Monday, March 26, 2007

Why we rode the bus to the P.O.

We didn't have to give up a perfect parking space, across the street from our building.

By taking the #17, we could first stop to eat, then continue to the P.O.

Disembarking down at SW 3rd and Pine, we crossed with the light twice and brunched at the Bijou Cafe, our first-found favorite eatery in Portland.

Satiated by buttermilk pancakes and the trimmings (all organic ingredients), we crossed with the light again and made our way to the #17 stop over on SW 4th.

Soon enough we got on board for a short ride to the post office at NW 7th and Hoyt.

Mama took one look at the long line we'd just joined, looked up at me and asked, "Is it always like this?" "Sometimes even longer," I replied.

Shipping our little package to Aunt Baker down in Puckett, Mississippi, all signed and sealed, we exited the post office to wait for Leland who had agreed to be our ride for the last leg of our journey.

Naturally I had my camera, so I got a couple of shots of Mama, the railroad station, a tree (I cannot resist foliage and/or blossoms), and Leland's arrival. I am ashamed that I didn't take any photos of the bus, Mama on the bus, the Bijou, the bus stop on 4th, but there's always next time. You've not escaped, rest assured.

Leland happily parked his good-looking Honda catty-cornered across from our building, close enough that if the promised rain appeared later on he wouldn't get too wet.

I didn't have to look around on a busy Saturday once we got back home. Parking space? Parking space? As in, Bueller? Bueller?

And that's why we rode the bus to the P.O.

The wind zipped in and Mama zipped up.

There's my baby, our knight in shining Honda.

Duncan, the Dapper Dachshund

While Leland visited with us on Saturday, he picked up the little green construction hat that Christina had given to Mama; it's one of those things you squeeze to strengthen your grip. All of a sudden Leland stopped squeezing it and set it onto Duncan's head, then looked up at me to see if I had noticed. Oh, that little dog looked darling sitting there in Mama's recliner beside Leland!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A Jewel Box Disguised as a Shop Window

I'm so happy with how this shot turned out! I took it a few weeks ago, on a Monday when I met Casey for a book reading at Powells on Hawthorne. Clogs-N-More Kids sits near Cha Cha Cha, a tasty and inexpensive Mexican cafe where we sat outside and ate supper.

During the day, the window of this shop-local-think-global establishment looks like any other shop window, clear glass filled with merchandise displays. When we left Powells and walked to Casey's SUV, the transformation wrought by interior lighting and exterior nighttime instantly grabbed my attention.

I believe you'll see why when you click on the photo to enlarge it.

Friday, March 16, 2007

I wore my SPQ Wannabe Wannabe tiara at work today ... see.

Actually, this photo was taken after work, in our apartment. Mama looked some kind of cute with the camera hanging around her neck, her tiny hands trying to stretch to hold it and find the button to push to take the shot. And she didn't cut my head off one single time, I'm proud to report.

The sharp-eyed among you will notice that my tiara appears attached to a black headband. That's right, it is wired to it with sparkly silver pipe cleaners. In 2004 when I learned on a Wednesday that I could be Donna's Wannabe Wannabe on Saturday, she and I went to the SPQ house to meet Jill's husband Kyle, whom Jill rightfully calls The Cutest Boy in the World. I was supposed to find a costume and accessories. That's what I did, not the least bit worried about a tiara minus its head-grabbing teeth. For years at Forest Hill High School, I'd been successfully attaching different spirit-filled signs and other things to headbands, during football season mostly.

As for the shamrock headband, it was merely green felt, so I spread iridescent glitter all over the shamrocks and attached those chartreuse-tinted feather/maribou thingeys to each shamrock stem. I've of the more-is-so-much-better school.

Wearing my tiara and headband today filled me with good-time memories of marching the parade route with thousands of flamboyant folks having the time of their lives. Thanks for letting me share them with you.

And tomorrow when it's really St. Patrick's Day, I'll be sporting the two of them again. I just might hop up outta my chair and march around the apartment, too, as well as when we venture outside to walk Duncan, the darling dachshund.

P. S. I forgot yesterday to mention how much good Sweet Potato Queens from all over have done for Katrina victims, raising more than $50,000 for them, as well as $15,000 for Christmas toys for kids on the Gulf coast.

Another P. S. If any of you are animal lovers, you're gonna want to know about this animal shelter, so close to SPQ Pippa's heart. Here's what the Jackson Free Press' Chick Issue had to say about Pippa's Animal Rescue Fund (ARF) and here's the Web address for it,

Pippa Jackson
Elizabeth “Pippa” Jackson, a Sweet Potato Queen, has a heart for saving the lives of innocent pups. In 2005, after rescuing dogs for years on her own budget, the animal lover noticed that most of the shelters she called were already full. “If you’re a ‘no kill’ shelter, room is only available when an animal is adopted out,” Jackson says.

Out of this need for more shelters grew the opportunity for Jackson to open the Animal Rescue Fund. ARF is located on Flag Chapel Road, in a space leased from Community Animal Rescue Adoption Inc. Jackson cleaned and set up the shelter on her own, and has only one full-time employee. Their ultimate goal is to find a larger space—preferably in Rankin County, because the county lacks shelters.

ARF has 40 dogs ready for adoption, but there are other ways to help out. Jackson says the biggest need is volunteers to help with feeding and to clean cages, and to give the dogs a little love and attention. They can use cleaning supplies, especially bleach (ARF uses up to four gallons a day), Animal Health Products or PetSmart gift cards, dog pens and even old socks. “You can ball up an old sock, tuck it into a larger one and tie a knot in it—instant dog toy,” Jackson says.

