Author Webpage


Be sure to stop by my author page from time to time

In the meantime, while you're here, pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee or a cuppa tea, have a piece of pie and always feel free to speak your mind, and your heart, here at Meanderings and Muses.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

From Inside My Book Fort - "A Snicker of Magic" by Natalie Lloyd



Welcome to the Book Fort!





Annabelle and I have been spending a lot of time in the book fort lately due to all the rain.


A good book is the perfect antidote for gloomy weather, and a book filled with magic tops the list.

Today we're reading from another of our all-time favorites, Natalie Lloyd's "A Snicker of Magic."




Do you love words?

Me, too!

And so does Felicity Pickle.



Do you sometimes find yourself jotting down words that you love?

Me, too!

And so does Felicity Pickle.


Felicity is also known to make up a word if there's not one that meets her requirements and  expectations.  Like "Spindiddly."  And some more just as brilliant.

And this is a spindiddly book - give it a try!


"Whimsical and bewitching ... hang on for the ride!" - New York Times Book Review

"From every angle, Lloyd's first novel sparkles and radiates warmth ... a reassuring, homespun story about self-expression and the magic that resides in one's mind and heart." - Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A delightful and inspiring debut ... As Felicity loves to say, 'Yes ... yes ... yes!'" - School Library Journal, starred review


From Amazon: "Midnight Gulch used to be a magical place, a town where people could sing up thunderstorms and dance up sunflowers. But that was long ago, before a curse drove the magic away. Twelve-year-old Felicity knows all about things like that; her nomadic mother is cursed with a wandering heart.

But when she arrives in Midnight Gulch, Felicity thinks her luck's about to change. A "word collector," Felicity sees words everywhere---shining above strangers, tucked into church eves, and tangled up her dog's floppy ears---but Midnight Gulch is the first place she's ever seen the word "home." And then there's Jonah, a mysterious, spiky-haired do-gooder who shimmers with words Felicity's never seen before, words that make Felicity's heart beat a little faster. "


ENJOY!






Friday, May 25, 2018

When a gal treats herself to a new dress . . .



and not just any new dress,

but a new dress she's dreamed of owning for a lot of years.



A dress to be envied by Flappers (and other fun loving women).



I think I was actually supposed to have been born in the 20s.



In Paris.



That's the time and place I have always enjoyed reading about most.


If you don't get what I mean, now's the time for you to watch my favorite movie - 






I was, I think, meant to be carousing around with ex-pats like Gerald and Sara Murphy,  Hadley and Ernest Hemingway, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.


That whole "lost" generation who had become disillusioned with the world.  


I think I should have been one of those folks sitting in on Gertrude Stein's salons, eating one of Alice Toklas' brownies.


I would have eaten madeleines with Ezra Pound.


I would have danced next to Josephine Baker, shared absinthe with Picasso, Chagall, Bonnard and Matisse. 


I would have borrowed and swapped scarves with Isadora Duncan.


I would have been in a book club with T. S. Eliot, John Dos Passos, Archibald MacLeish and slept in Sylvia Beach's attic.


I would have sat atop Cole Porter's piano singing loudly with Djuna Barnes.


And I would have worn dresses just like this one - - - 







Since <sigh> I was not able to do any of those things with any of those people, I'm settling for the dress.


And this sweet fun dress is going to Paris with us this year.


And I will wear it when Donald and I have our 1920s Paris photo shoot with Genevieve.


And who knows where else I might wear this fancy little number . . . 


If I'm caught singing while perched atop a piano in Montmartre, I'll try to post a photo.






Tuesday, May 22, 2018

For the Dorias of the world by Leslé Honoré



Leslé Honoré

For the Dorias of the world
Who will sit alone
At graduations and weddings
At baseball games and school plays
At proms and award ceremonies 

