AJAX BELL

Author of the Queen City Boys books


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Mostly politics, possibly best avoided


I didn’t watch or check any election returns last night.  I told myself in the car this morning that if Jerry Brown got elected in CA, I’d be okay.  Granted, I don’t live in CA, so it doesn’t effect me a lot.  But I paid attention to a lot of races this election season and that race really stuck out for me.  The reason wasn’t Whitman’s idiocy or her insane spending (although, I’m glad she didn’t buy her way in).  It was because Whitman kept saying that she loved the CA of 30 years ago and that’s the place she wanted.  And Brown?  Was smart enough to point out in a commercial, that HE was Governor 30 years ago and that the CA Whitman was holding up as amazing was his CA.  If Brown had lost after that, I’d have no faith in any voters.  Also I love the idea of him being both the youngest and oldest Gov CA’s had.

Ah, my coworker just told me that we’re all screwed.  That all paving and construction jobs will dry up entirely under Republican leadership.  I will never understand people.  Seriously.  Most my coworkers are very Right, very Republican (or Libertarian, at least).  If this is true, they are the ones who will lose their jobs.  They are (probably) the ones who keep voting this situation into being.

Things reverberating for me this morning:

From Wonkette.com:  Change is changing back. For too long, this nation has been PLAGUED by people who want to provide them health care and fix the economy. HEY, DEMOCRATS, WE WANT TO DIE OF HEART ATTACKS AND HAVE OUR ADVANCED SYSTEM OF BARTER DEVOLVE BACK INTO HUNTING AND GATHERING, THANK YOU. Democrats didn’t get this message, and the Teabaggers emerged from cashing their Social Security checks at The Scooter Store to tell them they don’t like government action when it’s put in motion by black people. It has been a long two years of Republicans refusing to let government happen and the Democratic Party giving into their fear of voters hating them.”

Stolen (without permission) from the FB status of the friend of a friend: “My grandmother hates rich people, but she always votes Republican because she is afraid the Democrats will take away her money and give it to poor people. She doesn’t seem to realize that, as a social security and Medicare recipient, she is the one Democrats are trying to give money to.”

I am overwhelmed with the desire to walk out and shout at Tennessee voters, “We are trying to HELP you.  Why do you keep defeating yourselves?”  And yet, it isn’t as dire as all that.  Wm. Clinton bounced back from his party losing control of Congress (or would have if they hadn’t ambushed him with his personal life–hope our current standing President has been faithful), and it wasn’t the overwhelming sweep everyone seemed to have predicted (although, at this writing I’ve read almost no news, so I could be wrong).

ETA:  Tiny Cat Pants and I are in agreement here.  The Dems in TN this election season were ABYSMAL.

And finally, I know better than to talk about politics publicly, so it’s back to sewing and stewing and huddling under a rock for me.  Love to all of you.  Even those who don’t agree with me.  Especially those who don’t agree with me.

Image: Jasper Johns, Flag, encaustic, oil and collage mounted on plywood, three panels, 1954-55 (dated on reverse 1954), (MoMA)


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no news is definitely not good

The corner of Electric Ave & Village St. Near my house. Shot by my friend Jacob Briggs.

A lot of folks in other parts of the country have told me that they aren’t seeing any, or barely any national news coverage of the flooding in Nashville (aside from my constant yammering here).  On the one hand, I get it.  I mean the oil spill, car bomb, truck explosion and Tylenol recall all potentially affect a lot of people.  On the other hand, a lot of people here in Nashville are already affected and many more probably will be.

I went and read through headlines as I haven’t thought about much but Nashville in 5 days.  And I went and read national coverage of our situation here.  And I think what bothers me the most is coverage that says things like, “the Cumberland river spilled over it’s banks,” and “weekend rains raise rivers in Middle Tennessee.” I don’t suppose that every single news story needs to be a violent and realistic depiction of exactly how disasterous things are here. Then again I know we won’t get the help and support we need if it looks like we just got a little wet, you know?

The local news here has done good coverage.  Thankfully, since they need to keep all of us informed.  People interested can follow breaking, local interest stories at the Tennessean, WKRN and WPLN.

Morgan and Christy, who run Nashvillest.com have done an AMAZING job of keeping everyone here informed.  Their blog has been filled with useful helpful and timely information.  But what is the most impressive is their Twitter feed.  For five days they have literally been spreading the best information that they have to anyone listening.  They have been passing on first hand accounts, rallying volunteers, getting news to people and getting people to help.  The work they’ve done is so incredibly above and beyond the call of duty of an average citizen that I feel emotional and teary just writing about it.

