Wednesday Short: Florida Postcard

croppedyellow-pinkChristopher T Cooper Dubai_Fountain_performing_'Bassbor_Al_Fourgakom'_pe_pe

 

Fountains spritzed,

Receding then arcing

In pink-and-yellow play.

 

 

From city-center splendor

Into hazing noon,

A GTO muscled

A crotch rocket

Until it shot far

Into scorched-tar mirage.

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She leaned hard,

Into the wind-rush,

Hair stringing tangled.

375 pxgreen 180 florida postcard butterfly_pe

Her jeans tugged,

Her butterfly peeped

Then spread,

A mosaic

Of purple-green scaling

Her butternut skin.

235 nebulize 1280px-Lightning_strike_jan_2007_peStump pines scraggled

Against a low-rumble sky,

Great with rain.

A burning white light

Split the clouds,

Heaven’s underbelly,

And God’s fingers

Sought Adam

But he was not there.

 

375 miami vice postcard

Credits:

Fountain courtesy of Christopher T. Cooper

Highway (white line fever) courtesy of http://www.tysto.com/

http://icondoit.wordpress.com/

Fir0002/Flagstaffotos

Bike Week courtesy of BlackBikeWeek, http://www.blackbikeweek.us/pictures

 

Funky Decorating Do’s—Sign On!

Dime lemonade? Those were the days.

Dime lemonade? Those were the days.

Hang this hot sign behind your bar.

Hang this hot sign behind your bar.

Decorating scoop—here's a cool playroom prop.

Decorating scoop—here’s a cool playroom prop.

Road trip! US 1 stretches through Pennsylvania—from Maine to Key West.

Road trip! US 1 stretches through Pennsylvania—from Maine to Key West.

Pretty is as pretty does for a lady's boudoir. Loop your beads here.

Pretty is as pretty does for a lady’s boudoir. Loop your beads here.

Pronunciation? It's "puh-kahns" down Georgia way. Period.

Pronunciation? It’s “puh-kahns” down Georgia way. Period. Per my family.

Pump up your weekend! Head for The Terry Craddock Hotel and Shoemakers Grille in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Pump up your weekend! Head for the Craddock Terry Hotel and Shoemakers Grille in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Some of my pics go South. Where else would you find a tractor seat that functions as furniture?

Some of my pics go South. Where else would you find a tractor seat that functions as furniture?

Roadside prayer. Bless your heart.

Roadside prayer. Bless your heart.

"Shave and a haircut. Two bits!"

“Shave and a haircut. Two bits!”

Brad Paisley is smokin' hot. Check out "The Cigar Song" below.

Brad Paisley is smokin’ hot. Check out “The Cigar Song” below.

Photo Credits: Catherine Hamrick

The “Selfie” Movement Hits Print

Kim_Kardashian_2010Last night Bravo TV host Andy Cohen knelt in a selfie homage to Kardashian’s derrière.

The trailblazer of the “selfie movement,” Kardashian now sets her sights beyond Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to print. Her book, aptly named Selfish, practices the “art” of clicking personal self-photos—hence a highly questionable aesthetic tome with airbrush geniuses on call.

The countdown is on! Kim Kardashian's selfie "Selfish" tome hits bookstores on April 7, 2015. Sales projections? Good question: Kardashian-obsessed fans are too busy Googling and ogling for free.

The countdown is on! Kim Kardashian’s selfie “Selfish” tome hits bookstores on April 7, 2015. Sales projections? Good question: Kardashian-obsessed fans will be too busy Googling and ogling for free.

Mark your calendars! The photo-finish pub date is April 7, 2015, as announced by Universe, the pop-culture imprint of Rizzoli. Billed as a “hardcover coffee table book,” its trim size is 5 x 7 inches, hardly worthy of a diminutive side table.

What “never-before-seen” bod parts will Kardashian flash?

Has this world gone celeb ass-backwards?

A selfie? Novelty? No. Victorian women shot early selfies with mirrors and boxed cameras--usually fully clothed.

A selfie? Novelty? No. Victorian women shot early selfies with mirrors and boxed cameras–usually fully clothed.

Pre-FB/Instagram Selfies

Nadar_autoportrait_tournant

Parmigianino_SelfportraitNürnberg_—_GNM_2013-09-07_Mattes_(64)138_29271_1 001

Credits:

Kim Kardashian by The Heart Truth (http://www.flickr.com/photos/thehearttruth/4366241448/)

Coolest selfie: Nadar autoportrait tournant courtesy of Bibliothèque Nationale de France

Self-portrait in a Convex Mirror (c. 1524) by Italian late Renaissance artist Parmigianino courtesy of Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

Self-portrait by Johannes Gumpp, 1646, shows how most self-portraits were painted.

