Friday, April 21, 2017

An Abundance of Katherines****

"When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton's type is girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has . . . an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun--but no Katherines." (Blurb from back cover.)

This is a delightful book, of the YA genre, I suppose. Yes, I'm sure kids do talk like that these days. Maybe they always did. Anyway, Colin is on a quest to fill the hole in his insides left by Katherine XIX. This entangles him with firearms, a feral pig, a Goliath-sized bully, and any number of less ominous adventures. I highly recommend it, even for OA's.

On Easter Sunday, Jed and I attended the Leeds Presbyterian Church, where I saw old friends and was welcomed by a lot of new ones. Sister Susan treated the family with a very fine Easter dinner at her house. A sumptuous feast.

During the recent hiatus in my blog posting, I've attended a poetry group meeting. Jed has visited from the great state of Georgia a couple of times, and I saw my doctor last week. He recommended reducing one of my medicines and adding still another. I'm "of two minds" about adding more drugs. But I'm usually of two minds about almost everything.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Soon May will come, with all the flowers that bloom,
et cetera. Will I still sit in this room
awaiting inspiration for poetical creation,
but writing only sterile gloom and doom?

Oh, no! I shall go forth to Nature's world,
and walk beneath the trees, and see the squirrels
and the chipmunks on the ground, hear the birds' melodic sound,
and perhaps to spy a hawk with wings unfurled.

I'll enjoy the exercise and health I'm gaining,
kick a few dead soggy leaves from fall remaining;
I will jump and skip and run, and when all of this is done,
improvise a little dance—unless it's raining.

Too long I've hidden from the world of people—
men and women, dogs and children, church and steeple;
I'll no longer play the hermit, but I'll sing and dance like Kermit,
and inhale perfume of flowers, bud and sepal.

Heaven strengthen me to keep this resolution,
and to my sad complaints find the solution;
let me confidently hope I'll no longer sit and mope,
but reform my world without a revolution.

By JRC 04/19/17 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Too Pooped to Pop, or Too Hot to Hoot

Today, Jed and I went to Birmingham to get my car tag, then found that the right place was in Bessemer, so there we went. Afterwards we ate lunch at the Irondale Café. But it was a lot more complicated than it sounds, and we are both worn to a frazzle. And Jed even has to drive back to Atlanta today.

"But fill me with the old familiar juice,
Methinks I might recover by and by. . ."

Last night the poetry group met at the Leeds Arts Council. Jed went with me, and I read my new poem, "This Rough Magic." It was a good meeting.

Friday, March 17, 2017

I'm Really Okay. I think.

Today I arrived for my dental appointment exactly four days and one hour early. Really, what happened is that I had dreaded it so much, I had changed the appointment a couple of times. I called myself checking my email confirmation this morning, but reckon I looked at the wrong one. A couple of other one o'clock appointments didn't show, so they took me anyway. I had a new technician, and she had some new fuzzy stuff to clean my posts, so my mouth isn't sore.

I did get my NFSPS entries postmarked on time Saturday. Or whenever the fifteenth was. If this is Friday, it must have been Wednesday. I entered 21 old and new poems that had never won much of anything, and had never been published. And probably never will, but you never know till you try.

Yesterday I cooked turnip greens and cornbread for lunch. Today I had corn, green beans and potato salad.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

No Book Today

Yesterday afternoon, Dave was dissatisfied. He thought the old beat-up mailbox spoiled the perfection of his artwork. So he went to Walmart and bought a spiffy new metal box and installed it. All this was surprisingly inexpensive: $14 for the mailbox, plus all the stuff he had on hand, and I paid him what I regularly pay him for a day's work. As long as the City of Valor doesn't bill me for a permit to replace a mailbox.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Pecan Man, by Cassie Dandridge Selleck***

This is our selection for the next book club meeting. It's a very short novel, and good reading. I finished it a few minutes ago.

I think Ramey is going to host the next meeting of the book club. I'm going to try to help her, as I don't believe I could handle having the group at my house. Though I don't know why. I feel well lately, as long as I don't have to walk a long way. We shall see.

