Monday, September 26, 2022

Two Books by Patrice Gopo

I met Patrice at the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival a few weeks ago. She's a marvelous presenter, full of infectious joy and that joy comes across in her writing.

The daughter of Jamaican immigrants--themselves the children of South African immigrants--she grew up in Alaska, one of a very few black faces in her school and community. Eventually she would marry a man from Zimbabwe and move to Charlotte--a city said to be 'good' for Black families.

Her book of essays is a beautiful testament to her struggle to find a place in a land that sees her as 'other.'

 She tells of her encounter in school with Huckleberry Finn and the over two hundred uses of the N-word. Each time she read the word, she says, "I though this must be what it's like to sit in a puddle of dirty water."   

"Years later I would learn that the book I read in high school is considered antiracist.  . . . A story meant to make a mockery of slavery. In tenth grade I retained none of this. All I remember is the longing to finish the unit and move on."

She writes feelingly of the spectrum of hair and the degrees of blackness, of children and of love and faith, of marriage and divorce. And the conundrum of home.

This is such a lovely book, and it invites the reader--and, I would think, especially the white reader, to consider things they may not have considered. It would be an especially good book for a book club.

But wait, there's more! Patrice has also written a lovely children's book about a little girl whose parents and grandparents come from different places around the world. It's
beautifully illustrated and, when I read it to Josie, it led to talk of where her family came from--Arkansas, South Carolina, Florida, Alabama . . .

I commend these two fine books to you!


Saturday, September 24, 2022

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Turning and Finding Balance

The equinox-- today the day and night are of equal length--and autumn truly begins. the land is weary with summer heat and ready to slip into a rejuvenating rest, after a display of color.

The seasons' turnings always seem rejuvenating to me--even now when we're headed to the darker half of the year 

Same as it ever was...same as it ever was...


Wednesday, September 21, 2022

More De-accessioning

Five more boxes of books went to the library for their book sale. And while I have more shelves to clear upstairs, I decided to do take a break from the books and address the problem of inherited china and glass ware--some inherited, some wedding presents.

I began with the Haviland china--some my maternal grandmother's and some my mother's. Mostly never used by any of us. Like the hot chocolate cup above--so pretty, so delicate--so 19th century.

I think I did use this butter dish back when I was milking and making my own butter. 

But really--pretty as all this stuff is, it doesn't suit our idiom--which is more heavy mugs and Blue Willow plates. Ditto, I expect for the boys and their wives. (Though they are welcome to speak up if I've misjudged them.) I'd be thrilled to sell this stuff and am keeping a photo and written record of what I've packed away--when I get a little forwarder with the work, I'll look into Etsy or other venues. . .

This figurine below was on the shelf with the Haviland. It's not Haviland--but Hirode (Japanese import stuff.)

Yes, it's pretty ghastly. But it was one of a pair that sat on the mantelpiece in my grandparents' bedroom and my grandfather always put a couple of rolled up dollar bills in the ladies' arms for me and my brother to find.  

Sweet memories. But I'll keep the memory and the picture and donate this couple somewhere.

This is what happens when you live in the same house for almost fifty years. Things accumulate...


Tuesday, September 20, 2022

At the Little Pond

As of now, we have eleven orange goldfish and four dark fish--stealth goldfish? Or bait fish aka shiners? I like them all.


Monday, September 19, 2022

Esmeralda and the Brown Brachet-Ch. 1&2


So, I'm repeating the first chapter because I went back and did a picture for it. The first Esmerlda pic I did belongs with the second chapter. Glad we got that straightened out. The story is becoming very silly indeed.

Chapter l

Clearly, the brachet had been a mistake. But when, on the third lonely day of her quest, the little hound had popped out from behind the Standing Stones of Glarn, Esmeralda had greeted it with joy.

“Hail, O brachet! Art sent to accompany me, mayhap as guide and guard?”

The skinny brachet had fixed her with a penetrating gaze which dropped at once to the leathern pouch at her side.

“Art hungered, little one?” Esmeralda knelt down before the brachet and reached into the pouch. “Gladly will I share of my simple provisions.”

Two wheaten rolls and a twist of dried venison disappeared, and the brachet moved closer to nose at the pouch. Esmeralda reached out a hand to stroke the dog—no, this was a bitch, to be sure. “What a pretty maid thou art, with thy white stockings and elegant long ears.

The brachet had accepted the caress with a philosophical sigh. There will be more food, she reasoned; in time that fragrant bulging pouch will be at my mercy. The woman is desperate for companionship. Look at her crouched there, cloak spread on the ground, face imploring. If she had a tail, ‘twould be a-wag.,

The brachet had allowed herself a tiny whine and, swallowing her pride with the last morsel of bread, had licked the young woman’s hand. There, done and done.


“Come out of it, you wretched brachet! Leave it, I say.”

Esmeralda’s feet hurt. Five days of walking, three of them through this strange wood, five days of listening to the brachet howl, five days of watching the sinuous brown body dart off into inaccessible places. Five days of watching the crystal at the top of her staff fail to respond to the rising moon as it should have done.

“When the crystal is set alight by Selene’s beams, then must thou follow the path she shows,” the aged Sooth-Seer had whispered. “Follow it even as an arrow from a bow if thou wouldst find the dungeon where the true prince lies.”

Esmeralda drew in a deep breath and limped ahead. Just a few more paces and she would be clear of these dark trees. She could just glimpse a clearing ahead and sense, rather than see, a burgeoning glow.

The brachet continued her frenzied excavation at the base of a grandfather tree as Esmeralda stepped into the moonlit glade and held aloft her crystal-topped staff.


