Monday, September 03, 2007

The well is full again...

Good heavens! It's been a while but I'm back (believe it or not by popular demand!)

I do need to backtrack a little, because I have been sorely remiss in not writing about the fantastic art workshop I took a couple of months ago.

This particular workshop took place on the bucolic campus of a private high school in a little town north of us called Sewanee. Like many towns down here, Sewanee boasts a single main street which it shares with Monteagle. Unlike many small towns down here, Sewanee also boasts a beautiful college campus and thriving art community. It's through this art community that these week or two-week long workshops can happen.

For us participants, it's a little bit of heaven on earth, not only because of the beautiful setting, the clean swimming pond and the gourmet meals 3 + times a day, but also because it's a sleepover camp. Yes, you moms and dads out there, this is sleepover camp for grown-up artists for a whole week or two every summer.

The course series is called Shakerag Workshops and the one I attended was taught, or more like coached, by a very charming and talented artist named Andy Saftel. Here's a link to see some of his work, (for some reason his own site isn't working right now)

Shakerag, according to local tradition, comes from the era of moonshine. An enterprising individual with lots of corn on hand would set up a still hidden in a valley somewhere. Anyone wishing to purchase the result of the heavily altered corn would come to a certain stump, raise a stick with a rag attached and wave it around. They would then leave some money under a rock and leave. The still owner would then leave a bottle of his or her best product on the stump for the buyer to collect later.

I can't say I saw any moonshiners in the area, but since there was a fully stocked wet bar in the teachers lounge I guess we didn't need them. I'll bet the school year teachers wished they had this service though.

So what have we got? A beautiful location? check. An excellent instructor? Check. Good food and drink? Check. All the art supplies and subject matter we could think of? Check. Now what's missing? Company!

Probably the best part of the whole workshop was the company we kept. The course I took seemed to attract the rowdiest, most humorous, energetic, talented and warm people around; the cream of the crop in my book. And if that weren't enough, I lucked out and got a terrific roommate, Jenny. This woman not only made sure she didn't wear her cat to camp so I wouldn't die, but had the same taste in comfort and libation as myself.

This proved very comforting when the temperature went haywire in our room and we had to go into survival mode. First the air conditioning wouldn't go off, resulting in a room temp of about 45 degrees for a couple of days. Then it was 'adjusted' and the heat went on, resulting in a day or two of blasting hot wind. (we did finally get it sorted and had a good night sleep the last night). At first no one believed us and everyone kept saying, "Did you open the window?' Uh, yeah, we opened it alright, then we went hunting for the climate unit with a hammer.

I have to say that having Jen as a roommate and partner in crime really added a whole other dimension to this grown-up sleep away camp. We had someone to watch our back and make sure we never ran out of candy, wine or art supplies.

Hey Jen! I promise I'll send the perfume and the disk asap!

Our group was the Pecos Bill of the groups at the camp. We could paint longer (sometimes up to 16 hours in a day), yell louder, drink more, dance better (the Hustle at 2:00 AM), sing in tune and wield a saw better than any other. This was a tough group, some of whom had taught art in public schools in Tennessee, which basically meant they give you a cart, say "fill it" with your own supplies, don't give you a budget and then make you push the cart from room to room trying to do a decent art class. (Thank you "No Child Left Behind...").

I was in awe, having never hung out in a group of actual artist, who do art, a lot, almost everyday, as work! Whoa...who knew? Class supplies included table saws, chain saws, chain links, mud, dirt, dead animals (like this one), loud music, poetry and a flask in every other pocket. I was dragged kicking and screaming away from my usual tiny pictures, delicately done in brush painting style, to making huge pictures on heavy paper mounted on a 5' x 5' piece of plywood, and then sent home with the plywood to do more. (I didn't mention that the class was Mixed Media did I?) Our battle cry was "Where's the Epoxy! Full speed ahead!" and "Hey! where's the dead bat? Did anyone see the dead bat?"

Lest we forget, these are also insanely talented artists who created some pretty outstanding works in the very short time we were at the workshop. I've put a link to the photos in flickr here. There are works from our multimedia as well as some of the other courses; bamboo works, several different textile projects and porcelains.

