Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Sunshine Came Softly . . .



Tuesday, January 30, 2024

To Be Continued



Josie is writing a chapter book. My only input has been to spell the hard words.

Like many authors, she got to a big scene and is having trouble deciding what happens next. I am not allowed to make suggestions. 

Monday, January 29, 2024



At dinner a few nights ago, the question arose: Where does the name amaryllis come from? After several wild guesses, I went to Mr. Google.

Amaryllis is from the Greek and means sparkling. There was a nymph of that name who fell in love with a handsome shepherd (as so often happened.) But, alas, he only loved flowers... (insert obligatory sheep joke.)

So, after consulting with the oracle at Delphi, Amaryllis visited the shepherd's cottage daily, and on each visit, pierced her heart with an arrow so that drops of her blood fell to the ground. 

On the 30th day, sparkling red flowers bloomed where the blood had fallen. The flower-loving shepherd was impressed and fell in love with Amaryllis.

A perfect Valentine's Day flower? What with the heart pierced by an arrow...

However--the red flowers referenced in the Greek legend are not the same as these familiar beauties. These popular flowers are of South African origin and were given the name in 1768 by a Dutch botanist. The Dutch have long been mad for bulbs and most amaryllis bulbs come from Holland now.

Sunday, January 28, 2024


More pictures from the long-forgotten stash. This is Tubby--my mother's dog when he was a girl. His name was familiar to me, mainly as a cautionary tale: poor Tubby contracted rabies--or hydrophobia as it was called back then--and had to be put down. And my grandmother had to have the dreaded series of shots in the belly that was the standard back then. I don't remember being told that she was bitten--just contact with the dog's saliva would have been enough. 

This picture, presumably my mother's work--was it made after his death as a memorial? The fact that it, as well as these other pictures, was saved suggests a sad fondness.

Tubby must have been a nice dog --to be trusted with a rabbit as in the picture below. 

But what a horrifying experience the rabies must have been. My grandparents never has another dog--until my grandfather developed a bond with John's and my beagle/spaniel mix who he cared for while we were in Europe for three months. When we returned, he would drive the 45 minute trip to our house outside Tampa, just to take Juno for a ride. And he always brought treats.

 Finally, after we adopted two German Shepherd pups, we gave Juno to my grandfather and she settled in to a life of walks and constant spoiling.


Saturday, January 27, 2024

The Flower Girl




When I was six, Dolly, my Great Aunt Mamie’s youngest, was getting married and Ba (my maternal grandmother and Dolly’s aunt) and I rode the train from Tampa to Troy, Alabama. I was to be the flower girl and Ba, using her treadle Singer sewing machine, had made me a dress of rosebud -sprinkled white satin with a sweetheart neckline and puffed sleeves.

The train ride was enormously exciting—we had one of those little private compartments with (oh joy) a bed that let down from above the window. And making our shaky way along the rattling corridor to the dining car and its white tablecloths was little short of magic.

In Troy, Aunt Mamie’s house was overflowing with family and Ba and I were given a bed in the attic, next to the big attic fan through whose opening we could hear the buzz of activity below. (Many years later, when Ba was in her nineties, bedridden after a stroke, she kept saying that there was a wedding going on downstairs.)

I remember nothing of the wedding but recall that at the reception I hung out with the ring bearer, a little boy named Rusty. Was his hair dark red? I think so. There was a fella playing the piano and I asked him to play Home on the Range—my favorite song at the time.

Over fifty years later, I had a letter from Dolly. She was facing terminal cancer and was using her time to contact everyone who’d ever been important in her life. I don’t think I’d seen her since the wedding, but she thanked me lovingly for the part I’d played on one of the happiest days of her life. 

Friday, January 26, 2024

Foggy, Foggy


                                Rain and fog and more rain. 

These pictures were taken at noon, as I returned from the grocery store. But it's not cold!


Thursday, January 25, 2024

Josie Gets a Surprise and Loses a Tooth


Monday was a snow day and I stayed with Meema and Grumpy. I organized the two shelves where lots of my games and art supplies and craft stuff is (under the castle people.) I found some things I hadn't played with in a long time like this coloring book Sandy gave me. When I was little, I just scribble in it but Meema wiped away the scribbles and now I am good at staying in the lines mostly.                                                                                 

This is another fun thing. I stick jewels on this see through plastic, going by the pattern underneath.

                                  See, it can stick on the window!


Of course I had to spend some time with the babies. Octalia is a very good babysitter.

Also I practiced flying. I am practicing so I can be a super-hero kindergarten teacher. I will wear a pretty pink dress and a blue cape. If villains come to my school, I will fight them with a green sword. I will win and the class will say YAY!


That was on Monday. We went back to school on Tuesday and on Wednesday, Meema picked me up. When we got back, there was a surprise waiting! Aunt Fay, who is Grumpy's sister, sent me Blackbeard to go with my Castle People!!!


I have been wanting another pirate so Captain Hook wouldn't be lonely. Now Captain Hook and Blackbeard can sword fight. (It is just for fun and they don't get hurt. They actually are friends.)

