Posts Tagged ‘Atlanta’

“Via Negativa”, from ‘Pitcher of Moon’

February 24, 2015

Winter Scene, 3

great room 4

Winter still drags on, and most of the country has been hit with deep snowstorms.  In the South, we have received almost nothing of snow, the most beautiful element of Winter.  Right now, as I write this, I look out my window with blurry eyes (it is early) and it is either rain or a very light snow falling. It is rain, the snow an illusion brought on by aging eyes.

Probably because Atlanta isn’t Boston with over 100 inches of snow this year, I look toward the solitude of being quieted in a snow fall.  The air is muffled, the greys and black of the trees stand out in sharp contrast to everything around them, the traffic halts, only the birds, cardinals and wrens and whatever attacks the bird feeders in the yards are going about their business of survival.  Inside, thanks to the labor of this fall, with a good stack of dried wood, the woodstove heats most of this old house, which is a miracle in of itself. My husband has redesigned and remodeled this 1880’s house with  a more open floor plan.  It’s not the quaint Victorians with their turrets and gingerbread, but a solid English farmhouse, built 3 miles south of downtown Atlanta, an oddity now and probably back then.  The original owners and builders were the Ragsdales, out from Lancaster, England in the 1860’s, owners of West End Horse and Mule, a carriage company. 

This poem is about the trials of Winter.  We have not experienced the continuous raw weather, the dangerous snows, the complete interruptions of power, nor the isolation where you can’t travel or even get out of your house. But this particular season changes much, gives a breather in the usual activities and within that particular space, can nudge forth a deeper creativity.  It certainly is a cessation in the usual activity of humankind and beast.

Lady Nyo

Via Negativa

Winter is the perfect channel

To carry Via Negativa,

No static

Just Silence, Stillness

And the Dark.

On this path,

We sit in contemplation,

No answers,

No struggle,

We are as empty as an eggshell.

This time is colored by little outside;

A flash of darting cardinal

Like a stream of blood

racing past our eyes,

The sound of a falling limb

makes us search the skies,

The moaning of the wind

bustling around limbs,

And the rattle of the skeleton-bones

Of attic haunts.

And yes, Death,

As Winter brings

To those who succumb to frigid winds,

And those lost from shelter.

We spiral into the Darkness,

Where we barely draw breath,

Conserve our energy,

And stare outside at such

A blank palette.

Stilling ourselves,

We draw closer to low fires,

Scratch our dried skin

Like a monk in a hair shirt,

And, with time and patience–

Spiral back into

the light of Spring.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

originally published in “Pitcher Of Moon”, Createspace,, 2014

“Morning”, a new poem.

June 14, 2014

(a small watercolor of fruit trees in the back yard)

This spring is so beautiful.  We have torn up the back yard and planted grass seed, trimmed bushes, taken down fences, planted more roses and the grass is lush and green.  In all these years here I haven’t had a rolling swath of green that extends to the far boundaries of the property. Beyond is a woods and we are visited by raccoons, foxes, wild turkey, hawks, rabbits:  this is an urban area, three miles from downtown Atlanta, but the wildlife hasn’t gotten the memo.  The trees are heavy with peaches, apples and pears, though the beans didn’t come up in the garden.  The tomatoes are running amuck and the black berries and blue berries are busting their boundaries.  Even the grapes, usually dormant, have heavy chandeliers of pale green fruit under the leaves.

I go out with my tea in the morning and the birdsong is amazing.  The day may get complicated, but the morning is calm, peaceful and turns my thoughts to a gratitude for these simple blessings.

Lady Nyo





A wedge of sullen moon

Pales above

As life awakes beneath.


Birdsong threads through

Trees, a staccato cacophony

Anointing the air

Like colored ribbons

Weaving back and forth

The timbre ever changing.


Green spring trees, tender, tender

An early nursery of life

Can anything be wrong with the world?


The hammock swings gently of its own accord

Perhaps a haunt, a ghost invisible.


Faint gunshots far in the distance last night

Where some would

Impose their vile humanity

Startling for a moment

Until sleep reclaims.

So it goes, this is the city.


The hoot of a sleepy owl in the morning

Echoes the cry of a distant train

While seed pods from maple trees

Flutter to the ground.


We have survived the dark,

It’s blackened mysteries,

Alien things that rattle us.

We are cradled in Nature’s promise

Of life beginning again each morning

While the moon above yawns, fades and disappears.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

Thinning The Herd….Social Darwinism at work.

April 13, 2014



Children playing in a field

 UPDATE:  I tried to get info from the police (and it IS Public Record) and they would tell me nothing. However, a reporter did email me with the police report. Apparently this kid on the motorbike was carrying a small passenger, a young child and he ran the red light and both of them ended up in the hospital, with severe head and body injuries.  This kid refused to sign anything in the presence of his mother.  Thinning the herd is a harsh term, but perhaps it’s just damn appropriate when these kids are allowed by their stupid parents motorbikes, no helmets and no effort to any intelligent thinking.  Social Darwinism at work.  That’s what we’re left with here in Atlanta.

