Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Planes and Football

I was sitting outside yesterday afternoon, enjoying the ending to a beautiful fall day when a group of planes from Columbus AFB flew over...and flew over...and flew over.  I noticed they were flying low and went in the house to get the camera, commenting to Randy that Columbus must be flying practice runs for some reason.  He said, "It's a home game; they fly over every home game."
What????  They have been flying since 3 p.m. and the game is not until 5!  How much does that cost?  So for two hours, I watched them fly formation over my house, turn around, and come back to do it again.  We are in the approach to the airport if someone is coming from the south or the west, so I presume all other flights had to be rerouted during the 2 hours these guys were not far above my tree tops
Finally time for the kick off, and they headed toward the stadium for the final fly over.
Oscar voices his approval that they have finally gone on to torment other cats elsewhere.
Felix was unperturbed by the entire event.
In one of the early defensive plays of the game, 89 was about to receive a pass from Auburn.  Although there were 3 Ole Miss defense in the immediate area, he ran right through them on his way to receive.  Jeremy (6) came from the far side of the field in an effort to take him down.
A valiant effort, but he reached him at the goal line.  Jeremy's momentum and impact carried them into the end zone on the tackle.
"Hey, where were you guys?  How about a little help over here?"
A little celebration?

I need football season to be over soon.  I cannot get anything done on Saturdays right now.

Footnote:  I did a little research on flyovers at events and discovered the following from the Boston News and The Dallas News:  It can cost up to $100,000 in fuel alone for a flyover, depending on how far from the home base the planes have to fly.  It is paid for by taxpayers, however, the Air Force and Navy spokespersons reported it comes out of already existing budgets as a "training flight" and there are training plans and objectives for while the planes are en route and at the actual flyover, related to reaching the target and timing as well as other maneuvers.  It is generally done for recruitment purposes (apparently, nothing fires up a crowd like a jet flying over).  The increase in numbers of requests in recent years has resulted in policies limiting the number of flyovers during a year for those who routinely request (such as sports events, NASCAR, etc.) and eliminated them for any event not seen as likely to result in recruits.  Never let it be said that I do not engage in fair and balanced reporting. :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cedar Oaks Mansion

Note: This entry was revised 11/16/10 to correct erroneous information about the architect who designed the Lyceum.  See comments section, and thanks to EL for the clarification!

Cedar Oaks Mansion is a Greek Revival style, designed by architect William Turner.  I have seen the sign since moving here, and on one occasion, tried to find it without success.  After finally locating it, I know why.  You really have to know where you are going to get there.

I actually finally found it last week, but there was a fire truck parked in front, so I could not take a picture.  Today, I was in the vicinity (I use the term 'vicinity' loosely--I was on the northeast side of town) as I had to go to the post office and since it was just a beautiful sunny and clear fall day, I thought I'd give it another shot.
The house was headquarters for General McPherson during the Union occupation in 1862.  Turner's daughter, Molly Turner Orr, organized a fire brigade to save the house in 1864 after the Union troops set it on fire.

Cedar Oaks has been in recent news as the residents of this neighborhood (where the house was moved to save it from demolition due to development) have been opposed to the current caretakers' application to be able to serve alcohol at the private events hosted at the house.  The immediate neighbors cited fears for their children's safety in being able to ride their bicycles in the street if 300 cars were to be driven by people under the influence.

I am certainly not minimizing the safety of children, but frankly, I don't know how 300 cars (or the amount of people in them) could be accommodated by this structure.  There is a one-lane drive that might park 6 cars in front of the house, and the only other parking would have to be on the streets adjacent to the house.  I could be wrong--given how far people will hike from Taylor Road to get to the stadium for a football game--but I just don't see folks going to a wedding reception or an afternoon tea all decked out in formal attire and being willing to walk as far as it would take for that many cars to park in the neighborhood.  Assuming one had a reception for 300 people, they would all not fit in that house nor on the small lawn in front of it.  I'm thinking the number of people at events there would be similar to those that might attend a barbeque at Joe's house next door, or the annual New Year's Eve party at the house down the block.

Cedar Oaks cites the need for additional revenue as the reason for the application to serve alcohol--after all, some folks want to make a toast at the wedding celebration--and they claim they are losing business due to the inability to legally serve the bubbly.  (It sounded as if in one comment, there was acknowledgement that alcohol was served anyway, just not legally.)  Ah, the intricacies of small town life.

Anyway, I finally chalked up one more historical visit to my list of things to see here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Whine Valley

This has been absolutely one of the toughest weeks I have had in a while, and it is only half over.  My whole system is in turmoil due to the oral surgery last week.  I can't eat, I can't sleep, I either am in pain or in limited function due to pain medication.  It frankly has not been a fun week around these parts.  By the time I got home from work Monday, I was so miserable I did not think I could survive, only to be awake almost the entire night.

