Saturday, July 13, 2024

Little Worlds


Our neighbor and fellow longtime 'new person' has a new book out--the third in a trilogy about Madison County. Rob is known and celebrated as a photographer, but in this ambitious work, photography intertwines with fiction and memoir. 

Like many of us newcomers, Rob's attachment to the land is deep--and sometimes complicated. His photographs show his fascination with the residents, old and new. The excerpts from his journal detail his coming to terms with his place in this rural county. The fictional section of this trifecta is the imagined story of what comes next.

This story of an imagined future is one in which his descendants return to the long-abandoned farm, in search of safety in a world grown increasingly lawless. The refugees slowly find others like them and begin to learn how to survive in the mountains, and to build community (much as we 'new people' did back in the Seventies and Eighties.)

The future story is interlarded with photographs and excerpts from the journal that suggest similarities between the two times. And there is a generous section of Rob's award-winning photographs to close out the book

It was a fascinating and nostalgic read for me. While we certainly weren't hardcore survivalists, part of our rationale for moving here was to provide a safe haven for family should things get bad. Rob's story imagines just such a future.

You can learn more about Rob and his other books on his website.

His new book is available at Penland's in Marshall, Malaprop's in Asheville, and at the Asheville Art Museum

Friday, July 12, 2024

A Letter from My G G Grandmother


Written in 1917 by his grandmother to my maternal grandfather in response to his request for family history:

Dear Huborn,

Just a few lines to thank you for your invitation to visit you. There is nothing I would enjoy more if my health would admit. I know I would have a pleasant time with you and Ruby but as I grow older I feel the need of staying at home. My health is very bad this winter-----Now these records I am sending are to the best of my memory. I do not remember dates. Now if this is not satisfactory please let me know & excuse all errors.

                                With a heart full of love for you both, as ever,

                                       Grammother Northcutt

Your grandfather J.H. Northcutt was the son of W.M. Northcutt who came with his father J.W. Northcutt from South Carolina and settled in Butler Co., Ala. Do not remember the date. J.W. Northcutt was a Methodist preacher. Your great grandmother Northcutt was a Miss Nancy Morrz (?) of Ahoobuta, Miss. who died when your grandfather was born. Don't know her parents.

Your great grandfather Benjamin Mason came to Alabama with his father Peter Mason from Savannah, Georgia. Do not remember their dates.

Your great grandmother Mason was Miss Margaret Mancil. Came from South Carolina with her father William Mancil during the trouble with the Indians. Do not remember these dates.


As I was getting ready to post this, it occurred to me that possibly I was repeating myself (ah, old age!) And a quick search through this blog (now over 6K posts) told me that I'd already posted about this letter--and at considerably more length HERE

Too late to dream up another post . . . sorry.

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Her Many Moods


Tuesday morning's red sky warning.

Tuesday afternoon's drenching rain.

And Wednesday's clear and cooler weather.
Ahhhh. . . . .

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Yarn Crafts

Meema and I made God's Eyes on Monday. They are also called Ojos de Dios in Spanish. I am learning a little Spanish. This first one is for me with all my favorite colors. I picked out the colors and said which one went where. Meema did the winding and knot tying. She said the yarn was slippery and might be frustrating for me. She said it was frustrating for her.

The yarn was in beautiful bright colors and we made one for my mama and daddy, using their favorite colors with a purply pink at the center that is one of my favorite colors. 

The dark and light blue are Daddy's colors and the turquoise and green are Mama's colors. I know they will love it.

Grandma and Apa like oranges and reds so this one is for them.

Meema is going to look for some thicker yarn that will be easier for me to use. But we thought of something to do with the yarn scraps.

I drew a picture of a unicorn and an apple tree and painted it. Then I glued on yarn for his mane and tail and horn.

And also some yellow and orange yarn for the sun. 
Maybe we will do more crafts another day.


Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Recent Reads


Zadie Smith's Swing Time follows the lives of two mixed race English girls, both obsessed with dance. Tracey has the talent, making it to the chorus line of various shows; her friend, the protagonist and narrator of the book, becomes the personal assistant of a famous singer.

