Bay's Travel Blog

I don't travel much any more. Resist!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Emily's first necklace

Emily made this BY HERSELF, so she asked me to post it, and because it's better than either of the things I've made, I'm posting it. Then she promptly gave it away. The *buggerhead*!!!!!!

Anyway, here's Em's first beading project. She even smooshed the cord tips without any help from me.

Come to think of it... I'm beginning to feel very darned unnecessary...


Now, in other news, if you (like me) were fascinated with the music that "Six Feet Under" played not only in their final season's teasers but also as the very *last* sublime bit of music they could scrounge up for the finale (which made me cry, how 'bout you?), then be sure to check out Sia. The single "Breathe Me" from her CD "Colour the Small One" is the song they used, and it's sublime, and I'm obsessed and hope to get the CD for my birthday. But my birthday isn't until next month, so I'm kinda dying here.

Imports. Hmph!!!!

It's just a "hmph" kinda day, huh?

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Emily's leaf bracelet

It doesn't match the necklace I made earlier, but Emily requested a bracelet made with some glass leaf beads I ordered ages ago. Granted, there's so much metal that she'll surely break out, but it was the only way I could figure out to make the bracelet! So here's my next beading project, and yes, I'm proud that I finished another one.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


I finished one beading project. No, it's not perfect. But it's mine. And if I finish the matching bracelet, I'll be one step closer to cool!!!!

This is made with waxed colored cotton cord, Club Scrap's Painted Desert beads, cord tips, and a silver clasp. I am finally really a beader. I even made two different pendants with head pins!!!!

Happy sigh.

Hey. Major uncool.

I'm not cool. I hate it when I have revelations like this. I go along for months and months, totally deluded that I'm cool by Emily's friends who think I'm cool or by publishing articles that may or may not be cool in magazines that are probably righteously uncool, and then I'm smacked in the head with the realization that it's all a sham, and I am lamentably, deplorably, inexorably uncool.

A friend of mine -- a young thang, whose talent is so towering and undeniable that I actually love her and am not jealous of her -- gave up acting and is now pursuing a musical career.

Her name is Addie Brownlee. And if you get a chance to see her or hear her or meet her, be nice to her. Why? Because she stores more acting talent in her little finger than Julia Roberts ever aspired to.

I'm always disappointed in Hollywood's obsession with beauty over talent, but Addie was beautiful *and* talented. Why she didn't "make it" as an actor is completely beyond me. Not only did she have the looks and the talent, but she actually went out there and tried to make it happen, which is no small accomplishment. I can't begin to count the actors who have disappeared into NYC and Chicago and LA in their attempts to "make it." The vast majority of them were no more talented than my parrots. (Although those untalented dozens were absolutely gorgeous.)

And honestly, Addie's only 28 or 29 or so. I worked with her on "Our Town" at the Clarence Brown Theatre (in Knoxville, TN). She played Emily. I played her mother. And every second that she was on the stage was a lesson in perfection. I always watched her closing scenes. Those scenes when she was dead and reliving her birthday -- oh, the agony, the ecstasy, the sheer torture of never meeting her eyes for fear that I would lose my delicate grasp on my detachment from the meaningfulness of the scene.

(True story: I painted my toenails bright purple in an effort to find something else to think about during that scene. It was so hard, with Addie/Emily right there next to me, feeling so thoroughly connected to the life that she had lost, to stand there and stir imaginary oatmeal for what seemed like an eternity. "If it were a snake, it would have bit ya," I said, night after night, and thought, "I am not here, I am not here, I am not here, I have chipped purple polish on my toenails, I am not here.")

Addie could still win an Academy Award. She could still redefine American cinema acting. But for now, she's touring tiny dives and playing her guitar and making music for those few who are poetic enough to hear her voice.

And I? I am writing for scrapbooking magazines and wondering why I never wrote the Great American Novel or braving the life of the impoverished actor in NYC or Chicago or LA.

Then I remember *my* Emily and my Woodrow, my parrots and my cat, my husband and my disintegrating hovel in the boonies. There's a new strip mall being slowly built near the grocery store in Loudon, and gas prices have rocketed to $3 a gallon. My scrap space is still a mess, and I never finish my beading projects, and homeschooling wakes me up in the middle of the night and makes me wonder why -- why -- why I'm still living this strange life of mine.

I'm not cool. I'm not famous. I'm not hanging out with Green Day after their concerts nor leading forays into the South American jungle to catalog the living creatures that have yet to be catalogued.

But that's OK. I'm still me. Somewhere under all this mess, I'm still me.

--Miss Gradenko

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Day 6, Part III

Emily and her mango-strawberry Italian Ice, which cost $6.

