Thursday, March 4, 2021

Vaccinated and Happy, but . . .

 Just because Donald and I have received both our COVID vaccinations, that does not mean we're ready to jump right back into life as it once was.

Going into restaurants still sounds pretty crazy risky to us, truth be told.

We could still, after all, be carriers.

Thinking of other people is still a concern for us even if it isn't, sadly, for a lot of others.  

We're going to continue wearing our masks, and we're going to continue maintaining some distance.

As anxious as we both are to do some traveling, we think we need to wait awhile. 

While not given to panic attacks, the thought of getting on a crowded airplane sounds scary as all hell to me, truth be told.

And as long as there are ignorant politicians like the governor of Texas and other states removing COVID restrictions too early, I'm thankful for intelligent, caring people who will continue doing the right thing for themselves, their family and their friends and neighbors.  And for the health workers.

We both need haircuts, of course.  And we'll get that taken care of.  Soon.  Just not too soon.

I'm pretty excited to think I'll be able to have a manicure and a pedicure fairly soon.  Just not too soon.

I don't want this entire past year of sacrifices to be completely wiped out for lack of smarts and patience now.

stay safe, y'all!

As of yesterday, 518,079 Americans have died due to COVID-19.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

A tribute to Margaret Maron

She will be missed by many.

for forty years
the sheets of white paper have
passed under my hands and I have tried
    to improve their peaceful

emptiness putting down
little curls little shafts
of letters words
    little flames leaping

not one page
was less to me than fascinating
discursive full of cadence
    its pale nerves hiding

in the curves of the Qs
behind the soldierly Hs
in the webbed feet of the Ws
    forty years

and again this morning as always
I am stopped as the world comes back
wet and beautiful I am thinking
    that language

is not even a river
is not a tree is not a green field
is not even a black ant traveling
    briskly modestly

from day to day from one
golden page to another.

-Forty Years by Mary Oliver, West Wind, (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997)

2015 Guest of Honor/Lifetime Achievement Honoree - Bouchercon, Raleigh, NC

Margaret with husband Joe, son John, daughter-in-law Andrea,
granddaughters Julia and Natalie
Bouchercon 2015

My heart is broken.

I know many of you feel the same way.

Margaret Maron was loved, admired and respected in the mystery community, and she will never be forgotten.

She was always accessible, always ready to reach out to new writers and always happy to meet her readers.  And always humble.  And always, always gracious.

I'm so thankful to have several pieces she wrote for Meanderings and Muses to share with you.

As many of you will remember, I would send out an invite to writers in December of each year to get the next year's Meanderings and Muses schedule set, and she was always one of the first to respond.

She wrote about everything from her mother's cookbook to over-sexed pine trees.

Those pieces she shared with us between 2009 and 2015 are still getting hits.

You can read them here: - - - "Which is how Kaye Barley came into my life and will be in my life forever."

Like many of you, when my heart is broken, I write.

I have so many wonderful memories of Margaret Maron.

I may write for days.

Don Barley and I loved sitting around this table with Margaret and Joe.  

Oh, if this table could talk.  

It has served as a place of welcome for many.  

Home cooked meals, drinks, conversation, laughter, and tears.

One day sitting around that table, Margaret allowed me to interview her.  I was tickled pink that she had agreed, but a little worried knowing Margaret to be one of the most private people in the world.  But, i had no reason to be concerned, she was gracious, clever and witty, as always.

You can read the interview here:  (It was first posted at Jungle Red Writers back when I was  posting as "Oh, Kaye!")

We cannot wrap our hearts around the fact that we won't be able to spend time hearing her side of the wonderful stories she and Joe would share with us ever again.

Whether it was a meal, a drink, or pouring over photo albums of some of the trips they had taken, there was always conversation, stories, and laughter.

Because home is important to me, I always love visiting friends' homes so I can be nosey and observe how their homes reflect their personalities.

I've been in a lot of homes over the years; big and grand, small and humble.   I can very honestly say I have never loved one as much as I love Joe and Margaret Maron's.

When I've said this to them, Joe has looked at me in puzzlement and reminded me "it's just a house we've added on to a few times; rather haphazardly."  

And in Margaret's words, it is "scruffy comfort." 

To me, it's perfect. 

From that table that has welcomed so many, to the bookshelves Margaret built, to the exquisite paintings on the wall done by Joe, to the room Margaret calls her office, but I call "the room where the magic happens."

