Thursday, January 20, 2022

The Warmth of Other Suns

A compelling and necessary read, this narrative- enhanced documentation of The Great Migration that, between 1915 to 1970, saw almost six million Black citizens leave the South in search of greater freedom.

The book came out twelve years ago, (at a time I was reading almost nothing new due to writing deadlines) and was a huge best seller and award winner--all well deserved. I'm embarrassed to just now be reading it.

The terrible slavery-like peonage of Black sharecroppers, the routine humiliations of Black folk, the inadequate educational opportunities, and the ever-present threat of lynching are shown through the day-to-day experiences of three who left, and the reality of Jim Crow comes to heart-breaking life.

As one who lived through segregation, I found this book forced me to confront my own blindness to and acceptance of the injustice all around me at the time. I was young--by the time I went to college and the Civil Rights Movement was well underway, I began to realize the terrible truth. But not to the extent that this book has revealed it. 

Lived experiences, carefully told with an incredible attention to the details of everyday life, explain so much about the injustice still plaguing our country, even as the Republican party plots and plans to effectively disenfranchise many Black voters.

A necessary book. 

James Baldwin, writing during the Migration, put it well: "I can conceive of no Negro native to this country who has not, by the age pf puberty, been irreparably scarred by the condition of his life...

The wonder is not that so many are ruined but that so many survive."

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Hi/Lo Tech Solution to Cold Sheets

We seem to have come through the worst of it--I'm writing this Monday morning. Power is still on, but folks are being asked not to travel due to uncleared roads and the possibility of black ice.

That's fine with me; I'm not going anywhere. A good day to mess with watercolor.

This thingy pictured below is a buckwheat?) filled heating pad my friend Sue made for me years ago to help with my occasional back pain. You stick it in the microwave (high tech) for about four minutes and it holds the heat for quite a long time. Great for an aching back.

It also serves as a low tech warmer for icy sheets. I pop it between the sheets while I shower and when I get in bed, it's deliciously warm. Then I shove it down to the foot of the bed where it warms my toes. 

Small pleasures!


Monday, January 17, 2022

New from the New Shop

As Josie no longer sleeps in her little bed and keeping her many toys away from Jenny is difficult, I asked John to make a toy chest to go at the foot of the bed.  I love the way it turned out! (My color choices--John likes the blue but is tactfully silent re the interior red.)

It will also be a handy place to sit and put on my socks. Or gaze out the window.

Safely stowed and awaiting Josie. I look forward to hearing her reaction. She knew I was getting rid of the bed but hasn't seen this new addition.

I look forward to reclaiming some of my bookshelf

Yes, we have snow. I'm writing this around noon on Sunday and, though it's stopped for the moment, there is said to be more on the way. 

Jenny is reluctant to leave the porch (though later she and Bob went with John to feed the chickens and she had a great frolic.


Saturday, January 15, 2022

Four Brown Hounds

Jenny is the latest incarnation of my favorite sort of dog--a reddish-brown, flop-eared hound. 

Her long legs have a good bit of white on them and she's quite a bit taller than Willa, her immediate predecessor. (below) 

Willa was a Mountain Feist and when she had to be put down due to kidney failure, I took my time about looking for another dog. It's foolish to think you can find a duplicate of a much- loved pet--I suspect even clones have differences. But when I finally was ready, I looked for a similar type. And as fate would have it, Jenny has turned out to be much like Willa in temperament and quirks. I find myself calling her Willa now and then. 

William was another brown hound--or part hound. We suspect Dachshund (hound) and Chihuahua (not hound) were the major contributors to his heritage. His personality lacked the independent, cat-like streak that is strong in hounds. In short (which he was,) he was a bit of a suck-up. He was the inspiration for James in the Goodweather books

And there was Maggie, my amber-eyed Mountain Cur, prototype of Elizabeth Goodweather's Molly. Long gone and still missed, something of her lives on too. And when I'm not calling Jenny Willa, I sometimes call her Maggie.

