Monday, September 29, 2008

The Wisdom of Arthur

I was super grumpy coming home from work today. Didn't even turn on the radio, just rode home feeling hot and gross and growly, sick of work, not wanting to do my interview, not happy with anything.

We leave the TV on for our dog now, ever since our friends Wyatt and Jenni said how it made their mastiff, Percy, a little calmer and happier while they were out. Budha was so mellow today that he didn't even run up for his usual HELLO! HELLO! HELLO!, just stretched and yawned like he was saying, O, you're back again? After turning off the alarm, I sat there on the coach with him, curled up on the pile of blankets, griping still about the interview I had to do and work and family troubles. 

The PBS show Arthur was on, and suddenly I heard, "A is for Angry." And then Arthur (a funny little bear man for those who've never seen it) said, "Whoa, D.W.!" (my initials!) to another funny little bear she-woman who was griping about something. Was it a sign or just one of those odd coincidences? It doesn't matter; it sure made me smile though.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Breaking News

We were driving back down Calhoun Expressway after enjoying a meal by Chef Philippe Chin at Pastel when "Oh, my God!"

"What?!!" asked Sean, slamming on the brakes.

"Look!" I pointed over the treetops to our right, where a mound of flames, brilliantly orange against the purply black sky, sent up a billowing column of smoke. The flames licked well above the tops of the trees.

"Where is it?" asked Sean as he started roaring down Calhoun. "Let's find it...I may need to get a camera." We crossed 13th Street and started heading down Greene. I rolled down my window and raindrops hit my face as I kept looking down to my right. 12th, 11th, 10th, 9th...we kept getting closer. "I'm getting a camera."

We whipped to our left toward the Augusta Chronicle building, just as a firetruck, lights blazing, sirened past us. We drove down to the rear photo entrance. As Sean went upstairs, I waited in the car, then another car drove up. It was Annette, fresh from shooting Cirque de la Symphonie. As Sean came back down the stairs, he and Annette decided to swap places--she'd head out to the fire while he edited her images and alerted the newsroom.

Inside the crowded, creative space of Photo, Sean answered the "bleee-eeep" of his phone and confirmed to the night editor that Annette would be covering the fire. Annette called back to report that she'd found it...most of the historic Southern Milling Co. was engulfed in flames. Sean said, "Get what you can." 

I paced while Sean flipped through Annette's photos of acrobats twisting and bending and tossing rings to the music of the Augusta Symphony, part of this year's Westobou Festival. Chris called next; he'd heard about the fire and would head over too. Just as Sean finished making his photo edits, the door slammed. "Annette!"

She was back, one of the first journalists on the ground before the police and firemen pushed everyone back. Her images of the water arcing from the fully extended firetruck's ladder, lit by the glow of the thirsting flames, with a hose curling on the street in the foreground, emphasized the magnitude of the fire. According to Annette, the brick section of the mill was fine, but the entire rest of it--a wooden structure still containing combustible chemicals and other fire food--had gone up. 

We left to do a little looking of our own. The street was entirely blocked by fire engines and police cars...the lights could be seen from blocks away. The fire was still glowing, although tempered by the continuous spray of water. 

We came home then, still full and tired but with adrenaline pumping. "That was fun," I said, smiling at my husband. All in a day's work. 

P.S. Here's the link to the story and photo.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Everyone's Got a Bathroom Story

So my little bathroom story was published this week in Abode, and I was so thrilled to see that Amy Christian, the editor, wrote her editor's letter about my story and her own bathroom trials.

Here's Amy's letter...hard copy available inside this week's Metro Spirit. A link to my story is in the Clips column on the right.

Thanks, Amy! I'm glad we can commiserate together.

Bathroom nightmares


AUGUSTA, GA - You know how Harry Potter was confined to a bedroom the size of a closet under the stairs in the Dursleys’ house when we first met him all those years ago? Well, I have a bathroom kind of like that.

