Monday, August 25, 2008

Haikus for Tropical Storm Fay

It's pouring outside
Better find an umbrella!
(Craving mac n' cheese)

Strong winds toss the car
I am bounced through highway lanes
Concentrating hard.

Rain makes smooth hair curl
When I'm safe inside, chopsticks
hold locks off my neck.

Rain amputation!
Broken limbs sprawled on the roof
Trees are the victims

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Saturdays at Tiffani's Sky Blue Home

In honor of a lovely Saturday yesterday on the porch of darling Tiffani's home, I'm resurrecting a piece from a couple years ago.

Sundays at Tiffani's
Monday - March 13, 2006

I've been escaping on Sunday afternoons to Tiffani's house. About an hour away, it's the perfect distance to listen to music and let go of the city as the skyline fades behind me. I find comfort and peace in the warmth, calm, and gentleness of my dear sisterfriend, just by being around her. Her wise advice and insight is complimented with her deep loyalty to righteousness and a fire that burns in her belly. It's the kind of fire that warms you but also makes you dance.

Even with the sounds of gunshots from beyond the trees it is perfectly peaceful on her porch with piles of seashells and bluegrass floating out from inside the house. I notice new things every time I come here, all lovely little symbols of Tiffani's life, love, and spirit. I notice a clay hand, just a tiny bit smaller than my hand, cupping a tea light candle. The perfect tree line borders a clear expanse of sky- its dreamy blue today, last time we watched a purple sunset, the time before that, thunder and lightning. The gentle breeze flows through me. I imagine it blowing literally through me, taking with it the tension from my shoulders, the headache of the last 3 days, and the ever-growing to-do list in my mind.

The chirping of birds harmonizes with the bells of her wind chimes: a fish, a pyramid, a heart.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Why it's Harder to Behave in a Mansion than it is at Church

This evening my girlfriend and I went to a political soiree, a "fundraiser" if you will. I suppose this inherently means money, but as a low-budget lobbyist this is a part of the work that will always be a bit funny to me. Funny like allergic. But it's the mild sort of allergy that can be controlled with a well-planned pre-treatment of Benedryl.

So I learned tonight that it is SO much harder to behave properly when in the breast of the bourgeoisie than anywhere else.

Previously I would have told you that the hardest place to behave is in church, preferably on Christmas Eve when you're high on too much wassail and the anticipation of presents and sitting between your beautiful and hilarious sister and brother who like to pinch and elbow jab. At least when you're in church you have your Mom just down the pew to hold you accountable and pull you back into proper behavior after the lady directly behind you sings "Angels We Have Heard on High" at an octave seven times higher than everyone else- with excessive vibrato of course.

At the rich people's house tonight there was no such accountability. In fact, I found myself unable to even look at my girlfriend or risk dissolving into totally inappropriate giggles. Allow me to elaborate:

The Children of the Corn oil paintings. There were three different oil portraits, apparently of our hostess and her younger brother immortalized as the beautiful blond pale spooky children they most definitely were at some point. The screamed Flowers in the Attic. And they were the focal point of the otherwise painfully overdone Japanese-silk encrusted sitting room. I just couldn't stop staring even though they freaked me the hell out.

The Dogs. This house came equipped with two matching little dogs- I think they might be called Maltese. Their hair was done in bows and I will admit that they were pretty damn adorable. Our host identified them as "Trouble and More Trouble" which reminded me of dogs I was introduced to once named "Theo-dorable and Theo-terrible." Hilarious.

So the two Maltese spent their evening either jumping around demanding cold salmon from the buffet or taking it easy and lounging luxuriously on one of the $10K settees. My friend kept daring me to take pictures of the dogs while the guest of honor - a political candidate - spoke which made me want to laugh even more. I only managed to get one that wasn't terrible because it's really hard to shoot in mansion-ambiance unobtrusively with no flash. I should get at least a dollar for getting this picture:

The Pigeons. All the while the candidate spoke, there was a strange cooing sound coming from another room. I swear to God that at first I thought there was a third Maltese being tortured in some remote corner of the mansion but then I realized it was more of a bird-like sound. I suppose that because they were rich it was probably more likely an exotic and endangered Peacock Pheasant than a common pigeon, but it sounded like a pigeon to me. Or maybe it actually was torture that I was hearing.