The work these two girls have done is an exceptional example of how well technology can work. Take a minute and read back through their blog posts and Twitter updates.  Imagine being in a disaster situation where parts of your city where cut off and maybe you had no access to TV but you had a phone on you and could get regular updates from their feed.  It’s been invaluable to thousands of people in this city.  Nashville is a city of Heroes right now.  Like the college president who rescued a faculty member with his canoe.  Like all of our emergency workers, volunteers and rescue folks.  Like all of our friends and neighbors who helped carry, pump, drain and dry.  Heroes to the last little one.  But those Nashvillest.com girls surely helped more people than they will ever know.  I want to thank them for putting together a web presence that has helped me and pthers in so many ways in Nashville, but that really, REALLY came through for us in this disaster.  If you see either of them around, buy’em a beer, alright? I don’t know what else we can do, but they definitely deserve a cold drink on us.

Most importantly for those of you not directly affected by this, check out Nashvillest’s post on what you can do to help.


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raining in my head like a tragedy

Reading Ann Patchett’s OpEd piece got me thinking about the rain we had here in Tennessee.  It’s storm season for sure, usually an enjoyable time of year, even with the tornado possibilities.  I like thunderstorms. And Tennessee gets so amazingly, unbelievably, gorgeously green in storm season.

Usually I like a morning storm.  There’s something very pleasant about being curled up in bed and hearing the thunder and the rain outside.
This past Saturday I woke up to thunder and a deluge of rain so hard it drowned out all other ambient sounds. I don’t know why I felt different, maybe because the thunder was so loud.  I woke up already feeling panicked.  I felt uneasy all day.  I watched the local news, listened for the tornado sirens over the sound of the rain.  I watched the water rise up a couple inches on the tires of my car, parked outside the kitchen window. The creek by the house (which always seemed safely on high ground) appeared to have risen 12 or so feet. Impossible!  The roof started leaking. The news started showing washed out roads, water in people houses, people being carried away, a BUILDING floating down the interstate and crashing into a semi truck.

I went to work Saturday night and was amazed to find many people who obviously had noticed the heavy rain, but had no idea the damage it was already causing around the city.  Everyone seemed confident that they were safe, or that they lived on high enough ground.  I went home, checked the weather and went to bed with a growing sense of dread.

Sunday morning around 5am I woke up to use the bathroom and was struck by how calm and quiet it seemed outside.  I looked out all the windows, saw no rising water, no rain.  I took a deep breath and went back to bed. 20 minutes later the tornado sirens started again and the thunder rolled back in and I was up for the day.

The rain never stopped coming. The news showed more and more storms backing up behind the ones already dumping on us.  I don’t feel like I ever relaxed on Sunday.  My back is still knotted with tension today.

By mid-day Sunday almost everyone I knew was reporting water in their basements, or worse in their homes.  People were checking in, and others were worrying about those friends we hadn’t heard from. Interstates were closing, local roads, whole neighborhoods. And the rain just kept coming.  The news just kept showing more storms coming up, not the same storm but a run of new storms over and over.

To put in perspective just how much rain fell, over May 1 & 2, we got around 30% of our annual rainfall.  In the city of Nashville around 14″ of water fell in 48 hours.  Nashville averages about 13″ from May through July.  That is to say that three months worth of rain fell inside of 48 hours.

Last night (Tuesday), I was brushing my teeth and car went by, rumbling loud bass that sounded like thunder.  My heart started racing and I automatically walked to the window to look.  The flooding and devastation is terrible.  It’s hard to even wrap my head around the extent of it and I’m here in Nashville to see it.  But it’s the idea of rain that’s making me jumpy now.  I have for a long time fallen asleep to white noise generator of sorts that plays rain sounds.  Last night I couldn’t even bring myself to turn it on, I had to switch to bird and forest noises.  Nothing about rain seems relaxing to me right now. I wonder how long it will be before I can really enjoy a storm again?


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devastation is not a strong enough word

So if you’re reading this, I’m sure you’ve heard by now that my city received the equivalent of 3 months rainfall in a 48 hour period. Catastrophic.  Downtown Nashville is totally destroyed.  All the counties in Middle Tennessee have been declared disaster areas.  The damage is more than the heart of the city, but incredibly widespread and fantastically devastating.  Not only were many lives and homes lost, but the impact on our economy will be long lasting and could cripple the state for decades if we don’t get investors in as well as much needed aid.

