Category Archives: BEAUTIFUL LIFE


I am obsessed with Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. Like This American Life, I download the podcast to my iTunes weekly and listen at the first possible convenience.

A few weeks ago, I wrote the following email:

I would give (just about) anything to have Carl Kasell’s voice on my home answering machine; however, I have an extreme case of incurable radio fright and break out in hives at the thought of speaking personally with Peter Sagal. For this reason, I would like to be considered for Not My Job.

Being included would make my year and would also save me from having to reveal my true ignorance (and thick southern accent).

Imagine my surprise when Butch called to tell me that my name was announced on Saturday and that film historian, director and actor Peter Bogdanovich would be playing for me! Well, after much screaming, excitement and dancing around our studio, I realized that Peter did not win. I have to say that the questions were very hard and that Peter is forgiven.

Perhaps I will have to get over my fear of the perfect wit of Peter Sagal and try to play myself!

Listen to the episode here:

Not My Job Guest: Film historian, director and actor Peter Bogdanovich


I received the email below from friend Sarah Lewis after she visited the Photography on Photography: Reflections on the Medium since 1960 (through October 19, 2008 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City). And while I am not in New York myself to see the exhibition, my entire body of work has been very influenced by the photographs of Walker Evans (along with others from this era) and particularly his work with John Agee in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.

I love the text below. Here is Sarah’s email:

I am sure you heard of the photographer Walker Evans…!?

“Watching Allie Mae Burroughs work with a simple broom kept in the kitchen corner, Agee mused that everything in the house might be licked with the tongue and made scarcely cleaner.

Evans photographs of the tenant farmers’ tidy kitchen are distilled essences of domesticity. “

From the MET photo exhibit,

“Kitchen Corner, Tenant Farmhouse, Hale County, Alabama, 1936.”

And his predecessor, Sherrie Levine, “After Walker Evans.”

…I think of you no less than every other day…


Learn more about the exhibition here and start your own discussion about the role of the historical in contemporary work:

Sherrie Levine: After Walker Evans 2, 1981



I had actually forgotten that I had a subscription to The (New) Oxford American. I had not received a copy in some time and then miraculously the “Best of the South 2008” was in our post box last week.

I have heard rumors of complaints about the magazine but I have to say that while the new design does not appeal to me in the same way as my old archived copies, I always find a good story, quote or picture in the magazine. (Well, when it arrives, I suppose. I mean who cannot just love Roy Blount, Jr.?)

This issue is no exception and I was delighted to read “The Collector of the Everyday” about Joseph Mitchell by Sam Stephenson.

I think of myself as a very well read person and developed a love (obsession) with books when just a little girl. I have read everything from the entire works of Milan Kundera to Nancy Drew and am constantly on the lookout for a new author that will feed my desire for knowledge. So, how could it be that I never heard of Joseph Mitchell?

Not only was Mitchell a journalist and novelist but also a collector of everyday objects. The photographs of his meticulously collected and documented objects are spectacular and stir a feeling in my stomach that I have known this person intimately.

After investigation, I found that Granta 88: Mothers contains an extensive piece with the photographs. I ordered the issue immediately. The images are rich, moving and everything but everyday.

Up in the Old Hotel and Other Stories is on my bedside table. And I will be on the lookout for vintage New Yorker magazines with Mitchell’s stories.


Dear Sweet Blair,

You are a gift to our lives and cake for our souls. I will forever think of you with a pair of pink “granny panties” stuck to your back! I was thinking this week that after 40 (some odd) years, I am just now learning to stand in my own shoes (a miracle, that). And I am sure that if I went to the mirror right now, I will have a pair of granny panties (or worse) on my own back.

(I once crossed the entire dining room of a very chic New York restaurant with a stream of toilet paper at least 8 foot long attached to my heel. My bridal train.)

Thank you for coming to Atlanta, for bravely threading your needle, for standing there in your own shoes and then for writing about it. We love you dearly…

Confessions of a Sewing Basket Case

–Blair Hobbs

After attempting to sew at the “Feeding Desire” workshop in Atlanta, I more than ever respect those who are nimble with needle and thread.

To several confident attendees, I explained how I once cross-stitched a stuffed doll to an art project canvas, and although I was proud of the initial outcome, I was mortified when I discovered that in my stitching process, I had stupidly sewn the backside of the canvas to my skirt. I stood up and the entire contents of my lap were attached: canvas, stuffed doll, and cute not-bought-on-sale linen skirt. I had to unzip, violently shimmy, and toss the whole tangled affair into the trash. Over the years, my sewing has demonstrated zero improvement. If Natalie had awarded whipstitch badges at the end of the workshop, I would have left the presentation as one empty-handed little Girl Scout.

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Blair brought me this beautiful bowl to Atlanta as a present (as if her posts were not present enough). The bowl came wrapped in a pretty box and tied with an orange ribbon that was affixed with masking tape at the bottom (her son Jess’ art material of choice.) As I opened the box, Blair talked about the McCartys and how they sign their work with a piece of their home: Mississippi mud. Their signature slides down the front of my bowl.

I have proudly placed this bowl on my kitchen counter as a reminder of how something as simple as dirt can become a treasured vessel when you talk to it with your hands.

