Friday, June 29, 2018

Great Grand Parents

Yesterday I had a call from an Alabama cousin I'd never met  -- the grandson of Lillie Belle, one of my grandfather's sisters. He has some family information to share with me and I, in turn, sent him links to several blog posts I've done on the Northcutts. 

Re-reading this one, I decided to post it again. (Still no camera.)
William Benjamin Northcutt
Born just after the War Between the States
Into red clay Reconstruction Alabama.
A farmer and a farmer's son.
At twenty-two he married
Red-headed, eighteen year old Lucy Camella Glenn
And they moved from Forest Home to Evergreen.

Just over a year and their first child was born
My mother's father, Victor Huborn,
Who told me, how when he was young
His mother took him and his brothers and sisters
(John and Lillie Belle, William and Lallah)
To visit her parents -- a day's drive away.

Coming back at twilight, drowsy children wrapped in quilts ,
A storm came up and the creek they had to ford
Was running high and wild.
"The mules didn't want to cross it,"
The old man told me, leaning forward, his eyes ablaze,
"But that girl, she slapped the lines across their rumps,
Told those mules to 'Git up!'
And we all got home that night."

Eighty some years ago and the memory was so fresh
That I could see my great-grandmother -- 'that girl,'
Determined to get her brood home safe
And out of the wet Alabama woods.

Lucy Camella died when my grandfather was twelve --
And widowed William, no time to grieve
with six young children and a crop in the fields,
Married a  handy cousin. 
Minnie Lula Northcutt Northcutt
Gave him two more children.
But my grandfather, still grieving
Left home.

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Thursday, June 28, 2018

No Camera -- Old Pictures -- Play Group

I feel lost without my camera -- I'm used to always looking for things to take a picture of and I can't cut it off. 

I see something -- the drop of water on the perfect curve of the copper handle of the watering can, the mourning dove with her little red feet, the yearling deer grazing unconcernedly by the road at midday -- and I reach for the camera . . .

 . . . which isn't there because it's still in Asheville being cleaned. 

I wanted it badly when I took Josie to a Smart Start play group at the library yesterday. A big, many-windowed room with a carpeted floor and toys of all sorts was a perfect setting

 She was a little shy at first and stuck close to me but as more and more pre-schoolers arrived and began playing with all the many toys, she got bolder and ventured away from me to investigate a toy train and a wagon full of circus animals. And then there was Play Doh!

She's too young to really play with another child  -- at this age they do what's called parallel play -- playing alongside another child without interacting.

The only interaction was when a little boy took away the things she was holding and then she in turn too away some stuff he had. Neither got upset, which surprised me. 

Smart Start at the library is such a nice offering for our area where many of us live rather far away from neighbors and playmates. There were lots of young mothers there, another grandmother, and a dad. It was a good experience -- I expect we'll become regulars.  

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Poet Dreams of the Mountain by Mary Oliver

Sometimes I grow weary of the days, with all their fits and starts.
I want to climb some old gray mountain, slowly, taking
the rest of my lifetime to do it….
I want to look back at everything, forgiving it all,
and peaceful, knowing the last thing there is to know.
All that urgency! Not what the earth is about!…
In ten thousand years, maybe, a piece of the mountain will fall. 
Mary Oliver, from Swan: Poems and Prose PoemsBeacon Press.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Some Other June

Still camera-less but around here, one June looks much like another. These are from 2014 but they could have been taken yesterday -- day lilies rioting, tomatoes forming, garden work ongoing . . . 

We've been enjoying kale and collards and lettuce for a while now but Friday I harvested our first cucumbers and zucchini. And ate our first ripe cherry tomato.

As I write this on Saturday afternoon, I haven't seen Josie or Claui in two weeks. I was away at the Folk School for a week and they left for the beach before I got back. Two weeks is a long time in the life of a 13 month old person -- I know she'll have changed. 

Later: they got home safely Saturday evening  and Justin brought her up when he came to pick up their dogs -- thank goodness she remembered us  -- and oh, my goodness, she seems like a little girl now, rather than a toddler.  I hope I get that camera back soon!

Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Prescient Wisdom of Douglas Adams

The Hitchhiker's Guide and the other four books of the trilogy ( it's complicated) have been a part of my life for almost forty years now, mostly in recordings of the radio and television versions as well as by recorded books. Recently I began re-reading this amazing synthesis of extreme silliness and deep wisdom. There's always something new to discover.

What popped out at me yesterday was Adams's description of Zaphod Beeblebrox: "... good- timer, (crook? quite possibly), manic self-publicist, terrible bad at personal relationships, often thought to be completely out to lunch.

"President? No one had gone bananas, not in that way at least.

"Only six people in the entire Galaxy understood the principle on which the Galaxy was governed, and they that once Zaphod Beeblebrox had announced his intention to run as President it was more or less a fait accompli: he was ideal presidency fodder.*

* " . . . The President in particular is very much a figurehead -- he wields no real power whatsoever. He is apparently chosen by the government, but the qualities he is required to display are not those of leadership but those of finely judged outrage. For this reason the President is always a controversial choice, always an infuriating but fascinating character. His job is not to wield power but to draw attention away from it."

At least our current distraction has only the one head and two arms. I don't think I could bear two heads like that.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Varina by Charles Frazier

What a writer this guy is! He can craft a sentence or paragraph like nobody's business. 

Charles Frazier's latest novel is a richly imagined account of the life of Varina Davis -- wife of the Southern Confederacy's  first (and only) president and front line witness to history.

Teen aged Varina marries the widowed Jefferson Davis expecting to settle down to life on his Mississippi plantation. When her husband opts for a life in politics, she follows him to Washington where she enjoys success as a popular hostess and access to some of the most powerful names in the government. This life is turned upside down when the South secedes and Varina's husband is appointed president of the Confederacy.

The novel is structured as a series of conversations (interlaced with flashbacks) between the elderly, long-widowed Varina and James Blake, an educated mixed-race free-born man who, for a time during his childhood, lived with the Davis family and was treated like one of the children.

Varina does much to shed light on the varying sentiments that led to the war, as well as the confused residue of emotion afterward. All of the characters are memorable, none more than Varina, who is intelligent and educated beyond the norm of the time. 

As is James Blake, struggling to find his place between the white world and the black,  James Black, once known as Jimmy Limber, who asks the aging Varina if she had thought of him as a pet.

Frazier has brought history to life through the eyes of this remarkable woman. The questions raised of morality versus the law and of the nature of complicity are eternal, and oh, so relevant today.

 Highly recommended.