Friday, August 28, 2015

Demand A Plan

I want politicians in this country to prove to me that they are not paid puppets of the NRA.

I want them to DO SOMETHING! 

Today's NRA is NOT the NRA it once was.

These people are all about profits and hearing the ca-ching, ca-ching of the cash registers. 

Lives Matter.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny

There are a lot of Louse Penny fans out there.  We're diehard, staunch, loyal, devoted and steadfast.

So - you guys? 

If you haven't already, you're going to want to buy her latest right now.

I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy and I promise you're not going to be disappointed.  (pfft - as if!).

It's impossible for someone like me with no reviewing skills to talk about Ms. Penny's work without spoilers, so I don't even try.

But, I will say this.  In "The Nature of the Beast," we learn some new things.

Don't you love how this author can keep surprising us??  

Book after book, still fresh and still able to make us care more and more about this group of quirky, lovable people inhabiting Three Pines.

I laughed out loud, I put the book down  to ponder thoughts, and I cried rivers.  Because that's what we do when we read Louise Penny's words.  She touches our deepest selves like no one else.

The woman is a treasure.

Sunday, August 23, 2015




a lyric poem typically of elaborate or irregular metrical form and expressive of exalted or enthusiastic emotion.
(originally) a poem intended to be sung.

Well, here's my own kinda photographic ode to my favorite meal of the day, which can (and should!) be eaten at any time during the day (or night).

Especially good when shared with your favorite guy.


Life is good.

Friday, August 21, 2015


Today has been a good day.

I drove to Newland to Cranberry House and was struck once more with just how lovely the drive is and how many interesting spots there are between here and there. 

I would have enjoyed the trip to and from on visits to my mom, and I doubt I would have ever tired of the drive. 


Since my mom is no longer there, I'm blessed to have made some friends who are there. 

I will always think of Gigi, Kathy and Rhianon as "Hazel's Angels."

And because I didn't have a single place I needed to rush to, I stopped at almost every place I had been promising myself I would stop "one of these days." Today was finally that day, and it was nice. 

And I am so happy I had my camera with me, which isn't really that unusual, but sometimes - sometimes I walk out of the house without it and regret it every minute I'm gone.

And I'm also happy there's meatloaf left over from last night's supper and I can fix myself a meatloaf sandwich.

Life is good.

But there's a lesson behind all this.

The lesson is this.

I've missed a lot of opportunities to take some time to stop whatever it was I was doing.  I've missed some fabulous photo ops.  

I'm lucky though regarding this trip from Boone to Newland and back.

It's close enough that I can get a "re-do" whenever the urge strikes.

Sometimes, though, we even pass up the chances for a "re-do."

I think it's important to remember that we really don't have to be doing something we think of as important or critical or necessary all the time.

Sometimes it's alright to just "be."

To just allow yourself time to stop at that little place on the side of the road and see if it's as interesting as you think it might be.

It's okay to pull off the side of the road and take a picture of the sky just 'cause.

And I'm going to try to remember to do these things more often.

I don't think we're put here on this earth to rush through life, or work through life. 

I need to remember to sometimes allow myself to just be. 

Here's a few of the things I took a little bit of time to enjoy today.  

A few places I finally stopped at, and a few places I just wanted to photograph.

Life is good.  I want to remember to live it.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Sometimes you just have to laugh . . .

Sometimes we have to just roll with the punches. Roll our eyes and laugh. Right?

And try to remember the saying "it's all about the story."

Here's my story about mailing off a few packages.

My mom loved her bling.

So yes, I guess I get my love of jewelry honestly - she taught me well.

And started those lessons early.

I've written about how much I loved my childhood home, The Arcade Apartments a/k/a "Home of My Heart."

I re-post this Father's Day post almost every year.

And I know you've already read about Mr. Devoe, and indulge me when I repeat myself. 

