Sunday, November 30, 2014

FMS Photo a Day

Nov. 30 - "I Bought This"

I bought this sweet angel tree topper in 1985, which was the first Christmas I celebrated with Donald. It's been on top of every Christmas tree we've had since.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Happy Day After

So - who's shopping today?

Are you out and about with all the crowds and getting lots of great bargains?

Are you shopping with the easy click of your mouse and, hopefully, getting great bargains?

Are you one who tries to shop small businesses, artists and artisans?

Or are you, like me, settled in with a cup of coffee, a whole mess of fluffy pillows and a good book? 

 My book of the day is "The Book of the Dead," which is #7 in the Preston & Child Special Agent Pendergast series.  I am totally hooked.  Totally. 

Whatever it is you're doing today - Enjoy!  

And remember all those things you gave thanks for yesterday.

Happy Day After!

FMS Photo a Day

I've been a little lax in posting my photo challenges, so today I'm playing catch-up.

November 25 - "Time"

November 26 - "Wall"

Harley guarding priceless artwork on his walls ;-)

November 27 - "I'm Thankful for This"
Home and family

November 28 - "Black"

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

From my Heart

When I woke up this morning, I knew it was going to be a very hard day for so many.

The very least of whom are the citizens of Ferguson, Missouri.

And, certainly for the family of Michael Brown.

How I wish I could wrap them close and make things better for them.

But, of course, I can't. No one can. They'll live the rest of their days missing their son.

I grew up in a racially divided town in the 60s.

The memories I have of those summers we spent under martial law with the National Guard living in tents on our school grounds are a large part of what makes me the person I am today.

But.   I'm a white girl.

I had absolutely no concept of how the African American families in my hometown of Cambridge, MD felt, or what sadness and anger they must have carried in their hearts.

I thought all that was behind us.

So, so naive.

The anger and the sadness is alive and well - as is the ignorance that breeds racism

What can one person do?

What can I do?

The one thing I know I cannot do is stay silent.

Today I have spent the day thinking back to the things I witnessed as a teenager in Cambridge, including the black community being angry enough to burn down a section of their own community after a speech being given by H. Rap Brown while he stood on top of a car. When the fires started breaking out, the town fire department, run by volunteers, afraid of the possibility of snipers, refused to go in to put out those fires.

What never occurred to me back then before all this happened, but became a part of something that lived in my heart and in my mind, and does even now is why was there a separate community for Cambridge's black citizens? Why was there a separate school for the children? Why did they, along with the white citizens who believed in their fight, have to fight for basic civil rights in the first place?

Because of the color of their skin???

Does that make even one iota of sense???

And what in God's name has happened to those basic rights today?  Those rights some of us were naive enough to believe we had won?

Anyone who actually believes we live in a Post Racial America is, I believe, a fool.

Monday, November 24, 2014

FMS Photo A Day

Nov. 24 - "I Need To Do This!"

finish this piece of needlework I've neglected for far too long!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Celebrating My Birthday With Eloise!

Remember reading this:
"I am Eloise. I am six. I am a city child. I live at the Plaza."

Hi.  I am Kaye.  I'm about to turn sixty-six.  I live in the North Carolina mountains.  Eloise and I are about to celebrate our birthdays.

I have always, always loved knowing I share my birthday (almost.  sorta.  close enough) with my childhood idol.  An icon, really.

We were both born in 1948. 

While it's true that the first Eloise book was published in 1955, legend has it that Kay Thompson invented Eloise to entertain friends and co-workers. 

She didn't know what she looked like, however, until Hilary Knight drew a sketch and sent it to her, and she supposedly told him she recognized the little girl immediately.

Kay Thompson's Eloise: A book for precocious grownups published on November 28, 1955 by Simon and Schuster (just missing my birthday, which is November 26).

And so began the partnership that brought us Eloise.

Let's take a look at some of the startling similarities between me and Eloise - 

* Eloise lived in the oh so posh Plaza Hotel in New York City.
* I lived in an old apartment building in downtown Cambridge, MD.

*There were expensive restaurants offering fine dining in the hotel lobby, including room service.
*There was a soda fountain in the drug store in my apartment building lobby. If we had ever called Mr. Collins requesting room service he would have laughed himself silly, and we would have been the talk of Cambridge.

*There were ritzy boutique dress shops in the hotel lobby.
*The city gas company and an insurance office were in my apartment lobby.
And one children’s clothing shop.
And a jewelry store.
I don’t remember much about the clothing shop, truth be told, but I sure do remember the jewelry store. It was owned by my buddy, Mr. Henry DeVoe. Mr. DeVoe would sometimes let me hang out with him if my dad was working and my mom had to run to the grocery store. And he let me open my very first charge account. I’ve been a little bit in love with jewelry ever since.

*There was an exclusive hair salon in the hotel lobby.
*Cecelia’s Beauty Parlor was in my apartment lobby. I would march into Cecelia’s and carry on conversations with the ladies getting their hair done on a regular basis. Leaning over them while they were having a shampoo. Knock-knocking on the hair dryers to say "Hey!" and pass the time of day. And told everyone I was going to be coming to work there as Miss Cecelia’s manicure girl when I grew up. I don't recall running this plan by Miss Cecelia, however.

