Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way
Walnut Room? This way, please.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Back to the Campus: Old Chemistry and Pharmacy Building

It is hard to believe a week has gone by so quickly.  I always way underestimate how much time it is going to take me to do what I have planned in my time off.  There really was no "time off" this week as I spent almost every waking moment working on a grant proposal that is due tomorrow.

  The Old Chemistry & Pharmacy Building, renamed Brevard Hall this year, is one of the buildings in the Historic Lyceum Circle.  It was completed in 1923, and was 45,000 square feet.  Pharmacy was housed on the third floor until 1969 when they moved to their new building, Faser Hall.  Chemistry remained in the building until 1977, and currently, it is used by the School of Engineering since the renovation.
 The application for the National Register of Historic Places, completed by Gene Ford, Architectural Historian from the University of Alabama, described the building:
Third story features a rusticated stone parapet; 8/8 and 9/9 double-hung sash windows...
Second floor facade has casement and 12/12 double-hung sash windows...the two-story projections at each end of the building contain quoins and groups of 8/8 windows... 
 First floor has a double-leaf door with sidelights and a transom, 12/12 double-hung sahs windows, Neoclassical portico...
During the riots, on September 30, 1962, students broke into the building and made Molotov cocktail devices with which to bomb the federal vehicles surrounding the Circle.  I do confess that I find it of interest that I can learn that information in the historic nomination, but not who was the architect for the building.

Meanwhile, winter has arrived in Mississippi, with cold and rain today, and the chance of snow and sleet tomorrow.  This is the final week of the semester, and the presentation of projects and wrapping it all up before the finals.  My best guess is that the few weeks I have off before teaching the January Wintersession course in Mound Bayou will fly by, as well.  I'll be on the road to Texas one of those weeks, and checking in from my favorite corner in the United Grocery Deli.  I also plan a stop in Jacksboro to check on the status of the courthouse renovation, and a day trip up to Throckmorton, where word has it they restored the original cupola to the courthouse.

But for now, it's back to the proposal and the last cup of Harney & Sons Earl Grey tea, brewed long-leaf in the pot.  Maybe after that, a nap is in order.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Road Trip: Franklin, Tennessee and parts thereabouts

 This has been a really long day...really, really long...J had a followup appointment with his new doctor in Franklin, Tennessee, which is about 4 1/2 hours from here.  He was dreading the drive up and back, and because I was off, I had asked if he wanted me to go with him to help drive.  I squelched the urge to take the camera, given that we had a mission and he is a lot like my dad in that regard: drive til you get there, do what you need to do, and drive til you get home.  I really do credit Rand with teaching me to enjoy the journey as much as the destination.  I made do with all the sights and the mental images and the plans for a future road trip just for fun.  I worked a bit on my research proposal, and we listened to some of his music, and occasionally talked, and even laughed.
 Just out of Franklin, we approached this "bridge" and wondered about it.  I tried looking it up on the iPhone, but no luck.  We had to drive through downtown Franklin to get to the doctor's office, and I was pretty much gaga--beautiful buildings, a wonderful old theater, and me just itching to go back for a weekend.  I allowed as how I might rather live there than in Oxford.

If that was not enough (the gorgeous downtown) 1/2 block from the doc's office is a Whole Foods.  "Wow, they have a Whole Foods!  I can go shopping for Thanksgiving dinner while you are seeing the doctor!"  Do you really think food will keep the 4 1/2 hours for the trip back home?  No, but did I mention that I love Whole Foods?  When I was doing graduate work on my PhD at UTArlington, one of the best perks was the opportunity to run over to Dallas to the Whole Foods on those days I finished early and had a few hours to spare before the drive home, or the days I had to be in Oak Cliff--Gateway to Dallas--for my research practicum, and it was not even out of the way to zip over.

