Monday, July 6, 2020

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Celebrating the 4th In the Garden

Out to the garden before the temps get unbearable. John had tilled around the watermelon and butternut squash, but we were late getting our garden in and I'm trying to hand weed close up so these babies have no competition.

A weed's eye view as I sat and scooched along through the dirt.

I can hoe better sitting down as my back begins to complain after about fifteen minutes of upright hoeing. Whatever works.

"A weed is a flower in the wrong place." On the other side of the road by the garden, they're flowers.

There's a job done--I'll attack the corn tomorrow.

A nice sitdown on one of the blue benches allowed me to cool off a bit before checking out the veg in the top tier boxes.

I love how huge and how fragile squash blossoms are. This is a zucchini.

And there were two baby zucchini! I grabbed them at once as they have a habit of turning into giant green-striped logs, good only for the chickens and even the biddies soon lose their enthusiasm.

 I sliced these two in half length-wise and put a bitof olive oil, garlic, and salt on them. John grilled them with the brats that were our holiday supper, along with potato salad and deviled eggs.

Socially distanced Fourth, all the way. And it was good.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

On This Fourth of July

The words of the Founders, from the Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security...."

Our country began with a lie--pretending to subscribe to the equality of all. But within the document is a prescription for change that still rings true.

Did the men, some slaveholders, who wrote this not understand that the people they enslaved were equally worthy of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness, that the Native Americans, whose land was and continued to be stolen, were created equal? Or that even women were created equal?

Apparently not. It's taken a long time to address these wrongs and the work is far from complete.

As our country continues to reckon with its past, while caught in the throes of a pandemic that is changing so much that was once normal, might not there be an opportunity for a new beginning, an oportunity to throw off  the long established forms and begin to build an America that recognizes and rejects the lies of the past rather than glorifying them ? A country in which equal opportunity is a reality?  

We can do it without armed revolt. 

We can examine our long held beliefs. Are they based on anything more substantial than grade school pageants and textbooks written by the winners? (Or, in the South, alas, by the losers?) We can vote. We can advocate for change. And we can hold those elected to the promise of a better America.

May July 4, 2021 find our country in a better place, moving forward with true equality for all.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Reading in the Time of Pandemic


I've been chipping away at The Travels for some time now. The prose isn't exactly compelling -- there's a lot of repetition as in the people are idolaters or the country supplies the necessaries of life in great abundance or, much like grade school geography,  perfunctory lists of what each area produces: ginger, raw silk, tissues of silver and gold, frankincense . . . One is constantly reminded that Polo was first and foremost a merchant. 

But his observations on the customs of the people are fascinating and the scope of the travels is awe-inspiring. (Yes, I know some doubt Polo actually went all these places. That's a discussion for another time.)

The sheer romance of the name The Silk Road was enough to keep me going across mountains and deserts all the way to Cathay where Polo describes a palace of the Grand Khan that surely inspired Coleridge's In Xanadu did Kublai Khan/A stately pleasure dome decree. 

And so to the return home, via a sea route. The book is part travelogue, part anthropological commentary, part wide-eyed tourist tales. Best taken in snall doses to allow time for parallel travel on the internet, chasing down modern day locations and other odds and ends. (What is cubeb, anyway? Now I know.)

I'm also entertaining myself every night by listening to LeGuin's masterpiece, set very far in the future on a planet called Winter. I read it about forty years ago and all I remembered was the odd sexuality of the people of Winter--androgynous for most of the time, then assuming either male or female characteristics for a time.

Now as I listen, I become aware of what LeGuin was really doing- the book is a commentary on human sexuality and on the adverse effects of a patriarchical society. (More than one person has commented recently that those countries with female leaders seem to be dealing with the pandemic better, due, perhaps, the the "female" impulse to nurture.)

It's a complex, multi-layered book -- probably better read than listened to, especially if one tends to fall asleep before the end of the chapter, But I'm enjoying it.

A quickie re-read, just for the fun of it. I may be one of the few people who still enjoys the banter and wily ways of this indomitable trio, upper classmen at a prep school designed to fit young men for the British army,. Different times, different mores. There is much that is objectionabe here--the whole British Empre for a start. What were they doing in Afghanistan any way? (What is the US doing in Afghanistan now?)

Still I find it a cheerful read and suspect that P.G. Wodehouse and Dorothy L. Sayers (two of my favorite authors) were fans. I certainly hear echoes . . .

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Josie has Braids--and Meets Igorina--with Social Distancing

My mom fixed my hair in braids for Family Dinner Up. I like the way they look. 

Meema had something to show me but first I had to get a banana for a before dinner snack.

Then Meema took me to meet Igorina. She lives in the bathroon where my potty is. In this picture she is on one of my poop books. (That is what it is called because I read it sometimes when I sit on the potty.)

Igorina is a Wolf Spider. And she is carrying a big white sac full of spider eggs. When it hatches, she will carry her babies on her back till they get bigger, like my Mom and Dad used to carry me. Igorina has eight eyes and can see very well. She pounces on bugs and eats them. Meema says not to touch her because if she got scared she might bite. 

Meema ased me to stand closer so Igorina and I could be in the picture together and I said, No thanks.

I am almost always polite.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Mystery Readers Journal and Miss Birdie

Law, hit's good to see you, honey. Come on up here and git you a chair on that end of the porch. I'll set myself over here and we'll holler back and forth.

I'm doing just fine. Calven has been doing what little shopping I need and I ain't in need of much. This flu thing is hitting the old folks hard and I praise mercy I ain't in a nursing home. And it's a good thing I ain't going out for if I saw some of those folks that won't wear masks, carrying on like they do, I believe I'd take my walking stick to them.

I ain't told you my big news. I was naming to call you in a little bit but now here you are. And what do you think, you and me is going to be wrote up in a magazine. Now how about that?

That woman what wrote up all our doings, that writer-person who does those books, is writing a piece about you and me for a magazine called Mystery Readers Journal.

She said as how it's going to be a whole issue about Senior Sleuths. "What's a senior sleuth?" says I and she says it's an old person who solves mysteries.

 "Oh," says I. "Well, Lizzie Beth ain't all that senior and I ain't much of a sleuth but I reckon taking us together, you'll spin some kind of story." And then she goes on to remind me how I helped find Calven and that little girl and Calven's momma too. So I recckon I am something of a sleuth after all.

Now stop that giggling--the poor woman does the best she can. And I thought it was right good of her to make such a fuss over me and my doings. And she said as how she'd be sure to tell us when the story come out.

Me in a magazine--who'd a thought it!

Monday, June 29, 2020

New Website in the Making

It was time and past time for a new/updated website. I finally bit the proverbial bullet and have hired a fella to bring the site up to speed. With a new book coming out in October (finally!) and with little prospect of actual in person events to promote And the Crows Took Their Eyes, a good website seems crucial.

So I've spent most of yesterday (it was rainy) creating new content for the new pages and searching my files for pictures to adorn them. 

HOME was simple -- book cover, brief synopsis, advance praise.

Next up was ABOUT VICKI and even typing those two words kinda gives me the willies. (What are the willies, anyway? Nevermind, I probably don't want to know.) The thing is, I was raised with the idea that one doesn't talk too much about oneself or heaven forbid, seem to brag on oneself. But ABOUT THE AUTHOR is a part of every writer's website so I settled in to try to give a brief overview of my life and alleged writing career.

More pages to come-HISTORY of the Massacre is next on my to do list. And eventually maybe DISCUSSION GUIDE. What else do I need?

Ay, law. 

That reminds me. I also finished up a piece for Mystery Readers Journal. But I'll let Miss Birdie tell you about that tomorrow.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

A Poem by Tu Fu

The days grow long, the mountains
Beautiful. The south wind blows
Over blossoming meadows.
Newly arrivedswallows dart
Over the steaming marshes.
Ducks in pairs drowse on the warm sand.

  Tu Fu, 713-779
                                                                ( translation by Kenneth Rexroth)

Saturday, June 27, 2020

In the Garden

I hesitate to say anything for fear of putting a jinx on it, but the garden is coming along. I've been suckering the tomatoes and removing their low-hanging leaves in hopes of slowing down the ever present blight by better air circulation.

Also, some hoeing and weeding . . .

The temperature's been moderate (low eighties) and it's been a real pleasure to be outside digging in the dirt.

This bed with zinnias and little onions required hand weeding so I unched along on my rear end, a gardening position I find myself using more and more.

I think my witch socks lend a festive touch.

 And because a garden post wouldn't be complete without a snake--this fella below isn't our friendly greenhouse-dwelling black snake. This smaller one was sunning on the rocks by the fishpool (maybe on the lookout for a frog?) but when I aimed the camera at him, he slid away.

I suspect he's the same fella that fell across my arm when I opened the basement door to toss some dirty clothes downstairs, He must somehow have been resting on the top of the door and when I opened it, down he came.

It happened fast. What'sthiscoldpieceofblackhose?Omigod,it's asnake. Yes, I made a lot of noise. Waaa-aah! But I saw almost at once it was a harmless blacksnake, evidently as startled by the encounter as I was. He slithered off down the stairs and presumably out the downstairs door which was open to the outside. He also left a truly vile smell on my arm--but it washed right off.

I looked it up. And it appears that releasing musk is a reaction to serious danger. Poor guy. No wonder he wouldn't hang around for a better picture. Yikes! It's that woman again. I'm outta here!

Friday, June 26, 2020

Josie Presents

After breakfast Meema and I took a little walk. We had to go get string for my beans to grow up. Also I had to check out the garden.

The plants are growing fast because it's rained a lot. Weeds too, says Meema.

The wet grass gets in my sandals.

I have to sit on the blue bench and let them dry.

I can climb this wall.

And sit on it. 

Then we walk around the front yard and up to the basement door.

The washer and dryer are down here and I help Meema put the clothes in the dryer. The wet towels are very heavy but I am strong and can do it. The socks are easy.

Then we go upstairs and tie the string for the beans to twirl on.  Then I want to watch a video.

Meema is oppositional and says we will read a book instead.

This is how I look when I am oppositional.

After lunch, I put on a show with my cupboard where my collections are.

I open the doors and say, Ladies and Gentlemen, Presenting...!

Meema and Grumpy clap their hands. 

I take out my wand and do magic moves. Meema and Grumpy clap again and I do a very big bow. 

I will do this show some more because they really like it.