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.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Camera Class at Ball Photo Supply

Photography was actually the reason behind this latest road trip to Asheville.

Any excuse to spend some time at Ball Photo Supply is okay by me.  Usually, it's Donald who's on a hunt for camera related toys and accessories.

This time it was me.

Ball offers a free class every month.  

A class designed to introduce you to your new camera and the world of digital photography.

It was a terrific class.  I enjoyed every minute.

The instructor was knowledgeable, easy to understand and delightful.

There were seven of us in the class - six of whom were Canon owners.  The other was there with her Nikon.

It was a fun group, and I think we all walked away feeling as though we knew our camera a lot better than we had when we walked in.

And some of us stopped and did a little shopping on our way out.

Most of these pictures were posted here before, so more than likely you've already been introduced to Ball Photo, but it's such a cool place, I can't resist posting the photos again.

It's a place I recommend you pay a visit next time you're in Asheville, NC.

Ball Photo fascinates me.

It's like a camera museum/store filled with knowledgeable, creative people who embrace the art of photography.  They still maintain a lab for developing film, still sell film and if you're really lucky you can also happen up on some pretty wonderful old cameras in working order for sale.

And - even cooler - you can play with them!

Or, step back and admire some old pieces that have been a part of a magical history.

Wasn't that fun!?!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny

I stayed up way later than my normal bedtime last night. There was no way I could put down my book until I read the final page. Once again, I am left without words. (almost). There are quite a few authors I enjoy. A few that I adore - those few who, I find, to be brilliant writers and storytellers, able to give their readers a very special experience while reading their work. Louise Penny is an author of unique appeal. There must be other authors who are able to see into, understand and so perfectly express in beautiful words and phrasing the human psyche with subtle humor and pathos. I just don't know who they might be. The woman continues to surprise me. Continues to bring me to tears, fill my heart and have me laughing out loud with her words. She tells a story with care, subtle humor and sly nods. Shows respect, always, for her characters. The characters who dwell in her work, especially in Three Pines, are infused with more life, more feeling, than a lot of "real" people I've met. I finished my arc of "A Great Reckoning" satisfied and filled. And sad, once again, to have finished. To leave the world of the much-loved Chief Inspector Gamache, knowing I'll have to stay away from fiction for awhile until I'm ready to let go of his world and those who inhabit it by his side.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Do people just piss you off?

The older I get, the less I like people.

I have a fairly large group of people I care for - love, actually.

But dealing with the general public anymore can be fraught with rudeness.  Civility when dealing with a customer, a client, a patient, etc. seems to have become a real chore for people who now make up what used to be known as the "Customer Service" force.

I think there are several reasons for this.  One, is that they're not paid much of anything.  Many will argue that they don't deserve to be paid any more than they are based on how they treat people, yada yada yada.  Well, that's a vicious little circle that can be debated for days.  But I will never "get" that the guy at the top might make more in a hour than the person on the phone with me might make in a week.  Or longer.

The people in "Customer Service" positions these days aren't vested in what they're doing, probably won't be there for long, and in many cases haven't been given the training to do the job they've been placed in.

Next time you're somewhere like Lowe's Hardware or Home Depot and you want some assistance in say - bathroom fixtures, ask the person helping you how much training they've actually had in bathroom fixtures.  Chances are they just wandered over from selling someone a garden hose and fertilizer.

Because I'm no longer working and Donald is, I'm the one who gets to do a lot of the duties that we used to share.  And that's fair.  But it also means I'm the one who gets grumped at by "Customer Service" people who are, a lot of times, much too young to even know what "Customer Service" used to be.

Today's events were all mine.  And I have pitched one of the most royal fits I've ever pitched.  Since I'm not adverse to speaking my mind, believe me when I say, this one was a bad one.

Just because I may sound like I understand the problem does not mean I react well when confronted with it.

Rudeness begets rudeness.

Insurance companies are the bane of our civilization.

They are ruling and ruining the middle class of this country, and no - I do not think that's an exaggeration.

When I was told by my pharmacy this morning that my insurance company would not refill the eyedrops needed to have cataract surgery done on Monday I rolled my eyes, hung up the phone and called the insurance company.

In an attempt to explain that I was pretty close to the end of this bottle of drops because I had been using them for a little over two weeks for my right eye, I would not have enough to get me over the next two plus weeks for my left eye.

It is, after all, a teeny little bottle.

A teeny little bottle that does not magically replenish itself.

I was told they would approve renewing the prescription in two weeks.


