Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Monday, March 22, 2010

Five years in the making

Five years, and many, many revisions later, it is finally in print. This article is a testimony to the word perseverance. My colleagues and I spent many hours on this research project: first, the research itself and the presentation at a conference in London, England. Then, the tedious transfer of the research to the written manuscript.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Finishing up Atlanta

Yesterday afternoon I sat outside in 70 degree weather and enjoyed the profusion of blooming daffodils in my yard. This morning, I am looking at them lying on the ground, covered in a layer of snow. We woke to snow coming down so quickly you could not see. Fortunately, it is not sticking, and has mostly stopped to be replaced by rain again. Unfortunately, that moment last night may be the extent of my flowers for the spring.

A good reason, I suppose, to post the last of the Atlanta pictures. These are more of Randy's photos. The blossoms were falling off these trees as profusely as it was snowing this morning. I made a short movie of them, and once I finish my real work for today--grading papers and preparing for my marathon 8 AM til 10 PM day tomorrow, I can move on to my new love--making documentary films...and learning how to make them play somewhere other than only on my computer.

This was one of the poisonous frogs in the Columbian display. Apparently, all Columbian frogs are poisonous--at least all the ones in the conservatory. They had one "room" which was a tropical forest, and the frogs were on the loose; while we could hear them, we did not ever see them. They are the ones the indigenous people used to make poison-tipped darts.
The aerial roots of one of the plants just filled the upper parts of the room.

This looks more like some type of animal than a plant to me; in a sci-fi movie, it would uncurl and grab the unsuspecting bystander.

Goodbye, Hotlanta. It was 7 years ago when I was there that I interviewed for the position at Ole Miss. Other than flying in and out of the airport numerous times over the years, this was only my second visit. There is still a lot more to see and do there, and at less than 6 hours from here, perhaps we will make it again some time.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Some More Atlanta

Friday as we drove down Piedmont Avenue to the botanical gardens, I was quite shocked to see the condition of the DAR house in Atlanta. I recalled how proud my mother was once she finished her application to become a member, tracing her ancestry back to her Timmons side, who was a harness maker for the troops in the Revolution.
Kermie and me, thinking about the DAR house and past revolutions, future revolutions, and those that may be needed, but will never come.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Atlanta Botanical Gardens

It was a beautiful day in Atlanta, and time to take a short break at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.

Lily pads on a reflecting pool.

Kermie waiting for me.
A Columbian blue frog.
A columbian "terrible trio" frog--one of the poisonous frogs which looks almost like ceramic.
The best part of the garden was the tropical conservatory.

These "pitcher plants" collect rainwater, and insects are lured in by the sweet nectar, which alas, ends in a "watery death" at the bottom of the pitcher.
After the gardens, we had a mid-afternoon lunch at a neighborhood Irish pub. Our waiter is just over from Ireland on a year visa. I hope it did not upset him too much that I had a Heineken with my Reuben instead of a Guinness.
We are staying in mid-town (this was the view from our lunch table) and I have fallen in love with it. It is a very artsy neighborhood with charming old buildings, access to Marta bus and subway, and this part of Atlanta is fairly traffic friendly as well. We made a short hop over to get J some of the local brewskis (Sweetwater Brewery's Tackle Box) in payment for his dog sitting duties while we were here.

Still having a lot of trouble with my legs today, but the joints are not quite as bad and I was able to walk a bit. We will be glad to be heading home tomorrow, though, and back to the slower pace of Mississippi.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

When the rest of the world catches up, I'll be waiting

I felt like an Atlanta commuter this morning, catching the 8:15 into the city. It was a 3 block hike from the subway stop to the hotel, but most of it is a covered walkway.

We were scheduled to go first, but the projector would not open my presentation. Yes, I use a Mac, and though every other projector in the world I have ever used will read a Mac, this one would not. I called Randy and he seemed unable to grasp it when I kept telling him that what he was telling me to look for on settings did not exist--it was a blank screen. Although I had gone in early to set up, it was now time for us to present, so we let the other guy go first. Our convener had not shown up, so we only had a student "helper" who did not keep him on track with his time. He kept ignoring Debra and I who said twice his time was up, and then actually said, "I think I have a few more minutes." "No, you don't you are over your time." I thought Debra was going to tackle him, but when we stood up he finally quit talking and moved out of the way. I got the Powerpoint to open (apparently $200 a day for rooms and $10,000 for conference facilities don't buy you any technical help who know what they are doing) and we moved on quite nicely. However, the movie that I spent hours and hours (like several days of hours and hours and all day long Monday and Tuesday) would never display. It was on the computer, but the projector would not display it.

That was a major disappointment to say the least, but we had great questions and interest in our topic and presentation. People asked for additional information and to be kept informed of the status of the research. One woman from another university wants to come work with us this summer on it. So, all in all, in spite of the technical issues, it created the stir and interest that we had hoped it would.

Now if the rest of the computer and technological world will realize that compatibility is about more than people getting along, I might go to another conference some day. :)

I was in considerable pain with my hip and knee by the time I hiked back to the subway this afternoon, and was happy to "zone out" for the short ride to my stop. After a short rest, we walked up the street to get dinner. I asked how far, knowing I could not walk very much more. Randy said only a short ways. It turned out to be over 6 blocks, and there were moments I did not think I could make it. We enjoyed a nice dinner (I had fish tacos, and while they were good, they are not even remotely close to those of the famous Chef Richard Bye) and then walked back to the hotel. I have now collapsed onto the bed in my pj's after an infusion of ibuprofen.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Atlanta, no pics except the ones in your mind

Randy and I left this morning for Atlanta--much to the sadness of Libby, Kate, and J. Libby and Kate because they will miss us...J because he has to feed dogs while we are gone. We had an uneventful drive to Atlanta using Randy's newest toy--a GPS. It was actually great to hear her tell us for upcoming turns in enough time to change lanes, and it worked wonderfully. Of course I was more concerned that "they" knew where I was every step of the way, but let's face it, they do anyway.