Visit McCarty’s Pottery



My husband, John T, just came home with a pork butt the size of a hippopotamus, so now we have to have a 4th of July event around the smoker. It’s funny because neither John T nor I like this holiday. John T says it feels “forced.” I don’t like this holiday because it makes me feel lonely.

When I was a little girl, we used to have fourth-of-July family reunions just outside of Selma, Alabama, at a place called “Billy’s Pool.” The man-made pond was on a deeply wooded patch of land called “Billy Goat’s Gruff,” and the old folks who weren’t in wheel chairs circled the pool in metal fold-out lawn chairs. The kids floated across the pond on inner tubes or swung into the water from the tree-branch rope. Of course, there were picnic tables piled with fried chicken, potato salads, hams, watermelons, lemon cookies, and sweating Jell-O molds. I loved this sunny place, and I loved the people, the family on my father’s side.

This family reunion tradition ended many, many years ago because most of the people passed away–including my stern grandmother, my pretty second cousin named Aimee, all the great aunts and uncles, and my sweet father.

Perhaps I’ll try to be more enthusiastic this 4th. Yes, folks are gone, but I have new people to share the holiday with. And, of course, I can’t be sad as I watch my son stand by his father’s side as he tends the mammoth barbecue. As I watch them, I’ll think of my own daddy and how proud I am of him, a former Navy Captain. I’ll bake a pound cake for our fresh berries and prepare deviled eggs. We may even light our favorite sparklers—pink, yellow, blue, and gold Morning Glories and watch the fire fountains dazzle up our little holiday evening that we’ll spend with a few nearby family members, a scattering of friends, and a ton of meat.


From St. EOM’s birthday party, we are on to Apalachicola for swimming, oysters, and Tupelo Honey with friend and storyteller Frank Venable.

Maggie keeps saying over and over again, “Mommy,  going beach, Mommy,  going beach.”

Don’t miss Working the Miles by Joe York, a tribute to the men and women of 13 Mile Oyster Company, honoring Tommy Ward who, like his father before him, has served as a guardian of the Apalachicola Bay.


Happy Birthday America and St. EOM or better known as “Vacation Part 2″:

Angie swears that she is making a cake for the competition and I am seriously considering Snake Calling – see you there!

Buena Vista, GA – Independence Day this year will bring a special day of celebration to Pasaquan, the famous visionary art site located near Buena Vista. July 4th, 2008 will mark our nation’s 232nd birthday as well as the 100th birthday of the man who created Pasaquan — Eddie Owens Martin — who called himself St. EOM.

Eddie Martin was born in Marion County, “at the stroke of midnight on July the 4th” in 1908. After living in New York City for many decades, Martin returned to his rural Georgia home and began building what would become one of the most remarkable and colorful environmental art sites ever created. Since his death in 1986, the unique site has been managed and maintained by the non-profit Pasaquan Preservation Society.

Events of the Day

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of St. EOM’s birth, The Pasaquan Preservation Society has planned a relaxed schedule of interesting and fun outdoor events, suitable for adults and children alike. The festivities will begin at noon with picnicking and music on the cool shaded lawn that lies beneath Pasaquan’s stately pecan trees. Visitors are welcome to bring their picnic baskets, coolers and lawn chairs, or they may take advantage of the pizza, cold watermelons, cooling soft drinks, and other festive food and drink that will be on sale at Pasaquan that day.

Following lunch, a series of laid-back afternoon contests will be offered for the enjoyment and entertainment of all who attend. Included among the planned Pasaquan-related activities will be a snake-calling contest, a Pasaquan costume parade and competition, and a St. EOM birthday cake contest. In addition, there’ll be several surprise activities.

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Blair just sent me the email below. I replied to her that “this IS a post.”

Enjoy Midsummer Night’s Eve, breathe, look at life and enjoy the moment.

From Blair:

Below, I copied the transcript from Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac (NPR). Tonight, to celebrate, I’m going to poach catfish in paper sacks (the method borrowed from Martha Foose’s new book). However, I’m going to relax the catfish in honey-sweetened sweet tea with lots of lemon and rosemary. If the recipe fails, I’ll make a plan BEE for celebration and skip naked through the morning’s dew. That’s supposed to make me fertile (don’t really want that) and younger (will take that). Anyway, enjoy the transcript. I thought of you when I read it!

I’ll have an entry for you soon. Back to painting!

Bee sweet,

Tonight is Midsummer Night’s Eve, also called St. John’s Eve. St. John is the patron saint of beekeepers. It’s a time when the hives are full of honey. The full moon that occurs this month was called the Mead Moon, because honey was fermented to make mead. That’s where the word “honeymoon” comes from. Midsummer dew was said to have special healing powers. Women washed their faces in it to make themselves beautiful and young. They skipped naked through the dew to make themselves more fertile. It’s a time for lovers. An old Swedish proverb says, “Midsummer Night is not long but it sets many cradles rocking.” Midsummer Eve is also known as Herb Evening. Legend says that this is the best night for gathering magical herbs. Supposedly, a special plant flowers only on this night, and the person who picks it can understand the language of the trees. Flowers were placed under a pillow with the hope of important dreams about future lovers. Shakespeare set his play A Midsummer Night’s Dream on this night. It tells the story of two young couples who wander into a magical forest outside Athens. In the play, Shakespeare wrote, “The course of true love never did run smooth.”