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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.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Oh, Annabelle



Annabelle peed on the floor this morning.

I was not happy.

I scolded her and opened the back door for her to go out.

Now, don't get me wrong.

Annabelle loves being outside, so normally she does not think of this as punishment.

But.

This morning, I guess she figured out I was not a happy mama.

She wouldn't even leave the deck.

Just stared at me through the screen with this sad, pitiful face.

jeeeeeez . . . 





How do you resist a face like this?




Well, I can't.

I just can't.






Thursday, June 22, 2017

From Imaginary Museum Poems on Art

Matisse Replies to Snodgrass: A Poem About a Poem About a Painting

His mind turned in in concentrated fury,
Till he sank . . . 
His own room drank him.
 - - W. D. Snodgrass, "Matisse: "The Red Studio"

Looking into my red studio,
were you surprised to find no one there?

Calm yourself, my friend, I was only out
of sight, preparing the space for visitors.

Since I am not a part of what I see,
I leave myself unframed.  Do you undersstand?

This room is decorated for pleasure,
colored warm to comfort your needled heart.

My art is an embrace, not a devour.
Come inside.  A painted chair awaits you.

I will be there.  Together we will share
a refreshing drink of my bright scarlet air.

by Joseph Stanton



Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Death of the Hat



Once every man wore a hat.
In the ashen newsreels,
the avenues of cities
are broad rivers flowing with hats.
The ballparks swelled
with thousands of strawhats,
brims and bands,
rows of men smoking
and cheering in shirtsleeves.
Hats were the law.
They went without saying.
You noticed a man without a hat in a crowd.
You bought them from Adams or Dobbs
who branded your initials in gold
on the inside band.
Trolleys crisscrossed the city.
Steamships sailed in and out of the harbor.
Men with hats gathered on the docks.
There was a person to block your hat
and a hatcheck girl to mind it
while you had a drink
or ate a steak with peas and a baked potato.
In your office stood a hat rack.
The day the war was declared
everyone in the street was wearing a hat
and they were wearing hats
when a ship loaded with men sank in the icy sea.
My father wore one to work every day
and returned home
carrying the evening paper,
the winter chill radiating from his overcoat.
But today we go bareheaded
into the winter streets,
stand hatless on frozen platforms.
Today the mailboxes on the roadside
and the spruce trees behind the house
wear cold white hats of snow.
Mice scurry from the stone walls at night
in their thin fur hats
to eat the birdseed that has spilled.
And now my father, after a life of work,
wears a hat of earth,
and on top of that,
A lighter one of cloud and sky--a hat of wind.

 - - Billy Collins





Thursday, June 15, 2017

Congratulations, Tracy K. Smith



Tracy K. Smith Is the New Poet Laureate



https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets/detail/tracy-k-smith

My God, It's Full of Stars
BY TRACY K. SMITH
1.

We like to think of it as parallel to what we know,
Only bigger. One man against the authorities.
Or one man against a city of zombies. One man

Who is not, in fact, a man, sent to understand
The caravan of men now chasing him like red ants
Let loose down the pants of America. Man on the run.

Man with a ship to catch, a payload to drop,
This message going out to all of space. . . . Though
Maybe it’s more like life below the sea: silent,

Buoyant, bizarrely benign. Relics
Of an outmoded design. Some like to imagine
A cosmic mother watching through a spray of stars,

Mouthing yes, yes as we toddle toward the light,
Biting her lip if we teeter at some ledge. Longing
To sweep us to her breast, she hopes for the best

While the father storms through adjacent rooms
Ranting with the force of Kingdom Come,
Not caring anymore what might snap us in its jaw.

Sometimes, what I see is a library in a rural community.
All the tall shelves in the big open room. And the pencils
In a cup at Circulation, gnawed on by the entire population.

The books have lived here all along, belonging
For weeks at a time to one or another in the brief sequence
Of family names, speaking (at night mostly) to a face,

A pair of eyes. The most remarkable lies.


2.