Pressing on every citizen of the area right now is a massive water shortage.  I can’t stress how important it is to conserve.  Take a Navy shower! I just did and now I feel virtuous as well as clean!  There’s some good tips here for reducing water shortage.  I also replaced the hand soap in my bathrooms with hand sanitizer until we have water again.  And got baby wipes for quick, instant “shower” when a Navy shower is too much.  I currently have 15 gallons of bottled water in the kitchen for drinking and cooking with.  Purchased water, not hoarded tap water, people!  We need to share and conserve together.  Who knows when the second water treatment plant will come back online, so TN folk, quit washing your cars and get with the program.  Maybe you can learn some good conservation skills for the post-disaster future and make us a greener state for real.

I feel cheerfully optimistic right now.  Although who knows if the feeling will last until morning.  I have already cried a lot over this flood.  I have cried for people who have died.  And those who have lost their homes.  And jobs.  And for the ugliness the flood waters left behind (stinky mud everywhere).  Driving around the city looking at the impact was strangely cathartic.  Like I was glad that so many people seemed to go about their regular business. It seemed wrong in the face of the flood at first, but then I don’t want this to undo any more Tennesseans, and I applaud our ability to keep on going.

Still I currently have too many thoughts on the whole situation to detail here right now.  I am proud of my state that there hasn’t been looting or drama.  I am proud of how many people reached out to help others.  Still I am shocked and wounded by every piece of news of further damage that comes out.


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day of fail

Now, I generally don’t generally give any credence to horoscopes other than Freewill Astrology, but I read them some times.  Today mine said:

When you’re feeling this positive, it’s easy to see how those good feelings might be contagious. Go ahead and spend some time with the people you love. Make them laugh, pass out a whole bunch of hugs and be sure that they all understand that you’d do anything to make them feel good now. Oh, and don’t be surprised if the person you love most teases you into doing their bidding — not that you’ll mind, of course. In all, it’s going to be a romantic, happy day.

How my day actually went:

I stayed up way too late last night.  This morning I was unceremoniously woken up by an unnecessary text message.  Libelle and I had planned to go to breakfast, and we had to go right away (because part of my current miserable oral care routine means I can’t put anything in my mouth for an hour after brushing, so I need coffee and food ASAP in the morning, then brush). So she’s calling me “grumpy bear” and we stumble off to the Biscuit House, get food and coffee and as I wake up I end spending an hour ranting about something upsetting that is only frustrating me more because I have no control over it.

At home, Libelle is getting ready for her fun road trip to Atlanta with Jedlet.  I start work on a couple sewing projects that are almost done.  Libelle leaves and I spend a little bit of time sewing and a lot of time ripping out stitches, and then resewing.  And then ripping out some more stitches.  I gave up for a bit, looked for a skirt pattern and found the PERFECT one.  But it’s in a past Burda World of Fashion magazine, which means I can’t get it with out spending days/weeks/months searching for a copy on Ebay.  Arg!

I had some other errands to run.  I did not run them because I thought it was Saturday. At some point I realized it was not Saturday but also too late in the day to do the things I’d needed to do on Friday. Went straight from cursing myself for not doing them earlier, to cursing myself for , well, not doing them earlier, but in a different way.

And then it was time to get ready for work. Mother Nature thought this would actually be a great time to start my monthlies. Fantastic. (I should also add, though I haven’t spoken of it here, I’ve been having some serious, incredibly painful complications with my teeth.  In addition to everything else, I’ve had just really a lot of pain for the past week. And I’ve been working very hard to ignore it, part of which means not talking about it.)

At the beginning of my shift a friend really pressed me on how I was feeling and I just cracked.  Like actually ran to the bathroom crying.  I don’t think I’ve ever done that before.  Certainly not at work. Effing embarassing.

At the end of the night I’m relaying this to a lovely friend of mine and she wonders why guys don’t get it.  When we (girls) say, “I’m okay” or “I’m fine” in response to “How are you?” and we don’t elaborate that’s code.  It means just drop it and move on. It means we don’t want to talk.  Think about it, every other time you’ve asked how we are, we’ve told you about the tomatoes in our gardens, and our Aunt Edna’s lupus, and the cat scratch on our shin, and the argument we had with our mom, and the dress we are wearing next week to a wedding and which yoga class we just came from.  “I’m fine,” is a conversation ender.  Don’t press it.  Or you might be the one to send a girl running off crying, and hey, no one wants that.

