Tuesday, February 28, 2023

All Dressed Up by Tarriona “Tank” Ball


I feel like shit, and no one even noticed.

Nobody said: “Aye you straight?”

Nobody saw my water overboiling, or my car running hot, or my marriage failing.

Nobody saw me failing.

Nobody noticed my tire running out of air, or that I was drowning.

Nobody saw me.

Ain’t I somebody?

Ain’t I somebody worth saving?

I dun got all dressed up with no place to go.

I put flowers in my hair.

I soaked in white lilies and honey milk all night.

Wasn’t anybody gonna tell me I look pretty or my skin smell nice?

I made a dress from a bee’s nest.

Got stung 66 times makin’ it, and still found time to get dressed.

I darkened my lashes with oil from the spill.

I made a corset of tape from all the secrets I hold together.

I stole earrings from my aunt Nessa.

One fell down the sink.

I built a fishing pole from my insecurities that went all the way down the drain.

I couldn’t find the earring, but I found some other things.

Like my expectations of men, compliments from nasty uncles, the bosom of women, the security of relationships, the holes in my net.

I was fishing for water. 

Was I too busy looking strong to be it?

Too busy tryna be beautiful than being it?

Busy putting canola oil in my hair and fish grease on my lips. Straightened my hair with heat, I whitened my teeth with a crocodile’s nail, washed my clothes with bleach for the period stain.

I made a bra strap from chains.

Now that’s being a woman.

What’s a woman? What a woman be? Is she bent over trees?

Stolen fruit, rotting misbelieves.

Is she trimmed, gold-plated with no-hair underarms?

Is she perfectly Instagram cropped? Imitated?

Should she be intimate, soft, sweet, delicate?

Or are all these things irrelevant?

Should she get what she ask for? 

Should she ask politely?

Is she traditional, more modern?

Is she wife, she wifey? Sexy?

Is she fat? Are the curves where she asked for?

Is she augmented? Is she dark? Could she afford what she paid for? 

I dun got all dressed up with no place to go.

Ain’t you gon at least tell me I look pretty … ?

Tarriona “Tank” Ball is the lead singer of the Grammy Award-nominated band Tank And The Bangas. In 2021, she published her first book of poems, Vulnerable AF.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Pat Conroy bio "Man on Fire" by Catherine Seltzer

In case, like me, you're still wondering when we might be able to read that biography . . .

From https://patconroy.com/

"This site will also be the place to come to for news of possible film adaptations of his work as well as for updates regarding the much anticipated biography of Pat Conroy by Catherine Seltzer, "Man on Fire", to be published by his longtime editor Nan A. Talese/Knopf. It is a moving and definitive literary biography of the man and his work, scheduled for publication in 2022 but due to its complexity it has been delayed to second part of 2023.   Your patience will be handsomely rewarded..!!'

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Favorite Spots in Paris, Part Seven - The Gardens


And where better to do nothing than a lovely Paris garden?

The two gardens we hear the most about are Luxembourg and Tuileries, both pretty darn fab.  A lot of bloggers seem to choose one over the other, resulting in "Team Luxembourg" vs "Team Tuileries." 

Me?  I'm totally am an ALL the gardens gal.

There's a lot here to see so don't stop exploring after you've enjoyed the large lawn and palace.

The carousel is the oldest in Paris.

The Medici Fountain is lovely and peaceful.

The little cafe is a perfect spot for a bite to eat, a cup of coffee, or a glass of wine.

men playing boules in Luxembourg Gardens
Photo by Loïc Brohard

It's a wonderful stroll from the Louvre pyramid to the Orangerie to see Monet's water lilies

And - there's a carousel ❤

There's more, lots more, in the way of gardens.

A book I recommend is by Susan Cahill, with photographs by Marion Ranoux.

Many of the gardens and parks have carousels. 

If that's of interest, I have another recommendation -  😊

j'espère que vous reviendrez

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Happy 10th Anniversary, WHIMSEY - Some Thoughts (good ones and mean ones) 😜

Photo taken by Lesa Holstine in WHSmith Books, Paris, France

Ten years ago this month I published my novel, WHIMSEY

I recently picked it up and re-read it.  

And I liked it.   I still like it.

And I'm still proud of it.

And it made me think of Earl Staggs, who virtually held my hand almost every day across the 1,044 miles from Dallas-Fort Worth to Meat Camp for the two plus years it took me to write it.  

He pushed me, he cajoled me, he taught me.

The day he finally said, "Okay, darlin', time to let it go."  I typed THE END and had a good cry.

If you read Amazon reviews you know they run the gamut.  From flattering and gratifying to truly cringeworthy.

Today WHIMSEY has 85 ratings with a 3.9% ranking.  It's been compared to Nora Roberts, Sarah Addison Allen, and Ellery Adams.  (Yes. It has - i did not make that up!)

And no, not all good reviews were written by friends and people i know.

It had been referred to as "optimistic" and "inspirational."

