Wednesday, June 30, 2021

On Vacation--Of Sorts

Josie is at the beach with her mom and her mom's family and I am using this week as a kind of vacation--sleeping late, puttering around outside, reading lots of books, and dabbling away at the watercolor.

 It feels good.


Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Warning for Email Subscribers

Blogger tells me that the follow by email option is going away as of July. If you've been receiving a daily email from this blog, alas, no more.

It's not the end of the world. Just add Vicki Lane Mysteries  to your bookmarks or desktop and click on it whenever you need to see flowers or mountains or Josie or whatever is on my mind.


I  hope you keep coming round.


Monday, June 28, 2021

Not Not-Dave's Chicks


This is Not-Dave. She is sitting on some stolen chicks. She looks a lot like her mother Dave (Josie did the naming.)  Dave is  part Banty hen and she raises a gang of chicks almost every year. Dave refuses to stay in the chicken coop and generally makes a nest amid the hay. Which is probably where she was when I took these pictures of Not-Dave.


Evidently two eggs hatched before the rest. And Not-Dave has the chicks while Dave continues to sit on the rest of the eggs. 

Not-Dave seems very happy as a foster mother. Who knows, some of the eggs Dave is sitting on may have come from Not-Dave--it's not unusual for hens to share a nest.

And below is Buck-Buck (Josie again.) He is the putative father but is not especially involved in chick-raising.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

The Hollow Land by Jane Gardam

"The sun's well up now and I never saw such a morning. Coming up to Cautley Spout the waterfall's hanging like a white thread far down the end of the dale--and closer in there's a red fox running in the bracken and looking quick and angry at all the henhouses still shut up in the yard of old Hannah's white fqrm where she went when her husband, Tatton, got overexcited living in a signal box when trains came back, (But he's well looked after now.) 

"Hannah's kitchen window is steamed over, so she's up. There's a spire of blue smoke going up from her chimney--a blue thread going up like the white waterfall coming down.  '

 The quiet beauty of this book kind of snuck up on me.  Set in very rural Cumbria, a place where the mines have played out and farming is the occupation of the inhabitants who haven't moved away, the book is a collection of stories/vignettes about the rural community and a family from London who rent an old farmhouse as a vacation getaway. 

As the city folk and country folk learn each others' ways, the children of the London family become more and more adapted to the local ways, as, indeed, do their parents. 

It's a pleasantly quiet series of events, spanning many years--and the epitome of a comfort read for troubled times. Then too, I saw so many parallels with our own experience in moving from the suburbs of Tampa to very rural Madison County. 

But it's the beauty of the descriptions that will send me back to read it again, as well as sending me in search of more of Gardam's work. Old Filth, I think, will be the next.

Highly recommended.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Podcast-Part 2

The second part of the podcast about the Massacre is up now  HEREI was pleased that they chose to end with my reading from the prologue of Crows.

If you missed the first part, find it OVER HERE.


Thursday, June 24, 2021

Laroes to Catch Meddlers--At Last

At some point in the distant past, I may have talked here about my curiosity as to the origin of a phrase my Alabama grandmother used when I was overly inquisitive. As in: "What's in the box?" I might ask and if she didn't want to tell me she'd say "Laroes to catch meddlers."

I got the intent of what she was saying but I never saw the words spelled out and never heard the phrase used by anyone else. 

When the internet came into being, I began to search for this phrase and ran into the word medlar which led me down a number of rabbit holes and made me imagine that a laroe might be a kind of net to catch the falling fruit. 

Too complicated. An internet search now reveals that laroes or lay rows derive from layovers--a pit trap with branches laid over it. And meddlers aren't bletted fruit but nosy little girls (or others.) The saying is tagged as chiefly southern. The article is a good read  HERE.

I think I'll start using this phrase so as to give Josie something ponder in her later life.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Talking About a Revolution . . .

I've been asked to speak to a local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution about And the Crows Took Their Eyes and have been struck by how appropriate the book is to their interests.  

In my research I found that many Confederates thought of their cause as a second American Revolution--fighting against what they saw as tyranny. Indeed, one newspaper article told of Southern women cutting up for bandages the linen sheets, spun and woven  by their great-grandmothers--"the women of one revolution, thus, as it were, coming up to the help of the women of another, even as the memory of the patriotism of the women of the past causes to glow with increased ardor that of the women of the present."

The people of Shelton Laurel saw it differently. Judy Shelton says, "They say Grandpap Roderick was a big, red-headed man, six foot tall and two hundred pounds. He had fought in the battle of King's Mountain to set the States free of the king of England, and it was with a land grant on account of what he'd done in that war that he took up this place right here. . .

". . . This is holy ground to most of us. Over the years the old folks has handed down a love of the land that almost passes the love of God, though I'd not say that to anyone else.  Ever one of my young uns, one of the first things I do, soon as I'm outten childbed, is to put their little bare feet to the dirt, same as my mama done me, and tell them that the land is their birthright, to have and to hold."

At one point in the book, Judy encounters the wife of the colonel commanding the 64th Regiment NC State Troops (Confederate) and she says this: "They call us traitors and home-grown Yankees . . .but I reckon my grandpap, him that fought agin the king, would say it was you and your husband the colonel and all these other Rebs what is the traitors. And all so you rich folk can hold on to your slaves."

One man's revolution is another's insurrection. And the winners write the histories.


Monday, June 21, 2021

Summer Solstice, Facts of Farm Life, and a Photo Grab Bag

Cloudy mornings have prevented me from getting a near-solstice sunrise. In any event, the sun rises so far to the north that it's hard to get a clear shot from the porch.