Thinning the herd.  And should we care?

Sounds awful, especially when  applied to children, but this is an attitude I can’t call by any other name.

SW Atlanta is plagued by 4 wheelers and motorbikes. The police don’t give chase because as they say: “If they wreck, it’s on us.” Well, they don’t take this behavior seriously, either.

(And, according to the officer I talked to, they also realize that many of these ‘kids’ are drug dealers. But they don’t chase. And the drug dealers know this, and so do all of my neighbors.)

Thursday, Friday and Saturday a motorbike ran up and down our street, into the Metropolitan Parkway and around the side streets. The driver looked to be about twelve, with no helmet and there were little kids, also without helmets on the back of his small motorbike. Some of them were barefoot but none of them had helmets.

I called 911 Thursday, expecting an officer at least to investigate the situation, but according to the report (today, Sunday) when I made inquiries, ‘officer did not find either kid or bike.” So he left for another call.

Talking to other neighbors, they said “good that you called”, but what about them? They are so damn passive until something strikes them. Then they are hollering for the police.

This morning my upset neighbor called me. Last night this same kid on the motorbike ran a red light and was hit by a speeding car. It took a while for the car to stop and the bike was just in pieces. Ambulance, fire trucks, police  but nothing reported in the news this morning. We still don’t know if this kid is alive or dead. But looking at the bike, it is hard to believe that anyone could have survived this accident.

I was going up my street today and another kid, this one older, was revving up. I pulled into a driveway to turn around and see where he was going, and he almost hit me coming across a speed bump. I got the standard glare. I went another way around, not to chase him, but to see where he was going. He picked up a kid that looked like he was five years old, barefoot, and of course, no helmets on either of them. They raced down this long street with other kids playing with a basketball. Dangerous activity at any time of the day.

I came home and called 911. Told them I wanted to talk to the responding officer. No show.

(three hours later, still no-show. Ho-hum)

UPDATE: officer did show up after 2-3 hours, but there was nothing she could do.  The policy of the Atlanta Police Department  (according to this officer)  is to not chase these kids on 4 wheelers, etc…even though they already know that they are either drug dealers, or have warrents out on them.  They flip the police the bird and take off. So….the much ballyhooed fight against drugs in Atlanta on the southside is at a standstill.  The drug trade knows that these boys can’t be chased so they use them as the mules (carriers) for the distribution.  Or so the APD says.  According to this officer, SW Atlanta has a huge issue with these 4wheelers.  The young boys on the motorbikes are scouts or soon to be involved in bigger ways with the drug trade.  This probably is part of the direct fallout of the Atlanta Cheating Scandal, where teachers and principals were changing grades to push these kids forward (for years)  and they certainly weren’t prepared for anything except dropping out and the drug trade.

Interestingly, I was told by the officer at the Zone 3 precinct that “I should continue to call 911 every time this happens”. However, they don’t respond apparently to this ‘kind of call.’

Obviously a  waste of my time.  But for some reason, I do care.  I am a mother.

I was told today that after June 1st, there will be legislation to license, register and tag each motorcycle, motorbike, scooter. THEN maybe the Atlanta Police Department will do something about this menace to children, but I don’t believe it.  And I didn’t get this information from the APD.  They don’t seem to know their ass from their hand.  I got it from another close neighborhood.

Where in Hell are the parents? Where in Hell are the Preachers, Ministers, so-called community leaders? Twitting their thumbs waiting for someone else to address these issues?  And nobody does, and these ‘children’ become the newest group of criminals who plague our communities.  The court   system is overloaded and is a revolving door here   in Atlanta.  Some of these ‘youth’ have 15 to 20 arrests and that’s before they hit 20 years old.

We are told the police can do nothing and this behavior is historic with the APD. Depending on the officer, the procedures change and so do the laws. Worse trained bunch of cops I have ever seen. There has been a helmet law in this state since 1969. I checked. This is probably the best law around concerning motorcycles, but apparently the APD doesn’t find this even worth following.

So, we will be continuing to watch the “thinning of the herd”. Ignorance and arrogance abounding in SW Atlanta. And I highly doubt  this behavior would be tolerated in other more ‘toney’ parts of Atlanta. The only thing I could think of was to throw this situation to a reporter I know, and see if she can make anything of it. Other than that, I am left scratching my head.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

“Blackberry Winter”, a poem

April 3, 2014

 April is Poetry Month.  There are some great online poets, unfortunately I don’t know of any local poets  I could recommend.  If  Atlanta is a town that embraces poetry, it has eluded me, so I  am going to be posting some of my favorite poets, in particular  William Stafford (1914-1993).  Stafford is a voice of American poetry and one who is not well known amongst many American poets.   His voice is a steady voice, born in the Midwest and the forests where he was doing alternative service during WWII.   Stafford is not well known to many but I have found  some Indian poets in Mumbai, etc. have studied him in university    and  found him to be an authentic American voice.  William Stafford speaks to our hearts with poetry of challenge and consolation.  We are enriched with reading his verse.

