Sunday, January 31, 2021

The LIttle Amaryllis That Could

Since before Christmas, these two bulbs have been blooming mightily. Three stems have come and gone, one with an unusual six flowers instead of the usual four. And now another is opening is still another is on its way.

With thanks to Bill and Nancy (Claui's folks) for this gift that keeps on giving--I only wish I were this prolific!


Saturday, January 30, 2021

Josie and Hamsie Get Ready for Broadway


Hamsie and I are singing together in a video. You can see it  Here

And, I am dressing Hamsie up with a diamond star and a cape.

(The cape is really my napkin but Hamsie doesn't care.)

Also I built a tower 

and a castle for my castle people. 

They liked it a lot. But then it got knocked down and there was a Big Mess.  Meema got fussy and said How am I supposed to walk through here? And then we picked things up.

I was very Polite and said Yes, Meema dear. And she said Thank you, Josephine dear. 

We are both Polite.


Friday, January 29, 2021

If You Don't Like the Weather. . .

We went from a balmy near sixty a few days ago . . .

to a light snow and a day in the low thirties.

Fickle, fickle weather.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Waltz Me to the End of Time --repost


That? That piece of sheet music came from Miss Annie's house. After she passed away back in '65, the property went to a nephew who lived in Alabama. He came and  spent a few days going through her things, packing up what he wanted -- there was the prettiest little writing desk -- and then he had some dealer come in and take away the rest of it so they could put the house on the market. 

 The nephew was named Charles, if I remember right, and he was real nice.  I asked if I could have that music to remember her by and he told me I was welcome to it. He let me take some of her books too. He said he'd never known his aunt and had been surprised to get the lawyer's letter saying he'd inherited her property. He asked me all kinds of questions about Miss Annie and I told him what I could.
Miss Annie was  the sweetest old lady you ever saw and when I was growing up I loved to go visit her. We would sit in the parlor and have what she called cambric tea --  mostly warm milk with a little tea to color it -- and fresh-baked ginger cookies and sometimes  she would play her old-fashioned music box for me. How I loved to hear that funny, faraway sound . . .  

Oh, at first she seemed older than the hills to me -- though I don't believe she was much over seventy when she passed. She was white-haired and stooped over and wrinkled up like one of those apple dolls they used to make. But her eyes were bright and when I'd been around her a bit, it always seemed as if  there was a girl my age hiding inside that old body. 

Miss Annie had the merriest laugh . . . like silver bells ringing.  And I could see from the photograph of her on the mantlepiece that she'd been a beauty when she was young -- tall and willowy with light hair done up in one of those pompadours they wore back then.  There was a photograph of a handsome young man in an old fashioned uniform there too and she kept the two kind of turned to face each other. 

When I asked her who he was, she told me that his name was Darby C. Bell  and that he was the love of her life. . .  they had been engaged when he went off to fight in World War I -- and he had died in France.

I didn't know what to say...I think I was afraid she might start crying. But she seemed not to mind talking about him and she showed me her engagement ring  -- a round amethyst circled with pearls. She said her fingers had grown so knobbly with arthritis that she couldn't get it on anymore so she wore it on a chain around her neck and inside her dress. 'Next to my heart,' she said.


When I went home that evening, I asked my mother why Miss Annie had never married.  Mama smiled.  'You're not the first to wonder. According to your grandma, Annie could have had her pick of fellas after her sweetheart died. But she was independent -- Darby had that house built before he went off to war and his will left it to her along with enough money that she didn't have to marry. 

'It was a puzzle to everyone as the years went by -- your grandma said all the neighbors thought at first Annie was mourning Darby and after a spell, she' d have enough of loneliness and say yes to one of the men that was after her.  But the funny thing was that she never seemed really to mourn, not really. She was always as bright and cheerful as she is now. And every night  in summer, when the windows were open,  they'd hear the sound of that music box. . .

'I guess some folks mourn differently than others,' Mama said and sent me to wash my hands and set the table.

After supper that night,  I recalled that I'd left one of my school books at Miss Annie's.  Mama and Daddy and  Tommy were watching Hogan's Heroes when I slipped out of the house into the chill November air.  I hurried across the road and up to Miss Annie's porch where a lamp still burned in the window. I just hoped she wasn't getting ready for bed. 

