Early spring for me has been all about new information, new friends (hello!), new music, new growth, new satisfactions, new projects. New is the new new around here for sure. Some things I'm digging, anew:
- Curry Mondays at the Standard (though since last Monday was St. Pat's, it was Bangers and Mash Monday.)
- Heirloom Seeds. They arrived today, along with a couple bonus gifts from the seed company - lemon cucumbers and an herb that I've heard of but have no idea how to cook with (and now can't remember the name of.)
- Laura Veirs
- Something to further fuel my love of Polaroids (and remind me of how sad it is that they're about to be extinct.)
- Ancient bricks, buried deep in my yard. (a bit annoying when shoveling, but intriguing. My house has to be among the oldest constructions in the area, so where did they come from?)
- The utter, ridiculous, music-geek joy that is Rhapsody. This thingy is kind of like having your own personal radio station with total control over the playlist and no over-caffinated DJs named "Scully" or "Crash." I shuffled Dave Brubeck, Rilo Kiley, Edith Piaf, M. Ward, the Weepies, the Eels, Blondie, GNR, Frank Black and old Dead Milkmen into one playlist Sunday. In fact, that's probably about what my personal radio station would play, actually.
- Bulldogge puppies who can scratch on the door to let us know they need to relieve themselves (!!!)
- Moneywort and Plumbago. Two plants that sound like diseases Victorian street urchins may be susceptible to.
- The realization that in addition to being a great way to keep my sinuses from exploding, Claritin D is a fantastic appetite suppressant. It's not as if I'm hungry or not hungry, it's just that suddenly food has zero appeal to me. In evidence is the fact that I still haven't re-stocked my refrigerator since I had to dump everything after the tornado.
- Handmade wedding bands from etsy.
The sun is blazingly, gloriously out, and oh, it's time to shop. Fortunately, I also have the tiniest bit of expendable income right now. It's as if the planets have suddenly aligned for the first time in months. I need spring clothes, gardening tools, paint, truck tires, a new glasses prescription, lighting fixtures, and table legs for two random, legless tables (how I end up with such things is beyond me, but ask, and IKEA shall deliver a solution.) I also need a plumber, as something related to the bizarre craftsmanship the previous owners of my house practiced exploded like a geyser under my kitchen sink last night. This would ordinarily darken my mood enough to have Mr. Rainey asking "are you ok?" ten times as I seethe semi-audibly about how people who think they can do home repairs but cannot shouldn't be allowed to own homes (or, more accurately, hide their laziness, then sell said home to me). But today, I am not being that mean and irrational. Instead, I'm getting out a pipe wrench and hoping for the best.
I'm looking down the barrel of a particularly active weekend--and typing it out here for the shame value in case it gets to be Saturday morning and I decide it's ok to watch the Food Network for 6 hours instead of digging in the yard. The internet serves as my witness. My intentions are good, my work gloves are at the ready, and my list is damn long. It's ON.
I think it's the sun.
Today, it was spring.
It all started last night at ten thirty pm, after Blake and I attempted to concentrate on No Country for Old Men while passing a lunatic bundle of white fir and pointy daggers back and forth. (You take her...no, you take her...no...get a chewy...aaarrgh! She's on my back! AAARRRgh! She's biting the cat's tail!...and so it went). I stepped out onto the porch for a breather after our inevitably heated discussion of the movie's ending (I have ideas about what happened there, but will only discuss if you've seen the movie. You'll do well to wait until I've calmed down, actually. I think I actually tired Blake out over it, and he point-counterpoints movie endings and literary twists with more stamina than anyone I've ever met.), and noticed that it was no longer coat weather after dark in Georgia. Well, for that one night. But, I was off and running.
Today, I made plans for this weekend: Digging. Clearing of rubbish. Raking - much raking. And, this afternoon, I bought seeds. SEEEEEDS.
No man, you don't understand. The italics up there convey the culmination of months of meticulous planning, pouring over revelations in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, perusing catalogs over Christmas dinner and the hand-rendering of rather nice little garden diagrams. I pre-set the basket for my order at the heirloom seed site, and saved it a month ago. I discussed with anyone who would listen my need for horseradish to compliment potato growth, beans to pair with tomatoes. I plied Blake for his relative tolerance to jalapeño heat (nuclear, it seems). And then i sent the seeds for about 1/2 of what we'll grow on their way to Georgia. Here's the haul, so far:
- Chinese red and white flower hyacinth beans (for the fences)
- Blue Lake bush beans
- Catskill Brussels Sprouts
- Early Jersey Wakefield cabbage
- Bells of Ireland (flowers my grandmother grew in her garden)
- Tam Jalapeño
- Roberto's Cuban Seasoning bonnet peppers (burning beautiousness)
- Clemson Spineless okra
- New Zealand Spinach (heat and drought tolerant down-underers perfect for the South)
- Envy (a very cool name for a bright green edamame soy bean)
- Spear's Tennessee Green tomatoes (I live with a southern boy, remember)
- Royal Chico roma tomatoes
- Hazelfield Farm slicing tomatoes
- Bianca Dinassia Onions (small, sweet, italian)
- Red Creole onions (blood red, spicy southerners)
- Italian Eggplant (that looks like a speckled dinosaur egg)
The babies are on their way now. No turning back. This could be a miserable failure that sends me back to the cool, tiled arms of Mr. Kroger. Or, it could be a freeing triumph--an amazing victory for someone who has traditionally had somewhere between a jaundiced and cholera-tinted thumb. We'll see.
