Tuesday, January 31, 2006


My article on New Orleans as a chocolate city was published this past Saturday in the Mobile Press Register, my city's newspaper. It won a special designation as a Blue Ribbon letter. I am very excited, especially since I get a lapel pin.


I have been tagged by my friend Jess. She mentioned the word meme which I had never heard.

Four Jobs I've Had
1.Hotel housekeeping(Panama City Beach, FL), you want I fluff your pillow?
2.English teacher(Prague)
3.Landscaper/Lawn maintenance(Navarre, Pensacola, FL) One word. Hot.
4.Sales Rep at a Jockey outlet store(Fort Walton Beach, FL) Thongs anyone?

Four Movies I Could Watch Over and Over
1.Roman Holiday (Audrey Hepburn's first major role, alongside Gregory Peck)
2.Gladiator (He was a soldier of Rome. Honor him)
3.You've Got Mail (F-O-X)
4.Pride and Prejudice (A&E version with Colin Firth)
5.Say Anything (Lloyd, Lloyd all null and void)

Four Magazines I Enjoy
1.Martha Stewart Living (Martha is amazing. Slightly annoying, but amazing)
2.Real Simple. (This magazine is full of helpful info, and fun quotes)
3.Parents (This is self-explanatory)
4.National Geographic Adventure (makes me want to wander the earth like Cain)

Four Places I've Lived
1.Prague, Czech Republic
2.Almaty, Kazakhstan (boy I could go for a hot cup of chai right now)
3.Navarre, Florida (real estate is out of control there now)
4.Whidbey Island, Washington (my earlist childhood memories, ferries, rocky beaches)

Four TV Shows I Watch Regularly
1.24 (new season) Jack Bauer is my hero.
2.24 (old seasons on DVD) I hate Nina.
3.Jeopardy (how old is Alex?)
4.Dirty Jobs (on the Discovery channel), my husband's favorite

Four Places I've Been On Vacation
1.Vernazza, Florence, Venice: Italy
2.Krakow, Poland
3.Barcelona, Montserrat, Cadaques, Costa Brava:Spain
4.North Cascades in Washington State

Four Websites I Visit Daily
1.Jessie's blog, I love it!
3.Cara's blog, my friend and roommate in Praha! Long live Ebel cafe and Tram #18!
4.junkmail for blankets

Four Books I Could Read Over and Over
1.Lord of the Rings
2.To Kill a Mockingbird
3.A Severe Mercy (by Sheldon Vanauken)
4.Chosen by God (RC Sproul) I can't seem to finish it so I read it over and over
5.Narnia(The Chronic-(what?) cles of Narnia) True Dat! Double True!

Four Favorite Foods
1.Butch burger at Butch Cassidy's (Mobile, AL)
2.Pecan and Romano crusted chicken with lemon buerre blanc, and lovely bread dipped in oil and vinegar from The Bakery Cafe (Mobile, AL)
3.Fried shrimp from Banana Docks Cafe (Mobile, AL)
4.Authentic(I believe my Dad, grew up outside Philly) Philly cheesesteak from Philly's (Pensacola, FL)
(I'm now salivating)
5.Ice Cream

Four Places I'd Like To Be Right Now
1.Visiting Jessie in St.Louis
2.Prague, city of my heart
3.Hiking to Schreiber's Meadow, slopes of Mt.Baker (WA)
4.La Playa (anywhere...Mediterranean, Malibu, Fiji)

Four Bloggers I'm Tagging
2.I'm a loser
3.I'm a loser
4.I'm a loser
(I applied these extras to my other categories)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

My orchids remind me of a warm safe place where as a child I'd hide

Sometimes I like to hide behind my orchids. Posted by Picasa

An orchid by any other name...

Here is my orchid plant with its profusion of blooms. Posted by Picasa


This is one of the blooms on my orchid plant. I wanted to share it because it is so beautiful and intricate. The veins in the petals, the shading, the symmetry. It is wonderful to have this jungle plant blooming in my bedroom. Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 23, 2006

New Orleans, chocolate city

I have been thinking about New Orleans Mayor Nagin's comments on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. He said New Orleans should be rebuilt as a “chocolate” city. Like most of America, I was astounded and shocked at his statement, until I actually thought about it on a deeper level. Then I decided that I agree with Mayor Nagin, or with what I'm sure he wishes he had meant during that speech.

