Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cumberland County, I'm getting ready to fuss on you...

Let me start by saying: I'm no rigid tree-hugger who makes my own toilet paper, or knits what would surely be multi-patterned and grossly uneven sweaters for myself, or rides my purple mountain bike (the one that: 1. I, in fact, bought at Wal-Mart and 2. has had a flat tire for roughly two years) to work every day, or who alienates potential partners with pretentious, unrealistic initiatives.


I like to garden. I appreciate a home-cooked meal. I choose to buy locally as often as possible. I attempt to reuse and recycle old materials. As much as I enjoy driving an old pickup truck with the windows down, I like my fuel-efficient hatchback a little bit more. I think there's something to global warming. Wastefulness - be it of food or paper or ability - frustrates me. I care about how animals, even those that I inevitably eat, are treated. I hate driving by that "farm" just prior to Summer Shade, the one that has far too many cows on far too little land. I appreciated having plastic and paper recycling trailers in Burkesville. ...


For months and months, I've been taking my recyclables to the county garage drop-off trailers; for months and months, I have therefore also been complaining, to anyone who would listen, how this service was being abused. It was nothing to stop by and see toilets or scrap metal or carpet pieces or glass or just random trash tossed in and around those trailers. There were green signs, reading "Plastic" and "Paper Products," in clear sight, yet, some still chose to dump whatever they wanted.

And, as a result, the recycling company has (understandably so) decided to pull those trailers, in effect, leaving absolutely no recycling option (at least that I'm aware of) in Cumberland County.

I'd love to continue ranting about irresponsibility, and selfishness, and wastefulness, and ignorance (and, I'm not calling people stupid; I'm implying "unawareness" with no desire to educate oneself), and laziness. That neither changes the current situation nor offers solutions for the future, however. So, here's what I propose:

1) Residents of Cumberland County need to support the fiscal court members when they are in the position to implement the recycling grant stipulations. Don't complain and say "that money needs to go elsewhere."
2) When we do get the recycling facility, let's regulate it more than was being done at the county garage (and I do realize that wasn't the county workers' responsibility). Have cameras set up and fine those who abuse the drop-off requirements. Have closed bins that make it impossible to dump some big load of ridiculous stuff. Implement an awareness and education campaign.
3) In the meantime, let's all cut back on the number of garbage bags we put at the end of our driveways. Reuse cups, use actual plates, get cloth napkins, compost, put items on the county yard-sale Facebook page rather than throw them away, be creative - find ways to repurpose and reuse as many products as you can.
4) Take your recyclables to the drop-of bins available in the Columbia Wal-Mart parking lot.
5) If you can't do this yourself, here is my proposal...

If you will collect and separately bag your plastics, paper, and cardboard, and bring them to the Library on a designated day, I will haul them to Columbia. The first day: Saturday, November 12. If you come to the Library at noon, I will load the stuff in Dad's old truck (yes, the one that pollutes the air more than my car) and take it to be recycled.

I realize there are some flaws in this plan. No, traveling 30 miles is not the most environmentally-friendly thing to do. This does mean that you may have to bag and store the recyclables in your basement or garage for a couple of weeks. There may be absolutely zero people who show up on November 12.

But, you know what? It's something...and I think that's the best we can do sometimes. Just get started. Be open to suggestions and constructive criticism. Before you know it, you just might be riding your purple Huffy to work.
If you're looking for creative project ideas for repurposing, check out:
Funky Junk Interiors

For infomation on the Eastern Kentucky PRIDE initiative, check out:
Eastern KY PRIDE

To access the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection, check out:
KY Dept. for Environmental Protection
The City Museum in St. Louis

Friday, October 21, 2011

...and the names of the trees where they're performin'

I'm not typically a "stream of consciousness" kind of girl. I like things to be spelled correctly and for semicolons and apostrophes to be in the right place. I'm intrigued by, but don't really get, e.e. cummings, because of both the lowercase letters and the seemingly random lines. I am hesitant to let anyone know the wildly random things that go through my mind.

