WE’ve Moved!

I’ve shifted most everything over to Blogger, culling a few posts along the way (mostly stuff that had no views or that I felt needed to go).

You can now read me at:  http://hillbillymfa.blogspot.com/

Thanks Y’all!

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Hillbillymfa is moving!

After several months using WordPress, I’ve decided to defect to Blogger.  I’m in the process of fixing up the new blog over there — and I will post a new URL as soon as the new one is complete. Unfortunately, for the moment, I will have to archive past posts here.  When i figure out a way to shift archives over to Blogger, I’ll let you know.

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AR Plates Stir Controversy

The news just came out and you’ll likely see it on local news stations tonight, but I thought I’d throw this up for those of you doing research on Arkansas culture and life. A recent set of Arkansas License plates with the letter combination of “NGR” have been deemed offensive, for the obvious reasons. That particular letter combination will no longer be used.

I don’t know if I would have noticed this at first. Not out of insensitivity but out of just pure-D myopia. I’m often distracted and don’t pay attention. I don’t even know my own license plate number. A lot of bloggers are hissy-fitting over the tired old “we’re too politically correct” and “the lady who noticed it is just suffering from white guilt” arguments. Personally, I think she did the right thing. I mean, there’s a reason why states skip certain letter combinations. If “FUK” isn’t acceptable then I see no difference here. There are just some unfortunate combinations and it doesn’t hurt anyone to avoid them. If you were young and single and female and got “HOE” as your letter combinations, I bet you’d ask for another one. I would.

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Arkansas Last in College Grads

We are officially behind West Virginia as the state with the least percentage of the population holding college degrees. Down to 18.2 from 19.7 percent. I don’t know factors are included here, other than what the AP said by calling it “number of adults completing college.” They give the numbers in such a way to read like raw population percentages, as opposed to number of people who start and finish college. I would think those are two different numbers, but I didn’t take stats in college!

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Up Northwest

I drove up to Fayetteville on Monday morning to spend a couple of days with my best friend Lesha, owner of Little Mountain Bindery. I haven’t been up to the north part of the state at all during the first half of this year, but during the last month I’ve been up there three times.

First, we went to Newton county to my family cabin over the fourth of July weekend. The next weekend, Hubby and I drove up to Branson to see Terry Fator in the RFDTV theater. This week I went up to the home of the Razor Pigs to sit in Lesha’s quiet little studio and house, hang out with my “nieces” Miranda and Naomi, and talk about books and life.

I can’t express how much I miss her most of the time. When we both left Little Rock in 1999 to go to MFA programs 2,000 miles apart, I didn’t know what to do with myself without her.

Who would I call when I was angry at a significant other? Who would know exactly what I mean when I say, “You know, I’m really sick of domestic fiction. These days, if you’re going to write a neurotic suburban meditation on dysfunction, you ought to just go ahead and write a memoir. It will sell better”?

She’s read almost every book I love with irrational passion, including the world history Salt. So when I complain about “domestic fiction,” she knows exactly what I’m talking about from her own literary ramblings.

No one in my current set of local friends really shares this level of book geekdom. I have wonderful writer friends all over the country who are but an e-mail away, but it isn’t quite the same as explaining the plot of my slow-moving novel to Lesha over a glass of wine in her kitchen.

I realized on this trip that I’d missed a lot of things in her life — the girls are growing up so wonderful and smart. I also noticed that, somehow, Lesha became an amazing artist during the past few years. I watched her work on book restoration at her bindery most of yesterday afternoon.

She was competent and confident; her hands were so steady. I’ve admired the blank books she’s made for me in the past, and the work on display in her studio (including beautiful paper boxes), but I’d never really spent time watching her restore someone’s beloved text to a new life.

When I arrived at the bindery Monday afternoon, she was carefully painting a leather treatment onto the new covers of ten or so Dickens novels, published around 1900. They belonged to a woman who got them from her father, who treasured them. Lesha and her team matched the marbling on the original covers, restored the bindings, and restamped the spines with gold lettering.

Yesterday, she worked on a bible that needed a new cover. It was obviously routine work for her, but she handled it with a care I rarely see in my own working life. I looked around at the other projects lined up on her work tables. A huge 24 X 12 inch scrapbook lay on the opposite table, where it too, was awaiting a new cover and binding. It was filled with stories about local literacy projects — obviously the accomplishments of someone’s life’s work.

I envied her ability to bring meaning into the everyday during those few hours –that quiet confident magic of reincarnating someone’s treasure. I was struck with how important her work really is. Without people who know how to sew bindings by hand, we will eventually lose the original artifacts of literature. Those Dickens novels will last another hundred years now.