Apparently in addition to being a very talented musician, songwriter, and all-around smarty pants of a guy, Blake is also a pretty fantastic photographer. Huh. Who knew? (Not me, because the Canon has become sort of an extra appendage for me recently. He's hardly had a chance to touch it.) Anyway, I handed over my digital baby this Saturday morning while we walked through the decimated, post-tornado neighborhood and he snapped away, catching upturned roots, dangling roofs and bowing, rusty signs. Good eye, that one. Check my flickr page for more.
This would be the part of the blog where I wordily take stock of the weekend we've just had around here--the disturbing, bizarre, tiring, uplifting weekend. I'll do it in bullets, I think, because everyone likes a good list. (Well, at least I do).
- Good god, mother nature! That was a bit close for most of us down here. I understand that you are all kinds of angry about the CO2 and the pesticides and all those little automobiles crawling over your skin, but most of us are sorry, and the rest of us know we can do better.
- Hello, friends from
East Atlantaand Midtown and Little 5! Thank you for your texts and phone calls and visits, and for asking if we are ok. You rock. You all get vegetables when the garden is ready for harvest.
- Dear rest of
: We appreciate the interest. You have nice cameras and SUVs and seem friendly enough. But don't you think there's something a bit morbid about driving from Georgia to gawk at the damage? Wouldn't it be more fun to visit one of our fantastic neighborhood restaurants on a day that they're open, or hang out in our cool park and meet people when they are not freaked out that they don't have enough homeowners insurance? Also, you are parked the wrong way on my street and I cannot get out with my truck. We need to go to Lowe's and buy something to re-seal my chimney. Please close your mouth and open up a toolbox to help the people down the street with the 80-foot Oak reclining in the passenger seat of their car--or go home. Thanks! Marietta
This'll be short and pictureless for now as I am at work and in front of a working internet connection for the first time in three days (and also busy as hell).
For anyone who reads here and also knows that I live in the part of Atlanta called Cabbagetown (I'm sure people all over the nation asked "what the hell's a Cabbagetown?" during every national news report this weekend), I am happy to report that me, Blake, my little cottage, and all the pets are just fine. We were home during the whole tornado deal, and I can tell you, as a former resident of the great twister state of Indiana, yeah...that's what that looks like. My father and I sat on the couch, watching the sky turn purple and the lightening blink like a thousand phantom police cruisers for all of 3 seconds before one of us said, "um...we need to go to the middle of the house and duck and cover." Debris smacked the siding, the transformer outside my kitchen window blew up, that weird roar that tornadoes bring with them commenced for a few moments, and then it was quiet. We strolled down the road, accounting for damage, checking on friends' houses, and then spent the next couple days waiting for the power to come on. Blake took some pictures. I'll post them when I get a chance.
Eat food. Not much. Mostly plants. (Unfortunately, that link requires Times login - it's the only way to do this without pasting an entire article here. Get one though. It's free.)
That article is great. Long, but great. But it's really ancillary to what I wanted to say here.
I read an interesting blog the other day that I found had some points to make about food as cultural currency (and about how the "whole" and "local" food movements seem to have some overt white, affluent, liberal leanings). I realized that it's true. We in the whitey class have a lot of time on our hands to wring them over such things. I don't deny it. But I truly think someone has to--so why beat up the messenger? Does it have to be someone surprising who has more to lose for the effort to be valuable? (I ask this a lot, to be honest.) I also I think the writer missed most of the point, which I think is this:
(1) while industrialized food may not likely go away, the current means of production is likely to prove itself broken. Visit the American West and Midwest, cough up the dust that used to be topsoil, and tell me that the way food is grown there is going to last forever? (or has even done all that well in just the last 50 years?)
