Friday, November 27, 2009

Jack London in Paradise

As a former English teacher who spent the last years of her career teaching American literature, I was immediately attracted to the title of this book, Jack London in Paradise, when I saw it on the shelf at the public library. I have never heard of the author or the work, but I took the novel from the shelf and stacked it with my others.

I have to admit that when I went to pick my next book to read, I kept moving this one to pick another one -- then this past week, I was in the mood... as I had read the first pages and knew the nature of the read. You have to be in the mood. Trust me.

Jack London reminds me of "survivor" stories, and since Thanksgiving was approaching and time with the "out laws" was imminent, I was in the mood for "atta boy" literature.


I'm kidding.

Jack London in Paradise, written by Paul Malmont, tells the story of Hobart Bosworth, a director, producer, actor, and "seducer of women," who falls on hard times, and seeks to partner with London on a screen play to help salvage his career.

A financial misunderstanding estranges the old friends, who had several successful movie adaptions of London's works -- most notably Martin Eden. Bosworth wishes to repair the relationship and his financial state, and he travels to Wolf House, London's estate outside of San Francisco, hoping that London will listen to him as he tries to explain how he was misunderstood. What he finds instead is Wolf House in ruins flattened by a fire.

Not deterred by this, Bosworth charms London's step sister, who is managing London's ranch in his absence, and discovers that London has escaped to "paradise." Bosworth sets sail to Hawaii in search of London and what he hopes will be a career saving screen play.

As Malmont obviously fictionalizes London's time in Hawaii, he does write a captivating novel with London as his central figure, even though most readers might despise the self-indulgent Bosworth.

Set in 1915, Malmont re-imagines London's last year, when Hawaii itself is still a tropical paradise, and when London was in a declining health, both mentally and physically.

London, "the dog writer," [LOL -- said by a vapid woman in the novel], and his private life come alive as Malmont describes Charmian, London's second wife, as desperate to save her husband who suffers from many ailments apparently the side effects from London's earliest travels and adventures -- most notably his trip to the Yukon and his grandiose idea of sailing the world in a sail boat which was cut short in Australia by a bout of malaria and kidney stones. Charmian keeps a drug regimen up that is both dubious and suspicious.

Not only is London physically ill, but Malmont focuses on his mental state -- a psychosis that has London having "visions" of the island's myths as well as Jungian psychology. Not helping his mental stability is the guilt and grief over the death of his infant daughter Joy and his wife's adultery.

The novel is a good read, but Malmont falters with his little side stories. Even though his descriptions of Hawaii are beautiful and effectively portray what it must have been like, he often sets off on adventurous side stories with secondary characters that I just wanted to end so that I could get back to London and that seedy Bosworth to see what happens.

Am I reading like a teen-ager?

Don't answer that.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


We gathered at my sister's last night for a Thanksgiving eve since we all head out to the other side of the family for the actual turkey day... today.

"the other side" is a nice way of puttin it... heh...

Four of my nephews were there and chatting it up about college.

GT nephew: Make it stop. I have no life. I always have to do something.
YH nephew: Papers. I have written a thousand papers.
Me: Any of them any good?
YH nephew: Probably not...

KSU nephew: I long for the days of tests and no papers. I write papers all the time. My next paper is on CNN's [as the media's] impact on American culture for political science.
Me: You need a reference.... cause I have an opinion or two.
KSU nephew: Uh, no.. I mean, no thanks. I really appreciate it.
Me: I got time, you know.
KSU nephew: I'm good.

GT nephew: My English 1101 class is labeled Community 2.0.
Me: Huh?
GT nephew: Yes, the class is about projects and creating a community, and of course, she throws in some boring essays for us to read. My most recent community was an old folks home.
Me: Careful now.

GT nephew: English is now "woven."
Me: Explain.
GT nephew: That stands for "written, oral, visual, electronic, and non-verbal."
Me: Damn. I'm already overwhelmed.
GT nephew: On my last paper she was pretty underwhelmed. She dominated me.
Me: So, what's your grade?
GT nephew: Eh. B maybe. C maybe? Just a maybe.
Me: Sounds confident.

GT nephew: I'm looking forward to my next English class.
Me: Is that sarcasm?
GT nephew: No. It's English 1102.
Me: And?
GT nephew: Its title is "Witches, Aliens, and Communists."
ME: LOL. You think you will read?
GT nephew: Highly unlikely.