And I totally forgot to comment on the Italian Ice salesgirl at that particular cart. She was wearing the most incredibly Goth outfit I've ever seen in broad daylight. Yes, anyone's mascara would run and turn Goth in that heat -- but those boots were as authentically Goth as anything I've ever seen. They laced all the way up three inches above her knees, and the heels were at least three inches high themselves. I promise that when she wheeled the Italian Ice cart away into the waning afternoon sun, I had a flashback to my freshman year of college, when all my best friends were punk rockers.

I shouldn't even post this (because my impressionable daughter reads my blog), but back in those long-lost college days, I had a friend whose favorite aluminum button to wear on her punk-rock-zippered-and-torn black t-shirt read, "F*** You Very Much." Oh, to be innocent again.

Day 6, cont'd: An evening in Charleston

... After the men/boys indulged in their testosterone fest over who was on vacation and who wasn't, I drove on into Charleston without incident and found the Haynes Street parking garage without any difficulty. That Haynes Stree parking garage is a phantom. It appears from some directions, but not from others, and you can never tell when you're going to find it. This time I found it. I wouldn't count on finding it any other day of the week.

Anyway, once we parked, we walked down to the Old Slave Market. Now, just to be clear -- the Old Slave Market was never a location for selling slaves. It was a market. Rather like a farmer's market. It's called the Old Slave Market, the Slave Market, and other more politically correct terms now because slaves did their shopping for their masters there. The Slave Market bears scars from hurricanes, but it still stands. And I adore it. I know perfectly well that my mother shopped here in her youth (I have the watercolor prints that she bought), and I would like to shop here now.

However, it's impossible to shop at the Old Slave Market now unless you are a tourist loaded with money. And I'm not loaded. The vast majority of the market is populated by sellers who deal in Taiwanese and Chinese fare. Only at the far Western end of the market can you find original work by local artists. So tread carefully in the Old Slave Market. You can get ripped off -- in a major way.

Our first stop was the ladies' room near the west end. And it was a great relief, let me tell you, although sweat was already running down my back in salty rivers. When Emily and I left the ladies' room, we found Wesley and Woodrow in one of the few air-conditioned shops, buying shot glasses. (They both collect shot glasses. Small. Cheap. Easy to find, easy to pack. Smart boys!)

After the guys purchased their souvenirs, we all traipsed the *length* of the Slave Market in search of two things: A carriage tour and a sweet-grass basket. I thought I would buy one this trip. Oh, how mistaken I was.

I stopped at a ... well, you can't call it a stall. Sweet-grass weavers were set up in stalls, but they were also set up at the ends of the market sections, selling their wares. Sweet-grass baskets may be an endangered art, but their sellers are quite well aware of their uniqueness, and the prices are commensurate with the dying art. Think quilts. Think art glass. Then think sweet-grass woven baskets. I picked up a basket and asked a lady how much, and she said, "Four fifty."

I clarified, "You *do* mean four HUNDRED and fifty DOLLARS, right?"

She agreed.

I did not buy that basket. It may be a dying art. The artists should be supported. Sadly, I am not the tourist who can afford to support that particular artist.

I have *really* good taste, apparently.

Anyway, we were hot. And that's the understatement of the week. We crossed a street at the end of the markets to the location of a candy store, which had a sign out front boasting, "Air conditioning! Public restrooms!" That was all we needed to read. We *ran* for that candy shop.

Outside on the corner was a kiosk for a carriage tour company. Wesley stopped there to purchase our carriage tour, and the children and I ran -- nay, *galloped* -- for the air conditioning in the store.

It smelled really, really sweet in there. Whodathunk? A sweet shoppe that smelled like candy. How 'bout that?

Woodrow and I wandered around aimlessly for a while, just drooling over the sweets. After Wesley came inside, we purchased water and a Coke to hydrate our sweaty selves.

Y'all, it was hot. I mean -- it was *really* hot. And it was almost 5:00 in the afternoon. We found a bench on which to repose briefly, but decided to move on fairly quickly to a place on the other side of the market. It was sort of like a mall... but sort of not. And it was not air conditioned. I finished my Coke there and looked at tin soldiers in a store window.

When we went outside, we made our way to that block where the carriages pick people up for tours. We always take a carriage tour in Charleston, and I highly recommend it -- although you're really at the whim of the tour guide who may or may not be totally fabulous. Our first tour guide was *fabulous*. The one we had in 2004 was less good. (He seemed to think that by merely being a native Charlestonian, we would just soak up the history through him.) This year's tour guide ... well, I'm getting ahead of myself.

