Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 Catch-up

Much has happened in the closing months of the year.  In particular, this wonderful snowstorm last night that has turned the Armory into a winter wonderland!

The view from my window...

The trees are all frosted.

The houses, too.

And the beautiful, monumental Cranston Armory.

And a snowman!

In other news, poor Clovis had emergency back surgery after Thanksgiving.  It has been a month of recovery and confinement.  The house has become a convalescent home, and he is doing much better.

I made a playpen into his confinement chamber.  

And here are some pics from Thanksgiving in Provincetown before the back surgery crisis.  It was absolutely beautiful.  And I learned how to take panorama shots.

Red leaves from Provincetown.

And the tack-studded leather doors from the 1875 Bell Chapel right here in the neighborhood.  A nice sentiment for the holidays.

And some lovely cockatoos I found on a day of visiting junk shops.  :)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Book Clubbing

I've been so thrilled to do events at bookstores and libraries and fundraisers.  The whole experience of publishing my first novel has been a dream come true in so many ways.  One of the things I never expected, but have been so thrilled and gratified to do, is book clubs.  

I've done them in person and on the phone, in people's homes and in restaurants.  They are always a blast.  The other night, I had another great time with a book club in Westerly, Rhode Island.  This group of readers was smart, thoughtful, and insightful.  The conversation could have gone on for hours. There is no greater satisfaction for a writer than to hear from readers who get into the world that the writer creates.  Our conversation really reflected that.  Thank you so much, Westerly/Stonington!

A cozy living room, a nice fire, and great talk.
Signing a book for Gail
The whole gang--this book club has been going for over 20 years!
With my wonderful hostess Cathy!  Thank you!
The weekend before, I got to spend a couple days in my old stomping ground, Provincetown.  Here are some pics.
Ptown viewed from Beach Point
Race Point Lighthouse, the goal of a great dunewalk.
Clovis and I are thrilled to be back at the beach-each in our own way.
And here are some pictures of young Clovis reluctantly waking up in the morning.

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Queen City Sojourn

At the crossroads of Tryon and Trade Streets.
 Just after Halloween I made a quick trip down to the Tarheel State for a library benefit.  I was not sure what to expect.  I knew there would be surprises, but I should not have been surprised by how warm, wonderful, and fun the ladies of the Union County Libraries are.  It was a whirlwind and an absolute blast.

First, I got to spend a little time around Charlotte, a beautiful city of both old and new (the Queen City, named after English King George III's spouse, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz).

Newcomb-Berryhill House, built 1884, a beautifully preserved Victorian. 
The Old Settlers' Cemetery in the shadow of an office tower.
The 1911 Little Rock A.M.E. Zion Church at the heart of the historic African American community in Charlotte.
Shotgun shacks preserved to show how life was lived.
 Then I headed down to Monroe, the seat of Union County.
The 1884 courthouse and 1910 Confederate memorial. 
Belk's Department Store got its start in Monroe.
The historic downtown.
And then I made it to the fundraiser for the Friends of the Union County Libraries.  I was thrilled to help support the libraries--and thrilled that they had asked me to come down.  We had a great time.  I laughed myself hoarse.

With Ravonne and Anne, the co-chairs of the event.  Ravonne was my escort and drove her truck "like she stole it."
Augusta Branson (a.k.a. Denise), the heroine of The Rebel Wife, made an appearance!!  I was floored and delighted!  Doesn't she look like she's grieving??
The loudest and funniest table at the event--Renee, Diane, Tanna and her husband, and Ravonne.
Here's Augusta/Denise being sewn into her dress by the seamstress/Renee.
 I hope to return to Union County.  It was such a blast.  These women made me feel very special.  Many, many thanks to them.

And then I got to see The Rebel Wife at the Charlotte Airport!
Something to think about-from the Olneyville Post Office.
Beautiful autumn sun on the Armory here in Providence.
Poor Clovis had dental surgery.  His foot is bandaged where they hooked up the IV.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Down Home

Driving down to the Bend.
So that mule plow was something.  We didn't stop there, though.  We were in that southernmost corner of Illinois where my mother's family lived--her parents and their parents.  So after seeing places in Cairo that she remembered as a girl, we drove around the farming towns of Olive Branch and Miller City, along Horseshoe Lake where my great uncle was a parks officer, and finally down to the "Bend."

The place along Promised Land Road that my great grandfather Grace farmed.
A crossroads on the way to the Bend.
Just west of Cairo the Mississippi River makes a twist south then back north.  The resulting curve is shaped like a fang or a canine, thus the name Dogtooth Bend.  Deep in this Bend, my great grandparents lived and raised their family.  The land is flat, alluvial river bottom.  Just on the other side of those trees are the levees, but back in the 1930s there was just flat, open land all the way to the river.

Almost to the river, the hunt club and old house in the distance.
Floods were common.  Here's a photo from around 1937 during high water.  The Stevens family, my great grandparents and their children, are gathered on the porch while an uncle sits in the boat, their only way to get to dry land.
The Stevens family about 1937.
Here is the same house probably fifteen years ago, still standing.

Cousin Nancy in front.
And here's that house on our last trip.  The floods from a couple years ago have continued to do damage.
From the same angle as the flood picture.
The inside is nearly wiped out.
My cousin who owns the place now built this high embankment and put a hunt club on it.  During that last flood, the water was a few feet deep in the club.  Goose hunting has been a major tourist attraction for this area, particularly in the 1930s, when this area of southern Illinois was the goose hunting capital. Wealthy Chicago businessmen would come down for hunting parties.  My great grandfather was a guide for them and was a tenant farmer on this land.

From there we went to my aunt and uncle's place a little further north.  They have a new flock of chickens.  Rhode Island Reds.  Just like home!

And they have a new puppy, Cletus.  Cletus and Clovis got to get to know each other.

Clovis taking his turn at the wheel.

And a few pictures of beautiful Gunston Hall in Virginia.  I stopped at Dad's on the way home, and we visited George Mason's beautiful 1750s home.  Mason was the father of the Bill of Rights and extremely concerned about preserving individual liberty.  He drafted the Virginia Declaration of the Rights of Man, the first such statement that was later used in the U.S. Constitution and by the French for their Déclaration des droits de l'homme.

Gunston Hall, riverside, with 250 year old boxwoods.
A beautiful avenue of cedars leading to the family cemetery.
The avenue leading up to the house.
Rhode Island randomness greeted Clovis and I upon our very happy return home.