The lack of women. At this party of about 20-30 people, my girlfriend and I just may have been the only women actually there as guests. At first I thought there were other women there, but then my friend pointed out that these women were in fact, the help.

The Hostess. The Lady of the House. It was her home, clearly not her new husband's. While she obviously worked tirelessly to be the hostess with the mostest, laying out lavish platters of pork, salmon, tomatoes in a balsamic reduction, her hospitality was trumped by the permanent glare that graced her otherwise very pretty face.

The Gay Filmmaker Son. He had adorable growing out dyed black hair and had just graduated from art/film school. In true Royal Tenenbaum fashion, he talked of his love for dark violent films and disdain for his family. When I commented about a nice picture I had seen in the library (yes, a library) of him and his mother, he sneered "the only reason it's there is because she looks immaculate." I genuinely liked him- I look forward to seeing his Children of the Corn/Flowers in the Attic/Maltese-inspired movies some day.

The Kid's Table. No matter what my girlfriend and I could say or do, from the moment we arrived we were officially "young ladies" and were promptly hustled into the kitchen by one of the hosts for the "young men" waiting. We should have gotten an entertainment fee. Or jelly beans.

It was all just fabulous- you just can't make this shit up. Just try to behave like a grown-ass adult, or better, a "professional" in this scenario and see how well you do. I'll just keep trying to take covert pictures of tiny beasts and not spill the best mojito I've ever drank on the quarter-million dollar Spanish tile.

Spinach, Tomato and Pine Nut Baked Couscous

I've gotten three diferent requests for this recipe in the last week, so I figured I'd go ahead and share it with the rest of the world. This is one of my favorites and the original recipe is from Quick Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin (one of my all-time favorite cookbooks) but I have modified it a bit over the years.

This very pretty dish is a great one for potlucks, or can be a great dinner with a balsamicy salad. I often make this with my favorite recipe for potato leek soup which I will post another time. Here you go!

1 cup couscous (I like the whole wheat kind)
1 1/2 cups boiling vegetable stock
1/4 cup olive oil
3 minced garlic cloves
1 large onion, diced
2 14 oz cans of tomatoes, chopped and drained (reserve 1/3 cup of the juice.
About 5 fresh basil leaves, minced
1/3 cup of pine nuts
5 cups loosely packed fresh spinach
Ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups grated munster cheese

1) Combine the couscous and boiling stock in a large bowl; cover with a plate. Let sit for five mintues, then fluff with a fork.

2) Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the garlic and onion about 10 minutes, then add the drained tomatoes and cook 10 minutes more, stirring frequently.

3) Stir the tomato mixture into the couscous and mix in the reserved tomato juice, basil, pine nuts , raw spinach and pepper.

4) Spread half the couscous mixture in a 12x7 or other baking dish. Sprinkle on the cheese, then top with the remaining couscous.

5) Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Foghorn Leghorn with devil ghosties

This is my new piece of art that I got today from the Slotin Folk Art Fest.

Its by an artist named Jonesy who has recently relocated from San Francisco to Atlanta and will soon be working at East Atlanta Tattoo.

I love it because the ghosts are cuddly and drippy and one is even devilish. Not to mention the giant bird that makes me think of Foghorn Leghorn, a character that has become quite dear to me after years of working with seersucker-wearing Georgia politicians that sometimes sound just like him.

I really love this bird's stupid feet. So stupid! Anyway I love it and I can't wait to put it up. Thanks Jonesy!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Carnivals and Festivals

This weekend, be sure to take a walk on over to the Georgia Blog Carnival, a collection of writing from the last couple weeks from bloggers across our lovely state.

