Sunday, August 27, 2023

Loving Sundays


This is what a lazy, rainy, cool & breezy Sunday afternoon looks like at our house in Meat Camp, NC

Friday, August 25, 2023

How'm I Feelin' ?


Well, I'll tell you . . .

I have written and posted endlessly about being awarded the PCLC Residency

I have not, however, written about how I feel about this prestigious award.

Writers, I think, enjoy the practice of journaling to process their feelings.  I often wonder how others handle and process the litany of feelings and emotions we all experience during times of extreme highs and/or lows if not by writing. 

We can talk it through, for sure.  IF we have at least one person we trust and who we know honestly and truly wants only good things for us.  Someone who is proud of us when good things happen, and who hurts right along with us when bad things happen.  No pretending.

Not everyone has that person.

Not surprisingly, my person is Donald.

Over the past 40 years, he has celebrated the highs with me, he has cradled me during the lows.

He has also never hesitated to tell me when I need to back up, slow down, rethink and reset.

It's for this reason I did not immediately share with him, or anyone, the lightning bolt of an email I received from Jonathan Haupt, Pat Conroy Literary Center Executive Director.

I wanted to think this through for reasons some of you might find surprising.

Sherrie Norris, in her High Country Press article, says, "Applying for the Writer in Residency opportunity was a rather simple process for Barley, she said. “I saw the application on-line, and filled it out, hit send . . ."

Yep.  That was the easy part.

Because I also thought that was the end of it.

Believe me.

I filled out the application thinking, "how very cool would this be?  Pat Conroy would probably say 'go for it.'  And who knows, it could happen, right?!"  Also, there was the opportunity to stay in the most precious cottage on St. Helena Island, MarshSong.

I believe MarshSong was singing to me.

I have never applied for a writer's residency before.  Never really thought about it, never even considered it.  The fact that this was all about Pat Conroy and the Center   built to honor him, along with the residency over-lapping with the 8th Annual Pat Conroy Literary Festival,  just felt like I might be able to have a chance at a dream.

It was, to me, all about Pat Conroy.

And an opportunity to get back to the beautiful, magical Low Country where my novel WHIMSEY is set.

An opportunity to try to revisit and create some new Whimsey magic.

I know there are people who were surprised by the announcement.

Let me assure you, no one was more surprised than me.

I've been asked two questions several times.

How did I feel when I learned mine was the winning submission, and what are my plans?

A little hard to explain those first immediate feelings.  

Stunned and silent.  That was my first reaction.

After re-reading Jonathan's email a couple of times, catching my breath, wiping away a couple of tears, whispering "Holy Shit," and fixing a fresh cup of coffee I allowed myself time to think.

Did I want to do this thing?  Well, of course I wanted to do it.

But, could I?

Could I honestly present myself as a writer?

A "real" writer?

Go to Beaufort, SC as the newest PCLC Resident Writer?

Maybe it was the splash of Kahlua in my coffee that had me nodding my head muttering, "I can do this."

What fool would walk away from this opportunity?

It's not as if this sort of thing happens every day - OR even once in a lifetime.

I responded to Jonathan's email in what I hope was a non-gibberish version of "Yes.  Thank you.  I am beyond honored."

Then hopped up to share my news with Donald.

LordAMercy, but what would I do without Don Barley?

Watching his face light up, hearing him say, "I am so proud of you, Kaye Alan."

Life is good.

Really, Really Good.

Over the past few days, I have been exchanging emails with the gracious Mary Ellen Thompson who will be my hostess at MarshSong.  Mary Ellen has already made me feel welcomed and embraced.  I look so forward to time with her sharing a glass of wine and long conversations.  I think there may be an adventure or two . . .

As to plans . . .

First on the list is deciding what I'll pack to take to Beaufort.  

               . . . will I need a new frock?

That's as far as I've gotten (aside from pulling out my WHIMSEY #2 manuscript for a  dusting off . . .)

But, y'all?  Ain't life grand?!

Do not ever forget that dreams do come true.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023


 A lot of you have received this newsletter, but honestly, Maddee at Xuni makes everything so pretty I wanted to put a copy here so I can look at it time and again.  (I am such a sucker for "pretty" ).