Charlton Heston is waiting to be let in. He asked once politely.
A second time with force from the diaphragm. The third time,
He did it like Moses: arms raised high, face an apocryphal white.

Shirt crisp, suit trim, he stoops a little coming in,
Then grows tall. He scans the room. He stands until I gesture,
Then he sits. Birds commence their evening chatter. Someone fires

Charcoals out below. He’ll take a whiskey if I have it. Water if I don’t.
I ask him to start from the beginning, but he goes only halfway back.
That was the future once, he says. Before the world went upside down.

Hero, survivor, God’s right hand man, I know he sees the blank
Surface of the moon where I see a language built from brick and bone.
He sits straight in his seat, takes a long, slow high-thespian breath,

Then lets it go. For all I know, I was the last true man on this earth. And:
May I smoke? The voices outside soften. Planes jet past heading off or back.
Someone cries that she does not want to go to bed. Footsteps overhead.

A fountain in the neighbor’s yard babbles to itself, and the night air
Lifts the sound indoors. It was another time, he says, picking up again.
We were pioneers. Will you fight to stay alive here, riding the earth

Toward God-knows-where? I think of Atlantis buried under ice, gone
One day from sight, the shore from which it rose now glacial and stark.
Our eyes adjust to the dark.


3.

Perhaps the great error is believing we’re alone,

That the others have come and gone—a momentary blip—

When all along, space might be choc-full of traffic,

Bursting at the seams with energy we neither feel

Nor see, flush against us, living, dying, deciding,

Setting solid feet down on planets everywhere,

Bowing to the great stars that command, pitching stones

At whatever are their moons. They live wondering

If they are the only ones, knowing only the wish to know,

And the great black distance they—we—flicker in.


Maybe the dead know, their eyes widening at last,

Seeing the high beams of a million galaxies flick on

At twilight. Hearing the engines flare, the horns

Not letting up, the frenzy of being. I want to be

One notch below bedlam, like a radio without a dial.

Wide open, so everything floods in at once.

And sealed tight, so nothing escapes. Not even time,

Which should curl in on itself and loop around like smoke.

So that I might be sitting now beside my father

As he raises a lit match to the bowl of his pipe

For the first time in the winter of 1959.




 4.


In those last scenes of Kubrick’s 2001
When Dave is whisked into the center of space,
Which unfurls in an aurora of orgasmic light
Before opening wide, like a jungle orchid
For a love-struck bee, then goes liquid,
Paint-in-water, and then gauze wafting out and off,
Before, finally, the night tide, luminescent
And vague, swirls in, and on and on. . . .

In those last scenes, as he floats
Above Jupiter’s vast canyons and seas,
Over the lava strewn plains and mountains
Packed in ice, that whole time, he doesn’t blink.
In his little ship, blind to what he rides, whisked
Across the wide-screen of unparcelled time,
Who knows what blazes through his mind?
Is it still his life he moves through, or does
That end at the end of what he can name?

On set, it’s shot after shot till Kubrick is happy,
Then the costumes go back on their racks
And the great gleaming set goes black.


5.

When my father worked on the Hubble Telescope, he said
They operated like surgeons: scrubbed and sheathed
In papery green, the room a clean cold, a bright white.

He’d read Larry Niven at home, and drink scotch on the rocks,
His eyes exhausted and pink. These were the Reagan years,
When we lived with our finger on The Button and struggled

To view our enemies as children. My father spent whole seasons
Bowing before the oracle-eye, hungry for what it would find.
His face lit-up whenever anyone asked, and his arms would rise

As if he were weightless, perfectly at ease in the never-ending
Night of space. On the ground, we tied postcards to balloons
For peace. Prince Charles married Lady Di. Rock Hudson died.

We learned new words for things. The decade changed.

The first few pictures came back blurred, and I felt ashamed
For all the cheerful engineers, my father and his tribe. The second time,
The optics jibed. We saw to the edge of all there is—

So brutal and alive it seemed to comprehend us back.

