Friday, May 29, 2020


Today is a day that I'm choosing to put my head in the sand. 

My heart breaks and my head explodes over the willful destruction of the tenets our country was built on. 

Blatant hatefulness in the form of bigotry and stupidity and all being instigated and fomented by the man who is supposed to be a leader. 

A man who is, instead, the leader of the division of our country - with the help of a corrupt government. 

A man who believes 102,000 people dead from a pandemic is "winning." 

An insane man of ignorance. 

A vile man filled with hatred. 

When the day starts off with that leader instigating violence with his own racism and his own ridiculous notions along party lines, who believes the only good democrat is a dead democrat, a day that begins with reporters arrested while doing their job within their constitutional rights, and while there are black men being murdered by policemen, and children living and dying in cages. 

I cannot face this day. 

I just can't. 


I'm retiring to my private little book fort with my coffee, a box of Pepperidge Farm cookies, a couple of beach read books and a list of movies ( that will transport me magically to Paris. 

Today my world belongs to me - just me. 

The only others allowed inside my world today are Annabelle and Don Barley. 

But they'll have to bring their own cookies.

Y'all take good care of yourselves.  

Monday, May 25, 2020

Memorial Day Musings

"Today is the day for remembering those who have given their lives to preserve our Nation in times of crisis. Remember those who died for people whom they could not know & would never get to meet, but because they were all Americans. Let us honor their ultimate sacrifice by making the small sacrifices that we can make for the sake of others, like wearing a face mask in public places and giving each other space. Let us do these things for people who we may not know, or ever meet, because we are all Americans, and we believe in something greater than ourselves." 
           - - -   Eric Rice


Right now.

We're living in a world wide pandemic.

Not one you're reading about in a book.

Not one that took place a long, long time ago.


Right now.

Nearly 100,000 dead in the United States.

347,587 world wide  - (from )

A pandemic.

And the smart things to do during a pandemic are:

1)  Stay home if you're able.

2)  Distancing.  Stay out of one another's personal space, and add some space to that. 

3)  Wear a mask when you go out.

4)  Show some respect.

And yet.

There are people who don't believe there's "really" a pandemic.  Who think all these deaths are "made up."  A "Democratic Hoax" (even though it's world-wide.  If the Democrats are smart enough to pull this off, how come we have a Republican in the White House?   never mind . . . )

And worse yet.

There are people gathering in huge numbers in restaurants, in swimming pools, on beaches, in "protests."  (Um, isn't a protest with people carrying guns actually "terrorism?"  Just my opinion . . . )

And EVEN worse - these ignorant people are spitting on the people who are choosing to wear masks.


We are a country out of control.

and I am sad.

I'm also mad as hell.

People gave their lives for this country.  

I don't know this for a fact, but I'm betting a lot of them would be laughing their asses off at these sissies who refuse to wear a mask.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Reading, and cooking, and baking, oh my

I'm am not going to whine about my hair, and oh Sweet Jesus, I wish everyone would just get OVER their fucking hair.

I've picked up and discarded several novels lately, so I've been spending a lot of time reading my newest fun, non-fiction book.

"The Gargoyles of Notre Dame" by Michael Camille.

and I am loving it!

"Most of the seven million people who visit the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris each year probably do not realize that the legendary gargoyles adorning this medieval masterpiece were not constructed until the nineteenth century. The first comprehensive history of these world-famous monsters, The Gargoyles of Notre-Dame argues that they transformed the iconic thirteenth-century cathedral into a modern monument.

Michael Camille begins his long-awaited study by recounting architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc’s ambitious restoration of the structure from 1843 to 1864, when the gargoyles were designed, sculpted by the little-known Victor Pyanet, and installed. These gargoyles, Camille contends, were not mere avatars of the Middle Ages, but rather fresh creations—symbolizing an imagined past—whose modernity lay precisely in their nostalgia. He goes on to map the critical reception and many-layered afterlives of these chimeras, notably in the works of such artists and writers as Charles Méryon, Victor Hugo, and photographer Henri Le Secq. Tracing their eventual evolution into icons of high kitsch, Camille ultimately locates the gargoyles’ place in the twentieth-century imagination, exploring interpretations by everyone from Winslow Homer to the Walt Disney Company.