And Sherrie Norris wrote a pretty wonderful, very flattering piece about all this.  Here's the link -

It has been a couple days now since I heard this good news.  Long enough that I'm beginning to believe it's true and not a dream.  My feet still aren't touching the ground, and I can't seem to quit grinning, even with the sudden little spurts of grateful happy tears.  It's truly a dream come true, so I hope y'all will bear with me in my over-exuberance.  Things like this don't happen every day.

View in browser
Sent by MailerLite

Monday, August 21, 2023

Me! Writer in Residence!

From The Pat Conroy Literary Center:

 Congratulations to Kaye Wilkinson Barley, the newly selected recipient of our Pat Conroy Literary Center's Fall 2023 Writer's Residency! We look forward to welcoming Kaye to our beloved Beaufort for her week at the MarshSong cottage, overlapping with our 8th annual Pat Conroy Literary Festival. 

Many thanks to all of the talented writers who applied, representing 20 states, and special thanks to our generous local benefactor who makes possible our residency program. 

Kaye Wilkinson Barley lives with her husband, Don, and their corgi, Annabelle, in the mountains of North Carolina. Kaye is a voracious reader and lover of books, a long-time blogger, an amateur photographer, a dabbler in mixed media collages, and a fiddler of fiber arts. She is the author of the novel Whimsey (for which she plans to write a sequel), and she is also a contributing writer to the Western North Carolina regional anthologies Clothes Lines and Women’s Spaces, Women’s Places.

Y'all.  Life is really, really good.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Sunday in Meat Camp


Sundays have always been my favorite day.

Even now that we're both retired and rarely know for sure what day it is, Sundays just feel different.



No idea why, but it just does feel this way to me.

It's 3:15 and a gorgeous blue sky day.

76 degrees with a little mountain breeze.

Doors and windows open.

The house is sparkly clean thanks to Clean Mountain Escapes.

Dinner will just need a re-heat - aka "leftovers." 😊

And I'm reading a perfect escape book.  Escape to Starshine Cove (although it does have me itching to go on a beach trip).

I was not familiar with Debbie Johnson, but am tickled pink to have discovered her, and to learn there will be a second Starshine Cove book, available in November.

I hope you're all having a perfect Sunday.

Now I'm on my way back to Starshine Cove - see ya!

Life is good.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Do not f*#% with me


I am no longer the young girl who had not yet found her voice when she left Cambridge, MD in 1966.

There were things I learned from my mom and dad that I tried hard to practice while I was growing up.

My dad, by his everyday actions, taught me kindness.

My mom, in a less subtle way, tried to teach me to speak up.  To stand up for myself.


That lesson took longer for me to put into practice.


Once I got it, I got it.

Push me too hard and I promise to become your worst nightmare.

After high school I went to Brandywine College in Wilmington, Delaware.

When I left Brandywine to go to work at Aberdeen Proving Ground, I worked for a couple months at one of the first little 7-11 stores that opened in Cambridge in the mid to late 60s while I was waiting for my security clearance for my job at the proving ground to come through.

The man who owned the store knew it was just a short term job when he hired me.

Thing is, I'm still waiting for my last and final paycheck.

My dad caught on quickly and told me to give it up, that check was never gonna happen.

I called, I wrote, I stopped in to inquire as to when I might get that last check to be told over and over and over again,  "it's on the way."

Would I put up with that bullshit today?!

You know not.

Which is why the woman trying to pull this kinda thing now with me being a grown ass  woman with a mouth my mom would be proud of should know better.

She told me today that she would put my check in the mail.  Today.  The check that should have been in my hands two weeks ago.

I think I made it clear today that this shit would not be tolerated.

As my husband is fond of saying, "Underestimate me.  That'll be interesting."

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

The 14 most charming Arcades in Paris (+ Covered Passages Map)

There are several excellent bloggers who write fun, helpful, interesting blogs about Paris.

One of my favorites is Salut From Paris

There is also a Salut FromParis Facebook Page

The force behind this treasure chest of information is Lena, who has been sharing her knowledge with us for 16 years.

It's one of my favorite places to go to answer any question I might have about Paris.

