, and Veterans Day

- This photo turned up in my father's things - rolled up and torn in places. A bunch of young men about to go off to World War II in its last year. He's the one near the upper left with the big blue eyes.

- He was on a mine sweeper and ended up being the cook on the ship by default. He volunteered to cook because he saw it as a way to eat better. :) The first meal he cooked was chili and some guys came by and told him he should make it spicier than the last guys did. So he poured an entire can of industrial sized chili powder into the vat of chili. He said sailors were running for water and wiping their eyes, it was so hot.

- He never wanted a thing to do with the World War II memorial in Washington, DC, as much as we cajoled to take him. Serving your country is just what you did; to serve with honor. Thank you to all the veterans and I honor you this day and every day.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November rose, thank you and fun book

- My neighbor's roses, blooming in November - surely the last of them.

- Printing a thank you poster for the mission that will go to a little girl who collected more than 3,000 shoes for the homeless.

- Reading a review of what must be a hilarious childrens' book, "A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea" by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. Operating on the premise that everyone looks good in a majorette outfit, loves marching bands and great floats, the book states that you would be wrong. Pigs don't march, they shuffle. They prefer sad country ballads and the only floats pigs like are root beer floats. Must get for niece.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Home again, comfort, and life is but a dream

- Receiving this flower for representing my father at my parents' church on Sunday in my home town in honor of All Saints' Day. The church is adjacent to a cemetery that has graves dating to 1804. I always mean to take some time to walk around it again and will one day. Author Flannery O'Connor is buried here, as is Bill Miner, an "American criminal" according to Wikipedia. He was called "The Gentleman Robber" and is said to be responsible for the phrase "Hands Up!" His gravestone says he is "The Last of the Famous Western Bandits."

- Having a comforting cup of soul warming soup for a snack at work. It is always cold there this time of year and although I've grown accustomed to it, it never hurts to have something hot to drink.

- Coming home from work to three young neighbors out playing. They are loudly singing, with great hilarity, "Row, row, row your boat" - except they have changed the ending to "life is but a strawwww!"

Monday, November 8, 2010

Weekend visitors, watched pot and apple scent

- Some inside visitors over the weekend due to the first frost of fall. They look as if they are longing to go back outside and with a high temperature of 68°F predicted for this afternoon, they will.

- Mastering my mom's four-minute egg - somewhere between soft and hard boiled. The secret seems to be watching the pot until the water boils and then setting the timer for four minutes. That old adage, "A watched pot never boils" is true unless you busy yourself with some other task in the kitchen and pretend as if you are not watching. :)

- Somehow ending up with too many apples, and so there are about a dozen of them in the refrigerator. And enjoying the blast of Fuji apple scent I get when I open the fridge.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Drizzly day, panda cam and a good story

- A windy drizzly day, but the trees sure are beautiful.

- Checking in on our Giant Panda, Lun Lun, and her as-yet-unnamed cub, the panda cam showing them having a cuddle. This is her third cub and I like to go to the panda cam at random times during the day to have a look.

- The librarian smiles when I check out a couple more books on CD - I tell her how much I love hearing a story when I am out and about during the week or on the road for travel. Listening to a good yarn makes it all so much better.

I hope good things are in store for you this weekend, my friends!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tradition, promise of glory and which bridge

Photo from the Forsyth Daily News

- This is my hairdresser Tim (on the right), who regularly attends Native American pow wows in the area and participates in dance competitions. I get a haircut last night and hear about his latest adventures while sipping a glass of red wine. He will be hosting a Sweat Lodge and dinner for friends in a few weeks, saying he likes upholding the tradition of the original Thanksgiving celebration.

- Waking for the second morning in a row to a gentle rain falling. It makes traffic bad, but is so worth it since the promise for the weekend weather is glorious.

- The November quote on the calendar in my home office: "The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn." David Russell, Classical Guitarist

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Standing in line, representation and earthy

- A little political sign madness - it is good that it is over, so these signs can go away. It is always enjoyable to chat with the people around me in line at 6:45am - waiting for that 7am voting time and even more fun when the director of my volunteer organization walks in and joins the line. We didn't know we lived in the same neighborhood.

- The Wednesday email for the weekly farmers' market near my house. I love this (partial) list of what they will have: milk, cream, organic bread, local honey, doggie treats, tarts, pies and cookies. Even the dogs get homemade goodies - how nice.

- And a surprise healthy treat at a late evening meeting - someone brings in pumpkin bread. Earthy, moist and the right color for fall - kind of orangey.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Refuge, ravishing and there's always next year

- Sunday morning at my sister's house and the view from the back. No other houses as far as you can see. They used to have cows in that lower pasture, but getting water to them became a problem. Now the property is a wildlife refuge of sorts - deer routinely wander through.

- Finally getting a much needed pedicure. The most fun of the whole thing for me is choosing the color my toenails will be painted. The OPI line has the most delightful polish names - I chose a lovely deep red polish with the name "Ravishing Dahling."

- Halloween update - no trick or treaters. But I might have missed the little ones - I got home from Florida a little after 8pm. This time I was prepared with Starburst candy and Gummi Bears. They are in my plastic pumpkin for next year. :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Miles from nowhere, like a song and new outfit

- A packed dirt road in the wilderness of northern Florida. It leads to my sister and brother-in-law's home and acreage, as well as to other farms and plantations. There is a controversy right now that a newcomer to the road wants it paved. No one else wants that. The road adds to the charm of the area, I think.

- We still have my father's SUV and I feel close to him as I drive it to meet the family at my sister's church in the country. He loved this area, with its miles and miles of farmland, grazing cows and giant live oaks. The last family member who drove it left the radio set to a country music station and it seems fitting to hear Kenny Chesney sing about the boys of fall while I drive the truck of a man who always bought Fords.

- A little boy in the childrens' choir my sister directs throws his arms around her legs and looks up, asking "Do you like my outfit?!?" He has a new one especially for this morning since he will be singing with the others in front of the church for the first time.