Saturday, July 30, 2011


I have some photos to post.  Not as many as I'd like, as this has been the pedal-to-the-metal version of a cross-country trip, and, well, we have been driving too hard, too fast, for too long to stop and take pictures.  Tonight we are here.  My friend is in her new home, and I am...doing this:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cross-Country Road Trip, Day One

Today I'm off with my dear friend, Gladys Beatrice, on the first leg of our cross-country trip.  I am hoping for wi-fi hot spots along the way, but since we are traveling with a dog, and low-budget, I make no promises.  Stay tuned for photos whenever I get connected.

I'll be 60 in January.  I'm calling this trip my 60th birthday kick-off.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What I'm Currently Working On

My volunteer gigs are all so different:  A daycare for kids who are HIV+, the local literacy council, the animal shelter, and an architectural preservation organization.  The boards where I currently serve are comprised of such varied types, and each board has its own collective personality.  One of them has what I would call a Cadillac budget, one a shoestring, and the other one, well...we're working on a budget.  Each one draws out of me another part of my passion.

Where the daycare, the shelter, and the literacy organization all appeal to the humanitarian in me, the architectural preservation group awakens my sense of wonder about the beauty in my city, and prods my creative self to move.  One of our fund raisers is a project where artists/craftspeople/musicians/builders/plain-folks-like-me take a salvaged door (or in my case, a window) and make whatever we want out of it.  Over the years, there have been amazing creations:  musical instruments, cabinetry, furniture.  I decided, not surprisingly, to do something with photos.  I am calling my piece, "A Dozen Reasons To Preserve" and have used 12 of my photographs of my city.  Neither of the shots of the finished piece are very good-I had to shoot them inside at night just to get the pictures taken-the project is due tomorrow.  But the pictures below will give you an idea of the thing.  These are the original window, half done, and finished.

Rough Window Before

Painted Window During

Finished Window, No Flash
Finished Window, With Flash

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Silver Friendship Anniversary

In the summer of 1986, I had just begun the steps to adopt for the first time.  I was single.  People frowned.  My family, true to form, believed in me and supported my idea.  My sisters have always been my greatest advocates.  If they have thought I was a total screwball with hair-brained ideas, they have never let on.  The first step I took in the adoption process, after meeting with an adoption consultant (there's a story there, too) was to sign up for The Conference on Single Parent Adoption, sponsored by an organization known as SPACE (Single Parents for Adoption of Children Everywhere.)  The conference was amazing!  I met many families,  and many prospective parents, and as I looked around at the 100+ people there, I realized that what I wanted to do was not only achievable, but not insane.
The organizer of the conference was a very funny, warm, smart woman who had adopted four children, all of whom were present.  Her only girl was 21, and her sons were 14, 11, and one.  I spent a lot of time talking to her, despite the fact that she was incredibly busy.  We clicked.  I loved her, and the feeling seemed mutual.  I didn't see her again until two years later, when my own Older Daughter was an infant and we attended the conference again.  And every two years, from then on,  we went, through the adoption of my Younger Daughter and right up through OD's first year of undergraduate school.  Gladys Beatrice, the conference leader and I became very close friends.  Down to the soul friends.  Our children grew up together;  in fact, our children refer to each other as brothers and sisters.  We weathered unspeakable difficulties together.    We have had laughing fits so hard we've had to pull the car over.  We spent hours and hours at the beach together, our children splashing in the lake while we sat in the shade and talked about everything there is.   My move from New England was hard on me and all my family and friends there, and GB is no exception.  But the friendship stands the test of time.  She turned 65 in November.  She retired.  And she's moving from my beloved Massachusetts to California for a million great reasons, and also just because she wants to.
When she called me about a month ago and asked if I wanted to drive across country with her, I didn't hesitate.  The Attorney agreed:  it had to happen.   So I'm packing a suitcase, flying to New England, and driving coast to coast with my friend.  It will be a wild trip, and we are taking the southern route so as to slide through my current home town so she can see The Attorney and my Younger Daughter.  We have cards, audio books, GPS, a laptop, 2 still cameras, and a video camera, and we are taking our Thelma and Louise trip, minus the seedy bars, lecherous cowboys, and flight off a cliff at the end.
Here we are in 2006.  It's not the greatest shot of either one of us, but you can see the joy we feel in being together.
I cannot wait. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


