Archive for April, 2007 Is Now Online

Written on April 30, 2007 at 12:09 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

home page

First person to find a typo wins a Wren’s Nest t-shirt. They’re cooler than you think.

So how about it? Like it? Hate it? Want to change some stuff? Let us know in the comments!

Since this is merely the launch of our website, we’re still missing some content, notably: history of the museum, text of select stories, video of our storytellers, Wren’s Nest and Brer Rabbit couture, donate online, and other totally awesome stuff. We’ll worry about all that later, though.

Now, you: find the typos! write the comments! tell us what you think!


the wren’s nest… day care center?

Written on April 26, 2007 at 3:30 pm, by carson


This is what we’ve been dealing with the past three hours: Babies! Well, just one, but this little guy’s ambition could account for two, maybe three of the little buggers. He’s a clearly a hand- and mouthful.

And this is Lain taking a break. Since opening our doors at 10 this morning, we’ve had 76 visitors, one curious baby, one baby’s mama, the Rentokil man, and a homeless guy sleeping on the front porch. We also sold six books, a couple pounds of rock candy, and a whole lotta pencil erasers.

I’d say we’re doing pretty good for ourselves, despite the rain.

Unfortunately, this morning’s hoopla came in the midst of a fairly uneventful week. Two groups cancelled their storytellers, which made me and Lain (and Curtis, of course) very sad. What are we going to do to make people keep their promises? Shall we give away party favors? Sell funnel cakes? Offer back massages at the end of the tour?

Suggestions welcome.

fast track to greatness

Written on April 25, 2007 at 4:30 pm, by carson

Does the sight of this logo excite you? 


Me too! Now get this: 

Word on the street is, the Wren’s Nest may soon be joining the ranks of presidential candidate John McCain and newly discovered planet Gliese581 on the pages of the New York Times!

This past Monday, around 12:23 pm, a New York Times photographer with an exceptionally large camera was spotted wandering the grounds of our West End estate.

He came inside, took pictures of Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox, mumbled a few things about the “Escapes” section of the Friday paper, something else about house museums in Georgia, and then packed up his things and left.

He did this all very, very slowly. How mysterious!

Moral: keep your eyes peeled for greatness, my friends.

Wordsmithery, and the Lack Thereof

Written on April 24, 2007 at 11:32 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

Next week Team Wren’s Nest will unveil the details about our partnership with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Decatur Book Festival, but today I’d like to touch on something related and maybe more pressing.

Some of you may have read about the recent personnel overhaul at the AJC. In short, many writers that have opted for compensation packages are retiring–the rest will have to reapply for new positions.

Weird, huh.

Particularly disturbing and relevant is that the AJC is wiping out the Book Editor position, formerly held by the estimable Teresa Weaver.

(Some of you may remember when the Wren’s Nest graced the cover of the Arts and Books section. Some of you may remember when they accidentally placed the best picture of the article not on the front cover, but on page K12.

marshall and lain
…I’ve since forgiven them, by the way.)

The consistently dynamite Wordsmiths Books blog has tackled the issue and received a “reassuring” response from editor Julia Wallace: book coverage isn’t going away, just the position of Book Editor.

While she has a point, I think it would make more sense (cents, too), so to speak, to put their mouth where their money is.

DBF Blog

After all, they are the primary sponsors of the totally awesome AJC Decatur Book Festival — a first year festival that drew over 50,000 people and won a few awards despite a Sunday of driving rain.

Deleting the Book Editor position (and, like, all the other ones) is akin to the Wren’s Nest throwing out its artifacts and replacing them with holograms of Joel Chandler Harris and all of his stuff in the name of technology and cutting costs.

Except holograms aren’t cheap (believe me) and neither is cutting a service that is valuable enough for folks to blog in protest and write petitions. What is most amazing to me is the amount of positive feedback about the Book Editor now that they’re getting rid of the Book Editor. The AJC has never sounded so reputable! …unless of course if you count what they’re currently doing.

I don’t understand why they don’t take a look around at all the successful book blogs or journalists who blog very succesfully and then fit the mold. It’s not rocket science.

That way you retain value, develop a fan base, make the writer more of a household name, and maybe draw in some readers that wouldn’t normally read the Arts and Books section. I mean, that’s what the Wren’s Nest has done for WNIC, and look at her! Famous!

Carson Chop

Here you can see Carson waiving to a stadium full of her adoring fans. “Thank you, Wren’s Nest Blog!” she says.