We checked into our hotel, a cool little art deco hotel in which I stayed on my last trip to Atlanta 7 years ago. It is right across the street from the MARTA stop, so after getting situated, we hopped the train to go check out the conference location. I looked up the location on the map, and though I did not think it "felt" right, I took the train indicated. I should go with my feelings--it was not right. I told Randy, no problem, years of traveling with Jane has taught me when we make a mistake, get off and take the next train back the other way. LOL We go to the downtown stop and were looking at the map to figure out which way to walk when the transit "ambassador" came over to ask to help us. I told Randy that has been my experience anywhere rapid transit is a major service. We walked right to the conference hotel--3 blocks, most of it covered--and found where I need to be tomorrow.

Rand had forgotten one of his meds, so we used his GPS to locate a store; nope, they didn't have it. Tried two more. Nope. I suggested we get back to our cool little hotel and ask at the desk. I stopped at the great deli/cafe/convenience store/wine store across from our hotel, which I was happy to see was still here 7 years later. We got what we needed there and are now relaxing in our very chic art deco room--white leather, black and white art work, red accents. Our room faces the lovely Mediterranean style plaza (where I will sit tomorrow once I get home from my presentation.) I just want to buy this building and use it for my retirement commune.

I spent 8 hours making the movie yesterday (after hours and hours of editing video clips of the interviews), and then Randy spent another 3 getting it onto the lap top for the presentation. No wonder film makers command such high dollars! I am pleased, though, and wish I could share it here, but it is too long. I may be able to (once I get home) edit and just show the intro and closing, to give you a flavor of the presentation. While I am always saying "What was I thinking?" right before a major thing like this, I am really excited about what we have done so far, and the work that I think will come out of this.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Natchez on the Mississippi

Taking a brief break on the river landing after arriving--the barges were all over the place.
We went to the convention center to get Trisha's poster set up so it would be an easier morning Thursday, then off to Fat Mama's for tamales.
Thursday afternoon, I had to take a short break from the conference and go to the post office. We ducked into an antique shop on the way and I noticed a board game. I suppose nothing should surprise me anymore, but it was a board game first published in 1910 by Parker Brothers called "Darkies in the Melon Patch."

I asked Trisha to hold the game so I could actually document with background that such a game really existed. It appeared to be similar to "Chutes and Ladders." The object was (using dice to identify the number of spaces to move) to reach the end of the game avoiding pitfalls. Pitfalls might be the farmer's shotgun telling you to put the melons back. I know our mouths dropped open. I sneaked a quick picture with my iPhone, and a few minutes later, the proprietor came over to ask if we ladies needed any help. He did not really look that much like he wanted to help us, rather was checking up on us to see what we were whispering about in the corner.

The theme of the conference was "Social Workers Inspire Action." It was actually supposed to be inspire community action, but the program committee opted to shorten it to appeal to others who might not be interested in community work. Trisha's poster was about the San Mateo Empowerment Project, a community organizing action on San Pedro Island, Belize. She and her fellow students are working with a local community and a professor here at Ole Miss to assist the community. The poster illustrated community organizing at its finest: supporting the self-determination of indigenous people, bringing social work knowledge, values, and skills to bear in creating a socially and economically just community. It was the only poster presentation in the conference that actually illustrated social work in ACTION, and at the macro level and in actual practice in a real setting, and thoroughly grounded in generalist social work theory and practice. The others represented research done within the same classroom by a limited setting of social work students on a variety of topics. I found it hard to believe that a survey of 18 students translated into the top presentation. I think I was really objective in viewing all the other poster presentations, in terms of looking at the quality, the accuracy of the approach, the conclusions, and the usefulness of the information to social work practice, and I just didn't get it. I imagine the professors of the other students' thought they were "objective" in viewing the posters of their students, too, but it was hard for us to accept.
Gayle (in the blue) and Trisha awaiting the results at the closing plenary. Gayle was the nominee from Ole Miss for the Social Work Student of the Year. We were delighted that she was selected from all the nominees of the other schools.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Porgy and Bess go to Natchez

I went to a touring production of "Porgy and Bess" last night--my first ever exposure to this show that I have heard mentioned over the years. It was quite interesting, though I had a hard time understanding much of it. I was not certain if it was the sound system, our seats in the nosebleed section, or my ears. Possibly a combination of all three. Since much of it was highly operatic and with the high notes, that may have been some of the difficulty, as I seemed to understand some songs better than others. There were many beautifully done solos and group numbers, and the choreography was quite stunning, though fairly subdued. Sadly, the set that illustrated "Catfish Row" of South Carolina in the 1930s looked very much like parts of the Delta in 2010.

This morning I await my friend and two of our students for our departure to Natchez for the NASW conference over the next 3 days. Natchez is relaxing to me, and we always enjoy a trip to Fat Mama's Tamales and grits for breakfast. One of the students is nominated for the social work student of the year, and the other is doing a poster presentation on her community organizing work in San Mateo community of San Pedro island, Belize. It is a well-done work and I will post a picture of it once we get it set up in the morning and she is in the competition.

Rain and humidity for today, but tomorrow brings sunshine...and more humidity as the temperatures climb into the mid-70s in Natchez. Summertime is on the way.