Sunday, January 29, 2017

Week's Best - Third Edition

It wasn't a perfect week, folks. It was a week of situations in my personal life and in the world beyond that were ridiculously awful, but I've expressed myself quite enough elsewhere about those things, and this weekly feature is never going to focus on anything beyond the little things that made for nice moments and fun memories during the week before.

Used by permission of Alabama artist Debbie Dowdle

There were some awfully nice moments, like having dinner with my friend Richard at a new seafood restaurant that's opened here in town. Everything was perfectly fine except for the green beans which were even more tasteless than green beans should be, and I'm highly skeptical of hushpuppies that aren't round. When I was a little kid, the biggest treat we ever had during summers at Lake Martin was going to the restaurant at Kowaliga, where I would always have squealers and hushpuppies. (If you don't know what a squealer is, you might want to think twice before asking.) Those hushpuppies were always round and fried to perfection. I don't care where I eat them, or even how they are (mis)shaped, eating hushpuppies puts me in mind of those very happy days.


My Mama always held that the more folks you let work an appliance, the more likely it is that something will go squirrely with it. Since our home was burglarized a month ago, one in which my husband's laptop and his 25+ years of Boy Scout history (not in anybody's cloud)  walked out the back door with our thief, he's been using my very old-school desktop. Well, this morning I got up to do my weekly banking/finance work, and the spreadsheet I have developed and tweaked to near perfection over a year's time was GONE. More accurately, no version of it after November could be found anywhere on my hard drive, despite autosave. After an initial flurry of panic I remembered by my son had insisted we start using BackBlaze, and I am here to tell you that it worked beautifully, and easily, and fast. I never had to call tech support. Heck, I didn't even have to call my son to ask what to do. I love it when something works like it's supposed to!

Now, I can't tell you beyond a shadow of any doubt that my husband's using my desktop had a thing in the world to do with what happened this morning, but a half hour after my Excel Spreadsheet was restored, my husband's new laptop got ordered.


I was very happy that my boss was able to connect me with a Girl Scout family, because this.....


Well, the week started with seafood, so it might as well end with some.  We don't go to Jubilee Seafood as often as we'd like, but we turned a sow's ear (the cancellation of a performance to which I'd already bought tickets) into a silk purse (using my refunded money to splurge).


Books I finished this week: 

Friday the Rabbi Slept Late - Harry Kemelman

If I Forget You -- Thomas Christopher Greene

The End

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Week's Best - 2nd Edition

This has been quite the week, folks. We gritted our teeth through/enjoyed/raged about (depending on your viewpoint and disposition) the inauguration of our/their/your/not my (see earlier qualifier) 45th President of the United States, and although there were a couple of very small protests that got out of hand, we got to see democracy in all its creaky, sometimes irksome, sometimes noisy and unpleasant glory. But if you thought that was the big story of the week, you are mistaken.

The big story of the week is that every damned day, people got up and did the right things for the best reasons, took care of their neighbors, dug deep in their pockets to help others in their time of deepest need, hugged their spouses and children, held a door for a person struggling with their mobility, let a frazzled mom with a cranky toddler go ahead of them in line at the grocery, made somebody laugh, and spoke up to take exception when they heard someone being picked on. Folks got on their knees to pray for guidance, for patience, for peace, for forgiveness, for the strength to keep fighting their good fights without making enemies along the way. They prayed to God, or to Allah, or just to unknown gods known collectively, perhaps, as Hope and Faith in Humanity.

But nobody needs a reminder of that, right? So I'm just going to share the best things that happened in my very small orbit this week.


On Monday, I got a new back door. It's a very special door. It took a crew of 4 workmen 10 fulls hours to install it. This, my friends, is a door that deserves a name, so I have given it one.



Since the first of the year, every book I've read has been on my Kindle Paperwhite, but this week I picked up an actual paper and ink one to read. There is still just something about a book in my hand that will beat a device every single time. Among the less lofty reasons for that is that a real book just looks more interesting through the eye of my viewfinder. 


Late Thursday afternoon, the whole local staff of Central Alabama Community Foundation traveled to Chisholm Community Center to surprise Charles Lee and his organization That's My Child with a surprise $3,000 grant. This was the first of 30 of these we'll be awarding, in celebration of the Foundation's 30th Anniversary.  I slipped into the gym a few minutes before the actual surprise happened, and enjoyed watching some of the young men who take part in Mr. Lee's programs play some basketball. After I got home to cull the pictures I'd taken, I was surprised by what I discovered in this one featuring these two fellows, poised to play, wearing their jerseys numbered "3" and "0" right next to each other. 



What I got to do on Thursday got me to thinking about something my Great Grandfather, the Rev. J. Russell Crawford, said back in 1889, probably in one of his sermons. Somewhere along the way somebody illustrated this nugget and presented it to either my Nannaw or Mama. I remember well that neither of them were altogether pleased with the "folksy" art, but it doesn't take away from what my Great-Granddaddy said, something that perfectly explains what I try to tell folks about the work of the Foundation. We help those "greenbacks" get from our amazing donors into the hands of the folks with "grit, grace, and gumption" who are doing really awesome things around this ol' River Region.