Then again, I guess it’s tough and very very complicated to downsize a large company, and in the end it’s about the bottom line. I refuse to believe, however, that the AJC can’t make money by allowing their writers to become small time celebrities and enticing more internet readers. ESPN understands this concept well, I think.

If Joel Chandler Harris had worked at the Atlanta Constitution in the 21st Century, I’ll bet he would have been one hell of a blogger. Can you imagine if Lewis Grizzard had a blog?

Nuwaubian News

Written on April 20, 2007 at 3:41 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

Remember when we were talking about the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors last Christmas morning?

You know, the Nuwaubians: that religious cult that built so much faux-Egyptian religious iconography on their compound in Eatonton, Ga? The same Eatonton, Ga that Joel Chandler Harris is from?


Yes, that photo was taken in Georgia, and boy howdy have I got news for you! From photographer Anderson Scott:

Atlanta Magazine is going to publish some more Nuwaubia pictures from the same series in its next issue. There will be a show of many of the pictures from Atlanta Mag. & Oxford American at Eyedrum Gallery opening June 23.

Who’s coming with me? Carson, you’re in. The rest of you, let me know: or via the comments below.

If you’re not sure or confused, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Take a look at this: Audio Slide Show – The Nuwaubians of Putnam County, Ga

For those of you expecting Wren’s Nest or Joel Chandler Harris news today (ahem, mom): tough! You’ll have to wait until next time when my brain isn’t so preoccupied with poison ivy or Nuwaubians.


Written on April 19, 2007 at 12:59 am, by carson


After that freak snowfall we had a few weeks ago, it seems the quality of the weather is rapidly on the upswing. A bit like soy products, which I’ve noticed are becoming more popular by the day (see: soynut butter, midnight snack extraordinaire).

I had a “moment” in the backyard this morning, when the sky was cerulean and the clouds were lounging about like sleepy Spring Break-ers. In the middle of the West End, I felt like I was in the country, far from the noise and pace of the big city.

I happened to notice how “mowed” the grass looked and how “swept” the brick path and how “freshly pruned” the rose garden. Those of you who attended the Writer’s Service Day this past weekend, bravo. Good work with that.

Taking a deep breath of crisp, fragrant air, and silently thanking the convection currents for bringing us this fine Spring weather, I climbed the steps to the back door. Lain, who apparently spent some Quality Time with a mysterious green plant this Saturday, was there to greet me. He was covered in poison ivy.

Thanks to the Wilderness First Aid course I took this past weekend (note: having a WFA certification should be a new requirement for all Wren’s Nest interns) I knew just what to do: I went straight to CVS for some hydrocortisone cream.

Not everything Spring-related is worth clicking your heels for. But at least this particular menace is treatable. Or so the merchandiser in lane 17 proclaims.

This is Star, appreciating the Spring:


I’ve recently been marveling at how beautiful the backyard at the Wren’s Nest is. The sprawling, tree-shaded lawn, winding pebbled path, the huge tree overlooking the storytelling garden, the wysteria terrace, the rustic amphitheater and engraved stone promenade–they all make me want to jump for joy. Wouldn’t you love to attend a concert here, or a wedding, or a block party, or perhaps a full day of music, storytelling, free t-shirts, food and fun?

Ladies and gentlemen, mark your calendars for June 9th. I’m talking about Wren’s Nest Fest 2007. It’s going to be off the hook like the winter coat you never had the patience to hang up right. It promises to be more thrilling than a petting zoo, more educational than the Discovery Channel, more witty than an episode of Captain Kangaroo, and certainly the best weather we’ve had all Spring. Ha, if only I could say that with an ounce of confidence.

Stay tuned for the juicy details.

Wren’s Nest Website

Written on April 17, 2007 at 5:31 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

I’m going to make a bold statement.


Our new website,, graciously developed by Lampe-Farley Communications, will be online and ready for mass consumption before May 1.

It’s about time the Wren’s Nest had a presence online, too. Sure, we’ve got my meager stab at html, but come on, does this really count as a webpage?Bad Wren's Nest

I didn’t think so.

It’s important that get fancy: just today we had a visitor from South Africa. That gives us visitors from five continents to the current site (what gives, Australia?), and I’m just not ready for my handiwork to be on display for the world.

south africa

Plus, when the official website gets online, I’m just positive that we’ll shoot to the top of the google charts (we’re currently #15 when you search for “wren’s nest”). That’s right #12 House Wren Nest Box Plans, I’m coming for you!