So when I first read Danielle Wong Moores’ story, “Bathroom Purgatory” (page 18), I had to laugh. Yes, I laughed because it’s funny (sorry to laugh at your misfortunes, Danielle), but I also laughed because it seems she and I have something in common: We both have bathrooms we don’t know what to do with.

When my husband and I were looking for a home five or six years ago, we really wanted one with two bathrooms. We decided on the house we still live in today which, technically, has one and a half baths. We didn’t mind at the time because we loved the house so much.

I still love our house, but I am beginning to get really tired of our downstairs bathroom.

What’s wrong with it? Well, it’s located under our staircase which means two things: one part of the ceiling slants to a degree that, at a certain point, a person can’t stand upright.

So even though there’s still room back there, cleaning it is nearly impossible. The second thing the location means is that it’s about the size of a closet. And I don’t mean a walk-in closet. I mean a downstairs hall closet.

I bet Danielle, when she walks into her bathroom, can at least turn around in a circle with her arms out. I can’t, unless I want to have bruises on my arms the next day.

Where the ceiling begins to slant also contains what looks like a metal box against one wall. It’s pretty big and juts out a few inches into that back part of the bathroom.

Apparently, it’s part of the cooling system, which means we can’t do a damn thing with it (although it has become a handy storage shelf).

So basically, the only things we can fit in that bathroom are the toilet, a pedestal sink and a mirror — although the mirror can’t go directly over the sink because that’s where the ceiling begins to slant. Oh, and that back portion of the bathroom is the perfect size for the cat box, so you can imagine that it never smells very good, despite how many air fresheners I stick in that small space.

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that, at the moment, there’s not much I can do about that particular room in my house. We’re not quite at the point where we have the time, money or inclination to do a full-on renovation. Until we do, we’ll continue to employ the previous owners’ idea of a curtain to hide the back portion of the bathroom. It’ll just have to do.

Maybe when Danielle’s finished with her bathroom and she hands over the title of “Ugliest Bathroom Ever” to me, she can come take a look at mine.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Falling for Fall

All the circulars in the Sunday paper are telling me it's time for fall to be here. I stare at all the pictures of plastic autumn leaves and papier-mache pumpkins and long for branches of real autumn leaves to decorate my house and real pumpkins to put on my front steps. I'm dreaming about cool weather days and the first sweaters of the season, snuggly blankets and long walks down Broad Street in jackets. I want to tear out the dying flowers of summer and plant the cheerful pansies of the cold weather season. In the kitchen, I'm already thinking about the first potato soup and fiery chili to put up in the freezer for winter days to come. 

Come the end of winter, I know I'll be going through the same thing, only it will be dreaming of shorts and bikinis and beach weather. It's the change in seasons that I truly love, the little feeling of anticipation that you get in your belly, knowing that it's right around the corner. I can almost taste the fresh, crisp air. Soon, very soon, it will be all apple pies and piles of leaves and camel coats with bright red gloves. And I'm so ready. 

Funny Dog

We call this "Budha tongue." 

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Italian Days

Italy's been on my mind the past few days. It's been about six months since our trip, a couple of our friends have asked for our recommendations for their upcoming trip, and I have a story due for a local magazine. So here's a little excerpt from my journal, chronicling our favorite city, Venice: 

Wandering the streets of Venice with a map in your pocket, but ignored, lets you come upon small surprises everywhere. Suddenly an open square lies before you with a singing gondolier beckoning you for a ride, or suddenly a perfect Italian picture--a grandmother all in black holding a cane, entering her home against a backdrop of salmon-colored stucco. Or, a sculpture of a pig flashes its genitals at you. You never know what lies within these narrow alleyways, with their in-leaning houses. 

We really did see a statue of a pig for sale, lolling on his back and flashing everyone who walked by. It was fun sitting at a nearby restaurant eating delicious seafood risotto and watching all the doubletakes of tourists as they walked by the shop window.