Favorite memories include some nights after Joe and Donald have turned in, and are sound asleep while Margaret and I, in our jammies, are playing Scrabble around "the table," and then move into the room where the magic happens.  Me snuggled in a comfy chair at 2:00 a.m. with an afghan tossed over my feet by Margaret while we talk about everything.  Everything.  Cooking, writing, people we knew (those we loved/those we didn't), mystery cons we had just been to, places we loved, food we loved, books (those we loved/those we didn't), poetry, politics, and what trauma I must have suffered to hate Cribbage so much (Margaret loved it).

She and Joe would always take us around for a tour outside to see what was growing (and to say "Hey!" to the flamingos).

Another fun memory is the weekend we spent in Seagrove, NC where Margaret introduced me to many of the potters who were so helpful with research she did for her "Common Clay."  I came home with a few pieces of pottery that I cherish for their beauty and for the memories attached.

She surprised, and honored, me more than once by putting me in her books as a very minor character, but you should have seen the look on Donald's face when he found out he was mentioned in "Designated Daughters" (more than once) as "the handsome Donald Barley."

A true highlight was to be at The Weymouth Center for the Arts to see Margaret inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame - along with Carl Sandburg and Clyde Edgerton.  

I wrote about it here (along with a LOT of photos!):

You'll find lots of little stories I've written about Margaret and Joe here at Meanderings and Muses.  Some of those include the book launches we attended.  One of which (again, with LOTS of photos) was her last book launch at Quail Ridge for "Take Out."

One of the things I most admired about Margaret was her willingness to stand by her beliefs.  She did so without proselytizing, but she stood proudly and firmly for the things she strongly believed in.  She loved her home state of North Carolina.  Enough that she felt she needed to speak up along with dozens of other well-known North Carolina writers when they gathered at the state Capitol to protest policies they said were hurting public education, access to health care and voting rights.

One of my favorite passages:

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Missing Our Christmas Tree


We finally took our little pink Christmas tree down on January 20th.

By January 21st I was missing it.


I ordered a couple of little fairy lamps to sit on the dining table in the sunroom where the Christmas tree was sitting.

And from my favorite little reading perch, I get to enjoy them.

AND, I even hung a few little Eiffel Towers on them.

You just do what you need to do to bring a little comfort and joy.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Winner of the Give-Away


Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

If chocolates and flowers are not your thing, I hope you're enjoying a day of taking care of yourself in your own special way.  Be that spending the day in your jammies with a good book, or a stack of magazines, a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.  

Being a slug is one of my favorite things and I do it well.  No excuses needed!  

Today I'm spending my slugishness with some ARCs I scored through

First up is Harlan Coben's "Win."  I'm a fan of Harlan Coben, have been since the days of DorothyL (an online discussion list for lovers of the mystery genre) before his first book was published; he was, even in casual posts, quite the wordsmith, funny and engaging.

We have chosen the winner of our "Carousels of Paris" give-away, and the winner is Barbara Slacum.  Her book will be flying her way soon.

Thanks very much to all of you who showed an interest - I wish I could send a copy of the book to each of you.  

This is the perfect time to tell each of you, in case you don't already know, that there is a later version of "Carousels of Paris" available.  It is a bit better quality than the first version with higher qualiity and heavier pages, so if you're planning on buying a copy for yourself or a friend, be sure and look for the edition published by House of Annabelle.  And right now that version is having a cover update to include a sweet blurb from Dorie Greenspan.   

Stay tuned - you never know when the next give-away might happen!  It will be announced here, in my newsletter and at my soon to be updated webpage.  

Thursday, February 11, 2021



Time to call and or write our Senators to remind them of their oath of office:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God."

AND more recently, THIS:

"I solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be,) that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of , now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: so help me God."

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

February Newsletter - Dorie Greenspan Likes Our Book AND A Give-Away

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Moral Accountability

Yes, Marjorie Taylor Greene was stripped of committee membership.


All but ELEVEN Republicans vote to back Rep. Greene.

ELEVEN Republicans with conscience and heart.

The bottom line is this; the once Grand Old Party has thrown its support behind a freshman congressional member from Georgia who proudly represents the loony tunes fringe sub-party that calls itself Qanon.  

Has chosen this kook as its new standard bearer.

There's not much more to say.