And guess what! I lost a front tooth. It has been wiggly for a long time. Daddy took this picture.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Looking East: Evening Light



Tuesday, January 23, 2024

At Last!


This beauty, a gift from Claui's folks, has been on our dining table since Thanksgiving. This bulb has made two stems and is finally flowering! 

    The other bulb in the planter is just now venturing a cautious green tongue out of the brown bulb. Odd that the two are on such different schedules. But, all the longer to enjoy them!


Monday, January 22, 2024

A Strange Novel


This novel, set at an elite English prep school and told from two points of view: one of the long-time masters, deeply entrenched in and loyal to the school, and the child of the school's porter/handyman, an outsider longing to be a part of the gilded youth who attend the school.

The novel resonated with me on several levels. I once taught at a prep school (though it was in no way as grandiose as this one and the inter-faculty scheming nothing like.) I also understood the porter's child sense of an outsider looking at an unattainable world. For several years I met classes with the Great Smokies Writing Program at The Asheville School--an expensive and elite boarding school with a glorious campus. At first I found myself wanting to grab every passing student and ask if they knew how fortunate they were to be there. 

But this book. I found myself reading compulsively, caught up in the twists and turns of academic plotting, a most likeable teacher, and the wiles of an exceedingly clever child. 

And then, about midway through, I began to feel a little sickened--as one might having gobbled down unwholesome food. I should have been warned by a blurb that compared the book to Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley. Mr. Ripley gave me that same sense of queasiness--not from gratuitous sex or violence but from the pervasive amorality of the main character.

Nevertheless, I persevered. Events were tumbling together and the answers to several questions seemed close at hand. And then there was the most amazing twist--so amazing that I'm going to have to go back and look for any clues that might have hinted at this outcome.

I marvel at the intricacy of the plotting. Quite an interesting novel! Available as an ebook for 1.99

Addendum: I did go back--not precisely a re-read, but paging through paying attention to certain names to see how the deception was managed. 

Brilliantly, that's how. I found my appreciation for the novel growing--to the point that I am tempted to download its sequel. 

Another addendum: I did read the sequel (A Different Class) and quite enjoyed it. Now that I was aware of the author's propensity for trickery, I paid close attention. She still outwitted me,

Sunday, January 21, 2024





Saturday, January 20, 2024

Heading to the Single Digits

Big deal, my Canadian friends are saying. But weather this cold tests all our systems and keeps us on edge. Will we lose power? Will the pipes freeze? How long will the road to our house stay icy?

As of Friday noon, we have power and the water is still running. John has left his truck at the lower place, and the Kubota utility vehicle, with chains, can make it to our house. We have plenty of food and wood, should the power go out. 

This, too, shall pass.


Friday, January 19, 2024

Mystery Photos from the Past

More snaps from the same cache, but this time there were no labels. I just liked these without knowing who these people were. This natty little boy caught my eye. Is that a banana tree in the background?

My mother and a friend? Could be. But I like the picture for its randomness and the two pelicans--a kind of an art film feeling to it.

This is such an unexpected pose--I wish I knew who the happy baby was. And how I admire the fond mother's ability to hunker!

A scooter (?) built for two. Again, it could be my mother. Or not. She's very serious, whoever she was.


Thursday, January 18, 2024

Josie's Snow Day With Snow

No school again! Monday was MLK Day and I stayed with Meema. Tuesday was a snow day and even Mama didn't go to work so I stayed home with her. Wednesday school was closed AGAIN and the road up to Meema and Grumpy's was so icy that me and Daddy had to walk up. I took my short cut and Meema saw me coming and took a picture through the window. Daddy was on the road and he was yelling You can't go that way. But I did

I had some homework to do so after pancakes, I got started. 

There was a thing about being a good citizen at school. 

Grumpy said he would help but I could do it myself. I think I am a good citizen at school.

I did lots of stuff. Me and Meema played Go Fish. She won one and I won one. 

Then I organized the shelves where my games and art supplies and stuff are. First, I took everything out. There were some crumpled pieces of paper that Meema tried to throw away, but I grabbed them from her and put them in a box. When Meema fussed, I told her I would use them for crafts.

Do you see how nice it looks now? I found lots of stuff I'd forgotten about. 

Like this book. I worked on it while I ate lunch.

It is a pirate story but you have to fill in the blanks. I named the pirate ship The Purple Octopus.

I had forgotten about my paper dolls! There are two girls. One has yellow hair and is a princess. The other has dark hair and is a rock star. 

They have lots of clothes and while Meema was cutting out some more, I got to work making houses for them.

The princess's house is red and her bathroom is pink with a gold sink and a white toilet. the toilet paper holder is blue

Her kitchen has high shelves with cans of soup on them.

In the princess's living room is a big pink and gold couch. 

The rock star has a black house and most of her furniture is gray because those are the colors she likes. She does have some blue walls.

It was a good day. I ate some of the chocolate chip pumpkin bread we made on Monday, and I read a bunch of books. Meema was surprised that I could read the word PERSEVERANCE, but I told her it was another virtue, like PATIENCE. And I do know what it means--to keep on trying even if something is hard to do.

You are something else, says Meema.

And I did a little vacuuming.