Pieter Claesz, Vanitas with Violin and Glass Ball, 1625 (The artist is visible in the reflection.)

Wonderful Wednesday: Hot Spots

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASummer Images

by John Clare

 

Now swarthy Summer, by rude health embrowned,

Precedence takes of rosy fingered Spring;

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd laughing Joy, with wild flowers prank’d, and crown’d,

A wild and giddy thing,

And Health robust, from every care unbound,

Come on the zephyr’s wing,

And cheer the toiling clown.

 

Happy as holiday-enjoying face,

Loud tongued, and “merry as a marriage bell,”

Thy lightsome step sheds joy in every place;

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And where the troubled dwell,

Thy witching charms wean them of half their cares;

And from thy sunny spell,

They greet joy unawares.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen with thy sultry locks all loose and rude,

And mantle laced with gems of garish light,

Come as of wont; for I would fain intrude,

And in the world’s despite,

Share the rude wealth that thy own heart beguiles;

 

If haply so I might

Win pleasure from thy smiles.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Taking snaps of summer in Coker Arboretum (The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)–one of life’s great joys.

Photo Credits: Catherine Hamrick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freedom Summer: Sing Till the Spirit Moves in My Heart

Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, Michael Schwermer

Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, Michael Schwermer

On August 4, 1964, the FBI unearthed the bodies of Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwermer, buried 15 feet under a red clay dam. They were part of the Freedom Summer project to register blacks to vote in Mississippi.

On June 21, they had driven to Philadelphia, Neshoba County, to investigate the burning of Mount Zion Methodist Church. Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price arrested them for allegedly driving over the 30-mile speed limit. He hauled the three activists to the Neshoba County jail, booking Chaney for speeding and putting Shwermer and Goodman “under investigation.”cropped Burning-cross2_pe

Chaney paid the fine. After release, they were ordered to leave the county. Price followed them to the county line, and the trio headed to Meridian. Two carloads of KKK members stopped and murdered them on an isolated rural road.

X-rays immediately taken of the bodies were later destroyed. However, some reports indicate that Goodman and Schwermer were beaten and then shot through the heart. Before slain, African American James Chaney allegedly suffered a left broken arm in one place, a right broken arm in two places, a broken jaw, a crushed shoulder, and trauma to other parts of his body.

The activists' burned-out station wagon abandoned on a logging road

The activists’ burned-out station wagon abandoned on a logging road

In early December 1964, the FBI arrested 21 men in the case, including local Klansmen and several police officers. They charged them with conspiracy to violate the three activists’ civil rights. Prosecutors took the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to ensure clarification and validation of laws used in the case.

In 1967, a federal jury of Mississippians found seven of the defendants guilty. They received sentences of up to 10 years.

Lyndon Jonson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, 11 days after Goodman, Chaney, and Schwermer disappeared.

President Lyndon Jonson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, 11 days after Goodman, Chaney, and Schwermer disappeared.

On June 21, 2005—the 41st anniversary of the disappearance—a Mississippi state court convicted Klansman Edgar Ray Killen of manslaughter. He had organized the conspiracy. Killen appealed. In 2007, the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld his sentence of three times 20 years in prison.

“I’m Gonna Sing Till The Spirit Moves In My Heart” (arr. Moses Hogan)

Credits:

Abandoned Ford station wagon courtesy of Federal Bureau of Investigation Workers

President Lyndon Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act courtesy of The Library of Congress (American Memory Collection)

Wonderful Wednesday: Peach Heat

254x326px Tobias Maschler Vineyard_peaches_deSummer burned the peaches

We stopped to swipe

In Chilton County.

The first quivered

And fell into my open hand,

The weight of the sun,

Russet, pink, and orange,

Hazy with down.

You bit into the cleft,

And I stole a stare,

Ripening.

500x334 Peach_delaware_peMy mother Bunny was my Dad’s one-and-only “Georgia Peach.” But how he took to Alabama fruit once they moved to Birmingham.

Every summer he trekked to Chilton County to pick and pick, peach after peach, weekend after weekend, for the pleasure of putting up sweet jam to spread on fluffy biscuits. My memory still tastes the wonder.

Only two luscious weeks left—take your pick of Alabama’s finest.

Jim Durbin Farms

Culp Fruits

Credit:

Photograph courtesy of Tobias Maschler

The War to End All Wars? The Age of Killing Machines . . . and Poetry

World War I erupted 100 years ago on July 28, 1914. War still begets poetry.