Dave and Jennifer came over this morning. Jenn cleaned up the house, while Dave fixed my mailbox. He straightened the post and the crooked box, then replaced the crumbling wooden base around the foot of the post, then painted the base and the post brown because he had some brown paint. He painted the numbers white. I guess it's up to me to plant something inside the frame. Me and my black thumb.

I went to the post office this morning to mail my entries in the National Federation of State Poetry Societies' contests. I entered 21 contests. Anyway, the post office's computer or something was down, and they couldn't do postage and mailing. There was a long line, and a couple of us were only there to mail packages. I decided that, instead of waiting, I would come back tomorrow. I asked the lady behind the counter if she thought it would be fixed by tomorrow, and she said, "It'd better!" If it isn't, I'll go to the P.O. on Montclair road, because tomorrow is the deadline for mailing the stuff.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Oh, me!

I slept too long, and now I've got to go to Walmart for medicines and typing paper. I've got all my submissions for the NFSPS contests on the computer, but ran out of paper last night.

Need to find out what's making me sleep so long. I suspect it's the increase in my meds. Anyway, when you gotta go--

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Lost City of the Monkey God, by Douglas Preston****

I've nearly finished reading this new book (Jan. 2017). It's the most fascinating archaeology book I've read since 1976's Maya, by Charles Gallencamp. Makes me wish I could have been an archaeologist and could have gone with them to Honduras.

This has been a good day, with a lot of thunder and lightning and spattering rain. Tomorrow is Women's Strike Day, and I'll wear my red shirt in support. Although it's doubtful anyone will see me.

Today my cousin phoned. I wish there were something I could do for her. She's living in her and her husband's original house which is falling down around her, ill, without a car, and her two children don't help her much. Her son occasionally takes her to buy groceries or to a medical appointment, and she gives him and her grandchildren money all the time. She hasn't seen her daughter, who lives in Atlanta, for six years, when she (my cousin) drove part of the family to New York for her grandson's wedding. I try to get her to buy a car while she still has some of C.'s insurance money, but she seems to be in a paralysis of nerves, says her son won't help her look for a car, and she can't do it on her own. I take some of it with a grain of salt; it seems to me she has just found a sort of comfort zone in a houseful of cats and dogs, where she's not in danger of having to nursemaid another family member as she did her father and her husband for years on end.

She thinks after the children get all her money, they'll put her in a nursing home on welfare and forget about her, which sounds sort of reasonable, considering how they've treated her so far. I want to help her, but I'm reluctant to, like helping her get a car. If she had an accident, or even if she didn't, the son and daughter would probably jump on me like ducks on a june bug. Besides, I'm several years older than she, and not in the best of shape myself. I'm afraid to drive on the highways to get over there.

I must admit that her personality is a very large part of her problem. Since she and C. lost all their property except the little house where she lives now, she seems to turn all of her hurt and resentment outward. If a thought comes into her head, it goes out her mouth in a tirade. Knowing her history and how her personality came to be, it's very hard for me to blame her or hold her responsible. But while she still has money, she simply must take hold and rescue herself. Sometimes it's necessary to let a child/grandchild (or in her case, a bunch of them) fend for itself and take care of Numero Uno.

Maybe I shouldn't put this on my blog. But I can't vocally explain all this to other members of my family, and besides, I've got so many cousins, only a few will know whom I'm talking about.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Gothic First Novel, by Andrew Michael Hurley****

I enjoyed this book at the very beginning, because of the rainy, overcast seaside locale. It reminded me at first of the Cornish coast, Plymouth, Portsmouth, etc. But then the vegetation started sprouting and blooming too early, and other oddities happened. I had to keep going back to check things I thought I remembered but that didn't seem quite comme il faut.

I thoroughly agree with Stephen King that this is a whale of a first novel, worthy to be set up there beside some of Shirley Jackson's and Daphne duMaurier's tales. Those who complain of the many words they had to read before getting to the horror, most likely didn't catch the hints--nay, the events throughout--that I, too, understood only after the final explosion. The Loney really lives up to its name.

I think we should have this for a book club selection. Or maybe not. You don't get the full significance until after the end, and maybe not even then, that could have whispered, "You might better think twice about reading this!"

