Thursday, December 31, 2009

Not sure I'm doing much tomorrow. Was told an old Appalachian saying is that what you do on New Years Day, you will be doing all year. So...guess I'll have a good workout and schlep some firewood onto the porch. Be as active as I can be. Think I'm going to do butterbeans and rice instead of hop'n'john. Mostly because I have some. Butterbeans, that is.

Other than that, just catch up on some craft projects and watch the parade. Hope everyone enjoys their day.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I love being in Night Train. This is my second appearance there--and also a roundabout "bug" story. What is it about me, fiction and insects? I think it's how I see bugs as being such an alien, completely different sort of life form from ourselves and I can't help but draw comparisons. See the life we share--our shared creaturehood.

"Roadside Attractions" is sort of a fanciful blast back to some childhood memories for me--in an odd, entirely fictional sort of way. We used to take 17 down to St. Simon's Island where we vacationed at my grandparents home on East Beach. On the way down were various roadside attractions--you could find these all along the way down the coast to Florida. Crazy places with alligators, monkeys and parrots with weird photo opportunities. Most of them were falling into decline by the seventies and the signs advertising them decayed and faded. I think they were where old carnies went to die. We didn't stop . My family also seemed obsessed for much of my childhood with finding the perfect fried seafood platter. There was a place in Midway or Darien, GA we always stopped for lunch on the ride to St. Simons. But we would drive quite out of our way to look for fried seafood.

And then there is this memory I have of my great aunt Emmy-Jo--one of those childhood memories that is like a foggy dream seen from the corner of my eye. You aren't quite sure if it happened or not. But it is of her wearing a living tenebrionid beetle as a brooch. It was decorated with paste jewels--macabre, beautiful and gothic.

So--that's where this story comes from. Mishes of mashes of memories. And look! Here I am at one of those roadside attractions! I'm the Diver of the Day!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Friend Scott!!!
Perhaps the best Christmas present was having Friend Scott show up on my doorstep for the whole weekend yesterday. Today we drove around to different friends houses (he's much more social than I am and welcome everywhere for his funny jokes and impressions of local folks). We ate two Christmas dinners--both delicious and way off my diet. And look at that itty baby! Scott's head is bigger than her entire little body! So sweet--I got to hold her too!

He's gonna kill me for using this photo--but I love how his eyes light up--it's so Scott. We've been having a great time during our pajama party. He's already redecorating the house. We've been sitting up late and gossiping, telling stories, laughing. Such fun. I so miss him!

Today I was telling him something a little "blue" and he claps his hands over his ears and says, "Stop! It's Jesus' birthday!" Then he told me something even raunchier.

I think we're going to see a movie tomorrow after he visits with a friend in town.

Anyway, I've got him all the way until Monday and I knew you'd all love to see a picture of him. He wishes everyone a happy Christmas and a merry new year. As do I.

And since it's's some of the dreadful snow I ran into Friday on my way home. This is just turning into my road--little did I know there was a pine tree fallen across my drive just around the bend. My neighbor cut me a path. Then later that night, the ancient beech fell. Got a cord of firewood off that bad boy when it was cleared. But today was sunny and warmish.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I'm cold.

For the last three days, I've been part of the massive power outages that struck east Tennessee Friday. What can I say? I'm sorry. There were these pretty multi-color Christmas tree lights upstairs in my closet and I brought them downstairs thinking I might be able to put them on the mantle without something disastrous happening. (If you know me, part of my little magical thinking universe includes a moratorium on Christmas decorations--bad, bad things happen when I do this. Some of you know of what I speak). At any rate--I swear, all I did was bring them downstairs. That, was evidently enough.

So, I'm in the library in Newport right now posting this. Don't have computer access at home. I'm exhausted--have been having to stay up all night to feed the woodstove to keep the pipes from freezing. Dogs are cranky. I've been living off of sweet, hot tea and baked potatoes. I have a little enamel coffee pot I put in the woodstove to boil water and I wrap the potatoes in foil. And sashimi. See, I'd just bought the month's supply of groceries and since it was December, decided to treat myself to some fish. All my food is going bad because of the power outage.