First of all, chocolate is a substance known for its diversity. On the shelves of any drug store, convenience store or specialty confectioner's shop you can find chocolate in many colors, shapes, textures and sizes. Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate and swirled combinations of those mentioned. Bars, blocks, hearts, eggs, bunnies, pellets, cups, and balls. Chocolate can be consumed as a beverage, savored as a frozen treat or drizzled on whatever you please. Chocolate is made in countries all over the world, each creation with its own special claim to uniqueness and decadence. To claim a city as a “chocolate” city must mean it is a place of varied peoples, talents and cultures. That anyone would be welcome there, and that every class, color and flavor would enrich the city's cultural and physical landscape.

Secondly, chocolate is a delicacy that is known as a “comfort” food. It is something people crave and demand on a regular basis to make them happy. Chocolate contains caffeine, which is a stimulant- energizing body and mind. It is a pick-me-up on a bad day. Some people consume chocolate every day, almost as a daily ritual, like drinking coffee. To say a city is a “chocolate city” would imply that people come for miles to get their fill. That people crave the city and find themselves energized by its many and varied offerings; art, entertainment, music, food, history,architecture. It would mean a city that when you leave, you immediately think of the next time you'll be able to visit again.

Third, chocolate is a language of love. What do lovers traditionally bring their sweethearts on Valentine's Day or on an anniversary? A box of chocolates. Pick any holiday and chocolate is an appropriate and meaningful gift that says, “ I love you.” Chocolate is purely sensual, a melting pleasure of smooth creaminess on your tongue. It is dark and lovely, speeding up your heart rate and making you close your eyes with delight. It is white and tantalizingly sweet, a precious commodity that demands delicacy lest it overwhelm you with it's flavor. To describe a city as a “chocolate” city makes me think of a place where love is a rule. Where Desire is a street that people walk down and find the face of love, not the end of a gun. A city whose people reach down and lift up their brothers and sisters and find the greatest pleasure there, where pride ends and charity begins.

Perhaps Mayor Nagin is an idealist, without even realizing it. And I know that New Orleans can be rebuilt, is being rebuilt. All of us watching from the outside or those lending a hand should dispense with the cynicism and hope and work for a revitalized city, a “chocolate” city as we redefine the term. Keep in mind that chocolate is messy. You can't handle it long without getting your hands sticky. But we can work together in New Orleans and in all of our cities to create places we can savor. Cities whose flavor is unique and enticing, and whose self-effacing love binds up all wounds.

Friday, January 20, 2006

saving the planet;one tv show at a time

Today I did my part in saving the planet. I took months and months worth of daily newspapers to the recycling drop off place. It was a good feeling dumping all that paper in the bin. I was amazed at how little it was in that big bin, when at my house it was taking over our lives.

Speaking of feeling, today I was watching the Today show, which I usually turn on for a little while every morning, to keep my finger on the pulse of the nation. (Hey, I try.) It was the usual, slightly interesting drivel, including a mini-concert by a female artist by the name of KT Tunstall. I thought she had a great voice, but I was too busy chasing my cranky 12 month old around to focus and decide if I liked her or not. I was sitting on the couch later and listening to a psychobabbler talking about single moms reemerging into the dating scene when I discovered I was disgusted with this lady's tone. These are the words I constantly hear as the Today people discuss issues with "experts." " You're entitled" "listen to your heart" " you deserve this or that" " you deserve to feel this way or that way" " feel feel feel" etc. etc. Very self focused, emotion focused. If you sort of tune out, it all sounds good and it makes you go, ok, that makes me feel good. But it is the voice of our culture, humanistic and ear-tickling.