And finally, when all the other classes were tucked in their beds, dreaming of fine silk and porcelain and bamboo, we were cranking the tunes, feasting on treats brought in by the staff and dancing to the best of the 70's.

Oh, and the Door-Knob dancing, let's not forget the Door-knob dancing.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Man of the week again

Once again my DH has outdone himself and has been voted DH of the week! Was it due to the clean dishes in the dishwasher? Perhaps it was the giant tomatoes that got him a nod...

But no! It is due to his recent biological and archaeological exploits that we congratulate him with this award.

Yes, that man I live with has started a collection of dead animals. This would be fine if we lived in the desiccating desert of Arizona, but we live in the nice moist hot Southeast, where animals mostly fail to dry and proceed to rot instead. And so, when I enter the garage, stepping over his unfinished tomato trelises, boxes from our move and various recycling (which is trying to reclaim itself at this point) I smell a wonderous smell. When I asked him about it he replied,

"Don't ask..." (which should be his nom de plume)

And then, with my powerful deductive reasoning and the fact that he had mentioned finding a dead bat recently, I knew. What I didn't know was how many. Let's just say when I told him to get rid of them or get some salt to desiccate them he returned with quite a lot of salt and quite a few containers. After that I stopped asking.

What does he want to do with these new pets? I'm not sure but I believe they will be displayed proudly as hunting trophies in one of his two offices, especially since the dead deer on the road would take too much salt and we simply do not need another squirril on the wall. Needless to say (although I will) I hope it's not at work, where his patients might see them and think this is the result of his extra special acne cream, although a small sign saying

"RESULTS OF TOO MUCH CIALIS" would be perhaps send a message to our current legislators.

(This is not his bat. This is a bat found at my mixed media seminar, soon to be worked into a piece of artwork as 'mixed media'. What is it with bats this week?)

Powered by ScribeFire.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Southern Dueces

I've written before about the duality that is the Southern US, and today I witnessed yet another, somewhat insignificant and yet highly significant act that I've never seen anywhere else.

Let me set the scene:

It was a cool and cloudy day, unusual in recent days of unusually hot weather. A few raindrops fell in a much more ordered fashion than the big bunch of excited kids weaving around in complete chaos; Today was the graduating 5th grade field trip to an amusement park. For reasons seeming completely mad this morning, I had volunteered to go along. The parents had to drive themselves instead of riding on the bus (DARN!)

There we were, an odd bunch of moms and a dad, the only one in our group. This dad had clearly decided that he was mixing in an environment that was beneath him. He barely spoke to the other parents and kept his head at an angle that led his eyes always above the fray. He seemed to not want to be seen talking with anyone at the park, included the other parents as they might be of dubious parentage themselves. Because of this odd posture he caught my eye and held it, I wanted to see what effect the full adventure would have on him when the first kid dropped ice-cream on his shoe or he grabbed a rail covered in gum.

Upon arrival at the park, where the kids promptly lost what little minds they had left after waking up at 5:30, we discovered many of the rides involved some amount of water; and the air involved some amount of cold. Some of the children had packed so much that it looked like they could survive several days in a blizzard on the Appalachian trail. Others were more lightly geared, as in, they barely had a shirt on their backs and shorts on their bottoms. These ones had a few dollars hidden on their person somewhere, enough for, say, some ice-cream. (They asked for coffee but that was STRICTLY against the rules.) (I did later give in and gave my daughter some warm coffee after her lips turned purple) (The purple wasn't from the cold, it was from the combination of pink and blue cotton-candy she ate all day, she needed something bitter to balance the sweet.)

Big Coffee, Big Smile

The kids, being pre-pubescent and filled with the beginnings of the inferno of hormones, didn't seem to mind the cold and wet at first, but after a while a few of them were shivering. The group retired inside to eat lunch in a warm restaurant for relief and time to dry. I was staying outside, since I had had a serious drop in blood sugar and ate before anyone else. I sat on a bench and admired a sign, right there in public announcing "Shaved Ice and Frosted Nuts!" As I sat I glimpsed 'Frosty Dad' coming out of a shop carrying a pile of bright clothing. He sat stoically, probably not admiring the "Frosted Nuts" sign, nor the t-shirts that said things like "Pull My Finger...", his eyes above the crowd and a big frown on this face.

