Friday, September 30, 2022

The Gold Watch


This photo is the Tomato Biscuit Gang--a writing group that grew out of a class I taught years ago. I have fond memories of that class--and of many others as well. My life has been greatly enriched by such as these.       

Most of you who read this blog are probably aware that I've been slowly stepping (pretty much the only way I step, these days) away from teaching commitments. There are several reasons--the ongoing pandemic and my grandmotherly responsibilities are part of it. Plus, as I near 80, there just isn't the energy I should be bringing to a class. 

Great Smokies Writing Program has been a constant in my teaching life for almost fifteen years. I've had the privilege of working with a wonderful assortment of writers, and I suspect I've learned as much from them as they have from me.

The new great Smokies Literary Review has an embarrassing amount of print dedicated to me on the occasion of my retirement. See HERE.

But wait, there's more! An INTERVIEW and a lovely bouquet of KIND WORDS from former students and colleagues. Really, those kind words are balm to a teacher's soul. 

Many thanks to all who had a hand in this--and to Tommy Hays who took a chance on an unknown many years ago.


Thursday, September 29, 2022

Lies My Teacher Told Me

An excellent, eye-opener of a book. From the truth about Columbus and the first Thanksgiving: popular myths propagated by elementary school pageants--remember those constuction paper Pilgrim hats and Indian headdresses? -- to US interference in sovereign nations to the invisibility of racism and any discussion of social class in American textbooks, Loewen covers the ground left untouched by standard texts.

Why have we been lied to so consistently?  Because, as one publisher put it, there's always the risk of being labeled a Marxist, if you talk about social class or racism. So, despite evidence to the contrary, children in the US are taught that everyone can succeed if they try hard enough, that Native American welcomed settlers, that slavery wasn't all that bad and certainly wasn't the cause of the Civil War (states' rights!)

I read this in my 'reading room' (waiting to pick up Josie) over a period of several days. And remembered how in my time at school we were invited to feel sorry for the poor kids in Russia who were taught nothing but propaganda. 

Hmm. As it turns out, so were we.

And I'm afraid it's getting worse. Textbook publishers tend to want to please the largest number of people so they will leave out controversial bits that wouldn't make it past review boards in, say, Texas or Florida. 

The dumbing of America-- turning out unthinking, uncritical flag wavers who will enthusiastically vote against their own interests.

Really--READ THIS BOOK. You'll be enlightened and appalled.


Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Josie and Grumpy

Every afternoon late, Grumpy feeds the fish. Sometimes I help him, and we count to make sure they're all there.

It is not easy because they will not stay still. Also, sometimes they hide.

This is a good place to do gymnastics.

I showed Meema the sentence I can write.

It is my own sentence, and it says, "Bug out to Josie."

Meema wanted to know what it means, and I told her that it means what it says.


Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Monday, September 26, 2022

Two Books by Patrice Gopo

I met Patrice at the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival a few weeks ago. She's a marvelous presenter, full of infectious joy and that joy comes across in her writing.

The daughter of Jamaican immigrants--themselves the children of South African immigrants--she grew up in Alaska, one of a very few black faces in her school and community. Eventually she would marry a man from Zimbabwe and move to Charlotte--a city said to be 'good' for Black families.

Her book of essays is a beautiful testament to her struggle to find a place in a land that sees her as 'other.'

 She tells of her encounter in school with Huckleberry Finn and the over two hundred uses of the N-word. Each time she read the word, she says, "I though this must be what it's like to sit in a puddle of dirty water."   

"Years later I would learn that the book I read in high school is considered antiracist.  . . . A story meant to make a mockery of slavery. In tenth grade I retained none of this. All I remember is the longing to finish the unit and move on."

She writes feelingly of the spectrum of hair and the degrees of blackness, of children and of love and faith, of marriage and divorce. And the conundrum of home.

This is such a lovely book, and it invites the reader--and, I would think, especially the white reader, to consider things they may not have considered. It would be an especially good book for a book club.

But wait, there's more! Patrice has also written a lovely children's book about a little girl whose parents and grandparents come from different places around the world. It's
beautifully illustrated and, when I read it to Josie, it led to talk of where her family came from--Arkansas, South Carolina, Florida, Alabama . . .

I commend these two fine books to you!


Saturday, September 24, 2022

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Turning and Finding Balance

The equinox-- today the day and night are of equal length--and autumn truly begins. the land is weary with summer heat and ready to slip into a rejuvenating rest, after a display of color.

The seasons' turnings always seem rejuvenating to me--even now when we're headed to the darker half of the year 

Same as it ever was...same as it ever was...


Wednesday, September 21, 2022

More De-accessioning

Five more boxes of books went to the library for their book sale. And while I have more shelves to clear upstairs, I decided to do take a break from the books and address the problem of inherited china and glass ware--some inherited, some wedding presents.

I began with the Haviland china--some my maternal grandmother's and some my mother's. Mostly never used by any of us. Like the hot chocolate cup above--so pretty, so delicate--so 19th century.

I think I did use this butter dish back when I was milking and making my own butter. 

But really--pretty as all this stuff is, it doesn't suit our idiom--which is more heavy mugs and Blue Willow plates. Ditto, I expect for the boys and their wives. (Though they are welcome to speak up if I've misjudged them.) I'd be thrilled to sell this stuff and am keeping a photo and written record of what I've packed away--when I get a little forwarder with the work, I'll look into Etsy or other venues. . .

This figurine below was on the shelf with the Haviland. It's not Haviland--but Hirode (Japanese import stuff.)

Yes, it's pretty ghastly. But it was one of a pair that sat on the mantelpiece in my grandparents' bedroom and my grandfather always put a couple of rolled up dollar bills in the ladies' arms for me and my brother to find.  

Sweet memories. But I'll keep the memory and the picture and donate this couple somewhere.

This is what happens when you live in the same house for almost fifty years. Things accumulate...


Tuesday, September 20, 2022

At the Little Pond

As of now, we have eleven orange goldfish and four dark fish--stealth goldfish? Or bait fish aka shiners? I like them all.