The voters will speak in 2022 and we will learn if truth and dignity or lies and lunacy will rule in Congress.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Having Some Fun Sitting With Bernie

 The Inauguration shot of Bernie Sanders turned into a meme has been so much fun.

And Bernie Sanders turned it all into a good thing for Vermont:  "As seen on the Bernie campaign store, the Chairman Sanders Crewneck is emblazoned with the now-ubiquitous photo of Sanders in mittens and a Burton jacket. 100 percent of proceeds, in an admirably on-brand move for Sanders, will go toward Meals on Wheels Vermont."

With the help of some tech savvy folks, many of us have enjoyed Sitting with Bernie - here's a few I made with the Sit With Bernie Sanders meme generator.

This is Fun!  

More to Come!

Friday, January 22, 2021

RIP Hank Aaron


Nobody was a bigger Atlanta Braves fan than me.  

I spent a lot of evenings after work at Atlanta Stadium. 

Even during their losing years when the security guys would move a bunch of us from the cheap seats down to the unused corporate seats next to the dugout so the cameras could show that there were people there.  

But before those losing years there was Hank Aaron.

And I remember where I was when he made history.

Atlanta Stadium.

Standing, cheering, crying.

All this was before "The Strike."  Tommy Glavine couldn't keep his mouth shut.

 I've never felt the same way about baseball since.

But I will always remember that April night in 1974.

RIP Mr. Aaron.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Why our Christmas tree is still up


The short answer is "because we're still enjoying it."

But there is, of course, the long, longer, and longest version. 

 As my friend Michael used to say to me, "can't you please, for once, give us the Reader's Digest version of this story?!"  Lord A Mercy, I do miss Michael Dean.


I like to read in bed.

Some days, I'll read all day (have I mentioned how much I love being retired?).

And no, I rarely feel guily about it.

I'm 72 years old.  I started working when I was 16.  

Feel Guilty?    Pfffftt.

Guilt is for other people - not me.  Certainly not for something as benign as spending a day reading in bed.

While I'm reading in bed, this is what I see when I look up - 

And it has brought me comfort.

This has been a very hard year for everyone.

Taking pleasure in small things has been life-saving.  And I do not say that lightly

And I have taken enormous pleasure in our small  pink tree.

There are dozens of symbols related to Christmas trees and every family has their own traditions when it comes to Christmas trees; some based on religious practices, some purely secular, and some based simply on when busy families find the right time for them to do whatever it is they feel like they want to do that particular year.

We would have normally taken it down and put it away by this time but this year.  And I did think about that every single day beginning on January 1, which is when we normally pull out the boxes and packing up.

The few Christmas sit-abouts we put out are back in their hiding places.

But this tree -   -   -   -

This tree has been a joy this year.  If I have to pick one word as the symbol it represents to me this year it would be "hope."

The plan to put it away on January 1 came and went.

It was still a comfort.

And then January 6th happened.

We watched with disbelief as people started streaming into The Capitol building.

The disbelief became fear and sadness and anger as it became clear this was not a normal legal protest.

These were criminals.

Thugs and punks.

Intent on doing harm.

As the days go on we learn just how intent they were.

As inconceivable as it sounds, it could have been so much worse.

This mob failed in that regard.

They didn't get to hang Mike Pence.

They didn't get to shoot Nancy Pelosi in the head.

Those were words heard, and recorded.  

Words spoken by American citizens in this mob invited to Washington, D.C. by donald trump.  Those damning words were also recorded; "the president invited us!"

Invited to do harm. 

While we were watching the violence on TV, so was the president of this United States.

They didn't do as much harm as they wanted.

They say they're coming back.

If they do and the havoc they plan on wreaking is still in our future.  It could all start playing out today and possibly last at least through Inauguration Day.  

But the sad age of trump isn't going to go away anytime soon. 

He spent years fomenting violence, turning over rocks to reveal the scum living under them, inviting that scum to show the world their worst selves.  They have no plans to go back under those rocks.

We can only hope that the good and decent overcome.

We can only hope for the safety of the good and decent.


Our plan, right now, is to leave the tree in place until Joe Biden is safely in office.

Trump was impeached for inciting insurrection.  IF convicted (fingers crossed!), maybe we'll put up another tree and and cover it with our own symbols of hope and beauty and things we love.

We'll call it our Tree of Hope.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

January 2021 Newsletter