Monday, September 26, 2016

Garden of Stone

It may be autumn on the calendar, but summer was hanging on with both hands this weekend in Memphis. It was blazing hot Sunday when I picked up my friend Dawn for a visit to the historic Elmwood Cemetery. Neither of us had been there before despite years in the Bluff City.

According to the website, Elmwood Cemetery is 80 acres, and the whole thing, from the beautiful entrance bridge to the cottage office, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

And as it turns out, Elmwood is also an official bird sanctuary and arboretum. If I knew nothing else, that would be enough for me!

The sun was shining, birds were singing, and the sound of a close train whistle set the mood for exploring.

Elmwood offers guided tours, audio tours and more, but since it was Sunday, Dawn and I were on our own.

The cemetery is the final resting place for some of Memphis's well-heeled and politically powerful, including former mayor E.H. "Boss" Crump...

...and those who could not be healed, including victims of the city's multiple yellow fever epidemics in the 1800s. There is a specific section of the grounds devoted to those who died, but we didn't find it Sunday.

There is an entire half of the cemetery we didn't get to cover, but no worries! I think we're up for another trip!

Here's a look at some of the cemetery's bold and beautiful headstones, markers, mausoleums and vaults:

These oval markers were a little jarring when we spotted them in smaller sizes (photo: Dawn Murphy)
"Help the others first." (photo: Dawn Murphy)
Ms. Etta Grigsby Partee (photo: Dawn Murphy)
Humes Mausoleum
Howard Mausoleum
The Howard Mausoleum has amazing color and texture
Ms. Sally Dockery Banks and what I can assume is her beloved pet
Samuel S. Rembert patented a cotton harvesting machine in Memphis. He also has an amazing epitaph.
Joanna Leigh and Julia Spaulding 
Towering beauty
Family plots were divided by short stone walls carved into ivy patterns 
There are many Confederate soldiers buried at Elmwood Cemetery, including this fellow 
Herman Frank Arnold had "the original score of Dixie" carved into his grave marker
Haunting lady watching over the Falls gravesite

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Me and This Dress

You know how you sometimes buy that one thing that you're all, "no one likes this but me?" That's me and this dress.

I love it. It's sheer with a slip underneath, comfortable and versatile. Fabulous colors, short sleeves and a sweet little collar.

And the only time I've worn it is in the dressing room. And on those mornings that I think I'm going to, but then don't.

I bought the dress off the sale rack, knowing I was about three or four weeks of good work-outs and clean eating away from rocking it! This was right before all that life helped to derail my plans.

Now it hangs on the rack of what will be, keeping me motivated as I see it every day.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

First rule of survival when waking for an overnight shift

I'm a morning person when I don't have to be, like on weekends. I'm usually up before anyone I know. Of course, I work from midnight to 8am five days a week, so waking up at 4am on a Saturday is actually sleeping in. Like, a lot.

I'm often asked what my routine is like, because my hours are so backwards. I always tell people that I have to be super strict about bedtime. I discipline myself to crawl into bed sometime between 1pm and 2pm, whether I'm sleepy or not. Sure there are plenty of days when nature takes over, and I couldn't find sleep if it walked up and slapped me. Those days suck, so sometimes I slightly supplement the routine. I'm not talking Valley of the Dolls here, just a Tylenol Simply Sleep tablet to take the edge off.

It's on those days that I'm most grateful for the most important part of my regimen: the prep work.

First rule of survival: if it can be done before bed, do it.

Before bed every night (day), I make sure I have to do minimal thinking the next day (night). I prep the coffee pot (3 tablespoons of Dunkin' Donuts medium roast-- it's not very strong, but I love it), and set out my coffee mug, spoon and three pink packets. Aspartame is my friend. Timer set for 11pm so the joe's waiting on me, not the other way around.

My favorite coffee mug from Starbucks

Next, it's breakfast. The pan goes on the stove with my little spatula for scrambled eggs, along with a bowl and fork with which to do said scrambling. Protein.

Love my tiny Calphalon pan- perfect for two scrambled eggs
Other side of the stove, my plate, a fork and knife, and the toaster all stand ready for my two slices of wheat toast. Can't have eggs without the toast. I'm nothing if not a believer in using food as a vessel for more food.

Flashy red toaster! 

Can't beat the wheat!
Salt and pepper to taste and I'm ready to close the kitchen for the night. When I wake up for work, I don't have to do any thinking. It's all on autopilot.

It also helps to pick out what I'm going to wear in advance, cutting down on the amount of time I stand in the closet staring at rack full of clothes, deciding there's nothing to wear. I'm a jeans girl (duh!) so that decision is already made.

I'm also a jewelry junkie, but tend to stick with the same simple pieces every day. I don't feel complete without a watch, necklace, earrings and at least two rings!

When everything is clicking, I'm up by 10:50pm, fed, showered, dressed and out the door by 11:45pm. 

It's a living!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Dense Fog + Butterflies

I love a good soggy, foggy morning sometimes. It's like a blanket against the world. Saturday I did my usual drive over to Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge to do a little light birding and see which little ones were left for the season, and who might be passing through on the way to wintering grounds.

Trees disappearing into the fog
A trio of giants barely visible
I'm sure there's a leaning tower joke here somewhere
This just felt ominous

The dense fog hung around for a couple of hours, which was about 90/10 relaxing and eerie. Once it finally burned off, I spotted a little squad of double-breasted cormorants which were new to me. I get so excited when I see a new bird, and I geek out even more when I can get a good picture! And yes, I keep a list of all the ones I've spotted.

