Monday, September 30, 2019

Sunday, September 29, 2019

A Family Heirloom . . . and a Memory

Josie loves her Peter Rabbit quilt. I pulled it out of the linen closet where it's been waiting since her daddy outgrew it.

Full disclosure: the above is not my quilt or picture. I found it on Etsy when I wondered it there were more like mine. There are. It was, no doubt, a kit.

As quilts go, it's not exactly my cup of tea. But I love it for its story -- my great-aunt Tellie and Marion, her life-long companion made it for Josie's uncle--Ethan, my older son.

I have a vivid memory of the two sitting side by side in the sun room at my grandparents' house, cross-stitching away on either end. They made many projects together and were frequent ribbon winners at their county fair.

I wrote more fully about Tellie and Marion HERE. I'm so glad Josie is loving their quilt. And that their love is warming another generation.

Friday, September 27, 2019

In Medias Res

In medias res (Latin: in the middle of things) is the literary term for beginning a story by jumping right in to a defining moment that relates to past and future events -- all of which will be unfolded gradually through flashbacks, dialogue, and narrative.

Homer did it by beginning The Odyssey with Odysseus in captivity, his journey already well underway. Dante's Divine Comedy begins with the main character in the middle of his life when he must make a crucial choice. Shakespeare opens "Hamlet" with the king's ghost and then fills in the important back story of the murder.

It's the beginning of another semester of writing class and once again, I'm finding novel openings that drag because the writer feels the need of filling in all the back story before the action starts. It seems to be the most common mistake that new writers make.

And once again, as I always do, I'll use the analogy of meeting a stranger at a party. You don't need to hear all about their background to find them interesting -- on the contrary, unless they were raised by wolves or something equally odd, you don't need their background at all. You are far more likely to be interested in what they're doing now--whether it be raising miniature horses or running a Pastafarian music ministry for hospice. The background details can get filled in later.

And again, I'l remind them, that the opening sentence, paragraph, page may be as far as a potential agent, overloaded contest judge, or busy editor will read.  It doesn't matter if page three contains the most spectacular and beautifully written scene in the history of literature --if the reader has already decided this isn't for him.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

At Last!

The news that the House will open an inquiry into impeachment proceedings against 45 is as welcome as rain on parched earth. The arrogant Twitter-thumbed buffoon in the Oval Office (or more likely on the golf course) has been flaunting his 'executive privilege' like an out-of-control two year old in search of boundaries.

An inquiry is just a prologue to impeachment -- and may not get that far. And even if articles of impeachment are taken up, whether or not the Republican-controlled Senate would vote this bum out is doubtful.

Still, at some point, as more and more incontrovertible evidence of 45's sleazy/irrational/traitorous behavior is aired,  the Senate Republicans, like rats abandoning a sinking ship, may discover a loyalty to the country, rather than their party.

It's a long shot. And I understand Pelosi's reluctance to leap in without an assured outcome.

But really, enough is enough. 

And I keep thinking of the Longfellow quote: "Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small."

May it be so.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Autumnal Equinox

The seasons turn and the sun heads South . . .

I'm sorry to see the approaching end of fresh local peaches and tomatoes as well as my little porch garden.  But the heat and the current drought make me yearn for wet fall days. And a hard frost that will kill the little gnats that are spreading the disease that has killed so many deer and filled our holler with the smell of death.

In spite of the heat, my thoughts are turning to soups and stews, roasted root vegetables, flannel shirts, and chilly nights by the fireplace.

To everything there is a season . . .

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Josie Has a Big Girl Bed--and Autonomy

When Josie climbed out of her bed last week, we bowed to the inevitable and John installed the side rail, converting the crib to a 'youth bed.' 

Josie was elated. We love seeing her progress but this feels like a real paradigm shift. What next? we ask ourselves...

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Three Fawns

Really, there are three -- I just didn't manage to get them in one shot. 

They've been roaming round this hillside for a week now.

 I fear they may have been orphaned by the disease that has killed so many deer. But they seem to be eating and look healthy so far . .  

I'm kinda surprised to find myself wishing them well--even if they come after my hostas.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Floating . . .


Between earth and sky
Ancient mountains remember
A time without man. 

They have seen him come,
Death in his every footstep,
They will see him go.

Patient in their age,
The mountains wait.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

The Bread and the Knife by Dawn Drzal

This delightful memoir is so tasty that I devoured it almost in one sitting.  

I was drawn to it because in the spring I'll be doing a workshop at Isothermal College and my subject is the use of food to enhance one's prose. (Think of the eating scene in Tom Jones--or the antebellum sumptuous meals of Gone With the Wind reduced to Scarlett's postbellum gnawing on a raw turnip--or was it a carrot or a radish? I can't remember and my online sources don't agree. Anyway, you get the point.*)

Dryzal hit upon a wonderful structure for her memoir--twenty-six vignettes about different foods, arranged chronologically and alphabetically.  

From Al Dente in which we learn about her Italian grandmother and the importance of family rituals; through Nova, the story of her summer as the lone Catholic at a Jewish camp, her first kiss (at this same camp) and her on-going preference for Jewish men; to Zucchini Blossoms  (fried) where we come full circle back to her grandmother and her grandfather-- the gardener who grew the zucchini. And a small reflection on the ineffable sense memories stored in these twenty-six vignettes.

Drzal serves forth an absolutely delicious memoir-- well stirred and seasoned with wit, wisdom, and nostalgia.

*It was a radish -- I checked.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The Nightshade Family

Good title for a sit-com, right? But I'm talking about vegetables.

My little porch garden continues to give me lots of pleasure along with a continuing small supply of produce.  The nightshades--tomatoes,peppers, and eggplants--just keep chugging along. Josie and I already 'harvested' our tiny crop of purple potatoes, also nightshades.

Speaking of which, I've been investigating the claim that nightshades cause inflammation and arthritis.  Most of the sources I looked at said that there are no scientific studies to support this claim -- but if you have arthritis and you find that avoiding nightshades makes you feel  better -- then that's what you should do.

The green peppers are blooming and bearing . . .

The jalapenos are hotter than usual . . .

And this one purple/yellow/orange tomato whose name I don't know fascinates me with its strange markings.

It's the purple of an eggplant . . .

The tomatoes are medium-small and mild-flavored--tasty if not as good as a Cherokee Purple. . .

Some of them really look like planets.

The Japanese eggplants seem determined to go on producing.

All of these plants would no doubt have done even better with larger pots but I've fed them monthly and watered them daily--sometimes twice daily--which is something they wouldn't have gotten down in the garden.

I have plans for expanding my porch domain next year . . .