Saturday, October 2, 2010

Guaranteed in Seven Weeks or Your Bunny Back…


We interrupt this obligatory “guilty feet” shot for Emmi’s Quote of the Day:

“Thus began a break of undetermined length and meaning.”

That, dear friends, is taken from a work titled So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star: How I Machine-Gunned a Roomful of Record Executives and Other True Tales from a Drummer’s Life. It was authored by none other than Jake Slichter, drummer for the alt-rock band Semisonic – best known for their 1998 breakthrough hit “Closing Time.”

You (hypothetically): “But what does all this music blather have to do with your disappearing for seven weeks, you silly rabbit?”

Well, I really do think my situation is pretty thoroughly summed up in Mr. Slichter’s excerpt there. At first, with Kath starting back to school and facing more medical complications shortly afterward, a break almost seemed mandatory. I think what really happened is that I let my obligations as a muse fall slightly out of hand, and then (and that’s a big “then”), the pressure from several of those obligations started to mix with good ol’-fashioned procrastination. And of course, we all know where that road leads.

Well, maybe not unanimously, but as long as it’s in the ballpark of “neglecting to update your blog for seven weeks and worrying your followers half to proverbial stuffie death,” I think we’re good.

There really isn’t that much to tell. Kath had an excellent first week of school, and at the time, she continued to feel pleasantly confident in herself and what she could accomplish. Because several new students joined this year, she even ended up making a few friends and actually felt at ease talking to them. But from the second week on, things became a little more complicated. In addition to having the abdominal problems, she had a considerable seizure-like incident while in a Target  and was diagnosed as epileptic. As I’ve said in previous posts, I don’t mean to gross anyone out in talking about these things. It’s just the truth, and however unfortunate and yucky it may be at the moment, we have to stay focused and think positively to get through it.


But despite all this, I think I’ve been able to hold up fairly well and maintain sanity even away from the blog. In the past weeks, I’ve felt well enough to go to hospitals, Kath’s robotics team meetings, the square downtown, and a college arts festival. I’ve even been able to make a few friends myself – like Guthrie here, whom I helped serve coffee and doughnuts at the Crestwood hospital lobby one day while waiting for Kath to be taken back.

I really have missed you guys so much, and I’m truly sorry I’ve fallen back on my efforts to post regularly. Fortunately, I’ve got a big adventure in store for today, and after a few more catch-up posts for chronology’s sake, I’ll be sure to fiddle – I mean, fill – you in as to all the details! Okay, I spilled – I’m going to the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers’ Convention, an Athens tradition for 44 years (and, according to Kath, a Parsnip one for as long as she can remember)!

See you soon, all!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Let’s Hear It for…Emmi and the Wall!


Over on Facebook, some bears and other stuffies are participating in a human celebrity look-alike contest for a package of surprises in the mail. Several of my new friends had apparently thought the idea a good one, so they tried their paws at posing (some more convincingly than others) in the likeness of someone famous. While I don’t consider myself particularly up on who’s currently trending in the biped world, I thankfully have inherited Kath’s music savvy and share many of her tastes concerning the indie and alternative scenes. When I expressed interest in the contest (who wouldn’t love a fun surprise package?!), she helped me rack my brain for a group the crew and I resembled.

Because there were only five of us (excluding Elinor, who’s working and running errands all day), my favorite 10-piece mega-group – Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros – were immediately out of the question. It wasn’t long before the light bulb began to flicker for Kath, who suggested we all do a bit of research on Tilly and the Wall – a group she’d known about for a while, but has only started listening to regularly. We went along with it and soon stumbled upon this shot of the fivesome that we thought imitable, and pose we did.

It’s pretty much impossible to say anything about Tilly and the Wall without alluding to the fact that one of the frontwomen, Jamie Pressnall, is an acclaimed tap-dancer and supplies (along with bandmates Neely Jenkins and Kianna Alarid) the group’s percussion through her fancy footwork. That’s something we all found quite impressive, and it made us curious as to exactly how those hoofbeats were put to use in a song. Kath pointed us toward this video of the group’s relatively recent appearance on Sesame Street singing the alphabet song, and we were amazed! We thought that if a more simplified children’s song and routine were any indication, they must really be able to let loose during live performances!