Best hotels/budget hotels/hotels with the best views/Best places to eat/Paris by month guide/A guide to the transportation system/Neighborhood guides/Hidden gems/Packing tips/Scams to be aware of/ and so much more!

She also has a wonderful free downloadable guide.

I am posting this here, not only to share with you, but to put in a place I'll be able to find again, Lena's map of covered passages.

We have been to some of these, but not all 14 on her list of favorites.  Having this map will be a huge help! 

It's going to be winter when we're there.  Covered passages will be just the thing for a bad weather day.   Perfect!  There's history, interesting architecture, shopping, places to eat and to drink, and stop for a few "We're in Paris!" moments.

Read all about these magical arcades right here - They are truly one of my favorite things about my favorite city.


Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Life is Good


Trump Indicted in GeorgiaProsecutors Accuse Trump of ‘Criminal Enterprise’ to Overturn Election

A grand jury indicted the former president and 18 allies, including Rudolph W. Giuliani and Mark Meadows, with multiple crimes related to a conspiracy to subvert the will of voters.

Read all about it

Monday, August 14, 2023

And . . .


Next trip scheduled!

Whenever, in the past, I have tried to pin Donald down about travelling he just says "wherever."

I mention Paris (again), and he says "sure."

Ireland?  "okay."

Italy?  "If that's where you want to go, let's do it."

Spain?  "Sounds good."

It's nice that he's so flexible, but it is also frustrating.

Finally, I got kinda grumpy and asked him to please just tell me where he wanted to go.  Just pick a place.  Tell me where he would go if he was planning a trip.  Forget about where he thought I would want to go.  Just say!  

And finally!  He did!  Hooray!


We are booked on a Viking Cruise to Alaska.  

🏔 ✈ 🛳 🤸 😀

It feels so good to know we have a trip planned that was HIS idea!!

It's over a year away.  Planning to be done, pennies to be saved.  Rabbit holes to scamper down to learn about a place I've never been.  I'm excited.

There are still so many places to see, adventures to be had, planning one trip at a time.

Life is good.

" Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."
       --- Mark Twain

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Words from yet another hero, because I too feel "despaired out"

 Anne Lamott

From her Facebook Page

I have catastrophe burn out. I wish there was a box I could check on the menu that said, “Gone Fishing.” Ukraine has taken up most of my compassion budget, the earth’s heat wave has used up my allocation for terror, and then we have dear brother Trump’s steady poll numbers.


     And this does not even include the grief I feel for the people in my own small galaxy, where friends are under siege from disease, mental illness, and children of all ages who have had failure to thrive for decades.


     Life has been way, way too lifey this summer.


     I am kind of despaired out.


     So now what? Where is the renewal of energy and hope and willingness to help? I don’t know. But something has got to arise because I am shutting down: half and hour ago, I went to the Red Cross website to donate to the people on Maui, a place where I have experienced paradise a dozen times. As I was completing the form, a window popped up asking for a $12.99 processing fee. Really? I declined. 


      Then I went back to reading the New York Times. To put it mildly, I did not find uplift and hope there. 


     You can’t just put your fingers in your ears and shout “Lah lah lah lah,” when you read about climate change deniers in high places, or RFK, Jr. Well, I guess you can , but then you’re almost as deranged as they are.


     What I would like is for God to take over and sort things out. But my son frequently reminds me of this story: 


      A man was about to set off a voyage across the ocean, and he knew this journey was harder than anything he had ever done before, beyond his physical limits. So before he set off, he prayed to God. He said, "God, please help me." And God appeared before him and he said, "I'm here. Don't worry. We'll do this together. You grab the oars and row, and I'll steer the boat." And they set off. Well, after a while, the man's arms got tired, and he turned to God and he said, "God, I'm so tired. Do you think we could trade places for a little while? And I steer, and you row?" And God said, "I don't row, bro."


     People who were not raised by decent and politically active parents say dismissively, “Why don’t you just turn off the news?’” But there is a democracy to save for our young and we must remember Molly Ivins saying freedom fighters don’t always win, but they are always right.        


    People with unshakable religious convictions pat you and then assure you that God works in mysterious ways etc. Hey, thank you for sharing! 