 

Canadian physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae penned this poem—perhaps the most memorable words of the Great War—after burying a friend who died in the Second Battle of Ypres. Flanders Field Poppies courtesy of Tijl Vercaemer.

Canadian physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae penned this poem—perhaps the most memorable words of the Great War—after burying a friend who died in the Second Battle of Ypres. Flanders Field Poppies courtesy of Tijl Vercaemer.

Flanders Fields

By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae (1915)

 

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

 

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

In Flanders fields.

 

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

 

From war springs anonymity—dead silence. Photographer unknown.

From war springs anonymity—dead silence. Verdun Battlefield (photographer unknown).

Grass

By Carl Sandburg (1918)

 

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.

Shovel them under and let me work—

I am the grass; I cover all.

 

And pile them high at Gettysburg

And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.

Shovel them under and let me work.

Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:

What place is this?

Where are we now?

 

I am the grass.

Let me work.

 

Poet Czeslaw Milosz put into words the cruel dilemma of World War II and Holocaust survivors. This photo originates from the Jürgen Stroop's report on the Warsaw Ghetto uprising (April–May1943) to Heinrich Himmler, Reich Leader (Reichsführer) of the SS. The original German caption: "Forcibly pulled out of dug-outs."

Poet Czeslaw Milosz put into words the cruel dilemma of World War II and Holocaust survivors. This photograph originates from the Jürgen Stroop’s report on the Warsaw Ghetto uprising (April–May 1943) to Heinrich Himmler, Reich Leader (Reichsführer) of the SS. The German caption: “Forcibly pulled out of dug-outs.”

Foundation

By Czeslaw Milosz (1945)

 

You whom I could not save

Listen to me.

Try to understand this simple speech as I would be ashamed of another.

I swear, there is in me no wizardry of words.

I speak to you with silence like a cloud or a tree.

 

What strengthened me, for you was lethal.

You mixed up farewell to an epoch with the beginning of a new one,

Inspiration of hatred with lyrical beauty;

Blind force with accomplished shape.

 

Here is a valley of Polish Rivers. And an immense bridge

Going into white fog. Here is a broken city;

And the wind throws the screams of gulls on your grave

When I am talking with you.

 

What is poetry which does not save

Nations or people?

A connivance with official lies,

A song of drunkards whose throats will be cut in a moment,

Readings for sophomore girls.

That I wanted good poetry without knowing it,

That I discovered, late, its salutary aim,

In this and only this I find salvation.

 

They used to pour millet on graves or poppy seeds

To feed the dead who would come disguised as birds.

I put this book here for you, who once lived

So that you should visit us no more.

 

After the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, six Ginkgo biloba survived the blast at the epicenter. Is it irony or a miracle? Ginkgo biloba by Jean-Pol Grandmont.

After the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, six Ginkgo biloba survived the blast at the epicenter. Is it irony or a miracle? Ginkgo biloba courtesy of Jean-Pol Grandmont.

Hiroshima: Where Ginkgo biloba Breathe

By Catherine Hamrick (2014)

 

After blue-white flashes seared

The living into shades,

After black rain unquenched

Mouths begging the sky,

These fossils shine

As if in garden temples,

Bitter-sweet.

 

 "Near but not on the National Mall, a lovely temple stands in West Potomac Park in a grove a trees, dedicated to the 26,000 Washington, D.C., soldiers who died in World War I. Neglected for 40 years, it was finally repaired in 2010, but efforts to make it a national monument have stalled in Congress."—Mackenzie Carpenter/Pittsburgh Post Gazette, July 28, 2014.


“Near but not on the National Mall, a lovely temple stands in West Potomac Park in a grove of trees, dedicated to the 26,000 Washington, D.C., soldiers who died in World War I. Neglected for 40 years, it was finally repaired in 2010, but efforts to make it a national monument have stalled in Congress.”—Mackenzie Carpenter/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 28, 2014. Released under the Gnu Free Documentation License.

 

 

 

 

Thank God He’s a Country Boy

Sun Ladder Empty_tin_can2009-01-19My dad is a country boy, despite a closet full of suits and a house in the suburbs of Birmingham, Alabama. This notion first presented itself when I ate supper at a kindergarten chum’s house and made a puzzling discovery: Her family ate beans from tin cans.