So much is explored in this book, which shifts from England to  West Africa, where the famous singer (white) is planning a school for girls. Misplaced philanthropy, diaspora tourism, families, friendship, careers, choices . . . it's an excellent, engaging read on important subjects. Highly recommended.


I'm a longtime fan of Harlan Coben's Myron Bolitar series. He writes terrific standalones too, like Stay Close. A soccer mom with a secret, a once-respected photographer, and a detective who can't let go of a very cold case are thrown together as the past threatens to become all too real.

Coben's characters are well drawn and his dialogue crackles. It's a fine, fun read that will keep you guessing. 


Monday, July 8, 2024

Looking East


Sunday, July 7, 2024

Time is Relative



We try, in accordance with Josie's folks and our own thoughts on the subject, to limit Josie's screen time. The established rule up here is video time at 1:00 and at 5:00, each preceded by her reading three books to me. Mostly, it works. Mainly because it gives Meema a break.

"What time is it?" is a question I hear quite a lot. She's still shaky with analog clocks for anything but the hour, so I encourage her to look at the digital clock on the stove.

Friday was long and hot, and the first What time is it? came at 10:45, according to my cell phone. We were in the dining room where she was messing with the Castle People and drawing, and I was reading.

She noodled about a few minutes then went to the kitchen.

"Meema, the clock on the stove says 1:00!"

"No, it doesn't. It's not even 11 yet."

"Give me your phone and I'll show you!"

She disappeared back into the kitchen, returning to show me her evidence, right there on my phone.                                                                                          

 Oh my goodness, Josephine! I find myself almost taken in by

 your clever ruse. 

But not quite.

Saturday, July 6, 2024

Potpourri from Friday

A fairy princess came to spend the day.

We checked out the two new fish that Renee A. gave us.  They are little but they aren't afraid of the big guys.

The little cattails are turning to fluff.

All the dogs love the fish food. Bailey and Bob steal it off the surface of the pond.

It was a very hot day. According to Wunderground weather it was 89 but felt like 98. But then we had some rain and by supper time it was 72. Ahhh!

It's always a good day when a fairy princess visits.


Friday, July 5, 2024


A good way to cool off in this hot weather.

The river is low, but the experienced guides know where to aim the rafts. 

The section these folks are embarking on can be pretty exciting in places, when there's more water.


Thursday, July 4, 2024

Taking a Page from Mrs. Alito's Book



Grim and perilous times . . . a Supreme Court bought and paid for, Big Money and Big Business set to have it all their own way. . . a nation in distress. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

A Musical and So Much More


Monday at Meema and Grumpy's.  While we waited for pancakes, I read my new Humpty Dumpty magazine.

I can read it all without having to ask Meema what a word is because now I know how to sound out words.                                                                                  

I put on a musical for Meema. It was about a princess in a castle. I made it up myself and I sang the whole thing.  The princess had to go up and down the stairs of the castle a lot.

There was a big finale and Meema clapped a long time. 

Next time, I think she should make a video of my musical.

I brought up three of my big dolls and they traded clothes with Margo and Dolly. Margo loved the fancy bell bottoms and made a fuss when she had to give them back. 

She is such a brat!

I made a house for some of the Castle People on the dining room table. This is the mama in her bedroom.

This is the living room. There is a pink toy and a long sofa and a houseplant.

This is he kitchen. The baskets are the pantry and the box is the cabinets. The two mugs are the refrigerator.

There are more rooms for the Daddy and the kids and there is a bathroom. Hamsie is there. He is being a giant stuffie.

I also did a little embroidery and read lots more books out loud and watched a video. 

On Wednesday I will go with Meema while she gets her hair cut. Then we will go to the library and get more books. I hope some kids will be there to play with. 

Last of all Meema will take me to my school for extra math from 4:30 t0 5:30. I am actually good at math, but this is a fun thing to do. There are crafts and stuff.

