Monday, June 30, 2014

In the Dinosaur Jungle . . . Cue Les Baxter

For those of you unfamiliar with Les Baxter, here's a LINK to an album of his that, during my teenage years, I played  late into the night . . . 

My mother thought I was weird, if not downright troubled.

(Yes, I know, not a dinosaur -- but a descendent. And if you blur your eyes . . .)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

High Country Festival of the Book

 These beautiful lilies were blazing in the side yard of the historic Jones House in downtown Boone, NC yesterday where I was part of a mystery panel.
 I caught a picture of the always charming Kaye Barley who was our moderator but got so involved with talking to other panel members and then the nice folks who showed up to hear us that I'm kinda embarrassed that this is all I've got. . .

We sat on the front porch and watched the busy main street -- Boone is a college town and a tourist destination and there seemed to be about twenty different events going on this weekend.  

Our panel (and audience) talked about mystery novels -- must there always be a murder? where is the line between genre and literary novels? And we talked about writing in general -- where do ideas come from? to outline or not? and what about those characters that seem to have a mind of their own. . .

It was a pleasant hour or so of booktalk -- as can break out whenever a group of booklovers are gathered together . . .

And on the way home, I caught a glimpse of Grandfather Mountain -- dreaming in the mist . . .

Saturday, June 28, 2014

I Feel Calmer Now...

Drifting like a cloud . . .

 Appreciating Nature . . .

And there is a cat.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Of Insects, Idiots, and Ann Coulter . . . But I Repeat Myself

"I promise you: No American whose great-grandfather was born here is watching soccer."

Ann Coulter, who seems to have her knickers  in a twist over the World Cup said that HEREShe also doesn't like the metric system.

Dang -- I'd always understood that all four of my great-grandfathers were born here -- several generations removed from the Old Country. And yet I've been watching the World Cup. How could this be? Hanky panky with immigrants way back on my family tree? But then I was one of those liberal soccer moms (Ann hates them too) who was brainwashed into enjoying a sport that only occasionally involves brutal body contact (Ann likes brutal body contact. It makes us more American, evidently.)

There's so much I'd like to say about AC but, really, she speaks for herself. And if I said much more, I'd start using all the Bad Language at my disposal.  And so I'll move on . . .

Let's consider Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who stated at an event back in January that the US was founded on the Bible and that the word 'religion' in the First Amendment refers only to Christianity.  

"Buddha didn't create us," he explains. "Mohammed didn't create us. It's the God of the Holy Scriptures."

Well, that's pretty conclusive, Roy. Thanks for clearing that up. You can read the whole text  HERE  -- including Moore's retraction after being called out by the American Civil Liberties Union.

 As some wise someone said, "You're entitled to your own beliefs. You aren't entitled to your own facts."    

Closer to home, Speaker of the NC House of Representatives and candidate for the US Senate, Thom Tillis has an interesting take on who is a 'traditional North Carolinian' -- hint: he's not talking about the Native Americans.  It's well worth reading Cynthia (self described as a 'life long North Carolinian and a life long black person') Greenlee's takedown HERE 

Conservative Christian David Barton is longing for the good old days when women didn't vote. It was more Biblical, that way, with the husband -- biblically the head of the family -- making those decisions. This article explains why getting rid of the female vote would be a boon to the GOP -- all those 'traditional' voters.  

I'm not suggesting that any but the farthest fringes of the Right think this might be a good idea -- but I'll bet there are some who dream of it.. 

Okay, got that political stuff out of my system for a while.   I haven't even mentioned fracking  . . .. . .

Or Dick Cheney's advice on Iraq . . . or the Koch brothers' strangle hold on our government . . .

Or climate change denial . . . or homophobia  . . . or . . . no, no more for now.

Here is a pretty flower.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Goodbye, Mike

I didn't know Mike well... but I liked him at once.  Partly because he looked like so many of the men on my father's side of the family with his white hair and boyish face, partly because he was such a pleasant fella. He was a student at Wildacres when I taught there year before last -- not in my class but he introduced himself because I know his sister.  We both tended to show up early for breakfast and we got to know each other a bit over the breakfast casserole and turkey sausage.

Mike was working on a book that combined his love of western North Carolina and fly fishing.  We talked about that and about inconsequential things. I really can't say I knew him well. But I liked him well and we emailed back and forth a few times when his book came out . . . and when he started a blog . . . and when he was diagnosed with cancer -- a bad, aggressive sort of cancer.

He continued to work on his next book and the last time I heard from him, he said the treatment was going well. . . and I began to hope that I'd see him at Wildacres this year. . . early at the dining hall, like me. 

Alas, his sister emailed me yesterday that Mike is gone. And, though our friendship was such a  casual one, his going has left a Mike-sized hole in the Wildacres experience as far as I'm concerned. 

I'm so glad he wrote his book -- I wish there'd been time for more. 

In her email yesterday, his sister said:  

"You will appreciate that he kept his sense of humor up to the end. In advising his wife Paulette about his obituary, he instructed her, 'Don’t tell people to donate to a charity in my honor—tell them to buy my book!'”

The words of a real writer. . .

It's a lovely book and I  have it on my Kindle, all the more precious because I know how much it meant to him. . . and because there won't be another.

For those of you who might be interested, here's what Ron Rash had to say:"Revenge on the Fly is a beautiful meditation on the ties that bind us to family and place. Michael Cavender is a gifted writer, an exciting new voice in North Carolina literature."  Ron Rash, New York Times best-selling author of Serena and The Cove.

Farewell, Mike. You are missed. . .

Monday, June 23, 2014

Men at Work

 What could be finer? Our friend Dr. Bob was coming over to help Justin with some rock work last Saturday and then some of Justin's friends decided it was time for a weekend at the farm.  And while they partied hard Friday night, after some Bloody Marys Saturday morning, they were ready to rock and roll. Or, at least, to roll large rocks.

With so many more or less willing bodies, Justin decided to do two projects.
 One was completing a rock retaining wall behind the house

The other was laying stepping stones for a path, also behind the house.

The guys worked hard, drank a lot of beer, watched some World Cup, and got a major amount done. All I had to do was feed them lunch and dinner. 

Anytime, fellas!

There's a captioned web album of the Men at Work HERE