Thursday, May 31, 2007

Classy insults

George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill, and Churchill's reply:

I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my play. Bring a friend, if you have one.

I cannot possibly attend the first night. Will attend the second, if there is one.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007 next? locusts?

We’re having a 50-year drought here

Groundwater levels are dropping statewide. Many wells are approaching their average yearly low water level, which is reached normally in late summer or early fall. Little if any widespread, sustained relief from the drought is anticipated. The long-term outlook is for the drought to continue to intensify. Drought conditions continue to worsen across the entire state. Of Georgia's 159 counties, 74 are classified as being in extreme drought, 79 in severe drought and six in moderate drought.

We’re having wildfire smoke here

Fire conditions throughout the region are the worst in decades, and fires are expected to burn throughout the area for at least another six weeks. In the past few weeks, smoke from wildfires has impacted metro Atlanta, with reduced visibility at Hartsfield International Airport, as well as the towns of Athens and Columbus, which are more than 250 miles from fires burning in southern part of the State.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Man vs. wild imagination

I share with you my current fave shows: The Deadliest Catch, about the Bering Sea crab fishermen, and Man vs. Wild, about Bear Grylls showing how to survive in the wild if you become a stranded hiker etc. Manly shows! Full of bravado and swearing!

Bear is the quintessential man's man, having been in the British Special Services and parachuted here and there saving people and getting his men out of impossible jams. Never mind the Marines that do more before breakfast than we do all day, Bear does more before getting out of bed than we do our whole lives.

BTW, the Deadliest Catch's narrator is the Mike from Dirty Jobs. BAM! Kick it up a notch! I love the smell of testosterone in the morning.

So anyway, in last night's repeat episode of Man Vs Wild, Bear stranded himself in the European Alps and showed how to get out alive. At one point, reconstructing a 'what to do when you fall in the frozen lake' scenario unfortunately endured (fatally) in recent times by a Swiss hiker, Bear jumped in the lake. To avoid hypothermia, you have to strip off the wet clothes and do some other things, which I cannot remember anything after he stripped.

So I was googling that scene, to view it again on either video or to read about it on the chat boards. High minded reasons, you see. I typed in "Bear Grylls naked" and came to a blog entry of a show fan who complained that too many people were typing "Bear Grylls naked" on Google searches. I hate being a cliche.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Offbeat art show will highlight Portland Maine

Art TV show features cross-country search for offbeat, kitsch

A new 8-week art show called "Artland: USA" will debut in the fall, and includes stops at 50 cities nationwide, inlcuding Portland, Maine. They are looking for America's most offbeat, kitschy art.

"The show's eight-member crew this month kicked off filming the second season in Florida and will cross the country in a Winnebago for eight weeks of filming America's most offbeat, kitschy art, ending in Alaska in July" states the AP article.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Current addictions

Bear Grylls
He is hot! And his tips could save my life too, but man, he’s hot! Man vs. Wild on Discovery. Holy moly, read his Bio. He parachutes into wild remote areas in the world where tourists/hikers/rafters typically get lost and then shows you how to survive and get out. Build an ice cave! Make a raft to float the rapids! Avoid vipers in the desert! Outsmart a rhino! Bear does it all, and usually without a shirt.

Cup of Karma Café's...
...Asian salad with pecan encrusted salmon. Spinach, almonds, mandarin oranges, feta cheese, crunchy noodles, and that chilled pecan encrusted seafood delight on top. Yum yum!!!! Addicted...and the Cafe is only 4 miles from my home. Oh no.