(2) "Local" food and whole food aren't inherently elitist. Those types of food didn't have any cultural or socioeconomic connotations in the thousands of years before the media and michael pollan (no matter how much i like what he says, he's culpable too) started raving about it. To be honest, for a very long time, all of us, black, white, poor, rich, Brahman and unclean, ate whole and local foods because that's all there was. To that end, whole/local is the definition of food, really - delicious twinkies, high-fructose corn syrup, and the scientific triumph that is the Chilito (or chili-cheese burrito, depending on how long your relationship with Taco Bell has been) notwithstanding. Since the second World War, we--me included--have tended to eat a lot of processed and far-flung food-like substances, even (in my case) after a decent amount of effort toward the opposite. The short version of this is that nature (or God, or Buddha, or the great Spaghetti Monster--you're reading, you choose your deity) generally knows what he/she/it is doin' - and before we stopped listening, our bodies did too. The fact that we sit all day does pack on pounds (as the blog suggests). But until evolution catches up with us and makes us all able to do that without also ballooning to an unhealthy girth (arguing what is "unhealthy" is another conversation), I'd say it's hard to argue that it's unnatural.
But what about all the great things we've achieved that nature hasn't done for us? Doesn't that negate that argument?
I'd say this: we wield a double-edged sword with medicine and technology. We live longer (beyond the body fatigue, complicated or deadly childbirths and childhood ailments that felled our predecessors). But we also poison ourselves, sit still way too much (see above), and clog our body's runways with the trappings of other variations of that technology. You could see it as a manifestation of the law of diminishing returns.
I'm no hippie. I assure you. I drive a gas-chomping pickup truck--in a major American city. (I actually own two vehicles and a motorcycle, to be honest.) Bad, bad bad, my liberal guilt screams, and I let it. I like my chinese-made clothes - because I can afford them. (I also love American Apparel and the like, but a shift in priorities I haven't made yet would have to happen for me to buy primarily from them. Mostly that I could only afford to own 1/3 of what I do now. And I do have some vices. Like fashion.) I watch bad tv and rent movies from Blockbuster. But I'm also much luckier than many. I don't have to shop at Wal-Mart (or, worse, a convenience store) for my veggies. I don't have to drive to work every day. I don't have to buy Costa Rican brussels sprouts - I can grow them in my yard. I don't have to feed any children or meter out a budget to stretch over anyone more than two adults willing to cut here and there if we want to allocate cash to starting a compost heap or buying free-range chicken. I've got choices.
I think the point is - it is easy for me. It's not easy for everyone. And I certainly wouldn't purport to impose that way of life on anyone who didn't want it. But I would say this: through the actions of those for whom it is also not a hardship, we could turn the tide for anyone else who wants to get on board and for whom it is not as easy. Make it easier. So, tell me how a trickle-down effect would be bad, if it's restorative to human health for all of us?
I don't think that's elitist. I'm not saying I "know" what's best for anyone but me. But on the other hand, I can't help but hear the snotty, individualist, farm-country-raised Midwesterner inside me say, "Ok. Then, when you can't find carrots in the store anymore, don't come stealing them from my garden."
The wait is over. Operation puppy, 2008 has commenced, and oh, the cuteness. I'm sure this is kind of like what people always say about their children - that they're hands-down the cutest, but dude, this dog is more adorable than any animal that's ever snuffled my neck and then snuggled in for a nap. As you can see from the picture, she's got this look in her eyes--sleepy, engaged, pure oozy emotional warfare. You must love me, it screams. And Blake and I have totally bought it. Even as she chews on our fingers with little needly teeth and tumbles all over the house as if she's made of bean-bags.
Housetraining is going ok. Leash training is a bit like enticing a brick to follow you because you're holding its favorite food. And crating has been, so far, much easier than expected. (I've never had a dog that treated their crate as anything but pure torture, but Ollie slips in and out of hers all day, and hardly says a peep at bedtime.)
Not sure yet how smart she is (though she's caught on to her name and "outside" in under 48 hours), not sure what she'll be like as she settles in to a new home already occupied by cat (indifferent) and older dog (interested, but cranky). I am pretty sure however, that she's going to be a big girl when she's grown.
At 10 weeks, she's about 15 pounds, and all muscle.
Well, I guess when she's all grown up, we'll have little to worry about with regard to home invasions. I wouldn't want a 65-pound white demon of a bulldog baring down on me, at least.
I have this hair on my chin. A monstrous black cord that projects laterally from a tiny scar just on the crag of my jaw. I remember getting the scar (an unfortunate but sadly not uncommon meeting of a very hyper young me and the solid-wood door jamb in my parents' house). What I don't remember is when I turned into the wicked witch of the west and began growing tree-trunks out of my pores.
Regardless, it's nearly always there, because it seemingly grows an inch a day, and contains all the nerves in my face. It tingles. It zings and zangs. I pluck it out every chance I get, and between, I obsess over it.
