Sunday, September 30, 2012

Remarkable Women





This weekend has been somewhat of a bust. We planned to go to a state park event, but on Saturday morning, DH was not so enthusiastic anymore . He said he would go, but I was not energetic enough to be perky for both of us! We lingered, hum and hawed until the whole day evaporated with nothing to show for it!

This morning after tea and reading, we started to watch the Sunday Morning news programs. I was knitting on a special project that had had a difficult start. However, a third of the way finished and I was going strong. When the program finished, I looked down to see a huge mistake in my piece. GRRRRR. I tried to save it, but alas, I had to pull it all apart and then DH was looking at me for lunch before the Sunday football games started! GRRRRRR.

So I made lunch, cleaned up, left the knitting on the floor, and went to my chair to look at a small book I had found the night before on my shelves. I don’t remember when or where I got it, but it is titled Remarkable Missouri Women. I could use something remarkable in my day because I felt like such a failure. I was not disappointed in the book!

On the pages I met women I knew and some I didn’t. Of course I knew Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rose O’Neil, and Kate Chopin, but these brief bios revealed new tidbits that were interesting to me. I also met a founder of Missouri kindergartens and the founder of Cottey College in Nevada, Missouri. One of the most amazing women was Cathy Williams, a former slave that impersonated a man and became a Buffalo Soldier after the Civil War!


But near the end, was a story that rocked me. I remember wearing garments with a Nelly Don label. Do you? Imagine my surprise when I learned that Nelly Donnelly had her start in Parsons, Kansas, right down the road from where I grew up. In fact, I “dragged Main”, went to the Drive-In for movies (Old Yeller, A Patch of Blue, How to Stuff a Wild Bikini), and drank copious icy drinks at the A&W there in my day. So I was surprised to read this story of a successful woman in the garment industry during the last century and her start in Southeastern Kansas.

Nelly’s story is multifaceted. There is her rise from poverty, success in business, a “wood colt’s” tale, a kidnapping, gangsters, both happy and unhappy marriages and more. She went from Parsons to St. Louis to Kansas City. You can find the main parts of her story on a website at http://www.nellydon.com/index.html  Just the nostalgic look at earlier fashions is worth the time to take a look at the site.

I am ending the weekend with my mind on race thinking of all these women and possibilities and stories…especially of a little Kansas gal who made it big. And I never knew!

Hum...maybe I will go pick up my yarn and needles and begin again.....

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Poetry Reading



CRAB ORCHARD REVIEW cover.


It threatened rain all this week, but mostly it showered and clouded up and was just plain sticky. Today has been another overcast day with reasonable temps, but the air has been muggy. It has left me lethargic and sleepy and yes, pretty much worthless!

This morning I went to exercise and pushed through the movements with no heart. When we went upstairs for our cuppa tea, two ladies had brought cookies! This never happens and all that sugar contributed to more stupor. Then I attended a birthday luncheon which was very nice, but after eating, I needed a nap. Oh, the grogginess of the day! I feel like one of those black flies that buzz and linger at the doors with no vigor right before a thunderstorm.


But Tuesday night we fought the weather and went to PSU for the first in the autumn Visiting Author series. It was Allison Joseph reading her poetry and what a great evening. Allison was a hoot, a perfect example that writing should have an element of fun. She had the audience in the palm of her hand in the first then minutes. Even DH said, “Why, she reads poetry even I can understand!” She had sold all of her new books before the reading started. I did get one of her older books and she signed it for me.

Not only a poet, she is a poetry editor at Crab Orchard Review in SIU at Carbondale, Illinois. Sad to say, I have never caught their attention at that publication! Then I realized this is the same person who sends me writing ops through CRWROPPS. I have seen her first name, Allison, every day and did not make the connection. So the world is small, I KNEW her already.

I see writing days ahead because winter is my most prolific writing time. I feel the juices beginning to flow. Thanks to Allison Joseph, I got a little shake that I should be penning some lines! Check her out as her poems are on line. And if you want a real hoot, go to UTUBE and listen to her read Professor Apathy; it is the second poem. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2TEGGSxUeA

Do you have a favorite poet? A go to read for feeding your poetry soul?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Teapots from Wales


Photo by John Hardy


Thanks to friends in Wales, I can participate in Teacup Tuesday! When John’s mother went to assisted living and he had to empty the house, he thought of me when he found tea pots. Now I wonder why? J So I have received a most generous gift of two tea pots. The first is a little clown tea pot, a charming fellow.