Ah the top of the google charts: where the beer flows like wine. Where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. Something like that, anyway. At least we’ll have our best on when the world comes knocking.


Written on April 13, 2007 at 4:24 pm, by carson

Today, my own Wikepedia meanderings taught me this word: paraskavedekatriaphobia, which means “fear of Friday the 13th.” Do we have any readers out there who suffer from this curious affliction?

I didn’t, until 2:13 pm today, when after the conclusion of an unexpectedly intense meeting here in the office, a clock spontaneously detached itself from the wall and rolled under my chair. I doubt I would classify myself among the estimated 17 million Americans who refuse to work, fly or buy houses on this day, but it did give me a brief episode of the creeps.

Generally speaking, I enjoy Friday the 13th, and not only because the Olsen twins claim it as their birthday. I like it because it’s an opportunity to confront the unknown, and an excuse to feel vulnerable as a result. Don’t we all enjoy being a little bit afraid?

Think roller coasters, scary movies, and… ghosts.

The Wren’s Nest offers plentiful opportunities to be spooked, if one should choose to indulge them. First of all, it’s 137 years old. Generations have been raised here; naturally, a few people (including Mr. Harris) have died here. Though many details of the house and its inhabitants have been recorded and passed from person to person, there’s a lot we don’t know about the place. The upstairs storage room and basement are filled to the brim with mysterious artifacts, which the spook-lover in me can’t wait to get her hands on.

Lain gave me a tour of the basement on my first day here, explaining that some ghost hunters had recently taken an interest in it after a bunch of ceiling lights blew out in succession. Perhaps the unanswered questions it raised prepared me to be paticularlly moved by the following: as I leaned in to marvel at an old lithograph collecting dust near the entrance, the dial on the front spun completely around on its axis.

If there’s such thing as a ‘good day’ to be spooked at the Wren’s Nest, I suppose today’s one of them (I’m leaving the ghost hunters out of this for now), which is why I’ll be going home and leaving Lain here to lock the place up.

Good luck, buddy.



Categories: Ghosts! |

Wikipedia: friend or foe?

Written on April 12, 2007 at 3:03 pm, by Lain Shakespeare

Today I’ve decided to clean up / create the Wikipedia articles on Joel Chandler Harris and the Wren’s Nest.

It’s been a lot harder than it sounds.

In my favor: intimate knowledge of the subject matter, readily available resource material, and a Wikipedia username. The last of these, by the way, is remarkably easy to obtain.

The biggest problem with Wikipedia, however, is the high level of distraction handed to you on a silver platter. The links in any given article are helpful, often thorough, and 100% effective in leading me elsewhere. (more…)


Categories: Hunting!, JCH |


Written on April 11, 2007 at 3:45 pm, by carson

Hi folks. Take a look at Lain for a second:


This is a man who works hard. This is a man who pours blood, sweat and tears into keeping this beloved old house museum alive and well. This is a man who spends so much time at the Wren’s Nest that he doesn’t have time to resole his shoes. I mean, look at that right one.

Note: this photo was taken after the impromptu Easter Egg hunt on Saturday afternoon. The one Lain graciously allowed to take place, sans appointment or grounds rental fee. We call people like Lain the “Bomb-Diggity.”

This being my second week as WNIC (see below), I am starting to see a side of the Wren’s Nest that you might not get on Star, Jeri or Miss Nannie’s $7 tour. You might not hear it in Miss Woodie’s emphatic storytelling, or smell it in the rose garden out back, or deduce it from Lain’s commentary on the state of the upstairs (a bit disorganized). But if you look deeply into the non-sole of his right shoe, you will see what I’m talking about.


The Wren’s Nest is a place bursting with passion for a cause far greater than itself. While we hard-boiled interns, docents and executive directors do care about grant money and breaking attendance records and even being famous (true!), we care (prehaps most of all) about bringing a community of people together to share something historic, meaningful, and unique.

And, as Lain mentioned in his last blog, being nice always helps.

It seems the legacy here (though it hasn’t always been upheld; see: 100 white ladies sipping tea and being racially exclusive) is respecting tradition. We’re all about preserving a flavor of storytelling and literature that has enchanted readers and inspired writers for well over a century. The people I’ve met here believe in this mission. They work like they mean it. And I’ve never met him, but I think Joel Chandler Harris would be proud of what’s going on here.


Categories: WNIC |