Monday, February 26, 2018

My Favorite Tiny Rock

That's a quarter and its shadow beside the rock. The rock is the correct size. I don't know what happened to the quarter.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Kindred, by Octavia E. Butler***

This is the selection for our next book club meeting. The protagonist and narrator is a light-colored black woman named Dana. Both she and her husband, an older white male, are writers. Dana is involuntarily drawn back in time to the early nineteenth century southern United States, where she learns hard lessons about slavery. This is a good book. The only things I noticed that I would quarrel with are three instances of using the pronoun "I" as the object of a verb.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Yesterday's Dream

I dreamed I was looking out the kitchen window, and there was Mama, pushing a great load of deep pink flowers up onto the deck. She was standing between the stairs and the wall, a distance of about 14 feet below the deck railing, but she succeeded in pushing the bunch of flowers over the railing. That suggests how big the bouquet was.

Then she walked away. She was wearing white ankle pants and a pink shirt, and her hair was short and curly.

Today I woke up in great pain and stiffness. My right hand was swollen and hurting like everything. I held it over the mug when I made coffee, and the heat helped. This happens often, so I've been trying to lift things and write with my left hand. My right leg also hurts a lot when I wake up. But I don't know how to practice walking left-legged.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Book of Strange New Things, by Michel Faber****

This is a very good book, which edges over into science fiction. Still, it feels very real. I don't want to say much more about it, in case some members of the book club--or any others--haven't read it yet. It's a very big book, exactly 500 big pages, but worth reading every word.

I haven't done anything very interesting lately. I dreamed someone left two half-grown kittens at my house. One was a thin and dirty tabby cat, not very healthy looking. The other looked okay, except it was a skinny tabby cat, too. Matter of fact, since I've been petless, Mo is the only good-looking cat I remember dreaming of.

Sometimes I miss Mo so much, I talk to him, even though he's not here.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Random Harvest*****

In my opinion, this is one of the best novels ever written. I re-read it yesterday.

We're supposed to get some snow and ice and stuff today, but I haven't seen any yet. Rhiannon came yesterday and cleaned. She also put the trash cart on the street, and then she went to the store for me. So I don't have to get out today.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Catching Up Again

I really enjoyed the Holiday Season. Jed, mainly, cooked Christmas dinner, and Susan, Pat and India came over and shared it with us. New Year's eve and day were fairly subdued; even the fireworks around here were quiet, compared to previous years.

Jed gave me a book by Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom. I finished reading it today, having delayed starting it in favor of, among other things, taking down the Christmas decorations. Now they're down, but where to store them is the question. Anyway, one thing that impressed me very much in Douglass's book was his discovery that the United States Constitution does not protect slavery, but protects us from slavery, when properly observed. It's a great book, and ought to be included among the group of that name.


Here's a picture of my Christmas tree. This is the first big tree I've put up in several years. I hated to take it down.

Also the dab of snow we had before Christmas.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Busy, Busy!

I've got a bunch of things to do, and maybe a week to do them in. Decorate the tree, clean out the refrigerator--

I can't think of anything else except putting the groceries away and cooking some stuff. It seemed like such a lot until I sat down and thought about it.

It's been so long since I put up a real Christmas tree--that Ramey had to do it. But I helped. But now I have to decorate it. It'll be fun once I get started. Yes, it will.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

More of the Same

The illness that I had earlier this year, or whenever it was, has returned, colitis or whatever it is. I feel pretty nauseated and have some pain, but I'm not going to make another trip to the ER in the middle of the night. When I went before, I lay on the hospital bed for a day or two before they ran any tests or discussed any treatment, so I might as well chill. Or try to. I'll call Dr. Gruman's office in the morning.

Maybe I'll be okay by morning. Later in the morning.

Over the weekend we had the excitement of the snow, and I couldn't get out of the house. Then yesterday I had the cleaning lady and her husband over working on the house. Today I slept until 1:00 p.m., then had to juggle a bath, being upright when the Publix lady brought my groceries, and then going to vote, and then to fill up the car's gas tank which was about empty. Then I breathed a sigh of relief, thinking now I can wrap a present or two and do some decorating and work on getting the books out of the office floor and into the bookcases. And make some dinner and eat something.

Dinner might have been a mistake, if raw vegetables can bring on an attack of this mess. I had a plate full of veggies and hummus, and enjoyed it very much. Then the pain in my right side started, and so.

