Thursday, December 29, 2005

Home again, home again...

Back home after a relatively quick trip for a family Christmas (and my little sister's 42nd birthday) in Atlanta. It was a lovely visit, good to spend time with family. The presents I gave seemed to be well-received, which makes me happy. And we ate very, very well -- always important! :)

The day after Christmas we went to the Georgia Aquarium, which was absolutely mobbed -- an aquarium staffer told me they'd sold 17,000 advance tickets for that day, plus walk-ins! -- but was very enjoyable nonetheless. They have two whale sharks (named Ralph and Norton), which are enormous enough to be impressive but at 16-17 feet are only about half the size they will be at maturity. The tank that houses them along with a few hundred other fish holds 6 million gallons of water, and has lots of viewing windows, including one the size of a big movie screen. Had it not been so very crowded, I would have loved to just sit there for a couple of hours with my notebook, watching fish and writing. They also have five beluga whales, one of whom has invented the game of blowing bubble rings: he surfaces, takes a mouthful of air, then dives and blows a ring-shaped bubble, which he then plays with. Sometimes he makes a bubble ring big enough to put his face through. It's hysterical to watch, and apparently two of the other whales have learned this behavior from him. They also have a giant Pacific octopus, which I was able to see briefly, but there was a really bad crowd at that spot because it was a popular exhibit with a very small viewing window. And otters! And piranhas! And a coral reef, and lots of other really cool stuff.

The next day we wandered around and shopped in Little Five Points, which has a lot of neat shops although I started feeling extremely middle-aged and uncool there. The best was Charis Books, a feminist bookstore with a pretty good poetry section. I love feminist bookstores (used to volunteer at the one here in Bloomington before it closed down shortly after Borders and Barnes & Noble came to town, go figure) and this was a nice one. My mom had given me one of those Visa gift cards for Christmas and Charis got a pretty good chunk of it. :)

We ate at a couple of good restaurants, both highly recommended if you're ever in Atlanta. After the aquarium we went to Six Feet Under, so named because a) it's a seafood place and b) it's across the street from a humongous cemetery. I had the blackened shrimp tacos, which were wonderful. The place looks like a dive from the outside, but the service was fabulous and the food was very Southern and very very good. For my sister's birthday dinner, we went to Watershed, a casual-but-nice place in Decatur which is co-owned by Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls. Since it was Tuesday, it was fried chicken night -- a very big deal at Watershed; they often sell out of the fried chicken early in the evening, so we went early, 5:30. Their fried chicken is pretty famous, and takes 48 hours to prepare (soaked in brine & buttermilk, among other exacting preparations) and fully lives up to its billing. You get a heaping plate of it (I think there were 4 pieces), along with a big glob of very good mashed potatoes, two excellent flakey biscuits, and these wonderful garlic green beans. So, so good.

I don't have to go back to work until the 3rd (taking a little vacation time). I hope to use some of this much-awaited downtime for some reading and writing. I want to revise "Breach" (my chapbook ms.) and start sending it out again, revise some poems, and maybe even start writing some new ones. Also, get my grant application started.

I am still catching up on blog-reading and email -- I'll catch up eventually! I hope everyone's holidays have been peaceful. And onward we roll into 2006. Wow, that's a big number. Yikes...


David said...

I came across you via your comment on Emily Lloyd's site. Two things:

1) As a native Atlantan, reading your description of my hometown elicited feelings of nostalgia.

2) I just read your poem in Stickman... and was impressed.

Lyle Daggett said...

That stuff about the whale blowing bubble rings and then playing with them is just amazing. I love it when animals do something, in that absolutely casual way they have, that reminds us humans just how much we've been underestimating them.

cornshake said... time at the aquarium!! glad you had a lovely time!!

Amy said...

As a Stone Mountain native, I am in the same zone as david hg above: this post warms the center of my chest.

Now I'm off to read your poem~

Happy New Year!