She and I often dream together about ways we could, somehow, manage to live in the same town. But I’d rather have her off up northwest if she’s going to spend her time at the bindery.

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There Ain’t Nothing Wrong With Me

So say the doctors. Maybe something to do with bile salts not binding together well enough, or something. Got me a prescription I haven’t filled yet cause I was too busy running around buying a new cell phone and new laundry baskets and a book I have to review for my freelance gig at the end of the month.  The upshot to two major surgical tests in two weeks is that I’ve managed to lose 10lbs.  Want to lose weight?  Have some doctor check your colon.  All that fasting will do a number on all that extra weight.  The side benefit? I think my stomach has shrunk cause I can’t eat a whole meal even if I wanted to right now.

The most exciting thing going on here lately is that my dog ate my cell phone.  I don’t know how he does it or why small electronic things taste good to him, but for whatever reason the doxie loves to eat him some electronic dinners after we go to bed.  He’s eaten three remote controls. Oh, and shoes. I’ve lost so many shoes over the last year I’ve lost count. No amount of whooping his tiny dog butt matters. He’s gonna chew no matter what.

You see, Mrs. Hillbilly isn’t much of a housekeeper. I’m too busy being creative for that.  I don’t pick up after myself well.  I mean, I do it — but it comes in bursts.  I clean the house from top to bottom before I start a big project, or at the end of the semester, that kind of thing.  And when I go to bed at night, I’m well known to leave whatever I’m working on just sitting out on the coffee table. Where the evil Mr. Dacotah can get ahold of it.  The cell phone was the final straw. Those things are expensive.  Ridiculously so.

I’m going to have to change my ways. So I bought a nice little tasteful box to put the shoes in ( cause I’m down to three pair, so I can fit them in it) and I put it right by the door.  Then, I realized that my laundry baskets caused a stain on my hardwood floor. I don’t know how or why but there’s a big permanent black spot on the floor where the laundry basket was.  This is the second time that’s happened. Time to toss them too.

Thank goodness we have a Container Store in the neighborhood now.  It solves all those “where will I put my shoes to thwart the tiny dog” problems.  Cause you know, I can’t put them in the closet where they belong. Because THAT is full of sweatshirts and other things.  Home organization is not my forte.

There’s been almost no Hillbilly news to report lately and nothing exciting in the land of Hillbilly art or blogs or anything else.  So I may slow down here until the Fall, when hunting season starts, and there’s sure to be plenty to gab about.  Hope ya’ll aren’t melting out there, now that the humidity has finally kicked in!

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Medical Mystery: No More Southern Food? The Horror!

I have thought for years that I had stress-induced ulcers made worse by acid reflux. I’ve been taking prevacid every day for the past four or five years. I had a gall-bladder removal a couple of years ago, after which a lot of the symptoms I have got better but did not go away. Thus, the whole ulcer thing. But I never got properly tested.

After having some testing done this week it turns out that I don’t have any ulcers at all! I was shocked when the doctor told me this. In fact, I nearly fell off my chair. What does that mean? Where does the continual pain come from? Why on earth would I have all these stomach problems if I have no ulcers and actually, according to the doctor, have an extremely healthy stomach for a 34-year-old woman?

The testing continues. One possibility that I have in the back of my head is Celiac’s disease, which is basically an allergy to gluten. I’m having further tests done to see what the issue is and calling my doctor tomorrow to see if they can test me for this. Things started coming together after my best friend (owner of Little Mountain Bindery, check the blogroll), mentioned her aunt has it and has many of the same symptoms. Then I remembered — crap — I have a cousin who has it! Then I googled a list of symptoms.

I just never paid much attention to my cousin because, well, she’s a little wacky, god bless her. And being a doctor’s kid, I was trained to ignore what sounds like hypochondriac babbling. And she always kind of had that tendency. Of course, now I feel bad for ignoring my cousin. That list of symptoms is strangely accurate to my situation. And my genetics just make it more possible — it’s common in women of Nordic and Celtic descent. I’m Nordic on my mom’s side and Celtic on my dad’s.

Obviously, there’s no telling what it could be — but if it is Celiac’s, then I’m going to have to completely quit eating southern food (no fried chicken, no biscuits and gravy, no fried okra). The consequences of this are just about more than I care to think about at the moment. The lack of fried chicken and okra and 10,000 southern-food things in my life will be a serious issue for me. I’ll never again be able to eat my beloved shrimp etoufee at the Oyster Bar. Or, oh my the horror, any cobbler of any sort!

I love me some good southern food, by god. I’m going to try not to stress out about it until I know for sure. In the mean time, I’m going to just hope that modern medicine will figure out it’s not Celiac’s and I don’t have to consider giving up southern cooking!

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