*The lobby of the Plaza Hotel was sumptuous and elegant with thick carpeting and beautifully decorated conversation areas.
*The lobby of my apartment building was not.

But it did have a movie theater! With an elegant (I thought) ticket office, and a gentleman who stood outside the theater doors collecting tickets.

I spent a lot of time chatting with him too.

*I did not have a Nanny who liked to watch the fights and drink pilsner.
*My dad liked to watch football and drink beer though.

So see – my life growing up wasn’t so different from Eloise.

Well, I didn’t have a dog named Weenie who looked like a cat, nor did I have a turtle named Skipperdee who ate raisins and wore sneakers, but I did have a turtle. Several, as I remember. I never was sure what happened to one turtle before my mom would take me to Woolworth’s to the turtle tank to get a new one. They were all named Sweetie Pie. As was my parakeet. As were all the chickens we had living under the stove for a short while (that's another story for another day, however).


So, maybe there really weren't that many ways in which Eloise and I were alike. Other than being a bit free-spirited and presumptious in our misguided imaginations that everyone thought we were adorable.

So, yes, Eloise has been to Paris, and I haven't.

And, she's been to Moscow. I have not.

But!  She apparently liked Christmas a lot.   Well - me, too!

And, she took bawths.    Me, too!

Well, actually, I don't recall ever saying I was taking a bawth, but I did and still do love a bubble bath.

And she was in a dance recital or two, I think.    Guess What! 

Me, too!

I loved her when I was a kid and I still love her today.

And I'm not the only one.

Eloise has a lot of fans. A lot of them still stop by The Plaza to see her portrait which was painted by Hilary Knight. The original portrait disappeared after a party. A fraternity party - - or so the story goes. Sometime after that happened, supposedly, Princess Grace visited the hotel with her children and was sad to learn the portrait was gone, which moved Mr. Knight to paint a new one.

Now, I have never had my portrait painted with a disinterested pup at my feet (or a disinterested turtle).  And certainly not one painted of me swanning about at The Plaza in New York City.

But I have had my picture taken with a disinterested pup while leaning against our house in Boone, North Carolina.

The Plaza threw an anniversary party when Eloise turned 40. Simon and Schuster published a special anniversary edition of the book.

To celebrate turning 66, I think we'll just wear funny hats, drink coffee and eat cupcakes.  Or maybe a pizza!

But, truthfully?

What I would really love to do?

Go to New York City, have a weekend at The Plaza, snuggled up in the Eloise Suite.

A girl can dream, can't she??

'Cause one of these days - ONE of these days, I plan to at least peek into the Eloise Suite and visit the Eloise Shop in The Plaza.   I haven't been to New York in years and years and years, and I'm wanting a trip back pretty badly, truth be told.  I want to be the complete tourist.  I want to wear my most comfy clothes, shoes and a hat.  I want to see the most touristy things NYC has to offer - camera in hand.  I want to sing on the ferry to Staten Island, go to the top of the Empire State Building, gawk at diners at The Russian Tea Room, have my picture taken with the Eloise portrait, see a Broadway play, go to The Cloisters, prowl around The Dakota (can you do that?), I want a day at MoMA, a Bronx tour, a Brooklyn tour, a sail around Manhattan, a Coney Island tour, a Food on Foot tour.  sigh.  Well, some of those things anyway . . . . and when I meet people I will introduce myself as Eloise.

And The Plaza continues keeping Eloise alive today. This from their webpage - "Guests who skibble in may relax in the stylish living room, and plan their (mis)adventures with the concierge, just like a certain young lady. In the Fashion Room there is absolutely nothing but costumes for dress up, so mini-Eloises can model their favorite looks from the podium. Sklonking off to the Library Room, guests may enjoy “park views” and watch their favorite Eloise movie clips, play on the computer stations or enjoy story time with their mostly companion. Of course, fans can’t leave without a visit to the Tea Room where family and friends can come together for tea and birthday parties and other celebrations. A visit to the Beauty Salon rounds out a day of living like Eloise, and in Summer 2010, tea and birthday parties, beauty salon service and etiquette classes will be available too, thank you very much."

In the meantime, I've got my own little Eloise right here in Boone with me.  She is much loved.

She sits on the bookcase in our bedroom and keeps an eye on us while we're sleeping.  Me, Donald and Harley.  Donald does swear though that she gets into mischief during the night and sometimes wakes him up.  I believe that.  Sometimes when I hear Harley grumbling during the night I feel sure it's because Eloise is up to no good.

And during this time of the year, she and I sing Happy Birthday to one another.  Very, Very, Loudly.

There are people who touch our lives. Sadly, we're not often given an opportunity to let them know just how very much they enriched our lives. Kay Thompson died in Manhattan on July 7, 1998. She was either 92 or 95. When she takes a break from all the entertaining I feel sure she's doing up there in heaven (she was a singer, a dancer, a choreographer and a comedienne in addition to writing the Eloise books), l hope she checks in with me here through Meanderings and Muses.  I'd like to say "Thank you, Ms. Thompson for giving me Eloise."  (and thanks to Sam Irvin for writing this terrific book about her!  If you're a fan of Eloise and Kay Thompson you'll want to read this if you haven't already).

It was, after all, through Kay Thompson and Eloise that I learned =

"An egg cup makes a very good hat"

(note: If all this looks kinda familiar,  an earlier version of this was posted by me at The Jungle Red blog a couple years ago)

FMS Photo a Day - Day 22

Nov. 22  - "A Favorite Thing"

Friday, November 21, 2014

Does your best editing happen AFTER you've hit "send?"

If you've been following news about The National Book Awards, presented annually by The National Book Foundation, you know a few things in addition to the award winners.

You know Ursula K. Le Guin was given an award for her distinguished contribution to American letters, and gave a speech which has touched many.

And you know another author made news which was not as universally accepted.

Daniel Handler of Lemony Snicket fame (NOT crime writer David Handler as I stupidly posted in a comment to a post on Laura Lippman's Facebook wall this morning.  I say stupidly, because I knew better and just didn't catch my own error.  <sigh>). Made some racist comments which made the crowd, not surprisingly, uneasy.

He has since apologized.

I was stunned and hurt and angry at Mr. Handler's remarks, and initially (and, admittedly, selfishly) not over moved by the apology.

Then I read Ms. Lippman's piece at The Toast. I encourage each of you to do the same. I found it to be generous, gracious and brave.

All this brings up something I've been pondering since reading a Margaret Atwood quote. 

"Wanting to meet an author because you like his work is like wanting to meet a duck because you like pâté.”

I never really thought about meeting my favorite authors in quite this way, although it does bear thinking about . . . certainly . . .  I suppose. Still pondering . . .

FMS Photo a Day - Day 21

Nov. 21 - "Shoes"

Thursday, November 20, 2014

FMS Photo a Day - Day 20

Nov. 20 - "Bright"

The bright lights of Nashville.

2012 CMA Awards

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Lethal Letters by Ellery Adams

Ellery Adams is a writer I admire and she's written a character, Olivia Limoges, who I've also grown to admire. This is a series that never disappoints. Olivia, along with her friends and family, are a delight. Watching the bonding of friends as the characters continue to grow is something I look forward to as I await the next in the series. Watching Olivia slowly become who she is meant to be as she faces up to her past is heartrending and beautifully written.

Disclaimer:  i bought this book.

Blue Labyrinth by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

This was my first experience reading anything by Preston & Child, and therefore my introduction to the totally captivating Aloysius Pendergast. I loved every word. The characters are fascinating and now I can't wait to start at the beginning of Special Agent Pendergast's story and spend more time with him and the rest of the cast. Pure Gold!

Disclaimer:  an electronic arc of this book was provided by  No review was promised and the above is my unbiased opinion.

Five Fires by Laura Lippman

oooooh - Laura Lippman has done it again. (Who's surprised?!). Five Fires is WICKED GOOD! Laura and Megan Abbott, both now at the top of their game, share a unique way of seeing and writing about the psyche of teenage girls. This one was chilling, and not to be missed.

Disclaimer:  an electronic arc of this book was provided by  No review was promised and the above is my unbiased opinion.

FMS Photo A Day - Day 16

Nov. 16 - "After"

After the leaves have fallen off the trees

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

FMS Photo a Day - Day 12

Nov. 12 - "Normal"

This is Harley's normal "go to" spot in the morning after Donald has gone to work.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sunday, November 9, 2014

FMS Photo A Day

Nov 8 - "A Place"

The Moses Cone House
Blowing Rock, NC

Nov. 9 - "Heck Yes!"

Willie Nelson
and Sister Bobbie
Greensboro, NC
May 2014

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Guest Post by Stacey Cochran

Thanks, Kaye, for letting me visit Meanderings and Musings. So I’ll keep this brief. My novel Eddie & Sunny is on Kindle Scout for 30 days, and I need reader nominations for the book. It costs nothing to nominate, and only takes about three seconds.

Kindle Scout is a brand new program launched by Amazon about two weeks ago. The purpose of the program is to have authors upload unpublished novels to the site. Then, Amazon constructs a “campaign” page, and the book can be nominated by readers for 30 days. The books with the most nominations and visibility will be offered a publishing contract by one of Amazon’s imprints (e.g., Thomas & Mercer, Montlake, 47N, Lake Union).

It’s a new attempt to crowd-source the choice for what gets published to readers. It’s also an interesting way to generate publicity for books long before contracts are offered.
My novel Eddie & Sunny was accepted among the very first wave of 59 books, and it has been doing pretty well the opening two weeks. Kindle Scout has a “Hot & Trending” list where the books with the most nominations are posted.

But every day, new books are launched and so the competition has quickly picked up intensity. I have two weeks to go and am grateful for all the nominations we receive.

Please take a moment and check it out. Nominate the book. 

And if folks have any questions about Kindle Scout or Eddie & Sunny, I’m happy to try and answer them.

Thanks so much, Kaye.