Lavishly illustrated with more than three hundred images of its monumental yet whimsical subjects, The Gargoyles of Notre-Dame is a must-read for historians of art and architecture and anyone whose imagination has been sparked by the lovable monsters gazing out over Paris from one of the world’s most renowned vantage points."

And, being lucky enough to receive an advance copy of Billy Collins' newest book of poetry, Whale Days, I'm happily reading poetry while not frolicking with gargoyles.

"Billy Collins's thirteenth collection of poems gathers together over 50 new poems which showcase the deft mixing of the playful and the serious that has made him one of our country's most celebrated and widely read poets.

These are poems of whimsy and imaginative acrobatics, but they are grounded in the familiar, common things of everyday experience. Collins takes us for a walk with an impossibly ancient dog, discovers the proper way to eat a banana, meets an Irish spider, and invites us to his own funeral. Facing both the wonders of being alive and the thrill of mortality, these new poems can only solidify Collins's reputation as one of America's most durable and interesting poets."

And - I'm baking.

A favorite old stand-by  -  Blueberry Muffins.

Can't seem to get enough!  And I find comfort in baking.

I've pulled out some old cookbooks, including a couple bread baking books.  It may be time for me to get back to bread baking - it's been years since doing that.

I do know there are beezillions of recipes available on-line, but having an old cookbook in my lap is as much fun for me as a new novel.

And - I'm cooking.

Last night (with enough left over for this evening) it was Fettuccine Alfredo.

Donald chose to top his with some bacon.

I chose shrimp.

Both of us were happy little campers.

And in the meantime,  our old beat-up Scrabble board awaits us.

And all this is, in my ever so humble opinion. so much nicer than pitching a daily fit over sheltering at home.  

My hair's a wreck.  Who cares?

My nails are a wreck.  Who cares?


WHO cares?

More than 90,000 people have died in the United States from this virus.

WHY on earth are people whining about their fucking hair?!

And that's all I have to say about that . . . 

Monday, May 18, 2020


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.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Ramblings from a tired woman

Some days I'm fine.

Some days I'm not.

But I know one thing for certain - I'm tired of being strong.

Yesterday was a day we had to go into town to a) take the trash because we don't have trash pick-up where we live, b) pick up the mail from our post office box where they're being sweet enough to leave a key in our small box for a much larger box that will accommodate packages, c) pick up groceries curb-side (still no toilet paper).

And get a new phone to replace the phone I lost.

I'm not going to go into all the hassles involved in this transaction other than say it was a pain in the ass, took a very long time, and I was the only person in this place of business wearing a mask.

There were 3 employees and two other customers besides myself. I did, finally, before I left make a comment about how surprised I was that I was the only one there taking the fact that we were living during a pandemic very seriously.

While it's true, right now, that the small rural county we live in is relatively "safe," that is changing.

The young man helping me was very nice, but the whole procedure was still a pain in the ass.

And he wasn't wearing a mask.

And he said, "if my wife found out I was working without my mask, she would kill me."

So. We came home with groceries (when are we going to have toilet paper again?!), the mail included a book I ordered and have been wanting for awhile but was a wee bit reluctant to pay the price, and a new phone.

I don't even like phones.

I resist answering our phone at home - yes we still have a landline because we can't get cell service in our little mountain pocket, and using WiFi via satellite to make calls on our cell phones is a joke.


I have a new phone.

Immediately after finishing this pain in the ass transaction, I dropped it into a bag and I haven't looked at it since.

I'm going to consider, seriously, if I really need a cell phone.

For one thing, losing it has caused me a lot of stress.

Losing it, along with a favorite bracelet I had and wore almost daily for over 50 years has, truly, caused me a great deal of anxiety.