I bet "Tonto's" real name was Michael.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Polar Star by Martin Cruz Smith****

This is a very good crime novel, set in Siberia in the 1980's. It's a sequel to Gorky Park, another Russian novel by Martin Cruz Smith. The investigator is Arkady Renko, a very unhappy man. I've read a bunch of novels by this author, and these two are my favorites.

Today I received The Loney from Amazon. Sounds spooky.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Mercury Mariner

Jed came over Tuesday of this week, and on Wednesday a nice lady from Atlanta delivered my car. So I have to get used to having wheels again. It's a very dark blue, almost black. 2008 vintage, but it looks and feels like a new car.
To Be or Not To Be, by Ryan North***

I finished jumping around in this amusing and interesting book, probably about Feb. tenth.

Saturday, February 11, 2017


Every once in a while, my sister Ramey visits the Daylight Donut shop and brings me a selection of the goodies.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Whole Town's Talking, by Fannie Flagg***


The name of a town, Elmwood Springs. Being Fannie Flagg, she probably named it after Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham. Which, in an odd way, was appropriate.

A bored Indian who heard people talking. He thought they were birds squawking, and he went back to sleep.

A very evil pig named Sweet Potato, whose ultimate fate was never revealed.

An exploding bathroom commode.

The Heroine:

To me, a girl/woman/other named Elner was the real hero of this book. She was present, almost from the beginning of the story until 'way past the end, and she reminded me in some ways of my sister Susan.

I give this book four stars out of five. **** There.


"Fannie Flagg" was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1944, and grew up in Irondale. Her birth name was Patricia Neal. She changed it to Fannie Flagg as author- and stage-name because the actress Patricia Neal was already famous. -- Wikipedia

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Little Moses

Away by the waters so blue,
The ladies were winding their way,
When Pharaoh's little daughter stepped down in the water
To bathe in the cool of the day.
Before it was dark, she opened the ark
And found the sweet infant was there.

And away by the waters so blue,
The infant was lonely and sad.
She took him in pity and thought him so pretty,
It made little Moses feel glad.
She called him her own, her beautiful son,
And she sent for a nurse who was near.

And away by the waters so blue,
They carried this beautiful child
To his own tender mother, to his sisters and brothers.
Little Moses looked happy and smiled.
His mother so good did all that she could
To rear him and teach him with care.

And away by the sea that's called Red,
Little Moses the servant of God,
While in Him confided, the sea was divided
As upward he lifted his rod.
The Jews made it across, while Pharaoh's hosts
Were drowned in the waters and lost.

Carter family

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

E.E. Cummings, by Susan Cheever (2014)***

This is a good biography of Cummings, finished reading today. It includes many photographs from his life and acquaintances. Something I didn't know, Cummings was also an artist. His name was Edward Estlin Cummings, and he was called Estlin. This is my favorite poem by him:

All in green went my love riding
on a great horse of gold
into the silver dawn... et seq.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Roosevelt's Beast, by Louis Bayard, 2014*****

I started reading this book last night after watching "The Hunger Games" (2012) on TV. Its 299 pages took about 3 wee hours to read. Another one that I couldn't put down.

Roosevelt's Beast is a novel imagining what might have happened to Theodore Roosevelt and his son Kermit on an actual expedition into the Brazilian forest in 1914.

"Roosevelt's Beast is a story of the impossible things that become possible when civilization is miles away, when the mind plays tricks on itself, and when old family secrets refuse to stay buried. With his characteristically rich storytelling and a touch of old-fashioned horror, the bestselling and critically acclaimed Louis Bayard turns the story of the well-known Roosevelt-Rondon expedition on its head and dares to ask: Are the beasts among us more frightening than the beasts within?" - Goodreads

Kermit Roosevelt, a sketch by John Singer Sargent from his book
I read a book by Louis Bayard several years ago, Mr. Timothy, which was pretty good but not as interesting as this later book. It was a novel of Dickens's Tiny Tim grown up.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Some Recent Notes

Last night I watched (again) the saddest movie I have ever seen, and certainly one of the best--"Legends of the Fall," 1994.

