Saturday, March 31, 2007

Hanging in There

There’s been a flurry of activity over at my CafePress shop, hanging in there, since last week and I think it must have something to do with Elizabeth Edwards. It’s strange since I don’t wear the pink ribbon myself, but I think it does send a message although there are days when I’d like to forget the words breast cancer.

I thank those of you buying CafePress stuff with my designs. I sent a donation yesterday to as promised.

Maybe one day. Soon. Til then, “Believe.”

Friday, March 30, 2007

Okay, Now I Really, Really Did Win Something

Just last week with tongue in cheek, I posted about winning one of those infernal E-mail Yahoo-account-cloggin’ contests. I think y’all knew I was kidding, didn’t you?

Yesterday, the lady from the Montgomery Humane Society called me up to let me know I’d won first place in the “Through the Cat’s Eye” contest that they were putting on as a silent auction fundraiser. I had to ask her to repeat what she said for I hardly call my painting style “art.” It’s painting. But painting the bathroom is also painting and I don’t call that “art."

I’ve been doing a lot more painting of the bathroom kind lately, and “Butch,” as I dubbed my work, was actually completed a couple of years ago. What with getting ready to move and all, I thought he needed a home. When I saw the call for entries article in the local paper, I said, “I’m taking ‘Butch’ to the Humane Society.” And that dear gentle readers, is how I actually won 1st place at a juried art show.

Scotty and I walked onto the hallowed grounds of the Montgomery Country Club, my first and probably last time there, to attend the reception. Visions of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and grand parties of the Jazz Age entered my head. These icons of that decadent period met at a dance at the Montgomery Country Club while Fitzgerald was stationed at nearby Camp Sheridan. They even lived in Montgomery for a few months when they weren’t gallivanting around the world with the likes of Ernest Hemingway.

It was a pleasant evening. I collected my little check and looked at the other entries (none like my folk art) and went home with the knowledge that the old cat was good for something after all.

P.S. Butch was a real cat. Bill and I acquired him while living on 13th St. in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. We were University of Alabama college students at the time, and Butch became a part of us that we couldn't or wouldn't let go of even though there was no real reason to keep him around. He was too ornery to foist off onto someone else, even a cat lady.

He'd jump out and scratch Bill and hide under the bed when Bill chased him with a broom. When little Jeff tried to pet Butch, Butch gave him a scar that he still sports on his face. Butch wasn't a lap cat, didn't catch mice, ate and pooped like cats do and for the life of me, I can't imagine why we kept him around. He was too mean to die and lived until he was 19 years old. I'm convinced he's in the equivalent of where bad people go. Well, if you are sentimental, maybe all cats do go to heaven. But he had an attitude. "You pull my tail, kid, I'm gonna get you." Maybe that's why we tolerated each other.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A Great Little Sucker-Upper

I love my Oreck upright vacuum cleaner. When we bought it a few years ago, it came with the Oreck Super-Deluxe Compact Canister Vacuum and a cordless iron. I love the compact vac for a reason Mr. Oreck probably doesn’t promote. Yes, it comes in handy to clean up the paint chips and dust I’ve been kicking up around the house. But my favorite thing to suck up with the little cleaner is wasps. Sometimes I leave the door open and with no screen doors, invariably a big fat wasp finds its way in. Then, I have to think about exactly how close to I want to get to the creature to kill it. Is it death by smacking it with Time Magazine or a possible reprieve by sucking it up into the little vac’s bag? Kind of a catch and release. I’ve learned to carry the vac outside and leave it a while in case Mr. Wasp decides to crawl out the hose to freedom again inside. Yes, that did happen and I had to “catch” him again. So far I haven’t gotten stung and the little vac that’s “Strong Enough To Pick Up A 16-lb. Bowling Ball” has been mighty enough to pick up every wasp, fly, hornet, yellow jacket or big fly I’ve come across.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A Mighty Fortress

“As long as our civilization is essentially one of property, of fences, of exclusiveness, it will be mocked by delusions.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

I wonder what message the builders of the massive fence intend. Are they hoping to lock out criminals, child molesters, door-to-door solicitors, Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormans? Fences either keep people or animals out or in. Rarely do they do the job with complete success. Those guys on the TV show Prison Break found a way out of Fox River State Penn (a.k.a Joliet Prison). A dog can dig under a fence or jump over a fence if he is really set on escape. Kids will climb a fence to go swimming, retrieve a baseball or just because someone wants them to stay away.

