Archive

Atlanta

Yes, the reports are true. It is snicing in Atlanta. That is snowing and icing because that is what is happening here today. It’s not like any hail or sleet I’ve ever seen. Anyone from a snowy state care to explain?

We were out of school yesterday when there was nothing but ordinary ole rain falling from the sky. The snice didn’t start falling until about midnight last night and now the roads are covered in the wintery mix. Not a snow plow or grit truck in sight. Obviously, school was canceled again today. Because I know many of you across the country will be stuck home today with weather of your own, here are two of my favorite reactions to Atlanta snow. The first from SNL, the second, a classic from the 2011 snow storm in Atlanta. Not much has changed. Enjoy.

Advertisements

mommy&melibraryeslstudentlibraryI was six. I was in first grade, my sister was in third. We’d been tagging along with my Dad on some errands in Charlotte and, I guess, as a treat, were rewarded with a trip to the city’s glistening main public library. Here was the Emerald City of libraries. Outside was a fountain that stretched the length of the building, water toppling down the marble steps like a Slinky. Inside were four stories of open, light-flooded space, a cheerful children’s section complete with squishy bean bags and reading nooks. This was not our 1970s suburban library with the shag carpet and crumbling paint. I remember my trepidation penning my name on the back of my white and burgundy card, carving out the letters like initials in tree bark, afraid, perhaps, that someone would notice my first grader’s penmanship and bar me from this most adult of activities. No one ever did, thank God.

Do you know, though, I had to think for a minute before that story came back to me? I almost didn’t remember getting my first library card. I remember the ones that came later. In high school, feeling very unbalanced about the fact that I’d lost my card some years before and driving myself to the nearest library to renew it. In a new city, walking into town, filling out an application, getting a cup of coffee afterwards. There’re all really mundane memories. It’s actually a pretty mundane activity, when you think of it. At least for those of us who grew up with public libraries and parents who valued them.

mommy&melibrarianeslstudentslibraryrefugeestudentlibrarycardrefugeestudentslibrarycardsThese days I teach English to a group of refugee women at an intergenerational family literacy school. The women I teach live in a town where over 60 languages are spoken in the 1.2 mile radius that forms the city center. They live in crowded apartment complexes with neighbors from Africa, the Middle East and Asia. They decorate their walls with posters of tropical paradises. This particular class — almost all of them Burmese from the Chin province, though there are others from South Sudan, Eritrea, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo — are all adventurous gardeners. They grow pumpkins, burmese eggplants, green beans, and chillies in the medians and along chain link fences in their apartment complexes. They eat chillies like potato chips and laugh at me when I explain that most Americans only cook with a few cloves of garlic at a time — they cook with them by the bulb. They walk to school two days a week, pushing their children in second-hand strollers or carrying them in slings on their backs. They sing Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes with their children at the end of the school day and mispronounce the words “kitchen” and “chicken” with regularity. They crack themselves up every time. They swirl thanaka on their children’s cheeks and smile mischievously when I ask them what it is, why they do it. When they are not at school, they spend their days perpetually in waiting rooms, at the doctor’s office, at the Georgia Department of Human Services, at the DMV, at the chicken plant. What are they waiting for? Interpreters, mostly. A lull. Someone with time. Back home they were weavers, teachers, and farmers. Many of them lived most of their lives in refugee camps in countries not their own. The ones who remember, talk about the forest, the river, the roses.
IMG_5651 IMG_5653 IMG_5652 mommy&mereadingThe other day we went to the library for the first time as a class. These are not provincials — they’ve been to a library before (we have a small one at our school that they use every week). And they’re not completely newly arrived to the United States, either — they’ve been here for fewer than five years. So they know about libraries. Do they use them? No, probably not. Possibly because, well, where do you begin? Having lived in the States we know librarians as a whole don’t bite, that they love to help you find things. Burmese refugees don’t know that.

I’m wondering: do librarians ever phase out of that stage where they seem to genuinely enjoy talking about awesome kid’s books? Does that excitement ever die? It’s actually adorable to watch.

