Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Visiting the Cat House

If you have ever had a conversation with me about my parents, then I have certainly mentioned that they own a lot of cats. And I mean A LOT. They are what are what I like to call Crazy-Cat-People.* But maybe y'all haven't truly understood what I mean when I say they have lots of cats. So I will now present you irrefutable proof, in the form of photographic evidence:







Mama Cat
Mama Cat


Campbell (named after Bruce. Word.)





Stimpy and Rudy
Stimpy and Rudy

Little Guy
Little Guy



The Kittens (The one on the right is Doozer, and he's coming home with me)
The Kittens (The one on the right is Doozer, and he's coming home with me.)


The Scutter


NOT PICTURED: Smoky and Vanna, who look just like Tony and Baby.

I am not kiddin,' folks. There's a hellava lotta cats here.

* Crazy in a good way.


HP #7 Cover Art

It was fantastic.

We're gonna have to talk about this book sometime, Dear Readers...

Quick Update

Hello, Dear Readers. I have been the social butterfly this last week and have seen many friends* and family. I'll get some photos up soon as well as some posts that tell about the last few days. But I'm in the final week of my trip and the days are filling up, so bear with me if it takes a few more days to pick up posting again. Later!

* Last Monday was the Day for Redheads. This last week was the week for Chrises**: Chris Collins, Chris Blue, Chris Black, and Chris Zuga. There's a lot of us out there. It's a movement.

** How the heck to you pluralize Chris?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Tired and Feathered

So today the cousins and I initiated the second phase of Operation Clean-Up Mamaw's House. The mission was a success, albeit a more subtle one. Though the work we did is not as obvious as it was in the first assault, we managed to get rid of two full bags of garbage and three bags of magazines, rearrange some shelves, and vacuum at least 50 parakeets' worth of feathers and bird seed. And I was covered in both. Birdy and dirty.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Today Was Evidently My Day for Redheads.

Chris and Lindsey
Originally uploaded by baldman76
First I had lunch with an old pal Lindsey, then Erica (The Livingston formally known as Peninger) shows up and I spent the next several hours visiting with her at Cups. I'll post more about Erica later, because I'll likely see her more this week, so there will be more dirt to dish. I'll talk about Lindsey first.

Yesterday was the first time I had seen Lindsey in 6 years. Back in 1999-2000, I worked as the Program Coordinator for the Madison County Cultural Center (MCCC), and Lindsey was one of the “kids” that took ballet classes there. I guess she was 14 when we met, and over the two years I was there, I got to know her better. If she had some spare time, she'd come hang out in my office, and she was always good company. Smart girl. Good conversations.

In addition to her taking classes at the MCCC, we also hired her as a camp assistant at our summer arts camp, and she kinda became a co-worker of sorts for the summer. When I left the MCCC, I had JUST turned 24, and she had just turned 16. End of story. Lost contact.

Ah, but for the power of MySpace. Out of curiousity one day I was searching for folks that I had known at the Center, specifically for some of the folks that would be in their late teens / early twenties. I was curious to see what they looked like, what they were doing, etc. Had no intention of actually contacting them. But when I found Lindsey, now at the ripe old age of 22, I took a chance and sent her an email. And lo and behold, over the years she'd been keeping up with me via the MCCC's old director, Mark McCrary! She was happy to hear from me, we've been emailing over the last month or two, and since I was in MS, we met for lunch to catch up face to face.

And it was really fun. It was a rather “fractured” conversation because we kept bouncing around from topic to topic, veering into tangents in an attempt to elaborate on everything that has happened to us in the last 6 years. The years since I left Mississippi have been the most important years of my life, and Lindsey has of course, graduated high school and come into her own as an adult. So there was WAY more to discuss than we could conceivably talk about in the span of two hours. There's still a pretty good age gap between us, but the years melted away when we got to talking.