Lady Nyo





“Blackberry Winter” is a Southern term used when there is a cold spell in the mid spring and the blackberries are just beginning to bloom. They fruit around mid to late June.

This period is also called “Dogwood Winter”, etc.  I’ve shared blackberries in the North Carolina mountains with a cotton mouth snake that I didn’t notice was under the bushes, eating the blackberries, too.  I moved away quickly, supposing that there were more somewhere else.

Lady Nyo



It is Blackberry Winter

One last shot across

The bow of an emerging Spring.

Winter does not play fair.

It will not give up the ghost

Exit with a dignified bow

preferring to show its last rotting tooth.

The blackberries are blooming.

White collar frills surrounding

Kernels of lusty fruit,

Soon to be black as midnight

Sweet as a baby’s kiss

Unavoidable staining of hands and mouths

To be shared with a snake or two down below.

The Easter planting is done

The earth knows Winter’s game

And blankets seed

With dark, moist soil

Cozy enough to shelter tender life.

We will make blackberry wine

From Blackberry Winter.

The present chill will

Sweeten the fruit

And we will give a toast

To Winter’s frayed glory.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2014

“Blackberry Winter” from “White Cranes of Heaven”,, 2011

Flamenco and What Fresh Hell is This?

November 14, 2013


Not me….but a real dancer.



red flamenco


PS: (Public Service Announcement! LOL!  If you have shoes that are too tight or small, just take a hair dryer and heat where it’s tight for about 4 minutes or so on high. Then (or before you heat your shoes one at a time, put on the thickest socks you have (or your husband’s) (there will be a lot of shoving….) and walk around until they cool …about 5 minutes.  Works great! Almost too good as they now feel a bit loose and I will have to wear thin socks. Maybe.

Lady Nyo

This is a man dancing the Sevillanos.  It is one of the most beautiful and captivating perfomances I have seen of this dance.  I am so taken with it, though it’s a man dancing, I am trying to learn from his movements here for my own.   I am watching other youtubes for instruction, but the simplicity and clarity of his dancing is truly breathtaking.  You see the passion and nobility of his dance, but you don’t see the effort.  That is true dancing. 

Five years ago in Montreal when I was attending a 4 hour master class in belly dance, the instructor made a good and provocative use of the remaining hour to introduce a crowded and exhausted class to flamenco.  That last hour stuck with me, simmering somewhere in the brain pan for these last years. 

What is it about flamenco?  I don’t have any knowledgeable or formal answers….and probably never will, BUT.  There is something so different in flamenco  than any other dance medium. Recently, I set out to find out what the emotional attraction was.  I started beginning flamenco classes.

There is nothing more shattering to the female ego than working before floor to ceiling mirrors and learning flamenco.  After almost 10 years of belly dance, and the last two having students, I was really up a creek.  It didn’t help that I have suffered a broken bone in left arm, ripped shoulder, cracked ribs and a severely sprained right ankle within 6 months of each injury. That was last year, and the ankle almost two years ago this new year.  Sitting on my butt gave me lots of excuses to gain weight, get inactive and just find so damn many excuses to do nothing.  Yes, publishing some books was a good excuse, but there was no reason for this amount of inactivity.  Hell, I have three dogs that are in better shape than I am right now.

About the last year in belly dance, I remember a memorable night.  The club where we danced (troupe and individually) had a number of Moroccan and Spanish guitarists and male singers…all very, very attractive.  Perhaps it was the mystic of the flamenco music they were playing….but none of us dancers left after hours could keep our feet still , nor our hands from clapping in rhythm.  Some of us danced until 2am in the morning.  I remember one of the Spanish guitarists asking me why belly dancers are attracted to flamenco?  I hadn’t any real answer for him except it swept through the body and took possession of the soul.  That seemed right at the time.  I think it still is.

In this most recent venture I have found  there is just about NOTHING transferable from belly dance to flamenco.  The body is held differently, the arms are different, the posture has some similarities, but overall, it’s like the difference between painting in oils and then in watercolor.  And of course, the feet are totally in command of just about everything. Except the arms are, too.  Well, that has some similarities with belly dance.   But flamenco is never passive: it’s aggressive and when done well, totally captivating.

I feel like I have two left feet in this class.  I do. I can’t seem to remember the damn footwork, and it keeps me up until the early hours (where I can bitch and complain to friends via email) looking on the internet for the footwork of the class that I can’t remember.  Can’t find it, either.