Not the loss of the "things" as much as the fact that I lost them.

I'm not a person who loses things.

Like I said - the bracelet was with me for over 50 years. And yes, I loved it probably more than I should have.

And now it's gone.

And I miss it.

The phone? Pfftt. I do not care one whit about a phone.

But the fact that I lost it? I care about that.

And so here's the thing.

My memory is not what it was.

And I have no choice but to face that fact.

Memory loss is part of the aging process.

As is the loss of flexibility and balance.

At age 71, I think I finally have to admit that I am no longer a spring chicken.

My hair is gray, I have wrinkles, I'm carrying more pounds than I once did, and I can't hear thunder.

No longer a spring chicken.


And if you've lost a parent who suffered from dementia, forgetting things and losing things becomes a little scarier.



None of that bothers me as much as it might. Aging isn't one of the things that causes me the most worry.

Aging, is, after all, a natural process.


What bothers me MUCH more and what really and truly makes me exhausted is the world as it is today.

Pandemic. Who thought the world would close due to a pandemic?

That's the things of novels, isn't it?

A thing of the far past.


No, it's a truth.

And having leaders who don't believe in science, but surely do believe in money, is making it worse.

People are protesting wearing masks and refusing to stay at home. I'm sorry, but this is nothing less than stupidity. And pure meanness. Evil.

Those "protestors" with guns?! What the hell is THAT? Those people are terrorists, not protestors. Call them what they are.

And all the mean stupidity trickles down from the top.

The clown in the white house - another thing that exhausts me. The man is not normal.

All that said, today I'm not going to give two thoughts to being strong.

Or to much of anything else.

I'm going to read my new book "The Gargoyles of Notre Dame" by Michael Camille

And tonight I'm going to watch Michelle and Barack Obama as they give the Class of 2020 Commencement Address.

Lord, I do miss the Obamas, their intelligence, their grace, their honesty and their humor.

I miss a lot of things.

Besides my mind, and the Obamas, I mostly miss my pretty bracelet.

Y'all. Seriously? Mostly I'm fine. I'm just rambling about my feelings and observations. I don't want or expect a lot of sympathetic notes. We're all feeling the pressures of our times. We're all handling it. Some days better than others. Times are strange. Normal is different. Not being able to find toilet paper is a very odd "normal."

Hang in there.

Take care of yourselves.

And join me in watching Barack and Michelle Obama this evening. They'll have words of wisdom and words of comfort and it will drive the clown in the white house nuts.


Monday, May 11, 2020

Thirty-four years ago

May 11, 1986

Donald and I stood together in a small chapel in Atlanta in front of friends and family to be joined in matrimony and promised to try our best.  

We promised to be kind to one another.

To respect one another.

To stick together through thick and thin.

And privately, we promised to have adventures and laugh a lot.

Along with our vows we shared these words; 
"Grow old along with me.  
The best is yet to be - the last of life for which the first was made." 

Promises are sometimes hard to keep.  It hasn't all been sunshine and roses, but because we believe in promises, and because we never stopped believing in one another, we have triumphed over some rough spots. 

   So - all in all, we've done pretty good and have grown stronger together.

Since that day we've celebrated our anniversary in many ways, in many places.

Quiet dinners at home.  
Dinners out.  
Pizzas delivered.

On the beach.
In the mountains.
Even a few concerts.

At home or abroad.

And sometimes we forget just exactly how many years we've been married.

But we both agree, we'd do it again.

This year we'll be celebrating at home in Meat Camp, NC.

Just me, Donald and Annabelle.

And we'll take a few minutes to count our blessings.

While we don't agree on every single thing, we do agree that on this day, right now, we are happy to be alive, to be together and happy that we are healthy.

Who knows what the days ahead might bring?

Silly to try to guess.

Who would have thought that from one anniversary to the next our life normal as we'd known it for so many years would change as quickly and as drastically as it has.