Who will carry the load
Of everything
Wiping tears
And celebrating
School projects
And first heartbreaks
Who stay up all night
Helping write papers and college apps
The mothers who silently
Create a universe for their children
Launching pads to toss them in to the
Solar system
With hands wide open to grab
All the stars their hearts desire
The Dorias who always leave space
For a father’s redemption
Knowing it may never come
Because they have spent a life time
Patching their children back together
Picking up the crushed spirits
Rebuilding them with love
This is for the Dorias
Who will watch as their legacies
Take steps towards their own journeys
Armed with love
Armed with hope
Armed with strength
That the years of struggle
Lack
Survival
Forged onto their souls
And for the children
Who have watched their mothers
Make a life out of thin air
A dollar out of 15 cents
Who have seen ceilings shattered
Barriers leapt over
And are covered in black girl magic
They know that there is
no limit
To their dreams
To success
that hard work can’t achieve
No trial that last forever
They have learned to
Weather the storms
Know for certain that the sun will come
Warm their faces
And illuminate their paths
The way their mothers have
From their first breath
For the Dorias
In that last car ride
Driving to your children’s
Next adventure
For the Dorias
Free spirited
And strong
Who know they are never alone
Who know there is a
Matriarchal militia marching
With them
I raise my glass to all of us
Salud




Lesle' Honore', Chicago-based poet, has released her first collection of poems and essays. Her work has been widely shared by thousands of followers on social media. The collection is written in two major parts: Fist- poignant pieces written in real-time, responding to issues of social injustice, police brutality, and the realities of poverty vs. privilege; and Fire- a love story: the sparks, the flames and the embers that linger when the love is gone.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

From Inside My Book Fort - - - "THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY" by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows


Welcome back to the book fort!





Today I'm sharing a snippet from one of the best books ever.

I wrote this about it here in Meanderings and Muses awhile back - http://www.meanderingsandmuses.com/search?q=THE+GUERNSEY+LITERARY+AND+POTATO+PEEL+PIE+SOCIETY%22


And,

Here's what some others had to say about "THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY"  by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - - - 






The zany title of Mary Ann Shaffer's first and, alas, last novel derives from an invented book club on the island of Guernsey in the second world war. The club is invented by the resourceful character Elizabeth McKenna, who, bumping into a German patrol after curfew with a crowd of revellers, makes the society up on the spot. In reality, the tipsy party had been consuming forbidden roast pig at Amelia Maugery's. This is less a historical novel than a bibliophilic jeu d'esprit by an ex-librarian and bookseller, posthumously published, and completed by her niece Annie Barrows . . .   More here:  https://www.theguardian.com/books/2008/aug/09/fiction4


“Delightful . . . One of those joyful books that celebrates how reading brings people together.”New Orleans Times-Picayune



“Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows have written a wondrous, delightful, poignant book— part Jane Austen, part history lesson. The letters aren't addressed to you, but they are meant for you. It's a book everyone should read. An absolute treasure.”—Sarah Addison Allen, author of Garden Spells


Enjoy!









Friday, May 18, 2018

Salad


Some days nothing but a salad will do.


(Yes, I know - some days only a pizza dripping with melted cheese will do . . .



Or a huge bowl of ice cream,


with chocolate sauce,


whipped cream,


and a cherry on top).



But today, children, we're talking about salad.



This from a gal who is trying to drop a few pounds, so don't be too tough on me, okay?






I love salads.



But they can, I admit, get boring.



I've learned to keep the salad crisper replenished so I can count on crispy lettuce, a cucumber and a sweet onion for basics (tomatoes only during the summer - otherwise, what is the point?).


I'm not a fan of cheese on my salad, but Donald is.  There is always cheese to be found in this house.



And I've learned to keep a few other things on had too, for dress-up.


Strawberries and pecans are nice.  Especially with a raspberry vinaigrette.



Today I went wild and crazy!



Yes.  Yes, I did!



As wild and as crazy, I guess, as you can get within the limitations of salad.



A couple different kinds of lettuce, some thinly sliced chicken breast, cucumber, sweet onion, a few pecans, some pineapple chunks and tossed with a little bit of creamy honey lime cilantro dressing, with a few croutons tossed on top.  (I know, cilantro tastes like soap to many of you.  Thankfully, I'm not one).  


We all know the perils of over-using dressing, it can kill your calorie count just as badly as that aforementioned ice cream, so I try to choose something where I know a little will go a long way.  There are a LOT of really good dressings to be found these days.  Another fave of mine is Panera's Fuji Apple Salad Dressing.


There are also a lot of very good recipes for dressings to be found on-line; such as the creamy honey lime cilantro dressing.



All the makings for Wild and Crazy Salad Making!



(maybe tomorrow I'll give in and have that pizza . . . ).



All while remembering that I have lost 14 pounds since the first of year, with more to go.  