Anyway, I made it through the night.  I feel better (except the mouth pain). I will write it off as a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.  I will continue not to give any weight to my horoscopes.  Hey, horoscope, I got your romantic right here, come closer so I can whack you in the nose with it.

(P.S. I made a cranky baby smile tonight, I had a hilarious text conversation with my cousin, I made decent tips tonight, I had bacon for breakfast with Libelle, and the new Oxford American came in the mail.  Silver lining, yeah.)


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stiches, grapes, cakes and frogs

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The black dress is finished.  I put the pictures up on Flickr a couple days ago, but I forgot to post here.  I’m very happy with how it fits and how comfortable it is.  I’d like to make another in a print.  I’m thinking something like this:

lemons!
Maybe it’s too much?  Or maybe I just don’t like that black background.  I wish I could find something like it with a brown or muted blue background.  I think two of that dress, basically in black, would be too much.  The lovely burgundy muslin is probably unwearable for me.  I swear I preshrunk the fabric, but after I washed it it’s about four inches shorter.  Still a great dress, I just need to give it to someone shorter than me (unlikely) or someone who is comfortable wearing things shorter than I  wear them (likely).  So maybe I could just make a second dress in a color?  Though I really like the idea of a pattern.  Hmmmm.  I like the idea of a border print too, but those seem to be hard to come by.

My Colorado Rebecca (as distinguished from my other Rebeccas) has a new blog about her adventures with wine.  No, no, not in a drunken shenanigans kind of way.  More of a ‘follow along as I learn about this’ kind of way.  She’s at Adventures of a Wine Noob.  Go check her out.

For the last two days my hair has looked fantastic.  This is because I haven’t been out of the house or seen anyone.  Tomorrow it will surely go back to frizzy madness before it’s time to go to work.

I am recovering okay from the dentist stuff.  I had a rough morning.  And an afternoon trip back to the dentist to get a tiny bit more patching up.  An evening with  painkillers on the couch watching old standbys has helped a lot.  My chin hurts.  I won’t be surprised if it comes up bruised.  My gums are bruised and my lips.  My teeth don’t hurt so much any more.  Am certainly on the mend.  I kind of want to go run around tomorrow (the couch gets old after a while), but I will refrain so I can be good for work tomorrow night and healthy for the weekend.  So instead of errands and work, my choices for tomorrow are watching the most recent Bond movie or catching up on Mad Men (I haven’t even watched season 2 yet, ack!  3 is about to start).

I’ve posted before about the rainbow cupcakes.  Every time I think about making this it’s usually too late at night to get the ingredients I’d need.  Some day though, there will be rainbow cupcakes.  And now I have a new obsession: cake pops.    (Also go here and scroll down and see all the many delightfully decorated cake pops.)

Libelle just went outside to scare away the very loud frog that was on the porch.  Or maybe it was a bird.  Mostly likely a frog. Or some sort of alien hybrid frogbird.  In any case it was loud and annoying and seems to be gone now.  Oh, wait, I spoke too soon.  Stupid rain.  Stupid frogs!!  You stay in the gully.  Don’t come on the porch!


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much whininess

sad-baby

Well I guess it’s nice to see that it isn’t just me that BOA has been “accidentally” jerking around? Last week they declared insufficient funds for a check I had more than enough money to cover, then in correcting the problem doubly withdrew the amount–$1900 instead of $950–which actually did put me in the negative, charged me a bunch of overdrafts fees before eventually correcting it and refunding me my own money.  Brilliant.  Just as soon as I feel better, I guess I have to start shopping for a new bank.

Last night I started today’s post and I had a bunch of (presumably) smart, interesting things written out.  Of course I didn’t save it and this morning it’s gone off into the ether.  Arg.

I was feeling much better last night, post surgery.  But then this morning the swelling had gone down enough that I can feel that there’s a problem with the temp bridge (a sharp edge near my gum that should be sealed or sanded or something), so I have to back to the dentist this afternoon and get that fixed.  Which is in itself upsetting.  And means no work, which is doubly upsetting because I was really looking forward to tonight’s show.  And now I might just go back to bed until it’s time to go to the dentist. Apparently, eating, finding someone to cover my shift and someone to drive me to the dentist was all I had the energy to do this morning.  Also there’s nothing on TV, so I might as well sleep.

(I don’t know who that baby is–I just did a search for ‘sad face’–but the picture made me laugh.)