When my kids both moved out, even with the amazing luxury of extra time with The Attorney, I found myself floundering a little.  It definitely was not that I was lost without them, but I missed the time suck rewarding activities that parenting teenagers brings.  For years, I have volunteered and sat on the board of Hope House and have really enjoyed it.  This June ended my tenure as Board President.  So I went looking for other things to do.  I am now on the board of Literacy Mid-South and Memphis Heritage.  I am also VP of my neighborhood association, where I have met several busy-bodies and complainers wonderful neighbors.  But the volunteering I do now that is by far the most difficult and the most gratifying is working at our city animal depository shelter.   Every year, over 15,000 cats,dogs, and other stray animals are dumped lovingly surrendered at our intake counter.  The Attorney is violently allergic to cats, so I cannot do much with them, but I play with, clean, walk, cuddle, train, talk to, and most importantly: foster dogs.  It started out innocently enough.  Our Younger Daughter found a puppy running on a busy street a couple of years ago.  Knowing that we are  suckers compassionate dog-lovers, she wagged that puppy home.  The sweet little doggie was about 8 weeks old.  We found her a home, and she moved along just in time to be a Christmas present for 4 sweet young boys whose mother works with me.  In the 3 weeks that we had her, she was house-trained, and knew "go to bed," "sit," and "stay."  Very smart dog.  And I loved fostering.  We got to have the fun of another thankless creature  canine companion to add to the 3 we already have, and we didn't have to keep her. 
Shortly after I started at the shelter, an outbreak of kennel cough required them to get several dogs out before they infected other dogs.  The shelter would have to euthanize them.  So I ran over and got a pair of litter-mates, Marley and Joy.  We nursed them back to health, and returned them to the shelter, from where they were subsequently adopted by 2 great families.  Within a couple of weeks, another plea went out.  Back I trotted, and got Abby.  Same story-back to health, back to the shelter, happily adopted.  And so on.  We are now up to our fifth dog.  I don't have still shots of all of them, but here are Abby, Buster, and Rusty.  Plus a video of Marley and Joy.   And I feel sure there will be more.

Buddy Hiding At The Shelter

Buddy, One Day Later At Home

Was Punkin, Then Rusty, Now Poncho

Monday, July 11, 2011

Where I'm From

I am from cameras, from Hellman's Mayonnaise and humor.  And from Scotties and Tuxedo cats named after authors.
I am from the Big yellow house, warm, honey-dipped and steeped in pool chlorine. 
I am from the peonies, the cardinals, and the black-capped chickadees.
I am from road trips and wiseasses, from Aida and He Who Must Be Obeyed. 
I am from the sarcastic and the compassionate.
From Democrat in Republican clothing and flat-out Republican
I am from recovering Catholics.
I'm from Pennsylvania and New York and Canada, from fine French Food and too much wine.
From the Car People and the Loving People and the Dog Lovers.
I am from handmade photo albums filled with black and white pictures with ruffled edges and deep cracks.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Restaurant Recommendation-Thai in New Orleans

The Attorney and I went for Thai food in New Orleans.  That may sound bizarre, given all the Creole/French/Southern food available, but we did a little of a lot of things.  Basil Leaf is not in the French Quarter, but we had a car and it was an easy drive.  It came recommended to us.  We were not disappointed.  Behold the Shrimp Dumplings.  Pretty, and very tasty. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

"Us" Time

My love and I had grown accustomed to the empty nest.  Our Older Daughter, off in the cold but beautiful Midwest (go Wolverines!) for graduate school, visits occasionally.  Holidays.  Our Younger Daughter is in college (how is that possible?) in our home town, but living on campus.  Our life rhythm has changed;  much more volunteering on my part, less formal meals, more reading.  We miss the sounds, the fragrance, the laughter that our daughters and their friends brought to the house-ours has been the "go-to" house for many late nights, parties, games nights.  We miss the detritus of teenage girls, the visits of favorite local cousins, the anticipation of first dates, the sounds of strange things falling on the third floor.  "Was that the cue stick?  The futon?  WHAT WAS THAT??"
As much as we miss all of it, we sort of like just us.  Because YD is here for the summer, and her (fabulous, sweet, kind, calm) boyfriend a lot of the time, too, we haven't had the luxury of just shuffling downstairs, circling our hands around warm cups, and soaking in eachother's company.  So off to New Orleans we went.  And it was fabulous.  We read, we talked, we sang, we swam, we held hands and wandered around in the heat.  It was only 4 days, but it felt like a really nice, long treat.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Report From The Field: There Is More Work To Be Done

The World's Best Bleeding Heart Attorney and I had the opportunity to make use of a very generous offer from a family member:  use of her condo in the French Quarter.  We had not been to New Orleans since May of 2000, when we went there to exchange vows and rings.  In addition to having wonderful food, we did a lot of walking and a lot of driving.  We wanted to visit the Lower Ninth Ward, one of the areas most hard-hit by Hurricane Katrina.  Our desire to visit there was two-fold:  we wanted to see how much progress had been made, and we wanted to see the neighborhood where our Older Daughter worked building houses with Habitat for Humanity over her Spring Breaks during her undergraduate career at Excellent Women's College.  We have always been proud of her desire to help others, and her willingness to work hard.
What we found in the Ninth Ward was disheartening.  Progress has been made, undoubtedly.  Look at these houses.

But there is still SO much devastation.  So many houses that are completely demolished.  Where have the people gone?  What happened to them, and what are their stories?  And mostly, mostly...How is it possible that this kind of nightmare can take place in the United States, and almost six years later, the houses are still like this:

I have heard it said that perhaps these houses looked like this beforehand, or that it is the result of the "rampant looting" that took place in New Orleans after the storm.  I have heard people compare how the Japanese people reacted after their recent earthquake and tsunami to the people in the poor sections of New Orleans.  Words like "honor" and "courage" are used to describe the people in Japan, and words like "thugs" and "savages" describing the Americans.   I have also heard accounts from people who were there, in New Orleans, during and after Katrina.  People who worked in hospitals and rebuilding neighborhoods, people who rescued strangers from rushing water by boat, and helped airlift people from their roofs.  These people, not the armchair sociologists, have given accounts of courage, risk-taking, love, and cooperation that far outnumber the crimes.  As a country, we should be ashamed that this is the way one of the most beautiful cities in our nation still looks, six years hence.