The other is a tea for one set that is delightful in color. Note the light pinks with the rich burgundy. I can see some coming winter mornings when this set will be a flower garden for early morning tea. Even when not in use, this set will brighten up a room!




                                        This is gorgeous even when sitting in the box!


John takes wonderful photos and sent a whole CD of pictures taken in Swansea areas. Note the rugged beauty of this land where you can almost hear the waves lap the sand in the photos. There are so many of these places that I would like to stand for a few minutes on my own…but alas, I must do it by proxy in these pictures




                                            Photo by John Hardy, Swansea in Wales

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Fire Pit Weather


We waited long and hard for rains this summer, and they are showing up intermittently now that it is autumn. Between times though, the days are real beauties. The air is crisp in early morning and warms to a comfortable sunny afternoon before dropping a few degrees again when the sun sinks. It is just perfect for a fire pit with friends. This week we called one early in the autumn with fear rain and events will cause us to lose the chance again. If the days allow us more fire pit ops, then we will take them. The more times we have with friends the better!
We thought these Golden Years would be free and easy. As someone said to me, “The Golden Years are full of Tarnish!” So it is; we have health problems, parent problems, children problems or just a rotten garbage disposal or maybe we are merely lost in Tech Land! So a hot dog on a stick shared with each other is mighty fine!



                                               Ah, it is a man's life at day's end!


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Yesterday I spent two hours at the eye doctor's and left $700 for new glasses behind when I left. The bad eye is holding and slightly better. I return again in four weeks, hopefully for a cheaper visit! :)
It is now easier to read again. Today I finished Grand Mothers:Poems, Reminiscences, and Short Stories edited by Nikki Giovanni. It is a small book, published in 1994, but it is a delightful read. 

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Here is a writing op that might interest you if  you are a poet. 
The Midwest Quarterly announces a full year of poetry issues to appear in 2013 - 2014. Guest Editor Dr. Christopher Anderson seeks the best contemporary poetry that relates -- however directly or loosely -- to the following themes, which will form the basis for our series of special poetry issues:
 * The Living and the Dead - Submission Deadline: December 1, 2012
* Rural and Urban - Submission Deadline: March 1, 2013
* Trash and Treasure - Submission Deadline: June 1, 2013
* Work and Play - Submission Deadline: September 1, 2013

Visit our website for submission guidelines:
http://www.pittstate.edu/department/english/midwest-quarterly/

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Enjoy this first weekend of this autumn....I hope it is beautiful where you are!



Friday, September 14, 2012

Autumn Begins with Bumps





Life has been full of challenges lately. Had the autumn travel plans about set, calendar rearranged, and could sniff the Southwest. Flashing lights with a bloody smear in an eyeball and a stressful trip to ER rearranged things. The short story here is a vitreous tear and two small hemorrhages; I wait until next week for another check to see if they will repair themselves in any way.

So we went ahead and pulled the camper to Roaring River for a few beautiful days right before autumn rain began to fall. DH fished his heart out and was surprised I did not want to eat out or visit Eureka Springs. Worry and discomfort kept me from wanting to do anything but sit tight. Reading was a problem with a blurry eye. Now a reader/writer has to have her eye!

I am not a fan of camping anyway. If one likes to sleep on a board padded the thickness of a Depends, use what amounts to a chamber pot from days gone by, and change clothes in a space the size of a water heater then camping should be a hit for him or her.


One of my first memories is camping with my grandparents on Lake Tenkiller in Oklahoma. Granny and Gramps took us down and our parents joined us in a couple of days. (How my parents must have enjoyed those days of silence!) My sister and I slept in the back of a red and white 62 Rambler Classic Wagon where my Granny had stretched out pads and blankets. Sleeping wasn’t the problem; the bathroom was. It didn’t exist. These were the days of open range and one went to squat or use a log in the woods near the campground which were loaded with feral hogs. Now who can concentrate on business when you hear a mean pig sneaking up on you?

Gran managed to fry eggs and bacon, to make toast, to feed us well at an open fire. It was so good, but I never gave a young thought to how much work it was for her or how she washed up or if she might want to be doing something else with her life. Later in the day we were to take motorboat rides and Gramps thought it great fun to scare the bejeezus out of us by leaning the boat flat to the water, splashing cold spray into our faces. I have not liked deep, dark water since!