Tracy K. Smith, "My God, It's Full of Stars" from Life on Mars. Copyright © 2011 by Tracy K. Smith

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Tired



I am so tired of waiting,
Aren't you,
For the world to become good
And beautiful and kind?
Let us take a knife
And cut the world in two-
And see what worms are eating
At the rind.

- - Langston Hughes

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Loafing


I looked into the room a moment ago,
and this is what I saw —
my chair in its place by the window,
the book turned facedown on the table.
And on the sill, the cigarette
left burning in its ashtray.
Malingerer! my uncle yelled at me
so long ago. He was right.
I’ve set aside time today,
same as every day,
for doing nothing at all.

by Raymond Carver

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Wonder Woman



If you're a Facebook friend, you know by now that I'm head over heels in love with the new Wonder Woman movie.



I went back to see it today for the second time.




And a nice thing happened.

Because it's so easy for me to complain about "customer service" sorts of things, here's my story about how a young man helped make my day a good one. 

I went to see Wonder Woman (again) and I went to see it in 3D (again). 

I asked the nice young man at the ticket counter if they provided anything to help folks like me who have difficulty understanding everything being said in the movie 'cause I feel like a miss a lot. 

He could not have been more kind or more helpful. 

I had my choice between a head-set (no, I already wear hearing aids) or glasses that would give me closed captioning. 

When I asked if he had any suggestions on how I could manage those along with the 3D glasses and my own glasses he said, "let me think." 

Disappeared and came back with the closed caption glasses which he had somehow placed the 3D "glass" over. 

Voilà!

It was perfect. 


Don't you love nice people? 

Don't you especially love nice people who will think through a problem and make it a non-problem? 

And - he never once made me feel like I was a bother or an annoyance. 

Some of you have no idea how often that happens to those of us who are women of a certain age. 

'Course, to be fair, I've gotten that a lot my entire life, so I guess I do need to take some responsibility . . .


Anyhooooooo - - - if you haven't seen Wonder Woman yet, I highly recommend it.  


I may have to go again my own darn self.





Thursday, June 8, 2017

Glass Houses by Louise Penny





Release Date:   August 29, 2017 (available for Pre-Order)


I have, most of my life, had a list of authors I've considered my "auto-buy" authors. 


Slowly, over the years, the list as dwindled. 

There is now a very small group of writers remaining on that list. Louise Penny has been there, at the top, since I happened upon Still Life. 

Honestly, I do not think there's anyone writing today who is writing as well as she. 

She has taken pen to page and created a group of people her readers have grown to love. Some have stories we're still waiting to learn. Some have broken our hearts. Ms. Penny takes the pieces of broken hearts, puts them back together and raises them high - to the light. And she does it fearlessly. 

She's able to write about tough topics, as she does in Glass Houses, with a deft and sure hand. Helps us remember that even when we're doubting the world we live in, there is goodness. 

Glass Houses kept me on my toes. It had some surprises that made me think. And, as always, there was the irreverence and subtle humor that have become a Louise Penny signature. 

I loved Glass Houses. 

I want to stumble into Three Pines and never leave.



Note:  I received an advance reading copy from the publisher with no discussion regarding whether or not I would review the book.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Learning. Creating. Growing.


Guess what I did today?

I learned how to play "Mary Had a Little Lamb" on my flute.

The flute I bought a couple years ago.

Shortly after searching, finding and buying a nice used flute at a very reasonable price, my mom got sick and the flute was put away for awhile.

But, now it's time to give it a try. 

If the rest of my lessons are as fun as today's was, it might be one of the things I'll stick with.

At least for awhile.


Who knows.

Several years ago I remember being behind a woman in the grocery store and I was eavesdropping.  It was either that or read the tabloids - which would you choose?

I overheard her say she wished she'd had a mother who had made her take piano lessons when she was little like some of her friends' mothers had.  As it was, she said, she had nothing.  No talents, no hobbies, nothing.

Whoa.

The woman was about my age.  Certainly old enough to stop blaming her mama for things she's certainly able to do on her own by now.


Never mind.  Not my problem.