Of course, this discussion about his English course at Georgia Tech got all of the adults whipped into a frenzy about the lack of reading and writing and the focus on "media" ---

the nephews rolled their eyes
the adults longed for the "good ole days"


some things will never change.. I guess my parents and their generation did the same thing, but some how I think that things have changed more rapidly that if I taught on the college level I might have to title my course "Stories, Mostly Sad, and Writing."

You think anyone would sign up?


BTW: Nephews, thanks for explaining "flashmob" ["organized randomness" quipped one] to me -- I get it --- but I'm trying to decide if it's a good thing.

Any thoughts out there?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Much Ado about.... lunch

I guess I am never gonna blog about my trip to North Florida with three crazy women, a dog, and miles and miles of nothing, and then gators.

<------------- three of the four crazy women and the dog

That's all you get cause now I've forgotten what was so funny. I didn't take notes. :(

<-------------- gator --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yesterday, I went to lunch with Mary and Emily, also former students and presently University of Georgia students.

We met at Chili's by the mall.

Since I was going to that area, I decided to go to Cotsco.

BTW: I thought the Monday before Thanksgiving would not be a crazy day to be on Barrett Parkway... or even Costco.


The place was overrun with people with big butts.

The aisles were crowded,

shopping buggys stacked up in major-shopping buggy jams,

folks lined up at the sample lines...

Maude: Henry, look at this artichoke spread.
Henry: Not now, Maude, they have motor oil for a dollar a can -- I'm gonna get 10, 000 cans. Maude: This is so good. I'll buy two gallons, and I'll take the 98 oz bags of crackers.

they hovered over the turkeys and hams [folks were elbowing each other to get at them], and the check yourself out line had ten people in it. Costco man had a mobile scanner to help the overflow.


I should just pay three dollars more for the 40 lb bag of cat litter and save myself the aggravation.

It was insane.


Where was I? Oh yeah, I was at Chili's. Mary. Emily.

That's right.

When I asked the girls what was new, these were their answers.

Mary: I'm going to Kenya!
Me: [wide eyed]
Emily: I'm going to Turkey!
Me: [mouth agape] Really? When?

They both proceeded to tell me of the opportunities for next summer that they have been given and are taking advantage of -- both of these ladies are smart, beautiful, and one has a overly "kind" heart, the other one has a heart -- as she always claims, "I'm not that nice."

They are twenty years old -- and adventure ahead of them -- my adventure at that age was more selfish and in the continental United States.... and well.. never mind...

Mary: I will be working in an orphanage.
Me: Awww. But KENYA? Aren't you scared to be so far away?
Mary: Not really. It will be terrific. Africa.
Me: [thinking -- aren't there orphanages a little closer?]

Emily: I will be studying abroad, actually in Italy, but I will travel through Turkey for a few days. I'm a little concerned with navigating the airport in Istanbul.
Me: [thinking -- a little? I'd be shaking in my third world sandals]

They both were both so excited; I'm the only one with my mouth agape.

We talked books... Mary's always looking for new titles --- Emily is just finishing some ones.

Emily: Wuthering Heights. I loved it.
Me: Great book. I wanted to shake all of the characters in that novel and put them on timeout: "Quit being so mean and revengeful and stubborn." Tragic, tragic story.
Emily: Definitely tragic.
Mary: Sad. Wuthering Heights is a sad book.

Emily had not taken any English classes this semester, but she was headed to some next semester including "Novel Theory" or is it "Theory of a Novel"?

Theory of a Novel is definitely not a course I am familiar with since I have been out of graduate school for twenty years. When I got my BA and Masters in English, we were limited to 20th Century American novel, Shakespeare, and History of the English language -- at Georgia, they must have over fifty to choose from...

Theory of the Novel?

What could that be?

I hope it's a way of thinking about the novel and its place in history, its impact on culture, and its ability to provide insight into human nature.

This day an age -- it could be anything.

I hadn't heard of "Queer Theory" till one of my former students told me about it. Of course, he attends Georgia Tech... and I dunno.....but he came back and expanded on it for Dr. Parrott and me.