However, flamenco is danced so passionately, such an expression of anger, joy, angst, etc…all those expressive emotions you don’t really get in ballet, etc…maybe in jazz….that it leaves great room for self-expression.  Flamenco is fierce.  It looks like the dancer has a dagger ready to plunge in the heart of anyone who opposes her on any subject.  Flamenco is liberation. It is a medium that is all commanding.  Someone said that the only emotion that is not expressed in flamenco is timidity.  I agree.  It’s just damn combative.  Cathartic.

Did I mention the shoes?  Well, I have tried to substitute something in heels for these early classes, and my feet are aching.  It’s not that the stomping of heels is a problem…it’s that I haven’t worn heels in two years.  Flats, Uggs, more flats and only recently some Merrill bicycle shoes.  I threw away most of my heels.  Never thought my ankle would support their wearing.

Well, I fell in love with the instructor’s shoes.  They are a beautiful teal suede, with two bows, a court heel.  She  buys them in Spain.  These shoes are made to each customer, and I am looking forward to this.  Of course, they are very expensive, and it will be a few months, because she is going off to Spain and Europe over the holidays and won’t be back until sometime in January. 

However, as much as the rest of me  can wait, my feet can’t.  I am going tomorrow to buy some flamenco shoes from a dance outfit that will make a half day’s trip.  Perhaps these shoes (I am told they also are made in Spain…) will improve my dancing…or maybe my memory for  the foot work?  I don’t know, but right now I am looking for anything that makes me feel more ….’flamenco’.  I’m treating myself to a dance skirt, too…so the flounces can jump if I ever get the foot work right.


This poem might not be the best poem to post here, but so it goes lately.  My feet hurt and that trumps everything. 





Sharp azure skies

Rusty brown earth,

Black women’s shawls,

Goat dung flung by boys

At passing soldiers,

The Inquisition churns onward

Like the great mandala

Crushing bodies under wheels

Burning witches in great pyres

Ignited by ignorance

Of blessed padres.


Time of terror,

overtime superstition.

Of hidden manuscripts

under floor boards,

and investigations

Seeded by the envy of neighbors.

Goya colors flung on

the black of night,

Red of Blood

Death of White

Green of decay

Duller grays of corruption

Shiny blues of greed

Exchanging favors,

Cardinal to Cardinal–

Madrid to Rome,

And back again.

These are the colors

Of the Inquisition.

Holy-Terror-of- God in

Man’s hands

where nothing is safe,

Humanity defiled.


Soldiers force Rabbis

to spit on the Torah,

A diversion, for the net holds much room,

All ‘thought’ is open to this furor,

For terror reigns.

The banality of evil,

Which words belie the results

Fashions such existence.


Dark shawls drawn

Over frightened faces,

only the

Whites of eyes

gleam outward like hooded lanterns,

faces cast downward

when the Cardinals pass.

No one wants to be noticed,

There is Death in the

Very air,

A pox of hopelessness.

Gossip is gone

From the full rose lips

Of  women.

They huddle


Though no safety

In numbers.


Wearing an early shroud

To cover their


A slight sway of

Curvaceous hips

Could draw the Holy Terror

Upon their innocence

Condemned by black lipped priests-

Whores worthy of fire.


Cruelty and censure is the mantra of the day.


Breathe in the

Moisture of the drowned

Catch the blood

Flayed from bodies

Hear the sharp screams from

Those tortured,

And the

Sharper silence to follow.


Hope is gone

From the heart

Of Spain.


Now fear is the mantra of the day.


The disdainful eye

Of the Church


Circling the

Spanish masses,

Like herding goats

From a horse,

Whip held easy

In the hand,

Ready to strike,

And strikes when not.


How many died

Who could give


To Enlightment?

Fear replacing

The Intellectualism of Spain.

How many aborted

By this

Scourge of Mankind?


Compassion forgotten

Humility distorted.


Lies the particular coin of the day.


The Inquisition

Rolls onward,

Tearing up

Soil watered by

Clotted blood.

Black tentacles

Of Power


The heart

Of Spain



Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted 2010-13

‘Songs of Summer’ from “White Cranes of Heaven”

August 12, 2013

"Eagle" Jane Kohut-Bartels, watercolor, 2005

( Painting: American Eagle, Jane Kohut-Bartels, watercolor, 2006, large painting)

We are in the middle of Summer here in the South.  The weather has been kind, but the season comes back with a fierce determination not to be forgotten. With amazingly mild temps for months, now we get 90 degrees for the past few days. But this isn’t bad, because we can see Autumn peeking over the edge: the nights aren’t sultry and the mornings can be rather cool.  But it is still Summer, and the middle of August.  All in all, this has been a kind season so far.  The incrediible rains for the past months have greatly helped.

I will continue on with the next part of “The Nightingale’s Song” tomorrow or so. Some revision called for.

Lady Nyo


Summer cartwheels through the sky!

The fertility of months

Expressed from field to orchard,

Above in the sky, and deep below,

Where the earth gathers energy

And transforms by magic

Fruits for the mouth and eye.


