Friday, September 17, 2021

My First Trip


When I was five or six, I had my tonsils out--a routine procedure in those days for kids who got a lot of sore throats aka tonsillitis. I remember the liquid jello I was given to drink after the procedure and the nifty bendy straw. But mainly I remember the 'dream' I had while under ether.

I was one of a number of clowns, riding crescent moons that dipped and rose through a dark sky. In my mind, there were mud puddles beneath us and each dizzying swoop downward brought me nearer a mud puddle. The moons were yellow and we clowns wore purple outfits with moons and stars on them.

That was over seventy years ago and I still can see it. I tried to paint it but what I ended up with is more like an illustration for a kids' book. My trip was scarier--and the sky was black and absolutely filled with dipping moons and clowns--like a pod of killer whales. 

Maybe I'll try to do that one later.

Thursday, September 16, 2021


The air is cooler and leaves are beginning to drift down. Now, as the summer flowers fade, I find myself cherishing the ones that remain--the Gergera daisy from the grocery store. . .

The Mother's Day fuchsia from 2020 that, after a bit of fertilizer, broke forth in bloom. (It feels like a miracle--I've never had a fuchsia come through the winter in the green house--they usually succumb to whitefly or something.)

The elegant edges of a curled up morning glory . . . the patches of sunlight hiding in the perennial begonia . . .

So much to cherish.


Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Another Sleepover

I can dress myself. And I am much faster than Meema. She is still stretching and putting on her socks.  We had a good night's sleep and I am ready for the day, even though there is no playdate because my friend couldn't come over today.

I picked this morning glory while Meema was filling the birdfeeder. I wanted to fill the birdfeeder but I am not tall enough yet. So I put some seed on the ground for the chipmunks and made a trail of seed up the steps.

I helped make pancakes and after breakfast while Meema was doing the dishes, I played with the Castle People. We sang songs from Frozen. Meema has never seen Frozen. I don't know why not. But then I sang some songs from O Brother, Where Art Thou and she knows those. We both like O Brother.

I had a good idea to put the Fairy Houses where the Castle People could play with them too.

I had another good idea and it was about painting. I started with different colored drops all over my paper. Meema finally gave me a big piece and I made a beautiful picture.

When it was naptime. first I had a restaurant on the bed. I made a mushroom pizza for Meema. I don't like mushrooms so I had a veggie pizza. Then we took a nap. Meema wanted to read on her Kindle but I told her to take off her glasses and close her eyes. (If she doesn't take a nap, she gets cranky.)

After nap I had to brush my hair with my great-great grandmother's silver hairbrush. Meema said I should not stand on Philly because it makes Sandy and Jayna and Barb nervous but I don't listen. I have been standing on Philly ever since I could walk and I have NEVER fallen down.

We did lots more stuff--Meema read to me but she is making me read some of the words. She says I need to learn to read to myself but I like to listen to her so I don't try very hard. And when she brings out those cards with words on them, I tell her my eyes hurt and maybe I need an apple.

And then we go outside for playdough. I have to keep her moving. It is good for old ladies to keep moving.


Monday, September 13, 2021

Zen Gardening?

The little fish pool and garden below our deck has become so overgrown that John has taken a chainsaw to the so-called dwarf (over 15 feet, most of them) evergreens and it all looks pretty sad. 

In time it will look better. Patience, Grasshopper. We will plant more hostas and liriope--nice and low-growing. The azaleas should make a comeback, with room to breathe now. And nothing daunts forsythia. Thee might even be a spot for some blue salvia.

 Coincidently, I recently discovered a bit of writing about the fish pool garden done in the late Eighties. I called it "Zen and the Art of Gardening with Dogs." 

Though we have only one dog now (and he's a Very Good Boy,) I still attempt to  to take a philosophic/Zen view of our land as it grows up beyond our control. We' re-wilding and helping to offset carbon emissions.

Or something.

But here's the fragment from back then:



The dogs have worn a gap in my hedge of white azaleas and green and gold evergreens. They have stomped the Italian Arums almost beyond recognition and are punishing the lavender iris. The Victoria blue salvia around the Japanese maple is a goner too. But—and this is the Zen part—I see that a few flat stones will turn the beaten dirt of the dog trail into an intriguing little foot path disappearing around the golden chaemocypress.

The Japanese-inspired pool garden has been shaped and influence by our dog pack—once as many as six—as have all the plantings in my North Carolina mountainside garden. The red thread leaf Japanese maple began life as an umbrella-shaped (a small umbrella, mind you, the cheapest they had) nursery specimen. That winter Amanda and Arabella (English Mastiffs around 150 pounds each who loved to chew) effectively pruned away all but one side. It looked pathetic but a few years later, the tree had assumed a pleasing gnarled shape.

The girls’ big paws have squashed numerous seedlings in my unfenced vegetable garden . . . I keep the girls out of my flower beds (which they would like to treat as dog beds) by the judicious placement of large attractive rocks—something we have plenty of. . .

And here the writing ends, except for a scrawled note—Too stoned to go on.


Saturday, September 11, 2021

Twenty Years

Twenty years after the horror of 9/11 left our country heartsick and afraid but momentarily united.

Twenty years and now, at this moment in history, we are more divided than ever.

The sorrow and the pity and the shame of it all.

Friday, September 10, 2021

The Blue Light


Back in 1992, preparing to do laundry, I noticed that The Blue Light was torn. Not just torn, but faded, worn thin, and its cheap poly batting is no longer fluffy. Time for an upgrade, I thought.

