Thursday, August 25, 2016

Sometimes history comes back to bite...

Our housewright neighbor Rick has been here for a few days, doing a little restorative surgery on our old house. When we bought the place, we anticipated some structural problems with a dwelling over a hundred twenty years old. Other than replacing the roof, the only major repairs we've faced are related to modifications and additions done since 2000. There is some kind of history lesson there.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


A visitor from down the mountain was raving about the writers' retreat they had just escaped from. They said I should try it. I told them I've been on a writer's retreat since January, and I think I've finally gotten the hang of it.

Actually, I don't go to writers' retreats. I hear all I want to hear about how I ought to write from Editor.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Years ago, an old woman I met on a Tennessee mountain told me that there will be a snow in winter for every fog in August. I still keep tally of August fogs. It seems such a little while ago, I can still see her weathered face and brilliant smile and hear her breezy voice in my head.

Our times are brief as the seasons. Snow follows fog before we are ready for it, our years as transient as the lifting fog or the melting snow or the last flowers of a summer. We squander our days until we realize how few of them are left.

Our only constant is the present moment. We live our lives now, or never at all.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Our friend Clyde...

Clyde arrived right on schedule. He's pictured here being watched over by fearless garden dog Simon. In the afternoon we went out and tilled a bed for fall onions. Next morning we trimmed the grass down the hill along the street. It was like mowing hay - wish we could keep a goat.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Some there are...

Some there are who claim writing is the loneliest vocation. I'm not one of them. Even in that deepest darkest hour just before dawn, a great cloud of characters gather round, and the air is full of voices and the rustlings of wings.

Writing books does require that one be still and quiet for significant stretches of time. It makes one a good listener. Some there are who say that is the first requirement of a proper friend.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Those sleepy late-summer Saluda blues...

It happens every year about mid-way through August. The thermometer pegs out just above 80 Fahrenheit by day and just below 70 at night. We might coast along this way for a couple of weeks or more than a month, maybe a shower in the afternoons, but most of the days drowning into that ever deeper Saluda blue until we finally break into fall.

The summer folk begin getting ready to truck back down the mountain and get the kids in school. The tourists start to thin out, the restaurants quieter and not so crowded. The food might be even better with the chefs less stressed.

A little slow and easy time before fall and the leaf-lookers, to think and take stock and be grateful for the new friends we've made and the old friends we still have. There are seasons within the seasons, the song of our years, the music of our lives.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Mighty Christian...

From The Summer Boy, published 2013 by Alfie Dog Fiction:

 On the hottest afternoon of the year, when the ridge-tops appeared vague and insubstantial in the blue haze of summer, Mary and her nephew worked together in her garden, picking okra. 

“I hate okra,” declared the boy, “It prickles so when it’s hot.” 

Mary’s smile collapsed into a laugh in spite of her valiant efforts to contain it, “You like it well enough pickled or fried. I love okra. When it is this hot, squash wilts in the shade, and peppers drop their blossoms before they set, but the heat just encourages my okra.” 

“Why’s that?” 

“Because it comes from Africa, where it is hot all the time, Africans were brought amongst our folk as slaves, and gave us okra. Now what think you of that?” 

Ben thought on it a moment; “I think that was mighty Christian of them.”
Mitchell, Henry. The Summer Boy (p. 10). Alfie Dog Fiction. Kindle Edition.
It's no accident that okra shows up early in my first novel. Okra is one of the favorite food groups at our table. We ran through all we'd pickled and brought up the mountain with us last winter, and since I didn't get the garden in by planting time for okra this spring, we had to go buy some or do without. Doing without was unthinkable.

We didn't have high hopes, but two miles down the road from our house, just by the interstate at the Saluda exit, we found our friend Dolf selling what may be the best pickled okra in the world. Certainly it is every bit as good as any the Main Muse and I have ever managed to put by over the years. He has some apples and peaches, too, straight from the orchard, also, honey, cider and other fine edibles and provisions too numerous and varied to mention short of writing a book about them. Here's a link.