Fences are necessary to corral animals like horses, cattle and friend Stan’s two ostriches. Necessary to enclose dangerous activities, swimming pools, military bases. Fences can be small like one set up to keep rabbits out of the garden, although Peter did manage to squeeze under. Huge fences can enclose an entire town like the ones that surround Times Beach in Missouri after the environmental disaster.

I have been watching the development of this fence for several months now since I pass by it often. Even before the streets were paved and the land plotted for houses, the fence was commenced. It’s a strong fence as I would think a brick fence or rather a brick wall would be. Once the houses are built and the people come will they be safe? Will they escape crime, abuse, addictions, job troubles, head-strong kids, worrying about money? Will they be isolated, insulated, or prisoners by choice?

From the Mending Wall by Robert Frost:
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
“Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.”

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Oh My! I Won!

It’s so incredible. I won!!!! I just got the E-mail notification from London that I’d won in the Honda Car International Promotion Program. Now, don’t be hitting me up for money. I’m investing it all in some land in Florida.

I think I’m the lucky person in the world.

Friday, March 23, 2007

On the Road to Tallassee

I'm not in the mood to write about anything serious today. Instead, I'm just going to post a favorite photo I took last September when we drove over to Tallassee for lunch at the Hotel Talisi. I'll update my dining review while here. There's new ownership and the food is still pretty much the same with a few twists here and there. They still have the turnip greens casserole that I wish someone would give me a recipe for. I've never seen it anywhere else.

If I were a real estate agent writing a caption for this property, it would be:
Charming classic country home available. Convenient to I-85. Mature landscaping. Dryer and satellite dish included. Window treatments remain.

I wish I could be funny. Funny like Miss Trashahassee, over at Trashology. She hails from Tallahassee, not to be confused with Tallassee. Only thing separating the two towns is an ah. Her humor is of the white trash, trailer court variety, and I think in all reality she’s a smart woman. But, I’ll go with the ruse.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

My Message to Elizabeth Edwards

Today is a hard day for all of us touched by breast cancer who were pulling for you to remain free of the disease. A married couple is in it together, and I felt your spirit of hope as I listened to you and John revel some of the details. John is standing by your side and so are many others. May the work he has set out on with your advice, counsel and blessings go forward and may the treatments keep the beast at bay for a long time.


Short & Sweet Thursday

Let us rid our vocabularies of:

Went missing

Passed away (died)

Resigned under pressure (fired)

Have some more nominees? Let's hear them.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Boys Gone Natural

The boys are somewhere up in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Well, I assume they are there. I did get one phone call from Scotty that he and his two buddies had arrived. I don’t think they are partying with the Girls Gone Wild tour. They are probably trying to keep Yogi Bear and Boo-Boo from stealing their picanick basket. They are camping.

I remember how much fun spring break was when I was a kid. We didn’t go on any fancy trips like some kids do now to Cancun or New York City. We just hung around the house playing board games and pestering our parents for some excitement while the teachers went to their annual statewide meeting. That didn’t seem fair that they were busy learning new ways to make our lives more difficult when we returned to school.

Taking off is highly underappreciated with Americans vacationing far less than those enlightened Europeans who take the whole month of August off. I don’t see much benefit in all of our industriousness. The “Man” is still sending our jobs off to India, China and Dubai.

So, here’s to goofing off, taking off, road trips, vacationing and playing hooky.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Starbucks in the News

Note: This is long. Please read it and think about the incident described. I'd be curious to see what my readers think.