Mary is currently enrolled in four English classes -- I can't remember the names of her courses, but we talked about what she liked and what she didn't. I know she had Shakespeare, the 20th Century British novel, African-American literature, and one more.... but I can't remember what...

<------------- going to Kenya

<------------- going to Turkey

Mary liked all of her Shakespeare (we all chuckled about why Titus Andronicus always has to be included in a Shakespeare course -- Emily concluded "for the boys in the class" LOL -- "it's so bloody -- IMHO -- overrated, but I digress),

but she wasn't that wild about the 20th Century British novel -- but we did talk briefly about Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh.

Me: I love that book.
Mary: Well, I liked the discussion; we talked about God, but the story is so sad.
Me: Mary, literature is full of sad stories. Life is sad. Who wants happy endings in their reading?
Mary: I do.
Emily: I don't.
Me: LOL.. me either.

We laughed again because we three have been having this same conversation for five years. This all goes back to when both of these girls were in my English class, and Mary, with the heart of hurt for others, and Emily with just a heart, and I would argue about whether something was sad.

When the girls asked me what I was doing, I said, "read my blog. It's not sad."

Muah, Emily and Mary.



Are you out there?

You and I used to have this same conversation when you were in my tenth grade English class.

Shelley: Are we ever gonna read something that has a happy ending?
Me: No.
Shelley: Why? I just want to read something happy.
Me: Not in this class. Get yourself a romance novel.
Shelley: Argh.

*shakes her skinny fist in the air*

*shakes mine back at her*

Is anyone out there reading a happy book? If so, let me know.... I'm currently reading Jack London in Paradise.........

and, he ain't happy.
Just sayin'.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


"Vanity of vanities, all is vanity."

That's Biblical -- but this is not.

Bob and Toby came to fit the new vanity top in the master bathroom yesterday. They ripped out the old and put in the new.

The new didn't fit -- the sink was cut over too far to the right, so the drawer is in the way and the plumbing is wrong.

The boys at Marble Inc. didn't read Bob's drawing and measurements correctly.

Toby was not happy.
Bob was not happy.
They carried out the 300 lb vanity to the driveway.
Picked up the other new 300 lb vanity to put in the master bath, and it didn't fit.

So... Toby and Bob are mad at the Marble Inc men.

Looks like hubby and I will not be able to use the master bath sinks for at least three weeks.

But, you know who is most ticked?

Keats and Tallulah.

They both get on that vanity top that doesn't fit and look at the faucets.

Keats: Water. *stares at faucet*
Me: No water, Keats. The Marble men made a mistake.
Keats: Water. *stares at faucet then at me*
Me: There is no water, Keats. I can't make it.
Keats: Water. *stares at faucet*
Tallulah: If Keats wants water, I want water. Water. *stares at Keats*
Me: No water, Tallulah, no matter if Keats wants it and therefore, you want it. There is no water.
Keats: Water. *hisses at Tallulah and stares at faucet*
Tallulah: Water. *stares at Keats*
Me: No water for cats. Get it from the tub.
Keats: I want faucet water. *blinks at me*
Tallulah: Me too. Water.*blinks at me*
Me: Get it in the tub.
Keats: Okay.
Tallulah: Okay.

*stare at tub faucet, jump out of way when the water comes, stare at water*

Then it starts over again. Every time we go in the master bath.

Keats: Water.
Tallulah: Water.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bonfire for the Vanity

We're having new vanity counters put into our bathrooms. I decided that it was time to clean from under our vanity since I didn't want the workers to think we were slobs, or worse, pack rat slobs with chronic coughs. Geez, I found five half full bottles of cough medicine.

David: Why don't you wait till after the work is done?
Me: I'll have to do it twice. I'm sure there will be vanity dust.
David: Vanity dust? That sounds like something Lindsay Lohan would snort.
Me: Heh. Not that funny.
David: Will you put it on the blog?
Me: Are you reading my blog?
David: No.

Here are the rules for cleaning from under the bathroom vanity:

Rule 1: Wear gloves.

Rule 2: Put your cat in the basement.

Rule 3: Remember that dust does really odd things to a water pik.

Rule 4: Look carefully in all old cosmetic bags. Be prepared to scream.

Rule 5: Put both cats in the basement.

Rule 6: Sit on a towel or a rug. [the tile makes your butt go numb]

Rule 7: Don't think that anyone could possibly want any thing you find under there.