I was about to knock on the door when I heard the faint sound of the music box and Miss Annie's silvery laugh. Puzzled, I stepped to the window and looked through a slit in the Venetian blind.

I could hear the music more clearly now -- a lilting waltz -- and suddenly Miss Annie came into view --  twirling slowly about the parlor floor. Her right arm was stretched out to the side and her left was bent up as if her hand rested on the shoulder of an invisible partner.

It was so silly . . . and so heartbreaking -- this bent over old woman waltzing with an imaginary partner.  Somewhere between tears and laughter, I watched . . .

And as Miss Annie circled in front of the lamp at the window, I could see her shadow on the opposite wall . . . 

Straight and willowy and graceful, Miss Annie's shadow waltzed in the arms of  the shadow of a tall young man. And the music played on and on . . .


Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Bernie at the Barnard Bridge

 I don't know whom to credit for the picture or the photoshop but I love it. 

This is the old brick building across the bridge where old guys often hang out. I love seeing Bernie there.

Meanwhile, I'm excited about the new directions the administration is taking--and also about the news that Biden's approval rating is, at the moment, higher than that other person's ever was.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Looking Ahead


Spring. . .garden . . .maybe a haircut . . . (vaccinated)friends to dinner . . .

We won't be having our usual Easter party--can't trust that it would be safe -- and I won't be teaching anywhere in person in '21.

Still, things are looking up. Claui got her second shot yesterday; we are scheduled for ours in a few weeks. Feeling optimistic. . .

Monday, January 25, 2021

The Kittehs Are Not Amused


What now, Cory? 

 There's a talking rodent on the bed, Angeline! And it jiggles!

I'm outta here.

Hmm. It does, indeed, jiggle and talk.

All it says is KittyKittyKitty. 

As if. 
This looks like The Woman's idea of a joke.

I prefer my  rodents like Big Bun here--soft and squishy and quiet.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

A Liberal/Progressive's Credo

Yesterday on Facebook a spirited discussion broke out in the comments following one of my posts. A FB friend of mine--one of the few non-liberals-- was bemoaning the loss of jobs that would follow the cancellation of the building of the wall and the Keystone pipeline. Quite a lot of mostly polite back and forth ensued and at some point she said she was just trying to understand how liberals thought.

Several of my liberal friends were eloquent in their replies but it was my son Ethan who really expressed just what I feel. So, with his permission, I'm copying his words. (Sorry I couldn't get rid of the white background.)

If you want to understand liberal thinking, here's one example:

Betsy DeVos. Her credentials for becoming Secretary of Education were twofold. One, she was an opponent of public schooling, which is no doubt related to the general Republican goal of cutting off funding for works that serve the public good, so that they can then argue for privatization of those works. And there's a lot of money in privatization. (See also Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who got his post for making large campaign donations and immediately started to make the Post Office more inefficient -- right around an election in which it looked like a lot of people would mail in their votes. The fact that this also impacted people shipping things for Christmas? Not good for *the people*, but hey, it allows Republicans to make the argument that the Post Office should be privatized so someone can make more money off it.)

Her other credential was being money. Rich family. Friends of a certain form of Protestant Christian -- and I say a "certain form" because it has to be the kind of Protestant who is okay with killing people for money. Enter her brother Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater USA, a private military corporation -- the euphemism for "mercenary company". Blackwater had to change its name for PR reasons a couple of years after 2007. What happened in 2007? Well, Blackwater employees opened fire on a group of Iraqi civilians, killing 17 Iraqi civilians and wounded 20 others. Four of the mercenaries involved with, I stress again, killing civilians, were convicted in federal court for a mix of murder and manslaughter charges.

In his term of office, Donald J. Trump pardoned all four men.

Liberal thinking is looking at a scenario like that and following the money. Pardoning those men for, once again, killing civilians, kept our one-term president in the good graces of the very wealthy Prince family, who in turn stood to be in the good graces of wealthy charter schools who would receive more federal funding due to having a "friend" in the Cabinet.

If you don't see corruption in that kind of setup -- and it is only one of the many things going on here, including the even more obvious decisions to pursue profit over environmental good -- I submit that you aren't looking because you don't want to see it.

