Collecting

I’m attracted to the object but drawn to the hunt. The search for treasure. The quest to discover the forgotten or see the unseen. Alas, I also find myself saddled with a great affection for, and tendency to personify, inanimate objects. As in, I might be wandering an antique or thrift store and come upon a small wooden goat, just sitting on the shelf, all alone. And the next thing you know, I have great empathy for the loneliness of said goat and I purchase it with my quarter and take it home and place him in a spot of prominence in my house, where he is adored daily and, I come to believe, is much happier.

goat

I collect a lot of handmade items. Embroidered textiles, quilts, table linens, pottery, and quirky handmade art, purchased from flea markets and thrift stores. A lot of my reasoning for procuring these items is not based on “sound” mind, but more from “feeling.” I find myself considering the maker and the time and care they took to create the item. I consider the delicate stitches and am struck by the patience they required. Or I notice the hurried and uneven stitches, demonstrating a drive for completion versus a desire of perfection; both create beauty in the end. I think about the individual making the item and wonder why there are no loved ones holding on to this bit of history, no family to admire this connection to their past. This makes me thoughtful and a bit sad, often driving me into my own almost-empty pocket to purchase the object and call it my own.

quilt

My consideration of the object is equal to my consideration for the creator. I honor those who came before me, whomever they were or still are. The residual energy that was once in their hands now lies in my own, evidenced by their creation being recognized, appreciated, and welcomed. If I am able to purchase the item or am only able to honor their energy for a fleeting moment, I am grateful to fill this role.

windups_blog

I have been an avid collector of one thing or another for most of my life. Yet, with every filled space there must be an equal empty space. Somewhere. There must be balance. Even I reach limits with my madness, particularly with items that are not handmade and/or take up a lot of visual space. I’m a skilled purger of “stuff.” The Fiestaware dishes I had amassed became a monkey on my back and I rid myself of all of them. I’ve downsized my collection of wind-up toys (shown above, prior to downsizing) to only ones holding sentimental value. And I don’t seek out Peter Max items anymore, although I have yet to be convinced to rid myself of what I own. Oh, and that goat ^^up there^^? Come to find out, he was created by a Swedish designer by the name of Gunnar Ander. I sold him to a collector. He was actually kind of hard to let go, but I knew he would be properly admired, so we parted ways.

bourbons

All in all,  I’m much more discerning these days, only picking up items I simply can’t resist, for one reason or another. My book collection grows and grows, shrinks a little, and then returns again. That’s about the only thing I collect wherein I find I have too much and then, suddenly, not enough. Well. Books and booze. Liquor takes me in an opposite direction on the creation timeline, though. Instead of honoring the past while appreciating an object made long ago, I look towards the future and consider all the possibilities, all the concoctions I could create. Because, really, there’s not much more satisfying than an evening spent browsing through books on your own living room floor, with a freshly made cocktail in your hand.

Or maybe that’s just me.

 

 

Sol

She’s so hot.

fireball

A fireball, waiting to warm your belly.

Her radiant madness setting your heart on fire.

Stand too near, too long, and her aura burns right through you.

beachsun

She gives all she has to give, tirelessly.

She is there for you, almost every day.

Yet…she can be elusive.

suninthewoods

Some avoid her strength, intimidated by her confidence, and seek the darkness of shadows.

anotherbeachsun

I choose to bask in her warmth whenever she lets me, wherever I might be.

I find her irresistible.

skyfire

She has the power to destroy us all.

And she will. One day.


I love the Sun. Year after year, I eagerly await the time to slip out of the every day, slip out of the chores of adulthood, slip out of any preconceived notion of what I should or should not be doing. I eagerly await the time I can slip out and slip into the sun.

suninmyface


My first love is whiskey, yet I find myself drinking my share of gin as the days get longer and hotter. Occasionally, I find the perfect shrub to compliment bourbon and I get a thrill of drinking my cherished amber elixir with a fresh fruity shrub.

apricot

Here we have:

  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • 1.5 oz. of apricot shrub
  • 3-4 dashes of Smoke & Salt Crude Bitters

Add 2 cubes of ice, topped off with club soda. Lucious.

Tennessee

My grandparents used to live in Dover, TN, on the Cumberland River*. It seemed to be the place my grandfather, Delmar Frazier, felt the most grounded by his roots.

