Friday, October 06, 2006

Friday Five Foolery

Five Great Things to Stop and Admire If You're Ever in Mississippi:

1. Off-Square Books- Square Books is a nice little independent store situated in Oxford, Mississippi's town square. I probably never would have made it there, had my son not gotten a couple of scholarships from Ole Miss and ended up in Oxford. Square books is lovely, but Off-Square is wonderful, mainly because of the adorable and exceptionally friendly store cat (the off-price books are really fun to peruse, as well, although Square Books has a much better selection, as well as a coffee bar and cute mugs with great quotes by writers). I have a postcard of the cat, but I can't find a photo, online. Darn. There is another store on the square that had not one but two cats in its window when we were in town, one time. I don't know the name of it, but if you walk around the square you're bound to figure out where the store cats reside. They tend to lie around in the windows. I confess, I'm a cat lover.

2. The Cyprus Swamp - This photo came from the online journal of a biker who stopped by the swamp while biking in Mississippi. I haven't been there in several years, but it's absolutely mind-boggling, with eye-popping reflections that would make any photographer pant with joy. I need to go back; we can all use that kind of nature infusion, now and then (preferably during a season that's short on mosquitoes).

3. Biloxi Lighthouse - Okay, again a disclaimer: I haven't seen the lighthouse lit up like the photo at left (but it was the prettiest photo I happened across, so I snagged it from the website to which I've linked). When we moved to Mississippi, way the heck back in another century, we had one cute little blonde 2-year-old boy; and, one of my absolute, all-time favorite photos of my husband and eldest son is of the two of them holding hands, walking out onto the Biloxi pier just next to the lighthouse. We were pleasantly surprised to find that Biloxi had a lighthouse and I think all of us sighed with relief when we found out that it survived Hurricane Katrina. The buildings in the background of that photo were more than likely flattened, but I can't say for sure.

4. The Mighty (and Muddy) Mississippi - We don't go there as often as we should, but the best view of the river, in Vicksburg, is from the Welcome Center, these days. There used to be a wonderful restaurant by the name of Top O' The River situated on that same bluff overlooking the river, just down the road. Unfortunately, as I've heard it, the owners had some major medical bills and sold out to one of the casinos. Where there once was a fabulous restaurant that served incredible catfish and cole slaw, which was known for both its outstanding service (something you don't get much of, these days) and its incredible river view, there is now a gas station. However, the river is still there, bless its muddy old heart. You can walk up some stairs and across a little foot bridge to a hill with a cannon on top for the best view.

5. The Old Courthouse Museum - Also in Vicksburg and another place I don't go often enough, the Old Courthouse was built by slave labor in 1858 and has a small but excellent museum. Even better, according to the cat lover in me (who is rather pushy), they keep a cat house on the porch. My friend and neighbor works there; she's not too thrilled about the cats, but she loves her job and the museum itself. I go there, now and then, to get a few dozen bookmarks to give to friends.

There are lots of other wonderful places to visit in Mississippi, but it's Friday and I'm sticking with five.

Still reading:

My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin

Books that walked in my door this week:

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
One Foot in Eden by Ron Rash
A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

Have a Super Weekend!


  1. You've got mail! :)

    I've got ONE FOOT IN EDEN (Rash) on my TBR list. I look forward to your review.

    Could you explain how the books "walked in the door"? Were they like lost kittens or policemen raiding your home or a kind neighbor dropping off some homebaked cookies? Curious minds want to know. (giggle giggle)

  2. Joy,

    They snuck in through a crack in the doorframe, kind of like those little lizards that I have to chase down and catch so that I can put them back outdoors (see my photo blog via the "other blogs" link for a photo of one of those lizards).

    Okay, seriously, I ordered all three of those books from Paperback Swap and they walked into the house in paper wrappers with a little help from my two feet, having been dropped off by the mailman. I love my mailman. :)

    I've responded to your email!! :)

  3. I'm embarrassingly unfamiliar with the south, but your photographs and comments make it even more compelling to visit someday. The swamp is very intriguing to me, and I have at least seen the Mississippi River, which always seems to remind me of Tom Sawyer.

  4. Bellezza,

    I never visited the Deep South (apart from the trip to see if we wanted to take the job offer in Mississippi - I said, "No") prior to moving here. We really need to "play tourist" more often. There are some interesting sights to see. I could have probably done a Thursday Thirteen instead of just five.

    The Mississippi River always makes me think of Mark Twain but Tom Sawyer is a Missouri icon, to me. When we first got here, the rusting parts from the riverboat used in the musical "Showboat" (which burned) were still laid out at the riverfront. I thought that was so cool. Don't know where they hauled them off to.

  5. Anonymous10:57 AM

    Hello, Bookfool!

    I haven't travelled extensively through the US and so my knowledge of many of its states is woefully inadequate,but reading your Friday Five was really very interesting and triggered off a little wanderlust in me.

    I love the sound of "Off-Square Books". It's just wonderful how each independent bookstore has its own unique character. The one we have here is quite rundown and old, but very popular because the Scottish couple that own it are so friendly and fun to talk to.

    Also, I really,really love swamps and marshes and have been known to travel long distances to enjoy them. My friends and family think I'm nuts -they find swamps eerie for some reason - but I see only beauty.

    Very nice post, bookfool, thank you!

  6. Lotus,

    I'm with you on all counts; independent bookstores are often the best because of the people operating them and swamps can be incredibly beautiful. Usually, they're not in the nicest of environments (I don't handle heat well, myself) but there's another swamp outside our town (unfortunately, it's private property) which is just stunning. I've yet to ask to go back to take photos. The only reason I saw it at all was that I happened to be an extra in the movie "O, Brother, Where Art Thou?" and the baptism scene was filmed in that swamp. I was really horrified when I found out they colorized the movie so that you couldn't see just how beautiful the swamp is!!

  7. Anonymous4:28 PM

    Ohhhhh, bookfool, how cool that you got to be a part of that movie - it must have been an awesome experience! Now the inevitable question - did you get to meet George Clooney? :) ( I haven't seen the movie yet,but now I want to). If you get to take pictures of that wonderful swamp, please don't forget to share! Thanks!

  8. Lotus,

    I didn't get to meet George Clooney. He was friendly if fans wanted to pose with him and all the locals who ran into him said he was nice, but we were there while he was working and he was not to be disturbed. A few of the extras (not me!) tried to go talk to him and whenever that happened, several of the crew would jump up as if to protect him. It was really kind of bizarre. Tim Nelson was very friendly, though. I actually mistakenly sat in the crew tent at lunch time but was told not to worry about it; the stars were at the next table. I was so tired I didn't care.

    Because it was 98 degrees out with 99 percent humidity, it was an exhausting day and not very fun. I was one of the people who was in the water - yuck! They had a carpet (like astroturf) rolled down into the water so you wouldn't sink into the mud but the water was just nasty. And, I got dunked in it - even worse. But, the people who were in the water got to go home early and were paid more (still a pittance), so we missed a downpour.

    The movie is really good. I was grateful I didn't end up in a total dud movie! I would never do that again, though!!!!


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