For Atlanta folks who share a similar passion for folk art, check out the Slotin Folk Art Festival happening this weekend. Folk Art is my favorite, and was recently wonderfully surprised on my visit to the Milwuakee Art Museum to see their enormous collection of folk art, including several pieces from Georgia's own Howard Finster.

I'll report back tomorrow with whatever ridiculous piece of art I'm sure I'm going to purchase!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Thank You for Being a Friend

Haha now you're gonna have the theme song to the Golden Girls in your head! My work here is done. My fortune cookie reminded me to:

Thank you in particular to my beautiful girlfriends who have been so attentive and caring and have literally showered me in flowers (and Poison tickets) over the last couple weeks. Beautiful perfect flowers that let me know in no uncertain terms that I am most defintely loved.

Signs that you are loved by your sister include the most delicious dark chocolates on earth:

And the most perfect ridiculous shark toy a girl could ever ask for:

Shukran Jazeelan!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Animal Home Invasions!!!

If you enjoyed the tale of my legendary possum chase, you will definitely be amused by my sister's encounter with the bat in her living room last night. Who knew that brooms played such a key role in home self-defense?? Enjoy!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Mahmoud Darwish, Shukran, Salaam. Shukran

I can't believe the news that he is gone- the Poet of the Land, of the People, the great Palestinian Mahmoud Darwish.

His inspiration was the Occupation; he wrote while under siege. His imagery skillfully turned a key and unlocked the beauty, tragedy and people who are the world we love, a world we mourn, His words, like tears, fell from his pen, his eyes, his heart and his brilliant mind onto pages read by thousands. his words, sometimes set to music, always kept our hearts beating with hope.

You will be so deeply missed, mourned, and your words will continue beyond your life as a catalyst for resistance, solidarity, and deep hope for days when fredom and love will wash over all people, and families will not be kept apart by tanks, borders and prisons.

Under Siege
By Mahmoud Darwish (1942-2008)

Here, where the hills slope before the sunset and the chasm of time
near gardens whose shades have been cast aside
we do what prisoners do
we do what the jobless do
we cultivate hope

In a land where the dawn sears
we have become more doltish
and we stare at the moments of victory
there is no starry night in our nights of explosions
our enemies stay up late, they switch on the lights
in the intense darkness of this tunnel

Here after the poems of Job, we wait no more

This siege will persist until we teach our enemies
models of our finest poetry

the sky is leaden during the day
and a fiery orange at night… but our hearts
are as neutral as the flowery emblems on a shield

here, not “I”
Here, Adam remembers the clay of which he was born

He says, on the verge of death, he says,
“I have no more earth to lose”
Free am I, close to my ultimate freedom, I hold my fortune in my own hands
In a few moments, I will begin my life
born free of father and mother
I will chose letters of sky blue for my name

Under siege, life is the moment between remembrance
of the first moment, and forgetfulness of the last

here, under the mountains of smoke, on the threshold of my home,
time has no measure
We do what those who give up the ghost do…
we forget our pain

Pain is when the housewife forsakes hanging up the clothes to dry and is content
that this flag of Palestine should be without stain

Continue reading Under Siege.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Mouse in the House

A mouse just ran through the committee room I'm in at the Capitol! Oh the screaming! More like squealing actually. It was a teeny tiny mouse really. And all the nice Southern ladies are now trying to sit cross-legged on these pews in their skirt suits and high heels.

But the best part was my friend Sandy's reaction- had there been a table she would have jumped up on it. Instead, she picked up all of her 70 huge law/textbooks off the floor and slammed them on the bench on top of me. Same was done with her 3 bags. And she was practically hyperventilating. I had to work so hard to hold it together and not bust out laughing!

I kept feeling like someone should come in here and "do something"- I mean, what place has more resources than this place in the state of Georgia? That would have been ridiculous though, if a poor Capitol security guard was forced to chase a mouse while the legislators discussed admissibilty of similar transactions.

I was bitching earlier about how it should be illegal from them to make us come to the Capitol in the summer, but this was totally worth it.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Rockin Like Dokken... with a little Poison too

About a week ago I saw the great hair metal band Poison in Atlanta- this is the third summer in a row that I have seen my Poison boys at Lakewood Amphitheater. Don't hate just cuz you're jealous, haters.