When we first saw each other, I remarked that I didn't really expect to see her again after I left MS, to which she replied that she always felt that we were destined to see each other again beyond those years at the Center. So here's to taking the time to reconnect and discover those “surprise” friendships that suddenly reappear and make life that much more enjoyable.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

BEE-to-the-EYE-to-the-Double EL-WHY

Billy Middleton (and Sophie)
Originally uploaded by baldman76
So in one of my previous posts on Jeremy “The Cap'n” Mucha,' I mentioned that I also met a guy named Billy on the first day of second grade who completed the Three Musketeers of my upbringing. Today is his thirtieth birthday, and he was in Vicksburg visiting his family today. So I went over to his folks' house for a bit o' visitin.'

We spent a good hour or two catching up, talking about grad school (my upcoming first year and his current experiences in the USM creative writing Masters program). I haven't seen Billy in two years (since my last month-long MS visit in '05) and it is always good to visit with him. We always get ourselves to laughing. I don't tend to hear from or see him as much as I do Jeremy, but it's always remarkably easy to settle into a conversation just like no time has passed. I guess that's what knowin' someone 23 years will do.

We were both sans wives this afternoon (which is a shame because I don't know if Katie has ever met Billy or Monica, Billy's wife), but I did meet their chihuahua Sophie (AKA Booplee (sp?)). It looks like I may see them again next weekend, so I'll hopefully have a few more pictures to post.

Happy Birthday, Billy.

Friday, July 20, 2007


Foxy Reid-Bane
Originally uploaded by baldman76
So this is a picture of Foxy, my grandmother's dog. Foxy and I have quite a bit of history together. Years ago when I was living in Jackson, I was driving home late one night when I saw this dog running- panicked- on Fortification street up and down the on-ramp onto the highway. Certain death if she kept going.

Well, I felt moved to help the animal, so long story short- I caught her. It took a while, because where she was running and HOW she was running required me to make several big loops onto the highway and back off at the next exit, turning around and driving back to the on-ramp. Finally I got her off the ramp and up into a parking lot, where she fell at my feet and rolled over on her back. Thinking to myself “This is how people get emergency room stories” I picked her up and put her in my car. No one was mauled, and she became my dog for a while.

At the time I was working increasingly long hours, so I felt that I wasn't giving her enough time. Eventually, I was hardly ever home to spend any time with her, nor was my sister. When my grandmother's dog, Sandy*, died, I offered her Foxy, and thus she became my Mamaw's dog. And now she is lazy and fat (Foxy, not Mamaw). She eats lying down. She's almost as wide as she is long. But she seems happy, and she always seems happy to see me. I don't know how dog brains work, but it seems that she certainly recognizes me when I show up. She's a big fat sweet dog.

* Sandy was part Chow / part DINGO. Scary-ass dog.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


Matthew and Scott
Originally uploaded by baldman76
As mentioned in a previous post, the stealth cleaning assault on my Mamaw's house was not a solo operation. I was accompanied by two other operatives, my cousins Matthew and Scott. After we cleaned, we hung out at the coffee shop for a bit, then wandered about in the book store next door.

As always, I enjoyed seeing them, and I'm sure I'll see them next week, because they're also itchin' to get back over and clean some more at our grandmothers.

Putting Obsessive-Compulsiveness to Work

I like to clean and organize (except don't say that to my wife because she'll laugh at you for saying something so silly). But I really do. And beyond spending quality time with my parents, there were other motives behind my trip.

See, I come from a family of pack-rats, but I seem to have somehow broken free of this habit. I don't like having a lot of stuff.* Give me a one gift and I get rid of two things. And while I am quite guilty of creating little piles of papers and such around the house, I don't like clutter. I have actually put myself in a little bit of a bind because I am suddenly finding that all my clothes are wearing out and tearing up because I wear the same few outfits over and over because I have given a lot of my clothing away. It's just how I am. I keep things that are sentimental to me, but there is a rather draconian vetting process that determines what stays and what goes. My motto: "A memory should be a thought, not a thing."

So a trip to my folks' house is both a blessing and a curse. There's so much to do! But I never get it all done...Their house isn't dirty, it's just cluttered up, and Lord knows they've had plenty of more important stuff on their minds lately. So I make it a point to do what I like to do when I'm here: organize, clean, and purge!

