We're fine (if anyone is worried about the tornado that hit)

A tornado hit downtown but we’re about a mile and a half distant from where most of the damage was concentrated. Our power went out for a bit but we didn’t have the television on and had no idea there was a tornado warning, we were only aware there was a storm. We didn’t know what had happened until we started getting phone calls asking if things were okay.

Marty drove over to see if the studio was all right, and it wasn’t hit either and the streets are clear. The power, however, is out over there and for blocks all around.

There was a lot of damage over in Cabbagetown and East Atlanta. CNN and the Omni Hotel were hit fairly hard and some of the downtown streets are looking pretty trashed out on the news.

At 12:30 am, there was this BOOM…

So last night at around 12:30 am there was this huge but kind of muffled boom that sounded like either a thundercloud had exploded or a building a block away had fallen down.

Beat.

“What was that?” I said.

“What was that?” H.o.p. said.

“I heard it too,” Marty said.

We’re sounding like the momma and poppa and baby bear there, aren’t we.

No one else was doing it so I went to the front room and looked out the window knowing full well I wouldn’t be able to see anything out of it but a few yards of city street.

The boom was fading and in its place now there arose a sound like rushing wind. Bizarre!

Marty had followed. “It’s wind,” he said.

“No, look at the trees,” I said. “They’re still.”

The rushing wind sound continued for a bit. Then it died down and was replaced by the winding whining whir of a motor in bad trouble.

I heard people yelling.

I was still dressed so decided to step outside to see if I could find out what was going on. When I opened the front door I was met with smoke. And fumes. Though it smelled like burning rubber, when you live in an apartment building and there’s smoke you go check it out.

Walked up to the corner and somehow someway a car had whipped through the shrubbery of the building, torn up the grassy turf so it was all over the sidewalk, and landed itself in a telephone pole. The police were already there. Whoever was in the auto they apparently weren’t going to handle and would leave to the medics. I don’t know how messed up the driver was because I wasn’t going to get closer and in the way of things, but whoever had hit the telephone pole was not in a condition to be questioned.

A couple was standing on the corner across from me. Another couple of people were talking to the police, probably from the apartment building. That was it.

A policewoman went around and began banging the back of the car with her club. She’d look in the back seat and then bang the trunk of the car again, around the tail lights, with her club again. Then look in the back seat again. She did this multiple times.

I went back inside. Marty went out to take a look. The ambulance had arrived. He departed as they pulled up the gurney to the side of the car.

Hope whoever it was is all right.

The Neighborhood Gets Way Too Eventful (And Snow)

I woke up Tuesday morning set to spend the day devoted to working on Sue’s photos but checking my email I discovered that I was part of Dreamhost’s $7,500,000 f*** u* in which they accidentally way overcharged all their customers. Only I didn’t know this was a major all-encompassing script snafu yet. All I knew was that my account, which I always pay up for a full year every August, was being erroneously and hugely billed. When I saw the web control panel was down though I figured something was up and immediately checked their status blog to find they’d a post up about the mess. Very big mess. 26 pages of comments on that status blog. And yet more here on the regular Dreamhost blog.

Then we got a parking ticket when we weren’t even in the wrong, and we have a customer receipt to prove it but who has the time to go down and protest the ticket.

I worked on Sue’s photos, occasionally checking in on the Dreamhost status blog to see how things were going there. When my brother called to talk early Tuesday evening I was just about done, and ready for a break. I told him about how Sunday evening, as H.o.p. was preparing for bed, he called me in to see ALL THE BLUE AND RED LIGHTS down on the corner. Monday, we discovered that one man had been shot dead and another just shot in what was perhaps some drug-related incident. Guy died on the street, two bullets to the chest. And I realized, oh, hell, this must sound really bad considering Marty was almost caught in gunfire a month ago.

Monday night, returning from photographing Sue, walking back to the apartment with H.o.p. from the car, he was reticent.

“Is this where the man got shot?” he asked as we passed one apartment building.

“Is this where the man was killed?” he asked as we passed the next.

Midtown has its problems. Today I was looking up info on the shooting and was sidetracked into reading neighborhood association crime reports for the past couple months. Crime has been worse here lately, like I didn’t know it. But it is all over Atlanta, as well, most crimes up about 25%.

It snowed today. Real snow. Not sleet. Nice large flakes fairly hurled down from the skies. H.o.p. and I stopped reading Lucy and Stephen Hawking’s “George’s Secret Key to the Universe” and went outside to play. Within an hour there was enough snow to scrape off the cars lining the street and start building a small snow man on a strip of grass belonging to the condos next door.

When H.o.p. and I first stepped out, we were laughing, approaching the corner, and surprise out from around the corner of the building pops a vagrant who had apparently heard us coming. “They said it would rain but God decided to make snow!” he exclaimed merrily to us, waving his arms which were covered in plastic bags. I was startled because I just don’t like people popping out from around corners. I wasn’t sure I recognized him or not but I figured he probably recognized us. I may be wrong, but I had the feeling he recognized us. I was already smiling and kept the smile on and said something about it was great, wasn’t it, thinking at the same time it’s not so great for a homeless person. I felt wary because we’d been surprised. I also felt there was no reason to be wary. But he’d surprised me, popping around the corner, and so I was wary. I waited for him to hit me up for some money, but he didn’t. And I had no money on me, having just stepped outside to play with H.o.p. I’d only my keys with me. The vagrant went on his way and I was torn between not liking being surprised and wishing I’d had a couple dollars on me to pass to him on a snowy afternoon.

Anyway, H.o.p. and I, after throwing snowballs at each other, and storing a few in plastic bags in the freezer, scraped together enough snow off the cars to make a small snow man with a snow ball in his twig hand.

It Snowed

None of the pedestrians passing seemed very elated by the snow and most seemed to take no notice of us frolicking.

After a couple of hours of play, H.o.p. was soaked, it was getting dark, I made him go inside and then, realizing the snowman was likely to be accidentally stomped on by dog walkers, I moved it to a more secure plot of green by the building across the street, a spot where H.o.p. could admire our work from our window.

Then, while I stood at the window watching the snow in the dark, a pedestrian likely on his way home from MARTA, passing the small foot-high snowman, stopped, looked, looked again. He stood a moment looking at the snowman then took out his cell phone and photographed the paltry little guy. He crouched down and moved in and photographed it twice more. Then went on his way.

“Our snow man made someone happy,” I called to H.o.p.

He grinned big, pleased.

Upstairs

We have living above us the next Coen Brother’s movie plot.

You think I’m joking. I’m not. I’m dead serious about it. And, no matter how much I love the Coen Brothers (“The Big Lebowski’s” dude is my hero) I don’t want the plot of their next movie living above us because DAMN IT the constant ceiling shaking WHAM WHAM WHAMS are really getting to me, and so too is the elephant stomp square dancing in two ton shoes as they cavort between the WHAMS.

This goes on for hours!

HOURS! Not one hour, not two. It will go on all evening and if it starts during the afternoon it goes on all afternoon WITHOUT CEASE. These guys don’t believe in coffee breaks.

As I sit here, it’s 11: 10 and tonight it began at about 8.

It’s getting worse, too. More frenetic and HEAVIER. I’ve started to worry about the plaster of the ceiling falling in, that’s how bad it is. I’ll look up and check to make sure the ceiling lamp’s still secure–the one in here, the one in the living room, the one in H.o.p.’s bedroom, because those wham boom collisions of whatever with the floor are happening everywhere seemingly at once.

Supposedly, two mild-mannered nurses live up there. HAHAHAHAHAH!

Three times tonight I stood and stared and wondered should I tromp up the stairs to their apartment and ask them what the hell they think they’re doing? Have they never lived in an apartment building before?

The Perfume of Serious Welding Has Been Wafting the Air

Oh, this has been going on a while, hasn’t it. On March 14 I blogged about a pipe feeding the radiant heaters that had apparently busted in our kitchen wall, in January, and how it was humidly wrecking havoc on the kitchen with steam pouring through the wall, peeling paint etc. And it couldn’t be fixed until the winter months were over as it would mean turning off the heat to everyone’s apartments for an unknown period of time. Rather than sacrifice everyone else’s heat, I figured we’d put up with the mess and then it would be taken care of in the spring and I’d get a new paint job in the kitchen.

They began working on the pipes yesterday. They’re now packing sand in the hole that was part of the kitchen floor and readying to lay concrete over it. And part of a kitchen wall is torn out. What was involved was replacing a series of busted pipes that feed the radiant heaters. Those pipes not only ran through the wall, but down into the concrete foundation of this old building. We’re the third apartment that they’ve had to excavate. I was hoping for a new kitchen floor (I wanted black and white checkerboard like in the apartment above) but they salvaged the old linoleum just peeling it back and will lay it back down over the new concrete. Which is kind of, well, gosh darn, drat, because I had my heart set on a black and white checkerboard floor after this mess. I don’t know when the wall will be repaired but I understand the kitchen won’t be painted probably for another couple of weeks.

Later. Now the concrete is setting. I don’t know if the landlord is gone or not. No, wait, his truck’s still out there. We’ve got mosquitoes inside from the back door being open all day long. They were trying to figure out how to rebuild a threshold. Or not. I said yes. Please. I don’t want a gap under the door. Looks like we’ll be getting a bump that should be painted neon orange so we don’t trip over it. I guess. I don’t know. I would occasionally make an appearance and ask a question and get vague responses. The landlord, usually a fairly cheery guy, hasn’t granted a smile once throughout the whole procedure.

It was smelly in here today, what with all the welding going on, and all this has been taking place really right next to my desk as my desk is right next to the kitchen and the kitchen is barely six feet long, if that much. So, six feet from my desk all this has been taking place.

The landlord went ahead and cleaned the walls in preparation for painting. They were a mess from those months of steam. I suppose I could have washed them all down myself this summer but I mean they were nasty and paint was peeling in places and I…didn’t. I kept thinking well they’re going to be in here tearing up the kitchen sometime soon, next week, the week after, when (?).

Then a couple of weeks ago the landlord said he believed that with the replacing of the pipes next door he thought it was all fixed and sounded vague on painting over what had happened in the kitchen, so I told Marty it was time to get some paint ourselves and do it and we almost purchased paint on Sunday but couldn’t decide on a color so we just got some flat antique white for me to touch up the walls in the other rooms. Then this week the landlord appeared at the back door. The problem wasn’t fixed. The pipes were tested and water poured everywhere. Right next to our back door. Right where I said I knew the pipe was busted. It was time to tear up the kitchen.

Fortunately they didn’t start work until Thursday. H.o.p. was sick with a bug and throwing up Tuesday and Wednesday. So we went from vomiting child to well child and kitchen being torn out. I had them hang plastic over the doorway (there is no door) because of my computer being right there, and because I was hoping to keep in the kitchen airborne dust and debris of deconstruction.

Later still. The landlord returned. Too late to do the threshold today as they have to level things. It’s too late to glue the floor back down and the concrete’s still setting and they have to level the floor some more it turns out because where the new concrete was laid in it’s uneven and doesn’t match up with the old floor. Besides, when he laid the linoleum back down, the new pipe coming out of it has been installed so it’s situated a couple of inches from where the old pipe was and now the linoleum has superfluous cutouts. The landlord didn’t mention a new floor. This is discontinued linoleum so if he’s planning on just patching it I’m wondering where the patch will come from.

I’m sympathetic. He’s exhausted. He wouldn’t look me in the eye and usually there’s no problem with that. Maybe because he knows I would prefer a new floor to a patched one.

It’s certainly not been chaos around here the past few days but it’s been…unsettled. Despite it all, I was in a great mood yesterday. Today, not so much. Last night would have been a great night to go to the observatory but H.o.p. said he’d prefer to go tonight when he knew it would be busy with people. But there’s cloud cover so no observatory tonight. Too bad. An excursion to the observatory would be welcome right now.

Last week, on our way back from Augusta, the sky was clear and there was no moon and the stars were bright and the milky way shimmering. I had Marty pull off the interstate and we found a place next to a cow pasture where we stopped the car, got out, and stood for a long time taking in the sky, cows on the other side of the fence occasionally making hulking cow sounds.

Rain Broke the Drought for an Evening

Rain Broke the Drought for an Evening
Rain Broke the Drought for an Evening
Enlargement

It’s harsh to admit it, but beauty seems sometimes in short supply on the corner of our block. We had rain yesterday, a brief break from a long drought, and today this purple flower had sprouted up in one of our pots in the back. We brought along with us three large red Japanese maples when we moved here, which are also out back, which have suffered from the lack of sun out there. Hoping larger pots might help, we recently transplanted them. I believed last summer they were possibly lost, but some leaves appeared this year on branches I’d believed were dead.

“What did her friend think of me? Why did she make that face at me?”

"What did her friend think of me?  Why did she make that face at me?"
The Gargoyle Guards the Door on His Perch, 2007

H.o.p.’s questions on someone visiting the building, who made a face at him and sighed, it seems, with some contempt when she was passing and he was playing the gargoyle. I hadn’t noticed it but H.o.p. did and asked me about it several times. What I had noticed was that though it is our apartment building, and she was a visitor waiting outside for her friend, she looked at me with such an expression of displeasure, on her approach, seeming to wish me away, that I had H.o.p. follow me down the corner around the building to wait until she’d left. I was wondering if it was my imagination but there was some peculiar enough vibe that it walked me off.

At first he simply said, “What did that woman think of me?” I didn’t understand his concern but realized after a bit he was serious and asked him what was making him wonder. And he mimicked for me her action and how she had puffed out her breath contemptuously at him and asked why she’d done it.

I told him that perhaps she was tired. Perhaps she was.

The woman in the pic is not the woman who made the face.

The Odd Note

Seriously, the odd note. I’m sitting here yesterday morning working on photos and there was a peculiar wispy beep sound from the kitchen. We should have no beep sounds coming from the kitchen, but there it was.

And then tonight I wake up and come in and sit down and after about five minutes from behind me there was a brief and clear pipe kind of whistle in G. It was so clear and resonant that I was able to check out on the piano what the note was, which is how I know it was G. If it was coming from he radiator, it seems it would sound like it was coming from the radiator. Instead it just sounded like it was coming out of the empty air.

We live in a flatulent old place.

In which I beg for ideas on how to maximize our kitchen counter room

Witness the kitchen of our apartment. Most of the time, on blogs, people show pics of really cool looking kitchens which, if not bodaciously spacious, are aesthetically pleasing. They show pics of their new tiled floors or new ceramic tiled backsplashes. Not many people put up pics of ugly kitchens which don’t have a title of “We are remodeling!” We aren’t remodeling. We live in an apartment. Yes, I know some people remodel their apartment. Not us. Our cash must go elsewhere and besides we never know when the building might be sold out from under us, though no one wanted it the last time the landlord’s brothers attempted to sell it. His brothers do the real estate buy and sell end. He acts as handyman and manager, keeping things rented and looked after and fixing what needs to be fixed imperatively.

Our kitchen, as you can see, is decidedly Ungreen, except for the fact most of it is second hand and has been in use a very long time. To make myself feel better, I count that.
Continue reading In which I beg for ideas on how to maximize our kitchen counter room