To make matters worse today, I've had this old song running through my head all day and night: Stagger Lee and Billy.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Poem I Wrote Monday

La demence

They tell me I was a girl with light brown hair
and eyes so blue you couldn't look away
There's something else that I almost remember
about a boy too tall his mouth on fire
with words that trampled everything she was
But that was later after the white dress
and orchids on a prayer book and more words
I won't remember any of the . . . worms

So just shut up about it. This is my room,
and he can't reach it with his hair on fire.
Too much I still remember but it fades
I want a buttered biscuit with my tea
Because she lived to fight some other days
I can't recall, and now that man is gone 

By JRC 11/20/17

Friday, November 17, 2017

My Favorite Rod Stewart Recording

"I Don't Want To Talk About It"

I can tell by your eyes that you've prob'bly been cryin' forever,
And the stars in the sky don't mean nothin' to you, they're a mirror.
I don't want to talk about it, how you broke my heart.
If I stay here just a little bit longer,
If I stay here, won't you listen to my heart, whoa,  my heart?

If I stand all alone, will the shadow hide the color of my heart;
Blue for the tears, black for the night's fears.
The stars in the sky don't mean nothin' to you, they're a mirror.
I don't want to talk about it, how you broke my heart.
If I stay here just a little bit longer,
If I stay here, won't you listen to my heart, whoa, my heart?

I don't want to talk about it, how you broke my heart.
If I stay here just a little bit longer,
If I stay here, won't you listen to my heart, whoa, my heart?
My heart, whoa, my heart.


Just so I'll remember it.


Saturday, 11/18 - I first heard Rod Stewart sing this on my car radio. I was on 18th Street South going to work.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Absent Mindedness or Alzheimer's?

I won a prize in the ASPS fall contest. They sent me a check, but I don't know what I did with it. I'm not very good with checks; I lay them down, and they get mixed up with other papers. I haven't cashed an ASPS prize check in several years--after I can't find them for a month or so, I just write to the Treasurer and tell them the uncashed checks are a donation to the organization. (This is not bragging about a "good deed;" it's just an admission of carelessness, or something.)

In the Best Families is the final one of three of Rex Stout's novels about Nero Wolfe's efforts to deal with or avoid the dread genius-criminal Z. The first two were And Be a Villain and The Second Confession. My kids and I have read the Nero Wolfe books over and over. This is one of the best. Others of the best are Fer de Lance, Some Buried Caesar, and The Black Mountain. Anyway, I finished re-reading this one a couple of days ago.

Rhiannon cleaned up the house this morning and put the trash cart by the street. I try to deal with any real messes, and put things away, on days when she comes. I hate to be thought a total slob.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Catching Up: October Events

My head has become sort of tricky for short-term memory, but here are a few things that have happened this month:
Jed and I explored Tannehill State Park and iron works on Wednesday (Oct. 18, I think). My favorite was the mill. But the whole thing was fascinating. The mill's dam and stream were beautiful. Jed took a bunch of great photos and put them on my Facebook site. I transferred them to my pictures album, but had to save them as documents and can't get them to go anywhere else.

On Saturday (10/28) we went to the ASPS meeting at the Pell City library, and were glad to see old friends and make new acquaintances. I won a third place prize in one of the contests.
On Thursday of this week, the Leeds Arts Council will host Jim and Liz Reed's Birmingham Arts Journal staff.
Of course I've enjoyed at least two grass-mowing days and two house-cleaning days this month, one furnace/AC inspection, two or three grocery deliveries, and I don't know what-all. It has been a busy month. ---  Every time I hit the enter key for a new paragraph, something crazy happens. I have tried to correct it but can't.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Hero of the Empire, by Candice Millard*****

This is a very good book about part of Winston S. Churchill's life, the part during the Boer War. I had never quite understood about the Boers. Very tough hombres. They were originally Europeans who had settled in South Africa. There were actually two Boer Wars; Winston was a newspaper correspondent in the second one (1899-1902).One of the best books I've read about him.

America's First Daughter****

This is a well-written but disturbing book, especially for someone with a great-grandmother who was a Randolph. I read it during October, but don't remember the date.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Headmaster's Darlings

Sister Ramey brought me this book last night, and I sat down and read it because book club meets tomorrow. I was sure I wouldn't like it, but it was reviewed,  blurbed and foreworded by Pat Conroy, and I wanted to see why. Once started, I had to finish it. It wasn't at all bad, except for semantic and grammatical lapses. "He thrust his hands on the arms of his chair," et al. However, it was the author's first novel,  published in 2015, and reviews say that she has written three more since, with the same setting, and published by the same South Carolina firm of which Pat Conroy is editor. Maybe, in the brief intervals, she learned that the objective case of who is whom, and a few other details.

