What Happened at Publix #1265? And In Canada Today…

After lunch with the brothers last week, I dropped by Publix for a few things for date night.

I put the groceries away and got in the car. Just as I was about to put the Mazda in drive, a woman with the Publix bagger walked in front of the hood. She was motioning me to stop, and she walked around to the driver’s side, so I put the window down.

“This may seem kind of strange, and I’m sorry if I’m bothering you, What size sneaker do you wear?” I was in shorts, with my prosthesis on display, so if there are strange questions, they are usually directed at me.

“Well, I wear a size twelve.”

“Oh,” she said, sadly, “My uncle just passed away and I have several pairs of New Balance sneakers, never been worn. Would you want to take a look just in case?”

“Sure,” I said, not very optimistic they were going to fit. We, this woman with the sneakers, the Publix guy and I walked across the row to her mid-size white SUV, where she popped the back, and sure enough four boxes of 10 1/2s.

She opened up a box and when I looked at them I thought, these might actually fit.

As we looked at the four boxes she said, “my uncle was 81 when he died.”

“Sorry to hear about that,” I said, “My mom died a couple months ago.”

“I’m so sorry. My other uncle and I are going through his things, why don’t you try em on,” she said, so I grabbed a left shoe.

It’s not easy for me to stand up and take my good foot out of a sneaker while balancing on the prosthesis, so I looked at the Publix guy, he was young, with dark hair, but pretty solid in the shoulders. I put my hand on his shoulder, slid the old sneaker off and slipped the new one on. Notice I said slipped, it went on rather easily.

“Wow!” I said, “they fit.”

“Hmm, nice,” the Publix guy said and seeing where this was going, loaded the bags and took the buggy back to the store.

“Oh, I see, they’re extra wides, so I guess that must be it,” I said.

“You see these are brand new, and expensive, here’s the receipt from 2010. I’d rather give them to somebody than to Goodwill. Please take two pairs.”

“This is so kind of you, thanks so much.”

“I’m Debbie, a retired teacher,” she said, ” I’ve lived here my whole life, went to Fairhope High.”

“Thanks Debbie, I’m Alan,” I said, as we shook hands, “my wife’s a school teacher. It’s nice to meet you. I work at the library.”

“I’m so glad I stopped you,” she said.

“Thanks again, come in the library and say hello, you might see a pair on my feet.”

“I might just do that,” Debbie said.

At Publix, shopping is a pleasure and so is giving and receiving.

Canada

The post was supposed to end there. However, I’d be derelict in my duties as Stump the Librarian if I did not share this breaking news today from Western Canada. It’s eerily similar. Not really, it’s just eerie, but it involves New Balance sneakers, dismembered feet and it really makes you wonder. My gosh, it even has a Wikipedia page. I’m about to go down this strange rabbit hole. You can join me if you wish, just click on the sneaker below. To make it out safely, don’t forget your rabbit’s foot.

Post Mortem Amputation-by sea creatures

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Is This Home?

On a recent blue-skied and windy day, I walked the Orange Avenue pier in Fairhope.

The sun was hanging low in the winter sky and a large pine tree shadowed me as I stepped on the boardwalk. Mobile Bay was choppy, frothy, and brown.

“This is not home,” I said to myself as I started walking down the pier toward the covered area. The place seemed unfamiliar, though I come here often.

Standing under the metal-roofed shelter, I looked down at the open deck below. Two boards had popped off their nails. The water had not risen high enough to float them away, but they rested perpendicular to the steadfast boards.

There was no one around so I sat on the railing above the built in seats and wrote down a few observations in my journal. It was a clear day, Mobile and Theodore were visible and in focus.

My eyes, sheltered by sunglasses, teared up as I stared into the west wind.

Not feeling inspired by anything in particular, I decided to leave.

The wind ceased about halfway up the pier. I felt the warmth of the sun on my face. Looking landward, I caught sight of a hawk-like bird just above the tree line. He dropped into the foliage of a live oak and I lost sight of it.

I kept looking. He landed in a pine, closer to the water. I watched him.

Osprey were plentiful around Waquoit Bay in East Falmouth, Massachusetts too. I find it fitting that I’ve lived close to two WBNERRs, the Waquoit Bay and Weeks Bay Natural Estuarine Research Reserves.  I have admired the osprey’s strength, beauty, and fierceness in a northeasterly wind in Waquoit Bay, from the beaches of Nantucket Sound, while in a raft in the Gulf of Mexico as an extra in a Nic Cage movie, and now on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay.

The osprey unfolded it’s wings and leapt into the wind.

It hung in the air to my right, searching the muddy brown bay for life. With a tip of his wing and a wave of his tail, he came closer and lower, flying 20 feet in front of me, my back to the bay. He hung there without effort, scanning the brackish bay for his late afternoon meal. He coasted above the shoreline in front of or just above the tree line of Magnolia Beach park.

As I watched him, he seemed still, motionless, only the unseen air moving around him. It was as if he were hanging from a fishing line, and not under any of the Earth’s gravitational, physical, or natural rules. Surreal.

I don’t know how long I had been watching when we sized each other up by making eye contact. I became lost in this experience, as if the only two things in the world were me and this osprey. A few seconds became suspended in the engagement of two living things.

Time does not stop for man or osprey, but the beats of my life rested in the mesmerizing feathers of that osprey.

FhopePostcard

 

My Art

Steve and I were sitting in his living room Friday morning. We had struck up a conversation about Friday Night Art Walk in Fairhope. The first Friday of every month, businesses open up late and artists hawk their wares from 6-8 PM.

“The girls and I had fun,” Steve said, about their April walk.

I’m kind of sick of it,” I said. In hindsight, it wasn’t fair to Steve because I didn’t really know why. I am a lover and an appreciator of art. I’d be lost without it. Art influences my writing life in ways I dream of and wake up to.

After eight years of living in Fairhope, I can say that I’ve seen some really unique work. Sue and I walk around, have a glass of wine and never seem to buy anything. There is a lot of great work out there, but when a Nall print costs $400 , and a framed photo of the pier costs $250, you start to wonder why you are walking around. My friend and coworker Jillian (Not to be confused with Jill) seems to be having some success in Downtown Mobile with her art and needlework. She creates lifelike scenes, all handmade, often with red yarn. She calls them crochet installations. She also works in clay and recently sold a bust to a salon in downtown Fairhope. So I know art is alive along the Gulf Coast. I’m just not sure what my “art” is, or more importantly, whether I can market it and, ultimately, sell it.

It was only a few days later that I was able to identify why I’d grown bored of walking around during art walk. Art walk was new to Steve, as he strolled one Friday night with his daughters. That’s great, and exacly what it’s all about, getting people together on sidewalks, in stores and galleries to appreciate and ultimately to purchase something creative. What I’ve discovered is that I want to be the artist. I have an MFA. My degree just happens to be in creative writing, and not ceramics, or painting, or other media. My creativity comes from the passion to communicate something in words that another human appreciates.

So I invite you join me tonight in downtown Fairhope from 6-8 PM at the corner of Fairhope Avenue and Bancroft Street for Art walk.

Stump the Librarian

You Give Me a Subject, I’ll Write on it.

$ 2

It’s strange and wonderful how a conversation can alter our perspective. That little conversation with Steve and Jillian’s creative successes proved to be the tipping point for me. Tonight, I’m taking my writing to the street. Thanks to Steve, I’ve learned that I’d much rather fail than live with the regret of never trying. I will make every attempt to to write something creative and unique, and inexpensive. If it’s raining look for me in a dry place.