But the Wheel turns and changes are afoot. Our girl will be going to day camp soon and after that, pre-school. 

Speaking of Josie, on Saturday John and Justin 'processed' the current crop of freezer chickens. I was concerned about her reaction but evidently she and Claui went for a walk and had a talk about the difference between the chickens we keep for eggs and the broiler chicks we raise for the freezer.  Once she'd been assured that Dave and Not-Dave and the rooster Buc-Buc were safe, she was okay with the whole idea. 

The talk, Claui said, turned to biology--egg laying versus live births and beyond. And then, since they were on the subject, Claui asked Josie which did she think came first--the chicken or the egg?

Josie had the answer--she was sure that the nest came first.


Sunday, June 20, 2021

If Josie Were God . . .

If Josie were God, we'd all wear fancy clothes and have to put up with being moved around suddenly for no apparent reason.

I wish I could hear what she's saying. She doesn't like it if I ask her--it breaks the fantasy. In this video, it appears one king is checking out various ladies and then chatting with another king.

The castle people continue to be a source of delight.

Saturday, June 19, 2021


As you can hardly help being aware, today is Juneteenth--long celebrated by the Black community in remembrance of the day news of Emancipation came to Texas--two and a half years overdue. Now, in a rare show of bi-partisanship, Juneteenth has become a national holiday. 

I applaud this action--at the same time realizing that it does nothing to address the ongoing indignities and injustices suffered by most, if not all, Black Americans. This new holiday could be the beginning of a national exploration of the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. Or it could be co-opted into cookouts and white sales. 

And while the Right pats itself on the back for signing on to this holiday, they will continue to demand silence in schools about racial injustice. 

It's not an acceptable tradeoff. 

There's an excellent essay on the subject HERE, by 

Friday, June 18, 2021

Clouded View

As a part of catching up with general maintenance that I'd let slide during the past year, I made an appointment with a new eye doctor. My previous guy retired so I picked out a group  nearer to us. I don't wear prescription glasses, but use over-the-counter readers for close work. After cataract surgery and a lens implant five years ago, my vision has been not perfect but quite adequate for my needs. Lately though I've noticed blurring and  having to squint to read some text.

After the routine tests for glaucoma and macular degeneration (I don't have either, thank goodness,) the doctor told me that the implanted lens has a film growing over it. She said it happens in about fifty percent of implants and is easily dealt with by laser surgery. 

I'm not thrilled but it could certainly be worse. The doctor said the cataracts in the other eye could wait a bit--but I know that's something in the future,

Then she talked about Dry Eye--which I've had in the past but it had seemed to be better. She begged to differ and suggested warm packs on my eyes four times a day and some prescription eyedrops.

Okay, I said and they called in the prescription to the grocery store that was going to be a stop on the way home.

When I asked for the prescription, the pharmacist told me that for a 90 day supply--which was what the doctor had ordered, the bill would be $2,ooo. Did I still want the eyedrops?

Uh, no. I have Medicare and a Blue Cross Supplement but I don't have coverage for prescription drugs. I think I'll go with the warm packs and some OTC drops and see what happens.

I remember being shocked at the price of the eyedrops I had to use after the cataract surgery. No doubt there'll be something equally outrageous to accompany the laser surgery to clean off the implant.

The thing is, I have a real feeling that my friends in Canada, France, and the UK wouldn't be paying this exorbitant price.

Big Pharma is a disgrace.  These particular eyedrops aren't critical to me at the moment--not like insulin and other meds that folks depend on to live. 

But the Right's fear of the bogeyman Socialism will ensure that Big Pharma continues to rake in profits while ordinary people suffer and die. 



Wednesday, June 16, 2021



  A few weeks ago, Joe Kendrick of WNCW and Southern Songs and Stories came out and interviewed me and two others for a podcast about the Shelton Laurel Massacre. The other two, Sheila Kay Adams and Taylor Barnhill, did a radio show some years back that had a segment on the Massacre, and bits of that old show are included in the podcast. Sheila Kay is a noted ballad singer, banjo picker, novelist, story teller, and her memories and family stories go way  back.

As Joe directed our conversation, he was attempting to show the relevance and the uncomfortable parallels between the political climate during the Civil War and today's uneasy and undeclared uncivil war. It's a subject that was on my mind during the writing of Crows.

Go  HERE for more information and for a link to Part 1 of the podcast. Along with some interesting Madison County history, there's some very nice old time music. If you enjoyed it, a LIKE  and  a comment would be appreciated. 


Tuesday, June 15, 2021

In Progress

I've had this picture of Josie at the river as the wallpaper on my laptop for months now.  Finally, I decided to brave up and try to paint it.

It's not done--Josie needs a face but it's so tiny I've already messed it up a bit. Also, I forgot to leave some areas of white in the river.  I'll probably fiddle with it a bit more and then try again, maybe on a larger piece of paper. 

Always something to learn...


Monday, June 14, 2021

Josie's Busy Social Life

On Friday I had another playdate with a different little girl. She is almost three and much younger than me but we had a good time. Louise brought her over and Louise is very good at playing. She can get down on the floor like Meema can't.

We played in The Room with my stuffies.

I shared Octalia and then I showed my new friend how to jump on the bed.

It was a short playdate because after lunch I went to visit the place I will be going to school in August. 

And after that, we all went to dinner at BobAGuy and Sue's house. I was the only kid there and I got to play with some neat stuff. Then Mama and Meema and I went home because I was Worn Out from my Very Busy Day.

I think there will be more and more busy days. I will be ready.