Vibrance Canned Food1_pe

Until then I thought beans came from jars. After all, jars of beans, tomatoes, peppers, beets, and bread-and-butter pickle lined shelves in our playroom. Jars of muscadine grape, peach, pear, and blackberry jam glowed like jewels next to the Pachinko machine. Boxes of empty Mason jars—awaiting next season’s harvest—towered on the upright piano.

I rushed home to report the news. “Most people eat processed vegetables,” Mom said, confirming this new fact of life. “They also eat fruit in tin cans. Aren’t you children lucky that your father is a wonderful gardener?”

liz west Food_basket

Green Beans Snijboon_peulen_Phaseolus_vulgarisLucky? I didn’t think so. While all the other kids played kickball on Saturday afternoons, the Hamrick children sharecropped the easement.

Dad had a powerful ambition: transplanting the traditions of Talking Rock—his childhood home in North Georgia—to a strip of Alabama soil. But Martha, Bud, Mary, Peggy, and I did not feel sentimental about growing squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, okra, corn, and beans, beans, beans. We stood by helplessly when our father got permission from a neighbor to plow his easement, providing room for all sorts of beans: McCaslin, Blue Lake, Rattle Snake, and Kentucky Wonder-151.

The bean field grew into a forbidding jungle. By early July, vines strangled the poles, their lush, deep-green leaves hiding pods. Baskets in hand, we trudged to our appointed rows. How we ached after an hour of reaching high and bending low. How we longed for a drizzle to relieve sweat-stung brows and itching, vine-brushed arms.

correct overexposed Tom Sawyer fence2_peNo wonder I groaned years later on reading Thoreau’s chapter about beans in Walden: “I cherish them, I hoe them, early and late, and this is my day’s work. It is a fine broad leaf to look on.” He could idealize agricultural experiments; he never suffered Alabama’s growing season in the dog days of summer.

Tom Sawyer proved a more inspiring literary figure. He turned the chore of whitewashing a fence into an enviable pleasure, so we determined to give humble string beans cachet. My brother Bud figured that if each of us invited a friend to drop by at four o’clock, five kids would show up about the time we started stringing our just-picked produce on the patio. With a little playacting, 20 hands instead of 10 would be on task.

“Do y’all have to string all those beans?” a curious onlooker inquired.

“Sure, nothin’ to it.” Martha was the smoothest talker of us all.

“Really?” another wide-eyed child asked.

“Oh, yeah. Last week we strung twice as many,” Martha said nonchalantly, knowing that this audience would soon be captive.

“Wow!”

“At least two bushels.”Daderot 1280px-Green_beans_for_sale_-_Copenhagen_-_DSC08452

“Can I try?”

“I don’t know. . . . It takes most people two years to develop the technique.”  Martha flicked her wrist as she snap-snapped.

“But I’m a fast learner.”

“I don’t know. My father doesn’t like just anybody handling his beans.”

“I’ll be careful. I promise.”

“I don’t know. . . .”

“Let me just try.”

“We-e-e-ell, maybe . . . ”

Ah, the art of delegation.

b & w Philco_cathedral_radio_peAbout then my father strolled up to check our progress.

“Wow, Dr. Hamrick, did you grow up like the Waltons?” the new day laborers chorused.

“Heck, no, the Waltons were rich,” Dad said, relishing his role as suburban legend. “They had a radio and a car. Doc Weeks had the only radio in our county. On Saturday afternoons, he propped it in his window and turned up the volume for everybody standing around in his front yard.”

“You didn’t have a car?”

CROPPED Rondal Partridge Farm Security Administration 640px-Lange_car_pe

“Before the government paved the roads, a car was a thrilling sight in our neck of the woods.  If the folks in Fairmount—about 10 miles away—spotted a car, they called our general store that it was on the way. Then a crowd gathered by the side of the road to watch it go by.”

“Dr. Hamrick, your father must have been just like Pa on ‘Little House on the Prairie.’”

“No, he didn’t have a blow dryer,” Dad said, contemptuous of Michael Landon’s mane.

Sometimes Dad got carried away with his storytelling. One of my friends went goggle-eyed on seeing my father stack 15 quarts of just-creamed Silver Queen corn in one of the playroom freezers.

Lightened VegCorn_pe

“Why are you putting up all that corn?” she asked.

“Haven’t you heard about the famine?” he said, looking dumbfounded.

“A famine?” she asked, her voice quavering. “Can my family come to your house if we run out of food?”

“Have you heard the story of the Little Red Hen?” Dad looked at her sidewise and then inspected the sage and rosemary drying on the pool table.

The_Little_Red_Hen_-_FWHThe girl ran home to report the imminent weather disaster to her mother, who promptly called my mother in a panic.

