Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Dark Fork...


Word came this week from Dark Ink Press that they are publishing my short story, Dark Fork in their spring Dark Ink Anthology. After three novels and more than two dozen short stories, I'm finally getting some fiction published on my side of the ocean.

Dark Fork relates the star-crossed relationship between two young lovers, Starblossom Dorn and Jonathan Dark It doesn't have a happy ending, I'm afraid, but if it had, it might still be homeless. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Hazel Wood...


We still read paper books at our house, and often we read them aloud. This week, we're exploring Melissa Albert's The Hazel Wood. Old Aengus wouldn't have dared set foot there

Monday, February 26, 2018

...a space in time.


Remember that you are dust,” Jim, my priest said, when he smeared the palm ash on my forehead. I’ve been remembering all through this Lenten season. Sooner or later, perhaps sooner than I imagine, dust will be all that’s left of this body I call mine.

It is not mine at all, of course. I live in a borrowed house. We all do. “To dust you shall return.” That is the part we’d like to forget. But on those warm late winter days that feel closer to April than February, being dust isn’t altogether a bad thing.

Alana Levandoski, a Canadian songwriter recently emailed me a link to her new song, When Love Meets Dust. She sings that we are dust enlivened by Love. Every brokenness and loss, every dying, is one more opportunity for Resurrection. Our lives don’t belong to us, any more than our bodies do. We are just a space in time for God to do Her love.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Giving what's due...


Sometimes, no matter how fast you dance, your feet just don't come down in the right place. Our good friend (and CPA) Paul drove up the mountain from Greenville last week to help us grapple with our tax returns. I was up after midnight the evening before his visit, rummaging  through boxes out in our garage to find some receipts I'd mis-filed. Paul is particular about documentation.

We appreciate that. We really do. We are careful to render unto Caesar everything he has coming. We do our lawful part to fund the war and build the wall and deport those who've trusted us for sanctuary. That's how a conscientious citizen winds up guilty as hell.

We acknowledge our sin, though, even as we commit it, humbly confessing among the righteous, trusting that God is more merciful than the Internal Revenue Service.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

If I lived...


If I lived on some foggy mountaintop, I wouldn't sail anywhere at all, no matter what the song says. Heaven stretches only as far as you can see it.

Friday, February 23, 2018

...out of order.


Out walking with Simon, I stumbled over the last line of a story. It lay there in my mind all by itself, but as soon as I wrote it down, I could see the whole tale. Then it became just a matter of filling in the details. It is a short story now, but given enough details, it could be a novel.

Stories are seldom written all in order. Sometimes the beginning gets written last. Life is not lived in order, either, though when we've been edited, we remember it that way.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

...a prayer for lent.

Photo by David Longley
 
Lord Jesus, who for forty days
All company suspended
To walk the solitary ways
The Father had intended,

Out in the desert, vast and still,
While angels there attended,
You held fast to your Father’s will,
And all the beasts befriended.

 O Christ, guide us upon your road
We’ve scarcely comprehended,
And hold us up beneath our load
Until the journey’s ended

At home, before the Father’s face,
Where you have gone before us
To make for us a dwelling place
To shelter and restore us.

This day we pray that we might wake,
And heed Spirit imploring
Us all false comforts to forsake
and go with you exploring.

Words: Frances Simmons, pianist at Slick Rock Creek Baptist Church. 
Music: Southern Appalachian folk song.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Even on a day...


Even on a day that seems too warm for February, the sun sets right on schedule. The day-trippers drift away down the mountain to home. Then the moon rises over our town and the stories come out. If you aren't careful, one of them might catch you unawares.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

No contest...


No contest between writing another page and digging in the dirt on a February afternoon when it is seventy and sunny. On such days, you won't find me at my computer. Look for me in my garden.

Most writers are failed gardeners. There's hardly enough time in a life to do just one of them well.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Home by dark...