All in all, we unanimously thought our comparison shot turned out quite well, and we could all pick out the resemblances. Here’s how I broke it down on Facebook: Rhett and Nick both rock the studious, shy-guy look; Bean and Kianna are the masters of ditz; Prudence and Neely are both tallish and level-headed; Jamie and I have the sensible brunette thing down; and Miles and Derek share the same lovably dazed expression. Not bad, not bad at all.

So if any of you would be up for a change of pace in your listening habits, take it from the aspiring Tilly look-alikes and give the albums Bottoms of Barrels or Wild Like Children a listen. If your tastes are anything like ours, you’ll hopefully be glad you did!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Baxley & Aura’s: Service With a Smile


If you’ll recall from a couple of weeks ago, Prudence has begun using her spare time to volunteer at a stuffie-owned bed-and-breakfast and soup kitchen that recently opened up in town. I was at first a bit leery of what she was getting herself into, as I can’t help but be concerned when a friend mingles with complete strangers, but we finally agreed that I’d be more at ease if she took me by to give the place my okay. It seemed a good day to get out, so we wandered over a few blocks around noon for her to show me.


Prudence had been telling me that Baxley and Aura, the canine siblings who own and operate the establishment, were kind beyond words and would open their doors to even the most destitute stuffies. She said they even worked closely with local rescue missions and toy drives to aid in bringing together new human and plush partners. I honestly didn’t think I had even read of anyone who seemed more saintly.



I asked our good friends Chalcie and Aeson if they’d care to meet us at the place, and they seemed more than happy to oblige. They live with Kath’s friend Jeeda in a different part of town, so they were especially curious to check out something away from their typical haunts.



The place wasn’t far from Parsnip at all, which took away some of my concern in itself. The exterior seemed very well-kept, and we had to admire the quaint floral arrangements Aura had supposedly spent long hours putting out.



Extra precautions had even been taken to deter those species who eat flowers from doing so. This lighthearted sign stood by the porch, reminding guests that the real meal was inside.


We opened the door to find a flustered-looking Baxley scrambling to get a family’s plates to their table. Prudence immediately stepped in to help, and we watched with baited breath as she kept one person’s meal from splattering onto the floor. Baxley apologized for the somewhat rough welcome and offered us each his paw, explaining that lunch hour was naturally their busiest time.



On entering, we knew right away that this was no ordinary soup kitchen. Little touches like a service bell and donation box added to the place’s hospitable charm.



The sitting area of the soup kitchen had been fixed up quite nicely, and the guests seemed to be enjoying their meals and each other’s company. The radio had thankfully been tuned to something other than obnoxious pop (which, as I’m sure you all know, can say a lot about an establishment), and fans were running to keep everyone cool.



I hadn’t realized how fortunate we really are at Parsnip until I glanced over a portion of the lunch crowd. Several of these stuffies looked as though they’d definitely seen better days or were otherwise depressed (not unlike Will’s recent acquaintance, Grendel). I was glad that at least they were being well-cared-for here, and I might have offered Kath’s name to the homeless ones were she still actively rehabbing.




We all stayed and chatted in the soup kitchen for a while before we saw Aura emerge from one of the back rooms in the lodging part. She pleasantly introduced herself and told me that Prudence had become an asset to the job since she started coming. I finally felt honored to know that my roommate, who could seem a bit in the way at times, was doing such good for the community. Love her or hate her, you can’t deny that her heart’s in the right place.


Chalcie and Aeson happened to oversee a group of kids playing dominoes in the corner and decided to join in for a few minutes. I’ll always admire Chalcie’s way with the younger stuffies, as I’m certain it would be a great skill to have in life. She helped the kids match up their tiles and showed them how to stack them to make them topple, and it was fun to see Aeson pretending he needed her help too.



Remembering how Prudence had raved about the quality and variety of the food, I asked Baxley if it would be too imposing to request a quick bite all around before we left. He laughed and said that Aura was way ahead of us in the kitchen with a piping bowl of soup for each of us. It was then that I finally told myself, “Yes, Emmi, there are good plush people in the world!”



The meal was unlike any we’ve had before: hearty Minestrone garnished with extra carrots for Prudence and me and served with a side fillet of chicken for the leopards. When we offered our compliments to the chefs, they cited in unison their mantra that “love is the stuff inside”, though I’m relatively convinced that there may have been a little more to it.


A bunny full of delicious soup is a happy bunny indeed!