But, for some reason, I have not been able to get that woman out of my mind.  There are, I suppose, a lot of people who won't try new things.  They're too busy, they say they're too old, whatever.

My feeling about this is if there's something a person wants to do badly enough, they'll find a way to do it.  If not, they'll find excuses not to.

I thought of her today while learning about my flute, and learning to play "Mary Had a Little Lamb."

The poor woman has no idea the walls she's built around herself.  Around her life.


I have a whole host of things I’ve tried. A few I have loved, a few I haven’t. 

Not many have captured my heart completely for the long haul, and some get tucked away for periods of time only to ease themselves back into my mind sometimes many years later needing to come out and play again.  

But I always have to try and at least get it out of my system.


That need to create is always in me.  

Or, at the very least, to learn.  I love learning new things - new artists, new authors, a new way to cook chicken  -  whatever.  A new word sometimes calls for celebration.


While the outlets for creativity are endless, sorting through all the choices appealing to our own creative interests may take a lifetime. But, so what - it’s a journey and its fun. 

How glorious to put our hands and our hearts to work on creating a piece that is all ours, and says exactly what we want to say; that contains a piece of our heart and soul. Something we’re so proud of that we can’t wait to share it, especially with loved ones. The sharing and giving of that piece is the giving of a piece of ourselves; and there’s not a truer, more trusting gift to be given. 

And it can be anything. A piece of writing, a piece of music, a quilt or other fiber art, jewelry, pottery, painting, photography, or a beezillion other lovely artistic, creative things. 

There’s no rule saying you have to find one area in which to be artistically creative and stick with that one and only thing. There’s nothing stopping us from dipping into several different venues, only to walk away from some knowing that that particular art or craft is just not quite what we’re looking for. That it is just not making our soul sing. Its gotta make our soul sing. When it does, we know we have happened onto magic. It’s a pure gentleness that settles inside us. A whispered “yes.”

Some folks may become quite well known for their endeavors, and they deserve our applause and our continued support. What could be lovelier and more agreeable, and more empowering, than to be able to live your life and make your livelihood from doing what you love? 

Most of us won’t ever reach that particular dream of making a living doing what we love.  That doesn't mean we won't continue creating and learning and blooming by trying new outlets. Its just something inside wanting, and needing, to find a way out while proving to us over and over again that our need to express will not be denied.


Cooking. My very first "for fun" class ever as an adult was a cooking class. Ursula's Cooking School in Atlanta. I'm still, however, one of the most boring cooks on God's green earth. That's not to say I don't, on occasion, feel the urge to spend time in my kitchen working at something that's particularly labor intensive, like Country Pâté.  And love doing it.  And I do love to bake.  But the kitchen is not my most happy place to stoke my creativity.


Singing. Now there’s something I’ve always wished I could do. I can’t. Surely and simply, I just can’t. But it doesn’t stop me from doing it. Sometimes I just let it rip. And I know my voice is as sweetly clear as Alison Krauss’.  

Pffft.  

Not even in my own mind.

But, that’s O.K. It just feels terrific. Throwing your head back and making some joyful noise just feels good. And when I see Donald squinch his eyes up ‘cause I’ve hit a note that’s made his head hurt, I have to laugh out loud. Which makes him laugh out loud. And you know - that feels pretty terrific too. Honestly - what’s better than a belly laugh?  And what's more freeing than being able to laugh at yourself?

Basket making. I took a class and made the ugliest basket known to man. But because I just knew I was going to love it (I did not), I bought tons of basket making supplies which I promptly gave away.