     Where does this leave me? Willing and wanting to get back in that boat and row—helping the poor, registering voters, picking up litter—but maybe not today. Today is for prone yoga, ie, lying around with the animals. Today is for a beautiful, slightly-too-hot summer day. I haven’t prepared my Sunday school lesson, on the bratty older brother of the prodigal son who won’t join the feast because he didn’t get his way: my kids and I love stories about ourselves. Outside our living room window, hummingbirds dive-bomb the orange abutilon blossoms, making the poor kitty crazy, driving her to long stretches of mad chittering. She needs me. We have a deal: we help each other in times of stress. Gizmo the formerly tiny dog has gained the Covid three and ballooned up to an unhealthy 16 pounds. She and I could both use a little exercise. I need to go find her leash.

      I’d say it looks like I have my work cut out for me today; ah, today.

Saturday, August 12, 2023

I Hate Guns


Do not even try to change my mind.


We do not know the whole story yet.

It may have been self-defense.  

We just don't know right now as it is still under investigation.

But what I do know, is that we have become a society that thrives on violence, and we're a country that loves its guns.

Boone, N.C.  (WCYB) - Blowing Rock Road was closed for about an hour Friday as Boone Police were investigating a deadly shooting. 

According to the Boone Police Department, officers responded to a reported shooting at around 2:30 p.m. on August 11th. 

Officers found a man with an apparent gunshot wound, and transported him to the Watauga Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. 

Police say the shooter is cooperating with the investigation and there is no ongoing threat to the public. 

The identity of the deceased is not being released at this time. 

Friday, August 11, 2023

Socks and Lasagna in August

 It has been a very cool summer in these mountains.

Right now it is 62 degrees.

Weather for hearty meals usually saved for Fall and Winter.

I'm wearing socks.  Normally, I am a barefoot girl. Not today.


I fixed the best lasagna ever.

For real.

THE best.

and I put on socks.

About Socks

Give me the gift of a grip-top sock,

A clip drape shipshape tip top sock.

Not your spinslick slapstick slip slop stock;

But a plastic, elastic, grip-top sock.

None of your fantastic slack swap slop

From a slap-dash,  flash-cash, haberdash shop.

Not a knick knack,  knitlock

knockkneed, knickerbocker sock

With a mock-shot blob-mottled trick-ticker top clock.

Not a supersheet seersucker ruck sack sock,

Not a spot-speckled frog-freckled cheap sheik's sock

Off a hodge-podge moss-blotched scotch-botched block.

Nothing slipshod drip drop flip flop or glip glop

Tip me to a tip top grip top sock.

             - - - generally attributed to Dr. Suess

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Me: Political News Junkie

Honestly, I feel as though people who say they don't care about politics in today's political climate are willfully ignorant, and I will not apologize for feeling that way.

If you know me, you know my political feelings and leanings.

You also know my love of rabbit holes and research.  (Research, Knowledge!  Be willing to learn, even - ESPECIALLY - about things outside your comfort zone).

And that one of my heroes is Heather Cox Richardson.

A good friend told me recently that she was unaware of Dr. Richardson until she had seen a Facebook post I had made about her and her Letters From an American, which I cannot recommend highly, or loudly, enough.

Here's an older article that does an excellent job explaining Heather Cox Richardson's popularity.

As a subscriber to The New York Times, I'm able to "gift" a number of articles to non-subscribers.  I love this.  However, if you're not interested, just use that wonderful button on your keyboard that is SO handy, The Delete Key.  It's all about choice.  No discussion or sarcasm necessary.  😊





Heather Cox Richardson Offers a Break From the Media Maelstrom. It’s Working.

She is the breakout star of the newsletter platform Substack, doing the opposite of most media as she calmly situates the news of the day in the long sweep of American history.

Heather Cox Richardson, a history professor at Boston College, is more or less by accident the most successful independent journalist in America.
Credit...Tristan Spinski for The New York Times
Heather Cox Richardson, a history professor at Boston College, is more or less by accident the most successful independent journalist in America.

Last Wednesday, I broke the news to Heather Cox Richardson that she was the most successful individual author of a paid publication on the breakout newsletter platform Substack.