Rule 8: Throw out all free samples without thinking that you could use them as stocking stuffers--- yes, even after they have been dusted and washed.

Rule 9: Never keep cotton balls in an open plastic bag.

Rule 10: Don't try on old glasses. EVAH.

Rule 11: Never clean from under you vanity. Just move and leave it for the next occupant. Whatever you do find, burn it.

ETA: Did you know that toothpaste explodes?

That's all I got...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Joshilyn Jackson

Listening to writers is such a pleasure for this retired English teacher.

Last night, I was able to listen to yet another writer talk about books, writing, and living.

This writer was Joshilyn Jackson, author of three books, two of which I read: Gods in Alabama and The Girl Who Stopped Swimming. Her other novel, Between, Georgia, I haven't read.

I finished The Girl Who Stopped Swimming the afternoon of the author meet and greet.

*chuckle, chuckle*

The book club, which I don't belong to but was invited to because they wanted a larger audience for the writer, seems to be of about eighteen to twenty women -- all middle aged or older, even though it looked like one woman had brought her teenage daughter who disappeared pretty quickly after Jackson began to talk. I laughed out loud at the fact that one of the oldest of the group held tightly and proudly to her Kindle the whole time. She was also the most opinionated.. I wonder if that goes together?


The hostess's home was a ranch -- built in the 1960s or 1970s and located on a huge tract of land in west Cobb --- as usual, I was driving in the dark and the rain with crappy directions from Google. Argh.. Google told me to turn left when I needed to make a right -- I knew it as soon as I saw the house numbers. It's always fun to turn around in a strange driveway ... only not.

The hostess had her house lit up for the evening, and her husband graciously waited in the long driveway to help park the cars. When I asked if he was the valet, he dryly retorted, "No, I'm just showing the hags where to park their brooms." We both laughed. Somehow I thought he might be serious....

When I parked my car, I heard his wife yell at him from out of the dark: "Beeeennnneeett? We need more coffee."

I heard him mumble under his breath as he shuffled up to the house.

The inside of the house was typical ranch -- kitchen and den combined together and separated by a bar/counter. The fireplace was roaring, the "hags" were grazing around the cracker and cheeses, and I took in the antique collection of hand bells and small farm implements and looked for the one person I knew. I was introduced to four women pretty successively, and then whamo! I forgot their names. In the large den, I settled in on a nice comfy leather with the chair that Jackson would eventually sit in right across from me. It would allow Jackson to make a lot of eye contact with me, which she would do often, and I would nod back at her like I used to do my Algebra II teacher. The difference -- I nodded at Jackson with understanding -- Algebra II not so much.

Jackson arrived, took time to sign a few books, and then sat in a hard-back kitchen chair and began to talk. I could listen to her all day.

Jackson is a Southern girl [married with two kids and a cat and a dog]-- even though she didn't say where she was born, she did mentioned her grandmother being from Alabama and growing up in a "garden shed lean to." She said her grandmother was "broken" and poor.. which was a double whammy. Her own upbringing was solid with loving parents, even though her website quotes her as saying her family was "a wild tribe of Fundamentalists." Her parents, she credited with being the backbone of who she was. Even though two of her three novels are not for "mother to read," she did write Between, Georgia, a book that she said she would hand to her mother or daughter without question.

She told us that she "shamelessly loves her books," and that she could "talk incessantly about them." She says that readers have complained that there is always a murder in her books. She retorted -- "I'm from the South -- there has to be kissin' and shootin'."

She giggles.

Jackson giggles a lot, and this already rounded out her vibrant, warm, and obviously smart personality. Not only was she a writer, but she had spent time doing voice overs for commercials and documentaries, in the theater where she noted there are "no morals and three ethics," and got shortlisted for an Audie for her reading of her book Between, Georgia.

About the Audie: She told us that her agent/manager told her that she had little chance to win since her competition was Maria Shriver, Maya Angelou, Cookie Roberts, and David Sedaris.


As a group, we asked few questions. Jackson easily slid from one story to another:

she told about how she goes to writing retreats --

defined by her as "a hotel business suite complete with refrigerator in Alpharetta for four days"


the most recent one with a girlfriend at the Breakers in West Palm where "there are only so many mojitos you can drink before you are exhausted..."

she told how she sets goals --- 14,000 words in four days

she told how she gets the characters first -- then the story


how she always wanted to be a writer.