It was another beautiful drive back to the Interstate, and we learned that the "bridge" was the Natchez Park Traceway.  That made sense for why there was not an entrance/exit ramp.  Not too long after we made the I-40, I wanted a quick exit to the McDonald's and grab a Coke.  As I pulled into the lot, I noted an SUV pulling a boat, parked across ALL 3 Handicapped spaces by the door.  I said I thought I would just stop in front of him, but J said "please don't make a scene."  Luck was on my side, and the non-handicapped space directly in front of the vehicle (pictured below) was open.  I pulled in.  There was no way he could move until I did.
I pulled out my handicapped parking tag, and my camera, and had intentions of going over and explaining to the person that he was perhaps not realizing the significance of his actions about blocking reasonable access to the building, and would he be so kind as to move?  J said again, "Please, don't make a scene; I just want to get home."  I settled for backing out, taking a photo of the person who walked up to confront him, and letting it go.  Trust me, I did not want to let it go.  If I had been alone, I am pretty sure I would have blocked access, if it meant lying down in front of his SUV and chancing getting run over.  Perhaps this is the sort of "personal" thing that starts a social movement.  I remember when my dad said the first time he had to park behind a building and wheel my niece to the back door of a public building how he finally understood about access.

Back on the Interstate, and deeply regretting the choice to exit, we were stuck in bumper-to-bumper and at times, dead standstill traffic, for no reason we could discern.  Law enforcement was on the side of the road--which always tends to slow things down--but we saw no wrecks or other reasons to delay traffic.  We finally opted thanks to Google maps, iPhones, and Nuvi, to exit and took a back road.  That was both good and bad:  good, it got us off the stand-still Interstate; bad, as we topped a hill on 2-lane traffic, we are approached head-on by a car in our lane who has passed on a hill in a no-passing lane, at night, in the dark.  I braked and swerved right and he or she sped up and swerved in front of the car being passed.  Let me just say that at that moment, J said, "I am glad you came with me today."  So was I.

So, getting home 2 hours later than planned, and my unwillingness to go to the grocery store then, and the distinct possibility that it would have been pointless at 9 pm the night before Thanksgiving anyway, we very well might be having "pantry staples" for dinner tomorrow.

You know what I am thankful for in spite of this?  That J is better, this doctor is interested and caring, we made it safely home, and even if it is not special, we will eat tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

George Peabody Building

 The George Peabody Education Fund  enabled the construction of the Education Building, dedicated in 1912.  It housed the School of Education until 1956 when it became home to psychology.  The building was used to house students for a short period following World War I.
 The nomination of the Lyceum-Circle for national historic district said this of the building:
...alludes to Classical designs with its pediment, entablature, and four fluted Ionic columns..wrap-around stone parapet encircles the top of the brick building...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Fulton Chapel

 Fulton Chapel was first used for commencement in 1927 according to Walton's  The University of Mississippi: A Pictorial History, though the sign in front indicates 1929.  Named after Chancellor Fulton, the columns are Indiana limestone and it was the largest auditorium on campus until Gertrude Ford Center was completed. 
Architect was C. H. Lindsley, who designed a number of Mississippi buildings before dying in obscurity.  The interior of Fulton is as dramatic as the exterior, and still hosts campus theatrical functions.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

On remodeling buildings and loss of access

 Renovation of Howry, Falkner, Barr, and Leavell Halls has been going on since the summer.  Up until now, it seems to have been mostly demolition of the interior, but the elevator shaft that connects Howry and Falkner is taking shape.  In addition to Howry, Falkner, and Barr, Longstreet, Hill, and Vardaman were also built in 1929 to house males on the campus.  Each housed 60 students.
 Howry was named for Charles Bowen Howry, who earned a law degree from the University in 1869.  He was a Mississippi House of Representatives member, US District Attorney, and Assistant Attorney General of the US.  Howry has been in continuous use as a residence since it was built in 1929 until this past summer, when renovations began.

 Falkner was named for Judge J. W. T. Falkner, Sr., and was most recently used as a women's dorm.
Barr was named for Hugh A. Barr of Lafayette.  Most recently, it houses the Office of Sponsored Research and Programs.
 Situated between Barr and Hill is Leavell Hall, built in 1938, supported by WPA funds.  It housed 72 males, and was named for philosophy and political science professor Richard Leavell.  The architect was R. W. Naef of the Overstreet firm.