So I'm sad to say we missed Sebastian Bach - formerly of Skid Row of course - as the first warm up act. We did get to hear both I Remember You and Youth Gone Wild while walking up through the parking lot though. Don't you worry.

I couldn't have been more excited that the second warm up band was Dokken. Dokken who has but two songs that you might have heard once before: Dream Warriors and In My Dreams. Nevertheless, Dokken had no qualms about bragging repeatedly about their 27 year history of "rockin Atlanta". Apparently they are also living clean now- another fact they repeated throughout their 40 minute performance.

Seeing Dokken on stage was so funny - pretty much the only people standing in the whole place were those directly in front of the stage (we were on the lawn). It reminded me of when I saw L.A. Guns open for AC/DC - with cousin Laith and Amu Nabeel with his walkman - in 1991. We had the best seats I think I've ever had for a stadium show- like 9th row. I was obsessed with L.A. Guns- likely the only fan there. I had made a banner that said "Tracii Aligns the Planets" - hot pink spray paint on a white sheet. Guitarist Tracii Guns kept looking at me with confusion. It was there that I learned the classic rock n roll lesson that perhaps it isn't the best idea to put an inside joke with your high school girlfriends on a banner for a show.

Back to 2008. So there was this woman standing in front of us wearing red shorts and a purple and blue tiedye Dead shirt that knew every word to every Dokken song ever- amazing really. She was there with her teenage kids and a dude who appeared to be both one of her teenage kids' friends but also the mom's boyfriend. Yikes. She was hilarious though and definitely contributed to this being one of the classiest nights ever.

The highlight of Dokken's performance was the audience being repeatedly taunted by the band, including but not limited to such gems as "We could do something soft and mellow or we could do something loud, rockin and in your face!!" In my face indeed.

And then there was Poison. Dear, sweet Poison who have rocked my world since age 14 and have even made appearances in my dreams. Y'all know my love for these boys is never ending. And you know this current display of affection can only mean one thing- that my boys sorta sucked this time around:

1. I called every song before they played it because it was the exact same set as the last two years.

2. Bret's voice was hoarse, scratchy, totally effed up. Probably from doing 3 reality shows plus world tours at the same time over the last year.

3. Speaking of reality shows, they were clearly filming one because Bret had so many required lines that he repeated over and over. For example, if Atlanta had a dollar for every time Bret referenced "rocking Atlanta Georgia for the last 22 years," the city wouldn't have had to do those mass layoffs a couple months ago. If we had two dollars for every time he mentioned the show Rock of Love- or better yet, the new Rock of Love Tour Bus - Atlanta could build the Beltline. You get the picture.

4. They had to take a lot of breaks- like moments where just one member of the band was on stage while the others were backstage recuperating I guess. Bret did Every Rose by himself, C.C. did instrumentals of Amazing Grace (ok, so that was kinda awesome) and Georgia on My Mind. Rikki did a Grateful Dead-like Drumz/Space thing.

5. They played for barely an hour. They could hardly keep it together long enough for that short period of time and practically ran off stage.

6. Once again, the super pro-America junk before Something to Believe In. Yes, Bret, we know your former bodyguard was a traumatized Vietnam Vet who "fought a losing war on a foreign shore" and killed himself. What better reason do you need to realize that this War is shit and we need to bring the troops home now?!?

But all that said, I still love my boys and will always associate them with all things good and hairspray and spandex and fallen angels. And though this show was lackluster, I am grateful to them for once again timing their Atlanta stop for exactly when I needed some cheering up.

There's a whole after-the-show story that will have to be reserved for another time because it involves Bret Michaels' cell phone number and is on the level of mythology. And no one likes debunking myths so I'm gonna keep my mouth shut on that piece for now.

So you're not too disappointed, here's my crappy, shaky faraway footage of Poison doing their encore Talk Dirty to Me. It gets less shaky after the first few seconds I promise.