When she was in middle school, she got her first stack of blank books which she said she filled with the worst blather -- one of his stories was called "Don't Go Into the Woods." She said she reread it recently and laughed her butt off... it was so trite, so adolescent, and so lame.

She believes that most books need two reads.
The first read for plot ....
The second read for other aspects -- imagery or theme or motifs.

Note to former students: See, you morons. You don't just read books once....

Jackson admitted that there are books on her shelf that she is still not through reading - - that she has read them two and three times and is not done yet...

To Kill a Mockingbird
Life of Pi

Everything that Rises Must Converge
Poisonwood Bible ...

Uh, I'm not so sure about Poisonwood Bible, but I have friends who think that book is awesome. I'm not in that camp....

She talked a great deal about her own novels --- and how she saw the characters, their faults, and their stories.

Jackson was a delight to listen to --- and I am glad I had the opportunity to do so.

When I was leaving, two of the book club members stopped me.

Member One: You're young. What did you think of her books?
Me: Uh, well, I liked 'em okay. I liked her better.
Member Two: Uh. Huh.
Member One: She sure was smart.
Member Two: Uh. Huh.
Me: Totally --- and she was smart, but in a whacked kind of way.
Member Two: Uh. Huh.
Member One: I bet she's got that disorder.
Member Two: Uh. Huh.
Me: What disorder?
Member One: The one every child on McDonald's playground has.
Me: A.D.D.?
Member Two: Uh. Huh.
Member One: That's the one. I couldn't think of it.
Me: But she's gifted.
Member One: Who to?
Me: No. It's like being exceptional.
Member One: To whom?
Me: No, it's a good thing. You are creative, talented, and learn quickly. Jackson is definitely gifted.
Member Two: Uh. Huh.
Member One: I'm so old. I can't remember any of these "distinctions" that they put on diplomas these days.

LOL -- those two ladies were a riot. It made me think of how hard it is sometimes to explain the way we have labeled children in so many ways in "education."

This group club asked me to join them. Their next read for January -- Olivie Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, 2009 Winner of the Pulitizer for fiction.

Do I join?
If so, is it so I can blog about them?

BTW: I don't always trust the Pulitizers. Just sayin'.

Right, Edie?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Aussie, Robert Frost, and Derek

After settling in at Wingate's and Catherine appeared an hour later, "after making a right at the dumpster," we settled into an evening of chat, beverages, and reminiscing.

[< Wingate's porch]

I am quite thankful that I really don't remember the stuff from college -- it sounds like -- well, it sounds like I had a good time, even though they always tell stories of which I don't think I had a part. They assure me I did.

*wonders if I went to college at all?*

At least I'm not like Catherine who doesn't remember that she was Wingate's roommate one summer at JSU.

I do remember all of my roommates. *giggles*

Wingate's sister Martha came over to join us for dinner, and she brought her dog, Aussie. Martha lives across the street next to Wingate's parents home ---

BTW: Wingate and her sister have moved back to the home place in Thomasville... the land was originally 10,000 acres [it could be more than that -- I can't remember the specifics] and in Wingate's family since before the Revolutionary War. Now they are down to about 125 acres. They have retired to the land .... it's a wonderful tie to the past .. how blessed they are to have this legacy to return to....

Robert Frost wrote .. "The land was ours before we were the land's. She was our land more than a hundred years Before we were her people. .."

Of course, that was taken totally out of context, but that line jumped in my head....

Aussie is an Australian sheep dog called a blue heeler --[that is no misnomer -- she literally followed at Martha's heels]. When she and Martha came to the door of the screen porch, she was jumping four times her height because she was excited.

Aussie: More people to herd! More people to herd! More people to herd! Let me herd them! Let me herd them!

Since the sheep she wished to herd mostly sat on the screen porch sofas, she settled for having her belly rubbed.

Aussie: No need to herd? Then rub my belly! Rub my belly! Rub my belly!

Wingate's sister Martha sounds like her, looks like her (but her sister is 15 years older), and the two of them are really "farm" girls... they even laugh alike... but there is such love between them -- the way they care for each other, see to each other, and just enjoy what each other does...