However, sometimes just writing something is a good starting point. It is the stretches and brisk walks that deceivingly convince you that running a few miles will be fun. It is the cake batter spoon that devilishly reminds you "I don't have to give all of this away." It is the abhorrently obvious, page one, "oh, they're going to get together" rhetoric that makes is impossible to put down Cowboy Christmas Love Story.

And who knows? You might surprise yourself. You might not be nearly as scattered as you think.
I love that my cat is asleep on the bed with me. This is the cat that I tried not to like. She was irresistible though. Calico, hungry, and just wanting attention. I thought "my eyes are going to itch. my dogs will try to eat her. I don't need another pet." Well, she now sleeps with Willie in his dog bed. She gets milk in her little red mug anytime she makes one tiny little peep. She is laying by my feet as I write this. I love this little cat. I think a stream of consciousness letter is supposed to switch right about now. I'm really surprised I'm doing this. I have to admit though, I haven't been able to resist the backspace button when I know I've misspelled something or made a punctuation mistake. I'm not sure that's okay. I'm cutting myself some slack though. I have Pride and Prejudice sitting beside me. I've been waking up between 4:30 and 5:00 for the past few mornings. I like getting stuff done in the wee hours of the day. I like going outside when it's still dark to take the puppies out and to let DC in. But, I also really love just eating breakfast and reading Austen. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I lvoe when I haven't had much to eat the night before and I wake up hungry and excited about my meal. This morning I had a poached egg and blueberry bagel. I really wanted to put peanut butter on my bagel, but I didn't. I used to love waking up at Mom and Dad's and smelling the breakfast my dad was cooking (because it was alwasys something delicious like biscuits and gravy, fried potatoes, and sausage; he would;ve scoffed at my poached egg and bagel). Oh, and hearing him too. I can't say that my dad was the quietest of cooks even if he knew the rest of us were sleeping. Great breakfast cook, just loud. I love it when I'm really busy in the mornings and feel like I've worked off my breakfast. I would really love it if I could have those kinds of breakfasts with my Dad every monring and then go do stuff on the farm. I told a friend the other day that even though I love reading and writing and challenging myself to think about abstract concepts and whatnot, I also just love walking on my parents' farm. I love the animals I visit with a couple of times a day when I go over to feed. I love knowing that Lightning likes to be brushed, but Waterview does not. I love my job and I love school and I love teaching, but a big part of me just wants to farm. Every time I'm there, I feel like I get a tiny glimpse of why Dad loved his life so much. Sure, he enjoyed teaching, and he was a damn good teacher, but that farm and his famiily were his life. I hope I can look back at my own life, whether I'm doing that at 61 or 35 or 90 and know the same. Mom said on November 5 that the family is going to have a "paint the barn" day in memory of Dad. That would make him smile I think. He would love all that Mom has taught herself to do in the past year. He would love how she and TJ are running the farm. He would love that we'll all be there, probably with the horses watching from by the fence and Waffle by our side, putting a fresh coat of paint on his barn, the barn that is familiar, the one recognizable by many in the county. It looks like a horse barn. It seems to go with the house and the land it sits on. It looks like Dad. I love my parents so very much. Mom is one amazing woman and Dad was lucky to have snatched her up many years ago. We are all lucky to have had him in our lives and for the legacy of committment and love and humor he has left.
all which isn't singing is mere talking - e.e. cummings

all which isn't singing is mere talking
and all talking's talking to oneself
(whether that oneself be sought or seeking
master or disciple sheep or wolf)

gush to it as diety or devil
-toss in sobs and reasons threats and smiles
name it cruel fair or blessed evil-
it is you (ne i)nobody else

drive dumb mankind dizzy with haranguing
-you are deafened every mother's son-
all is merely talk which isn't singing
and all talking's to oneself alone

but the very song of(as mountains
feel and lovers)singing is silence
For the recipe for homemade bagels, see the March 3, 2010 entry.

Sorry, though, the recipe for the best biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, and sausage, will remain CLT's secret.

Monday, October 17, 2011

"Don't bother me anymore, and don't call me sugar."

