Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Black Rot

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Part of the Essential Robby Johnson Experience (ERJE) is taking failure REALLY seriously. Like, in the movie "Clueless" when Tai tells Cher, "Oh what do you know Cher, you're a 15 year-old virgin who can't drive," and Cher gasps and responds, "That was way harsh Tai," I see myself as capable of success in anything I attempt. And I am pretty brave when it comes to taking risks. So with this in mind I must provide another update on black plaguetomato gardening.

All 11 of my plants have borne serious amounts of fruit. For a few honeymoon weeks I was just ecstatic. "My God, I've produced life!" I thought. And after our ultra-wet May, the plants looked like they'd walked right out of the rainforest with their super sturdy branches and leaves the size of my hand.

7 Years of Feast, 7 Years of Famine

What I didn't want to address was the propensity for each of the green tomatoes to have little black spots on the bottom. "I'm sure they'll go away," I thought. But as the fruit grew and the glorious day arrived when a few began turning orange and then red, I realized it was over. They were hollow shells of tomatoes, hard enough to use as baseballs. Eventually I Googled.

And it gave me a little hope.

Most of the early fruit that was likely damaged by excessive rain seems to've carried the blossom end rot, but the survivors behind it are finishing just fine. I currently have harvested 5 really lovely tomatoes and am planning to make a tomato tart on Friday. It will also contain fresh basil from my herb pot, and while I'd love to produce my own mozzarella from the cows that graze on Mount Vesuvius, I am probably going to have to rely on Publix to finish my Giada-like holiday fete.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Don't Let That Golden Hair, Get In Your Way ...

Initially my thoughts are to judge, and maybe even murmur, "What an asshole." Especially when I see this Douchey McFamilyman image.

But we seldom see what goes on behind closed doors and if I've learned anything in nearly 38 years, it's that there are multiple sides to every story. Perception, motivation, and actions are really peculiar and specific to the individual.

Categorically speaking, however, I am not a fan of the sweeping generalizations, oversimplifications and holier-than-thou presentation our brethren who sit to the Right pass out as their calling card.


Thanks again George Motherfucking Bush for your fear and hate-based ploys to win over "Wholesome America," while you and your constituents raped America, got even more rich off oil and petroleum, tanked our economy and left an impossible legacy for a leader with truly genuine motives for comprehensive change to sort out. Washed-out facsimiles of your party platform - like Mark Sanford - serve as artifacts and remind me, once again, why you suck so much. It's not that you've had an affair; sex is sex and honestly, what's the big deal? It's that you default to a lie when the truth is a lot easier to stomach.

Note to Republican Party: You are not Jesus Christ and you shouldn't bolster that sort of existence as your political mainstay. I think if you acted real and recognized the gorillas in the room as Human Condition, you'd get a lot more respect and gain a lot more ground. Got it, Sister Honey?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sad Realities

I have a lot of fun staying in touch with my friends on Facebook. It's a great way to keep track of everyone you knew in second grade and, hey, who doesn't love damage controlling an inappropriate photo-tag?

Over the past month or so, and maybe this is because I have like 700 friends so the sample size is large enough to reveal trends (shut it, inner marketing geek, this is my blog - it's my time!), a few things have become really evident via status updates. 1.) Mondays suck. 2.) Wednesdays don't suck. 3.) We live for Fridays and weekends. 4.) Love bites, love bleeds. 5.) It's bringing me to my knees.

As Americans, what does this say about us? I wonder if I like spoke Icelandic and had lots of Icelandic friends if the translations would be the same? (Note: Ask my Swedish friend Caro to assess, even though Sweden isn't Iceland.) Are we really so stuck in a rut? I must admit, I feel this way often. Work is just one dimension of me, and while I seek a perpetual outlet or machine for the application of my developed skills, I have to pause and ponder why I am even motivated.

I think the answer to that is that by nature, I'm optimistic. I truly believe we chart our own course by our mental outlook, and that our actions are controlled by our subconscious behavioral default. I also believe we can reprogram ourselves, though it is my personal experience that we're typically only successful in these efforts when we truly recognize and seek the value of a behavioral change.

As Americans, we're very fortunate to live in a culture that affords us the opportunity to seek so much character development. Most people on the globe don't experience this luxury. I am routinely surrounded by people in both my professional and personal life (to me, it's the same thing but I note it because it's relevant) who thumb their nose and model a "Not good enough" attitude. And honestly, it irks me. Especially when I recognize its manifestation in myself.