Hill Hall, named for Judge Robert A. Hill of Oxford, was connected to Longstreet with the adjoining elevator during the renovations in 2007 and 2008.  President A. B Longstreet served the University from 1849-1856.  I think I have mentioned before that Longstreet was gutted and renovated with all new interior, floors, windows, etc.  Apparently, the only thing preserved in the building was the iron railings on the stairwells.  On the other hand, Hill was preserved, including the wooden windows, the interior wooden doors, replacement tiles matched the original, and the interior colors were retained.  Vardaman, on the other side of Longstreet, was named for Governor Vardaman, who was known as "the Great White Chief" due to his advocacy for white supremacy.  Vardaman currently houses the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Yalobusha County Courthouse

 Yesterday being Homecoming at Ole Miss meant town was even more crowded than a typical home game day, with fewer places to park and longer to wait in line.  It seemed like a good day to finally make the trip to the BTC Old Fashioned Grocery Store in Water Valley.

The original courthouse in Water Valley (there are two districts in Yalobusha County, with a courthouse in nearby Coffeeville as well) was built in 1896 by the Walter Chamberlin firm out of Knoxville/Birmingham.  The building burned in 1912, and was subsequently renovated extensively by architect P. J. Krouse in 1913.
 The Mississippi Department of Archives and History records (love that new online database search!) indicated the original building before the fire was similar to the Holmes County Courthouse built in 1894.

As many times as I have been to Water Valley, I had never seen this courthouse; it sits a couple of blocks off main street.

In addition to discovering the courthouse, I also learned that the BTC carries lapsang souchong--one of my favorite teas.  I enjoyed a pot this morning, with its smoky aroma and flavor, along with some fresh bread, also scored at the BTC.  I also picked up Russian Country (I think that will be my afternoon tea break, along with the sweet potato pie with rosemary crust that found its way into my basket, too), formosa oolong, and some Earl Grey.  Long leaf tea reigns!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fundraising for the Mound Bayou Project

 The students held a bake sale/garage sale this morning to raise funds for our work in Mound Bayou and the Taborian Hospital renovation.  Glenn and I set up in the chilly 6 a.m. air and pretty much had all the clothes hung by the time the others began to straggle in between 7 and 8.  It is probably a sign of the economic times that more clothes were sold than anything, and all the Ole Miss clothing was among the first to go.
 It was fairly windy, and we were in the shade, so it was not the most pleasant of days to be outdoors in the early morning, but we made the best of it, rotating in and out of the sun, and keeping moving.  We consumed a few of the cupcakes, too, and that generated a little heat. :)
 Several of our students made the trip over from Tupelo area to help out; I admire their dedication to the program and the service learning projects that we undertake in our communities.
One of the students organized a penny-drop at her church since she could not attend today.  A small but dedicated group of workers showed up, and a few more baked items for the bake sale.  Kind of like real life:  The workers are few, and the need is great.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Amsterdam Centraal Station

 Amsterdam Centraal Station was opened in 1889.  The building was designed by Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers.  The roof span is fabricated cast iron by the iron founder Andrew Handyside of Derby, England.  The Liverpool Station in London is a twin to Amsterdam Centraal.
 Step across the plaza in front of the station and the canal waits, beckoning you to climb aboard a water taxi.
Venture along side of the canal toward the more densely packed city, with its narrow streets crammed with pedestrians, bicyclists, and cars--and it becomes a match for quick moves and quick wits.
I know this from personal experience: walking down this narrow street, carrying my shoulder bag and camera bag, I was as close to the building as I could walk.  A car driving past me struck my elbow with its side mirror...and the driver never even slowed.  I learned my lesson; arms to the side whilst walking in Amsterdam.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lessons from a cat