Booted from Starbucks

News from my former hometown, Glen Ellyn, Illinois, is troubling. Alerted by son Jeff, I checked out the Daily Herald for the details. A few weeks ago, a 70-year-old woman, Louise Kilborn, was kicked out of the downtown Starbucks claiming it’s because employees mistook her for a homeless person.

In the four years since I left Glen Ellyn has the village grown so coldhearted as to treat people this way?

Kilborn wasn’t mollified by the apology from corporate Starbucks. "The issue here is not that I was asked to leave Starbucks,” Kilborn said. “It is the treatment of the homeless who are singled out.”

According to Kilborn, she had purchased a cup of coffee and had just sat down next to a homeless man she knew from Glen Ellyn’s Welcome Center (open Sunday afternoons for sheltering homeless). He told her he’d been asked to leave and when Kilborn was likewise told to skedaddle, she refused and police were called.

Kilborn, herself once homeless, said, “No one should be humiliated like that.”

DuPage County is thought of as a wealthy county on the whole and that is what troubles me about this issue. What do we do with those who aren’t making it? I once worked in DuPage County Human Services and saw firsthand the plight of some of the county’s poorest residents. Yes, even an affluent county like DuPage has a sizable homeless population. Back then, and I believe it still is the case, overnight shelter was provided to homeless people by the area churches on a rotating basis through an organization called DuPage PADS. Churches in downtown Glen Ellyn provided shelter on certain days as well as a food pantry.

Who are the homeless? Statistically, the typical homeless person in DuPage County is a single white male age 41 with at least a high school diploma who has never been to prison. In addition to limited funds, most homeless persons are dealing with other issues such as mental or physical illness, domestic violence or substance abuse. A whopping 79% of families thrown into homelessness are there because of domestic violence.

I only remember one homeless “regular” about town when I lived there--a bearded fellow who rode around on a bike with all his earthly belongings perched on the handlebars. Yeah, I’d see him outside on the bench in front of Starbucks, but he never bothered me or asked for money.

Yet, this issue continues to be one we can’t quite figure out--not in Glen Ellyn, not on other Main Streets in America. DuPage County does have some transitional housing programs but not enough. No mother and her children should have to sleep in their car. But they do, even in DuPage County. I know because I tried to help them.

I was a little curious to see what the citizens of Glen Ellyn thought of the issue and checked out the Glen Ellyn Message Board Forum for insight.

Agnes said:

The article’s headline makes the whole thing seem reprehensible...until you read further. The woman who was asked to leave admits, that she 1. was once homeless herself, 2. volunteered at the Methodist Church’s “welcoming center” for the homeless, and 3. was actually sitting down talking to a homeless regular when she was asked to leave.

I think she was hoping that this would happen and had the phone # of the local reporter on her speed dial.

I say good for Starbucks for finally taking control of the situation. The library can’t do it because they are a public entity, but a private concern should be allowed to do what they need to do to make their customers want to keep patronizing them.

Clamato had this to say:

So where does one draw the line? Personally, I do not like to be in the presence of groups of 13 and 14 year-old boys. They are loud and obnoxious...seldom clever...and order drinks that I cannot afford. Yet there they are...sitting in Starbucks causing more trouble than most of the homeless stinkpots do. Do they get kicked out? Also, I am very uncomfortable with the elderly women that are there on a daily basis with there hair that is washed once a week at 499 West...wait, that guy went out of Linea. They smell like cooked cabbage and remind me of my impending death. I would like to see their time inside limited. I think we all agree on African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians, too. They gotta go. Let's see...who is left? Oh, yeah...well-off white folk. I'm all good with them.

“Until a larger solution is found, one volunteer at Glen Ellyn’s Welcome Center has a simple suggestion: treat the homeless like everybody else.”

P.S. Starbucks Gossip has more on the topic.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Letting Go and Moving On

I woke up early as I usually do. This morning was different and somehow I sensed that something special was going to happen. Of course, I said to myself, something always happens. I even wrote down my thoughts at 5:16 a.m.

