Art Appreciation

Friday, April 30, 2010

Almost two years ago, I met Art Ordoqui-Payton. The Community Programs Director for HandsOn Northeast Georgia and I met for lunch to discuss the idea I had for starting a volunteer organization for singletons. Art was more than in favor of the idea; he was enthusiastic about it. It wasn't just an affirmation - it was motivation. It was the moment that I realized I could make it happen. It was the day that SingleServe was born.

Since that day, Art has provided guidance, support, energy, passion and persistence to make SingleServe a reality. I could not - would not- have done it without him. He believed in the idea of singles gathering to make friends and make the community a better place. He believed in me. And together, our belief made it happen.

SingleServe launched in January 2009, and we have completed almost a dozen projects. Tomorrow will be our final project under Art's wing - Art Appreciation Day at the Brooklyn Cemetery. He and his family are relocating to San Antonio, TX. It's going to be bittersweet the first time SingleServe volunteers without him. But we'll carry on and continue to be the community servants that Art knew we could be.

Art, I appreciate that you believed in this cause more than I can possibly say. You will be missed.


If you want to show your appreciation for Art, write a blog post about what he's done for you or your organization and post the link on the HandsOn Northeast Georgia blog or Facebook fan page. And if you tweet, please post your link with the hashtag #ArtAppreciation.

Dear Tuesday:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

While I'm certainly aware of the fact that you aren't Monday, you will have to act less like a Monday in order for me to view you in a more kindly manner. I found your behavior today to be a particular affront considering that I got up early (which I never do) and made it to work early (which I never do) - such an anomaly, in fact, that it caused one coworker to suggest the apocalypse was upon us. On a day such as this, when I clearly put my best foot forward, it was quite insulting for you to stick out your proverbial leg and trip me up so royally that I spent the rest of the day on my face.

For example, it would have been more considerate to not play fruit-basket-turnover with my DNS setting early this morning necessitating an hour-long call to tech support in order to allow me to connect to the internet. And if said call had not left me a mere 12 minutes to prepare for my 10 o'clock call. Furthermore, it added insult to injury to spend the better part of my afternoon dealing with yet another technical issue on behalf of a client. A technical issue, I might add, that is so far beyond my realm of technical aptitude that all it really did was deepen my curmudgeonly demeanor and distract me from eating lunch until 2 o'clock. At that point, Tuesday, you really could've taken pity on me. But instead, you brought me an emergency ad deadline, a rewrite request and a reminder that another ad deadline looms with the ad unfinished. Oh, and as I dashed out the door for my 5 o'clock appointment, it wasn't very keen of you to send that traffic jam and push my arrival time ten minutes late.

So, Tuesday, forgive me if I'm looking at you like you peed in my Wheaties. It kind of feels that way. And since you haven't let up on this not-so-comedy of errors, I'm going to go ahead and call the rest of the day a wash. And sternly demand that you keep your confounded hands off Wednesday.


A Tavola: A Review

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

On Saturday evening, we dined al fresco at A Tavola in The Bottleworks off Prince Avenue as an early celebration of my father's birthday. It wasn't my first time at the revived Italian eatery, but the restaurant continues to make an impression on me.

For starters, the service is outstanding. I've never been that I didn't find the waitstaff knowledgeable about the menu, specials and wine selection in addition to being refreshingly pleasant (a trademark not to be found at all Athens dining establishments).

On the patio, we enjoyed a light breeze, lights in the trees and delicious homemade bread with a splendid salted and seasoned crust. Two in our dining party ordered salads - a traditional Caesar topped with curls of Parmesan and a house salad that I envied when it arrived at the table, bright with corn, spring mix and tomatoes. The entrees filed out next: Parmigiana di Melanzane, a deep-dish interpretation of eggplant parm; two plates of Tagliolini al Funghi Misto, a mushroom pasta; and Dad's Tagliata, a ribeye fit for a birthday celebration.