Fledglings tipped out of nests

Try new-feathered wings on warm currents,

Calves butt heads and race in calf-tumble

Climbing rocks and playing king-of-the-hill,

Spring lambs past the date

For the tender-est  of slaughter

Coated in white curls,

The smell of lanolin strong in their wake.


There is fresh life in the pastures,

Now with steady legs and bawling lungs,

They graze upon the bounty

And grow fat for the future culling.


Tender shoots of wheat and corn,

Waist-high, defying devious crows,

Paint once-fallow fields in saffron and

A multitude of hues-

Golden tassels forming,

Waving under an oppressive sun,

And when the sky bursts open

In random welcomed rain,

Heaven meets Earth-

The cycle complete.


These are the songs of Summer.

The bleat of lambs,

The noise of colliding clouds,

The cymbals of fierce light,

The plaint of cows with full udders,

The loud quarrelling of a swollen brook,

The scream of a hunting hawk

Calling for its mate,

The pelt of an unheralded storm

Upon a tin roof,

The quiet sighing of

An unexpected wind-

A welcome benediction

to this  summer day.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2012 ,2013, “White Cranes of Heaven”, Fifty Seasonal Poems, 2011

Lunacy Black Market ….Could have been on Dill Ave. SW..except for the usual opportunism.

July 24, 2011

</strong>I wrote this piece a little more than a year ago. The usual crap has not happened, or it did, but the slum lords, served by the usual city politicians and their enforcers are still trying to put up a Rave or ‘youth’ nightclub in that location with the same outcome: chaos, violence and more chaos with out of work and hopeless youth.

Chef Luna has flown the coop, but I think he wasn’t really serious about the location, and in fact it seems he changes his plans/restaurants/ideas with the seasons. He wanted to whine to us, and he did (but the food was still delicious!) but he wouldn’t stand his ground, either.

So be it. A new idea has come about, probably much better and more in keeping with the desires of the new people here who have been working to clean up this dump of communities: A coffee house on Metropolitian and Dill..somewhere on this strip because it will be a collecting place for people to come in the mornings, bring their strollers and childern, have different pastries and coffee and just relax like any decent people who are fed up with having to go miles in all directions to sit and think over coffee/tea. A meeting ground for residents in the area to plan for more progress.

Very recently, one of the ‘mouths’ here told me that ‘black people weren’t shaped to clean up garbage around them.” Honestly. This from an apologist and a local historian who must have rocks in her head. I questioned her about this ‘shaped’ comment. Well, apparently because their parents threw diapers and trash in the street, and their grandparents did the same…they never learned NOT to do the same. What Bullshit. What expectations of people who live around you and what a fine set of excuses to let them off from the usual necessities of living in civilization. This person was white. but I heard the same damn thing from a black community politician who wanted the community to run a program to ‘teach’ black folk how to put garbage in a garbage can. This woman also wanted to contract to some company who made very pretty garbage cans at $500.00 a pop. I smell something corrupt here. LOL!

In case readers are wondering the race of these investors who want to put in this new coffee shop…well, they are black. And they are folk who haven’t had to have their hands directed by others to open the lid, put the garbage in, close the lid.

Of course, people who get offended are the first to yell “class warfare’ when taxpaying citizens get disgusted with conditions and with the ususal bullshit of the local councilpeople…and they, being black, also call these same people ‘racists’, but so what?

These same finger shakers have sat on any progressive progress for this area for decades. And they forget that class warfare comes with all colors.

Bring it on.

Lady Nyo, October 25, 2012

Tonight husband and I went to Chef Paul Luna’s new restaurant in downtown Atlanta…something very different, good and so intimate.

Lunacy is located at 231 Mitchell SW, down in an older part of downtown Atlanta.  First time we have been there, and we were pleasantly surprised.  It’s more a tapas restaurant, with high ceilings, wonderful antique kimonos high on the walls, local artwork, some impressive, with a lovely and unusual decor.  Nothing of this restaurant said ‘the usual..out of the box.’

We had sauted shrimp, curried garbanzo beans,  fried sweet potatoes,  balsamic and mint pork ribs, roasted mushrooms in a red sauce…and all for under $20.00.  Amazing for anything downtown.  Amazing food for any where in Atlanta.

Chef Paul is from the Domin. Repubic, but spent time in Japan, Spain and other places where he honed his culinary skills. Each dish came out individually, barely enough to share, but there is a method in this slow-madness.  Having each dish served with a wait time of about 15 minutes between orders means you REALLY get to taste the savory spices and the dish.  Nothing is served on a large plate, all jumbled together.  A new dining experience, and one that was very pleasurable.  With each plate we tried to guess the spices and the sauces: the garbanzo beans were a delight, and the closest we could get were garlic (though very light, nothing overwhelming) a mild curry and something of basil and tomato.  Delicate but very satisfying.  The shrimp was perfect, and the four pieces of thin bread was perfect for the buttered and a bit spicy sauce.