The snow was not the most severe we have had since I moved here. We've had much worse weather than this. It was freakish in that it started falling, wet and heavy, at 3 in the afternoon and continued through the night. I was just getting home from Newport and it had only been snowing an hour--and Big Creek Road had been turned into a toboggan course for Subarus and Hondas. I made it up the mountain okay with the 4WD to find a tree across my driveway. My neighbor cut a path to me and I walked into a dark house.

Trees have been falling all over the place, electric lines down--weird, 'cause like I said, we've had way worse weather. I settled in thinking we'd have tops 12 hours down--we've never had more than that. I was wrong--three days later we still have no power off The 15th. I didn't have enough wood and had to put out an emergency call that was filled by my wonderful neighbor, Clinton. What a lifesaver. Please if you come visit, stay in his cabins. The cabins are wonderful and he and Irene are spectacular people. Scott and some other friends were very kind to check up on me--really know who's in your corner during such times.

Then, Friday night sometime, the mother of all trees fell across my driveway. It's actually three trees--one, a buckeye that is so huge you can't span your arms around it. Wesley will be coming by this evening to move it--cut it up--it needs a ginormous chainsaw.

It's been a tough few days. I've had more than a few good cries. Been bitch with the dogs who are cold and not understanding why we are rationing water. See, Fat Buddy's mouth is so vile that none of the other dogs want to drink after him. Yet Fat Buddy is always first in line to spit in the water. I've gotten some knitting done. Was time I plunked out some new tea towels. It's too dark to read and at least the knitting keeps my fingers nimble.

I'm in town today getting more lamp oil, batteries and wicks. Dogfood. Am taking a shower at the local community center--you know, I have that delicate white chick skin that needs constant washing. Never have done well with dirty. Also stopped by to tell the power company they would not be getting a payment from me this month--since their electric bill money has been diverted to firewood, lamp oil and general trying to stay alive expenses. I already feel guilty for splurging today on two pair of merino wool boot socks--takes very little to make me happy and socks and me go way back.

So, my darlings...that's the story. It may be another two days before I have power so if you don't hear from me, that's probably why. Call me if you like. I'm bored and need distractions. Send warmth, wood, lamp oil or snugglies.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sometimes I have this fantasy where I'm not broken. I don't have it often--it makes me fragile and sad more often than not. But sometimes, I like to close my eyes and imagine where life would have taken me if I hadn't had that terrible flu when I was 25--the thing that started the whole SLE spiral downward. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to be breathing. Happy I outlived Flannery O'Connor, happy to see the sun rise. Happy I'm here to share stories with you and have words dancing all around me like snappish puppies.

It may be, that without the SLE, I wouldn't be doing this. I've always known I wouldn't have returned from the UK, but for the breakage. I wanted to get a little place in Normandy, a little pile of rocky Norman farmhouse. I would have had spotty cows and chickens. I might have made artisan cheeses and had a shot of Calvados in my coffee in the morning. My French would have eventually been okay-ish, but I would have always spoken it with a South Carolina accent that made my neighbors wince. I would have ridden my bike into the village each morning for bread, cheese and to see what might be good to fix for dinner that day at the market. I would have had a hard time finding a mechanic to work on that old Morris Minor I used to drive. I suppose my life wouldn't be so different from how it is now, except I wouldn't be broken.

If I was never broken, I would never have stopped dancing. The mysterious falls would not have happened. So I probably would be all crippled up from that by now anyway. Dancers get to where the only time they can move properly is when they are dancing. Not that I was much good at it ever--but it was something I enjoyed intensely and was passionate about. There's something magical about having a body that does what you tell it to do.

I would have traveled much more than I did. Worked--I'm such the workaholic--like a madwoman. Probably managed to get into way more trouble than I did--I'm such the sensualist--never met a physical sensation I didn't want to try--or try out on someone else.