The Blue Light was a comforter. Almost twenty years old in 1992, it was given to us by my parents before our move to the mountains. I chose it from the Sears catalogue—a homey blue and white printed gingham check—and it was our Christmas present.

It became The Blue Light on our first winter in the mountains. It was bitter cold, and we put the new comforter on three-year-old Ethan’s bed. Our friend Betty (or Batty, as Ethan called her) who lived in our little cabin, spent several of those freezing nights with us, sharing the three- year-old’s double bed. In the mornings they would make a tent of the comforter and the morning light that filtered through was . . .blue. Hence, the name.

As Ethan and later his little brother Justin grew, The Blue Light continued its service. I’d made quilts for the boys’ beds, but TBL played many roles—a wrestling mat, a cape, and occasionally, according to Justin’s friend Josh, an instrument of terror when Ethan would roll himself up in it and slither across the floor like a giant blue caterpillar. “I was really pretty scared of him,” said an older and wiser Josh.

But by ’92 I felt sure The Blue Light’s day was over and I ordered two matching comforters for the boys’ bunk beds. Ethan was away at college and I consulted with Justin about the new bed covers—dark blue plaids reversing to window pane checks with matching shams. He approved and I was delighted to think of spiffing up the boys’ room. Heaven knows, it needed it.

The new comforters had not arrived when Ethan came home from college along with his friend Kathy. His cousin Coop, who had been one of the combatants back in The Blue Light’s days as a wrestling mat, was here too for the weekend. At dinner I mentioned casually that The Blue Light was falling apart, and I’d ordered a replacement.

“What!” exploded Ethan. “You what? You’re not throwing The Blue Light away!”

“Well, not as such,” I hedged. “I was thinking of demoting it to a dog bed.”

“I’ll take it if you don’t want it,” Coop interjected.

“You can’t get rid of The Blue Light,” Kathy pleaded. “I was introduced to it the first time I came here. I’d never been introduced to a blanket before. But I don’t think you’d better get rid of it.”

So, of course, I didn’t. It hung around in its tattered talismanic state till Ethan got married. I carefully removed a few small squares of the blue-checked material and sewed one to the back of the wedding quilt I made for Ethan and Aileen. Later I would sew the other to the back of a quilt I made for Coop.

The Blue Light followed Ethan into his marriage. The last I heard of it, it was being used on a dog bed for their doted on and pampered pup.


Wednesday, September 8, 2021


I spent the past two days worrying. Monday Josie had a fever and sniffles so our sleepover and Tuesday playdate were cancelled. Probably just a cold, but these days . . .

Yesterday Claui took her to the pediatrician for a Covid and a strep test---it wasn't till five that I found out the tests were negative.

Just a garden variety cold, hallelujah! She'll stay out of preschool and I'll have her today.

We should have been past this ever present worry. If people hadn't refused the vaccine and acted irresponsibly all summer, allowing the Delta variant to emerge . . . 

And why in the name of sweet reason do the same people who refuse the vaccine because 'it hasn't been tested enough,' happily swallow a veterinary medicine, untested on humans?

Shaking my head but, oh so happy it's just a cold Josie has.

UPDATE: As of Wednesday morning, Josie feels much better but her parents have the cold. They are staying home and keeping her there so maybe John and I can avoid the infection.


Tuesday, September 7, 2021

One Book Leads to Another

I talked sometime back about reading Churchhill's A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Volume I. The chapter on Richard the Lion Hearted awakened a memory of a book I read a long time ago--about Richard and the Crusades, the probably mythical minstrel Blondel, the impossibly beautiful Berengaria who becomes (sort of) Richard's queen, and her brilliant (and fictional) half-sister, the Duchess of Apieta.

So, when I found I no longer had a copy, I acquired one. It's a terrific read-- better even than I remembered--with fully realized characters, especially Blondel and the Duchess.

I understand why. In writing Crows, I found that the more I knew about a character, the more constraints there were on my writing about them. 

Norah Lofts stayed true to what actually is recorded but her surmises about the rest are what make the story so good.  If you like historical fiction, rich in sensory detail, I think you'd like The Lute Player.

Now I'm embarked on Volume II of Churchill's magnum opus--The New World--and as there's quite a lot about the New England colonies, I decided to start listening (again) to Sarah Vowell's The Wordy Shipmates--the story of the Puritans and especially John Winthrop who gave us the concept of America as "a city on a hill" that would be a model of Christian goodness. Reagan added the 'shining' bit--and our country, beginning with those Puritans (see Pequot massacre) right down to today has consistently fallen short of the ideal. 

Vowell brings this period to life and has fun with it too. I highly recommend the Audible version. Her voice is odd and squeaky and after a little bit, I became totally addicted to it.

That John Winthrop, though. What a self righteous jerk. And speaking of Winthrop--didn't I once have a paperback by Anya Seton--The Winthrop Woman?




Monday, September 6, 2021


The Kousa dogwood fruits look an awful lot like the representations of the Covid virus. Still, they're beautiful and they represent a hope for the future and more dogwood trees.

The seed pods of the Siberian iris have a quiet elegance.

The hollyhocks are super achievers--each flower stalk is covered with seed capsules, each containing many seeds.

The Black-eyed Susans will feed birds and probably chipmunks but there'll be plenty of seeds for propagating.

As we ease into Fall, it's nice to see the promises Nature makes for Spring.