"Equal parts spunk and elegance, cigar smoke and iced coffee, the book delivers on the name.  "Whimsey is just that: whimsical."

But wait.  Oh, there's more.

It's also been called "cheesy"  (well, maybe it is - a little).

It has also been called "trashy"  (wow.  Really??).

Someone spent the time to write seven paragraphs telling us in great detail what he hated.  Bless his heart.  

Why would anyone exert this much time and energy reading and reviewing a book they hate that much?  I'm lazy and take the easy way out.

I just put the book down, quit reading it, and move along to the next book it my TBR stack.

There's more. . .

It was called boring, predictable, 

and poorly written.

It was also called well written, 

but unbelievable because all the characters were too beautiful.  And too kind.  And too supportive of one another.  This reader really  really hated all those nice people.

Another reader was offended that the writer (that would be me) expected her to believe in fairies and pixies.

Anyway - the reviews were a mixed bag.

Did those remarks hurt?

Some of them.

Some of them made me laugh, some puzzled me.

But keep reading if you want to know what truly did, and still does, hurt.

Several months after WHIMSEY was published,  I received a note in my email box via my webpage from a person whose name I did not recognize, but came to realize was a woman I had known, although not well, from many, many years ago.  Like me, she now has a different last name.

This note from a woman I thought I remembered only from Georgia Tech football games and parties where we were both drinking way too much.  Hearing from her made me happy on several levels.

It's a funny ol' world.

Most of you know I was married before Donald.  


Practice husbands.

And was then a very happy single girl for ten years before meeting Donald.

Because I, apparently, wasn't very good at the marriage thing, I was content with my singlehood, and no interest in getting married a third time.  I had a "family" of close friends and life was good. 

 Obviously, I changed my mind.   After 38+ years with Don Barley, i feel it's safe to say, with the ups and with the downs, it's working out. 

But, getting back on track . . .

The note I received was from a woman who had been married to a fraternity brother of Practice Husband #2 and it was fun catching up with her.  And we have stayed in touch.

Because we were both in occasional touch with acquaintances from back then familiar names did, and still do, come up in the way of  "Hey, remember so & so?  Well, guess what I heard?"

While playing catch up with Carole Ann, I was able to find out about people I had sometimes wondered about.

It's been a mixed bag of life events for this particular circle of old friends and acquaintances.

There have been successes, failures, and far more deaths than I would have expected.  And a couple of real surprises.

When she heard about WHIMSEY, she wanted to tell me she was proud of me for the accomplishment of starting and actually completing the task of writing a novel.  Because she writes, she said that was a struggle she understands.


That note was - and is today - gold.

If you have a friend who has accomplished something in their life that they're proud of, please take a minute to let them know you applaud it, or at the very least, acknowledge it.

Whether they've written a book, finally lost some weight they've been struggling with, just started training to run their first road race, learning to knit, taking piano lessons, whatever.

IF you are truly a friend, you'll, at best, tell them you're proud of them.  At the very least, let them know you're aware.

Believe me.  

Whether you acknowledge someone's efforts and accomplishments, or not.  They're going to remember.

I promise.

They are going to remember.

I remember every single person - friend, family, coworker - who took the minute to say something like, "Wow.  You wrote a book.  Good job!"

I also remember every single person - friend, family, coworker - who just could not be bothered.  

You better believe I remember.  

Those snubs hurt a whole lot more than some lousy one star review at Amazon from a stranger.  

Whether someone I care about likes the book or not is way less important to me than the fact that they acknowledge the effort.


I do understand that not all books are meant for all readers.

Thank you, again, Carole Ann.  You know you made a difference in how I felt, and put a smile on my face.  It was very much appreciated then, and is still appreciated now, ten years later.  You're an angel.  And Earl Staggs would have loved you to bits.

Life is good.

And Karma will handle the bitches who piss you off by pissing on your parade.

Happy 10th  Birthday, WHIMSEY!


I love you to the moon and back!

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Happy (early) Birthday, Donald Honey! ❤

Artist: Karen Hollingsworth

Tomorrow is Donald's birthday.   We shall eat cake.

But we don't have to wait until tomorrow.

Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake

Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake is incredibly rich and moist and perfect to serve at your next gathering. This glazed cake is filled with sour cream, chocolate chips and a hint of vanilla.
Keywordbundt cake recipe, easy chocolate cake
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes


For the cake:

  • 1 cup salted butter
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


Make the cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease with shortening and flour a 10-inch or 12 cup bundt pan.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine butter, cocoa powder, salt and water. On medium heat, heat until the butter is melted. Whisk to combine well. Set aside to cool to room temperature (warm is ok, you just don’t want it too hot).
  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and baking soda.
  • Pour the chocolate mixture into the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  • Add eggs and whisk to combine.
  • Fold in sour cream and vanilla extract until the batter is smooth.
  • Fold in chocolate chips.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in the center of the oven for 40-45 minutes until the top lightly springs back and the cake is baked through (toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean).
  • Let the cake cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan before turning it out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.