Of beaches and futbol

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…

Needing a name….

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.


Summer and the time is flying

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.

In the shadows of the old hotel

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

Julia Padgett

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.

MLK day

Just pointing out how much I love the fact that MLK day has transitioned into a day of community activity and service. I mean, sure, everyone wants just a day off — but the impact of getting out and working for an organization or event that helps those in your community speaks more to the message that (perhaps) Martin Luther King Jr. would advocate. (I only say perhaps because I didn’t know the man. But have you heard anything he said? Read any of his speeches? Well, I think we can all make the leap that he would love the fact we celebrate his life by participating in his dream.)

Unfortunately I have to work. So please, if you can, get out there and pick up trash in front of your home (wear gloves) or take something useful to a shelter. Or go the extra mile and participate in an event and be part of a team. However big or small, it may have the potential to positively change a moment in someone’s life — or just make it look better when people walk by. And if you live in Atlanta, I can’t think of anything better than going to visit the King Center and get a glimpse of the past, present and hopeful future. Tell me all about it, because I have not been (yet).

Me? I’m taking a box of books to a book drop after work and have 2 bags of clothes to drop off. No, it’s not a lot, but it is what I’ve got planned for today. Hoping for more in the weeks to come. As I commented to a friend’s blog earlier, I need to redirect some of my energies to my dear hometown. There is a lot here that needs some healing.

Today’s stars

Lots of stars are excited today with the Academy Award nominations coming out. And stars are some of my favorite shapes (I have them hanging from my ceiling, in my windows and scattered about my abode). But that isn’t really what I’m talking about here.

Today’s stars are all about the little foil types that we would get in grade school when we did something right. I’ve carried that tradition into my adulthood. When I quit smoking over two years ago, I’d give myself a star every day that passed without a cigarette until months were full of stars. When I began running and exercising, I would put a star on the days I’d go over 30 minutes. So, in my year of no excuses, I’ve got decided to give myself a new goal every month. This month’s goal involves getting at least 3 stars in the work week for working out (running, working out with a video, getting on the NordicTrak, etc). Seems simple, I usually do more than that in a week. Except apparently not so much in the work week. I was great on weekends and would manage 2 (sometimes) 3 Monday through Friday— but trending stars is proving a bit more difficult.

And today I woke up with swollen glands and feeling cruddy. But, I’m pushing on. I did cancel plans with my friend Jennifer (because I don’t want to hold her back). However, I’m going to make myself —even for just 30 minutes — work out when I get home.

Wish me luck! Send me star vibes. Trust me, I won’t overdo it — but I’ll at least get it done.

2014 y’all

Clearly I got kittens. I only say that because my last post was that my catalogical clock was ticking and then you never heard from me again. Well, I got kittens. Two to be exact (Hushpuppy and Otis) and they have managed to suck the time and life right out of me. OK..OK. Alright already… I’m not going to sit here and blame my slackdom on two (not very) innocent creatures. No, they don’t like me to type. No, they don’t like me to sit quietly without them on me or biting me or cattacking me. But this is the year of NO EXCUSES in my world. So no excuses. The problem is me.

I’ve not written because I’m really happy and in a good place and even though I’ve been traveling and having blog worthy adventures — well, I’ve just not put it down on the screen and shared it beyond the cryptic impulses of Facebook. But today a long time friend of mine began blogging (for the first time I think) and it unhinged something in me. So here I am, saying way too late to you all “Happy New Year”.

Help me cling to the NO EXCUSES rule! I need some support. Oh! Maybe I’ll bore you all with kitty pictures soon!