Slowly it goes  -  very slowly it goes . . . 



But.



That's okay.



Slow is good.



In the meantime, I will continue doing my own kind of research on salads and salad dressings.  Who knows where this might lead?!








Monday, May 14, 2018

Celebrating 32 Years


Donald and I celebrated 32 years of marriage last week.


thirty-two years.


wow.

Don had a hard time wrapping his head around the fact that he has now been married more than half his life.


It's been a wonderful 32 years.

Not without its ups and downs . . . 

But given a choice, I'd do it again in a second.





We often get to celebrate our anniversary by attending a concert, and lucky for us The Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan kicked off their tour in Charlotte just in time for us to do that again this year.






We spent the night in Charlotte and took our time getting back to Boone the next day.

It takes us twice as long to get from Point A to Point B as it takes most people.


We sometimes blame it on having a little fur baby that needs to walk



but, truth be told, we're also like a couple of magpies stopping for shiny objects, like motorhomes . . . 




or a local Harley dealership




or another motorhome




But it's always nice to be back home again




Made even better when you find an Advance Reading Copy of the next book written by a friend waiting for you.  Thanks Hank Phillippi Ryan!!!!  Mwah!




All in all, I'd have to say that it was a pretty nice anniversary.

Love you, Don Barley.  

To the moon and back.





Saturday, May 12, 2018

From Inside My Book Fort - Lesa Holsltine Reads Robert James Waller's "The Bridges of Madison County"


Welcome Back!






Annabelle and I are happy to have Lesa back in the book fort for a visit.

Today she's reading an excerpt from Robert James Waller's "The Bridges of Madison County."






And - a little added bonus for your listening pleasure -





Thanks, Lesa!  Come back again soon!




Wednesday, May 9, 2018

We Were Missing the Present


we were missing the present -
Let’s go as we are:
a free woman
and a loyal friend,
let’s go together on two different paths
let’s go as we are united
and separate,
with nothing hurting us
not the divorce of doves or the coldness between the hands
and not the wind around the church . . .
What bloomed of almond trees wasn’t enough.
So smile for the almonds to blossom more
between the butterflies of two dimples

And soon there will be a new present for us.
If you look back you will see only
the exile of your looking back:
your bedroom,
the courtyard willow,
the river behind the glass buildings,
and the café of our trysts . . . all of it, all
preparing to become exile, so
let’s be kind!

Let’s go as we are:
a free woman
and a friend loyal to her flutes.
Our time wasn’t enough to grow old together
walk wearily to the cinema
witness the end of Athens’s war with her neighbors
and see the banquet of peace between Rome and Carthage
about to happen. Because soon
the birds will relocate from one epoch to another:
Was this path only dust
in the shape of meaning, and did it march us
as if we were a passing journey between two myths,
so the path is inevitable, and we are inevitable
as a stranger sees himself in the mirror of another stranger?
“No, this is not my path to my body”
“No cultural solutions for existential concerns”
“Wherever you are my sky
is real”
“Who am I to give you back the previous sun and moon”
Then let’s be kind . . .

Let’s go, as we are:
a free lover
and her poet.
What fell of December snow
wasn’t enough, so smile
for snow to card its cotton on the Christian’s prayer,
we will soon return to our tomorrow, behind us,
where we were young in love’s beginning,
playing Romeo and Juliet
and learning Shakespeare’s language . . .
The butterflies have fluttered out of sleep
as a mirage of a swift peace
that adorns us with two stars
and kills us in the struggle over the name
between two windows
so, let’s go
and let’s be kind

Let’s go, as we are:
a free woman
and a loyal friend,
let’s go as we are. We came
with the wind from Babylon
and we march to Babylon . . .
My travel wasn’t enough
for the pines to become in my trace
an utterance of praise to the southern place.
We are kind here. Northerly
is our wind, and our songs are southerly.
Am I another you
and you another I?
“This isn’t my path to my freedom’s land”
this isn’t my path to my body
and I won’t be “I” twice
since my yesterday’s taken my tomorrow’s place
and I have split into two women
so I am not of the east
and I am not of the west,
nor am I an olive tree shading two verses in the Quran
then, let’s go.
“No collective solutions for personal scruples”
it wasn’t enough that we be together
to be together . . .
we were missing a present to see
where we were. Let’s go as we are,
a free woman
and an old friend
let’s go on two separate paths
let’s go together,
and let’s be kind . . .


     by Mahmoud Darwish



Saturday, May 5, 2018

From Inside My Book Fort - - "Lullaby Road" by James Anderson



Welcome to the Book Fort!




Today I'm reading from James Anderson's "Lullaby Road."

If you're a Meanderings and Muses regular, you already know this is one of my favorite authors.

I discovered his work quite by accident when I received a copy of his first Ben Jones novel, "The Never-Open Desert Diner," through NetGalley.com.

I think I requested it because of the title, but it took me all of maybe a paragraph or two to realize I had happened onto something quite special.

"Lullaby Road" is Mr. Anderson's second Ben Jones novel, and it too is pretty darn special.


Enjoy!

(note:  for some reason, the final two minutes ended up in a separate little video, all it's own - why?    NO idea . . .)









This is the link to an interview with James Anderson at Poisoned Pen Books -
https://livestream.com/poisonedpen/events/8028223


And -
Here's the trailer for Lullaby Road.  

It is simply and elegantly beautiful.   

Once you watch, you're never going to be able to resist reading the book -






Monday, April 30, 2018

Evening Concert, Sainte-Chapelle







Evening Concert, Sainte-Chapelle
John Updike, 1932 - 2009

The celebrated windows flamed with light
directly pouring north across the Seine;
we rustled into place. Then violins
vaunting Vivaldi’s strident strength, then Brahms,
seemed to suck with their passionate sweetness,
bit by bit, the vigor from the red,
the blazing blue, so that the listening eye
saw suddenly the thick black lines, in shapes
of shield and cross and strut and brace, that held
the holy glowing fantasy together.
The music surged; the glow became a milk,
a whisper to the eye, a glimmer ebbed
until our beating hearts, our violins
were cased in thin but solid sheets of lead.



Saturday, April 28, 2018

From Inside My Book Fort - - - Lesa Holstine reads from "Vanishing Ireland"



Welcome Back !





Annabelle and I are very happy to welcome Lesa back to the book fort.


And today she's going to read to us from "Vanishing Ireland" written by James Fennell and Turtle Bunbury.



This pleases me no end because, if you know Lesa, you know how very much she loves Ireland.


Take a listen - - - 


(and that gorgeous black cat you see towards the end of the video is Josh).  💜 💛 😊 💚 💙













Friday, April 27, 2018

Inaction of Shoes



There are many things to be done today
and it's a lovely day to do them in

Each thing a joy to do
and a joy to have done
I can tell because of the calm I feel
when I think about doing them
I can almost hear them say to me
Thank you for doing us
And when evening comes
I'll remove my shoes and place them on the floor
And think how good they look
sitting?... standing?... there
Not doing anything

   by Ron Padgett

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The New Criterion Enueg by Sarah Skwire


I hate wet feet 
and well-done beef
hypocrisy, conceit.
I hate cold rain
and unearned fame
headaches, fever, pain.
I hate bad dreams
diminished means
and paranoiac schemes.
I hate clichés
the Roman Plays
all-you-can-eat buffets.
I hate pretension
blind convention
need I even mention
politicians
false contrition
salesmen on commissions
T.V. preachers
inept teachers
many-legged creatures.
And jello molds
and summer colds
viragoes, nags, and scolds
and income tax
and unjust acts
ad hominem attacks
and egoists
and narcissists
and also endless lists.
Sarah Skwire is a Fellow at Liberty Fund. She is the author of a collection of poems, The Evening Light (Story Line Press).

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Small Comfort




Coffee and cigarettes in a clean cafe,
forsythia lit like a damp match against
a thundery sky drunk on its own ozone,

the laundry cool and crisp and folded away
again in the lavender closet-too late to find
comfort enough in such small daily moments

of beauty, renewal, calm, too late to imagine
people would rather be happy than suffering
and inflicting suffering. We're near the end,

but O before the end, as the sparrows wing
each night to their secret nests in the elm's green dome
O let the last bus bring

love to lover, let the starveling
dog turn the corner and lope suddenly
miraculously, down its own street, home.




Tuesday, April 24, 2018

John O’Donohue ~ “A Morning Offering” – Benedictus (To Bless The Space Between Us in the U.S.)