NOTE: The forecast winter storm may leave us without internet. So if I don't post tomorrow, that's why.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Josie Does Art and Other Stuff

When I spend the day with Meema, the first thing I like to do (after pancakes) is to paint.

I tried some new things--a purple outline with purple lines across it. Then I very carefully painted yellow between the lines.

Meema is painting leaves. 

Here is some of my work. The purple and yellow shapes are aliens. That is me Josie in green talking to the alien. There is a sun. 

When we had painted enough, we played the Ladybug Game. It is fun. 

I can read the cards that say Go Ahead 4 or Go Back 2. You have to get past the ants and the preying mantises to win. Also you collect aphids along the way. I got 14.

We played three games and I won all three. Meema did not win any. But she didn't mind.

Also I worked in a workbook. I am good at doing the problems. I go very fast. We did at least ten pages. It is time for a new workbook, I think.


Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Bloody Bread

When a friend of mine from high school days posted this on Facebook, I was intrigued. And since I had a half a bottle of Bloody Mary mix left over from Christmas, I decided this would be a good thing to do with it. (I'm quite fond of Bloodies as a midday drink but to partake of same other than on a holiday seems wrong. Like eggnog in July.)

So, Bloody mix (Mr. and Mrs. T Original) instead of tomato juice and a good bit of oregano stirred into the dough which I kneaded rather than pulled. I did venture a bar or two of "My mama done tole me," but I can't carry a tune and don't know all the words. Still, the altered recipe produced a tasty bread, mildly reminiscent of pizza. 

It slices beautifully and makes nice toast. We had it for supper with Cream of Spinach and Onion soup, along with a salad.

And I used a slice the next morning for Egg in a Hole.

Thanks, Sandy N.! I think your mother would approve.


Monday, January 10, 2022


This was meant to be Tuesday's post, but I clicked the wrong thing. So it goes.

A wonderfully imagined and beautifully written account of Shakespeare's family--his wife and three children, his parents, his in-laws.  O'Farrell's deft touch with research brings the past to vivid life and gives us an intriguing and powerful character in Agnes (aka Anne) Hathaway, Shakespeare's enigmatic wife, mother of the doomed Hamnet.

Though I studied Shakespeare in college in multiple classes, all I remember of his personal life was that he was the son of a glover-- a man who had once been respected but had suffered reverses. That he had married Anne Hathaway, a woman older than he, that their first child was born suspiciously early, that Anne then had twins, a boy and a girl, and that the boy-- Hamnet-- died young. And that Shakespeare seems to have spent most of his time in London, involved, apparently, with a Dark Lady and, possibly, a young man. 

I knew that Anne Hathaway's cottage still stands in Stratford-on-Avon, a magnet for tourists. And that Anne was left the second-best bed in the bard's will--was that a slight or what?  

I was intrigued to see the gorgeous tapestry O'Farrell wove, based on these few facts. Of course, there are Shakespeare's plays and poems but, aside from a few sly references to his work, for the most part this is about the family and their life in Stratford-on-Avon.

The house pictures above (isn't Google marvelous) is where Shakespeare grew up. It's really two houses--a narrow addition on the right is where Will and his bride lived after their hasty marriage. O'Farrell brings the reader into the everyday life of the time--from housekeeping to childbirth to the treatment of illness. 

Agnes/Anne is like a wild thing, tethered by her love for her children and her husband. As the tapestry unfolds and Will goes to London, his eventual success enables him to buy his wife a house of her own in Stratford. (And this too is still extant, visited by tourists in droves.)

I loved the book and found the author's suppositions not only believable but somehow inevitable. The unforgettable characters live and breathe and love in a time far removed from ours, yet they seem strangely familiar. 

As I neared the end on the book, I kept putting it down, reluctant to leave this richly patterned world. When at last I finished it, I found myself wondering about the possibility of a sequel.

And the second-best bed thing is explained quite satisfactorily.