We thanked our new friends profusely on the way out. At the door, I noticed an empty corkboard and asked Aura what it was for (stuffie community announcements). I decided to pass along the name of Rhett’s party planning enterprise, and we attached a makeshift flyer to the board. If many people see it, it just might give him the break he’s been wanting!


Back at home, I apologized to Prudence for ever being skeptical about what she had been doing out. Right now, I’m just glad that the local wayward plush have a place to relax, and that two special dogs – and one special bunny – are getting the appreciation and fulfillment they deserve.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Another No-Good-Reason Party

February Napa Sonoma Trip 258

(Califia, I hope you won’t mind my borrowing this great picture of you just for today’s post! I only wanted to let others know about your site and adventures who don’t already. If for whatever reason you’d like me to switch out the picture, just let me know!)

Within the last week or so, I’ve had the delight of re-establishing contact with Califia, a traveling bear from California (she’s named for their legendary patron queen) who until recently had taken a bit of a hiatus from blogging. Kath and I had been frequent lurkers at her blog when she was regularly updating it, and her picturesque adventures (she’s been to Disneyland, San Francisco, and several national forests, among others) had really inspired us to have more of our own. We’re now good friends with Califia and her mom Alycia over Facebook, and now that they’re back in the blogosphere, we’re looking forward to seeing and hearing a lot more news from the Golden State.

A regular feature on Califia’s blog in years past has been her acute recognition and celebration of minor or obscure “national” holidays. We’ve decided that she has usually managed to celebrate quite accordingly – particularly on the holidays linked to various edibles, like the “national” days for donuts and iced tea (the first Friday in June and June 10th, respectively). After commenting on how sharp she was for even knowing of such days, I was led to discover this site, an absolute volume on the minor or downright “unconventional” celebrations happening every day across the country and the world.

Califia and I were talking about how much she enjoyed celebrating life’s little pleasures whenever she could, and I had the idea that for fun, I should nose around the site a bit, pick a few holidays that strike my fancy, and celebrate accordingly. Since it’s still summer and the “domino effect” fall and winter holidays are still a way off (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Rhett’s and my birthdays, Christmas, and New Year’s), I figured I’d give it a go.

My game-plan is to find one special day to celebrate every two weeks from now and, if possible, to get at least one friend or family member in on the act each time. I think that by doing this, I really might start feeling less pessimistic about the passing days and assure myself that there’s always something in life worth celebrating.

Here’s my bi-monthly calendar for August and September:

Sunday, August 1st – International Friendship Day (man, I missed it! It would’ve been as good a place to start as any!)

Sunday, August 8th – Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day (Kath starts school the next day, but we’ll still try to pull it off! Look out, Chalcie and Aeson!)

Friday, August 13th – Blame Someone Else Day (a little naughty, but it’s the first “Friday the 13th” this year)

Saturday, August 22nd – Be an Angel Day (this could double as Bean’s appreciation day, because she’s been hinting that she wanted one)

Monday, September 6th – Fight Procrastination Day (this might be best spent with Rhett at his office, where distractions are minimal)

Sunday, September 12th – National Video Games Day (will we ever get that coveted Wii at Parsnip?!)

Sunday, September 19th – International Talk Like a Pirate Day (this one seems to be picking up in popularity in recent years, so why not?)

Sunday, September 26th – International Rabbit Day (an absolute must at our house!)

I really hope I’ll be able to find something clever or original to do each day and report back to you guys. As I go off to start dreaming up plans, I leave you with this quite-apropos music video from the children’s program “Jack’s Big Music Show”, courtesy of rising “kindie” stars The Dirty Sock Funtime Band! Rock on!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Catch-Up, Hold the Fries


Does my Blogger dashboard deceive me, or has it really been nearly a week since my last updates? Not only did I admittedly fall a little short of my goal of getting three photo posts in Sunday morning, but I’ve clearly been too busy even to follow through later in the week! Bad bunny blogger. Facebook hasn’t exactly been helping matters either, with my close friends Will, Plot, and Califia keeping me on my toes with all their exciting updates and encouraging me to do likewise. But all aside, I’m now fully refreshed and ready to jump back into blogging!

Our little Saturday luncheon with Mira and Patricia at Ruby Tuesday went so well! This was the first time in a while that Kath and Mira had had the chance to discuss everything and nothing, and so they did. They exchanged book and music recommendations, discussed things that had made them laugh recently, and planned to do it all again soon – all over Ruby’s pasta parmesan, chicken quesadillas, and a savory New York cheesecake finish to share. In other words, they really had a great time!