Early that morning, she had posted that day’s installment of “Letters From an American” to Facebook, quickly garnering more than 50,000 reactions and then, at 2:14 a.m., she emailed it to about 350,000 people. She summarized, as she always does, the events of the day, and her 1,120 words covered a bipartisan vote on a spending measure, President Trump’s surprise attack on that bill, and a wave of presidential pardons. Her voice was, as it always is, calm, at a slight distance from the moment: “Normally, pardons go through the Justice Department, reviewed by the pardon attorney there, but the president has the right to act without consulting the Department of Justice,” she wrote. “He has done so.”

The news of her ranking seemed to startle Dr. Richardson, who in her day job is a professor of 19th century American history at Boston College. The Substack leader board, a subject of fascination among media insiders, is a long way from her life on a Maine peninsula — particularly as the pandemic has ended her commute — that seems drawn from the era she studies. On our Zoom chat, she sat under a portrait that appeared as if it could be her in period costume, but is, in fact, her great-great-grandmother, who lived in the same fishing village, population a bit over 600.

She says she tries not to think too much about the size of her audience because that would be paralyzing, and instead often thinks of what she’s writing as a useful primary document for some future version of her historian self. But there was no ignoring her metrics when her accountant told her how much she would owe in taxes this year, and, by extension, just how much revenue her unexpected success had brought. By my conservative estimate based on public and private Substack figures, the $5 monthly subscriptions to participate in her comments section are on track to bring in more than a million dollars a year, a figure she ascribes to this moment in history.



“We’re in an inflection moment of American politics, and one of the things that happens in that moment is that a lot of people get involved in politics again,” she said.

Many of those newly energized Americans are women around Dr. Richardson’s age, 58, and they form the bulk of her audience. She’s writing for people who want to leave an article feeling “smarter not dumber,” she says, and who don’t want to learn about the events of the day through the panicked channels of cable news and Twitter, but calmly situated in the long sweep of American history and values.

Dr. Richardson’s focus on straightforward explanations to a mass audience comes as much of the American media is going in the opposite direction, driven by the incentives of subscription economics that push newspapers, magazines, and cable channels alike toward super-serving subscribers, making you feel as if you’re on the right team, part of the right faction, at least a member of the right community. She’s not the only one to have realized that a lot of people feel left out of the media conversation. Many of the most interesting efforts in journalism in 2021, some of them nonprofit organizations inspired by last summer’s protests over racism, will be trying to reach people who are not part of that in-group chat. One new nonprofit, Capital B, plans to talk to Black audiences, while another well-regarded model is Detroit’s Outlier Media, which is relentlessly local and often delivered by text message. For Dr. Richardson’s audience, it’s an intimate connection. She spends hours a day answering emails from readers. She spent most of Saturday sending thank-you notes for Christmas presents.

The challenge for many of those efforts, and for nonprofit news organizations in general, has been reaching large numbers of people. Dr. Richardson, whose run of short essays began when she was stunned by the response to one she posted last September, has done that by accident, though she credits her huge audience of older women to the deepening gender gap in American politics.

“What I am doing is speaking to women who have not necessarily been paying attention to politics, older people who had not been engaged,” Dr. Richardson said. “I’m an older woman and I’m speaking to other women about being empowered.”



Dr. Richardson confounds many of the media’s assumptions about this moment. She built a huge and devoted following on Facebook, which is widely and often accurately viewed in media circles as a home of misinformation, and where most journalists don’t see their personal pages as meaningful channels for their work.

Our business reporters. Times journalists are not allowed to have any direct financial stake in companies they cover.

She also contradicts the stereotype of Substack, which has become synonymous with offering new opportunities for individual writers to turn their social media followings into careers outside big media, and at times appears to be where purged ideological factions go to regroup. That’s true of Never Trump Republicans pushed out of conservative media, whose publications, The Dispatch and The Bulwark, are the largest brands on the platform (just above and below Dr. Richardson’s revenue, respectively). And it’s true of left-leaning writers who have broken bitterly with elements of the mainstream liberal consensus, whether around race or national security, from the Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald to the Vox co-founder Matthew Yglesias to the firebrand Matt Taibbi, whom Dr. Richardson unseated from the top slot in late August.