We've all been cleaning out magazines, sweeping under furniture, rearranging rooms, all to streamline the house and make it less stressful for everyone. For example, is there REALLY a reason to have the last four years of Entertainment WEEKLY (56 x 4= 224)? The answer is NO. It's been very productive and we've made good headway on a lot of projects.

AND my Mamaw Bane allowed my cousins Matthew and Scott and myself to clean up HER house, too, so we spent 2 hours yesterday vacuuming and purging newspapers and such from her house. That was great. She's fought against anybody coming over and cleaning her house (a matter of pride, I'm sure) but we were smooth and slipped in under her radar under the guise of a "visit from the gransons." It must have worked swimmingly well, because she told Mom today she's hopes we can come back over next week to do more work. Awesome.

So that's what's been up lately. I am planning some visits in the next few weeks, but for the most part it'll still be clean clean clean over here.

* Books and CD's excluded. Katie has accused me of wanting to get rid of HER stuff while my stuff seems to magically get overlooked when it comes to simplifying. It's somewhat true...FINE. I admit it! OK!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

New Harmonies

While Jeremy was in town last week, we went back to see the New Harmonies Smithsonian exhibit. Here's a few more shots taken when the room was not full of people.

New Harmonies Exhibit

New Harmonies Exhibit

New Harmonies Exhibit

New Harmonies Exhibit

Jeremy at Listening Station, New Harmonies Exhibit

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Someone's Got Some Serious Etch-A-Sketch Skills

So last week, Jeremy, my Dad and I walk into the Highway 61 Coffeehouse and there on the table is this amazing Etch-a-Sketch drawing.

Now, we often find pretty good drawings when we pop in. There's some good etch-a-sketchers out there. But WOW. Jeremy and I immediately went for our cameras, and Josh (he works there) told us that they had taken a bunch of photos of it already. Now Daniel has a photo of it posted on the wall of the coffee shop. All they know is it was a guy from Houston. He drank a cup of coffee and left, spending only about 20 minutes inside. Amazing.
CLICK HERE to see Daniel's picture of the table-top "still life" which inspired the sketch. Amazing. [Note that the figure in the drawing is a small statue of Willie Dixon. And note that that small statue is painted on an old leg of a bath tub.]

A Good Report

Yesterday we were in Jackson for my Dad's latest CT scan, the first he's had since we got the last round of bad news, and the first since the shingles outbreak. He gets his scan in the morning and the results in the afternoon for his oncologist, Dr. Graham.

And for a nice change, the results were good. Simply put, the nodes in his lungs are smaller, and there are several nodes that are dying from the inside out ( called "cavitation"). There is no change in the liver (which is a hell of a lot better than some of the recent alternatives), but the doc feels that given Dad's improvement in the last few months, there is likely some positive effect on the liver that just is not apparent in the CT scan just yet.

Bona fide good news. Praise the Lord.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Scrabble: Bring It!

Overall, a good showing all around. Scores were pretty tight by the end of ll three games. Mr. Mucha' came out ahead, with two wins.

Scrabble: Game One
Thursday afternoon, 7/5/07
Highway 61 Coffeehouse
Winner: Jeremy Mucha'
Scrabble, Game 1

Scrabble: Game Two
Friday afternoon, 7/5/07
Highway 61 Coffeehouse
Winner: David Reid
Scrabble, Game 2

Jeremy keeps score in an Excel spreadsheet.
Scrabble, Game 2

Scrabble: Game Three
Friday night, 7/5/07
Reid Household
Winner: Jeremy Mucha'
Scrabble, Game 3

Saturday, July 07, 2007

A Visit From the Cap'n

Jeremy Mucha, AKA The Cap'n
Originally uploaded by baldman76
Early in the AM this morning, my dad and I delivered Jeremy Mucha' (AKA Cap'n Hardqore AKA Homeskillet) to the Jackson airport.

Jeremy is one of my oldest friends, and still one of my closest. There's a certain type of conversation that I seem to only have on those occasions when he's around. Good, deep conversations on weighty topics. Perhaps this is due to mutual respect or simply familiarity and comfort in each other's company; it's likely both.