I read stories like this, and I am ashamed of myself for ever complaining about anything, or insisting something be perfect. I don't know whether or not it's the very stark reality that there's enough research data to differentiate plane crash patterns based on the anatomical effects on victims, or the harrowing recognition of what it might be like to "hit a brick wall," or the overwhelming sympathy or empathy I feel for the families of the victims that makes me feel so insignificant. But it does. It's gruesome, and it's brutal, and it forces me to address the things that really matter to me in my life.

I am grateful for every Monday I paddle out to greet, every Wednesday that fills me with promise as I stand up on the board, and every Friday that thrills me as I ride the wave in.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


BOSTON – Continental Airlines is apologizing for sending a 10-year-old Massachusetts girl flying alone to New Jersey instead of Ohio. Jonathan Kamens said he brought his daughter, Miriam, to Logan International Airport in Boston on Sunday. She was to fly to Cleveland to visit her grandparents.

He tells WBZ-TV that shortly after the plane landed in Ohio, his father-in-law called saying she had not arrived.

Kamens says for 45 minutes no one could tell him where his daughter was, setting off a panic among the family. She was finally located unharmed in Newark, N.J.

The airline says the error was caused by staff miscommunication. The two flights used the same doorway at the airport.

Kamens says the number of people who failed to do their jobs is "mindboggling."

Why nothing like this ever happens to me I don't know. I so need some free airline ticket vouchers and travel spiffs.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bottomless Mimosas

When you go to brunch in a great city (Washington, D.C.) with a very special cousin (who has a very great apartment in said city), and you order the $12.95 bottomless mimosas, you make a commitment, folks. A commitment to awesome. And if you think it's OK to sit at a table from 11:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. while you discuss everything from losing your best sunglasses in sketchy places to how-to-interpret-Shakespeare - then you can join in the fun as well. Typically there is an up-charge for the a.) drunk dials (with bottomless sobbing for just $29.95) b.) drunk texts c.) drunk Facebook messages, but in light of "this economy," I thought I'd provide everyone with a free showcase yesterday. Hope you enjoyed!

(Love you Katie and Lisa and Allie and Matt and Jorja and Erin and Liza and Kelly ... thanks for making my 48 hours in the mid-Atlantic so chock full o' goodness!)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bruce Banner

Last night as I prepped to brush my teeth and get my Super Sexy Bite Guard installed for nighty-night, I happened to look in the mirror and my eyes were this freakishly green color, to the point that for a brief moment I thought I might be turning into The Incredible Hulk. I mean, we've all read "The Secret," right? (I haven't.) From what I understand, it basically says if you believe it and put it out there, it will happen. And in my head am I a huge hulking angry-yet-misunderstood superhero? The answer to that is, quite simply, "yes."

When we were kids my neighbor had the unfortunate experience of her visiting friend having a grand mal seizure as she was getting into her car to leave. Our neighbor had no idea what to do and it scared her very bad, so she called my mother, who immediately donned her cape and flew down in the invisible jet because she is also a superhero. Todd, who was probably 4 or so at the time, was a bit hysterical because he did, indeed, think their friend was turning into The Incredible Hulk.

OK, Wednesday y'all!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Is Yo' Hair Tight?

My friend Sue took pictures of me braiding my horse in, seriously, 2002, which I posted as a "how-to" reference guide at The Chronicle of The Horse Forums. US Eventing picked it up last week and added it to their blog this week, which is pretty cool, huh? I mean, relevancy at 7 years is a good thing!

I look at these pictures and am taken into a time machine because my life is so different now. I always think of my horses and my dear friends when I think of my life in Arkansas. We lost one of them yesterday: Susan Burney, who sold me my mare Willow in 1997 and gave me her daughter Ouisie in 2008, succumbed to her lengthy battle with cancer quietly at her sweet little farm. Susan was with us much longer than ever initially expected - probably at least 5 years - and kept her cheery, sunny outlook everytime we spoke. As a horse person, she was a realist, and sometimes we'd just laugh about "That Damned Cancer."

I hope Susan is smiling on a horse's back somewhere, because I know that's what she'd want.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Burghley Bound, Y'all

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So Saturday night/yesterday I had a little somethin' somethin' (a few little somethin' somethin's, actually) land in my lap: a trip to the United Kingdom! My friend Rob, a native of Bath who has lived in the US for at least 15 years, is returning to England to live with his father. We are going to The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials and I cannot wait! I have wanted to attend either Badminton or Burghley for many years, and the park is apparently very close to Rob's father, so we'll be able to take in the competition while we get our Cotswolds on, darling. I cannot wait to bring my special blend of Born Blond Dirt Road Ghetto Bitch to the U.K.