Putting Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins in the same film conjures up magic. The same thing happens in "Meet Joe Black."
Here's a poem I wrote on Jan. 10:

Water Sign

Water-colored, my eyes are
turquoise, blue-green
I crave the rain, clear aquamarine
water-bearer to earth, air and fire

Clouds cheer me, wet, weighty
with jeweled drops airborne
to anoint dry lips that mourn
for moisture in sea, sand, humanity

Drought alters all that lives and thrives
My eyes reflect the face
of earth in sere and sun-burnt poise

When silver rain revives
this parched and withered place  
my eyes turn back from amber to turquoise

Sunday, January 1, 2017


In all my years in this neighborhood, yesterday was the most quiet New Year's Eve I have ever heard. Sounded like a few kids with firecrackers, and just a couple of booms but no shooting stars, etc. Always before, at any major holiday, I've watched fireworks from my deck or high front windows. Nothing to watch this NYE. I can understand it as far as Democrats are concerned, but what's wrong with all the victorious voters who look forward to the rewards of 2017?

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The better to see you with.

On the last day of 2016, I've decided to pick up my blog again. The Christmas and birthday holidays have been wonderful, with Jed, the sisters and nieces and nephews. Susan invited us to her house for Christmas Eve soup supper, and Jed treated us to birthday luncheon at Carrabba's. Dave and his daughter have been very good, checking on me and helping me out since I've been without a car.

A week or so ago, I had an eye exam and got a prescription for new glasses. They dilated my eyes. Up until then, I was seeing okay, but over the past few days my vision has got so blurry, it's very hard to read. And I have a stack of good books that "won't read themselves," as they say. I went to Walmart--they have a better selection of frames, and better prices on glasses than I expected. My glasses should be ready sometime this week. The doctor at UAB Eye Hospital said I've got cataracts and should have the surgery sometime in the future, so I've got that to look forward to.

I hope all my friends and loved ones have a very Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Pterodactyl time

I think I'm having one long anxiety or panic attack. I have no pain or nausea, can't identify anything specific, but feel like I'm dying. Like the worst has happened, but things can always get super-worse. I've had this before, but it never before lasted for such a long time.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Greatest 1935-2007

Is it possible that Pavarotti has been dead for nine years?

He once said that his father was 70 years old and still had a beautiful singing voice. Luciano hoped that he himself would be granted such a blessing, and he was. His voice deepened and colored into the finest and most moving tenor voice I have ever heard. I rank him, Maria Callas and Elvis Presley as the three outstanding voices of the twentieth century.

I miss him. I haven't yet played all the recordings I have of him--half a drawer full. The other half, and another whole drawer, are full of Elvis recordings.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Another Crock-Pot Fiasco

Another pot to soak and scrape. I bet people who post these "simple easy" crock-pot recipes on Facebook get a good laugh when people complain about the results. I tried the cake-in-a-crock-pot recipe and wound up with a disgusting mush instead of a pretty brown-on-the-top confection. At least it made the house smell good for a while.
And why isn't PBS showing Poldark tonight? Should I blame Obama, or that other guy?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Pat and I went to the poetry meeting yesterday evening, and it started storming just as we started home. She was driving, and since she is one of the two best drivers I've ever known, we made it home through the sturm and drang. I slept this morning and this afternoon until nearly one o'clock, and when I looked outside, I saw that the storm had split one of the oak trees.

I'm making a quilt, or throw or pillow sham or something, out of my old raggedy jeans. Glad I saved them, and now I'm rid of them. Just have to sew the rows together and decide what I'm going to do with it.

I'm not going to fringe all the seams and then wash and dry it in my some-20-year-old washer and dryer, and try to deal with all the bits of thread left in them. But something will occur.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

I voted.

So did it seemed like a couple thousand other people. I've never seen such crowds at a voting place. Scarcely dare we hope Democrats.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Made by MER?

I found this little quilt top in the basement, and just washed it. This photo looks blue and yellow and sort of orange, but it's really pretty pink, blue and white, all hand-stitched. It's hanging across the shower rod to dry. The size is about 40x70 inches.  The blocks are 10" square; I couldn't get far enough away to photograph the whole thing. I think it would make a lovely baby quilt, taking off the bottom 2 rows of blocks. I don't remember ever seeing it before.