Whatever my father’s antics, Mom usually stayed calm and amused. But she said “No!” when he donned a neighbor’s camouflage hunting garb and sat motionless in the garden with a 22, waiting to pick off a groundhog that had gotten fat on young bean plants.

Mom confiscated his gun and made him use live traps. (When the guys at Hart’s Gulf filling station in the village said they had heard tales of Dad and his 22, she concluded the police might show up.) Thereafter, he caught trespassing critters and turned them loose in another county so they would waddle into somebody else’s garden.

sharpen cathy and vicki_pe_pe

Dad turned to folklore to fend off rabbits, squirrels, and other interlopers. Once during Sunday dinner, he noted that human hair scattered around plants supposedly warded off animals; he eyed my two waist-length braids. Fortunately for my scalp, it was a passing thought.

Watering the “back 40″ became Dad’s DIYI (do-it-yourself-irrigation) obsession. Hoses snaked through the backyard and then wound around metal laundry line poles staked every three rows. Lawn sprinklers topped the poles, sending wave after wave of precious drops during dry spells. When picking vegetables under a beating sun, we refreshed under these automatic showers.

Bearerofthecup 1280px-Series_of_Tubes_pe

Dad dreamed up this irrigation system after he spotted a hose sale in a Home Depot circular. When he came home with his prize purchases, Mom was not happy. Some hoses were tan and orange, not color-coordinated green.

Grass_fire_peOne fine March day—before Dad installed his watering system—he burned off the previous year’s stalks before planting. (There is a pyromania boy lurking inside every grown man.)

Shocker: the local power crew had tromped through the easement the day before, spraying herbicide. Dad lit the first match. Whoosh! It was a barnburner. The trampoline mat melted in 3 seconds.

Cooking supper, Mom heard faint calls: “Hose! Hose!”

She poked her head out the porch door and called, “Wha-a-at’s that, dear?”

Smoke misted through the trees. “HOSE! HOSE!”

Mom tripped down the pebble path and yelled, “Which color would you like?”

“Any god-damn hose you can find!”

About then, the firefighters, whose station sat atop the next ridge, spotted the conflagration. They sat on their porch for years, entertained by my dad’s eccentricities. They good-naturedly climbed the woodsy hill and hosed off the easement in minutes. Thereafter the next-door neighbors kept long hoses screwed into outdoor faucets—just in case.

cropped Larry Philpot, www.soundstagephotography.com Willie_Nelson_at_Farm_Aid_2009_-_Cropped_peMy dad’s front-yard gardening captured the attention of humans. It was his uniform: a tattered one-piece cotton jumpsuit that usually had seed packets, spring onions, or carrots absently stuck in the pockets. Sometimes he tied a scarlet bandana around his head as a sweatband. (Imagine Ed Asner sporting Willie Nelson’s favorite headgear.) In Dad’s world, only the Man in Black overshadowed the Red Headed Stranger.

Intrigued, a well-coiffed socialite tooling around in her Mercedes once pulled up and tried to hire my father as a yardman. “My, you look like a hard worker,” she said sweetly. “How would you like to work full-time in my yard?”

“I earn a good rate here,” Dad said, leaning on his rake.

“I’ll top any price,” she bargained.newleaf01 Lemonade_with_straws

“I get homemade lunches and fresh-squeezed lemonade and brownies on breaks,” he said, cocking his head.

“I’ll prepare any food you want,” she insisted.

“I also get a special bonus,” he smiled wickedly.

“What’s that?”

img083“I sleep with the lady of the house.”

The woman backed her car out of the drive, from 0 to 40 mph in 2 seconds.

Certainly, Dad’s country habits nourished the body. And sweetly they comforted the soul. He rocked his children and grandbabies, crooning ballads and hymns sung by generations of his family in Appalachia.

Before falling asleep at night, I imagine his deep, off-key rendition of “Amazing Grace.” Like a prayer.

 Patches from My Crazy Quilt © 2014 Catherine Hamrick.  All rights reserved.

Credits:

Tin can courtesy of Sun Ladder

Food basket courtesy of Liz West

Green beans on vine courtesy of Snijboon

Green beans courtesy of Daderot

Hoses courtesy of Bearofthecup

Grass fire courtesy of Bunk S: World on Fire. PLoS Biol 2/2/2004: e54. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0020054.g001/USDA Forest Service

Willie Nelson at Farm Aid courtesy of Larry Philpot, www.soundstagephotography.com

Lemonade with straw courtesy of newleaf01