10.19.2021

Seasonal Updates and a Sneak-Peek Scene

I picked up this ornamental pepper plant
on the last business day at a local plant nursery. 
"Wow--last day! You must be so excited to have some time off."
But the nurseryman didn't seem thrilled. 
At least not as thrilled as I was for him. 
The tiny peppers were all purple, then turned 
a lovely, seasonal orange.

I got outside with my "real" camera on a foggy 
morning this week. Mist laced every spiderweb 
with delicate droplets. As the sun burned through 
the haze, it turned the drops to diamonds.

My heavenly blue morning glory vine is finally showing off. 
The vines have tangled themselves into a crown studded 
with sun-pointing buds. The base of the vine is as 
thick as a young tree--amazing.

Side Note: 
I've been working on a novella set in midcentury bluegrass Kentucky. I'd love to hear what you think about this scene from chapter 8. Main character, Etta Everman, a curmudgeonly spinster, made it to church early and picked her favorite seat...

    The Cedar Bridge United Methodist Church opened its doors for Sunday services at 9 o’clock. It wasn’t easy to dress properly, have a cup of tea, and walk around the corner in time to be early, but always worth the effort. If she’d been five minutes later, she’d have to watch in the narrow vestibule while the deacon pulled the bell rope. Witnessing his delight at the slight hop he received from the pull of the bell on the rope was embarrassing. Where was the dignity of the church elders? Long gone, that’s what.
    Not today, though. Etta rested in her half-pew, third from the front, on the pulpit side. She relished the half-pew, knowing if she sat in the middle, no one would be able to squeeze in on either side. She placed her Bible to her left and her black handbag to her right on the red twill. Only the pastor’s wife would sit in front of her, as was proper. The new pastor’s young children would be downstairs singing or praying—or whatever children did down there. 
    In her childhood, Etta’s family filled the second row from the back, choir side on the Sabbath Day. Mama’s favorite stained-glass panel, to the near right, featured white Easter lilies. After Mama passed, her father wanted to sit in the back pew so he could leave whenever he had a mind to. When he’d stopped going, Etta enjoyed attending alone. But she hadn’t always been alone, had she? 
    Etta pulled her purse to her lap and unsnapped it to retrieve a hanky. She smoothed the thin white fabric and fingered the blue-stitched initials in the corner—T. F. It was one of his, a left-behind, unlikely keepsake. She swiped her nose with the quartered square. No use thinking about all that mess now, not when she had this afternoon’s dinner with Claiborne Lee and his family to consider. 


9.14.2021

A Long Line of Storytellers

Telling stories with words is what I do on a most-days basis. My writer's toolbox 
contains an overheating computer equipped with apps and programs, tattered and 
scattered notepads, and a certain kind of pencil. Words come to me—or I 
hop around on one foot, trying to catch a few out of thin air—and 
I string them together like pearls on a thin thread. It's a sweaty business. 


Some of the women in my line told stories in field-furrowed paragraphs, 
with seed-sown punctuation. Farm wives 
spun tales of glorious seasons of plenty, and grim ones of 
bootstraps and tightened belts. Their story endings depended 
on the crop, the weather, and the goodness of God. 
 
A few spread their tables with another kind of saga, offering
 mashed-potato mountains rising over fried-chicken foothills, neatly
 lapped by a river of gravy. Basket-weave piecrusts and hand-churned ice cream
 spoke welcome, confidence, and a certain sort of love too delicious to decline.

 
Other matriarchs stitched their memoirs with needle and thread. 
Cotton-cloth leftovers and flour-sack scraps pieced together
 and spread over a bed. Its maker read aloud her quilt creation
chapter by chapter, weaving tales prompted by bright-worn shapes:
"I wore this dress to your mother's wedding. 
What a rainy day that was ..."
"See here, your granddad's best church shirt. 
That was an Easter we'd never forget ..."
"Your brother had pajamas in this same pattern. 
I never knew a boy to work so hard at play…" 

One of these needle-and-thread masterpieces blankets my worktable. 
Its stories cushion my elbows as I search for the next word, the sturdiest sentence, 
the perfect turn-of-phrase. 


So you see, I come from a long line of storytellers ... and you do, too.
What sort of tales did your forebearers tell before you began to spin your own?




7.23.2021

Consider the Lilies

It's been a summer of the richest blooms. 

This year, I watched for the last daylily bloom 
and made sure to admire and enjoy it. 
Of course, lots of years have passed in which 
I didn't notice or care that the daylilies 
were almost gone, and I certainly 
didn't take note of the last one. 

Surely we rejoice that we have a
hope-filled future, brimming with 
unimagined amazements and 
exceeding great joy
But looking forward to these doesn't cancel 
the wisdom of savoring what's before us in the now. 


So consider the lilies in your life—savor and enjoy. 
This may be wisdom born of years, friends . . .
since I'll be fifty-five this year, 
I can say things like this. 

For a picture book that will drive 
home the message and maybe 
give you a good cry, check out 
Let Me Hold You Longer by Karen Kingsbury. 

Have tissues at the ready.