Squad of double-breasted cormorants
Cormorants singing to the sky

Birding prospects were minimal, but butterflies were plentiful! I managed to catch up with a few. For whatever reason, they always seem to land on the gravel road around O'Neal Lake and hang out there. So these beauties aren't dead, they're chilling! Also, I'm terrible at identifying butterflies. I try, but I always feel like it could be one of so many choices. Feel free to tell me what the blue one is! Here are my favorites from Saturday:

And I'm told by the super helpful folks at the Caterpillar Identification page on Facebook that this little guy will someday be Acronicta Oblinita, or the Smeared Dagger Moth, which sounds ghoulish, but for now he's cute!

And finally, because I'm a huge fan of bald cypress trees I took this photo because the water lines are amazing!

And hey! Want to check out some of the other birds I've caught on camera? Just CLICK HERE for pics of some really cool ones!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Feminism, Stripes and some seriously purple Sauconys

It's been a decent week getting back on the path to wellness.

Okay, that kind of sounded like something you'd hear in an ad for Silver Sneakers, but whatever. It's true. I'm trying to think of my recently reintroduced regimen as a bigger picture of wellness. It's not just about buttoning my jeans or burning away that stubborn belly fat. It's about mind, body and spirit.

Writer goals!

So for the the mind and spirit, you've already read all my gushing about getting to hear Gloria Steinem speak. In my zeal, I ran to Barnes & Noble yesterday to pick up her latest book, My Life on the Road. I had to ask for help finding it and was only mildly annoyed that the woman who helped me had no idea who I was talking about. No matter. We found it together. I also ended up with another book that I cannot put down: Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist. I swear I didn't go out looking only for feminist literature, but I opened Gay's book to peruse and landed on a reference to Sweet Valley High. Sold! I love how she tells stories, chooses her words, and speaks right to the things that I also feel but can't always articulate.

New Saucony Guide 9's in Go Fast Grape

And speaking of sneakers, I was on the hunt for some new trainers so I visited my new friends at Fleet Feet Memphis. I had tried on some crazy purple Sauconys a week earlier. I didn't buy them, but for a solid week the color grew on me in my head, so back to the store I went! I have been a Brooks girl for years, but these might be the most comfortable shoes I've ever worn! Here are the specs for someone like me: a moderate over-pronator in need of some stability.

And yes, those are some seriously pasty legs. I know.

And now for some inspiration from the closet:

In love with the yellow cuff on the navy stripes

I bought this shirt a couple of years ago from The Wandering Wardrobe. It's like a food truck for fashion and I couldn't get enough of it! This Mon Ami shirt is so soft and comfortable. I love how the sleeves are extra long and fitted, with the pop of bright yellow at the cuff. Trouble is, it's a little too fitted today, so up on the coat hanger of inspiration it goes! This will be perfect when the weather gets cooler in Memphis. For all my Cleveland friends, that could happen sometime in late November, which gives me plenty of time to put in the work.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Doing the Best We Can With Our Lives

I spent my first legitimate night off in nearly six months (not counting a recent sick day) in the company of a woman I consider one of the most forward-thinking people on the planet: Gloria Steinem.

Gloria Steinem at 75th Anniversary of PPGMR
I admit I haven't always known who she is, her journey, what she represents, and all the ways she has changed the world. Hers was not a household name for me as a young girl, not because my parents expressed contrarian beliefs, but because it just wasn't. I remember asking my mother for a subscription to Ms. Magazine thinking it was simply another alternative to Seventeen or Sassy.

I was well into adulthood before I began educating myself about feminism and what it means to wear that mantle.

Gloria visited Memphis last night to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region and the work the organization has done to provide women and men access to birth control, medical services, education and advocacy.

She talked about fighting to gain and maintain women's reproductive rights and a woman's right to control her own body, hitting all the high points. As a thank-you to PPGMR, she read the introduction to her latest book, My Life on the Road. The intro reveals her own difficult choice as a young woman just starting out on her own:

Knowing that she had broken an engagement at home to seek an unknown fate, he said, "You must promise me two things. First, you will not tell anyone my name. Second, you will do what you want to do with your life." Dear Dr. Sharpe, I believe you, who knew the law was unjust, would not mind if I say this so long after your death: I've done the best I could with my life.

I'd say so.

Such simple yet powerful words that moved me to tears. It's as if Dr. Sharpe was there being honored as well for being a visionary, for imploring a young woman to move forward from that moment into a second chance, giving her an opportunity to change the world and taking no credit for his pivotal role in what would become a life spent in pursuit of my rights and yours.

Dr. Sharpe clearly understood that women sixty years ago (and today) should never have to question whether they have control over their own bodies. He afforded Gloria Steinem and who knows how many others the dignity and power of choice.

Equally as inspiring was this year's James Award recipient.  Rep. Johnnie Turner was a bona fide rabble-rouser in the best possible sense! She brought the crowd to its feet with her gracious thanks and pleas for us to send her some support in Nashville and beyond!

State Rep. Johnnie Turner honored with 2016 James Award

The evening wrapped up with a crowd of eager fans and feminists hoping to shake hands and take a selfie with Gloria.

An amazing moment for Krista meeting Gloria Steinem

*Special shout out to Charles, the Uber driver who whisked Krista and me to the big event, and who could not get enough of the brief lesson in feminism coming from his back seat. Throw in some protesters outside the Hilton Memphis and Charles was loving the excitement!

Special thanks to Krista for such an awesome event!

Inspiring night shared with friends, all doing the best we can with our lives