Thursday, March 31, 2016

April - National Poetry Month

"This April marks the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month, which was inaugurated by theAcademy of American Poets in 1996. Over the years, National Poetry Month has become the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture."

Read more here -

And I will, once again, beginning tomorrow, be posting some of my favorite poems here every day during the month.  You'll see some you've seen here before simply because I love them.  You'll also see some new ones because there's always new poetry to be discovered.

I hope you enjoy my offerings and that you'll be discovering some pieces that touch your heart and your soul.

Happy April, Everyone!  Celebrate Poetry!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Know what I love?

It's easy to rant about the things we hate.

Yes, yes - my hand is raised the highest of any.

I do dearly love a good rant about the things that make me nuts.

My list is long, I'm afraid.

Mostly it concerns and boils down to arrogance, I think.

The arrogance of people who think they're smarter than anyone else and therefore have the right to act all pissy when someone has the unmitigated gall to actually disagree with them.  Arrogance of people who think they are, for some unknown reason, better than others and therefore have the right to treat people carelessly and with disrespect.  I'm not fond of arrogance and I detest meanness.

Anyhoooooo . . . .

You probably already knew this about me, huh?

I do try, however, to move on once my rant is ranted.

Even if I come back to it time and time again.

I can't help it.

Today, though, I'm going the other way.

Just 'cause.

Just 'cause it's loads more fun to be positive than it is to be all negative about stuff.

Healthier too.

So, today I'm singing praises of some of the things I love.

And I'm singing those praises in photos.

Photos I've taken.

Because taking pictures is one of the things I love best.

      - - - - - - - - - 










The Beach!

Ice Cream!


Willie Nelson!

The view from my bedroom window!

Old cameras!

Old typewriters!

My Guys!

And I'm hoping to come to love my new camera which I'm working hard at understanding.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Help Bring Back the North Carolina We USED To Be!!!

Read about how the people of North Carolina are standing up to new anti-LGBT law in a big way - a very big way.

THIS is why you don't say things like "I will leave this stupid state," or "I'D never live THERE!" No. You fight for what's yours. And if you live in North Carolina, it's YOURS. Fight for it. Fight for what we once were and can be again. Don't just talk about it here at Facebook - FIGHT for it! Nothing worth anything is going to happen without fighting for it. Talk is cheap. FIGHT for your beliefs.

 Here's a list of all NC representatives. I hope you'll consider writing to them - ALL of them - to let them know how you feel about what they're doing to the State of North Carolina. OUR state. We are so much better than they're showing us to be. The backlash is growing. 

Use this link -
Cut and paste these names into an email and tell them how you feel, if you haven't already. 

And PLEASE feel free to share this!

Sen. John Alexander; Sen. Tom Apodaca; Sen. Chad Barefoot; Sen. Tamara Barringer; Sen. Phil Berger; Sen. Stan Bingham; Sen. Dan Blue; Sen. Andrew Brock; Sen. Harry Brown; Sen. Angela Bryant; Sen. Ben Clark; Sen. Bill Cook; Sen. David Curtis; Sen. Warren Daniel; Sen. Don Davis; Sen. Jim Davis; Sen. Joel Ford; Sen. Valerie Foushee; Sen. Rick Gunn; Sen. Kathy Harrington; Sen. Fletcher Hartsell, Jr.; Sen. Ralph Hise; Sen. Jeff Jackson; Sen. Brent Jackson; Sen. Joyce Krawiec; Sen. Michael Lee; Sen. Paul Lowe; Sen. Tom McInnis; Sen. Floyd McKissick; Sen. Wesley Meredith; Sen. Buck Newton; Sen. Louis Pate; Sen. Ron Rabin; Sen. Bill Rabon; Sen. Shirley B. Randleman; Sen. Gladys Robinson; Sen. Bob Rucho; Sen. Norman Sanderson; Sen. Jane Smith; Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram; Sen. Dan Soucek; Sen. Josh Stein; Sen. Jeff Tarte; Sen. Jerry W. Tillman; Sen. Tommy Tucker; Sen. Terry Van Duyn; Sen. Joyce Waddell; Sen. Trudy Wade; Sen. Andy Wells; Sen. Mike Woodard; Rep. Jay Adams; Rep. Gale Adcock; Rep. John Ager; Rep. Kelly M. Alexander; Rep. Dean Arp; Rep. Marilyn Avila; Rep. Nathan Baskerville; Rep. John Bell; Rep. Larry Bell; Rep. Dan Bishop; Rep. Hugh Blackwell; Rep. John M. Blust; Rep. Jamie Boles, Jr; Rep. John Bradford; Rep. Bill Brawley; Rep. William Brisson; Rep. Cecil Brockman; Rep. Mark Brody; Rep. Rayne Brown; Rep. Gregory Murphy; Rep. Rob Bryan; Rep. Dana Bumgardner; Rep. Justin Burr; Rep. Becky Carney; Rep. Rick Catlin; Rep. George Cleveland; Rep. Jeff Collins; Rep. Debra Conrad; Rep. Tricia Cotham; Rep. Carla Cunningham; Rep. Leo Daughtry; Rep. Ted Davis; Rep. Jimmy Dixon; Rep. Josh Dobson; Rep. Nelson Dollar; Rep. Beverly Earle; Rep. Jeffrey Elmore; Rep. John Faircloth; Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield; Rep. Susan Fisher; Rep. Elmer Floyd; Rep. Carl Ford; Rep. John Fraley; Rep. Rosa Gill; Rep. William Richardson; Rep. Ken Goodman; Rep. Charles Graham; Rep. George Graham; Rep. Mike Hager; Rep. Duane Hall; Rep. Larry Hall; Rep. Susi Hamilton; Rep. Edward Hanes; Rep. Jon Hardister; Rep. Pricey Harrison; Rep. Kelly Hastings; Rep. Yvonne L. Holley; Rep. Kyle Hall; Rep. Craig Horn; Rep. Julia Howard; Rep. Howard Hunter III; Rep. Pat Hurley; Rep. Frank Iler; Rep. Verla Insko; Rep. Darren Jackson; Rep. Charles Jeter; Rep. Linda Johnson; House District 58; Rep. Bert Jones; Rep. Jonathan Jordan; Rep. Donny Lambeth; Rep. J.H. Langdon; Rep. David Lewis; Rep. Marvin Lucas; Rep. Paul Luebke; Rep. Chris Malone; Rep. Grier Martin; Rep. Susan Martin; Rep. Pat McElraft; Rep. Chuck McGrady; Rep. Allen McNeill; Rep. Graig Meyer; Rep. Mickey Michaux, Jr.; Rep. Chris Millis; Rep. Rodney Moore; Rep. Tim Moore; Rep. Gary Pendleton; Rep. Garland Pierce; Rep. Larry Pittman; Rep. Michele Presnell; Rep. Joe Sam Queen; Rep. Robert Reives; Rep. Bobbie Richardson; Rep. Dennis Riddell; Rep. George Robinson; Rep. Stephen Ross; Rep. Jason Saine; Rep. Brad Salmon; Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer; Rep. Mitchell Setzer; Rep. Phil Shepard; Rep. Michael Speciale; Rep. Paul Stam; Rep. Bob Steinburg; Rep. Sarah Stevens; Rep. John Szoka; Rep. Evelyn Terry; Rep. Paul Tine; Rep. John Torbett; Rep. Brian Turner; Rep. Rena Turner; Rep. Ken Waddell; Rep. Harry Warren; Rep. Sam Watford; Rep. Roger West; Rep. Chris Whitmire; Rep. Shelly Willingham; Rep. Michael Wray; Rep. Larry Yarborough; Rep. Lee Zachary

Friday, March 25, 2016

You know how I am about books I love.

Well, this is one

Run run run and grab a copy of James Anderson's debut novel and you will thank  me.

Read what he has to say about his protagonist  -  "Making a True Detective - Minus a Super Power - 

Editorial Reviews

“The great tradition of hard-boiled crime novels finds new and promising territory in the Utah desert. Carrying its own cult following after having been published independently last year, this debut novel is a stirring, atmospheric, and even mildly surreal variation on the ╩╗mean streets╩╝ detective fiction of Raymond Chandler . . . a witty, rollicking, and somewhat bent mystery/romance . . . the beginning of a beautiful series.”

—Kirkus Reviews

"High, dry and severely beautiful.... Anderson is one fine storyteller." - Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

“James Anderson's first novel works on elements of mirage -- a mystery novel with literary shimmers.   In the end it is all there, apparent in the high heat of the desert: a great story, well-told, funny, daring, smart and deeply affecting.”
  —Colum McCann, National Book Award-winning author of Let the Great World Spin
"James Anderson has written a striking debut novel —lyrical, whimsical, atmospheric and skillfully rendered." - CJ Box, New York Times Bestselling author of Badlands

"You have not read a book like The Never Open Desert Diner in a long time, if ever. Once you open its pages you will know you are in for something surprisingly enjoyable. James Anderson and his premiere novel are a serendipity that will make a mark on your brain in the most positive way." - Jackie Cooper, The Huffington Post

"An extraordinary debut."  - Milwaukee Sun-Sentinel

"Anderson ... writes with a lyrical style and allows the plot to unfold in a manner as seductive as the desert itself. Readers who revel in fiction set in the Southwest will want to join his protagonist for the ride." - Library Journal

"Anderson distills the heat and shimmering haze of the Utah desert into his fine first novel."  -Publishers Weekly

"Part love story, part mystery, part meditation on place, James Anderson's The Never-Open Desert Diner is peopled with quirky characters and peppered with fine prose that has the taste of truth. Anderson's abundant talents will certainly keep readers turning the pages." — Roland Merullo, author of Breakfast With Buddha

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Today we are mad

On Wednesday, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law a bill blocking anti-discrimination rules that would protect gay and transgender people.

From NPR:

NC State Government and the NC governor are a disgrace.

But wait - there's more.

Hidden in this disgusting bill is this -

"The bill would bar cities or counties from imposing their own minimum wage. So any move to establish a local minimum wage higher than the $7.25 an hour federal minimum wage would be a nonstarter. This has been done by other cities such as Seattle, which is phasing in a $15 an hour minimum wage."


The folks who might actually support the bill thinking it was all about bathrooms???


Consider yourselves played.


Wake up North Carolina. These people are not "for" you.  They could not care less about you.

In the meantime, "American Airlines, Wells Fargo and other major businesses across the state and nation are taking a stand against a bill signed into law Wednesday by N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory . . . " read more about this here -

I say - Good!

Money talks.

The leadership in this state does not give a flying fig about the people and what's good for us, but they surely do like money. The more some big corporation can stuff in their pockets, the happier they are. When some other big corporations start speaking out against hatred, stupidity and bigotry (in the name of money, of course), perhaps they'll start paying attention. Might not be for the right reasons, but we'll take what we can get at this point.

And  so - we also have this: 
Pro-Equality Groups Considering Legal Challenge to North Carolina’s Sweeping Anti-LGBT Law  
which you can read about here -

I have found one bright spot of joy in today's news.  I found it at Facebook and I share it with you in hopes it gives you a bit of faith as it did me.  

STOP these hypocrites who are trying to convince you hatred is the Christian way.

I would like to shake this man's hand. 

Hug his neck. 

Thank him for speaking out.

And I'm asking where are his brothers in Christ who are refusing to take a stand as this man is doing?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Today we are sad

Today we are sad.

And, as always, stunned - again?!! - when we are so sharply reminded how quickly people's lives can be changed.

Today our hearts are broken.

Today we pray for Brussels.

Yesterday was World Poetry Day, and I forgot.

Here's a bit of loveliness to turn to during sadness.
(and I have to thank Hank Phillippi Ryan for introducing me to this poem which has come to mean oh so very much to me)

Ithaka by Constantine P. Cavafy

When you set out for Ithaka
ask that your way be long,
full of adventure, full of instruction.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - do not fear them:
such as these you will never find
as long as your thought is lofty, as long as a rare
emotion touch your spirit and your body.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - you will not meet them
unless you carry them in your soul,
unless your soul raise them up before you.

Ask that your way be long.
At many a Summer dawn to enter
with what gratitude, what joy -
ports seen for the first time;
to stop at Phoenician trading centres,
and to buy good merchandise,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensuous perfumes of every kind,
sensuous perfumes as lavishly as you can;
to visit many Egyptian cities,
to gather stores of knowledge from the learned.

Have Ithaka always in your mind.
Your arrival there is what you are destined for.
But don't in the least hurry the journey.
Better it last for years,
so that when you reach the island you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to give you wealth.
Ithaka gave you a splendid journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She hasn't anything else to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka hasn't deceived you.
So wise you have become, of such experience,
that already you'll have understood what these Ithakas mean. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Some North Carollina Writers/Some North Carolina Heroes

Awfully proud to see so many well-known NC writers, including friend Margaret Maron, stepping up to the plate about what's been happening to a once socially progressive state. One that had an education system that was tops in the country. We have fallen far. Thank you for taking a stand.

Dozens of well-known North Carolina writers gathered at the state Capitol on Saturday to protest Republican policies they say are hurting public education, access to health care and voting rights.

The group included bestselling authors Clyde Edgerton, Allen Gurganus and Margaret Maron. They read a statement calling for “a new governor and a new government” so the state will have “a far, far better story for itself and its people than the one that has been rolling out of Raleigh in recent years.”

The statement called the state’s current story “a sad tale of recklessness, rapaciousness and cruelty.”

Read the rest of the article here:

THIS from Bland Simpson's Facebook page - 

A Gathering of North Carolina Writers, State Capitol Grounds.

At 2 p.m. today, March 19th, 2016, 45 North Carolina writers from across the state gathered on the Capitol grounds in Raleigh to call for a new governor and a new government for the Old North State, and for a return to the progressive course that for decades made North Carolina a beloved beacon across the South and the nation; 64 more N.C. writers supported this statement in absentia. Please READ MORE:

WE who are gathered here today are among the many North Carolinians entrusted by both publishers and the people to tell the stories of our time and our place -- in prose, in poetry, and in song. We live all over this great state, and our individual works are as different, any one from any other, as the New River in Ashe County is different from the New River in Onslow, and as the Nantahala River in the mountains is different from the Neuse River that flows to the coast.