After a bit the kids came sliding out of the restaurant and we continued our mad march to see who could bear the biggest free fall drop without losing lunch (or maybe who would lose lunch first). It took me about a minute to realize that the kids who had been shivering and without a cover now had on cozy sweat-shirts, just the same colors that the Dad had been carrying. He was no-where to be seen. He had distributed the shirts so quickly, I'm pretty sure the kids didn't even realize who passed them out, they jut put them on (all in the correct sizes mind you) and went on to get splashed by the Alligator of Doom.

I was interested and amazed. There was no fanfare, or gloating superiority. I was pretty sure I was the only one who saw the Dad get the shirts. It was needed for the comfort of the kids and it was done, at some expense, and then everyone moved on without disturbing a hair. The act of kindness was done with smoothness and finess with no attention being brought to the giver and no expectation of acknowledgment.

This goes on a lot down here. Now, the cynic in me, who sits on my right shoulder reading the newspaper all day and flinching, might think this was done out of disgust or arrogance. But I remember a line from a movie with Brenden Frasier (Blast from the Past I think), where he was explaining his lessons of what a TRUE Gentleman or Lady was. It went something like,
 "Turns out, the short and very simple definition of a
gentleman or a lady is:someonewho always attempts to
make the people around him or her feel as comfortable
as possible..."
..." I thought this was an act that captured a little of that sentiment and of course I must think it was done for the right reasons. That way, if I'm called up to the Pearly Gates and asked about the things I noticed here on Earth, after my litany of condemnation of some of the actions of Humanity, I can say, "But many people seem to take care of things and each other for the right reasons..."

That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

People wonder what goes on behind the doors

Most of us know the scene well, we wait in the lobby, and then are admitted formally into the back of the Dr.s office. There are lots of hallways and doors. Then we are settled to wait, and while we wait we wonder how many tongue depressors I could get away with or what would happen if you connect the blood-pressure cuff to the odolaringynoscope. OK I do. (Sometimes this goes on so long it ends with making origami out of pictures of Jimmy Carter from actual Time magazines still in the room) until the nurse and then the doctor finally arrives and announces a hangnail.

However, should one walk into my husband's office, and wonder what is going on in the hallways and behind closed doors, I can tell you.


Yep, Mr. I need to go to medical school to be a fulfilled person, not only set this up but invited his staff to participate in a t-shirt making frenzy for my daughters Destination Imagination team, IN THE FRONT AREA OF HIS OFFICE! (using, of course, non irritating dyes)

Needless to say his staff loves him.

I had to wonder, what did they say when they went in to see patients with rainbow stained white coats that looked like a 'My Little Pony' had thrown up on them?

So dear reader, if you are ever intimidated going into a doctors office, now you know. Look around, maybe some elves are making shoes, or maybe Elvis DOES live but spends his times getting lab samples ready.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Too much to even begin to Blog

Heaven help me, there has been so much going on in the last month that I couldn't even begin to know where to start, so I'm making public mental notes so I'll remember to write more about these.

Let's see...

There was the American Lung Association Bayou Ball staring "Here comes the Mummies" (a band dressed in mummy costumes, and not on Halloween)
Side Note: Lots of Mummy bun grabbin' and not by the men...

Then there was the Signal Mountain fund school fund raiser "A Night at the Prom" starring all the respectable people on Signal Mountain recapturing the Horrors of their prom nights, mainly in the 80's.
Side Note: post pictures, there were some of the promwear were doozies.
Also, you CAN get anything on e-bay!

Spring has sprung in Chattanooga, which means everything started to bloom and leaf and then a hard frost killed everything all over again.
Note: Remember Dogwood and Blackberry winters next year.

Robb gets botox. Yes the doctor finally gets a taste of his own medicine; and guess what? It smarts a little.