I was SO glad to meet with Patricia, and I learned a lot more about her background and personal tastes. It turns out she’s named for Mira’s kind older friend who gave her as a gift, and on hearing from Patricia “the gift” what an artistically inclined, animal-loving person Patricia “the giver” was, I became just as interested in meeting her. Another thing I found out that I probably should’ve known earlier: Patricia is one of those Glo-E bears that were popular a few years back! Mira was kind enough to help demonstrate her special skill while we waited for our table. When she pressed Patricia’s paw, her body glowed from white to a beautiful fluorescent red, green, and blue! I asked her if she thought her skill had ever helped her in dark situations, but she assured me that she knew where she was going most of the time.


Like Mira, Patricia is an avid proponent of all the arts, and she and some of Mira’s other stuffies (or “fiber-based friends”) have formed their own symphony orchestra and love to put on shows! I hear they pulled off a lavishly spectacular performance last Christmas for the family, and word is beginning to form that they’re planning another for the fall! While I’ll always be a “rocker” at heart, I can’t help but be entranced by a classical performance. I asked her to keep me posted so that perhaps some of us at Parsnip might enjoy an evening of musical enrichment in the near future!

Our luncheon concluded on a very happy note when we all exchanged gifts – little did we know the girls would have something for us, too! They both adored their bracelets and charms. In sympathy for all Kath and I had been through concerning her health and as encouragement for us both to press on, they completely surprised us with a Build-A-Bear bag with a new robe and bedding inside! I couldn’t believe it!


When we arrived home, Prudence was eager as ever to know how everything went, and when I showed her the robe and bedding, she couldn’t believe her eyes – we’d finally been able to procure something she could use for her trundle! She loves the pink and striped accents, and she says the back bedroom already feels so much “homier” with their addition! Thank you so much, Mira and Patricia!

In other news, and much to our dismay, the bowling trip fell through for the second time in a row! We’re hoping the third week will bring the charm, though!

Okay, so now I’m back to trying for a post every other day! I can do this! (Why wouldn’t I? Blogging is the best!)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Saturday, Crafty-Side-Up


Today’s second post is brought to you by the letters “P” and “B” – for Perler beads and polar bears! (What do you know?! I’m becoming more kid-friendly all the time!)

I would be going with Kath into Madison (just between Athens and Huntsville) at noon, to dine sumptuously at the local Ruby Tuesday with our good friends Miranda (or Mira, as we’ll call her here) and Patricia, the polar bear. Though Mira is five years younger than Kath, they’ve really discovered they have quite a bit in common – a thriving appreciation for all animals (stuffie and otherwise), the arts, classic literature, and more. I was really glad we’d all be getting together on such a pleasant summer day, and Kath and I couldn’t help but want to enhance the mood by presenting them with a small token of our friendship.


We had decided earlier that friendship bracelets and beaded charms would be just the thing! Kath got Prudence (our resident crafty, “paws-on” girl) and me up just after sunrise, delved into the family’s overstuffed craft box for our supplies, cleared a space for us on the bed, and passionately declared that we’d have to work up our appetite, as breakfast could wait an hour or two. We didn’t mind that much, because we couldn’t wait for our creations to start coming together!


For those unfamiliar with the wonderful crafting experience that is Perler beading, I highly suggest you give it a try sometime. The beads, tiny and cylindrical, come in every color imaginable and are designed to fit onto any of several different shapes and sizes of pegboards. When you’ve made your design, you then need to place a thin ironing sheet (packaged with the pegboards) over the beads and briefly iron them to fuse them together. Craft stores usually stock the necessary supplies together in the kids’ aisle, but I’ve seen some diehard beaders come up with beautiful (and fragile!) pieces that would be fun for any age group.

We needed a little inspiration from Perler’s website before we started, so imagine our surprise when we found an adorable polar bear family template listed under their projects! It was intended for use with a larger square pegboard (which we lacked) and required hot-gluing several layers together to form the bears’ bodies, but we were certain Patricia would be perfectly content with only one bear’s face, perhaps with a hat and scarf added.