I wasn't planning to travel "big" this year at all, but airfare from Atlanta was quite affordable and, you know, life is short. Good friends come few and far between and what better way to enjoy them than in their native setting?

Bring on the scones and kidney pie, y'all ... I'm going to Burghley!

Friday, June 05, 2009


If you think I didn't buy these Japanese kabuki-inspired paddles at my company's "yard sale" back in May, you're wrong. I thought they were Fab-uki so I did a signature Robby Johnson move and opened with a big card: ten dolla-dolla. And I won. I won big. And that's what matters when it comes to acquisitions. Winning. Just me there in the winner's circle, winning. Just winning. Just me. Just me winning.

And it felt so good I continued my slaughter of the silent auction table and acquired a beautiful Japanese wall-scroll, an Italian apothecary jar, and a little lectern which (thanks to the great advice of a co-worker, thanks Ashley!) is in my kitchen holding cookbooks. $40 total, which I think is pretty sweet. I also acquired 10 art books - mostly Sotheby's auction books over the past 25 years - for $1 each, and got a freebie spiral-bound map of Spain and Portugal, which I think is awesome because, as we all know, Spain rocks.

Yesterday I got a little preview of some items available at tonight's RED(e) For A Cure benefit for West Alabama AIDS Outreach. I feel like I'm primed and RED(e) to rock. Who buys art in "tough times?" one might ask. I do, that's who. It reminds me of a poem I learned in my high school creative writing class.

“If, of thy mortal goods, thou art bereft, And from thy slender store two loaves alone to thee are left, Sell one and from the dole, Buy Hyacinths to feed the soul”

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Snakes At Work

The first time I ever heard anyone refer to a person as a "snake" was probably in the 4th or 5th grade when my aunt called it out on JR Ewing at the conclusion of an episode of "Dallas." I remember the scene specifically, as he was standing over John Ross' crib drinking bourbon and had just said or done something really heinous to Suellen. Who doesn't want him for their dad?

Subsequently I have used the metaphor many times. Sometimes in social circles, sometimes professionally, and then there are times when it's literal: snakes at work. Because I apparently cannot plan an event surrounding the opening of a mitigation bank - this time it's Big Sandy Mitigation Bank - without an animal face-off (in 2007 it was the random pitbull in the field) - I give you a timber rattlesnake, probably 4.5 feet long, taken from the truck yesterday.

I love going out to the woods, and I love working with our ecologists and wildlife biologists. It's really cool stuff, and they keep me humble. So what if my turkey feather really turns out to be a buzzard feather? At the end of the day, I have learned something new. It's content I find really fascinating and I could definitely see myself in that sort of career. While it's unlikely I'll be going back to school to become an eco-geek, at least I can lend my skillset to helping communicate the mission and, in doing so, play one on TV.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Ginger Limeade

Who knew there were actual recipes for Ginger Limeade? I thought I was being so creative and healthy-like when I had a look around the kitchen Saturday morning and the little computer in my head said, "Must do something with limes."

Of course, my homey Mr. Martin and I both showed up at Pensacola last weekend with a bag of limes each and, because I'm a dumpster diver incapable of discarding perfectly good food, I came home with all of mine and a big chunk of his.

I had invited some friends over for a pool gathering as our weather forecast was stellar - quite different than the steady rain that consumed May - and decided I would utilize my groovy new water pitcher and make Ginger Limeade. I read an anecdote written by a Chinese man who once was asked by his father to drink in his place at a business gathering; I believe the poison was Scotch. The man (was he a doctor? this is beginning to come back to me) knew to temper his drinking with intermittent cups of ginger tea, and awakened the next day feeling fine, whereas the constituent was quite affected. Even though I'm not a Scotch drinker, I did have some poolside beerahs and figured, hey, it wouldn't hurt to mix it up a little with the power of ginger.

Here's how I made mine:

  • Limes. A bunch. Probably 12 or so. Juiced 'them.
  • Big chunk of ginger. Peeled it. Chopped with a wee bit of water in a mini-chopper.
  • 1 cup of sugar.

Mixed lime juice with sugar and stirred until dissolved. Filled with water and added ginger. Good stuff.

The pool gathering was quite fun, and it occurred both days. I did really nothing except enjoy the company of a lovely dinner companion on Saturday night - Miss Bilanciato Vita, thankyouverymuch - worked out, and floated in the pool. It was heavenly and just what the doctor ordered.