Knitting. I took a knitting class about a million years ago. I knitted a sweater for practice husband #2.  I knitted a sweater for my dad, which I now have.  I love looking at that sweater and remembering how often I saw my dad wear it. I knitted a popcorn pattern hat and mittens (which I still have). And that was the end of my knitting until a few years ago when knitting made a big comeback. I love hand knitted pieces. Anything and everything hand knitted is beautiful to me. But I didn’t want to do sweaters or hats or mittens. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I just wanted to knit! Just endlessly knit. No patterns, nothing in particular as an end result. So I went to the local knitting shop (which is filled with such gorgeous threads and fibers I could move right in), and asked the young woman working there how much yarn I would need to knit (no purling) an afghan of a particular size. I just walked around the shop picking up skeins of yarn in shades of reds and pinks in different weights and textures. Needless to say, to a true knitter this was not the way things were done. The young woman was curious and a bit skeptical about what I wanted to do and asked me to let her know how it turned out. It turned out exactly as my heart’s eye had envisioned it. I love it. It makes me smile whenever I look at it draped over my favorite red chair. And my “need” to knit was sated for the time being.





And while I absolutely do know this would not appeal to everyone?  

I don't care.  

I did it for me.

And I love it.


Needlepoint. I love to needlepoint. Somehow though, I’ve ended up with very little of it. The many, many pieces I did back when I was very much into needlepoint were all given as gifts, so I don’t have much of it around my own house. 






I do have a canvas that I’m working on. 

When I say “working on,” I mean I pull it out every so often and do a little, then it gets put away for awhile. This particular piece I'm working on has been in the works now for a few years. It’s a hoot and fun and colorful and whimsical. A group of women sitting around a pizza having a chat. 

This canvas is from Maggie & Co., and the artist is Jerry Fenter.





Counted Cross Stitch. I love doing reproduction samplers. Or modern samplers that integrate old stitches that were in danger of disappearing. Doing just little crosses doesn’t appeal to me, but the more intricate stitches appeals to me greatly. 







And I love how plain old floss has evolved into the gorgeous hand dyed works of art that it has. Just being surrounded by the gorgeous dyed linens and silks of today’s counted cross stitching is an aesthetic high.






Weaving. Took a class - several, actually. One from Betty Smith in Atlanta. Betty teaches at the John C. Campbell Folk School, or used to - I’ve lost track of her, but she is a weaver extraordinaire, and a great teacher. Took another class at the Chastain Arts Center in Atlanta, and at the Dream Weavers Studio in Atlanta. I love weaving. But I just don’t seem to “get” it. First of all, dressing the loom is not a fun thing to me. The fun part is throwing that shuttle and watching my work actually come alive. Dressing the loom involves some mathematics (eek!), and it takes a lot of time. I dressed a loom one time thinking I was going to have a beautiful, long shawl. I was surprised when I started throwing the shuttle and my shawl was done so quickly. What I ended up with was a belt. A short belt. Pitiful. The one piece I did make that I’m quite proud of is a gorgeous ivory silk boucle shawl. ‘Course, I could have bought one for less than 1/3 of what it cost me considering the cost of the silk and the class, but it is a beauty.


We have a gorgeous loom.

Guess who uses it?




Pottery. Man oh man - did I ever want to be a potter. Mm mm. Let’s just say, I have a huge respect for potters. I no longer think pottery prices are too high. If you have zero strength in your hands, and if you don’t much care for mud dripping off your glasses, or stuck in your hair, being a potter may not be in your future either.

Jewelry making. This I love. I have only taken one class from local jewelry artisan Jim Rice which was a full semester long, and have some wonderful pieces that I’m very proud of. 






But do I love it enough to want to take more classes and continue learning? Undecided.



A few years back I took a mixed media collage class, and yes, I loved it too. Some of you may have heard of Cathy Taylor who is a watercolor and collage artist. 


She did a one week class here in Boone at Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff. I’ve always had a fascination with collage art, and this was a class I really enjoyed. 





After doing my first one (above), I find myself digging around for bits and pieces of ephemera now to make another one from time to time. 


Cheap Joe aka Joe Miller is quite the artist himself, and has built an unbelievable studio for guest artists to come and give classes. I cannot recommend these classes, or Cheap Joe’s Art Supplies highly enough. Take a look on-line at his store, his set-up and the line-up of artists and classes and think about attending one. They are simply fantastic.

A few weeks ago, I did a fun little thing with my friend Virginia.


The Blowing Rock Art and History Museum had a Cork 'N Canvas Day.