It’s another case of a show has been on for 16 years but I'm just finding it now. I love the videos of pets and kids, especially the babies' expressions when they eat prunes etc. And the ones where too many jumpers are on the trampoline just slay me. I mean, can't they see it coming??

my new4X4
Vroom vroom

Monday, May 21, 2007

On Bush, Carter, and Fratto's retort

I read an article from the Associated Press this morning “White House Hits Back at Carter Remarks.” This was a response to former President Jimmy Carter’s stated opinion of current President Bush’s foreign policy administration as “the worst in history.” No matter what one thinks of President Bush, no matter what one thinks of President Carter, no matter what one thinks of what Carter said about Bush, I was disappointed to hear the retort made by White House spokesman Tony Fratto. Fratto said, "And I think he [Carter] is proving to be increasingly irrelevant with these kinds of comments."

It was a not so subtle dig at Carter’s age. Unfortunately, 'irrelevant’ is how many people in America view older people. What a shame that the man who speaks for the leader of the free world characterizes 83-year old vital, Nobel Peace prize winning humanitarian-statesman-author Jimmy Carter as “irrelevant,” and during Older Americans Month no less. This is the best that Bush's people could come up with? Here is a sample response which Mr. Fratto can feel free to use:

"While we respect President's Carter's contributions on the world stage, we are saddened to hear of his opinion of this Administration's work on behalf of the American people."


"We have no comment to make about any one particular opinion but we respect the individual's right to speak their opinions freely here in America even as we remember that those same rights are denied to others in foreign lands."

Is that so hard?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

My new (to me) vehicle

I've gone SUV. Between all the deer crashes around here and the fact that every other person either is a stay at home mom with a huge van or a farmer with a truck, I feel safer going with the flow and getting a larger vehicle. And it was a good deal. Very good.

Ford Explorer Limited, 1993, burgundy with roof rack to fog lights and even a CD player inside. Best of all, A/C that works!! Stylin'!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

How did I do without this before?

Having more time on my hands the other day than was entirely necessary, I decided to "personalize" my home page on Google.

I use gmail for my business, and I go to the Google search page a lot, so I decide to take Google up on their offer and put more gadgets on a personalized home page. I used to think those were silly. Now I think personalized home pages are as important as sliced bread. Or the next thing to it.

Right at the top, of course, I put my mail. And the time and calendar, so I can check to see how long it has been since the last time I checked the home page. And weather, very important in the Deep South, where soon I will read the thermometer with all the fascination of rubbernecking accident victims, as the mercury will climb to the three digits and stay there for two months or more. It's the same as in the north and you call your neighbor and say, "Well. It's 3 degrees out. Wind chill 22 below. How 'bout that," with all the tone of a gloating martyr supremely satisfied at how tough we can take it. "Well. It's 102 out. Heat index 226 degrees. Humidity 2000 percent. How 'bout that. Think I'll take a walk." Yes, I want the weather right at my fingertips.

In the second tier I have news from CNN and the AP because I'm supposed to be a grownup and care about "Rise in Foreclosures Will Not Hurt Economy" and 'Estonia suspects Kremlin in Web attacks.' But then comes all my fru-fru widgets that make having a personalized page worth it. I have lots of "...Of the Day" widgets. Art of the Day, very cool. Yesterday was something by the Van Limburg brothers, a Renaissance piece I took quite a liking to, "The Healing of a Possessed" with a cherub-looking all-black demon flying out of some guy's head that Jesus is praying over, with the audience standing by going "How 'bout that." There's a link so you can find out more about the artist.

National Geographic Photo of the Day, shows me just how far I have to go to take a good shot. Like an ant walking to the moon. Some nice pictures, she said with Yankee understatement. And the Cat of the Day. This one tickles me. The shots aren't all that great, usually a cat lying there or sitting there, and its name. Sometimes the photographer got creative and took one with the cat nestled on his laptop, or curled up in a sink, or got its head jammed in the water glass. But I love seeing the endless variety of cats, shapes, sizes, names. Cats are cute, darnit. Sometimes I refresh the page just to see another one.

The widget I like best is the "Local gas prices" for my zip code. You can scroll down and see what the places around here are charging today. I've been watching one particular store all week, consistently the lowest at $2.69/gal. So naturally I put off getting gas until I was so low on fuel that the 'you are about to become stranded in rural GA' light came on and the only place nearby happened to be charging the highest amount in the list. But it was good to know I got gas at the most expensive place in the zip code that day.

