"…and not for five minutes will I be distracted from the wonder…"

Tips from J: Pruning

Uncategorized — d-ashes on June 26, 2003 at 9:39 am

As part of our ‘Things You Need to Know But Were Afraid To Ask’ Series, here
are some handy gardening tips from J.


OK, so maybe you’ve just bought your first house and you’re gazing out the
window surveying the boundaries of your glorious suburban fiefdom when it suddenly
hits you (mostly because you can no longer actually SEE out of the window anymore):
something has to be done about the shrubs! It’s a daunting task for the uninitiated,
not to mention a leading contributor to the heinous crime of “crepe murder.”
(More on this despicable hanging offense later) Basically, pruning bushes and
small trees can be accomplished in one of several ways based on what it is you
are trying to do, ie: what is the goal of pruning? Is it to reduce the size,
stimulate new growth, remove old flowers/branches/seed heads or create bizarre
Edward Scissorhands-inspired topiary shapes? Keeping your goal in mind will
help you select a pruning method. Also, a little knowledge about your victim,
er, specimen, will help you immensely. Many houses, especially older ones,
were planted decades ago with shrubs far too large for the space. (Let this
be a lesson when you are planting new things…when the tag says ?grows to ten
feet?, it ain?t blowin? smoke up your ass). Azaleas are a notorious example,
with many species growing to be over 8 feet high, too often planted within a
couple feet of the front porch. Privet and bamboo are two other plants that
are often planted as a hedge or screen by impatient gardeners because of their
rapid growth, only to ultimately torment them with their (you guessed it) RAPID
GROWTH. Even if, like me, you choose to cultivate the deceptively carefree-looking
?the vines are eating the house? look, and unless you happen to have an Astroturf
lawn and plastic hedges like the Brady?s, you?re gonna have to whack that stuff
down from time to time. So let’s start with the basics and work our way up
and out, just like you should when pruning: tools, timing, and technique.

TOOLS: You simply cannot do a good job of this using the
rusty pruners left by the previous owners in the garage behind the can of Bimini
Beige latex paint from 1979. Go to the hardware store and invest in a nice
pair of bypass hand pruners for branches 1/2 inch diameter or less (Felco is
the best, expensive and totally worth it, they can be resharpened and last forever)
a pair of “loppers” for branches 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter, and a
pruning saw for anything bigger than that. Now I know Dave is dying to chime
in here and urge you on to the destructive power of the chainsaw, but I’m not
going to let it happen. Baby steps, baby steps… You will notice that nowhere
in this paragraph are the words “electric hedge trimmer.”
This is not an oversight.

TIMING: How many times have I cringed to see smiling, well-intentioned
yard monkeys lopping the ends off their azalea bushes on a lovely early Spring
morning (usually with aforementioned contraband electric hedge trimmers into
aforementioned bizarre Edward Scissorhands cube shapes)? Bad move, on many
levels aesthetic and otherwise, but primarily from a timing standpoint. Spring-flowering
shrubs, and this includes azaleas, bigleaf hydrangeas, forsythia, spiraea, quince
and others, should only be pruned IMMEDIATELY AFTER they bloom. If you hack
on them in late summer, fall or winter you will remove flower buds and reduce
flowering. Try not to prune except to do light grooming in the late summer
or fall, as this encourages new growth that might not have time to harden up
enough to withstand the cold of winter. Basically the safest thing to do if
you don?t know what you?ve got is to prune in the spring after everything has
bloomed. There are a few exceptions of plants that do best when cut back almost
to the ground because they bloom on new growth, but I?m not going to throw that
monkey wrench into your fragile machine works at this juncture. Deciduous trees
are best pruned in late winter AFTER they have lost all their old leaves and
before they get the new ones. If you are ?lucky? enough (as I actually consider
myself) to have a fence/house/pergola full of wisteria,
prune that sucka? back HARD after it puts on its glorious heady show in spring,
and then as needed to keep the neighborhood association from leaving nasty notes
and flaming bags of dog poop on your doorstep, knowing that fall and winter
pruning will remove buds but may be necessary to check rampant growth. Believe
me, you could cut that devil weed off at the ground, drill a hole in the stump
and pour gasoline in there and it would live to laugh in your face for the next
hundred years.

TECHNIQUE: (see pictures)

  • always cut upward-facing branches at a 45 degree angle to help shed water
    and prevent rot
  • always cut within 1/4 inch of an OUTWARD facing bud/branch when shaping
    and thinning at branch ends (that bud is where the new branch will form, so
    make sure it’s facing out and not into the shrub)
  • do NOT paint that “cut sealer” crap on your cuts….it’s bad juju buddy
    and can actually promote rot, so skip it
  • to thin a shrub with too many internal branches, cut 1/3 of them back to
    the ground or trunk (remember your angled cuts here especially to prevent
    trunk rot/disease) DON’T just shear them all off on one plane, you will make
    it worse by encouraging more growth at the tips, which cuts off more light
    to the interior of the plant
  • when cutting branches back to a main stem or the
    trunk, make sure you don’t cut into the “branch collar”–that’s the area where
    the branch joins the trunk, usually there is a little bulge there.
  • work from the inside out and the bottom up
  • if for some reason you are sick enough to want to make bushes look like
    balls, cubes, or cones, first seek therapy, then at least make sure that whatever
    bizarre shape you choose does not have the top branches overhanging the lower
    branches. You will kill the lower branches, if they don’t commit suicide
    first from the humiliation of being forced to look like something other than
    a plant.

…and now, a public service announcement about “crepe murder”:

NEVER, EVER EVER mutilate crepe myrtles in winter by hacking them back to look like
mangled amputees; this is NOT good for the trees (common
fallacy), and actually damages them not only aesthetically (nothing like those
freakish gnarled fists sprouting tiny whiplike branches too weak to hold their
heads up), but also healthwise by encouraging weak growth and sucker formation
at the base of the trunk. DON’T do it my friends…I’ll track your ass down
and whip it good with a hickory switch. (Duly noted that this may not be an
actual deterrent to all of you ;) )

Finally, if you’ve inherited a bloody mess of overgrown, oversized shrubs engulfing
the house, it’s OK to just pull them out and start over!! Old lady Smith’s
bad taste and judgment needn’t haunt you for the duration of home ownership.
I can tell you from personal experience that securing a chain around the base
of a shrubbus non gratis, hooking it up to the 4X4 and yanking
the sucker out by the roots can be a therapeutic (if slightly redneckish) act
of affirmation…it seems to enhance the experience if you do it wearing Daisy
Duke cutoffs, a straw cowboy hat and the longneck beer of your choice. Right
now I’m living on a planet called Texas which, based on my semiscientific calculations involving the ambient temperature, appears
to have a point in its orbit where it is approximately half a mile from the
freakin’ sun. Those of you lucky enough to live in the gardener’s paradise
that is Mississippi count your blessings!! Have fun and don’t forget to smell
the roses, which should be pruned after blooming for once-a-year bloomers and
in late winter for all-season bloomers.

Summer Fun, Part 1

Uncategorized — d-ashes on June 23, 2003 at 9:05 am

Howdy folks. Been a while since I stopped in. The summer is in full swing and there are all sorts of ways to spend one’s time.

Friday night saw a lot of my college friends descend on Jackson for a last night of us all together at the Cherokee Drive-In before they move to their new location. It felt like 1996 all over again, as Robert, Ruggles, Otis, Huard, Dan, Chuck, Steve, Neely, Herwig, plus more I can’t remember now took over the joint, as was our custom back in the undergraduate days. A flurry of pool and fussball playing ensued. I ended up pulling the bar trifecta for the evening, stopping in at Martin’s (where we saw a nice little brawl that Robert, Otis, and Huard got to break up, much to their delight) and finishing off Saturday morning throwing darts with Herwig at Joker’s. I ended up putting head to pillow around 5 am, and was up for work at 9.

Work was not the easiest thing after so little sleep. Besides the Harry Potter release (and a lot of beautiful women coming in to buy the newest installment) the day was damn slow. After about seven and a half hours of nothing but fielding Harry Potter inquiries (we ran out around 1 pm), Kyle, Matt and I figured out a huge step in automatically synchronizing the in-store and web-site inventories. This has been a major concern in integrating our e-commerce system into the bookstore site, and figuring the problem out will get our e-commerce development back on track.

The blueberries have made a banner crop this year out at the farm. Graham and I picked over a gallon yesterday after playing a round of golf with Andy out at Wolf Hollow. I brought some up to work today to give Aven in return for inviting Graham and I to his Summer Solstice bash on Saturday night. Aven cooked red beans and rice, Kay made blackberry cheesecake with some of Bucky’s fresh picked wild blackberries, and Jamie topped it all off with some homegrown cucumbers that had spent the day in an apple cider vinegar/vidalia onion marinade. We also watched the Lewis/Klitschko bout on HBO, definitely one of the best boxing matches I’ve ever seen, though the super close-ups of the massive cut over Klitschko’s eye were hard to watch (Brunson had to leave the room a couple of times during the fight). The evening was a nice lazy way to cap off a long day and somehow I managed to stay awake for the whole thing on 3 hours of sleep.

So that’s what is going on in Dave-land. I’m off to visit Valley, Aiyana and the rest Annapolis posse in Maryland on Thursday, so hopefully my next post will be filled with tales of boiled crabs and a trip to Harper’s Ferry for some camping.

Tips from Aiyana: Laundry

Uncategorized — d-ashes on June 16, 2003 at 2:16 pm

My friend Aiyana was telling me that if she was ever going to create a TV show she’d make a show called ‘Things You Need to Know but Were Afraid to Ask.’ The premise was that there are all sorts of normal everyday things that many people somehow miss learning in this topsy-turvy modern world but don’t want to sound like idiots admitting that they don’t know them. So I suggested that she use ashes&water as her jumping off point until all the networks start breaking down her door. So without further ado, Tips from Aiyana:

Laundry: The Myth Debunked

I thought I would start this “Advice” column using Dave’s Ashes and Water to start with. My grandma Barb always used ashes to clean up her furniture on which my grandfather inevitably left water rings. Dave’s anecdote made me think of all the things I thought were useless that she taught me about doing laundry and removing stains from all manner of items.

To begin with, many people don’t know how to do laundry, men especially. Here are the MAJOR keys to doing laundry. If you don’t understand this, you should not be washing clothes.

  1. Check the tags.
    1. If it says dry clean only, take it to the cleaners.
    2. If it says pre-shrunk cotton, don’t believe it unless you have already dried it and it hasn’t shrunk.
    3. If it says do not dry, line-dry it or hang it up in your shower.
    4. Always follow the temperature guidelines on the tag.
  2. Bright colors like red should be washed with like colors at least the first two or three times. The first time you wash a bright color, wash it on the hottest water setting you can (see rule #1) and add ½ Cup of Epson Salt to the load of wash. This will help to set the dye.
  3. MEN: When it comes to women’s bras or panties, don’t touch them. Don’t put them in the washer and don’t put them in the dryer. Let her do it.
  4. Empty the pockets of anything that you put in a washer/dryer.
  5. Unless you are using bleach (see below for Bleach Rules) always use the setting: COLD/COLD on your washer. This will help to eliminate shrinkage in clothing.
  6. Always start the water, and add the detergent before adding your laundry. This helps to get even distribution of detergent in the washing machine.

Once you make it past the basics, you are ready to move on to the actual laundering of clothing. To begin with, it you have a full load of a single color (like all you wear is green) then put all of those colors together.

  1. Separate your clothes. There are many theories for the best way to separate clothes, but here is what I recommend:
    1. White Clothes: This includes socks, underwear, t-shirts and other white clothing. If you are not planning on using bleach, you can also include other light colored clothing such as khakis and pastels. Use a capful or scoopful of detergent and ¼ C of Borax.
    2. Jeans & Other dark Utility clothing: This includes Jeans, dark shirts (not dress shirts) dark socks, underwear, et. al. Never use bleach unless you want that lovely “acid wash” look of 1986 to come back and ruin your current social life.. If you have been out mowing lawns or changing the oil in your car, use extra detergent and HOT/COLD setting.
    3. Dark Nice Clothes: I define this as anything I wear to work that doesn’t have to be dry-cleaned.
    4. Red, Purple, Blue, Green: self explanatory. Again, use ½ C Epson Salts to help prevent dye bleeding.
    5. Towels: I wash these separately so that I dry them separately which helps cut down on fuzzy clothing from towel lint.
  2. Don’t put liquid fabric softener in with synthetic fabrics (such as nylon or rayon) use dryer sheets instead.
  3. Don’t overload the washing machine. If you have to shove things in, there’s too much in there.
  4. Always empty the lint trap in the dryer.

You should probably stay away from bleach. It will destroy everything it touches. If you still want to use it, make sure that everything in the washing machine is white, or it will be. In the washer there is a little opening that says “bleach” pour the bleach in the spot indicated bleach and the washer will do the rest. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

From the useless information that Aiyana has stored in her head database, here is a list of possible treatments for stain removal.

  • Ball Point Pens and lipstick:
    Note that Blue inks are much harder to remove that black inks, as they use more dye pigments to attain the blue tone. Lipstick is an oil based pigment, do not rub it in. You can try all of these methods. If one doesn’t work, move on to the next one. Always use a white cloth when trying to treat a stain, you don’t want any other dyes to find their way onto the stain you are trying to remove. Also, if all of the lipstick doesn’t come out and you get in trouble for having Strawberry Red instead of Pink Rose, don’t blame me!
    1. Using a cloth (again, preferably white), dab the stain with rubbing alcohol. Gently rub dishwashing detergent onto the stain with your finger. For persistent stains, apply a stain remover stick to the stain and leave it on for a few minutes. Wash the shirt (only if it’s machine washable, of course).
    2. Blot off as much of the lipstick as you can with water. Dab the stain with a little bit of ammonia (fabric permitting). Rinse and wash in soapy water.
    3. Spray hair spray onto the stain. Let it sit on the stain for a few minutes. Gently wipe off the spray with a white cloth. Rinse the shirt in warm water or wash accordingly.
  • Blood:
    Rub shampoo onto the spot. Rinse and rub until stain is gone. This should be done as soon as possible, as the blood dries it is harder to remove. This also works on ring-around-the collar and other body stains. Shampoo is designed to break down human enzymes, so it can be used for all kinds of stain removing.
  • Armpit stains:
    This is kind of tricky because depending upon your own personal pH, you may have already ruined your clothes as it can affect the chemical make-up of dyes. But, before you wash them (especially white t-shirts) is to soak the article in 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts warm water. Or you can make up a spray bottle of the mixture and spray it on the offended area.
  • Wine Stains:
    Red wine can be tricky. The best thing you can do is to rinse it immediately with cold water and apply a pre-stain treater to it. If you spill it on carpet, try pouring some salt on it, which will absorb most of it. I have also heard that you can pour white wine on it and then blot it up; I have never tried this.

Times Memorius

Uncategorized — d-ashes on June 12, 2003 at 4:13 pm

Yesterday was an incredible day all the way around. Tom Franklin, author of
has just released his new (and first) novel, Hell
at the Breech
. We had a signing and reading at the store and afterwards
went out to Johnny’s for some barbeque and craziness.

The reading went incredibly well. The bookstore readings have been in limbo
since MQ closed, and after trying to have the readings in the bar, and finding
the energy in a vacated bar just wasn’t right, we set up shop in the 2nd floor
of the old MQ spot. Thomas, Bill, Amy and Maggie got the place looking great
Johnny sprung for beer, water, and Cokes so we would have refreshments. The
reading (hear audio and see pictures from it here)
could not have gone better. Tom told some great stories about growing up in
Alabama and read from his new book. The crowd was big and everyone had a fine
time. Finally able to record the readings on my own laptop, I got the highest
quality audio I ever have recorded from a reading, which pleased the audiophile
in me to no end.

After the reading we all gathered out at Johnny’s pad for some fun.The barbeque
was incredible and libations flowed freely. 10:30 pm found us gathered around
the fire pit with all of Johnny’s African drums that he recently purchased at
JazzFest from a band that could not take them back to Africa with them. With
heat lightning flashing around us we got a good vibe and a raucous drum circle
ensued. Jamie from Square Books had come down for the event, and he, Johnny,
Bronson, Bobby, Matt L., Matt M., Amy, and myself had a fine time groovin’.
Beth Ann got in to the mix with the harmonica, and Melissa gave the cowbell
a mighty whackin’ as well. This was the first time I’d seen Johnny drum and
it was quite a sight to behold. You couldn’t find a rhythm with him and he had
more stamina than anyone else out there. The circle ended with only Johnny left,
going nuts and loving it.

I originally was going to drop my sleeping bag on the ground to crash when
the party was over, but Johnny offered me the barn as no one was staying there.
Turned out to be a good thing, as I awoke to the sound of torrential rain on
the tin roof. Had I slept outside I would have been washed away for sure. Instead
I got to the listen to the rain drum on the roof, a singular sound that seemed
impossible to come from the individual rhythms of thousands upon thousands of
rain drops. It reminded me of the rifle volley’s I’ve heard at Civil War reenactments,
where the rifles fire almost simultaneously and you hear it as one continual
tone rather than as its individuals pieces. The horse’s stalls are below the
barn’s bedroom, and they were whinnying for breakfast as I awoke to the rain.
There are few better ways to start your day (not to mention awaking hangover-less
because you remembered to have 2 glasses of water before bed).

The next day I came to find that the Yankees had been no-hit by the Astros
(I hate the Yankees, damn ’em), the Nets had pulled off a win against the Spurs,
and both David Brinkley and Gregory Peck had died. I would like to think that
even with the knowledge of those events still unrealized, our lightning accompanied,
booze and barbeque fueled drum fun, plus a great reading by a great author allowed
us to celebrate milestones in our own weird little way. There was a lot of energy
everywhere last night and I’m glad my friends and I were in a place to play
our own little part in it.

PS – I just wanted to give a short thank you to Gregory
and David Brinkley, both of whom have died in the last 24 hours. Both
of these gentlemen worked in industries (film and news) that are overrun with
egos, and a fair amount of bullshit, yet they both did their work with exceptional
grace and quiet dignity. Two of Mr. Peck’s films, Roman
(the film that first made me fall in love with Audrey Hepburn) and
To Kill a Mockingbird
are two of my favorites and widely considered two of the best movies ever made.
I always found David Brinkley’s reporting to the point and devoid of spin, which
is hard to find these days. He cared about news and about reporting it fairly.
May they both be blessed wherever they are now.

526 Natchez Avenue

Uncategorized — d-ashes on June 11, 2003 at 12:51 pm

Photo Gallery: 526
Natchez Avenue

Last month I completed my move from Jackson to Brookhaven, where I spent most
of my formative years. You will undoubtedly read many ruminations on returning
to my ‘hometown’ (though born in Jackson, 14 years in Brookhaven makes it most
definitely ‘home’), but lets start with the house I’m moving into on 526 Natchez
Avenue. My parents bought this house last year for reasons I’m not entirely
sure of, save that it’s adjacent to their house and increases the property value
one way or another. We haven’t decided what will become of the house in the
long run, but for now they’ve been nice enough to let me live there. It’s not
the nicest house, but it’s got it’s own quirky character to it. From what I’ve
gathered, it was at one time a store, which makes sense because the newer additions
are all domestically necessary (kitchen, bathroom). Either way, it’s my own
little haven away from the rest of the world, which I’ve been taking advantage
of a lot since I’m only working part time at the bookstore right now. Mom and
Dad quickly tired of the America’s
explosions and weird synthesizer noises emanating from their study
(where my computer was), so the house will have an internet connection come
Tuesday. It will have no TV, though, so hopefully I can get some work done over
there (there’s a sketch of a novel in the works and I have tons of photos to
go through and archive, not too mention some web sites to build and maintain
to fund this adventure).

I’ve finally gotten most of my stuff into 526 Natchez, but as the pictures
can attest to I haven’t gotten very far in getting it arranged to a comfortable
liking. One question I can’t seem to answer is what to do with the big
. It’s too big to be a sitting room and the ceilings a little too short
to make it a badminton court. Anybody got any suggestions?
For now Beck (my parent’s dog) and I just play soccer in it. My next big project
is to hang a picture gallery in the den/living room and to get the study arranged,
though I still haven’t figured out how to get enough desk space for my desktop
computer, keyboard, laptop computer, and my typewriter.

The rest of the house is fairly normal. There’s cheesy wood paneling on all
the walls, but I don’t mind it because a) it isn’t old ratty wallpaper and b)
when the sun’s beating down and the curtains are all pulled everything is dark
and murky, which is just how I like it in the middle of a hot summer day. Probably
the most work is required in the bathroom, which has a nice old claw-foot tub
in it, but no shower, which I need because rarely do I have the 30 minutes it
takes to draw and take a bath.

As soon as the house begins looking a bit cooler and I’ve got the eating/working
table in the den pictures of the first poker night will be posted (now taking
reservations for 3 seats if you live in the Lincoln
County area).

PS – I’m listening to Pedro the Lion’s Control
as I’m typing this. Hell of an album:, HUGE, deep guitar sounds, good lyrics
and a somber mood that somehow stays light enough for carefree listening.

Play Ball (or how I learned to love Filibusters)

Uncategorized — d-ashes on June 6, 2003 at 12:19 pm

Yesterday evening Aven and Kay called and invited me to a Jackson Senators
game. For those of you not in the Jackson area, the Senators are our local independent
baseball team (we have managed, in classic Jackson style, to under-support and
therefore run off a Triple-A Mets team and a Double-A Astros team).

We lost the game decidedly (6-1 I think, but it was never close enough to keep
up with) and I was able to see some of Aven’s complaints with independent league
baseball (Aven enjoys yelling to players ‘This is why you aren’t in the big
leagues!’ whenever they flub a play). Most of the guys were not very big and
power hitting was nonexistent, but that at least makes for the old-timey style
of baseball with a lot of base hits and a lot of base running.

Two high points of the game, neither of which had anything to do with the game:

  1. Aven and I were sitting at the top of the stadium so he could smoke a cigar
    without drawing the ire of his neighbors and a guy from MS Outdoors threw
    a promotional squishy baseball (think stress ball) all the way up to me and
    I caught it. Based on some of the fielding I saw that probably qualified me
    and the guy who through the ball to run down, slap on a jersey and deliver
    the Senators to sure victory.
  2. The Pickle contest:
    As small local baseball teams are want to do, there were contests pitting
    small children against each other for various prizes. My favorite was sponsored
    by the ‘official pickle’ of the Jackson Senators, Peter
    Piper’s Pickles
    . Two girls around 10 or 11 years old were brought on top
    of the home team dug out and asked to say the tongue twister ‘Peter Piper
    picked a peck of pickled peppers’. The winner would be decided by fan applause
    and would receive a free jar of pickles. My interest was peaked. A fevered
    contest with a jar of pickles to the victor is just the kind of weirdness
    one needs between the 5th and 6th innings of a game where the home team’s
    getting rocked. The first girl went and couldn’t get passed ‘picked’. It was
    not a very memorable performance. But the next girl… She makes it a little
    further than the first, getting stuck on ‘peck’. Not only did she get stuck,
    but she somehow mentally melded ‘peck’ with ‘peppers’ resulting in ‘peckers’.
    So for all four of her tries the audience was treated over the PA to ‘Peter
    Piper picked peckers’. I almost fell out of my seat. The second contestant
    won the jar of pickles. Ten bucks says she majors in sports marketing.

For the first time this season, Smith-Wills Stadium, home of the Senators,
has a sports bar and grill called Filibusters open during and after the games
(get it? Senators/Filibusters?). This was my first game this season, so I’m
ready to leave after the game. I happen to run into some pals who are apparently
much more in the know. They are all heading to Filibusters (at this point I’m
still thinking that half of the attendees probably consider a Filibuster is
a tractor accessory), so I follow suit. And I have to say I’m pretty impressed;
mostly with the huge funeral/event tent in front of the bar with a pool table
underneath. I have never played pool outdoors, and based on my record (2 for
3 partnered with Blythe, 2 for 2 partnered with Virginia) I think I like it
better than indoor pool. What better way to shoot pool than to be outdoors on
a cool June evening with a group of friends, barefooted, with the smell of a
ball field in your nose, and a bar full of Budweiser no more than 12 paces away?
My state may have the highest teen pregnancy and illiteracy rates in the nation,
but we are professional relaxers, beyond compare.

Oh, I got the crew at Filibusters to sign the squishy ball I caught, and here
is what they said:

  • Hollie – Hollie Body, she likes to…
  • Brian – Brian, #43
  • Eric – Shut your man pleaser.
  • Virginia – U play some ball!
  • Neely – To Carner: the best boy NAMBLA ever had.
  • Chris – Bust-a-Fil
    And my personal favorite:
  • Russell: Dickhead Blowjob
    (which was the nickname given to Russell by his high school football coach,
    as in: ‘Don’t show up late for the team picture like Dickhead Blowjob Russell
    did last year.’)

Why Ashes & Water?

Uncategorized — d-ashes on June 4, 2003 at 12:28 pm

Okay, Aven just passed through the store and asked the above, and I’d already considered that the topic warranted addressing. So…

I was at this party back in the late 90’s in Greenwood, MS. It was an engagement party; a very lah-de-dah affair, as the bride and groom to be were both of old-money families. There were many, many interesting things going on, none of which have to do with the name of this web-site. One is worth telling before I get to the A&W explanation, however:

The hosts of the party were a married couple in their mid to late 50’s. The husband, however, was also gay. This is not incredibly uncommon in the South (or anywhere else, I guess). Anyway, the husband had a fair amount to drink and was having a most engaging conversation with an attractive young man at the party. His wife, having also imbibed as the occasion warranted, decided that with her husband’s attention elsewhere she was free to make her own fun. She decided to do so by dancing with another attractive young man in attendance. Let’s say that at the least, their dancing grew ‘impassioned’. This took little time to attract the attention of the husband (not too mention many others, a married women getting jiggy with a guy 30 years her junior does not go unnoticed, especially in Greenwood) who promptly left his conversation and confronted the young gentleman very loudly as to what he thought he was doing with his wife. Some people looked shocked, some ignored the incident (making me wonder how often it may have already occurred), and I stared in apt wonder at the opportunities that partying with people much above my station warranted.

Anyway, the origin of Ashes & Water. Earlier in the day, not too long after the party had started, we were in line for the buffet, which was served in the host’s dining room. Someone had set a drink down directly on the buffet, which was a fine old antique probably worth more than my life. The hostess, the aforementioned dancing queen, threw a complete tizzy, going bonkers that there was a water ring on her buffet. Very calmly, one of the house-ladies serving at the party asked the bartender to hand her a water soaked napkin. She took it, went out to the porch and returned, having wiped it through a used ashtray. She then rubbed the napkin with it’s mixture of ashes and water on the water ring on the buffet, dried it with another napkin, and voila, the water ring was gone. The house lady returned to her duties, receiving no thanks from the hostess: it was all just part of the job.

That little incident left quite a many indirect impressions on me for some reason. First, that ashes and water are just the thing for removing a water ring on a finely finished piece of furniture. Second, that the best answer to many questions will come out of nowhere as long as you surround yourself with people who have a vast range of experience in matters of living life. Third, it reinforced a long held contempt for people with more money than God who couldn’t fend for themselves when a water ring appeared on a piece of furniture, much less a matter of actual importance. And finally: never, ever, if at all possible, refuse an invitation to a party in the Mississippi Delta.

Somehow, in ways not completely clear to me yet, all of those affirmations have somehow found a home on this website, and it’s called ashesandwater.com.

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