Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Architecture and Oreos

My appreciation for this article has less to do with the fact that I absolutely hate the emergence and growing popularity of e-books, Kindles, and Sony Readers - I just think there's something to be said for holding a book in your hands, feeling the pages, seeing notes you've or someone else has written - and more so with the fact that "shelves" as a snapshot of the person we've been, the person we are, or the person we hope to be is just really compelling...and kind of beautiful.

"Shelf Life" from Louisville Magazine (March 2010)
Bob Hill

"One thing we did after moving into our well-worn farmhouse was to build a library in its wide, front-door hallway, lining one wall with shelves of books, another with family pictures, plaques and the nostalgic debris of lives fully lived. The books had followed us around for years, growing in scope and volume with each stop. (In truth, they sat in the hall in cardboard boxes for years until we accumulated enough inertia and money to hire a carpenter.)

Once finished, the hallway became a room unto itself - more than a passageway to our bedrooms or a front door never used. It had purpose and place. It defined who we were, what we read, which family images we wanted to display - and wanted others to see. All those things had become part of the architecture, the ambiance, the life of our house.

So what will our lives - our houses - be like when all that information is only stored on a digital picture frame or a Kindle?

I'll spare you the perhaps expected rant of another old guy denying the byte-sized future; there are obvious time-related and financial benefits to downloading words and images. I just see nothing warm, cozy, or comforting in having all my family photos and all the books I've ever read compressed into flat black computer gizmos the thickness of a pizza.
Think of all the homes you have visited in which the most comfortable room or place to be found was lined with books. Indeed, the most impressive private room I have ever seen in my life is the library at Oxmoor Farm in Louisville. It is a vast cathedral of books - wide, expansive, breathtaking - a surround of hundreds of leather-bound volumes rising to the sentence.

My library is a bit more modest - and subject to periodic purges. After each, surveying its shelves is like looking into a mirror; my life and all its still-relevant interests are looking back at me, even surprising me. On the far right are all my garden books, two and three deep with books laid sideways on top, their titles ranging from Elegant Silvers to Annuals for Connoisseurs to the more prosaic Viburnums.

Poetry books arch across my library garden - Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, T.S. Eliot, Robert Browning, Edgar Lee Masters, W.H. Auden, Wilfred Owen, and nearby, of course, Dr. Seuss. Not too far from the author of Cat in the Hat are two battered volumes of the Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant, published in 1885 and bought off a hay wagon at a farm auction 100 years later. I've had them appraised; they're worth about $10 Confederate.

There is no one bookcase theme - a journalist's curse. Roger Kahn's nostalgic classic The Boys of Summer is just a few volumes down from Stephen Crane's blood-soaked The Red Badge of Courage. Naturalist Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is carefully observing Henry David Thoreau's On Walden Pond. Above them looms the 483-page tome The Works of Plato - a book I must have kept around for appearance's sake or as a doorstop.
I just cannot imagine - I don't want to imagine all those books, all those great voices, tucked into a single black box lying on a bare shelf. Each is a physical reminder of where my mind has been, where it is going. Some days you want to judge a book by its cover."

Some of the places my mind has traveled...

I haven't done a recipe in a while so I figured my comeback entry should be healthy and incredibly complex.

Start with your favorite chocolate chip cookie dough recipe (I used a packaged mix; added a stick of butter and one egg). Put a teaspoonful on a greased cookie sheet. Stick an orea in the center and push it down so the dough encases it a bit. Put another teaspoonful of dough on top of the orea and try to "connect the dough." Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10-12 mintues.
I love that there are bananas in the background.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Yard tasks that have "wicky wacky" written all over them

It's amazing what one can get accomplished when they wake up at 3:30 am raring to go.
Started with some super important Facebooking and Lucy/Willie visiting. Made it to Mom's by 5:00 (both because I needed to feed & clean stalls and because I had no breakfast food in my house...and I'm one of those people who likes to eat when they wake up, not after coffee/stretching/shower). After a gigantic bowl of oatmeal, I did barn duty and returned home to get ready for work. Library from 9-12. Tompkinsville Wal-Mart (where I once again saw Debbie Messenger - she likes to follow me around sometimes). In between, did a few little projects...
I ordered a umbrella-style clothesline off Ebay. It shipped within 2 days. I decided today was the day to tackle it.
Got a little worried at this point.
The instructions said I needed a hole 8-10" in diameter and 20" deep. I grabbed Dad's post hole digger from the barn and my trusty hand shovel. And for the record, the instructions also said I should pour concrete, a step I chose to ignore.
Looked about 20" to me.
Since I didn't pour the concrete, I decided not to add the extension pole (it actually can stand about 3' higher than this), but I may try it out tomorrow to see how much "wiggle room" exists when the wind blows. I put gravel at the bottom of the hole, put the plastic tube in, filled around it with dirt, compacted it, added the actual rod, and then added more dirt and rocks around the base.
Hung my new flag (Ebay).
Finally took down the Christmas wreath and put up this one (borrowed from Mom).
Already had my compost pile and part of one raised bed done. Did a second bed (using landscape timbers from Browns) and finished the first one.
Plan to put down old feed sacks before filling with compost.
Took the Christmas light strands out of the front yard tree using this genius Billy Key creation (they have been up for two Christmases I think - they were here when I moved in in early December...and they were in the awfulest tangles and knots. I know, awfulest isn't a word).
I'm telling ya, genius.
Decided a bird feeder would be a good replacement.
Instead of making a rain barrel, I decided to reserve one from PRIDE (Personal Responsibility In a Desirable Environment). PRIDE is a nonprofit organization that encourages sustainable ecological, agricultural, and buying practices throughout 38 southern and eastern Kentucky counties. As stated on the website, www.kypride.org, it "links citizens with the resources of local, state, and federal agencies to improve the region's water quality, clean up solid waste problems, and advance environmental education."