I staunchly support the core philosophy behind the "Occupy Wall Street" demonstrations, primarily the attack on the social and economic inequalities spawned (at least in part) by corporate greed...but I appreciate the practicality of this message even more.
For the Nov/Dec. issue of FOLK Magazine, I had the opportunity to interview Jeanne Oliver, owner of Jeanne Oliver Designs. Based in Colorado and specializing in handcrafted clothing, jewelry, bags, and linens (as well as unique vintage items and mixed media art), Oliver's company embodies the ideas and business practices that undergird FOLK's own core philosophy. Check out the upcoming issue (available at the Cumberland County Public Library in mid-November) for the actual Q & A, but I encourage you to visit her website, online shop, and blog in the meantime.

A little teaser from Jeanne Oliver Designs:
"I grew up watching old movies. I was inspired by the styles and femininity of the past. Nothing seemed more glamorous to me than Vivien Leigh sweeping down a staircase, Grace Kelly wearing white gloves with a black cocktail dress or Audrey Hepburn outside of Tiffany's. Hours were spent designing my own creations and dreaming of wearing all the apparel my fingers could sketch. Today I have the honor of offering you collections of my clothing, bags, art, jewelry and vintage pieces that tell a story. Each piece full of attention to detail and design. My hope is that from the moment you receive an item from my shop that you know it is different from the attention to wrapping, fabrics, embellishments and vintage finds. Whether you are wearing one of my dresses, pieces of jewelry or carrying one of my bags ... I want you to feel beautiful and feminine. Welcome to my shop and I hope you enjoy your visit."

And for the record, Jeanne just happens to be one of the most lovely people with whom I have ever communicated. Her interview responses were thoughtful; her email replies quick; her work, part whimsy, part classic beauty, wholly impressive; and her humbleness, worthy of respect. What a wonderful opportunity for a librarian who, herself, wouldn't mind being Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn for a day.
I am in love with the messenger bag that arrived in my mailbox a few days ago (that she sent simply because), beautifully wrapped with handwritten card in tow. I'm anxious to see what kind of story it will have to tell.



Wednesday, October 12, 2011

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman in possession of a tiny fortune must be in want of a few pets and a personal library.

A few days ago I told a good friend, "I'm not a hopeless romantic or anything, but I really love the art of letter writing." And those of you who have followed Pillow Book for a while have surely heard me mention something similar. I love when I can visualize the handwriting - the nuance in penmanship, the common phrasing, the clever or sarcastic tones - of those whose voices I can also immediately distinguish on the dreaded, dreaded phone. I love to open a card or letter and feel as though the particular stationary, drawn picture, or stamp was chosen or created just for me. I love those rare occasions when it seems I've said exactly what I wanted to say in my own penned compositions. Letters thus "speak to" and cultivate those relationships that matter...and also force us to give structure to thoughts floating around in our often multi-tasked and scattered minds.

And, while this expression of concern for others and articulation of self does not necessarily have to be evidenced in romantic gesture - in fact, I have a collection of letters from Caroline that mean more to me than most everything else I own - the idea of getting to know someone, and maybe even falling in love, through letters is a really beautiful, albeit antiquated and likely faulty in its own right, act. Who doesn't enjoy digging around in keepsake boxes and uncovering old love letters? Who wouldn't treasure finding those shared between their parents or grandparents? Who wouldn't secretly love to get one, even as a 31 year old who claims to be neither hopeless romantic nor "hugger for no particular reason"?

Answer: No one.

Suggestion: Write a love letter today...even if you never send it. Write one to your significant other, write one to your best friend, hell, write one to yourself.

Cleverly-crafted and beautifully-worded letters are one of the primary reasons I love Jane Austen so much. Despite loathing both impractically tight dresses and impossibly rigid gender expectations, I read Austen and think, "I want to go to a ball. I want to wait anxiously for a letter from the boy I met at said ball. I want to be rescued by a man in tails, who, on his stately horse, rescues me from the lonely field I have chosen to walk across on a bitterly cold, overcast day...and who then writes me a letter of inconspicuous adoration. Like I said, not one bit hopeless romantic...