The only redeeming thing is catching up on reading when I am awake from 2 AM until 6 AM.  (I mean even with medication, I am not sleeping, so what is the deal with that?)  Part of it is wakening from bizarre dreams that leave me unsettled and thinking, and I have often had to journal in the middle of the night to make sense of what seems to be occurring in my brain during the wee hours.  That usually only happens to me when I am traveling and experiencing new and sometimes unsettling things.  A beneficial side effect has been the process of that deep thinking that only seems to happen with me in the early hours of the morning when all is still and quiet enough for me to calm my inner chaos and listen to what I need to know and understand.

In the process, I have been reading Jimmy Carter's White House Diary, a fascinating read from his personal diary during his Presidency.  He had kept a diary during his time in the White House, and it has occasional notes on some of the entries from his perspective now, about either end results or additional information that sheds light on his thinking at the time.  I am finding it enjoyable for many reasons, probably more so due to my understanding of and interest in political issues these days than when Carter was President.  It has been curious to read about the events from his personal insight and experience, while recalling them as I lived through them and experienced them.  

Libby has been thrilled to have my company so frequently since last Thursday and has been very contented this week. :)
She generally only interrupts her napping to occasionally ask for a belly rub or to snuggle next to me while I am reading or writing and admonish me to keep the noise down and the light out of her eyes.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Jeremy v the Hog Callers

Jeremy makes a nice play at the beginning of the game.

It took forever to watch this game due to delays for lightning in the area.  I even had time to take a nap in between two of the delays.

I am not much of a daytime napper most of the time, but I had all four wisdom teeth out Thursday, and it has not been the most pleasant weekend I have spent in a while.  While I did extremely well and much better than was predicted, the combination of medication and pain and tired from not sleeping well and not being able to eat much has taken its toll.  Today actually seems worse than the first day for some reason.  In the meantime, I have been able to catch up on grading and reading, so I guess there has been a tiny upside to it.  I have not been out of the house since Thursday except to feed the yard kitties, but plan to return to work tomorrow.  I have a major week coming up between advising and observing the role plays for the first interviews in the practice class.  Timing is never what you need it to be, is it?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ole Miss v Bama

Jeremy McGee, number 6 is a social work major and a student in my practice class.

A New Orleans native, Jeremy plans to eventually return home and become involved in political and community work.

He has been a student in a several of the classes I taught, and I admire his intellectual skills as well as his football skills.  I have high hopes for this young man's future, and the work he will do.  He is kind and caring, as well as smart and talented.

I watched him play last night, including making several tackles.  Jeremy is a member of the defense--Landshark!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Felix and MamacatII

I spent the day in Tupelo, and after driving home in a blinding thunderstorm, walked into the living room for a brief respite.  Felix was napping before supper...in the herb flower bed.

Oops, is that a dog barking?  Or did someone just put out supper?
Oscar's mom--not sure why someone is out here with a big black box in front of her face.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

We have water!

One more step in a long, drawn-out process has been completed.  Randoplumber crawled under the house yesterday and hooked up the drain to the tub and tested for leaks.  We confess to avoiding that task as neither of us likes dark, dank crawl spaces, or dark, dusty attics.  The difference is Randy will do it if he has to, whereas, I will not.  I would have called every plumber in Lafayette County trying to find someone to do that.

We had called Bubba, who has done a plumbing job and an electrical job for us before.  He came out, sent his assistant to look at the crawl space (which Bubba has been in before, when he fixed the last leak where Will broke the drain pipe on the sink and just wrapped it in duct tape--which will last for some 3 years before the tape comes unglued and the slow leak that we didn't know about becomes a gusher).  He said he would call with an estimate, but we never heard from him again.  I guess the assistant didn't want to go under the crawl space either, or it might have been the barking dogs.  I told them as long as they never opened a door that was closed, they would be fine.  But, I digress.

Randy put on his water-repellant pants and a plastic jacket.  He took his old motorcycle boots that Roadie had chewed the top off of one, stuffed his pants into them, and duct-taped the boots to his pants leg.  I said, "Is that to keep things from crawling up your leg?"  Yep, it was.  He said he wasn't sure what might be under there.  He declined to allow me to take a photo for the blog. :)  He headed out, with his gorilla light, saw, wrenches, and slithered under the house to lie on his back.  I have to admire that man--he hates plumbing with a passion.

My job was to sit in the dining room next to the opening in the wall and listen to see if he needed anything.  There was a small opening around the drain, which he had to enlarge as the rough-in directions on the tub installation were incorrect.  I had to hand him the wood chisel through the opening as there was one spot where he could not get the saw.  My next task was to unplug the electrical cord when he finished with the saw.  He allowed as how there was water down there and he was not interested in being electrocuted while working on the drain if he could avoid it.  No more incidents and he finished up shortly.

The fill test, and hurrah!  If I could just get a weekend where I was not working on class prep or grading papers, I might get the bathroom finished before Christmas.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Cotton Picking Story

It was interesting to me this morning that EL's post on MissPres was about cotton.  A few days ago, I had noted the cotton ready to be picked and remembering back on the first year I was here.  As I would drive to work each morning, the fields were so full of cotton that it looked like snow.  That is not the case this year.