Each year, PRIDE partners with local school districts to make, paint, and sell rain barrels. Although they will not be ready until April 15, you can call 888-577-4339 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 888-577-4339 end_of_the_skype_highlighting to reserve one. Not only will the painting/design be really cute, but the barrels will come fully assembled, have a faucet, and be ready to attach to the gutter. I honestly can't wait to see the students' vision of PRIDE initiatives.

*Just so you know: watering lawns and gardens accounts for nearly 40% of total household water use during the summer. Rain barrels can thus save you money in addition to reducing rainwater runoff.
*Thanks Gina Shaye for bringing the latest PRIDE newsletter to the library!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cause It's Simple

Losing someone you love - whether by death, circumstance, or choice - is always harder than enduring any kind of physical pain. It's difficult to figure out how to just "be," when that part of your life that made the everyday so "normal" is gone. What I've learned over the past few months, though, is that despite the questions, regardless of the hurt, and overlooking the need for explanation that can likely never exist, there can be a sense of peace at any end. When you know that you, without a single doubt, loved completely everyday, you realize that it simply is what it is. There's no desire to let go, but there is an ability. The pain doesn't inspire second guessing or "what if"s; it reminds you that that person or that life was worth it. Love completely.

And, if that doesn't work, occupy yourself with things that make you laugh, stuff that interests you, or side projects that allow you to get in completely over your head. My weekend plans: constructing and painting a rain barrel, finish building my raised beds, buy starter plants for the garden, clean out window boxes and flower pots, drink coffee with lots of flavored coffeemate, drink lots of DDP, play "come over here and give me a hug" with Isabella, take Lucy and Willie hiking, hang new pictures, eat pancakes.
Do a lot of front porch sitting, too. Maybe Brad Garner will call me and sing "Just a Swingin." - Oh, Leigh Ann, she had 'em wrapped around her finger even in Kindergarten.
May watch a few of the DVDs we were going to sell at the Library. As you can see, my interests are varied. Vickie: "Do you really want the egg one?" Liza: "I love stuff like that."

Monday, March 14, 2011

I've got this feeling, that time's just holding me down

And it has only taken me 13 years...

Some of my favorite finds from Day One of "you are too old to still have 'high school boxes'."

The ceramic plate I made for our "Fear" integrated unit place setting. We picked historical figures who we would characterize as "fearless." I thought I was so clever with my Muhammad Ali plate.
What? There's something wrong with having your junior and senior prom glasses - one that even still has the candle in it?
Probably no more persuasive evidence of the necessity of art classes in school.
As Ora Clay and I discussed in the Library a couple of weeks ago, there is absolutely nothing wrong with retelling stories of one's 5th place finish at the State Track Meet.
One of the best decisions of my life; had I not attended the Governor's Scholars Program, I probably would've never gone to Centre (and subsequently, met Caroline Dale Kraft).
And in one of the "Random" containers...
Dad brought Leigh and me back belts from one of his Oklahoma trips.

I don't pretend to be super religious, but this is one of my favorite things I found today. First page: "To Liza Marie from Mama and Daddy."
I dismantled trophies today. I can honestly remember being at Monticello's gym for both tournaments and diving after balls, running into bleachers, probably taking a few cheap shots when I had the chance. I used to be a tiny bit competitive. Glad I got over that...
In addition to bringing them down to the front yard during birthday parties, Dad would let us take our ponies, Pete and Cindy, to the fair. I'm pretty sure everybody's trophy read "1st."
I'm shocked that when I emptied these two boxes, I found five random arms. I packed my cherished teddies and birthday dolls so carefully.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Oh, bite me Phil Collins

Suggestions for a bad day... Make your own flower arrangement. Eat 1/2 box of Golden Grahams in 2 days.
Youtube some of your favorite commercials.

Put your sunroof down and find a song that makes you smile (I'm hoping the video shows up; if not, it's one of my car radio while "Rhythm of My Soul" plays).

Say "that's right, bitches." About anything.