So, in effect, Austen's work is my literary Gilmore Girls. She pays attention to banter. She is masterful with character development. She has witty heroines who can verbally compete with any suitor and who inevitably fall only for the one who challenges them most. She makes me want to be one of the characters. And, I simply love her way with words; I respect her sarcasm, her biting, but subtle, social critiques, the sophistication and depth of thought conveyed in formal expression, the fact that each time I read I find something new at which to giggle or scoff or nearly cry.
Some of my favorites from Pride & Prejudice...

"'Well, he certainly is very agreeable, and I give you leave to like him. You have liked many a stupider person.'"

"Bingley was quite uncomfortable; his sisters declared that they were miserable. They solaced their wretchedness, however, by duets after supper"

"Elizabeth took up some needlework, and was sufficiently amused in attending to what passed between Darcy and his companion. The perpetual recommendations of the lady either on his hand-writing, or on the evenness of his lines, or on the length of his letter, with the perfect unconcern with which her praises were received, formed a curious dialogue, and was exactly in unison with her opinion of each."

"'Nothing is more deceitful,' said Darcy, 'than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.'"

"She could only imagine however, at last, that she drew his notice because there was a something about her more wrong and reprehensible, according to his ideas of right, than in any other person present. The supposition did not pain her. She liked him too little to care for his approbation."

"After playing some Italian songs, Miss Bingley varied the charm by a lively Scotch air; and soon afterwards Mr. Darcy, drawing near Elizabeth, said to her, 'Do not you feel a great inclination, Miss Bennet, to seize such an opportunity of dancing a reel?' She smiled, but made no answer. He repeated the question, with some surprise at her silence. 'Oh!' she said, 'I heard you before; but I could not immediately determine what to say in reply. You wanted me, I know, to say yes that you might have the pleasure of despising my tastes, but I always delight in overthrowing those kind of schemes, and cheating a person of their premeditated contempt. I have therefore made up my mind to tell you that I do not want to dance a reel at all - and now despise me if you dare.'" One of my favorite covers (1880s edition)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pillow Book: not likely to inspire nor earn Jesus's approval

A few things this week that, nevertheless, HAVE inspired or amused me...

1) The preface to The Bucolic Plague (and, by the way, what a great title):

"This is a memoir of a certain time in my life. The names of some characters have been changed, and some are composites of various people, experiences, and conversations I had then. If you think that’s unfair, you’ve obviously never lived in a small town and written a memoir about your neighbors." [i.e. Fran and her Marrowbonites]
Author’s Caution
This book is not about living your dream. It will not inspire you. You will not be emboldened to attempt anything more than making a fresh pot of coffee.

The author reminds you that there are plenty of other memoirs out there written by courageous souls who have broken with their past, poetically leaving behind things such as:
1. Drugs and/or Drinking
2. Career Ennui*
3. Bad Relationships

…and have successfully achieved goals such as:
1. Creative Fulfillment
2. The Simple Life
3. Jesus’s Approval"

*See Gilmore Girls episode where Michel and Sookie come down with ennui.
2) Included in the October 4 entry of The Awe-Manac: A Daily Does of Wonder...

“When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So, what the hell, leap!” Cynthia Heimel

I knew little about Heimel, but I really enjoyed this quote. A quick glance at Wikipedia later, I discovered that Heimel is a playwright and author (known for her satirical social commentary) who spent years working for Playboy after being shunned by both academic and feminist organizations (for being too provocative) and by women's magazines for seeming too angry. She was later fired from Playboy when producers decided that she was alienating men with her "empowerment" nonsense...

I stumbled upon this one as well...

"Never judge someone by who he's [she's] in love with; judge him [her] by his [her] friends. People fall in love with the most appalling people."Cynthia Heimel

I have awesome friends.
3) I saw this on a friend's Facebook page earlier in the week. I really, really want to put this up in the library.
Especially when we have the likes of this one coming in.

I just love the art & whimsy of this one...