Thursday, March 31, 2022

Me Again

When Meema picked me up from preschool, we got ice cream again! This time I got all vanilla. We sat in the car to eat it because it was Very Windy.

My Castle People like to climb in this funny plant.

Then they had a Procession with four ladies carrying Elsa.

I painted lots of pictures.

Meema drew a dog and I painted him. I added a sun that looks like a flower, and a flower, and some grass.

Also she drew a picture of Olivia for me to paint. We have a book about Olivia. She is a pig and sometimes she drives her mother crazy. But her mother loves her anyway.

Sometimes I drive Meema crazy. But she loves me anyway too.


Wednesday, March 30, 2022

A Dilemma

There's an interesting blog post HERE by another author who has written of another sad part of Madison County's history. (See the post for more details.)

He gives CROWS a nice review--very nice--but I was struck by one comment" "Still, several characters’ casual use of the N-word, while historically accurate to the time period and the Southern Appalachians, is still jarring. One character, in East Tennessee, a Quaker abolitionist involved in the Underground Railroad, reproves her sweetheart, telling him she “can’t abide that word.” 

"At the time, Democrats routinely referred to their adversaries as “black Republicans,” despite the fact that there were few slaves and fewer free people of color in the county. It is still jarring to hear the N-word used today in Madison County, where there are still few African Americans to be found. "

I think I understand--and I did agonize a bit over the use of that word (though not over 'Black Republican' as I was quoting from primary sources.) 

What's a writer to do when writing about a politically incorrect time? The war was horrible--and I wrote about it. Ditto the Massacre and the torture of the women. I put vulgar language into the speech of some of the characters, feeling that it represented the time and situation and characters. And I used the N-word--sparingly but as I thought the characters would have used it.

Balancing historical accuracy with modern sensibility isn't easy. And the fact that I'm White means that I can never truly understand what any given Black reader might feel on reading that word.

It's a dilemma.

Monday, March 28, 2022

The Ibis Trilogy

This trilogy was a rather daunting read, between the cast of (it seemed) thousands and the liberal use of other languages (not translated.) But it was compelling in that I learned so much about British Empire building and the Opium Wars.

The first book is set mostly in India where the British overlords have compelled farmers to grow poppies--sometimes to the exclusion of food--to fuel the lucrative opium trade with China.

A somewhat difficult read at times but worthwhile.

The succeeding books are set mostly in China and show how the Chinese government struggled to ban the sale of opium even as the British, in the name of Free Trade, used military force to keep the drug trade going.

That's a very simplistic takeaway. There are so many interesting characters--Hindu, Muslims, Parsees, Chinese, Malaysian, British, American-- and their paths interweave and tangle.  

I admit to skimming bits at time, wanting to get to the personal stories--the Parsee merchant with a family in India and a mistress and child in China, the Indian nobleman who is done out of his estate by sly maneuvers on the part of the British, the mulatto from Baltimore who 'passes' and becomes the secret lover of a British memsahib who only wants to save him from the sin of Onanism, and many others whose stories are equally interesting.

It's a very rich feast and can be overwhelming at times. But learning more about this time in history resonates today--as I see the pictures of the British Royals in their pristine white, gracing a former colony with their (not universally welcome) presence. 


Saturday, March 26, 2022

Book Club!

 I met with a book club in Weaverville yesterday and was delighted with the good company and interesting questions and observations. 

Since Crows came out in October 2020--at the height of the pandemic, I did no in-person stuff and only a limited number of Zoom appearances. Not good timing for introducing a book to the world.

Now, even though Covid is still a concern, I'm doing a bit more--the talk last Saturday, this book club, and I have several more in-person events on my schedule including (if nothing don't happen) the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival in Burnsville in September. That's a festival I've presented at several times and it was always a favorite. Fingers crossed that it happens.

As I told the book club, while I was disappointed in not being able to promote Crows more widely, I'm happy simply that it's out in the world--my love song and thank you note to the wonderful place I call home.



Friday, March 25, 2022

Cat vs. Dog

So, I'm relaxing on the bed, enjoying the sun when BAM!


The Idiot Bitch has jumped up and is trying to intimidate moi.

As if. A little growling and hissing and she backs off, not even giving me a chance to show her my claws.

The Woman speaks to her pretty sharply (though I have the situation completely under control, thankyouverymuch.)

Oh, my. The Idiot Bitch has some personal grooming to do. (Anything to save face.)

Dogs. What can I say? Thank goodness I was born a cat.


Thursday, March 24, 2022

At Random

I generally hate pictures of myself but am entranced by the regal setting from my talk in Hot Springs last Saturday.

Josie did this picture of her dad--whose does, indeed, have dark curly hair. Noticed that she has progressed to bodies and open mouths. Also polka dots on the clothing.

Left to right: Josie, her mama, and her daddy. Only daddy got a body and polka dots. And, it appears, elf shoes.


Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Josie's Special Treat

Cynthia is a friend of Meema's and she has a drugstore. Now her drugstore sells ice cream! And it is right on the way home from preschool. Monday was the first day they were selling ice cream and Meema and I stopped to get some! Meema says soon they will have other fancy things like floats and sundaes (whatever those are,) because Cynthia want it to be a real soda fountain like the one her daddy's drugstore had long ago.

But now there are TWELVE flavors of ice cream and I got to choose two. I chose vanilla (my favorite) and chocolate (my other favorite.) Meema got mint chocolate chip which is my daddy's favorite (I do not like it.)

We sat outside to eat our ice cream because Meema said that there was NO WAY I could eat it in the car.  That was fine with me.

I am glad it is on the way home from school. Meema is too and she said special treats like this are what grandparents are good for.

Maybe I will try other flavors next time.


Monday, March 21, 2022

A Sweet Memory


On Saturday a friend brought me this little apron. She had been helping with cleaning out the house where her neighbors Grace and Paul had lived for many years, (the house in fact, that Grace was born in,) and my friend hated to see this sweet little bit of Grace's life (tiny rick rack and fabric from, I think, the Forties) sent off to the thrift store. Knowing how I too loved Grace, she brought it to me.

Grace died in'08 and her husband Paul went not long after. Their house has sat empty for years, but now it has sold, and several good neighbors took on the Herculean task of clearing out the accumulation of stuff to make things easier for the new owners. 

Grace was such a loving soul -- she was one of the models for Miss Birdie. I still miss her--and am so happy to have this sweet memory. I'll likely hang it in the pantry, next to the feed sack towel I saved from my grandmother's kitchen.

Talismans . . .

Go HERE to see other posts about Paul and Grace.