Seeing a cotton stripper takes me back to my childhood, when that was a rarity.  I suppose not only was it the cost of a machine in those days, but there were many criticisms that stripping lost too much cotton.  A field after stripping might still have a lot of cotton, whereas, hand picking could get it all.

I grew up in the northwest part of Texas, where cotton was a common crop.  In Texas, migrant farm workers from Mexico were the ones who picked cotton.  Labor was plentiful as the migrants would follow the season, picking cotton or fruit, or whatever the crop was at the time.

One year, when I was in third grade, my mother wanted to work picking cotton.  I imagine she figured we could use the money: three kids, my dad was a heavy equipment operator running a dragline at the gravel plant, and my mother stayed home where all good housewives and mothers were in those days.  Dad did not want her to--that was considered migrant labor work.  I don't know how she prevailed, but she apparently convinced him it was a good idea.

The folks up the road from us farmed and hired Mother.  She would pick all day, and my brother and sister and I would get off the bus there instead of at home, and help.  She made us sacks from pillowcases, and we would fill our case and then dump it into Mom's bag.  A cotton sack is a long, heavy canvas bag, slung over the shoulder, and drags along the row behind the worker.  When Daddy got off work at 5, he would come up to the field and pick until dark.

While I was driving past the cotton fields, I remembered an old song and started singing:
When I was a little bitty baby my mama would rock me in my cradle in them old cotton fields back home.
Well it was down in Louisiana, just about a mile from Texarkana, in them old cotton fields back home.
But when them cotton bolls get rotten, you can't pick very much cotton, in them old cotton fields back home.

After moving to Mississippi and falling in love with the music of James "Super Chikan" Johnson, one of my favorite songs is his "Old Field Song."  It is the story of workers, picking the cotton on the plantation.  "Bend yore back, brother get down low.  Here comes the boss man, man, you better clean your row."  It ends with "How can the blues be so pretty and white.  I see cotton in my sleep at night."
Back in 04, the cotton was definitely much bigger and fuller.  But, as EL pointed out, at least this year, it is not rotting in the fields of mud from the rain.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Does the post office know where Diomede, Alaska is?

Diomede is an island in the Bering Strait, north west of Nome, Alaska.  They get mail delivery once a week, via helicopter.  I mailed a package to Diomede on September 7.  I explained the once-weekly mail delivery, and asked what the delivery date was for parcel post so I could decide if it was worth the considerable difference to ship the package priority.  I do know that I can ship a package priority to Unalaska--another island in the Bering Sea, but considerably larger and with an airport,  and it will arrive in about 4 days.

The postal worker looked on the machine and said priority would get the package there in 3 days and parcel would get it there in 15 days.  I opted to pay for priority, assuming that it would be in Nome in time for the weekly mail run.  Remember the rule: Assume nothing.  It is now 25 days and the package is not on Diomede.  But then, they did not have mail delivery last week due to the weather.  They are "hoping" the mail chopper will be able to make the trip on Monday.

I learned a lot about living on an island in the Bering Sea during my 5 weeks on St. Paul, Alaska a couple of summers ago.  The pictures below are some of the relentless fog that shrouded the island almost every day.  Sometimes, it was so thick I could hardly see to walk to the store, with visibility only a few feet in front of me.  I don't know if Diomede is foggy, but I do know it is windy and the sea does not often cooperate.  There are no planes as there is no place for a landing strip.  Until a few years ago, the mail was dropped from the helicopter as there was no landing pad.

I learned that the average "weather cooperating" time for a package to reach Diomede would be a minimum of 3 weeks, and maybe longer.  I guess I need to mail early for Christmas.

Bering Sea
Otter Island, off St. Paul Island
Fog rolling in.

The village on a typical day.

All of that reminded me of the mail saga when I first moved to Mississippi and went to mail a letter to South Africa from the post office near my house in "Lottabusha County."

I went up to the counter and said, "I want to mail this letter to South Africa."  She put it on the scale, and turned on one of those little things that brings up all the country codes, of course, after saying "I don't know the country code for there."  She looked through several pages of them and said, "there is no South Africa."  I said, "Yes, ma'am there is."  She said well, it wasn't on the country code list, so it must be called something else.  She said, "I'll just look under Africa."  I smiled politely then, thinking who knows where the package I am sending C and L will end up.  "No, there's no country code for it.  Is South Africa a country?"  I was looking at the customer side screen and she finally got down to the s's and I spotted it.  "Yes, right there."  She turned a computer page too far and she was in Tanzania--also conveniently located on the continent of Africa.  "Go back one.  The other page."  She obliged and I said, "Right there, it's code # 281."  She punched in a code and up popped Guatemala on the screen: Code 181.  She said, "Is this it?"  "No, ma'am that's Guatemala.  I want South Africa.  That's code # 281."  (I was thinking no wonder the mail service is such a mess.  The employees don't know South Africa from Guatemala.  Excuuuuuse me, did I say Guatemala?)  She put in code 281 and sure enough, up popped South Africa on the screen.  Her eyes got big and she said, "That's $1.55.  Is that what you usually pay?"  

After mailing packages to islands in the Bering Sea--which do belong to the United States-- I imagine $1.55 is quite the bargain.