Sunday, September 27, 2009


Summer to Autumn. Green to gold. Hot to cool. Blue blog to orange/brown! You like? I like. For now anyhow.

Last week I changed the furniture in my dining room to accommodate a large antique sideboard with an oval mirror that wouldn't fit into my daughter's condo when she moved the rest of her furniture from the basement. I thought about how we've about reached the end of a decade in this house. Usually that heralds a huge change: a move. That won't happen by choice; we're in the city where our children are, so why would we move?

The last decade was spent in Savannah (as was the decade of the '70's) and during our mountain trip last week, we stopped in Dahlonega, GA, for a brief visit with Regina Odom, an "olde" buddy from Savannah, owner of Regina's Books & Cards. She is now working with Monteluce, a winery and Italian villa development. We took her to dinner at Le Vigne Monteluce, and here's evidence of more change. One friend on Facebook said we now look like twins.

My hair was has been au naturel since the 80's but gray was a change since I'd seen Regina. We renewed aulde acquaintance after dinner by listening to the music of her friends, a young husband and wife team whose names I missed, at The Crimson Moon Cafe. They sang folk/popular songs we knew the words to. Tommy and I actually took a whirl on the bit of floor between small tables.

When Regina opened her book store on Victory at Skidaway, one of her first guests was Lois Battle. At the time I was even more an ingenue at writing than I am now. Mostly I had written poetry, but I did have a novel finished. Or I thought it was a novel. I was trying to market it as a young adult novel, but, truly, that was silly. It's still around, still unpublished, but now I know it's a coming-of-age novel with little sex and violence. (Perhaps someday a revision will change that.) Lois that day actually handed me a card with the name of her agent/agency in NY. I've not had such an act of grace shown me by an established writer before or since. Although I corresponded with one of the agents for some time, I never found a fit with what she was looking for. Still Lois performed a memorable act of kindness. If you aren't in the profession, you wouldn't know that an agented writer, for some reason, guards the name of that agent as if naming might condemn her eternally from the upper "I have an agent" rung of the writing ladder back down to the "I'm looking for an agent" group.

So what does such a ladder have to do with change? All professions have their up's and down's especially writing. Write that on your forehead, writers!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cataloochee Ranch: Ride? Write?

In the south where these two words sound a lot alike, we pack summer away on Labor Day; Tommy and I often want to gratify our disparate passions as Autumn sets in. He wanted to vacation with some horses, and I needed to continue drafting a collection of stories. The perfect place for both? Cataloochee Ranch, Maggie Valley, NC. We'd been there before, and it's one place on this planet that hasn't changed that much in its 75 years!

Some Floridians were there, too--Larry and Rosanne; Dennis and Nan--all riders, not writers!
The leaves have started to turn a bit at the top of the mountain, but mostly the green lushness would hurt your eyes.
As I approached the dock on the pond, hundreds of little froggies plunged from the tall grass into the water. Lily pads as large as dinner plates covered the pond in green patches. The distant trees were reflected in the pond. On the mountainside in a vivid green pasture horses grazed and a row of wild turkeys foraged for grasshoppers alongside them. After a hundred little blip blips of the frogs hitting the water, an extreme quiet set in. The summer zizz of locusts and tree frogs (I'm guessing) sounded very much like the summer sounds of my back deck in Birmingham.
On the path from Sourwood, our cabin, to the ranchhouse where we had communal meals with one of the Alexander family (owners) always at table as host, two large boxwoods and two large coniferous "bushes" framed the path. The boxwoods, Judy Alexander explained, were sent as sprigs by Sears Roebuck when her father placed an order with them. She told me the name of the "bushes" but I failed to write the name down. Each looked like a Frazier Fir which had spread into a bush before it got tall. It had tiny cones on it. Those, she said, were a part of a swap of plants that her father made with a nursery in New Jersey.
Other trees of interest were the Norway Spruce, heavy with long slender cones, and the chestnut trees planted as an experiment. They are helping to develop a chestnut tree resistant to the blight which was introduced to the U.S. by the Chinese Chestnut which wiped out all the native chestnut trees.
So I soaked in the flora and fauna more than I wrote. Now I can "recollect in tranquility."

Message in a Blog

  About twenty Birmingham language arts teachers endured my holding forth yesterday in my current gig as a Road Scholar ...