The Wangs v. the World by Jade Change (real book)
Friday the Rabbi Slept Late by Harry Kemelman (Kindle)


The last episode of this season's Longmire (Netflix) 

By the way, Lou Diamond Phillips, who plays Walt Longmire's friend Henry Standing Bear in this series, has played roles in a gazillion movies and TV shows. He shot to fame back in 1987 playing the role of Richie Valens in La Bamba. But before he did that, he was born...... an Upchurch. 



The first episode of Victoria on PBS 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Week's Best

Okay, so it's not the most original thing -- doing a list of one's favorite things/moments/experiences from the previous week -- but since I'm not updating my other blog any longer I want to do something that will keep me on my toes. I have fear of commitment, though, so while I hope to do this on a weekly basis that might not happen. Anyway. 

Madwoman at work. 

Monday was Clean Off Your Desk Day. My Daddy often told the story of the man for whom he worked in his early years in the insurance business, a boss whose desk was always very messy. One afternoon before leaving work, however, Mr. W tidied everything up, went to the airport and got in his small private plane.... and crashed. Since that day, Daddy didn't put quite so much stock in keeping things tickety-boo, and I have elevated it to an art.


Wait, I'm where?

As I came over the rise on Perry Street on my commute to work a few days ago, I had the distinct impression I'd somehow taken a wrong turn and was looking at my beloved Blue Ridge Mountains. Nope. Just a really bizarre, low hanging, cloud formation. Oh, and just for the sake of history.... the church spire you see there belongs to St. John's Episcopal Church, which was the church attended by Jefferson Davis.



Turning from the access road off onto Perry Street on my way to work is often interesting, as the lanes are poorly marked and there seems to be no consensus as to which car belongs in which lane. These two motorists could not amicably settle that dispute on morning this week. When I was growing up, we had this family tradition: any time we happened upon a stranded motorist or an accident, everyone in the car had to yell out, "Howdy Doody, Mr. Kitty!" Woe betide the last to say it, for any car trouble that might befall us would be blamed on the straggler. I still mutter it under my breath every single time I come upon circumstances that warrant it. (And no, none of my siblings nor I have any explanation for this phrase, or who started it, although we all expect it came from my Grandpappy Tom McCord.)



I'm gonna need to see this thing again to figure out what it is, exactly. I think it was actually a motorcycle with this two-wheeler front on it, but I was afraid the parking lot bar was going to come crashing down on my car if I didn't keep moving. Whatever it is, it's a good one.



Books Read:
I Will Send Rain - Rae Meadows (heartily recommended)
Bitter River (Bell Elkins #2) - Julia Keller (meh)

Movies Seen:
LaLa Land - must see

Best of TV: 
Longmire (streaming on Netflix)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Rearview Mirror:

What "they" say is so true: things often appear smaller when you are looking at them in the rear view mirror.  What's true on the highway is mostly true in life, it seems to me.

There were things, sad and unhappy and infuriating things, that consumed me for bits of time during 2016. Most of them are now at least, if not quite forgotten, no longer in charge of my energy or my emotions.

The year now gone was one of the busiest we've ever had in terms of experiencing the arts: 9 plays, 7 movies on the big screen, 6 musical concerts, 2 ballet performances, numerous trips to the museum, including one very special exhibit.

There were trips to the zoo, a trip to Huntsville and a day spent at the Space and Rocket Center. We loved attending Biscuits games as a family, TavernFest got attended, and I got to sit on the stage at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival as a panelist for Theatre in the Mind. I enjoyed meeting with and/or presenting programs to several literary groups, and have had a ball "doing lunch" more than I've ever done in my life with friends and sisters-in-law. I've watched my husband begin to love what he does for a living again, working back in the heart of town which makes it possible for us to enjoy a much more sane and full life than we've had in years. I said goodbye to a job that defined and delighted me for nearly three decades, and hello to a new career that excites me and inspires me.

Alabama won a(nother) National Championship, had an(other) undefeated season, won a(nother) SEC Championship Title, and yesterday a(nother) trip to a(nother) National Championship Game.

I read a little less than usual, but read some outstanding books, the best of which you should read, too. You'll find my whole list here.

And on Christmas Day my granddaughter and I sat down and played our first duet together, so there was that.

All of that stuff makes having had a raccoon in the attic, suffering yet another slow-to-heal injury from a fall, the death of our sweet cat Big Louie, having a dust-up with a major retailer, watching all the new cracks in the walls form because of the drought, and being on the losing end of a burglary to end the year with a bang, seem like so much background noise. And while for many reasons 2017 fills me with a sense of trepidation, I am yet to be stripped of optimism. There never has been a new year entered that held any assurances or guarantees or best-laid plans that wouldn't go awry, after all.

An acquaintance stopped me at the grocery yesterday afternoon to commiserate with me about the burglary, and what I said to her I'll say to you: Yes, the bad stuff stinks, but I can't do yesterday again. I can only do today, and today is good.

Moving ahead with your eyes on the rear view is a good way to make a wreck of what lies ahead.

Full speed ahead! Bring it on, 2017; I'm ready.