The Main Muse and I went over to Transylvania County yesterday afternoon to hear Angela Massey play her flute and Annie Brooks play the piano. It was an hour's drive, but we made it home before dark. Ian Clarke's Orange Dawn would have been worth the trip all by itself.

Thanks, Stephen, for the heads up.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The longer things stay the same, the more they change...


Saluda looks remarkably the same as it looked when I first lived here over forty years ago. There have been a lot of changes since then, though. The building in the photo housed my sculpture studio during that former life. It was an abandoned service station. The grease rack was still in place.

My neighbor, Walter dropped in one day to see what I was up to, and sat for a few moments while I did a little portrait sketch. I remember his hat and his mustache. Later, I carved a mask from the sketch. Walter said it didn't look anything at all like him, and it didn't, but a lady from Pennsylvania who didn't know Walter from Adam bought it. She must have liked it okay because she hasn't brought it back yet.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Think spring...


When crocus bloom, it's close enough to spring to grab a spade and dig a few rows ready to embrace asparagus and spring onions, prepare flats to sow for transplants, check the seed inventory and order what may have been overlooked, or what new varieties might be tried, decide where to expand the garden this year (it's never quite big enough). One forgets over the frozen days just how lively fresh-turned earth smells when it meets the air.

It helps, of course, if you have a good supervisor.


Friday, February 16, 2018

I know a place...


I know a place where the lights are still on,
where they leave the door open after dark
and welcome the stranger home.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Of all the places...


It doesn't seem possible that two years have gone by since we came back up the mountain to stay. Some days, it seems like two weeks, and some days it seems we've always been right here.

Of all the places we've ever lived, Saluda feels most like home. Of all the places I ever left, this is the one I wanted most to come back to. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Lovers' quarrel...


… when you’ve written your way thirty thousand words into a story that keeps drawing you in and pulling you on, though you have yet no idea of where it is going or even any clear notion of what it is about, and you’re dreading all the re-writing you know is in your future, but you are stuck with a couple of characters you can’t bear to abandon or kill off. You want them to have their say, whether they sell any books or not.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Blue skies...


On those days when writing is not going well (and some days, it doesn't), the sky can settle me and keep me on task.

It is impossible to look long into that Saluda Blue and not feel hopeful, that if I just pay attention, something real will appear.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Some days...


Some days, I'd as soon be left alone. Other days, walking home on the edge of night, I'm comforted to see that I have neighbors. If they were suddenly gone away, I'd miss their talk when we met on the street. I'd crave the smell of their chimney smoke on the winter air.

I don't hear well enough or see fast enough ever to relish a crowd. Neither would I want to dwell alone in the midst of the earth. There are no stories without people. None to tell or tell about, and none to hear them told.

My little garden is enough for me to answer for, but I'm too curious not to pay attention to my neighbor's plot, and pray her a good yield for her labors 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Ryan and Tiger - a parable...



Everybody warned Ryan not to keep the tiger in his house. He answered,
"Oh, Tiger's just a pet. He's harmless enough. Besides, he'll keep salesmen and panhandlers away."


Every day, when Ryan came home from work, his little dog, Nameless met him at the door, jumped into his arms and licked his face. One day Ryan came home and his son, Fred opened he door. "Where's Nameless? Ryan asked.


"Tiger ate him," Fred said.


"Be careful around Tiger." Ryan said.


"Don't worry, Dad," Fred answered, "Tiger likes me."


After that, Fred met Ryan at the door with a big hug every day when he came home. Then one day, Ryan's wife, Lula opened the door. "Where's Fred?" he asked.


"Oh, Tiger ate Fred," She said. "It took me all afternoon to clean up the mess. Dinner will be late."


"We can eat out," Ryan said, But maybe we should get rid of Tiger,"


"Oh, we're taller than Tiger," Lula said, "I think he'll respect us."


Every day after that, Lula met Ryan at the door until one day he came home, opened the door, and there stood Tiger, waiting for him.