I bless the night that nourished my heart
To set the ghosts of longing free
Into the flow and figure of dream
That went to harvest from the dark
Bread for the hunger no one sees.
All that is eternal in me
Welcome the wonder of this day,
The field of brightness it creates
Offering time for each thing
To arise and illuminate.
I place on the altar of dawn:
The quiet loyalty of breath,
The tent of thought where I shelter,
Wave of desire I am shore to
And all beauty drawn to the eye.
May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.
May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.




Monday, April 23, 2018

Utopia by Wislawa Szymborska


Utopia
Island where all becomes clear.
Solid ground beneath your feet.
The only roads are those that offer access.
Bushes bend beneath the weight of proofs.
The Tree of Valid Supposition grows here
with branches disentangled since time immemorial.
The Tree of Understanding, dazzlingly straight and simple,
sprouts by the spring called Now I Get It.
The thicker the woods, the vaster the vista:
the Valley of Obviously.
If any doubts arise, the wind dispels them instantly.
Echoes stir unsummoned
and eagerly explain all the secrets of the worlds.
On the right a cave where Meaning lies.
On the left the Lake of Deep Conviction.
Truth breaks from the bottom and bobs to the surface.
Unshakable Confidence towers over the valley.
Its peak offers an excellent view of the Essence of Things.
For all its charms, the island is uninhabited,
and the faint footprints scattered on its beaches
turn without exception to the sea.
As if all you can do here is leave
and plunge, never to return, into the depths.
Into unfathomable life.
By Wislawa Szymborska
From "A large number", 1976
Translated by S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh

Saturday, April 21, 2018

From Inside My Book Fort - - - "The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin


Hi!

Welcome to the book fort.




Today we're reading a passage from Gabrielle Zevin's delightful novel, "The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry."

Another of my favorite books.

If you're a lover of books, then you're also a lover of bookstores.  I think you'll want to give this one a try if you haven't already.

A.J. Fikry is a lover of books and the grumpy owner of a bookstore on Alice Island.

If you've already read it and love it as much as I do, I hope you'll enjoy the passage I've chosen.


From the book jacket, "As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love."








Friday, April 20, 2018

The Garden Party



The bright sun is shining down
On the party guests milling around.
Everyone has gathered on the stripy green lawn, 
Which, by the gardener, has recently been shorn.

Garden parties are always such a pleasure.
A lovely way to spend a few hours of leisure.
The guests gather round in small mixed groups.
Periodically, there’s the sound of laughter or whoops.

Some people sit and relax in recliner chairs, 
As the soft sound of music fills the balmy air.
The guests are soon engaged in different conversations, 
Exchanging a mixture of interesting and trifling information.

With each other, the guests chat and make new friends.
Those who may have previously squabbled make amends.
The ladies wear pretty, summery, floaty dresses.
Sporting a variety of beautifully dressed tresses.

A trestle table covered in a red gingham tablecloth, 
Holds a variety of inviting food and drink aloft.
There’s a selection of sandwiches: cheese, tuna and ham, 
And fresh scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam.

There’s roast chicken legs, pies and mini sausage rolls, 
And salad items are laid out in brightly coloured bowls.
There are cocktail sausages and cubes of cheese on sticks.
Of finger food, there really is quite an eclectic mix.

The ladies, who are on diets, needlessly quibble, 
Over whether or not, at the food, they should nibble.
There’s everyone’s favourite drink, Pimms and lemonade, 
And, a large pitcher of alcoholic punch, freshly home-made.

At the bottom of the garden, children play by the old oak, 
And there’s shrills of laughter, as they all share a joke.
From a tiny tot, there are joyful cries, 
As she chases after pretty butterflies.

A toast to their hosts, the guests propose, 
As the party finally draws to a close.
It’s been an enjoyable and successful day, 
And now, all that is left to do is clear away. 

by Angela Wybrow

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Ode to a Hat



MY HAT
Here’s my hat.
It holds my head,
the thoughts I’ve had
and the things I’ve read.

It keeps out the wind.
It keeps off the rain.
It hugs my hair
and warms my brain.

There’s me below it,
the sky above it.
It’s my lid.
And I love it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Puppies at Play in Meat Camp

We spent a fun couple of hours at our neighbor's house introducing Annabelle to their newest family member, Alice.  Smudge was there and all three girls had a big ol' time.

So did Donald and I.

Thanks, Jill!

Annabelle says, "Let's do it again!"