So that's my personalize home page. It sure doesn't take much to amuse me. How 'bout that.

Monday, May 14, 2007

This is not yard art

The bunny is real. He is on my lawn. Thomas the tom cat pranced by, the cat not looking at the bunny, the bunny not looking at the cat. A peacable kingdom. For now.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Southern Recipes

A friend just gave me a bunch of down home Georgia covered dish recipes. It was quite an act of love to hand them over to me. In the stuffed envelope were recipes for Sweet Potato Pie, Earthquake cake, Tea Cakes...they are written on backs of envelopes, scraps of paper with writing going slanted and smaller as the writing travels down the page, spotted yellowed papers that indicate old timey recipes long loved. The recipes are arrayed on my table so I can look them over. Notice Abby's nose in the top right hand corner...she plunked herself down in the middle of the table and is sniffing everything before settling down exactly where I need to lay the recipes. Hello Abby!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Now you know why I call her Abbess

I recently got DSL and now I can freelance from home. I have made a mini-office on my sleek, retro fifties formica topped dining table and around me are all the tools I need to have a nice at-home kingdom. Clockwise, books to refer to, and under them, the daily newspaper, obligatory cold water, equally obligatory remote controls for the tv and the stereo, my art journal (I plan to make an entry later) stack of mail and correspondence to take care of, and laptop complete with Post-It reminding me to call someone for an interview. The recipes are arrayed so I can look them over, a friend just gave me a bunch of down home Georgia covered dish recipes and I am checking them out.

Bursting in on the scene and making Herself eminently comfortable smack in the middle, is Abby, AKA The Abbess.


Cats rule.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Hull, Georgia


BW Hutchins


BW's wife Becky.
Paul Elkins,
and his wife Becky.

and... Princess Smith.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Consider Sunshine

Composer W. R. Williams said in his 1908 song “Ev'rybody's Happy When The Sun Shines.” I know I’m happier when it’s sunny out. I love sunny days, and I love to feel the warmth on my back, see the livening pastures in the morning as the shadows retreat and the sunrays get strong. Sun is a precious commodity where I’m from, Gray, Maine.

My former town’s name, Gray, is depressing to be sure. Coastal Maine is cloudy, with a lack of sunshine and what sun there is isn’t strong. It gets to you after a while.

On average, Portland, Maine has about 101 sunny days a year. Athens, Georgia has about 113. Twelve extra days of sunshine might not seem like much, but that is an addition of one sunny day per month!

“Our appreciation of sunshine is one of the most important advances of the century," remarked an eminent Canadian physician in the opening sentence in the Canadian Medical Association Journal 1927 editorial entitled “The Importance of Sunshine.” The author stated, “This means that for over four months of the year, nature usually so lavish in her distribution of the essentials for life distributes these rays only sparingly to Canada.” And sparingly to nearby Gray, Maine, too.

When I decided to move from Gray to NE Georgia, I eagerly anticipated the sunshine. “It’s sunny and warm there!” I told my parting friends. It was the thing I looked most forward to. I’ve been here for seven months and I’ve enjoyed the fall, winter, and spring. But last week there were a few days that were really hot. Egad, the temps reached nearly ninety! Locals here laughed when I told them that in the north a heat wave is pronounced when the temps rise above 90 degrees for 3 or more consecutive days. They said that that soon I can expect three consecutive months of ninety degree weather. Egad!

Immediately I began to think of the sun as a nemesis instead of the blessing I had previously thought it. I reviewed my wardrobe, now un-content with the clothing I had. I dreaded the sun now because of the heat it would bring.