The first thing I realized was that over the course of the last week I had let go of a matter that had been troubling me. While I didn’t forgive the injustice and meanness that had occurred, I did find myself moving beyond those events. The past became history and I woke up realizing for the first time that the heaviness and obsession with the matter had left. Instead, I found I was looking forward to the day to see exactly what it would bring.

By 9:40 a.m. I had already received two phone calls each of which could have been a harbinger of the special happening. And later I received another phone call that was the good news I had sensed.

What will your day bring? Do you live your life waiting for something special to happen? With some matters as is the case with the phone call with the good news, there is nothing we can do but wait for others to act. Wishing and hoping won’t change the outcome will it? But with other matters like the burden of the past that had been weighing me down, we can control and change the course by letting go and moving on.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

I think Republican presidential contenders have been reading a little too much Uncle Remus. First, it was Mitt Romney apologizing for calling the Big Dig construction project in Boston a “tar baby,” and now, poor old John McCain has fallen down into a tar pit himself when using the “tar baby” language. While both used “tar baby” to refer to a difficult problem that is aggravated by attempts to solve it, it can also be used as a derogatory term for a black person and that’s reason enough to avoid it altogether especially if you want to be President and you are a white guy.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Home is Where the Heart Is

The wooden plaque hangs in the kitchen. This isn’t the first kitchen nor the last that this treasure has known or will know. When older son Jeff was in the fourth grade and I was a room mother, his teacher gave it to me for Christmas. Six kitchens. Six states. 20 years. The sentiment has pretty much become my philosophy. Home is where you hang your heart.

The first home for the plaque was a rented Dutch colonial house in Webster Groves, Missouri. Next, it traveled with us to the first home we bought just at the end of the bust in Houston, Texas. Then, a short stay in a house in Appleton, Wisconsin that was a perfect Prairie-style home overlooking the Fox River. The Mariemont, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati, home was steps away from U.S. Highway 50 but backed up to a forest preserve of sorts. Back to Glen Ellyn, Illinois and the little Cape Cod on East Road and finally (well never finally) Lexington Road in Montgomery, Alabama.

When we landed back in Alabama, it was a homecoming for Bill and me. He grew up in Birmingham in between cross-country moves to Southern California. Once my dad got out of the Air Force, we settled in his native Alabama and I stayed until I graduated law school in 1979.

The South I now find myself preparing to leave again after just getting reacquainted will always be the one place I consider home above all others. It’s the place I feel I belong, understand as much as anyone can, and appreciate. I love the fried green tomatoes, cotton fields, football on fall Saturdays, ramshackled-kudzu-covered barns where green disguises rot and decay. Rolling pine graced hills, hawks and redbirds.

And yet there is a part of my beloved South that is still hard for me to accept. I understand them but have little use for the diehards who cling to tired attitudes about race like toddlers holding onto security blankets dirty and long past the time their mommas should have washed them and put them away as mere keepsakes. I won’t miss them.

Making Private Matters Public

She plopped down into the faux leather chair directly across from me at the chain bookstore. No sooner than she’d settled in with the baggy full of pretzels and a giant Sonic drink did her cell phone begin to ring. Me, I would have taken this conversation outside. She, however, ignored my presence, oblivious to my significance or disregarding it. It was as if I was invisible. She was at the center of this Universe.

“He cheated on a test?” she asked in her best Roseann Barr loud nasily voice. “Boots, I have to tell you every kid in America has cheated on a test.”

Whaa-whaa-whaa on the other end.

“Hush! Everybody does it at some point.”

More whaa-whaa-whaa.

“Punishment? Two weeks for an 11 year old is too much. Tell Phil to get out his belt and put it to his behind. He’ll remember that.”


“Did he get kicked out of school? Boots, this a troubled kid. Somebody is going to have to sit on him. Boots, my faith is in you. You are my daughter.”


“He’s acting out for some reason, and it may be because his daddy left. How would you have felt if your daddy had left and moved in with another woman?”