I won’t say adorable, but do you know what else is spectacular to see? An adult getting her first library card. Also, seeing a group of ESL learners demolish an entire shelf of the coveted Picture Dictionaries. Picture Dictionaries that don’t cost $25 like teacher keeps telling them. This time they’re Free.

Mind. Blown.

IMG_5200 IMG_5213 IMG_5176 IMG_5169 IMG_5166 sweetwater park eharwood IMG_5216 IMG_5218 IMG_5156sweetwater park eharwoodComing up to our two year anniversary in the Atlanta area, it seemed only proper to finally visit the park that so many of our green-seeking friends rave about on the regular. For good reason, as it turns out. Luke and I periodically crave the outdoors — as in, always — but living in the city you can feel miles away from them. Mostly because you are, though not always. But then, occasionally you remember that Stone Mountain is literally just down the road, and oh by the way, so is Sweetwater Creek State Park. And so you tootle on down the road, make your donation to Georgia’s conservation efforts and you let the white noise of the river clear your fuzzy brain. You admire the dappled river light glowing through the skeleton of an antebellum mill (burnt down the same time as Atlanta). You watch a heron for far too long expecting to see it do something clever like catch a fish. You walk along a shady river-flanked path and agree it would be the perfect place to read Huckleberry Finn. The perfect backdrop. And wasn’t it smart of your husband to pack it? But in the end, you’re too distracted with newts and turtles and herons and there’s so much to see, to soak in before it’s time to return to the city. And speaking of, you are getting hungry. So you promise yourselves to come back the next week and find out where that other trail leads, and then to come back another time after that and rent a canoe for a couple hours. When it’s cooler. Forty minutes later, you’re back in some hip neighborhood drinking craft beer and munching on heirloom veggies dipped in cheese fondue. Served on a slate, naturally. There are perks to the city life.

labordaycalendarLooking ahead to a long labor day weekend camping trip. The plan is to catch the ferry over to Cumberland Islandoff the Georgia coast, and enjoy three days of sand, sun, water, and cloud-gazing. Cars are not allowed on the island and it’s only accessible by ferry. Doesn’t that just sound perfect? Also, apparently, Cumberland Island has some of “America’s most beautiful coastal walks.” I don’t know why I’m always surprised when Georgia pops up on the odd “Top 10 such and such” in travel magazines. It’s not a bad place to live, politics aside. 

However, I will be sad to miss this.

A few more things:

I have been that person at a party before. Heck, I’ve been that person when I meet another women’s college graduate. Social alienation ensues.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Iceland is breathtaking. Maybe for labor day weekend next year? I can dream. Make sure to watch the video in HD.

Mmmm, tempura squash blossoms. Whose garden will I be raiding?

After yesterday’s post, I was feeling guilty about going out for breakfast so much, so we made enough of these to last us through the weekend. Used Deb’s recipe (naturally). I must say, it gave all our favorite pancake pervaders a run for their money.

With the money we would have spent on breakfast this a.m., I bought a book last night. 

Heading to Sweetwater this afternoon. Not the brewery. I used to think our friends were serious boozers for going there what seemed like every weekend. Even so, it sounded like a magical place. Hiking, creek swimming and beer? Then we realized the brewery must have been named after something and turns out it was. That’s not to say we won’t be making a detour on our way home… jk?

 

Otherwise, just daydreaming about this jagged, beautiful mountain. A few pics I don’t think I’ve shared yet from France. mont sainte victoireIMG_4164 IMG_4163 montsaintevictoiremont sainte victoiremont sainte victoireHope you have a refreshing weekend!

labordaycalendarLooking ahead to a long labor day weekend camping trip. The plan is to catch the ferry over to Cumberland Islandoff the Georgia coast, and enjoy three days of sand, sun, water, and cloud-gazing. Cars are not allowed on the island and it’s only accessible by ferry. Doesn’t that just sound perfect? Also, apparently, Cumberland Island has some of “America’s most beautiful coastal walks.” I don’t know why I’m always surprised when Georgia pops up on the odd “Top 10 such and such” in travel magazines. It’s not a bad place to live, politics aside. 

However, I will be sad to miss this.

A few more things:

I have been that person at a party before. Heck, I’ve been that person when I meet another women’s college graduate. Social alienation ensues.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Iceland is breathtaking. Maybe for labor day weekend next year? I can dream. Make sure to watch the video in HD.

