Thursday, March 26, 2020

Decorated Cakes

It's a pretty wonderful thing to be a kid in the mid-1970s with a mother who can make cakes like this:

(As I write this, Easter 2020 is less than three weeks away, though the wisdom of the usual Easter festivities right now seems in doubt, given the coronavirus pandemic and the social distancing and stay-at-home orders with which we've been living for the past couple of weeks. Maybe I can convince Anna and the girls to recreate the above cake for us this year anyway.)

Mom took a cake decorating class sometime around (I'm guessing) 1975, I think at Sears of all places. Maybe it wasn't Sears; that doesn't matter, what matters is that I remember being amazed that my mother could make these beautiful cakes, which in my memory she was doing almost constantly, for every occasion, such as the one above, which must have been an Easter cake, probably around 1976, and this one:

If you can't tell, it's a Scooby-Doo cake, and must have been for Jeff's birthday, which apparently we celebrated (at least in part) at my grandmother's house in Tucker (where this picture was taken). (And oh how I wish I could remove my ridiculous grinning self from this picture, but I don't want to misrepresent my past, and plus also I remember the navy winter coat I'm wearing here, with its fur-lined hood, with an indefensible fondness. One year I wore it as my Trick-or-Treating costume; I zipped it all the way up and said I was an Eskimo. But I digress...)

Until I found the picture below, I remembered this one as a Scooby-Doo cake; I must have been conflating it in my mind with the one above. I remember Mom meticulously decorating Yogi Bear with frosting stars applied with a piping bag and tip:

I'm happy that my daughters continue the baking tradition. In fact, after I click Publish on this post, I'm going to eat a piece of the Oeey-Gooey Butter Cake that Elyse made for us tonight. It's not decorated, but I'm excited about it nonetheless.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Sunday with Peanuts

(Click to enlarge)

This "Peanuts" strip, from Sunday, May 15, 1966, perfectly illustrates the complexity and unflinching truth-telling for which I love "Peanuts" so much: Charlie Brown's anxiety and disappointment and anger, Linus's wisdom, and the actuality that shows us that Linus's self-help-book advice, good-intentioned and genuinely insightful though it may be, is no match for the Harsh Verities of Life.

"...a difficult moment to treasure," indeed.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Chestnut Grove Baptist Church Cemetery

Today Jessica and I went out to take pictures. Since the current coronavirus-avoidance recommendations say it's a really bad idea to go to anyplace where we're likely to encounter lots of other people, I chose a spot that seemed almost certain to be deserted, but also likely to be visually interesting: a cemetery. (The fact that we enjoyed our time walking around and shooting in the cemetery in Pembroke last month also figure into this decision.)

(And actually it wasn't deserted, not strictly speaking: in the time that we were there, three or four vehicles came through with individuals or families to visit graves, deliver flowers, and so on, and there was also a woman who appeared to be walking the cemetery's paths for exercise. Still, we were at least six feet away from them--more like 60 or 600 feet away, actually--at all times, and nobody sneezed or coughed on us.)

The cemetery I picked, Chestnut Grove Baptist Church Cemetery, is less than four miles from our house; I've driven by it hundreds of times and barely even noticed it. Here's a picture of one of our first views of the cemetery, from the church parking lot:

Jessica in her typical pose, taking pictures:

The church in the distance:

(The flag on the right side of the frame near the top is across the street, at a used-car lot.)  

Jessica righting a vase of plastic flowers (which she does a lot in these places):

Come Ye Blessed

J.M. Head
Sept. 11, 1829
May 9, 1910

May he find joy in the 
life everlasting.
An honest man is the
noblest work of God.

Aunt Jane Ford
Born Nov. 23, 1827
Died Sept. 18, 1901
Mother to
the Motherless

How I usually see Jessica:

One of our last views of the cemetery, just before we left:

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Our peach tree in bloom

Our peach tree in bloom--
Indifferent to human woes,
Spring asserts itself.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Digital Learning Days

Today is the first day of two weeks of "Digital Learning Days" for Gwinnett County schools as the whole country tries to slow down, maybe even stop, the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Anna will also be working from home all week, and both of the institutions at which I teach (Gwinnett Tech and Georgia Gwinnett College) have suspended classes for this week.

We hope to return to normal life by the time March ends.

Update, one day later: It seems unlikely that we will "return to normal life" by the end of March. At this point it seems much more likely that all of us will finish the school year online, but it does seem that next fall, starting in August, we will go back to regular in-class learning. I don't know about my summer classes at Gwinnett Tech; I'm hopeful that those will go on, on campus, as currently scheduled (the semester officially starts on May 11, exactly eight weeks from yesterday), but I won't be surprised if that doesn't happen.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Stone Mountain Park

Today we went to Stone Mountain for the first time in quite a while; mostly we walked around the walkup trail area and took pictures:

We did go to Crossroads, but nothing--literally nothing--was open; even the trains weren't running. There were a few other people walking around, though.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Braselton Brunch and Pendergrass Cemetery Photography

Today Jessica and I went out with the intention of doing some small town photography. We started by having lunch (or, as it turned out, the brunch buffet) at Pat's Eatery, in Braselton; it was fantastic, and very busy.

After eating our fill, we drove around Braselton and Hoschton for a few minutes but didn't find anyplace that looked worth stopping to take pictures. I drove north, more or less arbitrarily, on U.S. 129 until we got to Pendergrass, which was also fairly dead, at least as far as creating small town art is concerned. However, we did find the Pendergrass Baptist Church and the cemetery behind it (I'm not sure if the cemetery is really connected to the church or not), and Jessica suggested we take pictures there. So we did.

Here are some of the pictures I took:

(This was on the front door, I assume because Valentine's Day was just a couple of days ago.) 

 (Jessica spent a lot of the time we were there righting overturned vases and putting plastic flowers back in their pots.)

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Kudzu Antiques and Avondale Estates with Jessica and Dad

Today Jessica and I went to Kudzu Antiques in Decatur to look around and take pictures (but not actually buy anything; there were plenty of things we liked, but nothing we could actually afford). Here are some of the pictures I took:

After that, we went to Avondale Estates, just a couple of miles away, also to walk around and take pictures:

I didn't know about the Artlot art park ("Building a better block in Avondale"); it was a wonderful serendipitous find, and we enjoyed walking around it and taking pictures:

We ended our outing by heading home and eating supper, rather mundanely, at the KFC in Grayson.

Friday, January 10, 2020

RIP Neil Peart

The ticket pictured below is from a concert not too far away from forty years ago. When I went to this concert those many years ago, Neil Peart, the drummer and primary lyricist for Rush, was only 29, practically still a kid. Today it was announced that three days ago, January 7, Peart passed away at the age of sixty-seven. I still can't quite believe it.

The truth is I haven't listened to Rush much in the last fifteen or twenty years; my musical tastes have changed since I was a teenager, and I don't always find much pleasure in the things I once did. But I remember the depths of that pleasure, and I will tell you that there is nothing, NOTHING, better than being an awkward adolescent kid who just got an electric guitar and who loves to read science fiction and fantasy novels, and discovering A Farewell to Kings or Caress of Steel or 2112.

It's been a long time since he was much of a presence in my life, but it will take a while to adjust to the idea of a world that doesn't have Neil Peart in it anymore.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

The View from Barnes & Noble

Jessica took these pictures with my phone while we were in the cafe at Barnes & Noble today: