Thursday, May 31, 2018


Peeking outside to see the sun and all this is bloom. We've been spared the flooding that has affected so many in our area, and we're thankful.

Peonies make me happy. 

Some are blooming and we still have loads of buds.  

They're short-lived, so we'll enjoy them while we can. 

And then, we'll look forward to seeing them again next year.

Peonies by Mary Oliver

This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers

and they open ---
pools of lace,
white and pink ---
and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away

to their dark, underground cities ---
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,

the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again ---
beauty the brave, the exemplary,

blazing open.
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Shine the Light

Racists and Nazis and all-round ignorant, hateful people are running out into the open from under rocks they semi-successfully hid under in the past. 

They no longer feel the need to be somewhat discreet in their shameful small-mindedness.

They feel as though they've been given permission to show their evilness by the bombastic idiot now in the process of demolishing democracy and destroying all that has been good about this country. 

We may not be able to educate these intolerant fools, but we can continue chasing them back under the rocks where they belong until they die a natural death. 

Don't stop fighting for what's good and decent! 

Speak up. 

"Everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come into the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." 

Keep shining the light. 

Here's to Roseanne being chased back under her rock - at least for a while.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Layers by Stanley Kunitz

I have walked through many lives, 
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

From Inside My Book Fort - "A Snicker of Magic" by Natalie Lloyd

Welcome to the Book Fort!

Annabelle and I have been spending a lot of time in the book fort lately due to all the rain.

A good book is the perfect antidote for gloomy weather, and a book filled with magic tops the list.

Today we're reading from another of our all-time favorites, Natalie Lloyd's "A Snicker of Magic."

Do you love words?

Me, too!

And so does Felicity Pickle.

Do you sometimes find yourself jotting down words that you love?

Me, too!

And so does Felicity Pickle.

Felicity is also known to make up a word if there's not one that meets her requirements and  expectations.  Like "Spindiddly."  And some more just as brilliant.

And this is a spindiddly book - give it a try!

"Whimsical and bewitching ... hang on for the ride!" - New York Times Book Review

"From every angle, Lloyd's first novel sparkles and radiates warmth ... a reassuring, homespun story about self-expression and the magic that resides in one's mind and heart." - Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A delightful and inspiring debut ... As Felicity loves to say, 'Yes ... yes ... yes!'" - School Library Journal, starred review

From Amazon: "Midnight Gulch used to be a magical place, a town where people could sing up thunderstorms and dance up sunflowers. But that was long ago, before a curse drove the magic away. Twelve-year-old Felicity knows all about things like that; her nomadic mother is cursed with a wandering heart.

But when she arrives in Midnight Gulch, Felicity thinks her luck's about to change. A "word collector," Felicity sees words everywhere---shining above strangers, tucked into church eves, and tangled up her dog's floppy ears---but Midnight Gulch is the first place she's ever seen the word "home." And then there's Jonah, a mysterious, spiky-haired do-gooder who shimmers with words Felicity's never seen before, words that make Felicity's heart beat a little faster. "


Friday, May 25, 2018

When a gal treats herself to a new dress . . .

and not just any new dress,

but a new dress she's dreamed of owning for a lot of years.

A dress to be envied by Flappers (and other fun loving women).

I think I was actually supposed to have been born in the 20s.

In Paris.

That's the time and place I have always enjoyed reading about most.

If you don't get what I mean, now's the time for you to watch my favorite movie - 

I was, I think, meant to be carousing around with ex-pats like Gerald and Sara Murphy,  Hadley and Ernest Hemingway, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

That whole "lost" generation who had become disillusioned with the world.  

I think I should have been one of those folks sitting in on Gertrude Stein's salons, eating one of Alice Toklas' brownies.

I would have eaten madeleines with Ezra Pound.

I would have danced next to Josephine Baker, shared absinthe with Picasso, Chagall, Bonnard and Matisse. 

I would have borrowed and swapped scarves with Isadora Duncan.

I would have been in a book club with T. S. Eliot, John Dos Passos, Archibald MacLeish and slept in Sylvia Beach's attic.

I would have sat atop Cole Porter's piano singing loudly with Djuna Barnes.

And I would have worn dresses just like this one - - - 

Since <sigh> I was not able to do any of those things with any of those people, I'm settling for the dress.

And this sweet fun dress is going to Paris with us this year.

And I will wear it when Donald and I have our 1920s Paris photo shoot with Genevieve.

And who knows where else I might wear this fancy little number . . . 

If I'm caught singing while perched atop a piano in Montmartre, I'll try to post a photo.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

For the Dorias of the world by Leslé Honoré

Leslé Honoré

For the Dorias of the world
Who will sit alone
At graduations and weddings
At baseball games and school plays
At proms and award ceremonies 

Who will carry the load
Of everything
Wiping tears
And celebrating
School projects
And first heartbreaks
Who stay up all night
Helping write papers and college apps
The mothers who silently
Create a universe for their children
Launching pads to toss them in to the
Solar system
With hands wide open to grab
All the stars their hearts desire
The Dorias who always leave space
For a father’s redemption
Knowing it may never come
Because they have spent a life time
Patching their children back together
Picking up the crushed spirits
Rebuilding them with love
This is for the Dorias
Who will watch as their legacies
Take steps towards their own journeys
Armed with love
Armed with hope
Armed with strength
That the years of struggle
Forged onto their souls
And for the children
Who have watched their mothers
Make a life out of thin air
A dollar out of 15 cents
Who have seen ceilings shattered
Barriers leapt over
And are covered in black girl magic
They know that there is
no limit
To their dreams
To success
that hard work can’t achieve
No trial that last forever
They have learned to
Weather the storms
Know for certain that the sun will come
Warm their faces
And illuminate their paths
The way their mothers have
From their first breath
For the Dorias
In that last car ride
Driving to your children’s
Next adventure
For the Dorias
Free spirited
And strong
Who know they are never alone
Who know there is a
Matriarchal militia marching
With them
I raise my glass to all of us

Lesle' Honore', Chicago-based poet, has released her first collection of poems and essays. Her work has been widely shared by thousands of followers on social media. The collection is written in two major parts: Fist- poignant pieces written in real-time, responding to issues of social injustice, police brutality, and the realities of poverty vs. privilege; and Fire- a love story: the sparks, the flames and the embers that linger when the love is gone.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

From Inside My Book Fort - - - "THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY" by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Welcome back to the book fort!

Today I'm sharing a snippet from one of the best books ever.

I wrote this about it here in Meanderings and Muses awhile back -


Here's what some others had to say about "THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY"  by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - - - 

The zany title of Mary Ann Shaffer's first and, alas, last novel derives from an invented book club on the island of Guernsey in the second world war. The club is invented by the resourceful character Elizabeth McKenna, who, bumping into a German patrol after curfew with a crowd of revellers, makes the society up on the spot. In reality, the tipsy party had been consuming forbidden roast pig at Amelia Maugery's. This is less a historical novel than a bibliophilic jeu d'esprit by an ex-librarian and bookseller, posthumously published, and completed by her niece Annie Barrows . . .   More here:

“Delightful . . . One of those joyful books that celebrates how reading brings people together.”New Orleans Times-Picayune

“Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows have written a wondrous, delightful, poignant book— part Jane Austen, part history lesson. The letters aren't addressed to you, but they are meant for you. It's a book everyone should read. An absolute treasure.”—Sarah Addison Allen, author of Garden Spells


Friday, May 18, 2018


Some days nothing but a salad will do.

(Yes, I know - some days only a pizza dripping with melted cheese will do . . .

Or a huge bowl of ice cream,

with chocolate sauce,

whipped cream,

and a cherry on top).

But today, children, we're talking about salad.

This from a gal who is trying to drop a few pounds, so don't be too tough on me, okay?

I love salads.

But they can, I admit, get boring.

I've learned to keep the salad crisper replenished so I can count on crispy lettuce, a cucumber and a sweet onion for basics (tomatoes only during the summer - otherwise, what is the point?).

I'm not a fan of cheese on my salad, but Donald is.  There is always cheese to be found in this house.

And I've learned to keep a few other things on had too, for dress-up.

Strawberries and pecans are nice.  Especially with a raspberry vinaigrette.

Today I went wild and crazy!

Yes.  Yes, I did!

As wild and as crazy, I guess, as you can get within the limitations of salad.

A couple different kinds of lettuce, some thinly sliced chicken breast, cucumber, sweet onion, a few pecans, some pineapple chunks and tossed with a little bit of creamy honey lime cilantro dressing, with a few croutons tossed on top.  (I know, cilantro tastes like soap to many of you.  Thankfully, I'm not one).  

We all know the perils of over-using dressing, it can kill your calorie count just as badly as that aforementioned ice cream, so I try to choose something where I know a little will go a long way.  There are a LOT of really good dressings to be found these days.  Another fave of mine is Panera's Fuji Apple Salad Dressing.

There are also a lot of very good recipes for dressings to be found on-line; such as the creamy honey lime cilantro dressing.

All the makings for Wild and Crazy Salad Making!

(maybe tomorrow I'll give in and have that pizza . . . ).

All while remembering that I have lost 14 pounds since the first of year, with more to go.  

Slowly it goes  -  very slowly it goes . . . 


That's okay.

Slow is good.

In the meantime, I will continue doing my own kind of research on salads and salad dressings.  Who knows where this might lead?!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Celebrating 32 Years

Donald and I celebrated 32 years of marriage last week.

thirty-two years.


Don had a hard time wrapping his head around the fact that he has now been married more than half his life.

It's been a wonderful 32 years.

Not without its ups and downs . . . 

But given a choice, I'd do it again in a second.

We often get to celebrate our anniversary by attending a concert, and lucky for us The Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan kicked off their tour in Charlotte just in time for us to do that again this year.

We spent the night in Charlotte and took our time getting back to Boone the next day.

It takes us twice as long to get from Point A to Point B as it takes most people.

We sometimes blame it on having a little fur baby that needs to walk

but, truth be told, we're also like a couple of magpies stopping for shiny objects, like motorhomes . . . 

or a local Harley dealership

or another motorhome

But it's always nice to be back home again

Made even better when you find an Advance Reading Copy of the next book written by a friend waiting for you.  Thanks Hank Phillippi Ryan!!!!  Mwah!

All in all, I'd have to say that it was a pretty nice anniversary.

Love you, Don Barley.  

To the moon and back.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

From Inside My Book Fort - Lesa Holsltine Reads Robert James Waller's "The Bridges of Madison County"

Welcome Back!

Annabelle and I are happy to have Lesa back in the book fort for a visit.

Today she's reading an excerpt from Robert James Waller's "The Bridges of Madison County."

And - a little added bonus for your listening pleasure -

Thanks, Lesa!  Come back again soon!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

We Were Missing the Present

we were missing the present -
Let’s go as we are:
a free woman
and a loyal friend,
let’s go together on two different paths
let’s go as we are united
and separate,
with nothing hurting us
not the divorce of doves or the coldness between the hands
and not the wind around the church . . .
What bloomed of almond trees wasn’t enough.
So smile for the almonds to blossom more
between the butterflies of two dimples

And soon there will be a new present for us.
If you look back you will see only
the exile of your looking back:
your bedroom,
the courtyard willow,
the river behind the glass buildings,
and the café of our trysts . . . all of it, all
preparing to become exile, so
let’s be kind!

Let’s go as we are:
a free woman
and a friend loyal to her flutes.
Our time wasn’t enough to grow old together
walk wearily to the cinema
witness the end of Athens’s war with her neighbors
and see the banquet of peace between Rome and Carthage
about to happen. Because soon
the birds will relocate from one epoch to another:
Was this path only dust
in the shape of meaning, and did it march us
as if we were a passing journey between two myths,
so the path is inevitable, and we are inevitable
as a stranger sees himself in the mirror of another stranger?
“No, this is not my path to my body”
“No cultural solutions for existential concerns”
“Wherever you are my sky
is real”
“Who am I to give you back the previous sun and moon”
Then let’s be kind . . .

Let’s go, as we are:
a free lover
and her poet.
What fell of December snow
wasn’t enough, so smile
for snow to card its cotton on the Christian’s prayer,
we will soon return to our tomorrow, behind us,
where we were young in love’s beginning,
playing Romeo and Juliet
and learning Shakespeare’s language . . .
The butterflies have fluttered out of sleep
as a mirage of a swift peace
that adorns us with two stars
and kills us in the struggle over the name
between two windows
so, let’s go
and let’s be kind

Let’s go, as we are:
a free woman
and a loyal friend,
let’s go as we are. We came
with the wind from Babylon
and we march to Babylon . . .
My travel wasn’t enough
for the pines to become in my trace
an utterance of praise to the southern place.
We are kind here. Northerly
is our wind, and our songs are southerly.
Am I another you
and you another I?
“This isn’t my path to my freedom’s land”
this isn’t my path to my body
and I won’t be “I” twice
since my yesterday’s taken my tomorrow’s place
and I have split into two women
so I am not of the east
and I am not of the west,
nor am I an olive tree shading two verses in the Quran
then, let’s go.
“No collective solutions for personal scruples”
it wasn’t enough that we be together
to be together . . .
we were missing a present to see
where we were. Let’s go as we are,
a free woman
and an old friend
let’s go on two separate paths
let’s go together,
and let’s be kind . . .

     by Mahmoud Darwish

Saturday, May 5, 2018

From Inside My Book Fort - - "Lullaby Road" by James Anderson

Welcome to the Book Fort!

Today I'm reading from James Anderson's "Lullaby Road."

If you're a Meanderings and Muses regular, you already know this is one of my favorite authors.

I discovered his work quite by accident when I received a copy of his first Ben Jones novel, "The Never-Open Desert Diner," through

I think I requested it because of the title, but it took me all of maybe a paragraph or two to realize I had happened onto something quite special.

"Lullaby Road" is Mr. Anderson's second Ben Jones novel, and it too is pretty darn special.


(note:  for some reason, the final two minutes ended up in a separate little video, all it's own - why?    NO idea . . .)

This is the link to an interview with James Anderson at Poisoned Pen Books -

And -
Here's the trailer for Lullaby Road.  

It is simply and elegantly beautiful.   

Once you watch, you're never going to be able to resist reading the book -