At that point I had had enough of Boots and her momma’s conversation about the “troubled kid.” I went over to Momma, grabbed up the cell phone and threw it across the store to the self-help aisle.

P.S. You didn’t think I really did that, did you? That’s what Scotty said I ought to have done. Instead, I was the quiet observer—the one who goes home to blog.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Truth Matters

“Your boy goofed,” son one e-mailed me last week while including the link to the Slate piece about a John Edwards DVD on health care that was sent to Iowa caucus voters. The marketers/editors had engaged in some fancy and deceptive editing which involved taking remarks John Edwards made about the war in Iraq and applying them to health care. Was it a benign error simply the result of good intentions gone astray?

I haven’t read much about this nor have I seen a response from John Edwards. I know zealous campaign workers sometimes get out of hand without their candidate’s direct knowledge. But don’t think I’m letting John Edwards off the hook. Someone in the campaign should have been aware of this bad edit. And I always say the buck stops at the top.

There will be other goofs on the part of other candidates, and it looks like for me, at least, who I support will come down to which candidate makes the fewest blunders. That is unless it is Hillary Clinton, and UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WILL I SUPPORT HILLARY CLINTON. The last time this Yellow Dog Democrat took that dramatic a stand was when Jimmy Carter ran for re-election and I sat that one out.

However the ‘bad edit’ concerns me on another level and that is on the subject of visual and auditory honesty in marketing and communications. Anyone who knows a little about Photoshop knows how easy it is to make the false appear real. There seems to be an attitude of if it looks or sounds good, it is. I still hope a third question is pondered: is it true and honest?

Oh sure, Playboy used to airbrush the imperfections out of photos for the oh-so-perfect Playmates long before Photoshop came along. College marketers will sometimes use stock photos of people who are not their students--not my husband of course, but he did tell me of a conversation with an outside advertising consultant who used the stock photos because she said, “the real students are too ugly.” I imagine advertisers are likewise guilty in their haste to make their products sell.

But what I am asking is, remember to question. Remember that angles matter. What is left out can be as important as what is left in. Take the time to question and think for yourself.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Monte’s Spa Day

Natalie sent me this photo of my granddog, Monte, after his first time at the groomers’ or as Natalie calls it, “Monte’s Spa Day.” That’s always the way I thought of it when Samantha went for grooming. For me, it was the doggie beauty salon.

You know how good you feel when you get a haircut yourself. Well, dogs are the same way. Sam would come home all frisky and full of energy sporting either little bows in her long Springer ears or a more fashionable seasonal scarf.

Notice, Monte is all ready for St. Patrick’s Day with the shamrock neckwear. Unfortunately, I heard that after a certain episode at the dog park, Monte required another bath. Just like a kid.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

When It’s Time to Let Go

This story out of Idaho captured my attention today. A ‘berserk’ house cat attacked it’s owner sending her to the hospital by ambulance with over 20 bite wounds according to the AP. Apparently the cat attacked his owner after she answered the door to a neighbor holding another cat that she thought was the woman’s. “I think the owner said she was going to take it to the shelter because that's not the first time she’s been attacked,” said the assistant fire chief.

I guess I can understand the woman wanting to give the cat another chance. We once had a black and white hellcat named Butch that we kept for nearly 20 years. I think his meanness fueled his longivity. As a kitten, he would attack Bill and then dash under the bed before Bill could find the broom to chase him. When son one was a toddler, Butch gave him a scratch that left a facial scar. Butch was taken to the vet and declawed after that. The vet said, "We don't normally declaw a cat this old." Butch remained a household fixture but never was he the loving fat kitty that makes a good pet.

I think the lady in Idaho made the right decision.

Friday, March 09, 2007

She’s on the Market

Yes, the day finally came and Allison got the house up on the MLS yesterday. For Sale in Montgomery, Alabama: charming house with tons of character, a cool swimming pool and a house whose previous recent owners include two college professors, a judge and a noted Southern author plus the current talented and witty owners.

In the past, we've bought two houses from owners directly, sold one that way, used real estate agents for six transactions (3 homes). We've worried with termites, mold, leaky roofs, cracked windows, and countless other issues. We've lived with made-up beds, spotless kitchens, clean carpeting, pretty flowers and washed windows all in the name of inticing buyers. We've loaded cats and a large dog into my little red car and sat up the street in subzero weather while potential buyers trooped through homes. Yes, it does all eventually pay off.

The best house-selling experience was in Mariemont, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati, when on the third day after listing, a buyer bought our house which happened to be located on U.S. Hwy 50 where we were treated to several accidents right in front of the house. The longest took about three months.

Three days. Three months. I'll take three days. E-mail me. I have a house you ought to buy.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Little Things

When you climb the tall ladder to paint without bringing the phone with you, Monica from Dish Satellite Network keenly senses it and phones you; and you, knowing it might be that important phone call, attempt to get to the phone before the answering machine kicks on even if it nearly kills you.

You clean the garage and discover what was beneath that pile of clutter, and it’s of an animal nature.

You discover that Publix Greenwise low-fat milk from cows given no hormones will still flood over onto your feet because they filled the bottle too full. That’s OK. You haven’t taken a shower today yet. Wait a minute, did you yesterday?

You see the president of the PTA all pretty in pink with freshly coiffed hair when you run to the grocery store in paint-stained sweat pants and hair that is sadly in need of a good cut. You skirt down the aisle and hope she didn’t see you.

The GAP no longer makes that perfect pair of khaki pants, and what is more, nothing in their store appeals to you. You have outgrown their target market. You are now officially “old.”

There’s a reason Publix has so many Naturally Fresh Ginger Dressings packets for the prepared salads instead of the poppyseed dressing you really want and you spoil your fruits and nuts spring mix salad by being adventurous.

You walk past the TV tuned to CNN with President George Bush on delivering an address to the American Legion, and you hear him say after a bumbling attempt to quote a general, “That’s OK. He has a problem with English.” Laughter. A pause. “And, so do I.” You laugh. He’s all too human too, and for a brief moment, you like him.

Such is life.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Caulking for Dummies

An old house loves caulk. Any house with cracks would for that matter. Now, I’m okay at painting and sort of okay at wallpapering, and I’m learning which products work best and helpful crap like that. But for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why the caulking gun wouldn’t work yesterday. After I tried to read the pinhole size print on the back of the tube of caulk, I jumped on the Internet and the first Google search led me to Wilway Lumber’s how-to site and the answer to my question. Why couldn’t the manufacturer tell me this on the product to begin with?

After you get the cartridge of caulk in the gun,
“With a 16d or 20d nail, puncture the seal between the nozzle and the cartridge. You’ll have to poke the nail down the cartridge to do this – after, of course, you cut the angle on the nozzle. If you do not break this seal, the pressure generated by the caulking gun on the cartridge can crush the cartridge. It’s a mess.”
Worked like a charm.

I’m beginning to figure out things for myself and with the help of the Internet, I am starting to feel pretty darned smart. Smarter than my neighbor who rapped on my door last night anyway. “I’m locked out,” he said. “Can I borrow a screwdriver and pliers?” “Sure,” I said. “And how about a flashlight?” His look said “D’oh.”

Monday, March 05, 2007

Self Promotion Cross-Venue Monday

Over at River City Views, has a new template for my Montgomery blog. It's a nice view of a river--I seriously don't think it's the Alabama River though. Plus, they added the comments feature. I like having two blogs since I can delineate content that way although I hardly ever do so.

I imagine the world has heard enough about Alabama the last few days to do for a while with the Enterprise tornado destruction and the commemoration of Bloody Sunday. And heck, we don't even have an American Idol contestant to root for this season. So, stop by often and leave a comment so that I'll know Alabama is still on your mind.

And I did warn readers that from time to time I do engage in blatant self-promotion and why should I stop today? I haven't paid much attention to shops for some time, but I've noticed in my sales reports that the shop is out performing the original Sheila for Kids. That's fine, because today I'm sending a donation to the charity as promised. The top sellers at Hanging in There are shown. The "Believe" design was featured as a part of October's Breast Cancer Awareness Month at CafePress. Thanks to everyone who has purchased t-shirts, mugs, clocks and other products with my designs. I value your business greatly and after I get the house on the market, I'll be creating some new work.

Heed the Warning

One of my favorite Montgomery bloggers wrote about a subject we need to heed. Alex from The Apocalypse Papers posted Competition Trick Eating where he talked about an experience at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Check his blog out and I won’t have to put in my two cents. Sex Toys and Elvis is a good post too.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama

It’s the Bill & Hillary & Barack Show in Selma today as politicians of all stripes plan to make the traditional walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to commemorate the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery March.

Hillary Clinton is starting the day with a breakfast meeting in Montgomery with leaders from the Alabama Democratic Party before heading over to Selma to speak at the black First Baptist Church on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. St. and Jeff Davis Ave.

Barack Obama is the featured speaker at the Martin and Coretta Scott King Beloved Community Unity Breakfast at Wallace Community College and will afterward address the congregation at Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church.

Throw Alabama’s Republican Governor Bob Riley in the mix, assorted members of Congress, state legislators, mayors and dogcatchers and you have a jolly big crowd. And oh yes, I nearly forgot, former President Bill Clinton is being inducted into the National Voting Rights Museum & Institute.

Black and white alike, politician and not, they’ll all join in to walk across that famous bridge. While some politicians have said this is not “political” but a spiritual experience (Rep. John Lewis, D-GA), you can bet your booty that this is political. Alabama’s lone black U.S. Representative, Artur Davis from Birmingham, is one of the first leaders to pick sides. The Montgomery Advertiser says in today’s paper, Davis, who urged Obama to travel to Selma, has said the senator’s candidacy would “ignite a feeling of national purpose and renewal that our country has not witnessed in my lifetime.” He could be right. There is energy and today, Selma will be host to several people with higher aspirations, Davis included.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Notes From Tornado Alley

My heart is sad today as I wake up to news that at least eight teenagers died yesterday when Enterprise High School was hit by a tornado.

Earlier in the day, nearly everyone in Alabama was aware we were in for a bad weather day. Some school districts started the day by announcing school closings at noon. As the morning progressed, the clouds rolled, and we all stayed close to the television or radio. Shortly before noon, my own teenager called from school. “Mom, can I check out?” he asked. “Why don’t you wait a bit?” I replied. “The weather is getting bad and I don’t want to have to sit in the hallways all afternoon,” he said. So after checking with his law magnet teacher, he decided to leave with my permission. As he’s home safely napping, the tornado struck the hunkered-down teenagers in Enterprise, until now a little town known more for its statute of the Boll Weevil instead of the site of a devastating tornado.

All afternoon as we listened to our own tornado warning sirens blaring, we followed the story out of Enterprise. WSFA, one of our local stations, got their crew downstate while it was still daylight, and by the time of the Nightly News everyone in the nation could see the destruction. Luckily, the tornadoes that hit Montgomery County struck a mostly rural part of the area. Of course, if your house is blown away, it’s still blown away.

The problem with living in Tornado Alley is that now that the weather radar is more sophisticated, we get warnings anytime a rotation is noted. In our county, the whole county goes under a warning and it’s a large county. Only by watching the television weather trackers do we know for sure whether we should hit the deck or just remain watchful. We if closed our schools and dropped everything to hunker down in hallways and bathrooms, we’d be there a great deal of time from March to June. So, I don’t fault anyone at Enterprise High School for handling things as they did. We cannot win against nature.

photo of Enterprise tornado by John Dean

Thursday, March 01, 2007

In An Instant

I think I want to read this. Bob Woodruff's story is such a compelling one, and his family is indeed a special one to let ABC News cameras into a troubling and uncertain time in their lives. Was his recovery a miracle as some have called it or was it the result of the best in medical care and a spirit and will that fought back so strongly that the odds were beaten?