Grandma Gertie always said there's not a savory dish that can't be made tastier by just a touch of tarragon.

Tsunami and Me

Tsunami and Me
too big to escape now....

Saturday, July 24, 2010

From Nuisance to Blessing

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive will be on sale September 28. It's available on for preorder now, for $10.08.

This book contains a story I initially called "Oh, Fudge...Another Nudge," about how Ken's furry Flour Mill mutt, Natty, dragged me into daily walks around Pend Oreille Loop. The vet, who is also my neighbor, told me Natty needed to lose some weight. Who doesn't, I thought to myself, but got out the leash. I've lost ten pounds...won't know how much Natty has shed until early December when he goes in for his shots.

The editors at Chicken Soup renamed the tale "From Nuisance to Blessing," which is how I described my change of attitude towards this particular animal. Now, despite that the temperature's edging toward 90, we're off for a trot, good old Natty and me.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Thin Threads

It looks as if I've hit a triple with the Thin Threads series. I just learned this morning that my story about having double pneumonia as a young child, "Daddy and Raggedy Ann," will be included in the upcoming Special Edition, Thin Threads: Compassion and Giving.

Yesterday I received word from Ellen Gerst that she reads the opening of my story, "Winging It," which will appear in Thin Threads: Grief and Renewal, on You Tube...see link below.;

Additionally, "Kisses for Mr. Castle" will be published in Thin Threads: Teachers and Mentors.

These Special Editions will be available in September through

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Why I Haven't Had Time for the Blog...

No, it's not simply those hazy, lazy days of summer. I've got a legitimate excuse for falling behind on my writing. For the nonce, I've been reading. Well, and watching DVDs...but it's serious study, not just hapless self-indulgence. Honest!

On July 29 I fly to England to attend the University of Cambridge International Summer School. For two weeks I'll be living at Selwyn College, Ann's Court, and taking three courses. For the past several weeks I've been preparing for studying with people from all over the world.

The British Empire in Literature and Film.

So far I've watched Four Feathers (the Heath Ledger 2002 version...couldn't get the original from Netflix), and the first three episodes of The Jewel in the Crown. Later today I'll watch David Lean's A Passage to India. I've read a biography of Kipling, Forster's A Passage to India, and Zadie Smith's White Teeth. Today I'm reading H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines.I still have to read John Buchan's Mr. Standfast and Greenmantle, Paul Scott's sequel to the Raj Quartet, Staying On and Kipling's Kim.

Criminals and Gentlemen: The Victorian Underworld in Dicken's Oliver Twist and Great Expectations.

I've reread Oliver Twist and will begin Great Expectations Wednesday while waiting for the plane to take me to Seattle for the Medical Commission meeting. Hope to finish it by the weekend. I've also read portions of Going Astray: Dickens and London, a street by street synopsis of the settings of each of Dickens' novels.

The Victorians and Their World.

So far I've read all 620 pages of A.N. Wilson's monumental study, The Victorians. I've got three books more to finish, which might not happen until I'm actually in England. I've dipped into Marriage and Morals among the Victorians and Inventing the Victorians. I may finish Victoria R.I. before I leave.

The University maintains an online student forum. Through that I've hooked up with a group that will meet Sunday night, August 1, for drinks at the Anchor Pub, on the River Cam.

Additionally, I've learned which evening lectures will be given. So many of these sound appealing. I plan to attend as many as I have energy for:

Cambridge Ancient and Modern: The Architecture of the University
A View of England: John Betjeman, a Very English Poet Laureate
The Victorian Garden - The Quest for the Best
From Lapis Lazuli to Laundry Powder: The Alchemy of Colour
An Introduction to Julius Caesar
New Meanings, New Colours: Painting the Thames
Undertanding the British Hero Figure: from Boudica to Bond, and Beyond
Engineers and Alchemists: The Accidental Makers of Modern Science

Although there's an excursion to Oxford and one to Stratford for Julius Caesar scheduled for Saturday, August 7, I decided to stay in town and take a walking tour of Cambridge. I'd learned that
the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival runs in July and August. So I booked a ticket for Twelfth Night, which will be staged in the gardens of nearby Robinson College. I inquired on the Student Forum if anybody else would like to go to this with me, and so far two women have indicated interest, a secondary school teacher from France and an undergrad from India.

When I leave Cambridge on Saturday, August 14, I'll take the train to London, and stay at a little hotel near Victoria Station. My friend, Heather Bird, plans to come up from Weston-super-Mare (near Bristol) and we may see a play together. Her timetable is uncertain, contingent on a couple of jobs she's applied for, so I'm leaving my days open for now, in case she can stay a few additional days beyond the weekend. I do plan to see the Grace Kelly exhibit at the Victoria and Albert, and booked a ticket for the matinee performance of Oliver! at the Royal Drury Lane Theatre for Wednesday, August 18. I fly back on the 19th.

With this immersion in Victoriana I've recognized that:
  • Dickens indeed was a champion for the underclass and alternated horror with hilarity.
  • I'm appalled by the overarching theme of British racial superiority and entitlement.
  • Victoria herself wasn't nearly so Victorian as her peers.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

All Summer in a Day

Ray Bradbury's short story told of a class of nine-year-olds on the planet Venus where nobody could recall a time when there wasn't rain...except Margot, who had moved there from Earth. She wrote:
I think the sun is a flower
That blooms for just one hour.

Yesterday appears to have been that sunny day. Today, the first of July, the temperature hasn't reached the mid-60s, and gusty winds prevent me from taking Natty for a walk around the entire Loop. There's rain predicted for tomorrow.