Our dog got his summer haircut...right before the hard frost. But it's ok since there was no dog inside all that fur. But I must say, what was left was pretty cold for a week or two.

We attended the 4 Bridges Art Festival which has a sign that looked like 4 pairs of women's underwear. Not sure if this was on purpose or not.
Note: All the 'local' artists we gravitated towards ended up being from Seattle.
This was very weird. They all wanted lessons on how to speak Southern.
We told them to just add a couple of syllables onto every word.

We're also taking volunteers to help us unpack our last 25 boxes that don't seem to be unpacking themselves. And guests are coming in a couple of weeks. Hey! wait a minute...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Nacho Dog

The other day I overheard my daughter yelling at our dog,

"Nacho dog! Nacho dog!"

I asked her why she was calling him Nacho Dog, picturing the dog on a bed of chips with guac and salsa. Her reply,

You always say Bindi is Nacho, that he's a Nacho little dog!"

Macho sweetie, he's a Macho little dog."

"Oh, what's Macho?"

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Now we're in the 'South'

And we thought we were in the South.

Ney gentle reader, we were but in the Southern South. We had not yet experienced the languid and lugubrious south of the Carolinas yet. This is the South of small children who do no say "pig", but "swwwwiiiiiiiiinnne". This is miles upon miles of mobile homes along the highways, seemingly placed just so in case someone should want to expand the highway; the homes could be moved in a moments time. This is the south where, as one young lady explained,

"We've nevah beeen outsahd North Carahlina to Virginia befoah."

as we sat consuming Meat and Three* in a cozy Bar-b-cue joint named Little Richard decorated with all sorts of animal parts. The main theme inside was pig decor (as though Little Richard was somehow an apt symbol.) In fact, we had a lively debate over whether the coat hooks were supposed to be pigs feet or deer hooves. The proprietor just said,

"Well, they's supposed to be deer feet Ah think."

I should've snapped a photo for yah'll to judge for yaselves.

The pace of life here is beyond slow. If a police car spots someone speeding, they don't give chase, they just wait until the culprits come around again, which they must surely will.

Varmints crossing the road don't even hurry, since they know they've got more than a fighting chance against the sidling traffic. And, of course, as in everywhere else in the South, we can never rush into a store or restaurant, get what we want and go. It is the height of rudeness not to 'pass the time' for a bit before getting down to business.

Me: "Help!, where's the fire extinguisher, my hairs on fire!"

Store Keeper: "Well well, young lady, are yah'll from these parts? You sound like Yankees, now not meanin' to be rude or anything. Have you ever been to New York? Those folks really move. What's that you need?"

Me: "Ahhhhggha!"

The upside of the pace of life is that you DO get to know a lot of people, their dogs, children, grandchildren, dentist and proctologist. Folks will stand there and question you about everyone you know, not to be rude, but to find some sort of connection. Eventually one always turns up. Their third cousin's wife's lawyer is actually one of your patients, or the girl who trims their dog was living in Seattle at the exact same time and was your next door neighbor. People care about these connections, they make you family and that means warmth and kindness all around. Here is a true story:

A friend in Boulder, Colorado gave me a knitting book called Mason Dixon Knitting. The writers of the book write a blog. I checked the blog and saw that a group of women from somewhere around Chattanooga went up to Nashville for a knit-along. I hadn't found a group to knit with yet and so I wrote to the author of the blog in Nashville asking if she could forward my e-mail to those knitters in Chattanooga. 2 days later I received and e-mail from one of the knitters and called her up. Turns out the group of knitters is not just from around Chattanooga, they are in my neighborhood of Signal Mountain and one of the main places they meet is just down the street. (Hi Beth and Karen!)

Also, it turns out that this group is a talented group of artists who are members of a number of art associations which my DH and I have been looking for. It also turns out that the people taking over the book keeping for my DH's office is the family of a couple of the knitters in the group. (and when I say family I mean 'Family' with an Italian last name, I think they're just book-keepers rather than book-makers...(just kidding Karen...))

So, connections, it's all about connections, one way or another. And luckily, because my DH is a Dermatologist, there will be no swimming with the fishes for us!