And then one day while having a long, chastising conversation with myself, I told myself to get over it. I am where I am and every blessing is still a blessing. He sun was a blessing before and it still is. I know that the drought is deep, the sun is hot, and the dryness is dire. But I decided to appreciate the sunshine in good times and bad. During drought or fresh dewy mornings, whether warming the spring flowers or wilting this hot Yankee.

It is the same sun, whether shining on seeds that are scorched, and because they had no root, they withered away; and the seeds that fell onto good ground and bring forth good fruit. It is me that has moved. I decided to stay with my original mid-set and see the sun as a blessing, no matter how hot Comer gets. But I admit I did add one more thing to my growing list of things to be thankful for: air conditioning.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Relay for Life a time to celebrate

Last night was the Relay for Life event, a very huge deal here in Madison County. In this little place of five towns and 25,000 souls, the Relay For Life annually raises between $80,000 - $100,000 for cancer research. It seemed that the whole county was there last night at the recreation field. A covered stage offered continuous entertainment, from a lone gospel singer to the baton twirlers twirling fire after dark to the pig kissing contest.

(Above, the Survivor Lap. This year's event had the most survivors ever. Half had passed by my spot already so that gives you an idea of how many people are dealing with or have dealt with cancer.)

It was a great time for visiting, celebrating life, and honoring those we’ve lost to the dread disease. And the food! I had a chance once again to try local food delicacies. I’ve already sampled “biscuits.” They are ubiquitous as a plain accompaniment to soups and stews, as well as being filled with egg, bacon, or cheese. Or all three. While the breakfast sandwiches in Maine usually are standard egg-cheese and meat, in Georgia you have to specify. If you ask for a biscuit with bacon, that’s what you get, a biscuit with bacon in it. No egg. No cheese. I decided I am not a fan of biscuits.

A local delicacy I tried for the first time last night was a “low country boil.” It was spicy boiled shrimp, boiled potato, corn on the cob, and sausage. It is a Maine lobster bake except with shrimp. Fantastic! What a nice break from the usual pork-pork-pork offerings.

Another person insisted I try “stew” or its full name, “Brunswick (GA) stew.” Wikipedia says “recipes for Brunswick stew vary greatly but it is usually a tomato-based stew containing various types of lima beans/butter beans, corn, and other vegetables, and one or more types of meat. Most recipes claiming authenticity call for squirrel or rabbit meat, but chicken, pork, and beef are also common ingredients. Some versions also give the stew a very distinct, smoky taste, which occasionally has a bit of a kick to it.” It was good. I hope I was not eating the squirrel kind, though. (Right: Cancer strikes anyone, at any age. This l'il tyke is a survivor.)

Finally, my friends gave me a “fried apple pie.” One of them had made a batch and brought to sell at the Relay. It’s a crescent shaped turnover lightly fried and filled with apple-applesauce. I am sure that she is a great cook, many of the women down here are. But I decided I am not a fan of the fried apple pie either. So I am batting 500:

Brunswick Stew and Low Country Boil on the plus side
Biscuits and Fried Apple Pie on the debit.

In any case, all the money spent last night on food, vendors, and services went to the American Cancer Society, which is a very good thing.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

How DSL can improve one's life

Today I wrote two stories and 11 captions, totaling 2330 words, formatted 11 photos to the tune of 25 megabytes, interviewed three people, and made appointments with two more for tomorrow.

I researched "There's Hope for the Hungry" food ministry online and read the Portland Press Herald Online as well as The Monument, the Banner Herald, and Google news. I am up to speed.

I checked my PO box mail, sent a birthday card to my sister, and delivered the paper to a friend, who is featured in it this week. I dropped off money I'm donating to a local church for their food ministry, and got information from the Pastor about some other things going on.

I also ate two healthy meals and drank 6 glasses of water.

I did all this because I have DSL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just got it last night!

Because I don't have to drive around the entire county looking for an available fast internet teminal!!!!!!!!!! And grab something to eat on the go! And miss phone calls! And chew through gas!

Dial up sucks.