Another thing Donald and I do agree on is that come November 3rd, even if we have to dig up hazmat suits from somewhere, or scrape them together from bits and pieces from home  - from heavy duty plastic garbage bags, face masks and disposable gloves -  we will cast our votes for a new president, new representatives, and a return to the United States we knew back on May 11, 1986.

Boy Howdy.

"Union gives strength." 
         ~ Aesop

Saturday, May 9, 2020

A Mark of Resistance

Stone by stone I pile
this cairn of my intention
with the noon’s weight on my back,
exposed and vulnerable
across the slanting fields
which I love but cannot save
from floods that are to come;
can only fasten down
with this work of my hands,
these painfully assembled
stones, in the shape of nothing
that has ever existed before.
A pile of stones: an assertion
that this piece of country matters
for large and simple reasons.
A mark of resistance, a sign.

        - - - Adrienne Rich

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

I've met a lot of authors in my day . . .

but I haven't met Alice Hoffman.

Alice Hoffman is, to me, a rock star.  A super star.   She writes magical, thoughtful, beautiful, extraordinarily heartbreaking stories.  And always leaves us with hope.

I treasure the time I spend reading her work and feel like a kid on Christmas morning whenever her newest comes available.

And have loved them all.

But I have favorites.  And those favorites started with a book Ms. Hoffman wrote 25 years ago and is now a cult classic.

"For more than 200 years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in town," the story begins. "If a damp spring arrived, if cows in the pasture gave milk that was runny with blood, if a colt died of colic or a baby was born with a red birthmark stamped onto his cheek, everyone believed that fate must have been twisted, at least a little, by those women over on Magnolia Street."

Next, but not until 2017, came "The Rules of Magic."

I was prepared to be disappointed as I so often am by a prequel.

Shame on me.

It was written, after all, by Alice Hoffman!

the spellbinding prequel to Practical Magic.

"Find your magic.
For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1680, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man.
Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk.
From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Yet, the children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the memorable aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy.
Alice Hoffman delivers “fairy-tale promise with real-life struggle” (The New York Times Book Review) in a story how the only remedy for being human is to be true to yourself. Thrilling and exquisite, real and fantastical, The Rules of Magic is “irresistible…the kind of book you race through, then pause at the last forty pages, savoring your final moments with the characters” (USA TODAY, 4/4 stars)."

And next up - "Magic Lessons."  Due to be released in October.

I was lucky enough to be grated a wish when approved my request for an advance copy of "Magic Lessons."

and I finally learned the story of how the Owens women came to be.

Beginning with matriarch, Maria Owens.

"In an unforgettable novel that traces a centuries-old curse to its source, beloved author Alice Hoffman unveils the story of Maria Owens, accused of witchcraft in Salem, and matriarch of a line of the amazing Owens women and men featured in Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic.
Where does the story of the Owens bloodline begin? With Maria Owens, in the 1600s, when she’s abandoned in a snowy field in rural England as a baby. Under the care of Hannah Owens, Maria learns about the “Unnamed Arts”. Hannah recognizes that Maria has a gift and she teaches the girl all she knows. It is here that she learns her first important lesson. Always love someone who will love you back.
When Maria is abandoned by the man who has declared his love for her, she follows him to Salem, Massachusetts. Here she invokes the curse that will haunt her family. And it is here that she learns the rules of magic and the lesson that she will carry with her for the rest of her life. Love is the only thing that matters.
Magic Lessons is a celebration of life and love and a showcase of Alice Hoffman’s masterful storytelling."

I finished Magic Lessons late last night, i.e., early this morning, and was sad to reach the end.

Alice Hoffman's book are books I often reread, and I plan of doing that with these three.

But first I think it's time for me to re-watch the 1998 movie "Practical Magic" with Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Stockard Channing, Dianne Wiest.  

Have you seen it?  If not, treat yourself!

A girl always needs some magic in her life, right? 

And what better time than now.

and who knows, maybe one of these days I'll actually have an opportunity to tell Alice Hoffman in person how very much her work has meant to me over the years.

AND, that those red boots of mine were bought in honor of her and the Owens women.