There was a jewelry store owned by Mr. & Mrs. Henry DeVoe in the lobby of the Arcade. Sometimes on Saturdays they would babysit me while Mother did the grocery shopping if Dad had to work. It was the beginning of my love affair with jewelry. Mr. DeVoe was my buddy - he opened my first charge account. Remember the silver bands we called "Friendship Rings?" They were $1.00. Sterling silver bands for $1.00. Can you imagine? Well, I loved those, but would lose them often. He would let me charge one and pay him on installments out of my allowance. About the time I'd have one paid off, I'd lose it and he would let me charge another one.

The first thing we brought home from Mother's apartment was her jewelry "box."

As you can imagine, going through this was hard.

But also quite lovely.

I sincerely doubt there was ever a piece of furniture that held more memories.  Not much of any value because we've never been a family of means, but we sure have always known how to collect some pretty sparkly memories.

I found pieces I thought were long lost, including a locket with matching earrings my dad gave my mom before I was born.  It has a teeny little picture of my dad inside.

I found cheap little abalone shell rings I had bought for her on The Boardwalk of Ocean City, MD when I was a little girl.  (Adjustable, no less.  ;-)  )

So many treasures.

So many memories.

I found pieces that family and friends had given her over the years.

I cried over some of the pieces.  Pieces that Donald would choose and wrap and give her for Christmas every year.  That was the gift she would save until last to open.  He always chose well.  She was always pleased.

I found fun and lovely and whimsical and silly pieces.  Many, like the dachshund pin to honor our much beloved Uncus, that she had had since forever.  She had a fondness for watches and I remember her wearing this Minnie Mouse watch often.

I found lots of rhinestones.

Lots of big dramatic pieces

Lots of tigers and parrots and dragonflies and bees, oh my.

Did I mention how my mama loved her bling?

I decided to share much of it with family and close friends, so I spent some time sorting pieces into piles. 

I chose carefully.

I boxed them up and labeled them.

A couple boxes have already been sent and received.

Then I fell behind, 

but, some are now finally on their way. 

Whether the recipients actually receive what I intended to send them is another story.

Most of the boxes are quite small since most contain only jewelry.

I taped them up really well (really, really well), but then put them in padded envelopes (which I also taped really, really well - the recipients going to kill me, except most of them are well aware of how wild I can get with a roll of tape in my hands).

But when I got to my favorite shipping place, good folks who have taken good care of our packages for as long as we've been in Boone, with 15 packages (many of which are in really, really well-taped padded envelopes) discussions take place.

After much discussion among many people, the decision is reached that everyone would feel much more comfortable about those well-taped padded envelopes being in boxes.

So three different people get busy putting those well-taped padded envelopes into boxes which are stuffed to capacity with bubble wrap and then taped (really well).


I am not feeling totally warm and fuzzy about the labeling.

There "may" have been too many hands in that kitchen.


I had to drop everyone an email asking that they let me know when they receive their package, and to let me know what might actually be in "their" package because I have a feeling we may have to do some re-sorting.  (Cross your fingers that I'm wrong!)

My friend Cat made me hoot when she wrote back that this could possibly turn into a big ol' transcontinental scavenger hunt.  One of the things Hazel Wilkinson loved best about Cat is her wicked and spot-on sense of humor.

We'll all have to stay tuned for the rest of the story . . . 

(Harley choosing his favorite piece)

Saturday, August 8, 2015

When the Clock Strikes Midnight by Margaret Maron

When the Clock Strikes Midnight
by Margaret Maron

We know what happened to Cinderella when she stayed too long at the ball. The clock struck midnight, her golden carriage became a pumpkin, her white horses turned back into white mice and her beautiful ballgown became rags.

Several years ago, when my newly published colleagues and I were members of the "freshman class," we noticed that several of the "senior class"—male and female both—had stayed too long the ball. They had written strong books with sparkling characters, but now they were older and tired, and their books no longer sparkled. They seemed to be phoning it in. As someone who grew up on a farm, it was like watching cows endlessly chewing the same cud. We promised ourselves that we wouldn't be like that. We would quit before we tarnished our reputations. Indeed, three of us made a pact: if that began to happen to one of us, the other two would come and put her out of her misery.

Bootlegger's Daughter, my first Judge Deborah Knott book, was published in 1992. Long Upon the Land, which will publish next week, is the 20th. (The title comes from the Fifth Commandment: "Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days shall be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.") In that first book, Deborah was running for a seat on the district court bench. She was single, impulsive and apt to leap before she looked. In the past twenty-odd years, she has matured, married, and become a mother. She has held court from the coast to the mountains and back again and the books have allowed me to examine various aspects of life in North Carolina, both social and political.

I had thought that last year's book, Designated Daughters, would be the last, but then I realized that there was one loose end I had never tied up to my own satisfaction: how did her parents meet and marry and what was the story behind her mother's cigarette lighter that all of her brothers wanted? All along, Deborah's known that her parents were very much in love and that their marriage was strong despite their differences. But Sue Stephenson was the daughter of a respected attorney, a town girl who would have made her debut in long white gloves and a gauzy white gown had the war not intervened. She had graduated from high school and spent a year in college. Kezzie Knott was a semi-illiterate moonshiner who barely finished the eighth grade and was a widower with eight small boys, to boot. 

 Like me, Deborah was curious about how they could defy convention and marry. Long Upon the Land satisfies my curiosity and leaves me content in knowing that this really is the last book I'll write about her.

Besides, not only do I not want to be left standing in rags beside a rotten pumpkin and a handful of mice, my friends take their promises very seriously!

* * *

Born and bred in North Carolina where the piedmont meets the sandhills, I grew up on a modest two-mule tobacco farm that has been in the family for over a hundred years. Tobacco is no longer grown on the farm, but the memories linger — the singing, the laughter, the gossip that went on at the bench as those rank green leaves came from the field, the bliss of an icy cold drink bottle pressed to a hot sweaty face, getting up at dawn to help “take out” a barn, the sweet smell of soft golden leaves as they’re being readied for auction. Working in tobacco is one of those life experiences I’m glad to have had. I’m even gladder that it’s something I’ll never have to do again.

After high school came two years of college before a summer job at the Pentagon led to marriage, a tour of duty in Italy, then several years in my husband’s native Brooklyn. I had always loved writing and for the first few years, wrote nothing but short stories and very bad poetry. (The legendary Ruth Cavin of St. Martin’s Press once said of the silly verses I write to celebrate various friends “It's doggerel, Margaret. But inspired doggerel.” I was immensely flattered.)

Eventually, I backed into writing novels about NYPD Lt. Sigrid Harald, mysteries set against the New York City art world. Living there let me see how the city is a collection of villages, each with its own vitality and distinct ambiance, vibrant and ever-changing. But once I had settled back into North Carolina, love of my native state and a desire to write out of current experiences led to the creation of District Court Judge Deborah Knott, the opinionated daughter of a crusty old ex-bootlegger and youngest sibling of eleven older brothers. (I was one of only three, so no, I’m not writing about my own family.)

We’ve been back on a corner of the family land for many years now. My city-born husband discovered he prefers goldfinches, rabbits, and the occasional quiet deer to yellow cabs, concrete, and a city that never sleeps. A son, a daughter-in-law, and two granddaughters are icing on our cake.

Why mysteries? Quite honestly, when I first chose this genre, it was because I thought I had nothing to say and the classic mystery novel had a form that would let me write without any burden of trying to be profound. All I had to do was entertain. But once I began writing about North Carolina, I realized that there was nothing I couldn’t say in this most flexible form.


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Thank you

I'd like to thank each of you for all the kind thoughts and good wishes you've been sending our way.

Each and every email, Facebook message, comments left here at Meanderings and Muses, each phone call, card and letter that has arrived and continue to arrive means more than I have words to say.

Each is a treasure both Don​ and I will hold in our hearts forever.