Like Oprah. (I watch her sometimes, not much lately because of what I'm about to say.) I thought of starting a blog called "Deconstructing Oprah." Anyway. On one of her first shows of the new season she introduced the theme of the whole season and had t-shirts for sale with the logo. The theme was "What have you done today to make yourself proud?" I wanted to barf. (barf is a great word, greatly underused in this day and age). The shirt said " what have you done today?" I know Oprah is very proud of herself. She gives away tons of money to worthy causes. I have watched enough to say that she is very generous. But the whole point of "doing" good works is not to make yourself proud. That turns your work into meaninglessness. I can't imagine doing and giving with the only goal being self satisfaction. I'm sure she would say that she does it for the people, that it's not just about making yourself proud. And I'm sure she genuinely cares for the people she helps. I know that she isn't monotheistic, but she seems to believe in some sort of create-your-own spirituality, and so there is no specific higher power to bring glory to, only herself. That gives you the power to create your own mission too.

rant rant rant

I would also like to comment on another cultural phenomenon, that of American Idol. I have only watched one or two episodes in former seasons, usually the last ones. This week the new season started and I watched 2 episodes which showed the auditions. This was great entertainment. I haven't laughed so much at a tv show since I don't know when. My observations:
1-This show is a wonderful example of objectivity versus subjectivity. These people really think they have (vocal) talent. Most of them really don't. At all.
2-I think some people try out even though they know they are horrible because they know they'll get some tv time. Everyone wants to be famous.
3-I think some of the people see the nontalented try outs and think "well, I have more talent than they do" and so they try out. I was almost convinced that I could try out and become the next American Idol. (HA HA!)
4-The best moment(well, one of them) was when the girl started singing Paula Abdul's song and it was horrible. Simon said something like, "wow, it is rare that you find a remake that is better than the original..." That was hilarious.
5-I loved the moment with the cowboy who had never been out of his hometown. He really had raw talent and the judges saw that and gave him a yellow sheet. He was awkward and adorable.

I guess that's all for now. I'm not sure if I've been sucked in enough to watch the whole season. I need to devote that time to reading, currently 1776 by David McCullough.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Practicing walking with Auntie Jen. Posted by Picasa
Opening presents. Posted by Picasa
The Ladybug cake and camellias from my backyard! Posted by Picasa
The other night Mo Leverett, the founder of Desire Street Ministries in New Orleans spoke at our church. He sang and spoke. He sings songs that are poems and he speaks with no notes. He sang about his southern heritage and about how he loves New Orleans and the people there. His message was inspiring. It was a call to “outward piety.” The church in America has forgotten one of the main instructions found in Scripture, spoken by Christ himself. In Galatians 2:10 Paul says, “They(the disciples)only asked us to remember the poor-the very thing I also was eager to do.” The one thing the disciples made sure to ask Paul and Barnabas to do as they began their ministry was to remember the poor. It was not secondary.

Matthew 25:40 “To the extent that you did it (clothed the naked, fed the poor) to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to me.” Mo pointed out that in Micah 6:8, God tells us what to do. “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you, But to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” The command is twofold, inward piety and outward. Walking humbly with God is our inward piety. Doing justice and loving mercy is outward piety. Our focus is usually the former. Christian bookstores are full of devotionals and books focusing on our relationship with God. I've never seen a section on mercy ministry. Mo lives in the heart of New Orleans' Desire Street district, one of the poorest, most crime ridden neighborhoods in the US. He ministers to the needs of the people. His call was for us in Mobile to do the same. I think I've fallen into the trap that Mo exposed. Focusing so much on evangelism and discipleship that we've forgotten the poor and needy. The physicality of helping the poor. The fact that it is a command, that it is clothing, sheltering, feeding Christ himself. It is so obvious, so primary throughout Scripture. I want to do more in my community. I want to make my outward piety an extension of my inward piety. “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:27)

(shifting gears)
Saturday we celebrated our daughter's first birthday. It was a fun time with family and friends, and Ruthie got some wonderful gifts, along with her first cake and ice cream (which she wasn't too fond of). It is hard to believe that I have a one year old. That only a year ago she was a tiny little infant who cried all the time unless she was asleep or eating. She is now so much a little girl, that I can hardly remember how tiny she was. We love her so much, it hurts!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Jump rope