If I weren't broken now, I'd hike to the top of Mt. Cammer and shout my wishes into the wind. I'd dance a crazy dance balancing on the edge of a big rock and threaten to fly. I'd offer myself, a perfect sacrifice to the sky, bare breasted and pink in the cold.

But I am broken. I guess we all are in some way. I just wish I weren't broken in quite this way. And that's how the fantasy of being unbroken usually goes.

Friday, December 11, 2009

We’re proud to present the first Writers’ Bloc free PDF anthology. This one’s got 17 of the best pieces from our first three incarnations. Featuring Laura Garrison, Katherine Jamison, Matthew Dexter, Rosanne Griffeth, Susan Krysiak Avedissian, Marina Richards, Dan Morgan, Scott Shanley, Srinath Reddy, Brian Agurkis, Marina Blokker, Joseph Meredith, Christina Weil, Dennis Mahagin, Courtney Schroeder, Stacey Balkun, and Tom Fillion.

You’ll tell people about this if you know what’s good for you.

Rutger's Writer's Bloc has been kind enough to include "The Storm in the Park" as part of their first Pdf. anthology. I'm, of course, thrilled. Can't say enough good things about Writer's Bloc--one of the most promising new journals I've run across. The graphics are consistently skillful and witty--as is the content. Keven Dickinson, the editor and site designer, has done a beautiful job with Writer's Bloc--I expect to see many great things to come.

Please download their first Supplement of the Website Here to enjoy with your tea and crumpets, with or without cute little finger sandwiches and clotted cream cakes.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Goats-911...Please clearly state your goat emergency and stay on the line....

So, I come back from a trip down the mountain to fill up my brand new tire that is already leaking air to find a message from a nice woman from down the 15th. There's a goat on a ledge midway between here and old Tillman's store. She assumes it's mine. It's not.

So, we get in touch and I drive down there. Sure enough, there's a Boer/New Zealand cross doe across the creek. Not sure how she got there. I get out and make sympathetic goat calls to her. Yes, I'm standing in the middle of a country road calling "Blaaaah. Blaaah." Me, being something of a junior goat whisperer, though nothing compared to the Goat Yoda--said goat looks across the rushing creek and answers me. She's saying something like, "Hey! I'm stuck over here and I can't get back! Hows about cluing me into how I got here in the first place."

Goats are like that. Every day's a new day to a goat. Actually, every five minutes is a new five minutes to a goat. Sort of like that thing about goldfish having a 2 and a half second span of short term memory. She's fifty feet up a laurel covered stretch of rotten rock, wet and hating it.

The nice woman and I meet on the stretch of road--we try to figure out who she might belong to. Chief suspect is the old Raines place--now rehabilitated with nice new sheds and a horse. But no one is home. There's six strand barbwire fencing--but if you know goats--well, that's just a dandy way to get your ass scratched. We agree she'll come down when she's good and ready and there's really nothing we can do.

I turn around and head back--and while we were talking, the doe has found her way back onto the main road. I stop and make more sympathetic goat noises. She's real friendly and lets me get quite close--just not close enough to grab her horns. I get the feeling she's new around here--not sure where home is. But she sure does like the goat noises I'm lobbing in her direction. Shows me her rear end like I'd be interested. I drive slowly and she follows the jeep, but gives up when a friendly horse in the pasture makes goo-goo eyes at her. Fickle damn goats. One moment they are your best buddy and the next they are running after the first pretty horse that comes along.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

So, the past few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind with a busier than usual doctor-appointment-a-rama. Anyway--hope everyone had a joyous Turkey Day and a prosperous Black Friday.

So, I have a story out on Fried Chicken and Coffee. It's The Dark Hole. This is one of my rare short story length ones--4000 words--so bookmark it and sit down with a cup of joe when you have the time to sit and read. The Dark Hole was originally developed here on the blog back when I first started writing seriously. I think it was the first story that really made me feel I was ready to be a "real" writer (whatever that is). It's gone through a hundred or so rewrites, but it's still one of my early efforts that still moves me.

It's a dark tale, though--triggering for some people--dealing with what I call "the dark side of the mountain."