Saturday, May 15, 2010

A necessary introduction

These are two of my favorite storefronts on Washington Street-- probably because they represent two things I love a lot: coffee and books. To the left you see 61 Coffeeshop; to the right, Lorelei Books. What better combination could there be??
I worked at Lorelei for a month around Christmas senior year. It's a pretty cool place, and Mrs. Laura regularly gets authors to come and sign books.

61 has this fantastically artsy, hippie sort-of ambience. The owner Mr. Daniel's wife runs a unique local art gallery upstairs, so the decor comes straight from the gallery. It's a great deal, I think.
Here's a confession. I can't believe I'm saying this, but this week I have been to 61 five of the six days they are open. The thing is, it's the best (only?) place in town to go for conversation, coffee, or music (often live on Thursday nights). Daniel and I go to talk and play "Go Fish", and Mom and I went a few times this week for a mid-morning pick-me-up between errands.
Saturday mornings are special treats because from 9-12, a lady comes to sell her delicious artisan breads and goodies. After roaming from yard sale to yard sale this morning, Mom and I walked over to get some bread. Then Dad came after he woke up, and then Emily and Daniel stopped by. I think I was there for 2 hours.

The corner table next to the front window is where I always try to sit. It's big enough to spread out and do homework (during the school year), and I get a perfect view of the red brick streets and storefronts outside. I've written papers there, done Calc III homework, journaled, and had countless conversations -- some with people I go with, some with people I meet.
The other day, at the aforementioned table, I noticed a little message left in magnets on the tin wall. I chuckled a little bit and pulled out my camera.

I like it! And I think it's pretty representative of this funky, hole-in-the-wall coffeeshop I love so much.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Bricks, bark, and birdhouses

Oh, the things you see on a walk!
This morning, after my indoor cycling class, Mom and I went for a great walk downtown-ish. There seemed to be a common motif of things we spotted, or maybe we were subconsciously on the lookout for awesome old brick walls, interesting trees and bark, and quaint birdhouses tucked away in the branches. Either way, these pretty sightings brought a little extra cheer to our morning walk.

I think the black and white makes this photo very old-fashionedly southern. This scene hasn't changed for as long as I can remember, and I'm glad for that. There is beauty in the daily grind.

Okay, here's the question of the day. What do you think this muscular-looking crepe myrtle tree trunk looks like? Mom and I kind of thought it resembled a 3-finger hand with a thumb nub (ha!), but I could also see some sort of reindeer or antelope. Any other ideas? (It's like finding shapes in clouds!)
This pretty church-like birdhouse was found snuggled in thick leaves on some ground next to the sidewalk. I love the idea of putting things in well-thought out places like that. Rather than just scattering nicknacks everywhere, I think intentionality makes just a few little treasures even more special.
This brick wall with ivy growing on it seems to give off an air of The Secret Garden-esque mystery.
Okay, I know these milk jugs lined up against a wall are not "bricks, bark, or birdhouses," but they striked my interest nonetheless. I wonder what they're doing there... does the dweller of this home recycle plastics #1 and #2, or is he collecting milk jugs for a school project? Does he keep plastic milk bottles for the same reason I keep glass tea bottles -- just because I think they're cool -- or is there a legitimate reason behind the collection? Also, some of them look like they're still full of tea. That fact makes it a little harder to guess the motives...
Or maybe I'm just too curious; I bet that's it.

The knotty wooden fence and the crumbly brick wall make for a great combination of textures.

I really love this tree covered in a thick flowering vine-plant. At first glance, I didn't even notice that there's something hidden amongst the flowers...
...Yes, it's another pretty birdhouse tucked away in the leaves! What a fun vacation home it must be for some bird who's used to the hanging-from-a-tree-limb variety. Gosh, I'd like to live there!
The last photo of our walk is of a very cool peeling tree. I don't know the species or anything, but I bet if wood nymphs and dryads were real, this tree would have a fun personality -- probably like that of a sweet, careless kid who stays out in the sun too long.

God uses these type of walks to teach me that he made beautiful things everywhere, and he made us with creative hearts and minds to see, appreciate, and reflect his lovely handiwork. There is so much wonder in this world.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

"Partially Completed" sounds better than "Unfinished"

Today I finished the embroidery part of my dear hedgehog pillow. The "H h" took way longer than it should have, but oh well! I'd gotten quicker by the time the lower case "h" was nearing its completion.
I guess the toughest part is actually making the pillow because I haven't done too much sewing before. That's really the joy of this project, though! --learning two skills I've never spent much or any time doing yet. And how rewarding too!

The second mostly-completed accomplishment is reading the first book of the summer! My goal is to read 10 full-size books by the end these months at home. Chronicles of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery was number one; now I'm on to Uncle Tom's Cabin.
Two things about me: I dearly love to read, and I love being sort of well read and "cultured". Secondly, there is a place in my heart especially reserved for Anne Shirley Blythe and stories by L.M. Montgomery. I say in full seriousness that, after the Bible, the Anne of Green Gables series have made me who I am and have shaped what I love. It might be a little cheesy, but after reading the entire series four times (confession!), Anne taught me a lot about what I know of life and love and joy... and loss, too.

Also today, Mom and I went to my great-aunt's house in Clinton. She keeps an incredible yard-- growing tomatoes (shown below), squash, okra, beans, and a lot of lovely flowers-- AND she mows her own lawn. Talk about amazing! We had a fun time taking her out for a birthday lunch and hearing about the latest events of my great-uncles. Gosh, I love my family.