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

The Blessing of Rain

Over three days, we were blessed with more than three inches of rain--a great relief to our parched pastures and sweating selves.

Such a delight to sit on the porch after the rain and watch the mists rise and a rainbow form.

Simple pleasures.


Monday, July 1, 2024

Rabbit Rabbit Tomato Time!



Time for the perfect summer sandwich!

Sunday, June 30, 2024

Hard Decisions



I took advantage of a cooler day to attack my workroom, the place where I've made many quilts and the place where I wrote all six Elizabeth Goodweather novels. These days I tend to be mostly downstairs, unless Josie insists we go up to what she calls her 'office.'

Drifts of dead lady bugs, wasps, and stink bugs were on the desk surfaces. Everything was dusty. So I began--removing everything and cleaning. And, thought I, time to get rid of some stuff. I mean, really, your grandmother's badly chipped and worn sugar bowl, sitting here on the windowsill, filled with paper clips, bits of string, and desiccated bugs. . . it looks like a crazy old lady lives here.

Well, yes. But that sugar bowl has history. It was probably a treasured wedding gift with its silver overlay. But by the time I knew it, it was coverless and chipped and lived in the warming oven of the stove, keeping the sugar dry. It came to the table and went back to the warming oven daily.

But that matters to no one but me. I imagine my sons and DILs shaking their heads as they toss it in the trash.

So I'll do it for them--but keep a picture for myself--maybe try to do a watercolor.

This pitcher is another survival from my grandmother's kitchen. But it's in perfect condition. Nope, not tossing this. Putting the pencils back in, after cleaning out the dead bugs.

A Rolodex. Between my cell phone and my laptop, I have all this. Still, a quick flip through--yikes, how many of these people are dead!  Office supplies. Wite-Out? C'mon. Into the garbage bag along with the rock-hard erasers. I moved on to the immediate file folders, finding much to discard. Odds and ends and ideas that never came to pass--out they go.  Outdated business cards--mine and those I collected from other authors, goodbye.

There was one perfect jewel of a memory-- a note from the Graham County, NC Sheriff's office.

It was January or February, early 2000's, back before we all had cell phones. Justin was farm-sitting near Chapel Hill and I got a sad call from him. A snowstorm was in progress, driving was unsafe, and he was out of food. 

Not sure what I could do about this, I suggested he break into the absent owners' house and scavenge. Or maybe there were some potatoes still in the ground.

He assured me he would be fine. So I waited till the next day to call him (landline.) 

No answer. I decided he was probably out digging for potatoes. 

No answer the next day. Now I began to have visions of him lying in the potato patch, felled by a tree limb that had collapsed under the weight of snow.

I began to email or call those of his Chapel Hill friends who might have heard from him. No joy. He might have fallen off the edge of the world, as far as they knew.

In a last desperate move, I called the Sheriff's office in his county. The woman who answered and to whom I told my story was kind and sympathetic. She promised to send a deputy out to make sure Justin was okay, if he was there.

Not too long after that, I got a call from Justin. Shortly after talking to me three days before, he'd braved the elements and driven to a girl friend's house where he was safe and warm and enjoying the authentic Thai food her mother prepared.

He'd been alerted to my distress by a number of his friends calling, Dude! Call your mother!

Keeping this little reminder. Maybe framing it.

Next up for the purge was the card file where I kept names and emails of fans, other authors, and assorted book people. Most had been collected in the pre-blog, pre-Facebook days when I did a newsletter called The Goodweather Report. Now most of my communication is through FB so it was time to toss this file. 

But first. a quick flip through the cards. Alas, so many folks departed. But many who are still in touch, mostly through the blog or FB.  It was nice to see so many names I remembered.

Back then, I wrote little notes on the cards if the person had told me something I wanted to remember.

Then I came to this card--in my scrawl--a copy of an email that then-me probably thought now-me would enjoy.
I am a new prospective reader who does not like sex or violence in my books. Thanks.

I wonder what I told her.