While we waited, I sent the kids to the nearest Italian Ice cart to get an ice. These kids of mine are brain-damaged. They get Italian Ices once a year -- once every other year most of the time -- and they always get the same flavor they already got. Woodrow got something blue. Emily got something orange and red.

(OK, Woodrow's is blue raspberry, and it stains his mouth blue, but it's tasty. Emily's is mango-strawberry. The mango section is tasteless, but the strawberry is yummy. It's much prettier when the flavors are separate, but I recommend mixing them up for a tasty treat.)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Day 6 - Beach, bliss, & blistering heat

Saturday, August 20

The morning dawned warm and soft with light filtering through the Spanish moss hanging from the palmettos out front -- well, the three or four palmettos that were left, that is. Stupid development.

I got up 7:30 and started the coffee. Breakfast was an elaborate affair -- I had to wrestle cellophane off the darned cream-cheese-and-raspberry coffee cake. Oh, the trouble I go to in order to feed this rotten family! Bunch of ingrates! We also had croissants. Don't make me tell you how hard it was to get the lid off the margerine. I'm not sure retelling the tale wouldn't give me a nervous breakdown. Post-traumatic stress disorder, y'know.

Truth be told, the only person who got up with me was Wesley, so I spent the early morning on the porch, updating my trip report, listening to the radio (oh, the bliss of the Wave!), and just generally hanging out. Wesley was chomping at the bit to go to the beach, so he had barely eaten before he changed into his swim trunks and biked off to the ocean. I was still on the porch, writing, when he came back quite suddenly.

Guess what Wesley found in the ocean! Go 'head, guess. No, not a mermaid. No, not a dolphin. YES! A jellyfish!!!!! How did you guess? You are so smart! I looked in the kitchen cabinets, but there was no meat tenderizer in there. So we shredded a couple of cigarettes, wetted the tobacco, and packed it onto Wesley's stings. Within a very few minutes, Wesley felt much better, and he left for the beach again.

After a while, Woodrow woke up, and after he had eaten, he and I leapt into our swimsuits to go to the beach, too. This time I unearthed an umbrella in the storage shed downstairs. That was the right thing to get. I confess I didn't tell Woodrow about Wesley's encounter with a jellyfish. Woodrow, like me, has a flair for melodrama. I figured if I told Woodrow there were jellyfish in the ocean, he would flip out and not go swimming.

*I* was the one who flipped out, though. I waded into the water up to my knees and then waded out again. The umbrella on the beach made sitting outside very pleasant until the biting flies started nibbling on my ankles. Dang it!!!! I can't win for losing. Note to self: Bring bug repellant.

Emily joined us after a while. She walked up and down the beach looking for shark's teeth and shells.

The beach was getting pretty crowded. It was a Saturday, after all, and all the weekend people were turning up in droves. Interestingly, a group of 5 Mennonite girls also showed up. They weren't dressed for swimming, and all I could think was that they must be sweltering in their bright, plain skirts and long-sleeved blouses. They took turns taking pictures of each other until I sent Emily over to offer to take a picture of all five of them together. They gratefully handed over their camera and posed in a group on the pilings.

(I hope their photos turn out. The sun was behind them and the glare off the ocean must have been fierce.)

We finally packed up our stuff and left. Back at the Pink Flamingo, I took yet another sublime outdoor, enclosed, hot-and-cold shower, and then went upstairs to dress and sit on the porch listening to the radio. I had a glass of wine and a bowl of chilled peaches. Then they played "Blister in the Sun." I turned up the volume and sang along loudly. I probably disturbed the neighbors. I didn't care. It was faaaaaaaaabulous and exactly what vacation is supposed to be about!

We were going to go to Po' Pigs for lunch and leave directly for Charleston, so we all got dressed and ready to be away from the house for hours. But we forgot something. I forget what we forgot. Well, it's been a month since that day, what can you expect? My trip report notes are apparently not as thorough as I thought they were!

Lunch was even better than dinner had been a couple of nights ago. I told everyone who worked there how much I loved the place and that I would always, always eat here whenever I come back to Edisto. Wesley paced himself more reasonably about the food this time, so he wasn't in pain when we finished the meal. However, he did eat too much to get dessert. This time I got the nanner puddin'. Yummy!!!!!!

On the way to the car, we realized that we had forgotten something, so we headed back to the house. But we were soon on our way. I drove this time, and I remembered the cell phone, too. While Wesley napped in the passenger seat, I kept checking to see if I had a signal or voice mail. I was sure I had voice mail by now. I stopped in Hollywood for gasoline, and Wesley commandeered the cell phone. Now that we had a signal, he called his friend Jim to lord it over him that we were on vacation and Jim wasn't. This is a guy thing. I don't get it. Jim just went to Hawaii and called us a few times -- just to lord it over us that he was on vacation, and *we* weren't.