Delmar spent many years traveling to post offices and county clerk offices in North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas, and who knows where else, to trace his ancestry by tracking down birth certificates and death records. I’m betting he had a good sense of it before he even started, as stories had been handed down through generations. But my grandfather, being a man desirous of facts and evidence, made the physical journeys to confirm and clarify the roots of his lineage. (This was long before the days of the internet and online information). He traced our family back to Samuel Frazier, who was of Scotch descent and one of the original signers of Tennessee’s constitution. Samuel’s family had settled in North Carolina where he met Rebecca Julian, “a Huguenot of great beauty and culture,” from Guilford County, N.C. Samuel and Rebecca settled in the foothills of the NC Appalachians, in the “Old Stone House” . The area became known as the state of Franklin, which was short lived, and eventually became Eastern Tennessee.

FraziersblogDelmar Ray Frazier, Ava Strachota Frazier, and my Dad, Franklin T. Frazier

(The name Franklin Tennessee Frazier runs through a few generations of my family. My own father was given the name until he was taken to be baptized. Apparently, “Tennessee” was not considered a “Christian” name, so they changed it to Timothy for the ceremony and he has been known simply as Franklin T. Frazier ever since.)

Another interesting turn in our family tree involves Nathan Boone, the youngest son of a man you may have heard of, a pioneer by the name of Daniel Boone. Nathan had a daughter named Melcina. At the age of 20, Melcina married James Howard, who died four years later. They had two children.  At the age of 28, Melcina married again, this time to Franklin T. Frazier and they subsequently had six children, one of them given the name of Nathan Boone Frazier. Nathan Boone Frazier married Linnie May Furby and had ten children. Their eldest, Franklin T. Frazier was Delmar’s father, my great grandfather and after whom my own father was named.

Suffice it to say, my grandfather had strong feelings regarding his bloodline, was proud of the determination our ancestors had to forge ahead, not only geographically or in battle, but also in life. He felt a strong sense of place, particularly in Tennessee. My grandfather and I share the same birthday and always shared a strong, unspoken bond because of it. Whether it was due to our shared birthdate or not, we also share the same reverence for individuals who contributed to the blood running through our veins. My grandfather died many years ago, but I carry him and our entire bloodline with me wherever I go.

ancestry

I began to tell you of the location of my grandparents’ house with a completely different goal in mind, different than the telling of my roots. But that’s how things go sometimes – we head out in one direction, take what we think will be a small detour, and end up in an overgrown thicket, full of twists and turns. We do our best to get back on track, but occasionally, we find ourselves enamored with the new path, the new surroundings, so we linger. Today, I shall do just that. I shall fix myself a Whiskey Sour (one of my grandfather’s favorite drinks) and linger with my family, my roots, my blood. It IS Memorial Day weekend, after all. Seems appropriate.

*Post was edited on 6.1.18 to correct a poor memory. My grandparents lived in Dover (outside of Clarksville/Nashville) on the Cumberland River.


whiskey sour

I actually make my Whiskey Sour a bit different than tradition. I use a Lemon-Lime Shrub as my sweet AND sour, mix it with whiskey, throw in a cherry, and top it off with just a splash of club soda. The shrub is pretty intense, so it needs the soda to balance it off. It’s QUITE satisfactory on a hot Spring-but-feels-like-Summer day.

(Soon. Soon we will talk shrubs!)

Truth

You know the type. They’re rather quiet upon first meeting. You may even think them shy or rude. You might have a sense of the two-ton locker of life’s many lessons they carry upon their shoulders, and you do your best to avoid them. They walk around, brow furrowed, with an ever so slight rise to the corner of their mouth…a sneer or the beginning of a smile, but the cause will remain a secret, never shared. Not with a friend, a lover, a priest, or even you. Some secrets are only meant for one.

They have a copious vocabulary from which to choose to explain their myriad of ricocheting thoughts, but they rarely find a worthy audience. When they do finally speak, their unminced words fly swiftly and pierce the heart of their target. The ignorant or unprepared retreat to dark corners and lick their wounds while the occasional few, those of us with burdens and secrets all our own, may turn to face the archer and his bow and think, “YES. Someone else is paying attention.”