We shared a dinner of boiled shrimp, corn on the cob, crusty bread, and salad with home made blue cheese dressing. YUM. It was delicious....

We settled in on the porch for a good night of talking, and we spent the rainy evening laughing and gossiping.... and throwing "men" under the bus.

Eh. It was a hen party. It's in the constitution.

Aside: Wingate's house has a tin roof -- the wind was blowing -- and the acorns hitting the roof sounding like rifle fire. The whole time we were there -- things hit the roof... it was a noisy place for a quiet place, if that makes any sense. When I was outside taking pictures the next day, an acorn came down like it had been hurled by Nolan Ryan and hit me in the temple. Whoever said the acorn doesn't fall too far from the tree needed to amend that statement to ... it depends on the weather... dang. I could have been maimed.

The next day we were all slow moving --- for various reasons ---- and we headed to downtown Thomasville for lunch and shopping in a misty, miserable rain.

We ate lunch at Relish, a upscale kitchen store with a small deli in the back that served coffees, sandwiches, and salad.

I ate a ham and cheese sandwich with fig spread and dill pickle potato chips. I chased it down with a Diet Coke. I don't know what the other girls had -- I was too focused on my delicious lunch..

Relish had baked goods to die for -- I bought David a three dollar brownie, which somehow I restrained from eating before I brought it home.

The little girl who waited on us had a broken arm. It was like a Flannery O'Connor short story without the digs at religion.

We tried to shop in Thomasville, but we were too tired from staying up late the night before... we halfheartedly walked the streets, gazing in shops and trying to buy things. We failed. We decided to come back to Wingate's house and rest so that we could get up the energy to go out to dinner.

We did stop at the farmer's market for Wingate to buy "green" peanuts to boil.

I told David that afternoon that Wingate was "boiling" peanuts, and he said, "Crazy butt farm girl."

I dozed in a big chair in Wingate's living room, watched the weather channel, and tried to read this book that I have been waiting to finish. It's not a good book, and it's not a bad book; it's just an annoying one --

Do you ever have one of those novels {they are always long} that gets on your nerves and all you want to do is find out what happens, but you really don't care?

Quite the conflict. These are the types of conflicts you have when you are retired.

*does a little jig*

This novel is one of those --- I wanted to scream at it, "you are all dumb characters, and I just want to see if you live to make more mistakes or die and be thankful there is no sequel."


They lived. All five of them....

*emails author -- "i hated all of those people"*

We went to dinner at Marabella's -- an adorable Italian restaurant in the old train depot.
When we got there, the restaurant had eight customers, and they were all women.
It was already loud.

Derek was our hostess and then our waiter.
Derek fumbled behind the counter. Derek looked around the restaurant.
Derek saw many tables vacant.
Derek put us right next to six women who were five glasses into a girls' night out.

*looks at table full of gabby women; looks at Derek*

Derek was new.
Derek was a little slow.
Martha wanted to make him her pool boy.
I wanted to make him take a literacy test.

Derek tried really hard, but if you confused him like Catherine did when she asked for "hot pepper flakes" on the side, Derek went blank.

*blink, blink*

Oh, Derek. You might be cute, but you know, there are other occupations that don't require you to remember to refill the water glasses.

We had a delicious meal in spite of Derek, but I have no idea what Wingate, Martha, or Catherine said the whole evening.

The restaurant filled up with people and noise -- between the hard wood floors, the high ceilings, the cackling of the girls' night out group, the rain on the roof, the rectangular table, and my going "huh" all the time, I gave up and just enjoyed my fettuccine.

Thomasville, in spite of it being in the middle of the pine forest from a Disney movie, has some delicious restaurants.


Back to the house, more talk, more laughter, but an early bed time...


ETA: I'm too old to stay up late two nights in a row.... and it turns out I will need the rest for our eight hour excursion into North Florida.

*wink, wink*

Monday, November 16, 2009


I've been a little M.I. B. [Missing in Blogging?]

I've been on two trips -- and neither had Internet. One place -- the Internet was down -- the other -- not even connected. I felt like I was in a bubble for five days.

I drove down to south Georgia to see Wingate and a girl we both knew from college. Catherine drove up from Florida, and I drove down from Marietta -- and we met in the middle at Wingate's home in Thomasville, Georgia, also known as the middle of freakin' nowhere.

I mean, seriously.