Ch 2

The full moon winked from behind the scudding clouds that fought to obscure it. Esmeralda stood waiting; staff raised to head height. Her arm began to tremble, and she wished she’d taken her mother’s advice and chosen a more slender support for the Enchanted Crystal.

“I can do this,” she whispered, grimacing as the racing clouds briefly obscured the moon. Then, raising her voice to be heard over the scrabbling of the brachet in the wood behind her, she began the Chant of Invocation.

O Queen of the Night,

Guide thou my steps.

Avert thou from my path

Thy creatures of the Darkness.

Be with-

Arooooo! Aroooo!

The piercing howl of the brachet interrupted the invocation, and Esmeralda whirled, her green cloak twisting about her most satisfactorily. She had endured countless fittings and had driven three sempstresses to tears with her insistence on a cloak that was not only warm and, it goes without saying, beautiful, but also had pockets and was properly swirly. What was the point, she had asked, irritably of the first attempt, of a cloak that didn’t flow about its wearer, wrapping her in mystery.

Adjusting the mysterious velvet folds, she called to the brachet. “Do shut up, you miserable cur! I’m invoking Selene here.”

Turning back to the moon, now almost completely covered with clouds, Esmeralda gabbled her way through the rest of the invocation, noting that the Enchanted Crystal was barely glowing now and that the moonlit path before her was rapidly becoming a mass of dark shadows. Just the place for Creatures of Darkness, she thought, and who can tell if that interrupted invocation had even worked.


The brachet had ceased her digging and, in the growing darkness, seemed to be looking meaningfully toward Esmeralda. With a sigh of resignation, Esmeralda reached into one of the cloak’s capacious pockets and withdrew the Torch of Night Seeing. Its slender metal cylinder was capped by a lens and with a click of the Button of Power, a strong beam of light shot toward the little hound. Esmeralda picked her way toward the brachet and the excavation she was guarding.

“What is it, you idiot bitch?

The brachet nosed at something on the edge of the hole. It glinted in the torch’s beam and Esmeralda gasped. A heavy golden arm ring lay atop the mound of fresh dirt. The brachet nosed at it again and barked impatiently.

There, you stupid woman. An idiot bitch, am I? Here’s a portent for you.

Esmeralda played the light on the armlet. Rubies winked at her and when she leaned to pick up the beautiful thing, her fingers tingled as she touched it. She brought it closer to her face and turned it about. In the torchlight, she could discern words engraved on the interior. Strange words of no language she knew. Llowfo het hse god.

Her brow wrinkled in thought. Welsh maybe? That double ll… But even as she studied the inscription, the letters began to swim on the golden surface and to rearrange themselves.

Follow the she dog.

Now really!” Esmeralda stamped her foot. “This is Too Much!”

She was about to toss the armlet back into the hole at the foot of the tree when she noticed that, though the moon was still hidden by the clouds, the Enchanted Crystal on her staff was pulsing with rainbow sparks. As she hesitated, the heavy golden arm ring twisted in her hand and, to her horror, slipped over her hand and slid up her arm to lodge above her elbow.

No amount of tugging would dislodge it. And the brachet was moving off, away from the path shown all too briefly by the moon.

Almost in tears, Esmeralda tried to return to the moon path, but the ring would not allow it, painfully tightening its grip on her arm with each step she took away from the brachet.

That’ll learn her, thought the brachet (who’d been named Jenny but preferred to be called Destiny, if she had to be called anything at all.) She wheeled about and set off through the woods.

Weeping and cursing, Esmeralda followed.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

The Reading Room

One of the views from my reading room.

This is another--waiting to pick up Josie. On this day I was third in line--all it took was leaving the house at 12:45. (School is out at 2:45 but it's usually 3 before the children are escorted out to the cars.)

It could be awful but it's not. It's an almost two-hour block of uninterrupted reading time. The past two days, the air has been fragrant with the intoxicating smell of new mown hay (see first picture.) 

Freed of distractions, I can really concentrate. I managed to read a book I just couldn't get into some years ago, despite its incredible reviews.  The meticulously researched story of the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 is alternated with the also meticulously researched story of a serial killer who picked his victims from folks (mostly young women) in town for the fair.

It was a beautifully done rendering of a time and place--but I had the uneasy feeling that I was hurrying through the welter of detail about the fair to get to the 'good parts' about the serial killer. It made me a little ashamed of myself for such a prurient interest. 

Next up--Lies My Teacher Told Me--Oh, boy! Eye-opening critique of traditional history books as used in American schools.


Thursday, September 15, 2022

Josie's After School Routine

This week, Meema is picikng me up Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Yesterday was Wednesday and Meema asked me which day I wanted to get an ice cream cone because once a week was the rule. What do you think I chose?

You're right. I chose Wednesday. Because it was now. I also tried a new flavor of ice cream--it was vanilla with oreo cookie mushed up in it and it was AMAZING!

As you can see, now that I am older and bigger, I don't have a baby car seat anymore--just a booster seat so I can see. I like it much better.

I also have a HUGE backpack to carry my lunch and snacks and sweater and pencils and school stuff.

It is pretty heavy, but I can handle it.

When we got home, first I had to find those babies and get Hamsie out. I had some painting to finish and guess what! There were some new watercolors. Which is a good thing because I had used up all the blue and green in the old set.

When I finished painting, we went upstairs to my office because I had a letter to write. Meema did some ironing and then I had an idea. I told her I needed some fabric to make a quilt and she gave me a whole basket full. I told her to keep ironing and not look around because it was Meema Day, and I was making her a surprise.

I laid out pieces of fabric everywhere.

That is how I decorate for Meema Day.

When I told her she could look, she was very excited. She said it was the best Meema Day ever.

It was almost time for my daddy to pick me up, but I let the Castle People take a look at what I painted.

What will I do after school tomorrow?