I suppose another way of describing a section of liberal thought is that I don't trust rich people in much the same way that many conservatives don't trust the government. To be rich is to be isolated from consequence -- to always be bailed out, or to have the money to pay the fine or the lawyers. With sufficient money, fines are just the "price tag" of doing things. Driving drunk and speeding? That'll cost you a bit of pocket change. Dumping toxins into a river? Sure, we'll work the fines into our profit forecasts. You see this again and again and again. Remember the "affluenza" kid?

This general immunity to consequences that the rest of us have to live with doesn't corrupt every rich person -- some are decent people -- but it corrupts a lot of them. Especially those who inherited their wealth. The whole "the election was stolen/I won't concede" narrative is not based on evidence, as many a court has proven, but on the whims of a guy who was born too rich and influential to be told "No, you can't have that" as often as the rest of us were. Rich folks, especially those born to riches, don't have to make concessions -- you still have homophobes like Erik Prince and racists and Islamophobes of all stripes because they didn't have to study in public schools next to people different than them, or work a low-paying job next to people different than them. And then they take that "I'm used to getting my way" money, and they apply it to government, and the government starts working for them and not for the ordinary citizen. If it weren't for greed, 2020 probably would have gone differently. The local pieces of trash that we're pretty glad to be rid of here in Georgia, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, got to learn how dangerous the COVID-19 virus ahead of the rest of us -- and they quietly started buying up stock in companies that produced PPE. Can you imagine what it would have been like we'd had people in power who were instead concerned with the welfare of the American public?

So you have a postmaster general destroying the Post Office from the inside, a Justice Department more concerned with personal vendettas than stopping corruption, an Education Secretary who never set foot in a public school until she had the job... boy, I could go on. And just to add another area of hypocrisy to this layer cake, don't forget that many of these wealthy folks do their best to project the image that wealth is a sign of virtue and hard work, and that poverty is a sign of laziness -- which is why social services are labeled as "a handout", money that was unearned, but the estate tax is "tyranny." (I've dealt with someone in the family who was very adamant that people become lazy if you just give them money, and you shouldn't do that... but, funnily enough, he was totally okay with the idea of inheriting money from rich relatives. Double standard much?)

Basically, one bastion of "liberal thought" is that if you worry about corruption and hypocrisy in the government -- worry about where the money is coming from. And it got very easy to see in the last four years, with an administration that felt absolutely no shame about favoring wealthy friends and punishing everybody else. The amount of taxpayer dollars directed to fund weekly golfing trips alone was ridiculous, and that stopped being something to talk about just because new examples kept cropping up.

There are absolutely some dirty players in the Democratic ranks, and we'd love to be rid of them. But the last four years did a great job of proving that "there are bad players on both sides" does not mean "there are equal numbers of equally bad players on both sides."

 I'm more progressive than anything else because it seems to be the stance that values most of the things I value -- the environment, arts, freedom of speech and religion, rights and assistance for marginalized people (and even understanding what it is to be marginalized), education, war, all kinds of topics. Conservativism by definition is about conserving things the way they are -- and really, too many things really still need to change for the betterment of our planet.

That's my boy. I'm proud of him.


Saturday, January 23, 2021

Struggling with Technology

I am on a new laptop. The old one has multiple issues but I've been babying it along, waiting for the day I could go into a store, pick out a replacement, and turn it over to the Geek Squad to set up, as I've done in the past.

Alas, the battery/charger setup was growing more and more  temperamental-sometimes refusing to charge at all--and I have Zoom classes beginning next week. Plus I'm in the middle of editing a novel for a client. So I ordered online and now am in the throes of set up. My files are all in Dropbox so I can access them; I've got email and Facebook and Blogger working and down loaded some photos from my camera--now to transfer my email contacts. I know there's a way but I haven't  gotten there yet. 

Technology is not my strong point. Nevertheless, I will endeavor to persevere.

Update: Yikes! The email contacts transferred themselves. As if by magic!


Friday, January 22, 2021

Josie Meets Princess Sunflower and Makes Blueberry Buckle

Meema and I made Blueberry Buckle. I helped a lot.

First I had to grease the pan so  the buckle wouldn't stick. I am good at this job. I also sneak little pieces of butter to eat.

I helped stir the batter then Meema poured it in the pan. Then I put blueberries all over. Meema mixed up sugar and butter and flour and cinnamon for a crumbly topping and we put it i the oven to bake.  

Then Meema said there was another surprise for me from Aunt Fay.