A guy I once found attractive asked me what I wanted out of life. He seemed rather disdainful of my life choices and was clearly trying to decide if I were worth pursuing. I thought about his question for a moment – a moment in which I weighed all the possibilities of a career, family, possessions, money – and quickly answered: “Truth.” The look of disapproval on his face was quite evident. I smiled at the revelation and walked away, knowing our relationship had ended before it had even begun. It was at that moment I realized: Not everyone pays attention.

The pointed comment or dismissive glance contain more truth than many are prepared for and are often overlooked. The arrow straight to the heart tends to misguide the best of intentions. And the shot of whiskey is a secret unto itself. Its truth can be shared, but only with you and you alone. All you need do is pay attention.

sip

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving On

 

marthaMom, @ 1972

My mother’s personal motto was “Get over it.” I seemingly never could.

When I was a young girl, I was occasionally overwhelmed with dramatic “it’s-the-end-of-the-world-my-life-is-over” sorrow from a broken heart, completely befuddled by the never apparent reason for my existence, or frustratingly disgruntled over more practical concerns, like the shape of my body or the crookedness of my smile.

I needed time to wallow in my despair and dream of the guy who would take me away from the mundanity of the suburbs….I needed time to think, to analyze, to try and figure out what the point of being good in algebra was if all that lie ahead were jobs and death. (Death! I mean, I was going to die one day!)…And, to complete the tragic teenage trilogy of heart, mind, and body, I even needed time to focus and figure out why I couldn’t make my butt fill out those jeans like so many other girls did or make my teeth miraculously retreat from their ever growing overbite. These things were clearly all of great importance; I wasn’t interested in “getting over” anything.

Try as I might to escape to my room and listen to college radio while blowing smoke rings out the window, my mother would eventually open the door, tell me to use an ashtray, and to get over whatever it was I was distracted by at the moment.

It took me until some time in my 30’s to realize she might have been onto something.

It makes good sense, really. One should use an ashtray when smoking, versus a Dixie cup filled with water. You tip that sucker over and you’ve got a big stinky mess on your carpet.

But the other thing, too. The getting over it. Worrying about something, fuming over a perceived slight, being angry at someone, focusing on a problem that would actually not BE a problem if you just quit focusing on it – things like that. More often than not, getting over it is exactly what’s needed. We need to move on or we get stuck. I’ve seen stuck. I don’t want any part of it.

Of course, I still like to sit with a concern or worry a bit, just a bit, now and again. And even though my ass never did grow into the perfect butt and my overbite gets worse every year, I really have learned to move on. I mean, we’re all gonna die one day! Seems as good a time as any to get over it.


A few years back, I turned my mother on to Bourbon Slush and it has definitely become one of her summertime favorites. It’s also one of my son’s favorites, although I omit the bourbon. He’s only at the beginning of his teenage angst…he’ll get over it too, I’m sure, but in the meantime, the booze is best kept for Mama.

bourbon slush_blog

There are many recipes for Bourbon Slush out there, with the consistent core ingredients of sweet tea, lemonade, orange juice, and bourbon. The ratios and quantities you use – well, that’s up to you. I always encourage experimentation. My general rule is “less sugar, more bourbon.” What I finally settled on is:

  • 2 cups of super strong tea. Something like Lipton. I use the family sized tea bags and put 2 of them in 2 cups of water and let it steep as long as possible.
  • Mix with 1 cup sugar when water is still warm and stir until sugar dissolves.
  • Add around 7 cups of water. Now you have your sweet tea…
  • Add 12 oz of lemonade concentrate and 6 oz of orange juice concentrate. Stir everything until melted and combined.
  • Add about 4 cups of bourbon and mix well. You could add less or maybe even a little more. But I think this amount let’s you know you’re drinking bourbon and still allows the mixture to freeze a bit. Too much, and it may never reach the slush stage. You’d probably end up with more of a slosh…

Put the mixture into large tupperware (or multiple smaller tupperware) and freeze overnight. It won’t ever freeze completely solid due to the bourbon, so just scrape it with a knife or fork to break it up, scoop it into a glass, and done. Slush. SO GOOD.

Lost and Found

The owner of the bookshop was known for his generosity. He provided support – emotional as well as financial – for more lost souls than I think even he realized. The schizophrenics, depressed, socially awkward, or those simply down on their luck – all were welcome in the door and were heard, actually listened to. Unstated requirements for employment were a sense of patience, a profound capability for empathy, and an interest in “other than.” All of us who worked there had a place in our hearts for the downtrodden, a love of books, and each with our own individual sense of social awkwardness.