I drove down in the rain on last Tuesday -- which is always a good day to be on I-75.
Only not.

When it rains, people drive weird and act weird. When I taught school, kids would stand in the rain. Now that I am retired, I see that people drive long distances in the rain. This was a serious rain -- remember? -- we got five inches here...

At a rest stop in Perry, Georgia, a fellow traveler and I had this conversation in the ladies' room.

Me: Fun, huh? Driving in the rain.
Fellow traveler: It's one of the signs of the end of the world. The Rapture.
Me: Uh. Yeah. I mean, it could be.
Fellow traveler: Oh it is. It's in Revelations.
Me: Really?
Fellow traveler: Yeah, honey, Revelations -- you need to read your Bible.
Me: I do. I really do. [sets hand dryer to turbo]

When I finally got off Interstate 75 at Cordele, Ga, I gave Wingate a call on my cell. She said cell service was terrible out there, and that I would be surrounded by plantations and nothing else.

She was right.


She didn't say cotton. Cotton was everywhere -- I kept lookin' for Scarlet. Lawd.

I stopped at a place called "Striplings" for gas. Apparently, they are proud of their hog whacking.
Over the doorway it reads, "You Never Sausage a Place."

Later, on the phone with my hubby, I tried to recreate that sign for him.

Me: It read "you never s-a-u-s-a-g-e a place.
Hubby: Whut?
Me: What does s-a-u-s-a-g-e spell?
Hubby: I don't know.
Me: Yes, you do.
Hubby: Spell it again.
Me: S-a-u-s-a-g-e -- the sign read "you never s-a-u-s-a-g-e a place."
Hubby: I don't get it.
Me: Sausage. You never sausage a place.
Hubby: Whatever. How is that funny?

I paid for my gas, got a few looks from some old men with few teeth, and I got back in my car and turned left headed to Thomasville.

I went the speed limit because it was raining -- however, I would like to go on record to say that the Crisp County State Prisoners' Van passed me going at least twenty miles over the limit, and its tires spewed blinding water on my windshield.

I am not sure that a prison guard was driving. I've seen that Nicholas Cage movie -- the one where the prisoners take over the plane and crash it? Nicholas Cage was all pumped up, and John Malkovich played a psycho?

Wait. John Malkovich always plays psychos. Never mind.

Well, he sure was in a hurry. Was Tuesday the night they get extra servings of spaghetti? Were they running a Clint Eastwood movie night? Were the prisoners having a knitters meeting?

When I got into Pellham, Georgia, I was temporarily distracted by a lime green 1976 Chevelle that pulled in my line of vision, but I did note that the median of the highway held 9 crosses and flags... I wondered if that was the impact of Iraq on that very, very, small town?

Wingate gives visual directions -- if she knows the names of the streets, she gives them, but some of her travel tips including "Big BP station" and apparently for my friend Catherine coming from the south, "turn right at the dumpster."


When I got in to Thomasville, I took a road over to the east side of town and to Wingate's house, which was about 7 miles out of town on a road full of nothing but big plantations, pine trees, and dark.

I arrived at her abode at 5 o'clock just before the coming of the real dark -- as my husband likes to say, "Dark thirty."

I drove in mud, pulled up to her garage doors, and there she was...

Wingate's house .. two days later when it wasn't raining.

More later -- I'm headed to Bible study -- we're studying John, but I think I need to look at Revelations.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Name that Beetle?

I heard a great podcast on the dung beetle.

Any takers?

According to Doug Emlin, the man who studied them, they're the equivalent to the mule deer.

*checks notes*

The males have serious weapons coming from their bodies -- some look like antlers, others horns, and still some like pincers..... and they do what all males do, well, most males, they fight for their female. :)

The one with curved horns is called the Taurus dung beetle. Heh.

Taurus? Bwahahaha.

I guess I could get a job naming dung beetles.


I would like to name nail polish, you know, since the latest color I chose, with the help of Lena, my favorite pedicurist, "Smokin' in Havana." The one before that --- "I Love This Color"
before that ... "That's An 'El" of a Color" ...

Talk about lame....

What was I blogging about?

Apparently even though studying them looks a little like studying chaos, they are well organized as well as well armed. horned. antlered. or well pinced?