But the best thing of the night was Chef Paul.  After mutual introductions he sat down at our small table and talked turkey.  Back in January of this year, there was a large meeting in our SW Atlanta neighborhood where Chef Paul had proposed opening a restaurant/produce section, etc. in a large building on Dill Avenue.  Unfortunately certain slumlords who were in the plans were nothing but greedy opportunists, and this wonderful plan went out the door.

The main slumlord wanted $750,000.00 for a store that wasn’t worth $200,000.  There was just about no plumbing, the electrical had to be completely redone, the walls, the floor needed to be done over, the roof leaked for years and the renovations would have been easily another $300,000.00.  At least.  This local slumlord knew all of this, but just thought he could make a fast buck.  The bastard hasn’t paid taxes on this building and is in default here.  I won’t call his name, but hopefully people here will turn a deaf ear to this moron.  Everyone knows who he is, and hopefully people will get wise in the future. He hasn’t done anything for this neighborhood except buy up property and let it go to decay.

All this information I either knew from the past tenants or talking to other local residents in the know.  And living in this area for 40 years has given me an overview of the whole situation.  Being a contractors wife also helps with the apprasial and estimates of the restoration. 

After dinner, we went to visit a local homeowner on Dill who is very involved in restoring his lovely Arts and Craft home there, and he said that this same slumlord (we noticed the painted panels over the windows…) is going to put in a ‘rap scene’.  Great…just what this area needs..more very chancey venues.  We have found when these things are in place, they are havens for criminal elements to deal drugs and there are always shootings and mayhem.  Not something for a neighorhood who is trying to attract good businesses to the area.  The at-risk youth here need something else, not another mob venue.  This always happens because things really get out of control.

Citizens, taxpayers of this area need some tar and feathers…..for the various slumlords and their schemes.

This is the usual for this area:  The corruption of politics and the city of Atlanta, PLUS the opportunism of certain local politicians, has left this area  blighted for the last 30 years.  Nothing can get off the ground with the combined toxicity of the local bigmouths and the slumlords that sit on all the progressive plans thrown out by different citizen groups.  Personally, many of us think that this area is used in such a way by these politicians and the city because it is a dumping ground for welfare, drugs, whores, renters and all sorts of flyby night institutions.  Unlicensed personal care and some rehab facilities make this area on Dill a blight.  Keeping this area in a blighted condition suits the work of the usual entitlement politicians.  Perhaps this is hard to explain to folk who don’t have such social behavior, but it’s been a long descent here in this large and now-poor area. 

 (Years ago, when I first came here and bought the Ragsdale House, an 1880’s historical house, it was a quiet little burg, with stores, a theater, hair salons, meeting places and no drugs and whores.  How it’s changed.  There was no crime to speak of back then, just old ladies with blue hair and white poodles. It was a sweet neighborhood with decent people. Now? the riffraff have taken over…oops…that’s mostly slumlords and their tenants, the drug dealers and their families.  There are still decent people here, and new ‘urban pioneers’, paying taxes, trying to keep their houses, but there is  real blight.  Not helped by the local police, either.  They have a blind eye to the usual sores. They do little to help.)

This Dill Avenue would have had Chef Paul’s Lunacy Black Market IF it hadn’t been for the selfish and greedy behavior of particular slumlords (who don’t live in the ‘hood) and some local politicians looking to make their mark and getting something from this issue.

Bah!  It’s the same ol’ same ol’ here in SW Atlanta…and people have to go farther north or east of this area to find a decent restaurant.  That’s if you don’t want McDonalds/Wendys/Popeyes Chicken and the usual out of the box with no thought to anything except fast food.

So, though we thought Chef Paul’s Lunacy a great eating spot, unusual and enjoyable, it was with a bit of sadness because we could have had this establishment here on our turf. 

We are contacting those people who will be able to ‘think outside the box’ for Dill.  People should be outraged that we lost this wonderful deal…..and when people start to think what they really have lost here…perhaps they will get mad enough to do something next time.  We have too many people here with better expectations than what we have been served. 

We deserve better and damn it…we will get better.

Lunacy Black Market, Wednesday-Sunday: 11am to 10pm…Sunday I think has earlier brunch hours….231 Mitchell Street, SW, Atlanta, Phone: 404-736-6164.  Street parking and on weekends, free parking on street.  Yahoo!

Chef Paul is on Facebook.  Contact him for information and to give your opinion on what is needed in SW Atlanta.  An intelligent and energetic fellow…with great vision for Atlanta.

Lady Nyo

Blackberry Winter, Tornado Relief and Charity Organizations

May 5, 2011

Blackberry Winter

We are getting a short spell of cold weather, right in the midst of spring.  This is so unusual for us, but there is a name for it:  Blackberry Winter.