Different though the voices with which we speak in our works may be, we stand here together today, speaking with one voice, totally and strongly unified in this belief:

North Carolina needs -- and deserves -- a far, far better story for itself and its people than the one that has been rolling out of Raleigh in recent years, which is, taken all in all, a sad tale of recklessness, rapaciousness, and cruelty. To change the story, indeed, is to change the course of the Old North State’s evolving democracy:

North Carolina must have a new governor and a new government.

We need a governor and a government that will see our people insured for health care to the greatest extent possible, using the major funding that is guaranteed by the federal government, which we all already trust to pay – and which does pay -- for North Carolina’s national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges, national seashores, our citizens’ social security, medicare, Medicaid, and veterans’ benefits and our state’s second largest economy, the military forces and bases across eastern Carolina. Half a million of our fellow citizens, one in twenty among us, need and deserve the basic right of access to health care that the expansion of medicaid will, at long last, give them;

We need a governor and a government that will respect and support, across the board, in word and deed, the teachers in our public schools, by rescinding the half-billion dollar tax giveaway for the wealthy among us and raising the remuneration of our educators, which is now very near the bottom for the entire nation; raising the investment in our students – in our children – which is also very near the bottom for the entire nation; and absolutely ending the unconstitutional use of public funds for private schools;

As everyone in North Carolina has a constitutional mandate to protect our fertile lands and forests, our many waters, and our temperate air, and as no one has the right to profit from actions that degrade these precious natural resources, we need a governor and a government that will enforce ARTICLE XIV, Sec. 5 of the North Carolina Constitution and vigorously protect and conserve our natural heritage, our common wealth, just as this final article of the state constitution directs us all to do. We need a governor and a government that will end the preferential, if not deferential, treatment of defilers of our natural resources and that will instead penalize them to the full extent of the law. We need a governor and a government that will end the headlong rush toward hydraulic fracturing and all its wastefulness and dangers, and that will oppose the next rush – should it re-occur, as it has twice now -- toward offshore drilling in the most turbulent, storm-tossed waters of eastern America, with drilling proposed from floating platforms in waters known and feared the world over as “the Graveyard of the Atlantic.”

We need a new governor and a new government that will end such other practices of the current regime as: 1/ gerrymandering our legislative and congressional districts, which has occurred to such an astonishing, illegal extent that federal courts have found two districts unconstitutional and sent them back to the General Assembly for redrafting, resulting in a new map as bad as the old, and an ongoing electoral mess; 2/ suppressing the vote, attempting to stifle the fullest possible participation by citizens in our democracy in various methodical ways and calling this stifling a campaign to end voter fraud, in an honest state where there is virtually none; 3/ placing higher taxes on all manner of repairs and services, regressive taxes that will hit hardest those among us with the lowest incomes; 4/ interposing political, ideological judgments between women and their physicians; and the list, quite unfortunately, does go on.

Two to three million new North Carolinians will be born here or will come here over the next fourteen years – how can we possibly be ready for them then when the state is ill-serving the people who are here now? We who are gathered on the State Capitol Grounds today urge our fellow citizens all across the state to keep the faith and to help write a far better story for the future of the Old North State. We believe that the people can, will and must put North Carolina back onto its progressive course, the course that for decades made our state a beloved beacon across the South and the nation. Let this be one small moment toward that great purpose, and let Tuesday, November the 8th, Election Day 2016, be a much grander one.


Those here assenting to this statement are:

Alex Albright Fountain

Jeffrey Beam Hillsborough

Barb Bennett Chapel Hill

Belle Boggs Pittsboro

Hodding Carter Chapel Hill

David Cecelski Durham

Diane Chamberlain Raleigh

Kim Church Raleigh

Angela Davis-Gardner Raleigh

Jim Dodson Greensboro

Larry Earley Raleigh

Clyde Edgerton Wilmington

Georgann Eubanks Carrboro

Mike Gaspeny Greensboro

Allan Gurganus Hillsborough

Fred Hobson Chapel Hill

Brenda Jernigan Fayetteville

Randall Kenan Hillsborough

Jill McCorkle Hillsborough

Lucinda McKethan Raleigh

Janna McMahan Raleigh

Margaret Maron Willow Springs

Thomas Mills Carrboro

Katy Munger Durham

Gene Nichol Chapel Hill

Elaine Orr Raleigh

Beverly Patterson Chapel Hill

Dan Patterson Chapel Hill

David Payne Hillsborough

Peggy Payne Raleigh

David Perry Carrboro

Tom Rankin Hillsborough

Terry Roberts Asheville

Robert Rubin Fuquay Varina

John Russell Raleigh

Jim Seay Chapel Hill

Ann Simpson Chapel Hill

Bland Simpson Chapel Hill

Lee Smith Hillsborough

Stephen Smith Southern Pines

Chris Stamey Chapel Hill

Harry Watson Carrboro

Kevin Watson Winston Salem

Marsha Warren Chapel Hill

Cat Warren Durham

Those in absentia:

Daphne Athas Carrboro

John Balaban Raleigh

Joseph Bathanti Boone

Margaret Bauer Greenville

Margaret Baddour Goldsboro

Katherine Byer Cullowhee

Wayne Caldwell Asheville

Wiley Cash Wilmington

Diane Chamberlain Raleigh

Mike Chitwood Chapel Hill

Jim Clark Wilson

Noelle Crook Raleigh

Nancy Demorest Hillsborough

Stephen Demorest Hillsborough

Bronwen Dickey Durham

Nina Di Gramont Wilmington

Pam Durban Chapel Hill

David Gessner Wilmington

Therese Fowler Raleigh

Alice Gerard Durham

Philip Gerard Wilmington

Marianne Gingher Greensboro

Judy Goldman Charlotte

Jaki Shelton Green Mebane

Minrose Gwin Chapel Hill

Maria Henson Winston Salem

Marjorie Hudson Pittsboro

Holly Goddard Jones Greensboro

John Kessel Raleigh

Haven Kimmel Raleigh

Richard Krawiec Chapel Hill

Dorianne Laux Raleigh

William Leuchtenberg Chapel Hill

Zelda Lockhart Hillsborough

Michael Malone Hillsborough

Melissa Malouf Durham

Elizabeth Matheson Hillsborough

Michael McFee Durham

Tift Merritt Raleigh

Joe Millar Raleigh

Robin Miura Chapel Hill

Duncan Murrell Pittsboro

Joe Newberry Raleigh

Val Nieman Greensboro

Michael Parker Greensboro

Nancy Peacock Hillsborough

Drew Perry Greensboro

Steven Petrow Hillsborough

Carmine Prioli Hillsborough

Ron Rash Cullowhee

Shannon Ravenel Durham

Celia Rivenbark Wilmington

Ruth Salvaggio Chapel Hill

Sarah Shaber Raleigh

Bill Smith Carrboro

Elizabeth Spencer Chapel Hill

John Jeremiah Sullivan Wilmington

Daniel Wallace Chapel Hill

Susan West Hatteras

Lynn York Carrboro

Lee Zacharias Greensboro

Writers raised in this state and no longer living here who remain loyal followers and

political supporters:

Ben Fountain TX

Charles Frazier FL

Robert Morgan NY

And we wish we could call the names of those great North Carolina voices who are

no longer with us but surely if they were, would be standing here with us today.

Those gathered at the Capitol then sent their thoughts, prayers and blessings toward Nancy Olsen, longtime Quail Ridge Books owner and a very great supporter of North Carolina’s literary life.

The session ended with a unison reading of the state toast:

The North Carolina State Toast



Friday, March 18, 2016

The Rise of Evil - it's real, it's up to us to stop it

If you don't believe the comparisons then I would encourage you to read up on your history.

I have hesitated about making this comparison because people started saying it before I truly believed it and because I honestly did not believe Trump would still be around this far into the game.

I had so much faith in the American people.

I still have faith, but I admit it's been shaken.

Shaken right down to the ground.

Seeing Americans push, shove, spit on and yell at people they think are "different."

Seeing Americans raise their arms in what we've known all our lives to be a symbol of hate.

Think about the future under a man who is being compared to the man behind one of the most shameful periods in history.

And if any of you dare to call yourselves Christians as you vote for Trump, I can only say you are delusional and should be ashamed.

Monday, March 14, 2016

me and my camera

seem to be getting along a bit better.

And I've signed myself up for an on-line photography class which I'll be starting in a few days.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

David Lauderdale writes about Pat Conroy

David Lauderdale's  ( wonderfully powerful, emotional piece about Pat Conroy from The Island Packet

Pat Conroy died the way he lived, and the way he wrote.
That’s how friends closest to the best-selling author describe the emotional blur between the Feb. 15 announcement that he had pancreatic cancer and his burial March 8 in a Gullah cemetery on St. Helena Island.
“What a loss,” his wife, Cassandra King Conroy, said Friday.
“What a loss.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet, I guess, but it will.”
Conroy’s death was larger than life, with 4 million people clicking on his website in recent days just to be close.
It was dramatic, with Conroy and loved ones exchanging emotional goodbyes three different times before the Irish eyes they say never lost their sparkle were closed for good at his creekside home in Beaufort on March 4.
Conroy’s bold fight showed as he was moved about from the Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center in Jacksonville, Fla., to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston and the Beaufort Memorial Hospital.
A sign of the well-chronicled Conroy family strife (his sister Carol did not attend the funeral Mass) was overcome by waves of redemption. His formerly “lost daughter” Susannah was by his side. In 2010 he had dedicated “My Reading Life” to her, writing: “Know this, I love you with my heart and always will. Your return to my life would be one of the happiest moments I could imagine.”
All four of his daughters and other surviving siblings — Jim, Tim and Mike Conroy and Kathy Harvey — were there with their children and grandchildren.

Read the rest of the David Lauderdale's piece here -

Saturday, March 12, 2016

My New Camera Hates Me

This is my new camera.

It hates me.

I fell in love with it immediately.

And then fell out of love with it almost as quickly.

Now we have some lessons to learn - both of us.

"It" needs to learn that "I'm" the boss.

So far, that's pretty laughable.

"It," hands down, is winning the Alpha position.

Donald has this same camera.

The only difference, so far, are the lenses.

He does not have this lens which is, I think (SEE how much I have to learn??!), the most basic lens available.

I took a one-on-one class with Donald and felt like I had learned some important basics but then got too big for my britches.

Didn't learn nearly what I thought I had, or should have.

And this camera isn't really as intuitive as I had assumed it would be.


Now I need to do what every first time new toy user needs to do (if they're a non-intuitive new toy user such as I), and read through the manual.


As much as I love to read, reading manuals just ain't my cup of tea.

I am not part of the audience for whom manuals were written.  (I love to say this little "not part of the audience" thing . . . ).


I will do it.

And I shall prevail.

(cross your fingers for me, okay?)

And, man . . .  am I glad I bought this "Dummies Book," 'cause the "real" manual?  

I don't even want to talk about it.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Friday musings . . .

If you read a recent Meanderings and Muses piece I wrote you know we had a different sort of Saturday last week.

We went to Asheville for a couple of reasons.

One - we love Asheville and head there as often as we can. There's a wealth of delightful things to do there. It's a very artsy community, proud of its architecture, its quirkiness, its restaurants and all things "Asheville."

A popular bumper sticker/tshirt bearing the saying "Asheville, Where Normal is Weird" holds a great deal of truth.

So, going to Asheville is never in need of a "need" really.

But this past weekend there was, in fact, a reason for the journey.

My camera died.

My much loved Canon G12 that I bought myself as a retirement gift.

It hasn't been far from my side, or my hands, since the day I got it.

I love that camera.

For it to die on the way home from the beach was a blow. One I took personally and may not get over, truth be told.

There's a wonderful photo shop in Asheville. Ball Photography has been in business for over 50 years. It's one of my favorite places on God's green earth. It's like walking into a Norman Rockwell painting. One that needs a good dusting, but that would only remove some of the charm. There are cameras, camera cases, lenses, etc etc etc scattered everywhere. Many placed out of reach on a shelf that travels the length of four walls up near the ceiling. I have no doubt that some of the first cameras ever made are sitting up on that shelf.

They still sell and process film.

They give free lessons on Saturday mornings if you want to learn how to use your new SLR.

They are a wealth of information.

It's where I wanted to drop off my Canon. But. Alas, the cost of the repair made it not worth it.

A new camera?



I can't even talk about it.

Then we had another little experience that happens more often in Asheville, and places like it, than might happen in more conservative communities.

Then we went to the Harley-Davidson place.

And yes, we bought a bike.

But, y'all - this wasn't part of the weekend plan.


While we were there and I was standing off to the side watching Donald's face as he talked about bikes a woman approached me.

A woman about my age, I guess.

She was gorgeous.

Beautifully groomed, stylishly dressed, wearing a few pieces of jewelry I could easily have bonked her over the head and run out the door with. (okay, that was just a joke).

She smiled and asked me if I rode these "machines."

I said, "No. But, it's looking more and more like I might be sitting on the back of one pretty soon."

She nodded and said, "me too."

We gave each other a little half-hearted smile.

After a few moments of comfortable silence she said, "how do you feel about that?"


Did she ever open the dam. I pretty much shared with her my feelings that I've also written about here at Meanderings and Muses. Apparently, those were things that were ready to come flying off my chest. Even with a complete stranger.

After I finished, she nodded again and said, "me too."

And she told me her story.

She was there with a "dear friend." Looking at where she pointed I saw a very attractive man talking every bit as attentively to a motorcycle salesman as my Donald was at the other end of the showroom.

Next thing I knew, she and I were sitting in rocking chairs (yes - rocking chairs. In the Harley-Davidson showroom. Anyone who ever thought for a moment that Harley-Davidson doesn't own top honors in marketing, think again. They have all their bases well covered) drinking one of the best cups of coffee I've ever had the pleasure of enjoying, having a nice chat.

A long chat, as it turns out.

There's a lot to be learned from the women with men looking at motorcycles.

She had lost her husband, quite suddenly, just a couple years ago.

When she told me this, she turned her head away, but the fact that her lip was quivering did not go unnoticed. When she looked back at me I just leaned in and hugged her. She hugged back.

And we rocked while she shared the rest of her story with me.

She did not like being alone.

She went from her family home into a marriage that was a happy, fulfilling one. Married to her best friend for 42 years and then suddenly he was gone. She saw him that morning before he left for the office, had coffee with him, gave him a good-bye kiss and he died of a heart attack while sitting at his desk.

This struck a little close to home with me. Although in my case, Donald was revived and lived to be right over here in this glittery Harley Davidson showroom looking at a lot of gleaming metal monster machines.

Today my new rocking chair companion was here with her friend and thinking about whether or not she could actually climb onto the back of one of these monsters. Or not.

Funny. Me thinking the same thing.

We visited for a long time.

It takes a long time for men to look at motorcycles. (See what I learned that day?).

By the time we said our goodbyes with another hug, we both knew we'd be sitting on the back of a Harley riding down the road and not only that, we were both, truth be told, kind of excited about it.


Who'da thought?

Sometimes sitting down with another woman and talking things off your chest is the only way to get to the root of your feelings. Even if it's a woman you've never seen before and will probably never see again.

Sunday in Asheville

Sunday was my day.

Donald dropped me off at Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe that morning and I had a couple hours of browsing around one of the coolest bookstores on earth.

I adore Malaprop's.

And not just because they carry Whimsey and have it on their "regional author" shelf either.

I love it for all that it is, and all that it supports.

Malaprop's supports the community of Asheville, it supports readers and writers. It's always been known for its support of local writers and will always go out on a limb for indie writers such as myself.

It has a full monthly calendar of events covering everything from a signing event by a well known New York Times bestseller to a wide and varied book groups to "how to" groups.

It's everything you want your favorite bookstore to be.

A huge stock of books covering every topic you can come up with,

literary gifts and totes, and a cafe with delicious food, terrific coffee and their own signature mugs.

Step out the door and there's a wonderful sculpture that's part of the Urban Trail.

You're also more than likely to spot some interesting and pretty darn good street musicians.

And my own personal favorite Asheville shop, The Chocolate Fetish.


Back to Malaprop's . . .

I had the honor of joining Nancy Dillingham and Celia Miles, editors of and contributors to , along with other contributors to "It's All Relative: Tales from the Tree," the latest anthology from women authors of Western North Carolina.

Rob Neufeld wrote in the Citizen-Times “there’s a shadowy, down-to-earth and at times magical quality to the telling that makes the collection striking and significant.”

Dr. Celia H. Miles and Nancy Dillingham have edited three previous anthologies of regional women writers: Christmas Presences from 45 WNC Women Writers, Clothes Lines from 75 WNC Women Writers and Women’s Spaces Women’s Places from 50 WNC Women Writers.

I am proud as punch to be a part of this group of talented women.

A group of us did readings of our work at Malaprop's on Sunday and I was moved and touched.

Each of us so different.

Each of us having writing styles so different.

And yet, each of us being there for one another and being so supportive.

This, to me, is what the writing community is all about.

This is what being a woman should be all about.

Gathering around one another after the readings, thanking those who were there only for the readings, many not knowing any of us, but supporting us by being there and many by buying the book.

I walked away from this event with my feet not touching the ground.

Smart, talented, creative women.


Who could not help but want to celebrate such a creature as this?

Such as "US?!"

All of us.

Me. You. Every woman you know.


Apparently, a bunch of asinine people who have their own ideas about who and what women are supposed to be.

The treatment of British costume designer Jenny Beavan as she won her Oscar for Mad Max: Fury Road was profoundly awful

Y'all. This makes me sad.




and tired.

