The room still dark With only the ticking Of your watch. Somewhere beginning Above my aching toes I think “this is the prize.” The space of a queen-sized bed This quiet pace away Away from the noise Of turning pages, Television, No radio, Or illuminated screens, Nor online chatter. There is only My body touching Cotton sheets Above my toes And the ticking of your watch In a still dark room.
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Below is an excerpt of my directions on how to deal with my cats. It was written for a 16 year-old young man who loves cats, has none of his own, and therefore makes a great cat-sitter. I am only sharing it because it apparently gave him quite a chuckle, and I realize that people without cats may find all of this very strange. To all of my friends with cats in their lives (past and present) you may be able to relate. Feel free to let me know if you’d have to add anything. And yes, aren’t you feeling relieved that you are not the poor person that gets suckered into watching the beasts?
…Feel free to leave the back porch light on so that you can see when you come back after dark. Help yourself to any snacks. I believe that Michael is going to buy you some root beer or something. Knowing Michael, he’ll leave little notes out for you as well. Watch tv, hangout, read a book, or just pet the kitties, feed them and leave.
Food (wet and dry) is in the blue cabinet. Cats get a scoop of dry food twice a day (a.m. and p.m.). In the evening, we dole out one can of wet on top of their dry food split 3 ways (so they each get 1/3 of a can). Michael “prepares” their food on top of the blue cabinet and then serves it to them all at once. This is completely unnecessary, but if they look at you awkwardly if you don’t do this, that is why. Also, it is best if you stand there and keep Hushpuppy and Otis from knocking Carter off of his bowl. Carter is a wuss and will not defend his food. Please note the large girth of Otis — he’s fat because he eats Carter’s food. It’s an issue that we keep trying to remedy.
Fill up the water bowl on floor every time you go. Kitties get thirsty! We also keep a glass on the kitchen counter that they like to drink from. Fill it up as well.
Litter boxes are in the office room (the one with carpet). Please scoop at least once. Plastic bags for poop scooping are under the sink on the left hand side. If needed, there is a bag of litter in the office as well (usually under the library table/desk). The rectangular box has some issues with its cover, so please know that we know that you are not the one that broke it; it came that way. The other dome shaped ones are easier because you just lift the lids off and scoop into plastic bag. Please do not be alarmed if all the poop is in one litter box — honestly, we don’t know what goes on in their heads, but sometimes they just pick one and stick with it. Cats are weird.
Hushpuppy is the white one and is the only girl. She is very friendly usually and will purr you to bits if you pet her. She is also a charmer and, at times, looks like a complete angel. However, Hushpuppy is prone to fits of madness. If she starts bolting around the house and knocking furniture over or bouncing off of walls, do not be afraid (maybe cover you face if you are lying on the coach). It seems odd at first, but we’ve gotten used to it. Other than that, I promise she is the sweetest thing in the world. She just has this crazed wild streak in her.
Otis is the fat grey tabby. Otis is also sweet, but looks incredibly grumpy even while purring on a lap. He’s really trying to work on his social behavior. I do try to give him positive body image reinforcement by calling him “Slim Shady” or “Skinny Boy”. These attempts are worthless. However, he does seem to know his name “Otis” probably because we yell at him a lot for trying to move Carter from his bowl. Don’t take his disinterest personally. He really does like people, but he just doesn’t know how to express himself very well. And, well, he is a cat. By the way, he occasionally gets on top of the kitchen cabinets and will stare at you like some sort of cat/owl gargoyle hybrid. Please try not to pee on yourself if this happens. It is way more startling than it sounds.
Carter is the very handsome fluffy Siamese cat. He knows he is handsome, and will occasionally pose for you. That is, he will pose if he ever comes out from under the sofa. Carter also happens to be in love with Michael, so really, please don’t be offended if he does come out and smell you and then walk away nonplussed because you are not the right person. He used to love me, but I’ve come to accept that I am second fiddle to Michael. However, if he gets near you and you give him some good chin scratches and pet him and talk to him in a sort of Bugs Bunny voice, then he may be fooled into believing you are some sort of Michael incarnation and warm up to you. Carter just wants to be loved and to have some reprieve from the younger two. They torment him. But he sort of loves it at the same time.