*The 'Three' in Meat and Three stands for vegetables, in most cases potato, corn, and canned green beans.

powered by performancing firefox

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Well that's Weird...

Did you know that most Southerners don't say 'weird'? Nor do they say 'you guys'. Also, and don't ask why I noticed this one, they don't say 'boogers'.

The exception to all of this is Florida, which is really an exception to everything anyway.

In the South they* say:

"Well that's mighty strange..."
"All ya'all come over here ya hear?"
"Wipe off that snot, would ya' please?

In the South they* also don't say, "What's that?" (as in "I didn't quite hear that".)

They* say, "Do what?" To which I usually say, "Huh?"

And finally there's the "Oh Bless Her Heart.." (All starting with caps)

This saying is more complex and can mean several things:

1. "Oh that poor wreck of a person, she is completely hopeless and will always be so."
2. "I can say anything nasty or mean that I want as long as I say 'Bless his heart' so he knows I'm really not SO mean and I am blessing him after all."

I'm assuming these are the things said instead of:
"You moron for God's sake, pull yourself together!"

*I can't honestly say 'we' here, since I still yell, "Come home you guys!" to call my kids inside and I regularly use weird and booger around my house since my kids are still in elementary school.

Well, thank ya'll for visiting my blog and I'll see all ya'all as soon as I get a tissue for this strange bit'a snot there on that child....bless her heart.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Little Book of Magic

Angels are singing, birds are chirping and I am so excited I could spit. At least, I think that's what we here in the South do.

Why this explosion of ecstasy usually reserved for a new ice-cream? Because I am now the proud owner of a new passport. Yep. Me. I am official and I have a little book with my picture in it to prove it. And even almost as good, it took less than a week to get. I did pay the extra money to get it expedited, which I thought meant it would come in perhaps 5 weeks rather than the usual 6. This is the Government people...nothing takes 5 days.

Those of you who are passport pros are probably wondering why all this babble, especially about a little book that represents the tragic state of the world in that we cannot blithely and innocently go and visit whom ever we want any time we want. (glad to get that off my chest) However, this little book also means big things. It means adventure is waiting just around the corner and it reminds me of the wonders I experienced when last I used this little book, nearly 20 years ago. (Which is why I needed a new one)

Now that I have my little book, and I have seen that it is not so very aggravating to obtain, I must fly and get little books for the rest of the family so that we can all go on adventures together. That way, if we all want to rent bikes in Holland, we just whip out our little passports and say, "Tak, I vonten ein reddish bicicle danks."

And, BTW, my last travel companion on big adventures has been my life companion for nearly 20 years, so the little book is a reminder of that small accomplishment.

powered by performancing firefox

Saturday, January 06, 2007

End of 2006

Now that the holiday season has taken a hiatus, until the Groundhog Day sales begin again and the newspaper takes on that large and bloated look due to ad indigestion, I think it’s time to look back at the end of 2006 in our family and post a few pictures that I didn’t have a chance to post earlier. Here in the South the ‘Holidays’ are huge. It’s the time when everything is happening at once. Every event happens in a two-week time period before school break. One of those events is the annual school concert parade of proud parents and durgy music designed to make you swell with pride and then burp loudly during the second act.

The tickets for these two torturous hours of the slowest version of Jingle Bells I’ve ever heard, set us back $14 dollars apiece. They were supposed to be $7 but I left the first set at home and we had to buy 4 more. The event was set in the city theater, the Tivoli, a very nice venue to be sure. However, even huge chandeliers and beautiful drapes were not enough to keep our 6 year old entertained, and so I joined many other pairs of rotating parents in the lobby, all of us feeding our children M&Ms one at a time to keep them quiet and happy. The other reason for our stay in the lobby was the two giant (like, 25 ft. high) and frightening Nutcracker banners hanging in the back of the stage. These were the ugliest meanest Nutcrackers we had ever seen and most of the younger kids were afraid to look at them.

Because the schools in our area decided to have all their concerts here rolled into one we only actually saw our daughter from afar. In fact, it may or may not have even been our daughter. Luckily we took the correct one home with us.