I met Jeremy (along with Billy Middleton) on the first day of second grade at Culkin Elementary. The three of us were fairly inseparable all the way until high school graduation, when we each went our separate ways. But not too separate. Jeremy lived with us for two summers after high school and he was but a road trip away in Atlanta, and Billy went to Hinds with me, so we were still regularly in touch. (Billy was technically my roommate at Hinds for one semester, but he wasn't thee very much.) Even now, I keep in touch with both of them, and even though we're on opposite sides of the country, I manage to see Jeremy at least once a year these days (which is largely due to his efforts, I must admit). That means we have known each other for 23+ years. Katie has always marveled at the idea of having had a friend that long. It's one of the advantages to having been born and raised in the same small town.

So Jeremy came in from San Diego* and spent a good 3 ½ days here in V'burg, visiting the family. It was a nice visit and was great seeing him, but there were several impediments to it being a rockin' visit worthy of someone so hardqore as the Cap'n. First, there's the difficulty of entertaining someone in a house that's not your own in a town in which you no longer live. The “idea well”ran dry pretty quick. And it rained a good portion of the time he was here. Add to that the fact that Dad has had a few rough days, Mom got a terrible cold, my Mamaw Reid is ill with a mystery ailment and panic attacks, and the fact that I caught a bit of a sniffle bug myself (the "Dread Mahocus"), and it was likely a little less of a stellar visit than it could have been.

Luckily, Jeremy is a pretty laid-back dude, one that is content to just chill on the back deck., I had a lot of fun and it was great to see him. We went downtown on the Fourth of July to see a very impressive fireworks display.** Thursday afternoon, we cruised over to Jackson to return his rental car and chilled at Cups coffee shop for a while. We spent a few afternoons in Daniel's coffee shop here in town, and wandered about taking in the sights. After going back to see the New Harmonies Roots Music exhibit, we realized Jeremy had never seen O, Brother, Where Art Thou? so we rectified that situation. And we played Scrabble. Several times. Always great to see him.

* Discovered by the Germans in 1904, they named it San Diego, which of course in German means “a whale's vagina.” Not really.

**It's not the first grand fireworks display here in town, but V'burg hasn't always had a soft spot for the 4th of July.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Folks I Been Seein'

So my trip to Vicksburg and the surrounding area has given me the chance to see some old friends and run into some folks I haven't seen in years.

First of all, my sister Erica was here for a few days, and as always, it was great to see her.

Ian Williams, Nationwide
My friend Ian (above) came over from Jackson to attend the Willie Dixon event, so he was around for a good visit. Additionally, he was sent to V'burg to work for a few days, so he ended up over here at the house a few hours Thursday and Friday night.

I've seen Nancy Mitchell and Randy Jolly, two former art teachers of mine and old friends of the family.

Of course, I've seen Daniel and Leslie.

Ran into Palmer Shiers, AKA P-Root the Mighty Ku'ato. I worked with Palmer at Be-Bop Record Shop in V'burg in '98. Good fella. And speaking of BeBop, I ran into Anne who was my old supervisor at the Be-Bop warehouse in Jackson.

Seth Libby and Moi
Saw Seth Libby (above) at the Willie Dixon event as well. Guy's crazy. But endearingly so. Within the five minutes of seeing him, he had managed to tell a dirty joke and call my sexuality into question, twice. Good times.

Saw Denise Halbach at Keifer's in Jackson (more of a thing for Erica to have seen her since Erica had her as a teacher and I did not, but I had JUST asked about her and she walked through the door). And our waiter was Les Harvey, who I knew from Hinds.

I also saw Eric Neal at the Bass Pro Shop in Pearl. Hadn't seen him in years but it was good to see him. I guess we met in 7th grade, and I hung out with him a LOT in highschool, especially 9th grade. And I saw Brian Wells at the outlet mall here in V'burg.

And there's plenty more to see. I know that most everyone that reads this doesn't know these people, but I gotta give a few shout-outs. That's how I roll.