I know Michael mentioned the neighborhood cat we call “Clipper” and the raccoons. Please don’t feed them. Thank you so much for taking care of our little beasts. I hope they will come out and let you pet them. They will all be very interested in the food for sure.
And yes, I’m very aware this could have easily just said, food is in the blue cabinet—feed them twice a day. 🙂
Hi! This is July and usually, I hate to say, I’m sort of in the Summer doldrums by now. My lovely humid hometown makes it easy to leave you feeling dirty and gritty in July and August. But not this year. And what a magical thing that has turned out to be! I say that because, as an Atlanta native, this is the first year that I’ve decided to run the Peachtree Road Race. It is the world’s largest 10K (or at least billed to be) and is a major event every year. Typically, I’ve equated running the Peachtree with being as dumb as a lump on a log — because who runs in 98+ degree with 80+ humidity and NO RAIN? Well, about 60,000 do, that’s who. And this year, I was one of the idiots.
Except I wasn’t. The weather was its mildest ever for the race. They had the fewest numbers of heat related incidents. It was remarkable. Mother nature smiled on me and I was able to finish the race in spite of the past few months of aging body problems (you know, feet, back, the like). Sure, it was a run and walk event for me, but I did it and am super happy that I participated in an Atlanta institution. Even happier that I didn’t have to be walked to Piedmont Hospital during the event.
And for more magic, today I did something that I completely wouldn’t have expected to do (well, my 12 year old self would have). I woke up at 5 a.m. and went to a yin yoga class that started at 6. It was in a hot yoga room which I was not expecting. So two of my resistances were dismissed in one morning. Getting out of my comfort zone (and comfortable bed) was definitely worth it this morning. I feel like electricity and lightening bugs. It’s a great way to start the day and I may be a believer.
Send out good vibes to the universe. I know a lot of people that could use the extra lightness right now.
Michael and I had a short escape along the Gulf of Mexico this weekend. My dear and longtime friend Karen and her husband Octavio generously let us stay at one of their condos. He and I did little more than drink margaritas, swim, eat fish sandwiches, lounge in the hammock and get sun. It was exactly what I needed and I think it suited him as well. If any of the pics are worthwhile, I’ll post them.
We made it a whirlwind trip and I even was able to see my Aunt Betty briefly on Friday morning. It’s been a year since I’ve seen her and she looks about 20 years younger than a lady of 80. After we left Pensacola, we made the short trip to the beach and proceeded to exhale for 2 days. There was a brief, but exciting alligator sighting. To me it’s a normal Florida event, but I think Michael enjoyed seeing one swim on past the condo we were at — it was certainly not excited to see us.
By Sunday we fought off the urge to try and stay another day and made it back to Atlanta in time to watch a very intense match of the World Cup with US almost defeating Portugal. It ended in a tie — but only barely. And today was back to business as usual. Sigh…
But before it’s named, I want to share some of the calm and tranquil of the cabin that dad and John Miller created behind the Kamama gallery they run. Mom keeps calling it “Julia’s Cabin” only because I’ve asked her not to. It’s absolutely a cabin that will be enjoyed by many — but I’m admittedly already looking forward to going back. The photos are courtesy of Suzan Buckner— because, yes, I forgot to take my camera. (Maybe I was using that as an excuse to go back up?)
Without further ado …
Here is the link to some pictures. Now help me name it please.
How is the year already half way over? No, don’t answer that — it’s a question that only makes the hole where time goes vanish even faster. But the fact that it is June is only contributing to the disoriented self of late. I’m certainly one of those people that as the air gets pregnant with humidity and heat, my head takes a spin and loses direction. In this case, I’m sort of maintaining the spin — but still slightly wobbly.