You know what -- they have some rather sneaky males too -- they are not big enough to fight the big males (the armed ones), and they don't have these "extensions," so they burrow and try to sneak in to see the female.

The more we study animals, the more we see us?

Maybe I should talk about the guy who studied "rats" (nature's monster) for a year... hanging out between two fast food restaurants in an alley in Manhattan..... he and his buddies would go "Ratting" together.....

He said that rats like what we like -- fried food, fatty foods, but not vegetables.

He said they are extremely organized --- and that they can jump as high as a foot.


He said the big ones look like a theme park mascot.

He said there are some "really" big ones....

Somehow, this is not blog material.

It was animal week on NPR -- what can I say?

And I wonder why David keeps bringing home "business cards" from clients who have ideas of possible jobs for me.

I don't need a job -- I still have 37 more Podcasts to listen to.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Deli Junction, the mountains, and Doctorow

I'm behind.

I was gonna post about Wingate and Parrott and I practically getting kicked out of Deli Junction in hoppin' Ellijay, but then I lost my muse or should I say, I forgot what we said because now that was a long time ago. I will, however, post some pictures.

I will also tell you that we giggled, got stared at, and ate pie -- which Parrott says, "It isn't as good as it used to be when it was sold at that other place....".

I thought it was good, but, of course, I didn't get to eat it at that other place.


BTW: Deli Junction has a bell that if you have good food, good times, and good service, or any combination of the three, you ring. When we left, Wingate pulled down on it like she was at a carnival and trying to win a stuff animal. The whole place looked up from what they were doing; I scooted out because I didn't wish to spend the night in the Ellijay jail with those two.

Geez. They were out of control.

Wait. If I had to spend the night in jail with someone, those two wouldn't be bad. Bad would be Zaid or Chris.


David and I were in the mountains this past weekend. It was past the peak of color, but it didn't matter, the leaves still shone in gloriously.

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows his handiwork ...."

On Halloween night while we were in the mountains, David and I went to Momma G's, a local pizza place, and all of the waiters and waitresses were dressed up for Halloween. Some of the costumes were a little hard to discern exactly what they were supposed to be -- the hostess was a flapper, the bartender was Link from Mod Squad, and our waitress was ... well, I think a French maid.

David: French maid gone wide.

He's hyper-critical sometimes. The guy who made the pizza had a mask on the back of his head; I wasn't sure what that was either....

As we exited the restaurant, we looked up on one of the east mountains, and there is a beautiful cross, lighted, that shone out at us -- it must be huge --- we drove to see if we could get closer, and we could, but it was one of those drives where it moved -- first, it was in front of us, then to the side, then to the back of us -- we finally gave up --

Darn those curvy mountain roads. Halloween night was rainy and foggy, and the look of that cross up high like that -- made it appear to be floating in the air.

On our way to look at it, we passed the Clayton Halloween Carnival.

Me: You wanna stop?
David: I'd rather go to Wal-mart on Christmas eve.

I took that as a No.
Pretty firm no.


I caught up on some more podcasts ....

Doctorow talked about his book Homer and Langley, a ficitonal story based on the Collyer brothers who lived for fifty years in isolation in their Central Park home in NY. They died in 1947. When their apartment was opened by officials to take the bodies out, they found it was piled high with junk -- including a Ford chassis. Apparently, thousands of people drove by the house as well as passed in front of it in order to gawk..... as the curious, the living spectators wanted to see how it could be that two men could live like that.... What could be more terrible than, according to Doctorow, "being turned into a mythical joke?"

Doctorow said that "Americans are the champions of collecting stuff."

The Collyer house was a museum of American civilization.

Doctorow takes the point of view of Homer, who begins the novel with..."I am Homer, the blind brother."

Doctorow also talked about the importance of opening lines in novels. It made me think of some of the ones that I taught:

1. Call me, Ishmael.

2. In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since. "Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."

3. A throng of bearded men, in sad colored garments and gray, steepled crowned hats, intermixed with women, some wearing hoods, and others bareheaded, was assembled in front of wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak and studded with iron spikes.

4. You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter.

5. If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.

6. In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains.

See how you do -- well, if you got nothing to do, that is...

Doctorow said that first lines were like the acorn of which the oak grows... do we remember first lines of books? I apparently do, but then I taught them....

That's all I got....

for now...

*inserts dancin' banana*