I hate to be snarky and sarcastic. But in my opinion, this is a semi-good book. I'm probably influenced by my attitude towards the city of its setting. Too good to be a part of my birth city, Birmingham, Alabama.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

 Gone But Never Forgotten

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Almost Sisters, by Joshilyn Jackson

Another Good Book***

It was much better than I expected. I read all 300-odd pages today. Our book club meets tomorrow.

I'm glad I finished the book. But my eyes feel like somebody threw gravel in them.

In the last month, I have paid off the two old credit cards, and kept my Amex current. I'm rather proud.

Monday, June 26, 2017

News of the World, by Paulette Jiles*****

"National Book Award Finalist—Fiction
It is 1870 and Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.

"In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows." - Amazon review

This is one of the most beautiful volumes of prose that I've ever read. I was anxious to find out the ending, while wishing the book wouldn't end at all.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Goose Bumps

I've spent about an hour listening to some of the songs on You-tube, songs that make my hair stand up on the back of my neck. A lot of those I've listed in the left-hand column of the blog have been removed, but "Please Come to Boston" is still there. And "The Holy City" by the Irish tenors. I need to add some of Carole King's songs. I know You-tube isn't the best site to listen to music, but a lot of them are very good, and ones I don't have on CD's.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Last Days of Night, by Graham Moore****

The Last Days of Night is our book club selection for this month. It is a novel based on actual events, many of which really occurred, though not necessarily in the time or setting of the originals. Although the reader might have been long aware of some unsavory accusations and assumptions toward Thomas Edison, it was his (fictionalized?) reaction to the takeover of his creation, Edison General Electric, that brought this reader to tears.

The book is fascinating, owing not only to its scenes of sickening horror and emotional excess, but to Moore's superb writing as well. I noticed, aside from split infinitives (which in these latter days have lost much of their offensiveness), only one grammatical error and no typographical ones. I read it in six hours today, minus an hour out for lunch break, reading the first few chapters, which I had read two days ago, over again.

I suppose the moral of the book, if there is one, is that you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Hoosegow, anyone?

For days I have been wondering how the term "hoosegow" originated. This is what I found online:

"The word is from Mexican Spanish juzgao, a jail, which came from juzgado for a tribunal or courtroom. It shifted to mean a jail because the two were often in the same building (and the path from the one to the other was often swift and certain)." So it looks as if we even pronounce it Mexican-style.

For dinner I had roasted vegetables: Yellow squash, red potatoes, carrots, red bell pepper, tomato wedges, and lemon slices, with lots of spices. My weight is still dropping, which is strange because, except for my back giving out too fast, I feel better than I've felt in a long time. But I'm trying to eat more, and as healthily as I can. Trouble is, sometimes in the middle of a meal, I get so tired of chewing (especially meat) that I have to quit. I've been putting table scraps on an aluminum tray and leaving them out on the deck at night. They're always gone when I look out the next day, but I never see who is enjoying them. I suspect crows.

I spent most of this day waiting for people to show up. The insurance lady, concerning my broken car-bumper, never got here, but the painter made it in the afternoon.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood**


Friday, May 5, 2017

Looking for Alaska, by John Green*****

It bothers me that I will probably forget this book, as I've forgotten so many books, and I didn't even like the girl. Alaska was a girl, not a place, and the author of this book attended Indian Springs school in Alabama. He used it, fictionalized, as a setting for Looking for Alaska. When I first started reading it, I was relieved that it did not involve another protracted journey of teenagers in a substandard automobile.

"We can't know better until knowing better is useless."

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Paper Towns, by John Green****

This book is fully as awesome as An Abundance of Katherines, if not a little bit more so. Quentin ("Q") is a nice Jewish boy whose two buddies are Radar of the colored persuasion, and Ben who is indescribable--all three are high school seniors. They go on an 1,100-mile search for a missing classmate, and by the end Quentin has grown up in a lot of ways. I guess this is one of your classic "coming of age" tales.

Some fascinating features of the book are the "paper towns" themselves, towns that almost got started, but never made it.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Good Soldier, by Ford Madox Ford****

The Good Soldier, by Ford Madox Ford, from Gutenberg Project online.

This is one of the best novels I have ever read. But it's written in the most infuriating English way, so that I can't give it five stars. Many places in it call for tears, but don't draw them forth because of the proper British presentation. Still, I persevered through it, straining my eyes to read it on the computer.

Ashburnham and Dowell, two highly sympathetic male personae, are confronted in life by an impressionable but rather stupid girl whom they both love, and one of the most intellectually cruel women (Leonora Ashburnham) in all of literature.

From hints in reviews of the book, I gather that it's supposed to be based on a true-life experience of Ford himself, or possibly of people he knew. If I had it in paper form, I would read it again.

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.