Monday, January 26, 2009

highland court

In my last post, I mentioned Sloss Furnaces. I spent most of my young adult life living in various apartments on Southside. The last place I lived as a single girl was called Highland Court.

Glen and Joe and Becca lived in Highland Court. That model chick and her cute musician husband lived in Highland Court. The crazy girl who didn't own a pair of comfortable shoes and turned up the techno music at 3am lived in Highland Court. I had a small balcony and my dog Lucy and the long, narrow stairwell up to my door. I rode my bike everywhere and fell asleep to Michael Hedges or John Coltrane or Peter Gabriel. As happy as I was to get married, I had a hard time saying goodbye to Highland Court.

Every now and again we'd build a little fire in the middle of the courtyard and stay up all night. One night we decided to walk to Sloss at around... hell, I don't know... maybe 2? 3? 4? On the way, we had to stop for a train. There was a cop parked next to the tracks. The train was carrying tank after tank after tank. The cop said he was there to make sure nothing happened. He didn't hassle us at all, which was fortunate given our general state of mind. It was a little odd.

The train rolled past and the tanks got smaller. The cop took off, and we kept walking. I don't remember how we got onto the premises -- whether we had to sneak through or climb over anything, or whether it was all pretty accessible. But we got in, and we wandered through, and we climbed up that really high tower, which is way higher than you realize until you're up there. We smashed our cigarette butts into a film cannister so as not to litter. And later I wrote a song.

I'm a little reluctant to post song lyrics, because they never quite work unless they're being sung. Poetry is meant for the page; lyrics are meant for the song. But I'm going to give it a go and see how it turns out. I think I probably wrote this in 1998 or so. I typically fingerpick variations of C and G with a capo on the fourth fret when playing it. It's called Highland Court.

Came dancing through the courtyard,
wings and wands and fairy dust
Sprinkled it beside me on a night made out of August
Followed them to the railroad,
saw them ship the tanks off for the war
It used to be that war was just a word
we never heard

Taught me how to read the map,
how to find the belly of the tree
Biggest one in all the forests east of the Mighty Mississippi
Older than my daddy,
old as god, old as mercy
It used to be that mercy was just a word
we never heard

Climbed the stairs to the furnace,
climbed down into the canyon's bowl
Ate my granny apple, lay back as the time unfolded
Quiet as the backseat
in the dark on the way home
Quiet is a ladle full of words
we never heard

Yeah, well -- not quite the same as a poem. Music adds rhythm and inflection and an emotional sense that would otherwise be built into a poem. Lyrics alone are confusing and easy to stumble over.

Wrapped up in this song is a whole nother adventure in the Sipsey Wilderness, as well as one in the Little River Canyon, but I'll save those for another day. They all took place while I was living in that little apartment, with all of those people that I wonder about now.

(And yes, I do consider "a whole nother" to be perfectly acceptable Alabama grammar.)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

adventure in oneonta

Today we met Annie of Edifice Rex! This woman is building her house from the ground up, using passive solar design and lots of salvaged materials, among other hip, green approaches. Here is a shot of her and Lee, discussing smart building versus stupid building:

And here are the kids, standing at the spot where the spring and the creek converge:

Once home, Lee was inspired to start a Yahoo group called Blount County Earth -- a place to share information, resources and ideas for residents of Blount County, Alabama, specifically creative/alternative building, farming and other sustainable living practices.

So cool to meet blogfriends. Turns out we were both at the Cowboy Junkies show at Sloss Furnaces waaaaay back in the day. I like it when the world is small and friendly.

I'll close with a gratuitous shot of recently gathered eggs, which are now being made into huevos rancheros for a late-night snack:

Monday, January 19, 2009

mlk day captcha


- noun: turn-of-the-century farm implement

That's about as much as I can muster at the moment. I wonder what turn-of-the-century farmers used their aindselps for? You tell me. I am off to bed. Tomorrow is a big day!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

let's go fly a kite

The unbelievably-cold-for-Alabama snap has passed, and today was just perfect for flying a kite:

I didn't take any pictures of Lee climbing the ladder to the very top of the Kite-Eating Tree. You'll just have to imagine that.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

sunday evening captcha


- noun: preparations to leave a place


In order to get to the party on time, we need to start making outions.

This word works best when pronounced as though you are from Canada (oo-tions).

city vs country: the junky yard

Junky yards are a dime a dozen wherever you live (or at least, in neighborhoods not far from wherever you live). I usually assume the best -- that someone is in the process of cleaning up -- because I've been there before. (Still go there sometimes.) But there is one particular category of junky yard that I never saw when I lived in the city: the eternal yard sale.

A couple of years ago, the inhabitant of a nearby trailer decided to have a yard sale. At the end of the weekend, most of the stuff had not been sold. This is when most people would donate the remaining items, or else shove them all into a hidden corner. But this remarkable woman wakes up every morning with renewed hope and faith that someone will stop by and want something. And very slowly, over the past couple of years, the amount of stuff in her front yard has dwindled, though not to the extent that you can't tell it was originally a yard sale.

Here is what I find most perplexing: some mornings, I see her out in the yard, pulling weeds or raking leaves, and I think, huh. Wouldn't a yard covered in leaves be better than a yard covered in junk? So I suppose she is keeping things tidy for the next customer, and the next, and so on, throughout eternity.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


This is the best thing that has happened to us in a while. The chickens are starting to lay in the coop again. Even our "teenagers" are growing up and we're getting some lovely blue/green eggs.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

parental discretion advised

I sweartagod it's only a mushroom. A shiitake. Lee ordered it from Fungi Perfecti. He puts them in his miso soup every morning, along with some fresh ginger.

Lee is a man of many concoctions. He is sitting here next to me, so I think I will take this opportunity to interview him about it.

M: Can I talk about all of your concoctions?
L: Sure. You wanna know what I just now drank?
M: Okay.
L: Five dashes of cayenne pepper in water. I used it to wash down my curcumin pills.
M: What do those do?
L: Oh, everything. I am also soaking two cacao beans in water to remove the skin, revealing the delicious nibs inside.
M: Any others you'd like to mention?
L: Of course red wine, my favorite staple, which I prefer to drink early in the morning.
M: Don't you do some kind of algae?
L: No, alfalfa. I mix 1 tablespoon alfalfa with 1 tablespoon brewer's yeast, and it tastes really good with chocolate soy milk. Earlier today, I mixed approximately 4 ounces kefir, 1 teaspoon ground flax seed, and 1 teaspoon flax seed oil, and then consumed it. But my favorite, as you know, is garlic. Simply smoosh, wait ten minutes, and consume raw. I put it in water and drink it.
M: Yes, that one's fun.
L: I take 1 tablespoon unpasteurized apple cider vinegar with a teaspoon of local honey or blackstrap molasses every now and then.
M: Are you the healthiest man alive?
L: No, but it keeps me going.

So there you have it.

L: But I've got more.
M: Really?
L: Goldenseal root tea, or any old green tea. I like to chew raw cinnamon sticks. And I like anything that's cultured, like unpasteurized sauerkraut and kimchee. I also take a quarter teaspoon of the apple cider vinegar mixed with distilled water in a neti pot to flush my sinuses. Which I quit doing for a while and then I got a cold, so now I'm doing it again.
M: It's way past time for the kids to go to bed.

if it's sunday, it's captcha game day

Today's word is...


Hmmm. How about...

- noun: a slang term used by software developers to refer to an outdated application

Bonus: Jenga! Here is a shot of the tower created during a game between Leah and Lee. It lasted for several more moves, finally falling on one of Lee's turns. A most spellbinding game!