Saturday, May 19, 2012

Atlanta - Porches

These photos are mostly of homes along Auburn Avenue. Called "Sweet Auburn" because of it's historic significance: commercial and social success of those who were forced to live there before civil rights. It was a vibrant, supportive community.

These homes are glorious examples of the whole wonderful "porch concept!" I know porches in the South were for cooling off before air conditioning, but they are so very social and I love them and the idea of them.

One can sit out there and read and rock ... or talk and snap beans. Waving to whomever is walking by, or stopping for a chat or some lemonade.

From what the National Park Service Ranger said on the tour of M.L. King's house, in the Auburn neighborhood families were constantly interacting. People tending backyard gardens, kids playing in the street or on the grass throughout the neighborhood. People walking back and forth along Auburn Avenue to visit or borrow or lend things like sugar.

Another interesting thing: all classes were mixed, because of segregation. A curse - followed by an unexpected blessing. The way the streets and blocks are laid out lends itself to enjoying one's neighbors. The roads wind and the houses are relatively close together - but not packed.

It's informative to think about Martin Luther, Jr. growing up in such a community. With extended family very much contributing to his everyday life. Which very much centered around the church.

I wonder how early experience of this kind of solidarity, not to mention being steeped in the words of the Bible - evidently the children prepared memorized verses to recite at the dinner table, and they were preacher's kids, preacher's grandkids and preacher's great-grandkids, after all - affected his outlook on the civil rights war a few short years later.

There was also a story (evidently told by his older sister who is still alive and  in her 80's) about M.L. launching himself off the upstairs porch while playing Superman ... more than once.

Picturing him living in the neighborhood as a young, mischievous (normal) boy was enlightening.

See the King home here.

Atlanta - MLK Birthplace & Memorial

The "walking" exhibit

"Walkers" looking out on the Rose Garden

The drinking fountains at the Visitor's Center
Folks sitting next to the reflecting pool

Notice how the reflecting pool looks flat but is stair-stepped.

House where M.L. King and his father were both born. He lived here with immediate and extended family members until he was twelve years old.

Tours of the house are free but one has to get a ticket at the Visitor's Center down the street - it's the building behind the fountain and reflecting pool.

I signed up for a 2 o'clock ticket which I walk-in reserved at 1:00 - and was told to come back and pick up at 1:30. Uh-huh. So I did it.

There is another, newer Visitor's Center across and further down the street - where the drinking fountains work. It's more updated and has an interactive museum with modern exhibits and a film featuring children.

The older Visitor's Center section (where you get the tour tickets) has a few rooms with things like a pair of Gandhi's sandals in a case.

An eternal flame burns across from the tomb where Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King are buried. The tomb sits on an island in the water.

The old Ebenezer Baptist Church is open to walk right in. I'm not sure if the cross and the stained glass window at the front were there since it's beginning, but they're a rather touching combination. I would've thought - to be honest - that I wouldn't have liked either of these. An electric cross? And a modern stained glass window of Jesus? Usually I like more impressionistic things, I guess. But they're thought-provoking as worship emblems set before real congregants in this historic church.

The new Ebenezer Baptist Church building is opposite, and is an active church versus a museum.

I liked the exhibit inside the building across the street, with statues of people walking down an ordinary street with its dashed line painted down the middle. The figures are placed as if they are walking towards the light and freedom of a large plate-glass window which looks out onto the rose garden. I found the arrangement powerful. The simplicity of the walking. The earth-shaking meaning of that simple action at that time.

Atlanta - Inman Park

Converted warehouse - Loft offices/studios

Old lock-up box for paddy wagon pick up!

Porches galore

CHURCH (it's a bar!)
Such a cool, walkable vibe here.

We enjoyed Irwin Street Market around the corner from our B&B -- it's 3 or 4 (or more!) little stores in one: a bakery (homemade bagels) & coffee shop; a soup & sandwich shop; an ice cream/sorbet counter. All surrounded by ingeniously arranged couches and armchairs, with accents like old cupboards and a few pieces of funky china. Decor was great - a simple and eclectic combination of burlap and chintz, Victorian and cottage-y. Delicious hot chocolate and strawberry mojito sorbet.

There's Lotta Frutta where you can buy deluxe fruit cups and fresh, in-season smoothies.

Both locales have chairs and tables outside.

I took a guided city tour with ATL-Cruzers, after trying to find a similar kind of trolley (they no longer exist) or bus tour. This little 6-seater electric car was a fun option. With the plastic sides rolled up because of the nice weather, the views were perfect. Stephen our guide, had animated, informed city history and trivia to tell us during the ride.

The tour highlighted the Inman Park neighborhood. So several of these photos were taken en route.

The open car and driver invited waves and shouted conversations throughout the tour.