Why not do what we can to help our children and our grandchildren - girls AND boys - grow up knowing the joys and benefits of strong women.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Just getting a little something off my chest

It's been said, behind my back (but you know how things always manage to hit the target, eventually), that I'm one who will push friends' books. Regardless of whether they're good or not. Part of this is true. I will, indeed, push friends' books. I'm confused why this might be a bad thing?? The part about whether they're good or not also confuses me. Who's to say what's good? A reader? A writer? The expertise comes from . . . where? What's "good" to one person may simply not be another's cup of tea. So? That makes it good? Bad? You don't like a particular writing style? So? Maybe you're just not the audience for whom the book was written. I'll say this. IF I start reading a book and realize it is not my cup of tea, I will put it aside. But you won't hear, or read, me saying another word about it. Not a good word. Not a bad word. I won't write it here. I won't mention it in person. If, however, I do enjoy the book, well hell yeah - I'm going to push it. Why shouldn't I? I don't give a fig if it's a friend or someone I've never met. I push books. So, tell me please, am I supposed to be offended by some small minded person thinking they're hurting me or possibly making my words a little less credible by saying I push my friends' books? Bullshit. Go away and read a book. OR, here's a thought - try writing one. It's not as easy as you think.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Pat Conroy RIP reposted from Jungle Red

this is a piece originally posted at jungle red.  i've received a lot of emails about it, and have been touched by so many stories so many of you had to share with me. some were quite moving and very private and not mine to share, but i hope some of them will eventually be shared publicly by their owners.  amazing, isn't it, that this man's reach was so far?  I know he was somewhat aware of what he meant to us, but i have to wonder if he really and truly could even possibly grasp the gifts he gave and how very universally far-reaching they were. 


"Oh, Kaye!" talks about Pat Conroy

I wrote the following on February 15th after reading Pat Conroy's announcement that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

"my heart is broken.

No author has touched me in ways this man has.

Don Barley has never hesitated in saying yes whenever I've said "Pat Conroy is going to be (insert the name of any city you want), can we go?" 

And we would go.

Pat Conroy has influenced many with his writing, he meets and greets every person standing in a line to have a book signed as an old friend and has a laugh and/or a kind word for each and every one.

I have written about him often over the years at my Meanderings and Muses and have posted many pictures I've been lucky enough to have had taken standing by his side.

He's listened to me babble about how much I love him.

He's wished me happy birthday.

When I told him I had written a novel, he asked if I had brought him a copy. I had not, but found a copy in the bookstore we were in in Charlotte, NC. When I gave it to him he asked me to sign it.  Me.  Signing a novel I had written to give to Pat Conroy.  You kidding me?!  WHAT a rush.

I want lots more opportunities to have all these things happen again.

I hope you'll join me in sending Mr. Conroy prayers. If you don't pray, join me in sending good thoughts.

Like he says, he owes us a book and he wants to deliver.

I think he still owes us several, and I think he can deliver."

Well, seems I was wrong. 

This larger than life man, favored son of the south, cherished author and storyteller unparalleled, lost his battle with pancreatic cancer and left a hole in the world.

And I can't even imagine.

No more books from Pat Conroy?

No more poetic, emotionally lyrical words written as no other person could ever come close to writing them?

No more.

Richard Eder wrote of “The Prince of Tides” in The Los Angeles Times. “The characters do too much, feel too much, suffer too much, eat too much, signify too much and above all talk too much.”

Bless his heart. Mr. Eder missed the whole point of Pat Conroy. Those things he scoffed at? Those were the things Pat Conroy fans wanted, loved, needed more of. Waited years for. Those might have been things any other writer could never get away with, but those things kept this fan, along with so many others,  tapping her toe in constant impatient hope of the next Conroy book. Fiction or non-fiction. It didn't matter. Just feed my fix with Conroy words and style.

"Talk too much?!" Ha! Conroy dialogue is magic. No one will ever match his ease of dialogue. No one. There should be an art form named "Conroy-esque Dialogue." Except the only artist who would make it into that esteemed category would be Donald Patrick "Pat" Conroy.

I could go on like this forever. How his words about the lowcountry marshes transport you right there. Have you smelling the marsh, feeling the hot heavy southern air. I could point out a dozen passages from his books where he writes about food that would leave you tasting the briny sweet salty taste of the lowcountry south. Would have you wishing for the next bite.

But.  We'll have no more.  No more occasions of settling into my favorite red chair with my coffee or a glass of wine opening that brand new Pat Conroy book.

No more occasions of laughing out loud or weeping tears onto the pages.

And my heart is broken.

No more drives to wherever his next signing might be.

No more hugs, "How you been?"  Teasing, smiling joy of just being in the orbit of Pat Conroy and his zest for people, and for life.

My heart is broken.

I am grateful beyond words for the opportunities I had to say "Thank You" to Pat Conroy for what he gave me.  Gave all of us.

Oh, how I will grieve for the words he was unable to give us by being called home much too soon.

But - he left us this.  A testament of how very much he loved us.  His readers.  Enjoy this little snippet of Mr. Conroy talking to us with a grand unaffected  fullness from his heart - the only way he knew how to communicate.

Excerpt From Seltzer Panel from USCB on Vimeo.

Donald Patrick "Pat" Conroy
October 26, 1945 - March 4, 2016

“He was a coach, a teacher and a well-loved man. And it is enough, Lord. It is enough.” as said by Tom Wingo in Prince of Tides.