ARF’s Web site has success stories like the one about Magic, a black lab who went from being thrown from a car on County Line Road to becoming a little girl’s best friend and biggest fan. Who knows? You might just find your new best friend in the process … diamonds are overrated, anyway.
—Andi Agnew:

What's pink and green, sparkly and beautiful to behold? Clue No. 1, it's natural.

It's lovely spring time in Portland, that's what's naturally pink and green here, from the azaleas to the cherry blossoms to the mosses to this spectacular chartreuse and darker green plant to the pink gerber daisies at Trader Vic's to a lucious green succulent sporting mercury-like drops of water. Keep looking and reading, though to solve the riddle for real.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Clue #2 It's wo-man-made ... Jill Conner Browne, the Boss Sweet Potato Queen Herownself & Various Sweet Potato Queens, Wannabes & Queens from all over

That's Jill in the great big sparkly crown, before she got aboard the SPQ float--see it in the background, all pink and green? As you can see, there's a whole lotta foam rubber added to the Sweet Potato Queens' costumes--ain't they grand? I think so.

For those seeing/hearing about the Sweet Potato Queen phenomenon for the first time, suffice it to say that for 25 years, come this St. Patrick's Day, Jackson, Mississippi, has been home to Mal's St. Paddy's Parade. The Sweet Potato Queens started their participation then, too. Jill and her friends had always wanted to be in a parade, so why not join right in?

Since then, Jill's written books galore (The Sweet Potato Queens' Book of Love, 2001, God Save the Sweet Potato Queens, 2003 , The Sweet Potato Queens' Big-Ass Cookbook (And Financial Planner), 2003, Sweet Potato Queens' Field Guide to Men, 2004, Sweet Potato Queens' Wedding Planner/Divorce Guide, 2005, and The Sweet Potato Queens' First Big-Ass Novel, 2007. Heartfelt, hilarious and racy, filled with stories and advice on men, love, money, food, friends, and most of all finding your own true self and making the best of it 'cause you're a power-filled woman, these books spread Jill's message around the world.

Year by year, more and more women came to Jackson for St. Patrick's, dressed up and having a grand time, parading around and loving every minute of it. Right now, there's over 5000 chapters of Sweet Potato Queens, worldwide. SPQ activities start on Thursday and continue through Sunday brunch. You can find out all about it at, plus you can find out how to start your very own local chapter, of which you could become boss queen!

Best of all, I think, it's a chance to get together with other women and enjoy yourself, laughing, dancing, oohing and ahhing at everybody's costumes. They're wildly gaudy, the more embellishments, the better. Same with the parade floats. This is a big deal, y'all, complete with street closures. With estimates of 50,000 onlookers, the Sweet Potato Queens and the official Wannabes lead off the parade at noon. After the parade, there's a great big party for the 21-year-and-older crowd, always with music from the Bluz Boys plus other local bands. It's big, exciting fun.

And it's fun for a good cause. The parade has raised over $330,000 for the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children in Jackson. There's also a pet parade that benefits the Mississippi Animal Rescue League.

That's Randall Wallace out in front of the SPQ, after they'd decided to de-float and walk for a while. You'll know Wallace from his movies, "Braveheart," "We Were Soldiers," "Man in the Iron Mask," "Pearl Harbor." This was his first parade in jackson.

Jill and all of the Sweet Potato Queens entertain at the Sweet Potato Queens Ball, on Friday night. The band that plays and plays so that everyone can dance until they drop is These Days with Jewel Bass. What a grand group of professional, talented, so-glad-they-are-there-for-Jacksonians musicians that is. Wow. Other pictures are mixed in here, for your enjoyment.

There's Malcom White, the guy who started the parade, marching along with the SPQ on Capitol Street. Jackson would not be the same if Malcolm had not come back to town. All you'll have to do is Google Malcom White to learn the many reasons why, starting with Hal and Mal's Restaurant & Brewery.

Kilt Boy and Spud Stud, aka Randall "Bravehart" Wallace, in his first year in the parade.

Dancing Wannabes entertain the crowd. Just so you know, Wannabes always march in the parade, Sweet Potato Queens ride on the float, and that makes it all right with the world.

Of course, the SPQ may get off the float if they so desire. This particular year, they did just that. Here's Queen George at the forefront of a couple of Wannabes, on Capitol Street, just about in front of the Governor's Mansion.

There's JPF editor Donna Ladd, waving at the crowd in front of the Governor's Mansion.

This is after the parade--can you believe how great Boss Queen Jill still looks? So does Charly, who serves as ramrod for the entire shebang, plus keeping Hal and Mal's the stellar entity that it is, day and night.

It's me, as Sweet Potato Queen Wannabe Wannabe, all pink, green and sparkly, a natural woman!

Yep, there I stand, the answer to the pink and green riddle! This was my second year as Jackson Free Press editor Donna Ladd's Wannabe Wannabe. That means I was wearing (my best guess) a least a third generation sequin-covered-foam-rubber-enhanced outfit and the rest of the regalia--red wig, cat's eye shades with rhinestones, long pink gloves, a lovely pink satin cape, fishnet hose and a sparkly tiara. I'm standing here, after the parade in front of Hal and Mal's, with a bunch of ladies I'd met on Thursday night, come down from Missouri just to watch the parade from the sidewalk! They told me that had a blast.

You'll be certain to notice how much the foam rubber enhancements to the bust and the boo-tay of each Sweet Potato Queen has increased over the years. Perhaps if I were a Sweet Potato Queen speaking with the big bad wolf, I'd say, "All the better to shake, shake, shake it with!" See. Big ol' fun! Y'all in Jackson, go on out to the parade. Catch some beads and envision me among the Wannabes trailing the new float, reported by the Boss Queen Herself to be enhanced with over 500 pounds of glitter! Whew! What I wouldn't give to see that! And y'all!