We started out following the pattern but soon realized our board wasn’t capacious enough for the complete face, so we improvised a bit and added our own touches, like the extra tufts of fur on the cheeks. We were so pleased that we didn’t end up bumping the beads in placing them, saving us lots of time and energy!


Here’s the finished polar bear. For the accents, we had intended to use Mira’s and Patricia’s favorite colors had we known them right off. We did know that they both loved peacocks, so we went with lime and turquoise for the hat and scarf.


Music notes, as we soon found, are easy and fun to make – though the ones in Perler’s idea booklet call for a square board, we improvised with the hexagonal one and weren’t disappointed at all! It took a little while to make sure both the note-heads were proportional, but in the end we were quite pleased.


That Prudence – always thinking! She suggested that the music note might be slightly less stable than the bear when ironed, and that it might need a bit of support, and with what better shape than a peacock-green heart! We knew Mira would quite literally love it.

As Kath went to iron our designs, we broke for a bagel, then started in on the bracelets. Continuing with the lime and turquoise, we interspersed the Perler beads with some faux pearls and strung a small red coil across the middle. We measured our own wrists to determine how tight Patricia’s should be, and Kath followed suit for Mira’s, though since the cord we used was elastic, the difference wasn’t that much.


The wearied but content beaders and their finished products! We drew and wrote a kind note in silver Sharpie on each of the bags for an extra touch.


For any and all curious, I briefly took out Patricia’s bracelet to model it. We really hoped she was close to our size, as our measurements were spot-on!

You Should Be Triply Gratified


Depending largely on what you think of my frequent blogging propensity as of late, you guys are in for a treat:  I’ve decided to try my best to tackle three worthy, photo-filled updates in a morning! It’s admittedly a bit of an undertaking given the amount of time I’ve spent before on just one, but since Kath and I have returned victoriously from the hospital on Wednesday, we’ve both been filled with such positive vibes that we really want to share.

On Friday, I was headed back to Nashville with the family for Kath’s second treatment of some really potent stuff to which we’ve been attributing so much of her recent positivity. This wasn’t at the main Vanderbilt clinic, but at their offshoot in the old 100 Oaks mall building (built in 1967, it was the first in the state!), so our immediate surroundings consisted of a TJ Maxx, a Michaels (I’ve been wanting to peek in at their new autumn stuff for some time), and a few other such places.

One of the advantages of locating a hospital in a mall building? Easy access to edibles, of course! I had always wanted to try a bagel from the small chain Einstein Bros, so imagine my delight when we reached the top of the escalator and found a kiosk! Mine was cinnamon-raisin with just the right amount of cream cheese, along with some milk from Nashville’s area dairy. I thankfully finished just in time for Kath’s appointment, but Kath and her mom were forced to finish their mouthfuls and surrender the rest of the doughy goodness to her dad while he waited outside.



The nurses on call for Kath’s treatment were as cordial as ever and made us all feel somewhat at home with blankets, snacks, and TV. She, her mom, and I were able to wind down while we flipped through the channels and munched some mini Lorna Doone shortbread cookies. The treatment itself (about two hours) left Kath feeling quite pleasantly energized, and we finished just in time to have the slightest edge over the lunch crowd at the local Rafferty’s – another chain I’d been meaning to try.


Kath couldn’t believe it when she saw our waiter reaching for a kids’ menu and crayons for her as he prepared to seat us! In her dad’s sage words, “the rabbit” (I have a name, you know!) probably didn’t help matters any concerning his evaluation of her maturity. Ah, well. I was able to find a slightly more comfortable seat against the wall this time, and by the time our food came, I was thankfully enough out of the way to remain on the table and join in the conversation.


In the meantime, though, I thought I’d take advantage of the waiter’s youthful gesture and try my paw at a placemat signature. I must admit, I’m beginning to develop a way of making myself known when out and about.



“Emmi the Great [no relation to the indie-pop chanteuse who spells hers with a “Y”] was here!” Not exactly a John Hancock, but I think it gets the point across. I’m getting better with my bunny caricatures, too! Prudence is always fussing that I’m by far the better artist, but hers aren’t bad either.

For the rest of the day, I generally relaxed and read. Tomorrow would mark our lunch date with Kath’s kindred spirit Mira and her ursine companion, Patricia Bear. Little would they know that Kath and I had a surprise in store for them – handmade beaded bracelets and Perler-bead coaster charms! We decided we’d get up early the next morning to start on the gifts.