"John Turner and Jeff Lambert, employees of Deep South Cranes, play jump rope during a short break Thursday at the site of a cellular telephone tower being erected near Grelot and Hillcrest Roads."(photo by Bill Starling of the Mobile Press Register)

I wanted to share this because I think it is wonderful. These crane operators are laughing, playing, acting like carefree children. They are laborers; they wear hard hats, work gloves, and steel-toed boots. But they can still play. I think their hearts must be young. Posted by Picasa

Top Ten List

My top ten list has been published in Catapult magazine. http://www.catapultmagazine.com/top-ten/article/top-ten-water
There are lots of other good ones as well.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Ghost of Christmas Past

This was our Christmas tree. An artist's perspective. I thought it was a neato picture. Jay took it. In loving memory of our Tannenbaum. December 05-December 05. We're still sweeping up the needles. Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 09, 2006

What's in a haircut?

Last night Jay cut his hair. He was letting it grow for me, because I have this picture of him with long hair that I find sexy and we were seeing if he could achieve that look again. The plan went well for several months. I enjoyed his "luxurious hair" as we jokingly called it. Then, seemingly overnight, it all went awry. His hair was awful. It hung languidly on his forehead, and we determined that he had what we call a "Southern Frat Boy Haircut." This style is definitely characteristic of the South, and neither one of us like it. It is indolent, untidy and unflattering. (I realize as I write this that I should have taken a picture of it to include with this writing, but, alas, I did not have the foresight to do so. ) I'm not sure if a hairstlye can be indolent, but it lends that air to the person wearing the hair.

Today at lunch Jay came home to eat with me and Ruthie, and he said that his haircut has affected his attitude. He said he feels more intense, tougher, "meaner." I thought this was amusing but also interesting. That a tiny matter of a haircut can determine mood and demeanor, even personality. I thought about my hair, which has been mostly the same for the past ten years. Maybe that is why I am laid back, even keeled and not overly emotional. My hair is naturally curly and I have noticed that when I straighten it I feel prettier, and, strangely, more mature or polished. These are all musings and not supported by research. Of course, factors in our environment affect the way we feel and sometimes act. When I wear a dress I feel more feminine, when I wear sweats I feel relaxed and boyish. When it rains I feel like taking a nap or watching a romantic comedy.

We are changeable and unpredictable beings. Altered by our proximity to the sun or a word from our closest friend. Fickle and frail, we strut about full of our self importance but brought low when we catch our smallest toe on a coffee table leg. We find our wisdom confounded by a crying infant, our strength sapped by an errant cell. Yet in all this we know that there is a God who does not change. Immutable. Omniscient. These words are mammoth in their import and exclusive in their assignation. He is never confounded. His hand controls all the supposed whims of man and nature, things seen and unseen, things imagined and things never dreamed. He is preeminent. We can sigh, and rest, and trust. Raise our feeble hands, marvel that we are image bearers, and laugh, maybe ruefully, and let the weight fall off of our backs.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Quiero Viernes

Last day of my work week
Why art thou so elusive?
My days press up to your precipice
Eager for resolution, Envious of reputation.

Why dost thou postpone thy glorious arrival?
I would herald thee with the clarion calls
of a thousand burnished trumpets
Yet thou art fickle in thy attentions
And feckless in thy absolution.

Thou wanton wanderer!
Fain would I clasp thee to my bosom
And make thee mine ere the dreaded dawn
But, alas! Thou art beyond my feeble grasp
And thy flight is swift-
Only a flirtatious glance is mine.

Torture me not, I entreat thee!
Let they longed for presence
Relieve my yearnings and
Usher me into that state of rest
My languorous soul desires.

I wrote this during my stint as an administrative assistant at the bank with the green logo. It is of course hyperbolical. I loved Fridays. They are still good even though I am "unemployed" because I know I will get two days with my husband. Tonight we are going to grill out even though it is 40 something degrees outside(and supposed to go down to 28). I defy you, winter! Ha! I light the gas grill and may the aroma of 7 oz. sirloins drive you out of your mind! For those of you in colder climes I know you're saying, 40 degrees? That's basically summer! I must admit I have lived on the Gulf Coast too long. I like my weather like I like my salsa- mild and chunky with a hint of lime.