My boss opened the letter, read it, and handed it to me. The author of the letter referred to the “cute girl behind the counter.” Someone had told him of my boss’s generosity and that we might be willing to send him some books, so he was writing to request some reading material to get him through his days in the county lock-up. As I was the ONLY girl behind the counter, the responsibility of filling the request fell to me.

The request was for some beat authors, Kerouac and the like, as well as some Richard Brautigan and Bukowski. Classic, I thought. A young man and his angst. I knew the angst all too well, as I was a big fan of the same authors at the time. I was still (and am STILL) on the fence about Bukowski. Some of his writings I connect with, but other times, he just comes off as a raging drunkard – which he was, of course, and is part of his appeal. He leaves me in that state of not knowing exactly HOW I feel about him, often enough that I don’t think I’ll ever shut the book on him altogether…but I digress.

I received the letter, gathered up some books, created a bill of sale (we were going to request payment, but rather nominal, to cover postage and our cost of the books), and packed them up and sent them on their way. I didn’t enclose any correspondence, other than the bill of sale and a simple note saying something like:

Here you go. Enjoy your books.
– The girl behind the counter

The letters continued to arrive at the bookstore, almost weekly, over the next few months. I had come to realize that our friend in jail remembered me from the bar where I worked as well. I began to have a vague recollection of who he was, a quiet sort, with a handsome face, that stood back and watched. The kind of guy that I generally didn’t pay too much mind to, other than to hand over a beer and take his cash.

He eventually asked me my name. I reluctantly told him, as I had grown fond of my nom de plume. I eventually ask how he landed in jail. He reluctantly told me. Apparently, he was upset with his girlfriend at the time (I don’t recall why), got very drunk, piled all her clothes in the driveway, and lit them on fire. She was none too pleased and called the cops.

And then, one day, he got out of jail and hitchhiked half way across the state to see me. We had a nice visit, walking and talking as if we’d known one another for years. He tried to find a job and hung around town for a couple of weeks and then…he was gone. He decided to follow his dream of becoming a writer, broke his probation, and headed West.

I haven’t heard from him since.


california whiskey_blog

Low Gap, a California whiskey gifted to me for my last birthday.

Dreamers may go to California, but the results of those dreams sometimes make their way back to us on the East Coast. A very light, easy, and extremely pleasant sip. No fires lit, no cops called. All is right and well.

Authenticity

My days selling used books were followed by nights slinging beer in a bar. My daylight hours wereI often found myself chuckling at the absurdity of days spent with people looking for answers followed by nights with people avoiding the questions. But it seemed to be exactly what I needed at the time.

While working in the bar, I didn’t take any shit. Granted, being surrounded by about 8 guys who have your back on any given night allows one to feel a bit brazen and self-assured. That being as it was, there were times when I was the one called upon to lead an asshole out the door. We had realized that a drunk is much less inclined to start a fight with a 5’4″ girl than a big guy working the door, even if she was wearing Dr. Marten’s and had a pack of Camel’s rolled up in her sleeve. It always gave me great pleasure to see the look in the guy’s eyes when I pushed my way through the crowd to tell him, “You. It’s time to go. You gotta GO. NOW.” As confused as they might be, they always left. Peacefully.

You see and learn a lot about human nature while standing behind a bar. Almost as much as you learn working in a used bookstore. Granted, the drunken, twenty-something and none-of-us-know-what-the-hell-we’re-doing kind of human nature is of a different sort than the nature of the tortured soul, depressed writer, struggling student, or ignored housewife who wanders the aisles of a bookstore…Or is it? You’d be surprised at how little the two populations overlapped, but when they did, I was grateful for the rare opportunity to serve in both capacities – as one who assisted on a quest for knowledge as well as provided the tools to momentarily forget what they already knew.

Ultimately, I felt much more of a connection with the answer seekers, be they a bit mad or unstable at times, than I did with the question avoiders. I had much more patience listening to the delusional ravings of a guy off his meds than to some tired ass line from a dude in a bar. They’re both exhausting, but the madman is at least being authentic.

Authenticity. I know it when I see it. I also know when it’s not there. An abundance can be found in both books and booze. You could also discover a complete lack therein. It all depends on your approach.


Straight up, no bullshit.

weller