Part of writing this blog was to talk about things that caught my attention, provoked thought, or simply amused me. Sadly these things have been fleeting in the past week or so and as a result, my blog has lagged a bit. As I sit here in my favorite haunts, I think I shall write about the thing that gets me up in the morning: coffee.
Now I’m not addicted to it (says I as I take a draw from my mug), but I am generally pleasant in the morning without. No, for me coffee is a social addiction. My alarm goes off each morning and I arise to go to my daily haunt for coffee but the primacy of my desire is to greet the day with similar souls who crave interaction. As I pull up to my early morning temple, the nagging thoughts of the day take a respite as I grab a cup and settle down at the big table. There lies before me is a stratum of interesting characters of different experiences and viewpoints gathered, wielding coffee as the excuse, clamoring to satisfy our truer addiction of personal contact.
The topics can be benign as discussing the weather or can become heated when talk turns political but the general affinity for and affability of those seated at the table usually plays to harmony. Not to say the harmony is absolute and people have been known to get up and leave and take sabbaticals, but most are drawn back over the course of time. The table in the morning hour generally has an unofficial seating chart with the right wing anchored by the elder statesman Mr. Max. Mr. Max, whose name “Lord Max” is on his chair, is at one end with more moderate and progressive views proceeding from that point. When my son would eat breakfast there Mr. Max, during each visit, taught my son how to shake hands like a gentleman and now people notice his firm handshake and direct eye contact. Mr. Jock at the other end of the table and political spectrum used to conspire with my son on how to make nerf weapons more lethal over breakfast and ended up teaching him how to use a plasma welder. The table has people who are teachers, construction workers, filmmakers, lawyers, a former city manager, artists, musicians, developers, prosecutors, engineers, salesmen, community and non-profit leaders, even nitpickers, and all add to the tapestry of experience, ideas and thought. Often there are assignments or exercises for the table to explore. Recently a daily word scramble, on which we often had to cheat with our smartphones, or today someone brought in a sheet to have those fill in the blank for non-gender pronouns. People arrive and leave, in daily patterns, as the hands of the clock move about the dial as the members proceed out to start the rest of their day.
In a world to often filled with discord this daily “coffee” reminds me of the communal part of society. It is a little piece of social harmony where fondness, respect, discretion, and even understanding finds purchase and perhaps is a seed that carries forth with us all as we depart back into our lives. If you have an opportunity to find something like this in your realm, I cannot recommend it more heartily. Otherwise, come to ours. We can always squeeze in one more chair and it comes with coffee…
We take our dog Pepper for a long walk almost every Sunday morning and during the course of our walk I will pick up recyclables, and some trash, but definitely recyclables and deposit them in bins along the way. I was involved revamping the UNCW recycling program several years back and we expanded the program to include electronic and plastic film, but after so many years and after all the news about no longer being able to export recycling, I wanted to know what is now recyclable?
According to the city of Wilmington, lots of stuff is recyclable through their curbside pickup. Milk cartons and plastic laundry baskets are accepted in the curbside bins, which surprised me. You wouldn’t know it but by looking in the contents of most trash receptacles, but many things such as aluminum cans and plastic drink bottles, are illegal to put in landfills in North Carolina. Additionally I found out was most if not all plastics (#1 through #7) are recyclable in the city of Wilmington which is not the case everywhere. Plastic film, such as wraps, bags, and flexible packaging are probably better recycled separately but that is easy enough since most supermarkets take them.
Electronics too can be picked by request for recycling and for others without curbside pickup UNCW recycles electronics through its E-Cycle program which is open to the community with proceeds going to benefit the university. Also, Best Buy takes most electronics and sometimes offers a trade-in value or other incentive like discounts on some items they accept. Cell phones, depending on the age, often have trade-in value with the carrier or it can do further good by donating it to groups like ECO-Cell that partners to protect endangered gorillas and chimpanzees. One element to remember is if you are recycling electronics like cell phones, computers or external disk drives, anything with personal information, follow recommendations on how to remove that information prior to handing it over to any recycler.
I feel a bit like I have hyperlinked you to death by now but recycling is important and the rules for recycling vary from community to community. In an effort to simplify things a bit here is a non-inclusive list of links to recycling in the area. I hope you will take a look and help us all do better.
New Hanover county recycling
Brunswick County recycling
Carolina Beach recycling
Kure Beach recycling
Pender County recycling
Wrightsville Beach recycling
A big welcome to all the people coming downtown for the Azalea Festival. Those of us who live in the downtown have two schools of thought; Flee or shelter in place. We love all of it really, but having thousands of people show up in your neighborhood, can be a bit much for anyone. And you can't blame those who flee the crowds, traffic, and congestion but that is not us: we do the full festival weekend but definitely from the neighborhood perspective.
Shelter in place is probably too harsh because we aren't huddled in the dark. We are just staying home. First rule is don't plan on leaving. In that aspect it is sort of like preparing for a storm. We get all the food and other essentials (beverages) and stock up before the onslaught of attendees. With all the people, restaurants and even bars can be really crowded, and a short jaunt to the store is likely to turn out to be neither short nor a jaunt. We do sometimes get street food, which is good for a meal or possibly two, but we don't want it to form your complete diet for the weekend. Better to have stuff at the house for the likely impromptu gatherings among the remaining neighbors.
Secondly we embrace the crowd at least for short periods. While we generally skip the parade except for hanging out on a neighbor's porch and watching the floats line up down third street. We do tend to wander through the street fair and enjoy seeing all the people and booths. We also especially enjoy the festival art show for a bit of culture and always vote for our favorites.
But we also embrace the alternative. You may not have heard of it but the Alt-Zalea festival on north Forth street but you really should know about it. The alternate celebration is the place to connect with a smaller and more local vibe. It always has great stuff with local arts and crafts vendors along with great local music. Its definitely worth checking out. It kicks off around noon basically after the parade. Brooklyn Cafe is a good first stop if you want a late start with great coffee and beignets, plus it has local artist set up all around.
We generally avoid the big headline shows and will skip Ice Cube this year. We actually hope to attend the Paper Stars at Palate this Saturday night. They play a great mix of original music and Palate is hard to beat on a warm spring evening. If bluegrass is more your thing our friends Masonboro Sound are playing at Edward Teach starting at 8. After the music there is a lighted bike parade and I'm pretty sure that shouldn't ever be missed.
So enjoy the flowers, pageantry, street fair and parade and welcome to our neighborhood. Those who haven't fled are glad you are here. Also don't forget the Alt-Zalea on north Fourth for a whole different experience. Hope to see you there...