Apparently it’s common in the South, but after many years living here, it’s the first time I have heard of this.  We are waking up to temps in the mid 30’s, and the high isn’t more than the mid 60’s. Quite a shock after some 80’s  over the past few weeks.

Nothing is normal with the weather now.  The tornadoes of last week have claimed our attention and some of the living.  My husband and I have decided  because of the price of gas  and the issues of going into a tornado area,  we will find some organization and make a donation.  The problem is what organization.

Usually we make a contribution to the Red Cross, but upon reading more about the salaries of the top executives, we are rather ‘chary’ about doing this again.  Does our money go to where we want it, or is it paying salaries for people who are well padded executives?  I think a lot of people are reconsidering where their hard earned money goes today in these issues.

Here in Atlanta, there has been a push for people to ’round up’ their grocery bills, mostly with Publix food stores.  This is fine, good, in fact, but we wanted to do something different.  Unfortunately, another charity organization, “Hosea’s Feed the Hungry and Homeless” which  has been promoted for tornado relief, has a big question mark over it’s operation right now.  Elisabeth Omilami, the executive director and daughter of Hosea Williams, the founder of this organization, sent out an email (using the organization’s corporate email), asking for donations for her daughter’s ‘nest fund’ for her upcoming marriage.  In an interview, Omilami was arrogant and dismissive of the reporter, saying she didn’t know that it went to the general mailing list (which is thousands of people), that it was supposed to go to her ‘extended family’.   Well, it started a firestorm of complaints from some people about that email.  It’s rather pushy and also not in great taste for her to ask for money for a ‘nest fund’ here.  And also makes people wonder where their money actually goes? I think people are right to worry about something like co-mingling of funds.  Someone from the Secretary of State’s office is now investigating this situation.  It could cost her organization a lot of supporters in the future.  These are serious issues and they should be investigated.  It’s sad, because this organization has aided the homeless and poor families in the past.

Watching TV the other night I was struck by a short interview of a man who owns a roofing business in Tucker, Georgia.  He and his wife had just loaded up their truck and taken supplies to Pleasant Grove, Alabama, where they have relatives.  I contacted Jason and talked to him yesterday morning.  I was mightily impressed by his attitude towards what he was doing, and he is a very humble soul.  He told me a few emails that his wife put on Facebook started it all, and they felt compelled to do what they could.  They couldn’t believe the response. After talking to him, I felt good about sending our contribution to the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Alabama.  Jason told me to mark the check for tornado relief, make a copy of it for tax purposes and supplied an address.  I feel confident that our money will go to where it will make a difference, and not to a nest fund.

If anyone wants the address, or Jason’s email or phone number you can contact me privately.  At least I feel now we can make a difference with our small donation.  Pleasant Grove was destroyed, and many people killed.  I am not a Baptist, nor actually a Christian, but it really doesn’t matter.  We can be, my husband and I, part of that stream of humanity who can help.

Lady Nyo


It is Blackberry Winter

One last shot across

The bow of  emerging Spring.

Winter does not play fair,

Will not give up the ghost

Exit with a dignified bow

Preferring to show its rotting last tooth

The blackberries are blooming

Lacy white collars surrounding

Kernels of lusty fruit,

Fruit black as midnight

Sweet as a baby’s kiss,

Unavoidable staining of hands and mouths

To be shared with a snake or two down below.

The Easter planting is done

The earth knows Winter’s game

And blankets seed

With dark, moist soil

Cozy enough to shelter tender life.

We will make blackberry wine

From Blackberry Winter.

The present chill will

Sweeten the fruit

And we will give a toast

To Winter’s frayed glory.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2011

Tornadoes across the South, continuing a deadly pattern 2012 and 2013

April 28, 2011

UPDATE: This is Spring, 2013 and the news out of the Midwest is horrific. Over 50 tornados in the last 48 hours have hit Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, and other midwest and southern states. In Moore, Ok, an elementary school has collapsed with students in it. A daycare also was near by. One of these tornadoes was almost 2 miles wide and looks to be F4 catagory. Just when it seemed to settle, another one reformed and went over basically the same ground. It looks, from the news reports like a war zone in several states. What can we say? There has been death (so far 37, with more expected) from these storms, and probably will be more before this season passes. I pray that people are spared and our nation pulls together to help the recovery. God Almighty, this is just horrible.

Lady Nyo

One year later, Spring 2012, it seems that the weather patterns are still going to torment the south, and the rest of the country.  We had no real snows this year, as opposed to last winter, but the tornadoes that have come out of Texas, Kansas, etc. are picking right up and doing their damage to life and property. The only ‘good’ thing that has changed is  the sirens, and early warning system seem to be curtailing the deaths and injuries this year.  However, 140 plus tornadoes in one day/night, as we saw this week basically in one state, is rolling with a deadly dice.