Not good enough.


I went to youtube and played this song a few times and sang along -

Since then, I've freshened my coffee, sat down with the phone and have had conversations with my eye doctor here in Boone, the pharmacy, the insurance company, the surgeon's assistant at the eye clinic and a nurse at the eye clinic.

More than one conversation with each of the above.

This is not a good thing for someone like me who hates the telephone.

The one that ultimately had me snap was the surgeon's assistant at the eye clinic.  She refused to let me talk without interrupting.  She told me I was wrong with the information I was giving her.  She then said, "Mrs. Barley, you don't really know what you're talking about."  I finally asked her was it just me she had a problem with, or was it people in general?  No answer.  So, I said - "if it's me, how 'bout you just tell me what I've done to have had you treating me with so much disdain and condescension since the first conversation we had when we were setting up these appointments."  No answer.  So, I said - "we're done.  If you'll ask the doctor to call me, I'd appreciate it.  And if I don't hear from him, I'll just keep calling back until I do.  And I would suggest you find a job where you don't need to talk to people until you get your nasty little attitude adjusted because, honey, there really are people out there smarter than you're giving them credit for.  Most, much smarter than you.  And if you insist on being a bitch, you need to take some lessons 'cause you're not even that good at it."

About 30 minutes later, a triage nurse from the eye clinic called me.

A very pleasant, very professional woman.

And since I try to be fair about dishing out the good as well as the bad, I thanked her, told her how much I appreciated her professionalism and her kindness and wished her a pleasant day.  But not without also telling her she was part of a rare breed - and she said, "oh, Mrs. Barley, I know.  That's what makes me determined to try as hard as I can when this type of situation pops up.  There's always a solution."

Long story short - my prescription for the eye drops will be ready for me to pick up at the pharmacy in a couple hours.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Thirty Years Ago Today

Donald Scott Barley and I exchanged our wedding vows in front of family and friends in a little chapel in Smyrna, GA thirty years ago today.

That day was, I think, important in ways too numerous to say.  But, mostly, it was an opportunity for us to pledge our belief in our future together with one another in front of family and friends.

It's been a lovely 30 years.

Not always easy.

There have, absolutely, been bumps along the way.

Would I do it again?


It's fun being married to Don Barley.

He makes me laugh.

He cares about me, and for me.

He makes me crazy sometimes, just as I do him.

To say it's been a perfect 30 years with no bumps would be a lie and a dumb thing, I think, to say.

Some people swear they've gone their entire married life without an argument.

Bless their hearts.

To my mind, that means at least one person is a bottled up wretch of a shell with either no feelings or opinions or is just beat to hell and back and can't speak up for him or herself.

'Course.  I could be wrong, too.

What I do know is that May 11, 1986 was a perfect day.
and here's a few pix, if you'd like to see how we celebrated the occasion -

Sunday, May 8, 2016


Donald and Harley and I went to Knoxville for the weekend.

We went to see my Aunt Eve.

Eve was my mom's sister, and her best friend.

Here's a little collage I put together of the two of them a few years ago.

These pictures were taken one evening at our house in Meat Camp when my mom, Aunt Eve and her husband, J.T. were visiting.

Mother and Eve were always a hoot to be around.  They could get tickled over everything and nothing,  and this particular evening they were, as you can see, in fine form.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Mother's Day

I first posted this in 2011.

I had planned on revising it a little, so I added a few photos.


I found I could not - could not - bring myself to changing the words to past tense.

so, I'm leaving it as it was.

It says all it needs to say, I think, except for one thing.

I miss you, Mom.

Happy Mother's Day

My Mom, Mary Hazel Messick Wilkinson, is my buddy.  But.  When I was growing up, she was my Mom - first and always.  She  figured I had enough friends, and her job was to be my mom; to teach me the things you don't learn from your friends.  She did a great job.  And, honestly, still doing a great job of it.  She's quick to remind me, when I get too big for my britches, that she's the mother - and I am not ever to treat her any differently than that.  She will fight that role reversal thing we all worry about tooth and nail - and as of right now  she's winning.  So, yes, she's my buddy - but she's still my Mom.  The only thing I think she forgets is that she didn't actually give birth to Donald.  She loves the guy every bit as much as if she did, and it works both ways, he loves her right back.  She's sharp as a tack, cute, funny and a whole bunch of fun to hang out with.

Meet my Mom.

Hazel Wilkinson.

"To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power." 
Maya Angelou

"Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible -- the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family." ~ Virginia Satir