There was a cheery red birdhouse sticking up among some bright pink roses in her yard, too. I love that you can kind of see some of the pine straw of a bird's nest inside.
On that note, I need to go to bed. It's going to be an early morning!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


It's a well-known fact that Vicksburg cannot keep a chain.

(Besides Gap Outlet, Cracker Barrel, Waffle House, and some fast food joints.)

Smoothie King, however, was not among the privileged few. I think it was only able to stay open a year or two, which is a little strange, I think. Below (obviously) is the deserted smoothie stop.

On the other hand, The Tomato Place -- a cool mom-and-pop type place on the side of 61 South

-- was packed today at lunch when I went there with my good friend Lindsay.

You might think they're best known for their tomatoes, but for me and mine, we go for the smoothies. Delicious homemade, pre-created, frozen treats that you pick out and take inside to be blended. On our way to Port Gibson yesterday, Mom had a fabulous black cherry one.

Another cool thing about The Tomato Place is the wonderful "scope for the imagination" (in the words of Anne Shirley) for fun, colorful photographs:

simple burlap sacks

onions in cool baskets

rusty wire racks

and finally, some beautiful curvy glass bottles in the back.

Simple beauty.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Mom is Cool

This morning, Mom suggested that we go on a grand photography adventure down south to Port Gibson. Well, we hadn't even left town before we made our first stop! There was this beautiful flowering tree that had showered the grass underneath and the sidewalk beside with its pretty red confetti-like buds. We had never seen such a thing!
On the way down, we happened to spot some cows lazing around underneath a big shade tree. Mom offered to stop the car, seeing as how it was such a "Mississippi"-sort-of scene, but when I opened my door I realized there was a gigantic ant mound exactly where I was about to step! In Port Gibson, the first thing I saw to photograph was the famous First Presbyterian Church. I once saw a picture of this church on a postcard in my Grandma's house in New Jersey! Who knew something from little ol' Port Gibson could be that well-known?

It makes a good point, though (pun not intended), and it's not quickly forgotten.

Next on the list was the Wintergreen Cemetery, "one of the oldest cemeteries in Mississippi." "Originally the burying ground of Samuel Gibson, founder of Port Gibson, and his family. Confederate General Earl Van Dorn is also buried here," read the plaque at the beginning of the drive.

There was a section in the cemetery for those who died in the Civil War in the battle of Port Gibson. The flag with this particular stone was especially striking (although I'm a little surprised it's not the Confederate flag). CSA stands for "Confederate States of America."I'm sure this headstone was elegant in when it was created in 1804, but the way it has aged is even more lovely -- the green of the moss, the orange of the rust... I hope it's not morbid to say I'd like my gravestone to look this beautiful after 200+ years.

Finally, here are a few shots of downtown Port Gibson:

The gorgeous antebellum Bernheimer House, where my cousin and his bride had their wedding reception...

AND "Yo Majesty's Beauty Salon, etc." right across the street. Quite the contrast, but it's actually a really good representation of these old southern towns.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Honey and Hedgehogs

What does "H" stand for?
This morning, Mom found a 2-decades-old black, kind-of-crusty jar of something in our laundry room. The lid read "HONEY 1990" and Mom said Granddaddy had given her this jar of homemade honey back in the day, but when we all tasted it (yes, we are brave) it had a distinct sorghum molasses flavor. Very odd.However, when Daddy stuck the spoon down a little farther,
he reported that it did indeed taste like honey.
Question of the day: Does 20-year-old honey turn into molasses?
I think not, but evidence is dubious.Today, I also began the famed pillow projects. This is my endeavor to spruce up our future apartment, and I'm quite pleased with the results so far! Mom and I started preparing the cheery yellow fabric this afternoon; I marked the pattern and started moving right along! The green floral print will be the back of the little throw pillow.
Below is the embroidery I have actually done so far. I'm telling you, it's really a blast! Fast results and pretty cute, I think. Of course, a little hedgehog is just about the easiest thing one could embroider, but Jane's jellyfish should be challenging enough :-)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mothers' Day Sunday!

Happy Mothers' Day!

Today, I woke up a little earlier to have morning quiet time with blueberry tea. My recurring prayer lately has been a few verses from Ephesians 3:
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19)
There's really a lot to those 3 verses. I remember being blown away by such a request when I first read them years ago, but a few weeks ago Pastor Hutch at Rock Creek Fellowship talked about them in Sunday School. He said we need to pray this for our friends; not just ask for different things for them. By doing this, we ask not only that we will increase in knowledge (or doctrine, which PCAers usually do not lack), but in understanding of Christ, his Love, and the Spirit -- because love surpasses knowledge. Wow.

Breakfast was a rowdy event (not surprising!) as we semi-showered Mom with happy mothers' day gifts. Daniel gave a funny card, so I wanted to take a sweet picture of mom and son. Daniel tried to hide behind Mom, but Mom lurched so I could see him. Unfortunately, I got the picture just as all that action was happening, so Mom is a blur! I must say, though, the picture is pretty typical of Mom and Daniel. Silly family!

Sunday School was great! We talked about Esther 4-- how it seems that God is missing in the events, and how this story is about us, too. We were in nursery for the church service, and the babies and kids were so fun! What a blessing to see the new generation growing up!

I'm a big fan of Sundays.