Later in my early married years, I visited the in-laws while they camped at Branson. These were fishing trips and there was a camper with a stove. But I watched my mother-in-law serve men full dinners after they had exhausted themselves with a boat, motor, and fishing poles. She fried pork chops, mashed potatoes, made gravy all in a tin can camper that heated up on a summer day’s noon like an oven. The men expected a full meal she said. When DH dragged this camper home, I told him to put the burners in cold storage because I was not doing the duty his mother had done.

The air was beautiful though in the park. Nights were quite chilly and days were warm. Not many people fishing. The water cascaded gently on its path beyond the valley. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Cactus Country...What Fun!





Recently, the editor of Cactus Country, Volume II sent me a copy of this book. I had been waiting to see my own story on the pages. What fun it is to write a western for someone who grew up on Bonanza, Wanted Dead or Alive, Cochise, Have Gun Will Travel, Gunsmoke and other 1950’s television stories.

It was thrilling to see my own story, but I also saw writers I knew personally or from their work. I went straight to work by Donna Volkenannt and Ellen Gray Massey, both Missouri writers. Then I read the wonderful story by Lucia St. Clair Robeson titled “Stay of Execution”. Her title is ultra-clever. but I won’t tell you why or it might ruin the story for you. I have read her historical fiction works since I was very young so I knew I could count on her for a good tale.

Cactus Country is an anthology so I am not reading it straight through. I read a story or two in a setting. After all, I want the goodies to last! If you like westerns, you will like this little book. Watch for it on Amazon or contact Lou Turner for a copy at highhillpress@aol.com .

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Louise Brooks from Cherryvale


Yesterday was a second rainy Saturday, and I nearly blinded myself reading again! I had some research to do, some letters to write, and I don’t know about you, but one idea just leads to another and leads to another. I also had some new blogs to check out. I could get lost in blog land and so really limit my time and stops. But yesterday I found one I really must follow for a while. It is Nicole’s over at Salt and Pepper: http://paperandsalt.org  I haven’t begun to read enough there. She links recipes and food choices to ones she has read about in the work of famous authors. Oh, when I saw Willa Cather’s name and Truman Capote and John Steinbeck, I knew I wanted to spend time there!
The major reading project was to finish the biography of Louise Brooks. It is always hard to watch a talented woman self-destruct. I first learned of this silent screen star in the novel The Chaperone by Laura Moriarity. When I saw that Brooks had been born in Cherryvale, Kansas and had roots in Wichita, I wanted to know more. She was a gorgeous woman and talented in so many ways. Yet, like many people on pedestals, her life deteriorated into drink, loneliness and bitterness.

Every week or two during childhood found my family crossing the viaduct in Cherryvale on our way to grandparents living in Coffeyville. Cherryvale meant we were getting close. Looking out the car window to the right, you saw a special yard as you passed over the viaduct. It was full of whimsies and donkey carts and bird baths, all painted vividly. As a child, I thought it lovely when in fact it was probably tacky. Now I wonder, who mowed around all that yard d├ęcor? It was like a little ceramic park.

Now a small and struggling berg, Cherryvale once had six brick factories and many trains hauling those bricks across America. Look around, you might see Cherryvale bricks near you. But the Brooks left Cherryvale for Wichita where her mother ignored Louise and siblings for her own pursuits. By the time she was fifteen, Louise was headed for New York to be a dancer and eventually a movie star. Thanks to the wonders of UTube, you can see some of those silent and a few talkie scenes of this beauty.

Do you watch silent movies or movies of the 1930's?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Saturday Centus/Let the Games Begin









The blessing of rain continues to fall on our parched earth here this morning after a steady shower all day yesterday. It is supposed to stop near noon and clear again for a return of hot temps. I overslept a little on this dark morning, but nothing was pressing for my attention. So it is a good morning to dabble in Saturday Centus again after a long while. 

Today Jenny has given an ordinary prompt of Are you ready for some football? Yes, it is football season again and writers will have lots of imaginative fun with this one I am sure. My own Centus came in right at 100words plus the prompt...what she allowed. For more rules and more 100 word writings using the prompt go to 



                                      Let the Games Begin

Jacey spritzed fragrance and patted her hair before heading to the kitchen. Mike, with remote in his shirt pocket like a ticket to bliss, stood before an open refrigerator.

“There are frosty mugs in the freezer and a fresh hero sandwich below.”

“Thanks, Hon. You’re a sport,” he mumbled through peanuts as he headed for the TV.

She popped wine in a basket with picnic lunch and headed out the front door while the TV blared. As Jacey reached the curb, a gleaming convertible the color of midnight stopped. The handsome driver, smile as wide as an end zone asked, “Are you ready for some football?”