This is a not so nice part of my personality that I've realized can sway leisurely between "aw, that's cute. She's making another list," to "Who's that twitchy girl in the corner?" with crazy rapidity. The song-lyric/repetitive word thing is another manifestation.
What's great is knowing that most of the people I know do similarly odd things. I won't repeat too many here to protect the seemingly normal. But I will say that I appreciate that one of Blake's quirks involve hashing and re-hashing how awesome The Replacements are, over and over, as if he's attempting to convert me to a particularly radical religion.
Well, I don't know that I can argue that Paul Westerberg is likely some kind of a prophet.
When I'm not walking with a partner (Jane doesn't count, because she is not quite the sparkling conversationalist Blake is), I generally rock the iPod. The 4 year old, green iPod mini in the matching leather case, thankyou. It's chipped, the navigation wheel is dingy, and the play/pause button works only 1/3 of the time. It's about time for a replacement. But boy, have we had some good times. Especially since I got the kick-ass in-ear headphones in the photo. For a gal with some seriously tiny ear canals (I know, you were insanely curious about the diameter of my auditory head-holes), they're utterly painless. Ow, stretching cartilage. Ahhh, soft, squishy polypropylene.
For the walk to the train in the AM, recently I've been pairing Rilo Kiley, old GNR, and old Replacements with my double-tall nonfat latte. When I'm at work, KEXP on iTunes radio, The Weepies, M. Ward, maybe some Rachel's works well while typing about prostate cancer therapy, organic food suppliers, or energy crises (as my assignments have recently dictated). In the afternoons, I often switch to Tom Waits, something Blake's recorded ('Tiques or Demons), Beck, the new Goldfrapp, Bonobo, and cruising the rest of the office's libraries. I know I'm behind by many months, but I've recently discovered The National (and i'm sorry, but the dude's voice reminds me of The Crash Test Dummies. I'm not sure I'm sold yet.), Band of Horses and Adele that way. On the way home, if we're driving, I'll catch NPR news (it's the only news I really get, save Blake's re-cap of everything interesting he remembers from his daily read of The NY Times). If walking, the whole playlist usually goes on shuffle--though I often weed out Blake's huge Clash collection for deeper dips into Costello, Psapp, and the very often underrated Poe. (Who apparently is locked in some kind of legal dispute with her record label and is unable to put out new albums. Huh.) Oh, and I discovered this dude yesterday. He's Neil Finn from Crowded House's son, so I'm all over that.
...And this concludes a little run through one of the three topics most prevalently and persistently in my head: music. The other two - food and design - are rather fairly represented here often. And will be again, I suspect.
Blake said this as we trailed along the massive wall. He meant it literally, as in "This retaining wall keeps the bodies and coffins from tumbling into the street in the unlikely but nonetheless frightening event of a massive Atlanta flood." But I am also glad, metaphorically, that this epic, 100-year old barrier is between Georgia's old souls and my little house, just around the corner.
(These two statements also illustrate a rather lovely contrast between me and the beautiful Mr. Rainey: the literal and the metaphoric. The pragmatic and the idealistic. What's even more interesting (to me anyway) is that sometimes we switch places...)
Sometimes I forget the camera with the good lenses and the ability to capture crispness (and not blurriness) in low light. Nearly all rock clubs have low or variably unpredictable light. And, as evidenced above, my little pocket standby Casio can't cope.
It is pretty. But poor Justin (left) is a ghostly blur, Blake (middle) looks slightly like he's wearing cropped pants, and other Blake (right) is a headless bolt of lightening.
Usually things only start to look like this after a couple "fussy bitches" (that's Stoli Vanilla and Diet Coke, as coined by our friends at the Yacht Club). But I was driving last night, so all vertigo was in-camera.
Today, one last weekend trip through the neighborhood toward the coffee-shop-dogpark, just Jane and Blake and I. One last trip before PUPPY.
Every time I mention the p-word, it's in screaming, all-caps in my head, so I've started typing it out this way. I'm both exhilarated and terrified to meet the new little bundle of white fluff. I remember having a puppy - the chewing, the whining, the unending river of pee - and I think we've got a logistical handle on these things, but I feel mentally underprepared. I feel as if I need to relish every moment of uninterrupted sleep I can get this week. I feel the need to remind Blake as many times as possible how important it is that he stop leaving socks on the floor, change laying next to his crumpled jeans, cords strewn about, because they will become casualties of pointy puppy teeth and ceaseless nosing about for edible non-edibles. I need to remember to buy puppy food and more chewies. I need to continue to shower miss jane with attention--nobody needs to feel left out. I need a puppy advent calendar with milkbones behind the little doors to tick off the days.
One week and counting.