 Saturday was one of those gorgeous fall days where I cannot seem to get anything of consequence accomplished.  I gave up trying at 4:30 and went outside to enjoy the 70 degree temps, the last of my forget-me-nots, and the increasing friendliness of the feral cats who have taken up residence here on Taylor hill.  As noted before, this is their favorite napping place, and with the sunshine yesterday, they were taking full advantage.
 "What are you looking at?  You never saw a cat nap before?"
 This little girl is one of the kittens who will let me scratch behind her ears--very briefly--just after I put the cat food in their bowls.  She even musters up a purr on occasion.  However, away from the cat food (which is obviously her reward for suffering my touch), she avoids me and will back off if I attempt to touch her.  Here, she seems to be saying, "It's best to pretend you don't notice her."
 "Well, that clearly did not work this time."
 Scruffy, the black kitten, was sort of sickly-looking from the beginning, and had some kind of problem with his eyes.  He still keeps them closed or partially closed much of the time. He has a crooked gait due to his hips not seeming to be aligned normally.  He has become quite fond of me, though, and will allow my petting, picking him up, and playful interaction.  He is right by me any time I am outside, meowing or purring, or trying to walk under my feet.  Sometimes, it is impossible to get down the steps, and more than once, just as I was taking a step, a cat ran in front of me and got rolled down the steps.  They don't seem to mind, though, as they will be right back up there the next time someone goes out the door.
 He stretched in order to change positions, and almost fell out of the basket.  He prefers to be with one of the other kittens most of the time.  I surmise he did not get his nurturing needs fulfilled from Mamacat.  She did not reject him outright, but I would often see him awkwardly seeking a place to nurse when all the other plump little kitties were chowing down.
"Then again, might be best to sleep with one eye open around here."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Reflections: Why I am not a psychotherapist (with credit to Harry Specht)

 Today has been the first day in a long, long time that I could actually use my Thursday research day.  Unfortunately, it was not for research, but working on catching up on grading.  This semester, with its added responsibilities of a second grant, the program director position, a new service learning project, and a class overload that involves an extra 120 students, has kept me from not only research and writing, but even staying current in evaluating assignments.  I suppose that is one of the reasons I tend to be more lenient these days in deadlines on assignments--at least to a certain extent.  I did decide that 6 weeks into the semester, and 6 additional opportunities to submit the assignments for the previous 6 weeks was enough of a break in one class.  That was the class in which I was not behind.
 We were watching Hawaii 50 last night, and I commented that my friend was there by now, having left Tuesday for the islands.  "Damn her eyes" (Johnny Cash).  Actually, I think it is great that she and her husband can vacation in such wonderful spots as Hawaii, Nova Scotia, Taos, and any number of other really neat places (even the Jersey shore qualifies, I suppose) for the months they live in snow, ice, rain, sleet, wind, and cold in Unalaska--though the 3 months of gorgeous summer would make up for that for me to not have to endure the Mississippi heat and humidity during those same 3 months.  I can't complain--it has not been that many months since I spent 3 weeks in my beloved South Africa, while Rand has not been out of Mississippi except to drive to Texas for family obligations in 2 years.
I took about 2 hours to work on the asset mapping project for the research service learning class and then spent the rest of the day grading journals for the other service learning project (pictured above).  Reading the reflections of students is always insightful for me, and can evoke any number of feelings.  Sometimes it is pleasure, as I see them beginning to make the connections between social work knowledge, skills, and values, and how to use them.  Sometimes, it is frustrating, as I see that I have failed to help them make those connections, and try to give feedback to help them see it in a different way.  Either way, it always contributes to my learning and I think about how to go about the process of educating students to practice social work, and in particular, social work with groups.

One of the lessons I have learned over my life--painfully at times--is to be relentlessly honest with myself and to assess my role in the outcome of a situation.  It does not come easy, and truthfully, after practicing for 20+ years, it comes much easier now than it did when I first began in this field.  Because of that, I know it takes time for students to learn to do that, and that I have to be patient as they develop those skills.  It is frustrating because the very size of classes, and the demands of those other things--like grants and research and program administration--sometimes keep you from being able to devote the amount of time you want to give to other things that are equally or more important.

So, what does this have to do with why I am not a psychotherapist?  I have been in the past: I have the knowledge, skills, and credentials to do so, and am licensed to do so.  I use my psychotherapy knowledge and skills all the time; I cannot help it.  As my colleague and partner in private practice used to say, "It's hard to turn off your therapist's ears" and I spent a lot of years in the mental health field.

It's because group work and community work is more fulfilling to me; it brings the sense of connection that I think all humans need, and it is through relationship that everything matters.  So even when it is painful to be in relationship (not in a relationship, but in relationship) I find joy in it.  As I shared with my friend last week while we were in Atlanta, sometimes out of our deepest and darkest pain is the breakthrough that we need to move forward, and when we have asked for that understanding, we cannot then say to the universe "never mind."

That understanding is what I wish for my students as they prepare to practice social work.