That famous Mississippi Faulkner “quote”

Carl_Van_Vechten_-_William_Faulkner

Exhibit A: To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi. – William Faulkner

When I saw that quote on a girl’s shirt in yoga last week, I had a hard time believing that when taken in context, Faulkner was saying something positive or slogan worthy about the state where he famously set his stories on dysfunctional families and individuals trapped by poverty, ignorance, racism, sexism, mental illness, or just plain evil. So I went in search of the quote’s context, I expected to find that Faulkner wasn’t bragging on the richness of life in Mississippi, but instead making sober commentary, unfit for posters, billboards, pillows, and Pinterest walls.

After an hour of searching, I found nothing. I contacted friends who began their own searches and who contacted their own friends who all found nothing. Continue Reading »

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10 things not to say to this pregnant woman

Are you seriously asking me that?

1. Are you scared?

Of what? Of the dark? Yeah a little. I never quite outgrew that. When I have to sleep alone, I totally don’t dim the lights the whole way. Oh of becoming a parent? Scared is not the word. I’m excited, but I’m aware there will be a lot of challenges and frustrations, but I expect more positives than negatives, so I’m choosing to focus on the positives. Oh, scared of labor? No, the baby has to come out. I knew this before I decided to get pregnant. Oh not of labor in general but of the pain? No, should I be? I mean does being scared and fixated on an unknown amount of pain make it better cause to me that seems like that sort of focus would make it worse.

2. Your feet!

Yes, those are my feet. Yes, they are swollen. No, they aren’t that bad. Yes, I’m ready for them not to be swollen. Let’s keep going around stating the obvious some more. My belly is round. My skin is brown. I still can sure enough get down.

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How to garden with chickens

Chickens love dirt baths. Unfortunately, mine love my garden beds for their baths.

Having 9 free range backyard hens presents rewards such as learning how to go through 4 dozen eggs in a week, successfully reducing the tick population down to nil, and enjoying their lovely clucking songs as they graze on the lawn.

It also presents less favorable challenges: having an Easter hunt every day as they refuse to use the laying boxes you supply, avoiding poop strategically placed to make you slip down the deck stairs, and planting a garden they don’t destroy in seconds.

As I’ve battled with my chickens to get to stop laying where I don’t want and to keep them out of my garden, at times I have felt like Wile E. Coyote using faulty ACME products to catch the roadrunner.

If nothing else, chickens are determined, and when they are free range like mine, they have all of daylight to undermine my efforts. Despite that, I was just not ready to give up my garden for this year, and after some trial and error, I’m hopeful that I have found the solution to gardening with backyard chickens.

Rule One: Accept that the chickens consider it their yard, While you’re gone at work all day, they don’t have any other jobs but to explore their yard and hunt for good eats. They will spend every waking moment trying to figure out how to get in where you don’t want them, so if you suspect there are any flaws in your plan, one of their not so little bird brains will find it and exploit it.

Rule Two: Put up fencing. Make sure it is smaller than their heads. If it is not, they will stick their heads through it and eat what they can reach. They will immediately be interested in anything you plant especially if it has the white vermiculite balls. They love those things. They might ignore the marigolds themselves, but the flowers will be destroyed as they scratch to reach the vermiculite.  A photo tutorial of the fencing I put up is further down. Continue Reading »

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On woodland wildlife of the snakey variety

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This wild rabbit is one of hundreds that attack my garden each year. Evil, cute little enemies.

Snakes scare me, and I live in a bad place to be scared of snakes. Each year I can count on at least a dozen snake encounters, and about 5 of those will take place around my house.

See, I live in the woods. Starkville, while a comparatively large town to surrounding areas, is still very much rural. I’ve waged war on wild rabbits who insisted on eating my garden. D’s gotten down right ugly with some raccoons that refused to stay out of our trash and had no fear of humans. I’ll never forget the night one scratched at the front door like a dog and looked up at the window as if it expected us to let it in.

On our street we have to look out for deer more than kids on bikes. If we sleep with the windows open, we can hear coyotes howling. While I love to look at the birds, butterflies, shiny tree frogs, little lizards, amazing skinks,  and bushy tailed foxes with pointy noses,  who stop by our little cottage, I freaking hate the snakes.

May 2_1772009

I had never seen nor heard of skinks before I lived at this house.

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Visiting Fernwood before the wrecking ball

I always feel jealous of those people lucky enough to have a hometown. The place where the majority of your family lives and your memories have physical counterparts: restaurants, streets, schools, parks, libraries, stores.  As a military brat, I was born in a state many mountains and hours away from the home my parents knew. The closest hometown I’ve adopted has been Biloxi, Mississippi, but each year it seems like more of what made it home is gone.

The street that I lived on for 9 years where I learned to ride my bike and walk off the tears after falling, where I learned to swim with my eyes open under water in my snap-n-set pool, where I walked my first dog Pepper,  played HORSE until dark, and got my first present from a boy…that street only exists now in memories and photographs. After Katrina, the military gutted the housing installation including the streets.

Dukate, the elementary school, where I learned to read, where I wrote my first story and book of poems, where I checked out Shel Silverstein books every three weeks, where I sat in class wondering if anyone else knew I was wearing my first training bra… I tried to drive by that school a few years ago and not even the foundation remained.

Now it appears the last school I attended in Biloxi will soon have that same fate. This weekend I passed by remains of Fernwood Middle School on the way to visit my sister in law. Before I saw the ripped out auditorium chairs, the piles of tables and carpet, and the grass fields where buildings once stood, I was under the impression Fernwood was still in operation as the district’s alternative school. However, from this history of Biloxi schools, I learned that Fernwood had become the temporary alternative school in 2002.

“In the spring of 2007, the district made plans to demolish some of the structures on the Fernwood campus and asked permission of the Board to advertise for bids to do so. The main Fernwood building, where the office and CNO classrooms were located and which had served students for years prior to Fernwood’s becoming part of the Biloxi Public School District in 1957, would be retained. The cafeteria/kitchen, auditorium, a steel building, and the gymnasium would also be kept.” – Zan Skelton

It seems in 2009, the alternative school was moved and the campus has since had more buildings demolished. Little of that school stands today. Before anymore could go, I stopped to photograph what’s left.

The cafeteria

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