watching and waiting

watching and waiting

I’m still entranced by cats. Cats came into my life in a permanent way very late for me, some seven years ago. After spending over two decades living with Labs, having cats turned out to be something of a shock. Not in a bad way, but any way at all. I’ve never ever thought of myself as a “cat person,” but here they all are, here and in Gainesville and Tallahassee. My oldest daughter has two and my youngest has one, and considering getting a second as a companion for the first.

I don’t know how it turned out this way, but Lucy, the last to arrive at Casa Beebe, is my cat. She comes into my lap, sleeps next to me at night on occasion, and purrs like a motorcycle when I rub her head. From time to time she attempts to talk to me. She loves it when I pull out the laser pointer for her to chase. When she needs to visit the vets I’m the only one she will allow to take her. She even misses me when I travel, sticking close when I get back from my trips.

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on the way home

proudly built in georgia

On the way back home I traveled the same route in reverse; my parent’s home to the Doraville station, then cross Atlanta on MARTA to Hartsfield. It was while I was waiting at Hartsfield that I came across this scene that seemed to sum up some of my thoughts and observations on Atlanta.

For example, that Kia sitting in the main part of the airport points out what has changed with regards to auto manufacturing in Georgia. From 1947 to 2008 GM’s Doraville Assembly plant pumped out Olds and Pontiacs, primarily for the southeast region. It made a lot more sense to make them local to the booming Atlanta market than to build them in Detroit and then ship them cross country. The plant, shutdown and empty, sits next to the Doraville MARTA station. The Kia plant is south of Altanta in 85, near the Georgia/Alabama border.

And Doraville itself is no longer “a touch of country in the city,” the way the Atlanta Rhythm Section sang about the community forty years ago in their 1974 album “Third Annual Pipe Dream.” It has instead become part of the vast urban sprawl that covers the entire metro Atlanta area; gray concrete, worn asphalt roads and parking lots, innumerable strip malls, pine power poles strung up with power lines everywhere, punctuated with entrances to old neighborhoods. I miss the Doraville of forty and more years ago, but there’s no going back to it these days. Like they say, you really can’t go home again.

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the greenhouse

working area

One of two blooming orchids on the workbench.

Today was another quiet day at my parent’s place. I helped my dad fix one of his sprinkler heads. His sprinkler system has heads that sit just above his rhododendrons. Those rhododendrons are taller than I am, which means this particular sprinkler was that tall. While all the azaleas and rhododendrons are green and growing they’re well past the blooming season. If I want to see them in bloom I need to come back and visit next spring.

I also spent a little time with my dad walking through the greenhouse. It’s good to see it still in operation, but it’s nothing like the “glory days” of ten, and even five, years ago. There was a very bad freeze one winter and the thermostat in the greenhouse failed to activate the heater in time. When my dad woke up early the next morning, a lot of the orchids had already been frozen out. All that invaluable time invested in those orchids was wiped out. Since he’d was already retired he couldn’t afford to just buy and replace.

recycled bird frightener

An old MSN CDROM is being used to scare away birds that might come in the greenhouse. Old CDROMs are hung all over. That’s my dad cleaning out a bird’s nest in the background from the greenhouse heater.

in the greenhouse

Even though he still has far more orchids than I have (and will ever have), at the height of his orchid collection both walls would be covered with sitting and hanging orchids, many in bloom. They’d cover both walls as well as hanging down the center. By comparision I have six, down from a dozen I had five years ago. One of them is an orchid he gave me that I haven’t managed to kill yet.

idle pots
orchid in the greenhouseThe best I can say is I have the memories of those times, and he has a lot of Kodachrome slides of his orchids. There is a record, living and fixed.

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in the garden

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Who needs fireworks when nature is so much more beautiful?

While everyone went down to Centennial Olympic Park or Lenox Square to watch fireworks, I spent a quiet evening with my parents. My dad has spent the last 35 years turning the property around the house into a huge forested garden, covered with azaleas and a long orchid greenhouse back behind the house.

The whole property is on a fairly steep slope from the top of a hill down to a private lake. Even when the sun is up, the house and property are in deep shade due primarily to all the native pines and oaks. It’s perfect for growing azaleas and zenning out.

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coming home to atlanta, in which I get way too close to a lot of people mid-town

quiet contemplation

Resting in quiet contemplation after the big race.

It’s been 30 years this year since I moved away from Atlanta to Orlando. It’s been two years since I went back to visit my parents. My parents are now in their early 80s and two years is a bit too long between visits. So I decided to address the deficit a bit; I flew back to Atlanta early this morning.

I got up around oh-dark-thirty (4:30am to be precise) so I could fix a bit of breakfast, shower, dress, and head for OIA to catch my Southwest flight 424 to Atlanta. The flight was 20 minutes late leaving OIA due to an engine alarm in the 737’s cockpit. We taxied back to the gate, maintenance quickly board, solved the issue, and got us back on our way. Total time about 20 minutes.

When we landed I left and boarded Marta, headed for Doraville to be picked up by my younger brother. When I got on at Hartsfield I thought it was going to be a quiet ride, and it was, until we hit mid-town Atlanta. That’s when we were overwhelmed with a lot of sweaty, smelly Atlanta residents who’d just finished the 2014 Peachtree Road Race.

One minute, it was just me in a partially empty car, the next it was everybody trying to crowd in so they could get home. And I mean they were packed in. The aroma of so many in so little a space needing a shower was a reminder of why I’d left the Big City of Atlanta in 1984. I thought it was bad back then; it’s grown worse, well beyond my dark and tainted memories.

coming on board after the race

Streaming down to board.

crowed feet

Trying not to get stepped on.

bearded redneck

The bearded redneck runner…

Of course, what would a Marta ride be without rubbing elbows with the local hoi polloi? In this particular instance the Bearded Redneck Runner (above) decided he didn’t like me photographing his wife’s midriff (see below). I wanted a simple photo of the sign, a form of establishing content for this story. I guess that was too provocative of me; he got all Manly on me, telling me I might not like what he would do to “that camera” if I didn’t stop it. Of course, this was all after I’d taken the Dreaded Photograph.

Being in a car full of tightly packed sweaty unwashed, I had a brief Walter Mitty moment, a mashup of the movie “World War Z” combined with “The Walking Dead”, where I imagined some sort of redneck contagion spreading amongst the tightly packed, so I decided that rather than become contaminated by actually having to touch the idiot (as in punch out the redneck’s lights), it would be better if I just sat there and until he and his Chosen Mate left the car, which they did right after his bellicose statements. After all, the world doesn’t need yet another mindless, rude, cheap-beer-swilling belligerent Southern white male; there are way too many as it is. I’d left Atlanta 30 years ago to avoid that fate.

While the good news was that the Bearded Redneck and Wife left the car, the bad news was the majority of the other riders stuck it out with me until we all got to Doraville.

she who must not be photographed

… and she whose midriff must not be photographed.

exiting in doraville

Everybody out! Please!

I never felt more relief getting off a Marta train than when I finally got off at Doraville. I hung back until most of the crowd cleared out, taking my time getting out of the station and into Doraville proper.

“That Camera”

Everything taken with the world’s most intimidating camera, the Panasonic GX1, with the world’s most intimidating lens, the Panasonic 20mm pancake. And because I’m on travel, all the photos are SOOC, except for resizing with Shotwell on Ubuntu 14.04.

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