It was a beautiful Castle Lady carrying a bunch of sunflowers!

I love her very much!

Her name is Princess Sunflower and I introduced her to the others. They were happy to meet her.

Then the timer dinged and I left her to dance with the other Castle People. Because it was time to eat Blueberry Buckle. It was very good and we packed up some for me to take home for my mama and daddy.  And later I had some more.

The End. Josie.


Thursday, January 21, 2021

The Hill We Climb


I thought that the inauguration hit all the right notes, and none more so than this amazing poem, beautifully delivered by Amanda Gorman. Watch it HERE.

“The Hill We Climb”

Amanda Gorman

When day comes we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade? The loss we carry, a sea we must wade. We’ve braved the belly of the beast, we’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace and the norms and notions of what just is, isn’t always justice. And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it, somehow we do it, somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken but simply unfinished.

We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one. And, yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect, we are striving to forge a union with purpose, to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.

So we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside. We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another, we seek harm to none and harmony for all.

Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true: that even as we grieved, we grew, even as we hurt, we hoped, that even as we tired, we tried, that we’ll forever be tied together victorious, not because we will never again know defeat but because we will never again sow division.

Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and no one should make them afraid. If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in in all of the bridges we’ve made.

That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb if only we dare it because being American is more than a pride we inherit, it’s the past we step into and how we repair it. We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it. That would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy, and this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can periodically be delayed, but it can never be permanently defeated.

In this truth, in this faith, we trust, for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us, this is the era of just redemption we feared in its inception we did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour but within it we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves, so while once we asked how can we possibly prevail over catastrophe, now we assert how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us.

We will not march back to what was but move to what shall be, a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free, we will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation, our blunders become their burden. But one thing is certain: if we merge mercy with might and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.

So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left, with every breath from my bronze, pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one, we will rise from the golden hills of the West, we will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution, we will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states, we will rise from the sunbaked South, we will rebuild, reconcile, and recover in every known nook of our nation in every corner called our country our people diverse and beautiful will emerge battered and beautiful, when the day comes we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid, the new dawn blooms as we free it, for there is always light if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

A New Day Dawning for Our Country

 And the end of an error. 

May our new president tackle the giant mess left by his predecessor, strengthened by the  knowledge that the majority of the country supports him and is happy to see the last of the whiny creature and his toadies that have defiled the people's White House for too long. 

May Congress call on their better angels and come together to help the country recover from the many ills that beset it. 

May we all seek Truth . . . and Reconciliation.

So might it be.


Monday, January 18, 2021

What Were They Thinking?

I discovered this little booklet tucked inside an old cookbook. Frozen puff pastry has always been something I enjoy cooking with--we had Turkey Wellington for Thanksgiving and I still have a package of puff pastry in the freezer--so I leafed through, looking for inspiration. The elegant presentation on the cover led me to expect some high class gourmet fare.

Mile high  chicken pie? Count me in! But sweetbreads? Not something I've ever even tasted--nor seen for sale.  And what's in the rest of the directions--canned chicken a la king and canned carrots? Oh, my--this must be a recipe from the Fifties. I should have realized it wasn't for me anyway with only one clove of garlic.

The sausage and oyster croustades sounded interesting--then I saw that the sausage called for was canned Vienna sausage. Canned oysters aren't a deal breaker for me--if they're smoked oysters--but gravy from a package is.

I love looking through old cookbooks and seeing how tastes and skills change over the years.  My grandmother's recipes often involved gelatin and almost never garlic. She cooked from scratch for the most part. And vegetables were cooked into submission. My mother's repertoire was pretty daring for the Fifties--Coq au Vin! Bouef a la Mode! Lasagne! (light on the garlic though.) But even she couldn't escape the canned cream of mushroom soup that figured in many a casserole.

Today, I think, there's a good emphasis of fresh vegetables--kale, anyone? I find myself tossing it into many a dish. The pandemic has given lots a folks a renewed interest in cooking. and the internet puts a myriad of recipes--ethic and otherwise--at our fingertips.

I think I'll look there for something ethnic to do with that package of puff pastry in the freezer. 


Sunday, January 17, 2021

Mary Oliver Looks at Snow


Snow was falling,

so much like stars

filling the dark trees

that one could easily imagine

its reason for being was nothing more

than prettiness.

                                                                                                                     Mary Oliver