I've got at least half a dozen tops that need to be quilted. I could have some of them machine quilted, but hand-quilting would be better for this one and Mama's basket quilt.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

November at Last

Yesterday for dinner I had turnip greens, green beans, ripe tomatoes, and the best cornbread I've ever had. The bread was from a Mexican mix, with jalapenos and I don't know what-all. And then came bunches and bunches of trick-or-treat visitors--they got about fifteen dollars worth of candy. I had to raid my kitchen candy bin to eke out the treats. I always give individually-wrapped stuff, Hershey minis, etc. Wish I had thought to photograph some of the little gremlins, cutest things ever!

I guess November is my second-favorite month of the year. Just hope the weather cools down some and rains some. This week and next, I'll have people around fixing the roof and the outside gas gadgets, cleaning up the leaf-covered yard, and other things. Have already had the furnace inspected and the gas turned off from the wrecked grill and burnt-out yard lamp.

I read on the news that one of my favorite actors, Val Kilmer, is battling cancer. He's having fun with his art work, though. He starred in some of my favorite movies: The Ghost and the Darkness, Thunderheart, The Saint, and one with Kim Basinger that I don't remember the title. Also the best movie I've seen about Billy the Kid. Great actor.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Two Meetings

Ramey, Jed and I went to Calera yesterday to the ASPS meeting. This photo is by Jerri H. It seemed to me that I smiled and grinned until my jaws were sore, but she managed to catch me looking--the way my mug looks in this picture--natural, I guess.

The "crowd" at the meeting was very small. When we arrived, a message came about the caterer; on the way to Calera he had been stopped by police, and all the food was unloaded and investigated. But eventually he arrived, and we had lunch. Then the prizes/awards were given out, and Ramey and I each won a couple of second and third prizes.

On Thursday, I went to the Leeds Arts Council where our poetry group entertained Jim and Liz Reed's Birmingham Arts Journal staff. This time there was a huge crowd, and I enjoyed meeting old acquaintances and new.

Something a bit funny happened when I got to the Arts Council--Joan D. hugged me, and one of her earrings got tangled in my hair. We spent about five minutes getting untangled, with everyone laughing at us.

Jed went back to Atlanta today, and I'm resting up for whatever this week has in store.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Ghosts of Halloween

I want to make some more, maybe several in my old shrubbery, if I "have the time."

It's nearly noon, when I have to shift into high gear and get ready for tonight's event.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Cherchez les Duds du Clown

I've turned my house upside-down hunting Valentine Ballantyne's Halloween costume. This is it, from last year. Or some year before last.

Right now he and Jerry are dressed for Christmas. Those are the only two outfits he owns, except for his skivvies. No--that's wrong. His original costume was a red jumpsuit printed with white hearts, and a matching beret. I can't find it, either.
I had to go to Walmart yesterday to pick up a prescription. Then today I had to go to Publix to find all my stuff for the Arts Council meeting tomorrow night. And after turning the house topsy-turvy, I'm purt-near wore out, as Maw Maw would say.

Monday, October 24, 2016

What a Week Ahead of Me!

I just received an ASPS email that said I have at least one good reason to attend the Fall meeting this-coming weekend. That usually means at least one of my poems won, at least an honorable mention. I've registered for Jed and me to attend the ASPS awards luncheon on Saturday, Oct. 29.

On Friday evening, the 28th, the Leeds poetry group is entertaining Jim Reed's publishing staff at the Arts Council, and I've volunteered to help with refreshments. So that means I can get home from the Arts Council and just stay up all night and go to the ASPS meeting without having to change clothes. Just joking, but it's possible.

Jed is coming over for the awards luncheon, but I don't know which day he plans to come. Probably Friday, and he can give me moral support for the weekend.

An added incentive: Last week I ordered a new dress from Coldwater Creek. I hope it arrives soon, and the post-person doesn't try to stuff it into my mailbox or leave it on my front porch.

I was mistaken about the Birmingham Arts Journal meeting at the Arts Council. It's Thursday, Oct. 27, instead of Friday. So that makes it better for me timewise.