Monday, December 15, 2014

Merry Exotic Christmas

I have a weird family, but don't we all?  For several years now on Christmas day at my house, we've had a contest.  Whoever brings the best chili or bacon dish or side dish or dessert wins a prize.  We have a blind taste test and vote by secret ballots.  Jessica (niece) usually wins, but that's because she's a great cook overall.  My son gives it his all, too, but he lost the coffee-in-anything contest and his North Carolina 'greens' side dish left something to be desired.  And how can bacon ever go wrong, even if it's in ice cream?  I usually cook the main course meat and that has never been an entry, but this year it will be.  Everyone is asked to bring an exotic meat for us to sample and our votes will be cast.  Already we have complaints coming from all participants.  One won't taste it unless she knows what it is.  Several are complaining that it's not tradition and where is the turkey or marinated pork tenderloin or that fantastic prime rib we had one year?  I can tell already it's going to be a fun day!  I'll keep you posted after Christmas on what folks brought and who wins the prize. 


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

On Vacation No More

This blog has gone on vacation, or is on sick leave.  Or perhaps it merely suffers from neglect. 

“Oh, no,” Judy and I lamented.  “Who shall write first?”  We each have been leading ordinary, hum-drum lives, albeit packed-to-the-top and over-flowing.  Satisfying and enervating but perhaps not exciting for anyone else.

I would stop right there, perhaps should (laughter).  However, this week I am thinking about writing again, for my first-draft manuscript is calling me to fix some things, add some things, scratch out many things.  It’s a dangerous time for a young (not in years but in output) writer. 

Also this week, I have been reading Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life.  Now here is writing worth cogitating over, rearranging brain cells for.  I am awed by Annie’s perspicuity (ordinary words won’t describe her). However, in the midst of her clarity, her incredibly complex strings of words gather meaning after meaning as they wend their way across the sky. Some of them tumble into the recesses of my mind (which should have a bigger reservoir than it has).  When they finally hit bottom they  acquire a new and tantalizing essence and even three whole days later I feel as if I’m drowning in them.

I can’t write like Annie at all, at all.

I wanted to give you a sampling of Annie’s writing but the sample turned into paragraphs, then sections, then chapters, and pretty soon I would have copied the whole book.  So, to whet your appetite I have keyed in the first paragraph of the book and hope you’ll run right out to Amazon (I use something archaic:  the nearby library) to order it.

When you write, you lay out a line of words.  The line of words is a miner’s pick, a woodcarver’s gouge, a surgeon’s probe.  You wield it, and it digs a path you follow.  Soon you find yourself deep in new territory.  Is it a dead end, or have you located the real subject:  You will know tomorrow, or this time next year…. You make the path boldly and follow it fearfully….

This much I understand:  you never know what will happen when you write.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


In order to maintain a certain amount of excitement engendered by Judy's son's Colorado Trail hike, I should be able to record some equally fantastic feat.  I can't.  It's not that I've been doing nothing, it's that I've been doing ordinary things.  I would like to campaign for ordinary.  Five cheers for ordinary here.

(Perhaps ordinary means extra-ordinary.  Sometimes.  If one is extremely grateful for ordinary.)

If you're ordinary you can smell the flowers.

If you're ordinary you can paint your kitchen green.

If you're ordinary you can tackle your pile of books.

If you're ordinary you can eat a piece of pie.

If you're ordinary your children can come visit you, AND you can take them to see Rosie the tarantula.
Hazel wanted to hold Rosie, Emory did not.
Back to North Carolina they went.  Sadness here.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

First Car, Last State

If you've read our book, you know that I (Judy) have visited every state in the union with the exception of one.  Michigan!  This summer we drove the complete Lake Michigan Circle Tour...900 miles plus from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, up through Green Bay, over to Sault Ste. Marie, down to Mackinac Island, on to Traverse City, then to Holland and Chicago and back to Milwaukee.  I took pictures galore, of lighthouses (Michigan has more than any other state), Sleeping Bear Dunes and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (painted by God with eons, not brushes), and a covered bridge.  We visited a shopping center/restaurant/condo village that we found later to be the old state insane asylum.  We felt the ice cold water of several lakes, breathed in the uniqueness of a place where no cars, only bicycles and horse drawn carriages are allowed, and drove through rainstorms so furious even the windshield wipers couldn't keep up!  (The loudest clap of thunder and flash of lightning was when I was in a little wooden outhouse!) But would you believe my favorite picture of all was that of these wonderfully rusted, has-been Renault Dauphines?  My first car!  How I loved that car.  And do you know what?  Those cars reminded me of ME!  Just plain old with defective parts, unrecognizable chassis, dimming headlights and seat cushion stuffing nearly gone, yet to me, a beautiful car still.  We may not always be who we were, but we'll always be who we are.
Just like me

Painted Rocks...the copper in the rock same color as the water

Former insane asylum

The Holland Harbor Light, known as Big Red
A beautiful home on Macinac Island

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Gift

Our son is truly through hiking now.  His thru-hike of 485 miles on the Colorado Trail was accomplished in 26 average of 19.4 miles a day!  Amazing!  His dad and I were his crew throughout and what a thrill it was to find him at the designated trailheads every time.  My fears of his being mauled by a bear, attacked by a pack of coyotes or being torn apart by wild dogs turned out to be unfounded.  In the end, the only dangers he encountered were biting mosquitoes, pesky flies and a charging cow.

Now that we're both in our 70's, how many more chances will we have to care for our son or daughter?  Soon it might be their turn to care for us.  Maybe it's a privilege either way.  Thanks, God (and Scott),  for this amazing gift.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Night at the Bordello

        That's where we are Silverton, Colorado in an old Victorian bordello built in 1907, now newly refurbished with iron bedsteads, antique china and Godey prints hanging from rose colored walls.  After Frisco, we met our son in Salida, Lake City, and now Silverton.  He has only 75 miles to go to Durango and the end of the 485 mile Colorado Trail.  Attempting to average 25 miles a day for the next three days, he astounds me with his tenacity, endurance and fortitude.  Because he's lost so much weight, his wife Robyn commented on a photo we emailed her, "There's nothing left but beard!"

What a lesson he teaches me.  Keep on keepin' matter what!  You, too, faithful reader.

A Southern Adventure

Judy and Don are still following their hiker son along the Colorado Trail.  Not to be outdone, Richard and I flew east to heat and humidity and new sights.  Here is a photo montage for you:

First, view our two dear granddaughters in North Carolina,

 eating ice cream with their parents at a Brevard Music Center concert on the lawn.

 I must always visit the magical fairyland of the Biltmore,

where even the insects pose.

Then on we drove to Atlanta where the purple and red and pink and white crepe myrtle blooms all summer,

 strange things happen to flora at the  Botanical Gardens,

and a Colorado Springs artist Dale Chihuly contributes his glass sculpture to the fountain (he has no idea we snuck in as well). At least Richard says it's Dale's work.  If I've led you on, I apologize!

We finished with a sobering time at the Martin Luther King exhibit.  This is where he was born. Don't miss the Ebenezer Baptist Church and the history center just across the street.
I've heard that a picture is worth 1000 words...much easier on the eye than multitudinous print, I think.  Enjoy, yuall!