Anyway, all of that is an excuse. I have been to Barcelona with my baby back at the end of March and took some great pics between the two of us. Anyway, here is a link to all of the pictures and I’m not sure if it will work. How has it been that long since I shared pictures? Regardless, please go crazy with the images. And please know that I’m still, in some small light particle, a part of La Sagrada de Familia. Or at least I strive to be.
And then there is the cabin — a place I hope to find my head more often. My dad, some family friends, and a few workers put together a dream place behind my parent’s gallery, Kamama. It’s a sanctuary and it’s not so far away — so I’m hoping to sort out some of my summer brain up there.
And there are about a trillion other little pieces to tell. But time, you see, keeps slipping and I must run after it as fast as I can. Hope all is well and good in your world.
The Mentone Springs Hotel burned down a few weeks ago. It is a place that I spent much of my childhood learning how to love. I wrote the following for my dad and mom as a way to remember the grand old hotel.
In the shadow of the old hotel
It’s an odd thing growing up in a rotting castle. Maybe it is the juxtaposition of being so young in such an old thing, or maybe it’s all of that space to ramble around and hide from the world. Whatever it is, there is no doubt that the Mentone Springs Hotel had an impact on me. Not the fascinating people I met or the childhood friends and my cousins I played hide-and-seek with. Not all the nature that surrounded it — Beauty Springs, DeSoto Falls, the brow. Not even all the oddities that I stumbled on that were abandoned by its previous owners. Absolutely all of those things changed my life and impacted me, but that is not what this is about. What I’m referring to here is something else —the space and place that was the old hotel.
I was not quite ten years old when I first crossed the threshold. My first memory of its inner being was the basement. That is where Norville Hall lived and eventually where my family stayed. There was little to no natural light — but the small amount that came through revealed two plastic sidelight windows next to the opening that led to the dungeon. We called it the dungeon— but it was a cellar that had a massive four foot wide wooden beam door. Between the eerie red lights and the bellowing sound of the dungeon door my imagination ran dark fairly quickly. The floors were slate black and the air was damp even on that late summer day. To say I was hesitant to enter would be to put it mildly and the goose bumps on my arms stood out as a testament to my fear.
But my parents and brother entered, so naturally I followed. It’s the plight of being the youngest (or maybe that’s a gift).
After that the old hotel and I began an understanding with each other. It had a captive audience of a ten year old girl and it cast a spell on in me. The sudden shadows, the creaks, the groans of old wood, the oddly placed doors and handrails, the angles, those fantastic turret rooms — all of them blended into a hodgepodge of fantasies. “What was that? Did you see that?” My skin would crawl with the unknown. Those abandoned rooms needed airing out. So that’s what we did. We lightened the load on the structure. We put a roof on. And painted and painted and painted again. And the place flowed with people—the curious passersby, friends, strangers, family. All those dark corners would ebb almost to nothing and the fireplace glowed doubt away.
But in the two years I lived in it with mom and Duncan, during the week it would go back to being a rotting castle. Some of the shadows would reclaim a room and fix their place in my mind again. A place I had previously walked with head held high would find me wide eyed and terrified all over again. My bravery wilted in the quiet of the Mentone Springs Hotel’s dusty halls and stairs. The building didn’t seem ready to change and no one else seemed to notice but me. Indeed, my dad would come up on the weekends straight from Atlanta and tackle this and tackle that. The flow of helping friends converged. Prez would make spaghetti and meatballs, Terri would pick guitar and sing, Sandy would lend one hand and drink with the other, dad directed traffic and made sure none of us were too idle for too long, mom laughed and talked, and everyone got covered in dirt. And that is the slow way to change a building.
And change it did—and we did with it. I stopped trying to escape to the outside so much. I even began staying upstairs and out of the dungeon. The windows seem to let more light in and the walls took on brighter and lighter colors. The rotten boards were replaced. Some of the groans subsided. The old lady began to feel herself again and remember who she was as more and more life poured through the doors. May we all be so lucky to let light in. Rest in peace MSH-I’m glad you found yourself before the end.