Mmmm, tempura squash blossoms. Whose garden will I be raiding?

After yesterday’s post, I was feeling guilty about going out for breakfast so much, so we made enough of these to last us through the weekend. Used Deb’s recipe (naturally). I must say, it gave all our favorite pancake pervaders a run for their money.

With the money we would have spent on breakfast this a.m., I bought a book last night. 

Heading to Sweetwater this afternoon. Not the brewery. I used to think our friends were serious boozers for going there what seemed like every weekend. Even so, it sounded like a magical place. Hiking, creek swimming and beer? Then we realized the brewery must have been named after something and turns out it was. That’s not to say we won’t be making a detour on our way home… jk?

 

Otherwise, just daydreaming about this jagged, beautiful mountain. A few pics I don’t think I’ve shared yet from France. mont sainte victoireIMG_4164 IMG_4163 montsaintevictoiremont sainte victoiremont sainte victoireHope you have a refreshing weekend!

woodland's garden decatur

IMG_4842

IMG_4872

IMG_4849

IMG_4866

IMG_4863

IMG_4860{Hearts-a-burstin’}

IMG_4878{hydrangea blue fingernails}

IMG_4886

woodland's park decatur

There is at least one welcomed side effect to the nonstop rain we’ve been having here. In our desperation for Vit. D and fresh air, we our prepared at any moment to be impulsive. Gap in the rain? We drop whatever we’re doing and go on a walk. Even if it’s just to the mini nature preserve across the street.

I’m ashamed to say that in the two years we’ve lived in our current apartment, we’ve made the five minute journey on foot to Woodland’s Garden a mere two times. One of those times was yesterday. What we found was a well-watered native plant habitat and a woodland sanctuary for us nature-starved city dwellers (and a swarm of mosquitos, but let’s keep things romantic.)

It must be a sign of adulthood when suddenly plants go from being those pretty, generic things that have names our grandparents know, but so long as I can spot Poison Ivy I’m happy not knowing too many of them, to being a source of on your knees in the dirt fascination. That was me yesterday. On my knees, reading the labels for wild ginger, sassafras root, mountain blueberry, climbing hydrangea, toadshade trillium, and hearts-a-bursting.  Fist bump to the volunteers who put out all those labels. Also for the volunteers who trail blazed the winding labyrinth that may soon become my go-to walk in future. And another fist bump to the folks who put out the fairy villages (I’m not making this up) and built the screened-in woodland pavilion (complete with fire place), that I will shortly be reserving for up coming small group meetings.

It’s raining all day (all week?) in Atlanta, so really, it’s the perfect time to talk about books. I’m curious: what are you reading right now? I’m in the middle of a book I picked up in France by a Marseillais author, René Frégni. Sous La Ville Rouge (Under the Red City) is the story of Charlie Hasard, a boy born in the projects of Marseille, who at a pivotal moment in his late teens, amidst a swirl of petty thefts and petty dalliances, becomes obsessed with the written word. He has two passions in life: writing and boxing. After dedicating his twenties to the craft, to the exclusion of all other life’s pleasures, he finally gets a nibble from a publisher in Paris. Is this the moment he’s dreamed of? The pay-off to all his sacrifices and hard work? Frégni is a literary crime writer and Sous La Ville Rouge follows in that tradition when you are least expecting it. Tightly wound and full of suspense, Sous La Ville Rouge is an hommage to, as Frégni puts it in the book’s dedication, “all those who write with passion solely for the trash can.”

mybookstoreSeeing as my French is a bit rusty, Frégni is not exactly leisurely reading. I’m having to look up every other word in my handy Larousse dictionary, which is why I was glad to have this book on hand when we got back from our trip. My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read and Shop is basically as good as it sounds, with writers of various genres from all different states sharing short essays about the bookstore(s) that inspired them and often encouraged them to do what they do. I also love that they are short essays, so easy to pick up, read one or two, and then go back to work. Pure indulgence.

So now it’s your turn. What are you reading these days? Any recommendations? I’d love to hear!

(The top gif is from it’s no biggie tumblr)

%d bloggers like this: