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

Home Again…

Uncategorized — d-ashes on January 31, 2005 at 10:57 am

The drive back from Colorado was epic. Dad and I drove through quite the snow storm on the way down La Veta pass. I probably saw the most snow I’ve ever seen fall while driving in a car. But we made it back just fine and had a great time. The skiing was great and spending some time in such a rural area made coming back to Jackson quite nice. I’ll have the pictures posted in the next day or two.

A social Sunday in Jackson was here to welcome me back. I met up with Kelly, Kamilla, Chad and Laura and we went to the JFP’s annual ‘Best of Jackson’ party down in the Millsaps Art District. The party was bumping and the booze was free. Lemuria even garnered an award for Best Bookstore and it was good to catch up with the crew. I felt like I’d been gone for a month, though it was only 5 days. I asked Jaysus what I missed while I was gone: "Well, I got drunk.". And, poor me, I wasn’t here to see it. Josh and Lindsey had made it back from their honeymoon in New Orleans yesterday as well, sporting new tattoos. Lindsey got a peacock on her left shoulder blade. Josh got a huge Virgin of Guadalupe on his left shoulder that is just remarkable with its detail and skill of the artist.

After leaving the party we stopped in at Martin’s for one drink. Jay was nice enough to hit the bar for me before 10 and had a Maker’s and ice waiting for me, which was tasty medicine for my sore back and legs.

I don’t have to work today so I’m gonna do some laundry and catch up on a week’s worth of DVRed cartoons. Kelly’s dog, Friday, is spending the day with me and he’s not exactly inspiring me to activity as he’s lying on my bed snoring.

A&W ver 2.0 / Fractions

Uncategorized — d-ashes on January 24, 2005 at 11:33 am

Well, here it is, Ashes&Water version 2.0. It’s in PHP/mySQL and utilizes
a div/css layout and already I like it much better visually and for its ease
of maintenance. There are still some pieces of core functionality that aren’t
in place, mainly: adding comments and the email form (update: comments are working) and there is some more work on the visual layout to be done. I’m going to try get most
of that up and running today and tomorrow, but if I don’t it will be another
week in coming because I’m off to Colorado with dad for a couple of days of skiing
at Wolf Creek. I’m pretty pumped about that as I haven’t been skiing since I
moved back from Albuquerque and Wolf Creek has tons of snow this year. In the
meantime, here are a few fractions of experience from the last week or so.

Friday, January 14th, 2005
Bobby and Jakob are free men for the weekend with Melissa and Beebo out of
town visiting their brother so I invite them over for a spaghetti dinner
with Kelly and me. I text message a couple of other people and we end up
having 14 people over. Twiggy, Willie-G and Marlowe make it, as well as Maddie
and Pony along with Josh and Lindsey. It’s quite the crew. Drinks are had,
games of darts are thrown and a mammoth amount of spaghetti is consumed.
All in all it’s quite the salon and quite a way to start the new year, with
so many friends gathered together in one place. An oath is taken to repeat
the occasion.

Saturday, January 15th, 2005
On Hwy 7, on my way up to Oxford, I see a huge hawk sitting on a utility pole
and pull off to walk back and take a picture. When I get back to the pole
the hawk is gone, but the pole has some good lines coming off it so I snap
a few shots of it. From the woods lining the road I hear a few crashes and
suddenly, 15 to 20 feet from where I’m standing a doe deer blasts past me
and across the highway. She is followed shortly by another doe who runs and stops
just as she clears the trees. There is a car coming from the opposite direction
than where I’m standing. She doesn’t see me and with her attention on the
approaching car I am able to watch her for a good 30/45 seconds, snapping
pictures. Finally she sees me and bolts back into the woods. It occurs to
me that a deer’s instinct to stay close to its cover (in this case the woods)
probably contributes a number of times to its getting hit by a car when crossing
a road. It did not go right up to the roadside then decide whether to take
a chance at a crossing. Had the doe chosen to cross, the 30/40 extra feet
it would have had to cover to get to the road from the perimeter of the trees
probably would have given the car plenty of time to be
right on her while she was in the road.

Sunday, January 16th, 2005
Ashleigh, Lucky and I are on the way back from Memphis after a night with Heath
and Elizabeth celebrating Heath’s 30th birthday party with him and his friends
at his apartment. We’ve eaten breakfast at Barksdale’s, a little
Mom and Pop diner trapped in those brown wood-paneled days of the late 60’s/early
70’s that I identity with Memphis so regularly. After a trip to the mall
I turn the keys over to Lucky and build myself a nest with a jacket and blanket
in the back of the Jeep with a view out the passenger side window. The
sights as we navigate our way out of Memphis and into the North Mississippi
countryside are old and immediate all at once, like one big William
Eggleston
photograph. The air is like water and the world is swimming
in the sunlight, illumination not so much being the desired
result but an afterthought of a grander process. The light turns the dead,
brown grass a red that you can only find on the late afternoons of winter.
I snuggle into the blanket and let my mind wander above landscape.

anthem…

Uncategorized — d-ashes on January 14, 2005 at 12:33 pm

The benefit Wednesday night was a huge success. Over $4,000 was raised to go directly to OxFam to aid tsunami victims. I got to see a lot of people in one place that I haven’t visited with in a while including William Goodman, fresh from the opening of his show at Agora Gallery in NYC. Check out WilleG’s catalog there, as there are some pieces you won’t find on the gallery at his site. Living Better Electrically capped off the evening with one of their best performances ever, in my opinion. They were, well, electric :). Got some good photos of their set that will be up on the site in the next day or two. I let the first Conductor() image loose on the world for the silent art auction and was amazed/humbled that the thing sold for $120 (Thabi of the JFP bought it).

Last night I went and heard Josh play a solo acoustic set at WC Don’s. It was interesting to see the Rock Star alone and unplugged. Both Pony and Maddie were in town for a couple of days and it was nice to visit with them. It doesn’t happen too often with Pony in Memphis and Maddie back up in Oxford for school. And speaking of Oxford/Memphis, I’m there this weekend to visit with Lucky, Ashleigh and Heath. Been a while since I’ve ventured north so I’m very much looking forward to that. I haven’t ever payed much attention to Memphis’ powerlines so we’ll see what I find.

The redesign of Ashes and Water is almost done and I hope to have it up by next weekend. This may require a couple of days of down time since I’m switching hosts, but hopefully it will be no more than a few hours. Be checking back for it if you’re interested. I’ve stared at it for so long that I need some fresh eyes to tell me what I need to fix/finish.

Tsunami Benefit TONIGHT!!!

Uncategorized — d-ashes on January 12, 2005 at 11:50 am

This is going to be a good time for a good cause. You can download the flyer (pdf) linked above for the full details. I’ve submitted a photograph from the almost complete ‘Conductor()’ series for the silent art auction, plus local Jackson artiste extraordinaires Willie G and Twiggy have contributed some cool stuff as well. Come out, give some money, hear some great music and mingle. Hope to see you there!

Hello 2005

Uncategorized — d-ashes on January 5, 2005 at 9:08 am

Man, I’ve been out of touch for a while. I’d meant to post a New Year’s message but after LSU’s last second lost to Iowa in the Capitol One bowl that all just kind of fell apart then I was sick for the first of the week.

So where to start? I guess with a ‘Happy 2005 Everybody’! I celebrated New Years at Jay’s and Jen’s party at the Red Room here in Jackson. It was a blast and easily my favorite New Year spent in the Bold New City. I’m pretty excited at the prospect of another new year in Jackson. Recalling where the city/town and I were last year and where we stand now, I think we’ve both done pretty well for ourselves. There are all sorts of pleasant rumblings of plans being made to the benefit of the city and I’m excited to see where it all will go.

And now, my Ashes & Water New Year’s resolution:

For 2005 I will do my damnedest to pay more attention to the web site. I’ve been so busy the last couple of months that I haven’t been putting as much into as I did the first year. A redesign, which includes porting to PHP/mySQL and a standards-based div/css layout, is almost complete and should be up within the month. I’m also going to try to be a lot better about taking pictures and posting them online. And finally, I’m resolved to use regular punctuation from here on out (so no more ‘…’ posts). While it’s definitely quicker and I like its stream of consciousness feel, you can’t really advocate standards for web design if within that design you don’t advocate the standards of grammar and punctuation. Hell, I’ve got a degree in English, I might as well put the thing to some good use.

So all in all it was a good holiday season. Despite working at the bookstore for 23 days of December I got to see some friends and hang out with the family. Football wise my teams could have faired better. As mentioned above the LSU loss was tough, as was losing Nick Saban. Plus the Saints missed the playoffs by the thinnest of margins yet again, done in by a missed field goal by an ex-Saint on the St. Louis Rams. With college football finishing last night (man that game blew) and the NFL only around for another month, I’m faced with my annual drought between football and baseball. Maybe since I’m living with Graham his interest in college basketball will rub off on me. We’ll see.

I’m going to leave you with a letter my friend Susannah forwarded me from a friend of hers who survived the tsunami in Thailand. Pretty powerful stuff and it ends with as good a lesson as any to begin the New Year with.

I am currently in Bangkok waiting for a flight I have cajoled my way onto. I am one of the survivors. With only scratches, bruises and infections I am fine.

Everything I own (almost – a small plastic Jesus doll made it through!) is gone. My house was wiped out, as were 3000 hotel rooms, around 600 other resident/vacation homes and almost all the business’ in the area.

Our house was 150 feet from the beach, that is THE hardest hit beach in Thailand. As water rushed into our house and then ripped open the second story wall, I leapt off our second story roof and swam and swam and swam, riding the wave deep into the jungle, as it destroyed building after building, ripping up trees and spinning diesel trucks into the air. All this with me in the center of it clinging to anything that floats and swimming to avoid the standing buildings or trees that crushed and impaled many others.

The wave deposited me, and a small Swedish girl and a 60 foot police cruiser (medium sized steel patrol boat – around 20 tons) 1 kilometer from the beach – in the jungle.

For the next 5 hours I set up a triage center and cared for dead and dying foreigners. Finally we got helicopters in, and I made my way back towards the main town. I found Karin (my girlfriend) and collapsed. We had both assumed each other dead as the destruction was so massive. She had climbed a coconut tree, wrapped her arms and legs and held on. The water kept pulling the tree and her under, but it and she survived.

That day I saw around 100 bodies. The next day, another 200, and the day we left there were cattle trucks full of rotting corpses being taken to Phuket.

After days of no news, dwindling food and water – a group of divers virtually kidnapped a driver to take us away. Every few hours someone had created a rumor that another wave was coming, or there was a gas explosion, or the Muslim rebels were attacking. None were true, but it caused massive panic and killed many more people. We were already under massive psychological strain, and this just made it insane. We ran.

My town is gone. There are probably 2% of the original buildings in a recognizable form. I am very lucky to even be making my way home. The U.S. government offered me a phone call, a toothbrush, a paperback book and a temporary passport. No hotel, no food, no flight home. I was told that I could take out a loan if I could list three people who would vouch for me at home. The process would only take a few days. I was alone, injured (superficially – but I sure did look bad), no possessions, no money and my government offered me a book.

I don’t know who or what to acknowledge for my presence. That will take a lot of soul-searching. I am certainly among the luckiest people in Thailand right now. According to local news it looks like my town had a SURVIVAL rate of 60%.

The support and questions about my well-being are appreciated and I will reply…eventually.

Please think of what you value. Look around, have you given a hug to someone recently? Anyone? If everything you had were taken away, who would you turn too? In the end it is each other, not the things, that make the world spin. I won’t ever forget that.

Breathe

-Pete

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