The eggplant parm was piping hot, perfectly seasoned and surprisingly light for such a traditionally heavy dish. The mushroom pasta featured a bouquet of fungi tossed with tagliolini pasta and garnished with a Parmesan cream sauce. It had a rich, full, fragrant flavor. Dad might have taken first place with his ribeye, dressed in a balsamic reduction and accompanied by roasted potatoes and sauteed spinach. Not a morsel was left on anyone's plate.

The final touch to our evening was the tiramisu. At A Tavola, the tiramisu is individually made in a white porcelain bowl. The ladyfingers are in the bottom, steeped in espresso, and topped with a decadent Italian cream. Finished with a fine dusting of cocoa, this dessert is a do-not-miss. It's enchanting. And enrapturing. And...well...really, really delicious.

So next time you're thinking of going Italian...think about A Tavola. The atmosphere is lovely, the service is gracious and the food is delicious. Plus, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, you can check out one of their brick oven pizzas. Even though your pants might not thank you, your stomach will.

How to Give Your Cat Medicine

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

When I noticed that my beloved Kudzu seemed to be dropping weight in an effort to get high-school skinny, I took him to the vet like any overanxious hypochondriac pet owner would. Except his high-school skinny turned out to be a four-pound weight loss in as many months. The chub lovingly concealed under soft gray belly fur had been melting away a little at a time. This alarming reduction in size led to a blood test that led to...well, a whole mess of trips to the vet hospital. I now know far more about my cat's anatomy than my own. And now, a month - and a gajillion diagnostic tests later - we still aren't clear on what's wrong. But we are clear that prednisone must be administered orally twice daily for the foreseeable future.

Dog owners, you have no idea how easy you have it. Sure, maybe Fido isn't so dense that he'll scarf down the carefully disguised medicine-as-treat. Perhaps you have to hide it in cheese. A slice of deli ham. Wrap it in bacon. Or maybe you can mix it in with the Pedigree that he eats just the same.

But a cat? Oh no. No, no, no. He is not so unsophisticated as to be tempted by that dull brown chunk of chicken flavored medicine. And he will not be sweet-talked. Or cajoled. Or silently overcome in a standoff of wills. He'd rather go hungry. He'd rather turn aside in exasperation, settle on his behind and delicately lick his fore-paw as though he might as well take a bath if he's going to be in the presence of such a repulsive, inedible monstrosity. He will note the shape and texture of the offending capsule and detect with razor-sharp precision even the tiniest granules of it hidden among his regular gravy-rich Fancy Feast, chunks of rotisserie chicken, strips of bacon. And you will have to concede - wave the white flag of defeat and devise another way. Like the syringe. Oh blessed syringe.

So, feline fanciers, please, take note, and save yourself some unpleasant flesh wounds.

You must carefully choose an enclosed space - a space of a size that you have room to maneuver but limit his ability to escape. Select a cohort and rock-paper-scissors for the jobs of holder or injector. The holder must assume the immobilizing position: on the ground, on your knees, hands outstretched holding the corners of two towels. (Please note: one is wholly insufficient.) The injector must capture the cat and report to the enclosed space. The cat should be placed hindquarters toward the knees of the holder. Before the injector fully releases, the holder must encircle the cat in the towels, keeping the knees locked together to prevent the "backdoor" escape route. It is recommended that the holder apply gentle body weight to the cat by leaning forward. This seems to encourage submission (however half-hearted). Secure the front legs by closing the edges of the towels, keeping the opening for the head only as large as absolutely necessary to prevent the "duck in the cover" maneuver.

You may now be operating under the misapprehension that the injector gets off easy, but let me assure you, her time is coming. Now that the holder has the cat sufficiently immobilized, the injector must grasp the cat firmly by the jaws in such a manner as to force the mouth open. As quickly as possible, the syringe must be placed close to the mouth and dispensed. Put the tip toward the middle of the tongue. Too close to the front and those clamping jaws will shut down; too far in the back and you risk a choking hazard.

Though the process sounds complicated, if the holder and the injector execute their roles smoothly, medicine can be administered in 5 seconds or less. Yeah, that's right. We're Olympic material now.