Ten years ago Ken Wilson and I got married on a very sunny July 1 afternoon in Sparks, NV. Hubbin 'n' Wipe appears in Patchwork Path's Wedding Bouquet,

Here's my tale of that glorious day:

For a year Ken and I had courted long distance, he in Reno, Nevada, me in Little Rock, Arkansas. And now our cross-country, Internet-augmented, Sunday morning phone-date romance would culminate in a millennial wedding. On Valentine’s Day, after Ken officially proposed, we consulted a calendar and set Saturday, July 1, 2000 as the official Big Day.

Both in our sixties, with other marriages behind us, we agreed that this would be an informal ceremony, a joyful afternoon affair at Ken’s son’s house just outside Reno. We wanted family, friends, food, and festivity. Like any bride, though, I hoped for perfection. Ken just hoped for a party.

To ensure that perfection I listed every task that needed tending in columns headed Mine and His. Under Mine I jotted down invitations, color scheme, decorations, clothes, guest book, flowers, program. I could arrange all of these from a distance.

Under the His column I scribbled rings, cake, notifying friends, and, locating someone to conduct the exchange of vows. Those items all needed a Reno on-site supervisor, so Ken would have to be in charge.

I e-mailed Ken the list, and he replied right away. The ring issue was a no-brainer, he wrote. He knew a local jeweler who could fashion our unique gold nugget matching bands. Rick, his son, worked at Costco, so he would order the cake, a carrot sheet cake, just like I said I wanted. It could have Congratulations scrawled in bright yellow against the white butter icing.

The next morning I got more news. Ken had phoned all of his friends to let them know the date and place. His best friend from fifth grade, his roommates from college, old business acquaintances and even his barber of twenty years…they would all be there! I could envision Ken’s eyes twinkling. Party!

On our next Sunday chat I asked about who would perform the ceremony. “Don’t worry,” Ken reassured me. “We’re all set. I picked a guy out of the yellow pages, and he’s got us down on his calendar for July 1 at 2. All you have to do is just show up.”

I smiled to myself. I’d been indulging my “second time around” bridal fantasies. Behind the scenes I’d inching down the Mine column, and obsessing about my cream, yellow and gold color scheme. I’d ordered my lacy cream-colored dress from the Candlelight & Champagne pages of the Woman Within catalog. I’d cajoled my son to pack his pale yellow Mexican wedding shirt when he flew to Reno from Southern California to give me away. I had congratulated my best friend, Linda, for locating a gold satin dress for her turn as my maid of honor. Perfect!

I’d combed the North Little Rock Tuesday Morning shop for yellow paper plates, napkins, and cutlery, and for gold crepe paper to make garlands to be festooned above the alcove off Rick’s living room where I envisioned the ceremony taking place. I emitted a joyous yip when I located a suitable guestbook, with hearts and roses emblazoned against a lemon background. Impeccable!

I wanted everybody to have a program as a souvenir, and chose wheat parchment paper that could be rolled into skinny scrolls and tied with gold grosgrain ribbon. The program itself looked positively regal, with everybody involved in the ceremony listed in Engraver’s Old English font. Flawless!

I wanted my son to escort me to the alcove to the strains of Mendelssohn’s Processional, recorded decades earlier by my grandfather, Jesse Crawford, “The Poet of the Organ”, on the Mighty Wurlitzer. Unsurpassed!

For the introduction of the ceremony itself, I’d located a passage from A. J. Cronin on miracles, which Ken’s youngest son, Darren, would deliver. Nothing mawkish, maudlin or mundane: no Elizabeth Barrett Browning, no Kahlil Gibran, no Velveteen Rabbit rants on what is real. Then after the vows, he would read the reassuring lines from The Blessing of the Apache, “Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be the warmth for the other.” Immaculate!

Ken sent another e-mail. Still focusing on the party aspects, he’d powwowed with his sons. During the champagne reception, barbecue and conviviality following the ceremony, Rick would play love songs recorded from his Classic Rock era collection, and Scott, the eldest, would supervise the production of the food. Fiesta!

The morning of the wedding itself we picked up my son at the airport and made a brief stop at the florists for the corsages of golden hybrid tea roses. The table with the guestbook looked festive, the basket of scrolls surrounded by yellow rose petals. Classic!

Linda and I giggled together girlishly as we dressed in the back bedroom, admiring one another in our gowns. “It’s just perfect, Terri,” she said. “A lovely summer afternoon home wedding.”

“I know,” I agreed. “I am so happy that everything fell into place.”

Just then Darren tapped at the door. He would escort Linda to her position in the alcove. He shot me an inscrutable glance, shook his head, and whispered, “Don’t be surprised at the minister.” Then they were off.

A minute later I heard the rousing opening bars of the Processional, and Steve was at the door, offering me his arm. We ambled out into the living room where we were greeted by applause. Ken’s friends indeed had turned out for the party. I could hear a few guffaws though in the background, and then I spied Ken, with his designated Best Man, son Rick, standing side by side next to a grim-faced blue-suited man who swayed slightly from side to side.

As we neared I could smell the overwhelming odor of Kentucky bourbon, and it emanated from Ken’s Yellow Pages pick. Ken blinked at me and lifted an eyebrow as I slid into place beside him.

The dour rent-a-clergy started out steadily enough, but as he progressed, the words spilled out more slowly and more slurred. He sighed from time to time, and then plodded on. I wanted to sneak a peek at my husband-to-be, but abstained.

Ken’s friends cleared their throats and coughed at the line about showing just cause why we may not be joined together, but Ken silenced them with a sardonic glance over his shoulder.

Then the officiant pronounced us hubbin ‘n’ wipe.

We signed the documents, had them witnessed, slipped our solemn friend an envelope for his services, and whisked him to the door.

“Looks like he partied before he got here,” said Ken’s best friend from fifth grade.

“Just perfect!” I exclaimed.

“Let’s party, Wipe,” Ken responded, handing me a flute of champagne.

We did. Sublime!