At one point a man also with some kind of electric sports car pulled up alongside us and exclaimed about our similar modes of transportation. His license plate : SHOCKING.

Stephen was good-natured and accomodating when I couldn't easily find the point of departure above the Underground Atlanta station downtown.

The reservations young woman had given me an emergency number in case I had trouble and so I was able to call and get help with directions.

After ... asking a man at a bus stop; then several people on the bus chipping in to try and help (I'm afraid it was a commotion, yes - my kids would have been mortified - I did not have exact change). Then the kind and friendly Rebecca (sp) -- thank you again, Rebecca! -- helped me onto the MARTA going the right way. That is, after I "tapped my (newly acquired) Breeze card."

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Comic Book Artist

Steve Rude "The Dude," famous comic book artist, listens as one of those present introduces themselves at a workshop/lecture coordinated by Mike Jones, Dean of the Art Department at Hardin-Simmons University.

Boots & Boot Pullers

Here's whatcha do: put your heel into the u-shaped groove of the puller, and then ease your foot out of the boot. You know, kind of like when you step on the back of one shoe with the other one, to help get it off. Nice, eh? "Saves your back." Who knew?

Check out all the designs and colors of the boots. Different kinds of leather, heights of the tops, shapes of the toes - I guess square is popular right now. Crosses are common icons for decoration.

Abilene's Stonehenge

Okay, it's just the remains of the braces for some kind of aqueduct-thing, but it's ended up looking like a kind of cool sculpture cutting across a section of Will Hair park. The name of the park there is not a typo, that's really the name of the park - which is a pretty nice one with baseball fields, a good-sized playground, a disc-golf course and plenty of open space.


If you're from a city you don't really think about where your meat comes from. What do you mean, where does it come from? It comes from the meat section of the store, wrapped in plastic! That's how I thought until we moved to this part of the country, where real people raise real animals, for real eating - cows, goats, pigs. This is a process. The animal is born, fed, then sold and prepared. While it's being fed and taken care of - exercised, groomed perhaps for show - people can't help but get somewhat attached to the creatures. Or at least have some experiences with them.

Ornery is really the word for goats. I think it's possible that particular word might've been invented at the same time as goats were. They practically own the concept (see the personification I'm beginning). They butt, they try to chew or eat everything, they bash into things. They each have a kind of personality.

Now, if you're thinking at all that I'm getting around to advocating vegetarianism, I'm actually not. But it's all interesting and made me think more recently, about how the Native Americans had some kind of ceremony after each animal was killed for food. They would pause and be thankful for each part, for the sustenance, for the successful hunt. Expressing gratitude for the gift. So I guess I am advocating, or at least thinking about less consumption and more appreciation.

Medical Murals

Who does this?! I don't mean who paints murals, I mean who thinks of commissioning murals for stairwells in a medical building on an Air Force base? I know who actually, and hope to sometime get a photo and interview with him on here. The man who made this and much more happen was the Facilities Manager for the building for a number of years. He slowly transformed the place over his tenure there. Every floor, every waiting area and the grounds are all strangely and wonderfully transformed from blank and clinical to warm and beautiful. Out of place for a military base where everything is usually bland and non-descript. He added plants inside and out, art on every wall. Everything is freshly painted, renovated, clean and repaired. He did this within federally-approved budget standards. Yes, people these success stories are possible! I love to hear about them occasionally, to counteract the all too-prevalent apathy and excuses. I'm sure there were some problems and challenges accomplishing the final result. It took a lot of patience and hard work over time. Now employees and customers (patients) are encouraged and comforted by their surroundings. In the main entry, there is even a waterfall feature. The wall behind it is painted to look like a garden in Tuscany. Scattered outside on all sides of the four-story, long building are benches and sculptures. Usually on a military base one can't tell the difference between buildings. They look exactly the same, inside and out. It could be a bowling alley or the command headquarters you're looking at, hard to tell. Every one surrounded by a flat expanse of ground. This one breaks that mold.

Royce Brooks Garage

AKA "Bobby's" - which is how one woman I met writes it on her to-do list when she needs to get her car fixed. I actually look forward to having our cars worked on because it means I get to go and bring my work and wait in the waiting area at this garage. First of all, I like it because it's cleaner than my own house. You can practically eat off the floor. Yes, I repeat, it's an automotive repair place. Next, there's no T.V. wedged in front of clientele to shut them up. No squawk-box blaring in front of the small number of chairs, forcing you to listen to murder & mayhem. Just a steady stream of customers come in and out, often chatting about one another's lives. Good work is being done all around you. I find something both relaxing and inspiring about the racks of tools and the lifts moving up and down, and things being fixed. The whole place is clean and Bobby is really good with people. And cars. It's a well-run place.