Thursday, August 31, 2017

Simon says...

Simon is a tough editor. His most frequent critique, "Fewer words, more action." Maybe I should try to follow the Simon rule in more than just writing stories. Whether actions speak louder than words or not, they are certainly remembered longer.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Love grows slow...

Woody sure could sing the truth,
Jim Dannals, he can preach,
Jesus could walk on water,
They're all beyond my reach;
Some can build a better house,
Some know how to teach,
Some would climb a mountain,
Some sleep on the beach,

Some folks wander in the dark,
And some walk in the light,
Some folks bravely keep the peace
And some just want to fight,
Some are convinced they do God's work,
And some just hope they might,
And some give up any hope
their life will come out right;

We each can only do our best,
For we can never know,
Our smallest deed, our quickest word
Might strike a spark to grow
Into an all-consuming fire,
Or to a star's soft glow;
Oh, we are brief, and life goes fast,
But Love grows deep and slow.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


photo by David Longley

Some say faith 
makes all things possible. 
 Maybe they're right.
I will say, at least, faith
makes us see the possible
in all things.

Monday, August 28, 2017


Summer gentles in her final weeks, granting us pleasant days and cool evenings, sprinkling small beauties in the shade. Under blue skies, the faintest hint of color in the tops of the maples, first promise of coming glories.

Looking around at all that is about to pass, and thinking of what is soon to be revealed here, one hardly knows whether to mourn or rejoice. Friends are coming up the mountain to visit us this week. That is enough to balance in favor of rejoicing.

A good place in good company. Want much beyond that, and we're just being greedy.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Saturday, August 26, 2017

How do you like your tomatoes?

We like our tomatoes ripe well enough, sliced on a sandwich, or on a plate with a big helping of sweet corn, but most of ours get eaten green, sliced and fried in a light cornmeal batter, or chopped into soups or stews, or diced raw on a salad with arugula and mizuna. Yes, oh, yes...


Friday, August 25, 2017

Yes, there was...

Yes, there was a solar eclipse Monday. The Main Muse and I drove down to the wild corner of South Carolina, and viewed the spectacle at Oconee Station, with about a dozen otherr pilgrims in the parking lot of Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church. We snuck in and out by the back roads, and missed the predicted throngs of foreigners.

Actually, all in our little gaggle were foreigners, slipped in over the border from some other state, hanging out on the fringes of belonging, hoping for a glimpse of glory. Since we landed right on the centerline of the eclipse path, and the clouds mercifully parted over us, we saw plenty, and went our separate ways rejoicing, full of praise and thanksgiving.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The plan was...

The plan was to write a few short stories while I wait for Editor to fire her first volley of mark-ups at the novel manuscript I submitted this summer. Several thousand words into the second story and it's already starting to look a bit novella-ish.. I'm beginning to get excited, mainly because I love the characters and have no idea where they might be heading.

So far, Amelia has met Wendl in an otherwise unoccupied church. Not their last meeting, if Trier has his way.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

One Word...

More and more, I'm convinced that the simplest, deepest definition of the Gospel is one word, hospitality. We meet God in the welcomes of our lives.

welcomed us in Christ. We welcome God in one another. Jesus said, if we welcome anyone, we are welcoming him.

The entire universe is an invitation to participate in God's great Welcome, right where we are, wherever we are. Every time we say, “Y'all come on in,” we echo the voice of God. She said it first.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 time like the present.

I don’t have time, we say, but we have time. All the time there is. We might picture time as a pebble rolling down a hill. But time is not the pebble. Time is the hill.

If tomorrow does not exist, it would not be there to receive us when we arrive. The past is as real as ever, when it is gone out of sight. Nothing is ever lost to God.

What we see as now is just our partial view of eternity. As C. S. Lewis used to say, When you arrive in Heaven, it’s all Heaven. Until then, it is all downhill..

Sunday, August 20, 2017


The difference between a good writer and a bad writer is not that one writes more, but that the other re-writes less.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

...ain't leaving.

Evil is evil. whether he rules by force or votes. A stranger told me today that if I do not like who is running the country, I should leave. I ain't leaving. My father's father's father's father's 'father's father's father was broken in a war to set this country free. I'm right here until it is free for all of us. If I die before his work is done, my moldering bones will cry out from this stony mountainside, for all my sisters and brothers, those who were here before, and those who came late, and those who are still on the way, "Freedom." There is nothing beside that to say under God, except, "Welcome." 

Friday, August 18, 2017

...too old.

I'm too old to be afraid. I'm not too old to love my neighbors, or open my door to a traveler, or cook a meal for a fellow pilgrim. I'm not too old, either, to look evil in the face and tell him what I see.

Sooner or later, we all get called home again, and whoever we've been serving here will be waiting to take us back, to bless or to devour. Whatever our souls have been feeding on day by day, will consume us in the end, whether it be greed or generosity, cruelty or kindness, love or hate.

Thursday, August 17, 2017 those who wait.

Last year was not good for arugula. It was hot and dry from late spring, right through into fall. What remnant of arugula the rabbits didn't eat bolted almost immediately. I let the survivors go to flower, and there they stood until I tilled up their row to plant some spinach for this fall's harvest.

August this summer has been cool and wet. the spinach is coming up just fine, along with all the arugula seeded from last year. Looks like we're in for a bumper crop of both.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Chromatic shift...

A leopard cannot change his spots, they say, but a geranium can obviously change her hue. Geri has been totally red for the two years we've known her, but decided last week to come out pink. She's seemed a stable soul. Somebody had to put her up to that.

I'm blaming the wren family who built a nest and raised a family in the geranium basket this spring. My theory is their activity altered the soil acidity enough to precipitate a color change. I've switched my own colors for less.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

In the garden...

In the August garden, arugula and carrots are up and growing. Black Krim are ripening on the vine. Okra is blooming. Mizuna is sprouting. We'll have fresh greens for Labor Day

We're still getting our daily rains, the barrels are brimming. A little sun this week will help us catch up on the weeding.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Nothing is...

Nothing is so ultimately boring as lust. Want and desire flare in an instant, but love comes to flower slowly, over years, outlasting ego and fantasy, rooted as much in heartbreak as in happiness, until finally, when flesh is failing and will is spent, we fall into glory unawares.

The young think they have an edge on excitement and enticement, but they are clueless about passion. The road to oneing is circuitous and long. If we can complete the journey in a single lifetime, we are among the blessed rare.

Saturday, August 12, 2017


Our Teijin fiber sleeping mat finally arrived from over the Wide Water. 
My old back is going to feel so grateful.

Friday, August 11, 2017


Once you've lived among mountains for a while, it is impossible to leave them. Wander as far as you will, they go with you, reside inside your head, the constant landscape of your heart. If you see them nowhere else, you will see them in your dreams.

Wander as far as you will, amid sounds of strife and traffic, you will hear them still, deep down in the bones, winds and waters, birds and bears, voices singing unceasing in the pulsing rivers of your blood.

Sooner or later, by your will or in spite of all intention and circumstance, it will happen, and ever after, you will praise the day your voices called you home once more, and you were born again a mountain child.

Thursday, August 10, 2017


The Audible edition of Laurel Falls (Book 3 of the Drum Trilogy) is here at last. Once again, Wayne Paige, who narrated the first two books of the Drum Trilogy, is reading. It is interesting to hear how his style has evolved with the books.

I wasn't involved with the audio production of this book, but was gratified when Editor chose one of my favorite scenes from the novel for the audio sample on Amazon.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

...and the first will be last.

The last Sunday in July was as close to a perfect summer day as one could expect to see in this imperfect world, cool and clear, boundless blue sky, birdsong abounding, and from down in the town, drifting up the ridge, music from a soulful horn and sussurant voices.

There came, an hour before sundown, a crystalline moment, when you knew that this day had existed in the mind of God before time began unspooling, and will, on the last day of creation, remain real and present as now.

All things change and everything passes away, but nothing and no soul is ever lost to God. This is the day the Lord has made, and on the day that I die, I will still be alive and present to my Creator in this blessed, fleeting, everlasting hour.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Word by word...

Word by word, line by line,
a story grows just like a vine,
Your novel will turn out just fine
If you show up every day.

Your story will not write itself,
It won't complete up on that shelf,
You can't count on the writing elf,
To know what you must say.

Don't sweat, or fret, or cuss or rage,
Just write down your daily page
or re-write, if you're at that stage,
And if it helps, yeah, pray.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Keeping on...

Some anonymous tourtist with more car than caution knocked the mirror off Sue. Serves me right for parking on the street like summer folk.

But I went down to M. A. Pace Store and found some gorilla glue and a c-clamp to put it back on. Leon keeps us going. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017 will have to do.

The problem with labels is that sometimes they stick better than they fit. For the past two years I have been Episcopal by practice, but in my heart, I'm still pretty much a Quaker by convincement, not that I'm entirely at ease with that one, either.

So every Sunday I stand up in church and repeat some words that declare my solidarity with my sisters and brothers at Church of the Transfiguration in Saluda, North Carolina better than they might frame a precise statement of personal belief.

But that part of the Nicene Creed about believing in one holy catholic Church. That bit, I can swallow whole. It's all church. Whenever and wherever we forget that, we've quit being Christian. That's another label, but until we can think of a better one, it will have to do.

Friday, August 4, 2017


There have been frequent bear sightings around Saluda this summer. The other day, I ran into my Friend Barnaby hanging out down by Feldenkrais Saluda. I asked him if he was panhandling the tourists. He said, no, he was just hoping one of his country cousins might drop by.

Thursday, August 3, 2017


Simon and I encountered these two beauties over on Gaffney Street during our noonly walk. I lose count of the times in a day I am ambushed by glory.

Perhaps I really do live in an extraordinarily lovely place. Perhaps now that I dare not take my eyes for granted any longer, I am finally learning to see.

We are surrounded by ordinary things only when we are not paying attention.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017


It's about time to plant the fall root crops, so Simon and I climbed up to the garden last week to begin tilling some space for them. If we seem to have a little more tolerance for weeds than some gardeners do, it is not totally due to our laziness. With all the rains we've had this year, a good sod has gone a long way toward keeping our garden off our back porch.

My old mentor, Bruce Robert Holt, who grew up in the north end of the Smokies before the national park was established, would not say my garden is steep at all. He claimed their fields were so tilted they had to load their seed corn into shells and plant it with a shotgun.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


Hugh Hollowell alerted me to this article by Philip Yancey in the Washington Post. Yancey says we are forgettting how to read and that is threatening our soul health. Deep attention is becoming a lost skill in this age of one-click shopping, according to Yancey. We can't see the paragraph for the links.

All the same, I persist in writing stories and novels. Maybe a few will scan my books on Kindle, or listen to Wayne Paige read the Audible editions. People may not recall the titles, but they might remember the quotes, if they're not too lengthy.