Sunday, August 24, 2008

Show and Tell

I really intended to post at least twice a week when I started this blog but Fall art show season is coming up and since I seem to have been in a fog this whole summer I've been super busy trying to get some new work finished.
Many thanks to all who came to the
reception at Four Seasons Art and Antiques in Homewood Friday night. These are my friends Julian and Cliff (sorry guys, the pic with your faces was out of focus) who are also artists. Here's Julian's beautiful work. I knew Cliff was a set designer but I just found out he also makes these amazing cakes. He made a wedding cake for Diana Ross. Really. He has the story of how that went on his website and you have to read it.

Julian sent me the nicest email the other day after reading this blog. It brightened up my whole day. So, people, if you're thinking something nice about someone, go ahead and tell them. It matters.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

It's A Nice Place to Visit.......

Now that I've been away for a week and have probably lost the few readers I had, it's time to start blogging again. I was visiting my daughter in Bryson City, North Carolina. Bryson City is a picturesque little town on the edge of the Smoky Mountains Park. If you love visiting the Park but find the Tennessee side too crowded, try it from the North Carolina side. This place has it all - mountains, trails, whitewater rivers, scenic roads with little traffic.

As much as I love this place, I wouldn't want to live here. I can say that because I did live here for a couple of years back at the turn of the century. Talk about peace and quiet - too much of a good thing.

I was here in 2000 and took a job as a census worker. It was the scariest thing I have ever done. I am not allowed under penalty of fines and/or prison to say anything about it but I can say that our training included what to do if you come across a survivalist compound and/or are threatened with a gun (back away and leave as fast as possible. Duh.) I have been up more one lane dirt roads in the mountains than I would have ever imagined existed anywhere. You pray you don't meet another car because there's no way to pass each other. Five miles hanging on the side of a mountain and at the top would be a trailer. See that mountain in the distance above? There's probably a trailer on top. I never could figure out how they got up there. Helicopters?

It was scary but I came to love it and couldn't wait to get started each day. Most people turned out to be kind and helpful ( "I wouldn't try and go up there if I was you") and I wished I could make a career out of asking random strangers personal questions.

If you do ever visit here don't miss tubing on Deep Creek in the Smokies. It is the most fun you'll ever have for $2.00 a day, which is what it costs to rent a tube. Also, if you are a treasure hunter or junker don't miss Fred's auction every Friday at 5:00. It's on the main highway at Almond and the official name is Almond Trading Post. It's one of those country auctions where it's mostly junk but anything could turn up. I've bought several pieces of majolica for less than $20, including a sugar bowl with a book value of $250 for $7.50. I also once bought a Rolliflex camera, mint in the box with a book value of $600 for $10. These things don't turn up often but it's a lot of fun and Fred is a hoot. Minimum bid is $2.00. Tell him the frizzy haired lady from Alabama sent you.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Road Trip

I'm leaving tomorrow for a week long visit to my daughter in the North Carolina mountains. I always get so nervous before a long trip trying to think of everything I need to do before I go and everything I need to take with me. Like they don't have stores anywhere you go. A couple of years ago we were going down to Baton Rouge for an engagement party for my daughter and her fiance that his family was giving. It was a big deal. I had a special new dress and shoes I was going to wear and since the dress was on a hanger instead of the suitcase I was so afraid I was going to forget it. Well we got down there and I had the dress but had left my suitcase by the front door. I had nothing. No shoes, no clean underwear, no makeup, no jewelry, nothing. There was a Walmart next to the motel and in 30 minutes I replaced everything. It wasn't the same but it was better than nothing. So I went to the party in my designer dress and my Walmart shoes.

My other daughter is going with me, thank goodness. It's a long trip by yourself. I've done it many many times and 6 hours is a long trip. It'll be great to get away from this heat down here not to mention see my daughter whom I don't get to see nearly enough and all you people who move far away from home you don't know what you're doing to your mother. The official high today was 96 but my thermometer said it was 106. It's ten o'clock at night now and it's still hot outside.

I've got to go finish packing now. I'm getting more hyped up by the minute and will never get to sleep tonight which is great when you're trying to be on the road by six.

Stay cool.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Walk On The Wild Side

I want to tell you about what happened here summer before last. It's been two years but I still think about it every time I walk down this road, the road that goes past Ronnie's house and down by the lake.

Ronnie was the first one we heard the story from. He was working in his backyard when he had the feeling he was being watched. His dog was staring into the woods behind the house, the way dogs do when they see something they don't understand. Ronnie stood up and looked, seeing nothing at first. Then it moved and he saw it. It was a tiger.

Now Ronnie always has a good story to tell but if you could have heard him tell this story you would have been convinced too. And something had certainly put a long gash in his dog's shoulder. I was working part time at town hall as the water clerk at that time and about a week later a lady came in to pay her water bill and asked if we had heard about the tiger. Her friend who lived on fifth street (I live on third) had warned her to be careful because she had seen a tiger walking across the yards early one morning. Another week another lady, who lived in a more isolated area away from town, came in and said she thought there was a big cougar (Alabama doesn't officially have cougars either) around because she had seen big cat footprints in the dust on a table in her yard, and something had mauled her dog, which was in the fenced yard.

No one had reported losing a tiger but stories continued throughout the summer. Dogs killed by a big animal. Tracks in the mud around the lake. I personally talked to a LOT of people who had seen something.

Now you can imagine the excitement this caused. But then you'd be wrong because seeing a tiger in the Alabama woods is like reporting a UFO or a bigfoot sighting. Oh our little town was all a buzz but the Sheriff's department was not interested and referred calls to county animal control, who basically said, "What do you want us to do about it?" They referred people to Auburn University which has a department in charge of investigating unusual wildlife sightings. They did say they were aware of the problem and were looking for it. The story never made it to the news.

Where did it come from? The word was that a man who lived on several acres on the edge of town and was known to have some exotic animals, was the one who lost it and didn't report it because he didn't have a permit and would face stiff penalties for illegally possessing a wild animal. What happened? Nothing. The stories stopped when Winter came and as far as anyone knows it was never found. It may have been captured but that never made it to the news either. I certainly quit walking my dog down the road where it had been seen.

I wish I had a better conclusion for this story. But that's the way it goes; loose ends don't always get tied up neatly. An unfinished episode of life in our small town. I only wish I had seen it.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

This OCD Life

If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing to excess, that's what we always say. I read the other day that checking your email 50 times a day and/or surfing the web repeatedly is officially considered an addiction. We've always called it avoidance activity. (It's hard to work at home.) Another thing I've always done excessively is read the news. But you know what I did today? I took the News folder out of my bookmarks. I never thought I would be one of those people who say "I don't read the news because it's so depressing", but you know what? I'm not reading it anymore. It was the incident in Canada on the bus that did it. If you've read the news lately you know what I'm talking about. If you don't know, do not, I repeat, do not look it up.

JD made the illustration above with Comic Life and a pic he took with his webcam. We sit back to back at our computers where we frequently instant message each other instead of talking. I am not the neat one in this relationship. What I am saying in the cartoon is really hilarious because it's what my character in a video game, which is our second favorite avoidance activity, says every five minutes in her condescending English accent. It's Rainbow Six and this is her way of urging her fellow terrorist hunter to action. I guess you had to be there.
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