We sipped wine and painted and it was just a whole bunch of fun.









(I didn't say I was good at this --- I said I had fun doing it!)





And in between all these things, I write a little.







And, I do some photography.  Donald and I both are interested in photography and we have taken some fun classes.  It's the one thing I've been doing religiously and relentlessly since I was a kid.





The expense of a digital camera more than offsets what I used to spend on film and developing.  

'Course, when the B and H Photo Catalog arrives in the mail, we're like two kids with our Christmas wish book. 


Did I mention I learned how to play "Mary Had a Little Lamb" today?

Life is good.

And - 

I'd like to thank my friend Shirley McElhaney for always inspiring me to keep trying new things and to believe in art.  






Monday, June 5, 2017

Kathryn Stripling Byer, RIP


In 2009, I happened to read about a submission call in Kathryn Stripling Byer's blog, "Here Where I Am." 

Kay was North Carolina's fifth poet laureate. The first woman to hold the position. 

With encouragement from Kay, I submitted a piece I had posted in Meanderings and Muses and the piece was accepted. 

There's nothing like seeing your work published for the first time. And I have Kay Byer to thank, which I did. Many times. 

To then find out she herself would be one of the Western North Carolina women writers included in the anthology made the happiness that much sweeter. 

Through the years, I found Kay to be one of the most generous people I'd ever encountered. Yesterday I learned that she was in hospice care.  This evening I learned that she has left us, and I'm wondering if she realized just how many people she helped with her poetry, and her generosity, along the way. I hope so.






Last Light by Kay Stripling Byer
from DESCENT

The tests I need to pass are prescribed by the spirits
of place who understand travel but not amnesia.
from “This Is My Third and Last Address to You” --Adrienne Rich

1.
Almost the age when memory falters,
I fear being made to count backward
by seven’s, to answer to date, year, and
Presidents, as if those numbers and names
matter more in the end than this place
where I stand at the same kitchen window,
observing the same pines set swaying by wind,
reaching upward as I’ll reach, come morning,
my arms to the ceiling, breathing the dark out
of body and spirit, exhaling that old dream
of nothingness: laying my head down to sleep.

2.
Now Rocky Face Ridge catches fire
in the last light and, though I can’t hear it
from where I stand, Cullowhee Creek tumbles into
the Tuckaseegee, always unscrolling beneath me
the names I already know. Snowbird.
Buzzards Roost. Weyahutta. Oconaluftee.

3.
I don’t know how long names can last
if there’s no one to care where they live.
What I saw on the hairpin curve down from
the Chimney Tops, white as snow, I’ve not forgotten.
Phacelia. And how, on the trail leading
up to the summit of Suncota Ridge,
I saw sauntering toward me a young woman
I could have sworn was the reincarnation of
every spring wildflower ever named anywhere.

4.
Closer she comes to me each April,
as if she means more than I have a lifetim
to know. Roundabout her, her white Easter dress
whispers every thing I want to keep living
here in this valley that cups the last swallow of light,
every name I must reach to remember or else
lose them, hillside by hillside, to darkness.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

It's "Oh, Kaye!" Day


you know what that means.

I'm at Jungle Red - http://www.jungleredwriters.com/

We're talking about all the special fur babies who have shared time with us.  

Pop over and tell us about yours.



Thursday, June 1, 2017

Sweet, Silly Annabelle

We keep opening up a little more of the house for Annabelle as she grows up some and gets better about some of those bad puppy things.

You know - like house breaking (Phew!  That's pretty much behind us now, thank goodness.)

Chewing on things she shouldn't be chewing on (Phew!  That's pretty much behind us now, thank goodness.)  Except for shoe laces - the girl loves her some shoe laces.  Especially if those laces are on her daddy's boots.

So.

Today, I was reading and she was being very quiet.

Quiet can be scary

Especially when I can't see her.

I got up and peeked behind my chair, and found her bringing some of her favorite things together in a little pile, including her blankie from her crate.





When I asked if she needed any help, she just stepped back and smiled at me.



Lord, but I do love this funny little girl.