Here in Atlanta, we seen to be reentering a period of drought again, and there has been little rain.  However, the spring thunderstorm season has hardly begun here. We need the rain desperately, but the destruction of tornadoes, sheer wind bursts and flooding we don’t.  If any one would be so foolish to deny that Global Warming has something to do with our severe and erratic weather across the nation, they are living under a rock.

Lady Nyo, April 17th, 2012

The following was posted on April 28th, 2011:

A month ago I was shocked and thrown by what had happened in Japan.  This morning I again visit that numbing emotional place.

This week violent thunderstorms swept across the Midwest. Yesterday, we saw the same, with even more violent tornadoes sweeping across Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. Alabama seems have been hit the hardest.  There was over 160 tornadoes reported, though there are suspected many more in actuality.  What is called straight line winds do as much damage it seems.

The death toll has risen beyond 300, with more to come.  Whole neighborhoods have been flattened, blown away, with people missing and still unaccounted.  Many were imprisoned in their cellars as news stations  are telling us. And the kicker to all of this is May is considered the worse month for tornadoes.  April certainly has done enough damage.

We were spared in Atlanta…this time.  Immediately south of us, in Griffin, two people were killed… many more in the northern crescent of the state.

The destruction across the South looks like a bomb hit total communities and wiped clean any semblance of life.  There was little mercy to be had, but even in the midst of this destruction, 5 newborn puppies were lifted up and scattered, to be found alive, shivering and afraid.  Life, and death….is very strange.

The power of these tornadoes were enormous, F4’s and 5’s.  Some were over a mile wide.  The pictures are almost unbelievable, but the effects of them are all too real.

I got a call from a cousin, Donnie, in New Jersey. (Marge! Donnie sends his love.)  Donnie saw the news reports and thought about his cousin in the ‘unknown territory’ of the South.  He was worried that I might be blown away like the Wicked Witch of the West.  Not to worry, Donnie,  but I did clean out a 1/4 of the basement yesterday and took a whole day to do so.  The junk of 26 years of marriage and a husband who saves useless stuff down there was hard enough to make disappear…at least enough room to have a sanctuary from any violent storm.  I packed up everything I could find that would go into 15 garbage bags took them to the usual dumpster behind a church.   I set up two camp chairs, a cooler for our feet, a large plastic container of water, breakfast bars, blankets, reading material and a ‘sand toilet’….a plastic bucket with sand.  Who knows what might happen?

Thankfully nothing to us but at least we are prepared for just about anything now.

My husband realized I was exhausted, sore and on edge.  He gave me a muscle relaxer, and I slept through everything, even the violent winds and rain.  I couldn’t  have made it to the cellar if there was a tornado lurking  over the house.

The news gets worse and worse and there is a point when you can’t absorb any more.  I think I am close to that point.  And I just don’t know what I can do to help.  Perhaps it will come to me later.

Right now the winds are sweet and the air cooled. The sky is a soft, azure blue.  I am not fooled.

Lady Nyo

“Winter’s Withered Hand”

January 15, 2011

Atlanta Snowfall, 2011

Atlanta and the eastern seaboard has been socked in with snow and ice.  Since January 9th, the city has slowed to a stop, with only 6 inches of snow but treacherous ice above and underneath the snow.  Six days of miserable temperatures have kept the snow on streets, roofs and yards.  At night, under street lamps, it’s a if a white sheen of heavy plastic has been thrown across the landscape, most of it still unsullied by any footstep.  It glimmers like a calm, white sea.

The hospitals are full of people who have broken limbs trying to navigate the ice and snow, which refreezes during the night.  My dogs now creep down the back porch steps and tiptoe gingerly across this slippery, foreign turf.  They are happy to come back in and curl up, sleep, not being hit by cabin fever.

The first day we sledded down an icy road.  It was hard to steer a sled on ice, and my husband almost t-boned a parked car, rolling off at the last moment.  We were screaming with laughter, going down the road over and over, until our neighbors came out with cameras to take pictures.  I think we are too old for this activity, but we now have evidence that we were fools  enough to do this.

We think the “Farmer’s Almanac” is wrong: they predict a warmer and dryer winter than usual.  We say:  Let it snow!

Lady Nyo

Winter’s  Withered  Hand

Winter’s withered hand

Scrapes across muted landscapes

And steals comfort from a sullen earth.

Birds fall frozen to the ground,

Lambs to the seasonal slaughter,

Ducks held fast in unflinching ice.

The elders give up the ghost ,

Just fade away

In this death-howling season,

And pale newborns struggle towards spring.

In this silenced land of snow,

Colors stark, dissolved,

Black limbs lifted to a somber sky

Wooden beggars pleading for alms,

I listen for the melting

One unseasonable day—

The breaking of ice around a dam,

The baby babble of some brook

The laugh of a crow overhead,

The drip-drip of a leaky faucet—

The earth will turn

On its axis

And with this

Comes the promise

Of Winter fading.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2011

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