Easing Into Vicksburg

I was born and raised in Vicksburg, and when I moved away, I just went 50 miles east to the Jackson metro area. So the first 24 years of my life were in Mississippi. And growing up in Vicksburg, I couldn't wait to move away. I had a lot of fun times there, running around in the woods and in neighborhoods with my friends, namely Jeremy and Billy, but ultimately, when we hit our teenage years, there was nothing to do but get in trouble, which none of us did, so there was REALLY nothing to do. (Consequently we all made really good grades because we filled our time with schoolwork instead of drinking and impregnating people- it has served us well over the years). When people asked me what there was to do in Vicksburg, I would reply “Drive to Jackson.”

Now, as an adult, I appreciate Vicksburg more since I now view it through a different lens. I still don't think the city is the “right fit” for who I am, but as I have gotten older and my desires and needs have changed, Vicksburg has more to offer than I once thought.* Far from perfect, but there is a charm to the place.

And there are some cool things happening lately. Daniel has opened the Highway 61 Coffeehouse. The downtown area is showing some real signs of revitalization. And then, On June 28th, just days after I arrive, Vicksburg hosts a really cool event. The Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation hosted a tribute to Willie Dixon, a blues legend and Vicksburg native.

Willie Dixon

Additionally, the Cultural Center downtown was the first stop in the first stop of the Smithsonian's traveling exhibit New Harmonies, which focuses on American “roots music.”

New Harmonies Exhibit

The event was well attended, with an estimated 700+ people showing up to enjoy the festivities. It was a good cross section, too: young and old, black and white, rich and not-so-rich. There were muliple bands performing on the main stage, all covering the songs of Willie Dixon. Lots of folks I know played: Daniel Boone, Kenny Boone, L.H. Abraham, Seth Libby (who gave me a shout-out from onstage), etc. There was also a bluegrass band in the courtyard, and gospel singing in the chapel (the Center is in an old Catholic School / convent).

Willie Dixon Event, Courtyard

It was a great way to ease back into V'burg livin' for the month.

*Unless you are a teenager, and there REALLY IS NOTHING TO DO. No movie theater. No bowling alley. The mall is terrible. Nothing. So expect the regular bumper crop o' babies and vandalism to be coming along soon.

Monday, July 02, 2007

My Daddy-O, 7/1/07

First things first, let's talk about my dad. He is doing much much better than he was when I saw him last. He's up and about. His shingles are much better. Although there is still a lot of pain, the rash is pretty much gone except for a few spots here and there. His skin color looks good. His eyesight is improving and he can read a bit again. Overall, he's like a completely different person than he was just two months ago.

It was such a relief to see him doing so well. In fact, my folks were waiting for me on the deck when I arrived Monday evening, and I was talking to him for several minutes just like evrything was normal before I remembered what he looked like before and realized how good he looks now. I just walked over to him and kissed his forehead where the rash used to be. So now, though he is still far from tip-top shape, it looks like it will be a visit with more quality time than I thought would be the case, and that's a good thing.

Me and my Pops

And the coolest thing is, he's sporting the hippest of hair-dos now. “Like son, like father” in this case!


Greetings From MS

I would imagine that most everyone who reads this blog is somewhat aware of the events of my life as of late, but for those who don't, here is the summary:

1.Quit my job.
2.Visited Sunny I-20 for a day
3.Am currently in and will be in Mississippi until very early August.

That's right, I've officially flown the Carolina coop, so to speak. Prior to grad school this fall, I thought I'd spend some time with my folks, visiting and helping around the house with chores and such. Positive side: kinda having a vacation (albeit one with work). On the down side, I am sans wife, and that's not so much fun, especially since she is currently unemployed* and looking for work (“Sorry about the job, honey. See ya in a month!”). But we'll live.

I've already been here about a week, and for the next month my posts will be dispatches from my hometown of Vicksburg, Mississippi. It's been fun so far, and I've already seen several folks I know. I'll elaborate more in later posts.

*Actually, she is currently in Arizona with her family, and she'll be hiking the Grand Canyon tomorrow, so don't feel TOO sorry for her. However, if it will inspire you to hire her for $35 K+ a year, then by all means, please feel sorry for her.