I could never be a guy. I seriously don't get that.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

No, I still don't have Day 6...

For those who have kindly written to ask where the heck Day 6 is... I'm sorry. I have not started that part of the trip report yet. I do still have my copious notes from the trip, and I do plan to write the rest of the trip. I just ... I'm sorry; I'm just so worried about the Katrina victims. All of 'em. From Mobile to NOLA and over to Houston where they're trying to help more than 100,000 refugees. Somehow, it's just very hard to write about a fun little vacation when there's so much devastation and misery in the South.

I go to the scrap table and try to make something, and I work for 12 minutes or so and have to go up front to watch the news again. I just can't stay focused on one thing for any length of time.

I'm sorry. I will write the rest of the trip report. I swear I will. It's just really hard right now.

Thank you for your continuing patience and understanding. And if you have a few minutes, think about how we're going to help those people who need jobs and homes. The Red Cross is a marvelous organization and quite worthy of our contributions, but they don't do much in the way of longterm assistance. If I find out the name and location of such a longterm-help charity, I'll be sure to share it. Right now, I just don't know of one. Maybe Habitat for Humanity. Maybe something else. I would appreciate any suggestions.


Friday, September 02, 2005

Patience, please

I'm going to finish my trip report if it kills me, and it might, because it's taking so long to write it all out. But right now, I'm completely mired in depression over what's happening on the Gulf Coast. I wish I could *do* something to fix everything that's gone wrong. I wish I could help someone -- really, physically *help* someone. Giving money to the Red Cross and Noah's Wish is one thing, but -- I want to get my hands dirty. I want to be in the trenches down there. The TV is killing me and I can't stay away from the news channels.

Somebody, please save New Orleans. So much of my personal history is wrapped up in that bowl behind the broken levees. Please, please, somebody save New Orleans.

Here's a quick New Orleans story. My mother lived there in WWII when she was a high school graduate. She actually graduated high school at age 16 in Orange, Texas, and then she went to Western Union school in Missouri, but her sister was pregnant and married and was moving to New Orleans, so the whole family was moving to New Orleans, and Western Union didn't have any job openings at that time in New Orleans.

Mama -- my sweet, little, proper mother -- knew her family was in dire straits. Her father didn't have a job. Her mother had never worked outside the home. Aunt Sybil didn't have a job, and her husband disappeared the moment they got to New Orleans. So Mama, who was scrupulously honest and had a conscience that worked in overdrive, went to a shipyard where they were building warships and were advertising a need for a secretary to the engineers. Mama had taken three months of classes in a secretarial school back in Texas and had graduated at the top of her class -- hence her full-ride scholarship to Western Union school.

Her family was living in a car.

Mama got to the shipyard and while filling out the application, found out that the shipyard was only hiring people of legal age. You had to be 18 to work there. They had lots of government contracts and more work than they could do, but the employees had to be legal adults.

Without missing a beat, without batting an eyelash, Mama lied about her age on her application. She had heard rumors of company housing, and she wasn't going to leave anything to chance. She lied, she lied, she didn't tell them she was just 16, she lied and said she was 18 and that she had graduated high school, taken a three-month secretarial course, and that she had graduated from Western Union school. They gave her one typing test, one shorthand test, interviewed her, and hired her on the spot. Then they sent her to the personnel office for the housing assignment.

Excited beyond all comprehension, she rode the streetcar back to the street where her parents were waiting in their car, and without ever having seen the company houses, they drove together to their new home.

Mama said she would never forget that afternoon. She led the way into a square, cardboard shack next to the levee, lined up with a thousand other cardboard shacks just like it. And while she was saying, "Mama! You have a real gas stove in the kitchen," she turned around and found her mother collapsed on the floor just inside the front door, weeping her heart out because it was the ugliest little house she had ever lived in.

Of course, my grandmother -- who died long before I was ever born -- got over herself, wiped her eyes, and behaved nicely so she wouldn't hurt my mother's feelings. And they all lived together in that tiny house until my grandfather got a job and they could afford a better house. Mama's family was never wealthy; they were probably never even middle-class. But they worked hard and they knew how to economize, and they lived better than most of their peers even before WWII brought economic boon to the Depression-era masses.

Mama loved New Orleans, but she was always afraid of Lake Pontchartrain, the levees, and especially the railroad tressles over the lake. I'm glad she never lived to see the day the levee broke. It would have broken her heart.