Dr. Richardson happened into this frontier of the media business pretty much by chance. When readers on Facebook started suggesting she write a newsletter, she realized she didn’t want to pay hundreds of dollars a month for a commercial platform, and jumped at Substack because it would allow her to send out her emails without charge to her or her readers. Substack makes its money by taking a percentage of writers’ subscription revenue, and she said she felt guilty that the company’s support team wasn’t getting paid for fixing her recurring problem: that her extensive footnotes set off her readers’ spam filters. She seemed intensely uncomfortable talking about the money her work is bringing in.

“If you start doing things for the money, they stop being authentic,” she said, adding that she knew that was both a privilege of her tenured professorship and “an old Puritan way of looking at things.”

Like the other Substack writers, Dr. Richardson is succeeding because she’s offering something you can’t find in the mainstream media, and indeed that many editors would assume was too boring to assign. But unlike the others, it’s not her politics, per se: She thinks of her politics as Lincoln-era Republican, but she is in today’s terms a fairly conventional liberal, disturbed by President Trump and his attacks on America’s institutions. She’s a historian who studied under the great Harvard Lincoln scholar David Herbert Donald, and her work on 19th century political history feels particularly relevant right now. This spring, she published her sixth book, “How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for the Soul of America,” an extended assault on the kind of nostalgia that animates Mr. Trump’s fight to preserve Confederate symbols. The face of the South in Dr. Richardson’s book is a bitterly racist and sexually abusive South Carolina planter and senator, James Henry Hammond, who called Jefferson’s notion that all men are created equal “ridiculously absurd.”



What is unusual is to bring a historian’s confident context to the day’s mundane politics. She invoked Senator Hammond when Representative Kevin McCarthy and other Republican leaders signed on to a Texas lawsuit seeking to reverse the presidential election, comparing the Republican action to moments in American history when legislators explicitly questioned the very idea of democracy.

“Ordinary men should, Hammond explained, have no say over policies, because they would demand a greater share of the wealth they produced,” she wrote.

She is, ultimately, offering what feels like straightforward, if thoughtful, answers to the big questions about America right now. One subscriber, Dani Smart, 50, who works for her family real estate brokerage in Richland, Wash., told me that Dr. Richardson helped her “sort through this maelstrom.” (In fact, the edgier younger sibling of Dr. Richardson’s “Letters From an American” is a newsletter that’s called “WTF Just Happened Today?” Its founder, Matt Kiser, says he reaches more than 200,000 subscribers a day and is supporting the business on voluntary contributions.)

Dr. Richardson’s “readers are people who have been orphaned by the changes in media and the sensationalism and the meanness of so much of Twitter and Facebook, and they were surprised to find her there and pleased and spread the word,” said Bill Moyers, the former Lyndon B. Johnson aide and public television mainstay.

Dr. Richardson isn’t sure what she’ll do next. She plans to keep writing her letters through Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s first 100 days as president. But her routine isn’t sustainable: She makes dinner most nights and eats with her partner, a lobsterman, then starts reading. She often falls asleep facedown on her desk for an hour around 11 p.m. before getting back up to write.



I’ve been getting “Letters From an American” in my inbox since July, and I have to admit that I rarely open them. I live on Twitter much of the time, where yesterday is old news, and everyone assumes you know the context. I find it hard to hit the brakes to look at a print newspaper, much less Dr. Richardson’s rich summaries.

When I confessed that to Mr. Moyers, he didn’t seem surprised. “You live in a world of thunderstorms,” he said, “and she watches the waves come in.”

A correction was made on 
Dec. 28, 2020

Capital B, a nonprofit publication, will focus on Black audiences when it launches in 2021. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said it was aimed at Black women.

When we learn of a mistake, we acknowledge it with a correction. If you spot an error, please let us know at more

Ben Smith is the media columnist. He joined The Times in 2020 after eight years as founding editor in chief of BuzzFeed News. Before that, he covered politics for Politico, The New York Daily News, The New York Observer and The New York Sun. Email: More about Ben Smith

A version of this article appears in print on Dec. 28, 2020, Section B, Page 1 of the New York edition with the headline: A Historian Triumphs Over the Daily MaelstromOrder Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe