Monday, December 31, 2012

New Years Resolutions

Write More.

Take More Photo's.

Find New Job.

Lose 20 Pounds.

See as many Music Festivals as Possible.

Go to New Orleans.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

There is no friend as loyal as a book - Hemingway

There are books and then there are books.  There are books you read just pass time or it appeals to you for one reason or another. Sometimes it is because  a certain author is your favorite so you read anything they publish. A book club selection or the new books offered at the library. Sometimes  you take the recommendations of friends and magazines, perhaps Oprah. It could even be the shelf at the book store that says "Staff Pick".

However you chose what to read sometimes out of the enormous sea of possibilities a book will rise above the rest  that effects you in some profound way. It could be something as simple as alter the way you think about a subject or a theme or a philosophy. At other times it can be life altering.

I remember the first "life altering" book I read. I think I was around 12. My Mom would take us to this little second hand book store in downtown Lexington called "Dennis Books". We were allowed to go through the mountains of books and purchase what we wanted. (My Mom was/is one of a kind).

I came home with a purple paperback, "The World of Henry Orient" by Nora Johnson. That book rocked my little sleepy southern home town world. 

I wanted to be "Val" and fly around NYC wearing my mothers discarded mink coat and be a brilliant vivacious musically talented neurotic 13 year old. I just fell in love with Val. I think I willed myself to be slightly neurotic ever since!

I re-read the book several years ago. It took me a long time to find a copy! The book had been reissued and I was just out of luck hunting it down. This was very pre-Amazon. Every bookstore I entered I would look, always in vain and leave disappointed. If memory holds correct, I believe the local book store in Lexington, Jo-Beth, special ordered the book for me. Finally (!) I got my hands on it and read it in a single sitting.

Like all magic carpet rides it took me back to the enchanting era of being 12 years of age, sitting in my pink bedroom in the over sized easy chair discarded from the family living room and laid to rest in my second story bed room. I would throw my legs over one arm and cosy up in the soft comfort of its snugness and read for hours.

I was almost relieved that I still felt its charming appeal. And somewhat alarmed that it is considered "Young Adult" fiction. Geez, am I the only person who has actually read this book! 

Do you have any special books from your youth that you remember fondly and have re-read as an adult?

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Just returned home from a trip to the library. I had requested a book from another branch in the very extensive interconnecting conduit of the county I live in. The library system is linked to several other counties in the state of Mississippi including Ole Miss! Very impressive. I still long for a Memphis Public library card though. And I will have it in time. Mark my words!

The book is a 1934 edition of Einstein's "The World as I see it". I am blown away by the condition of the book which is very bad! you could not sell it on Amazon. If you did you would have to note that the spine is broken, front and back, the book is cracked, front and back, no dust jacket, loose pages and lot's of pen marks, bent pages and underlining. A mess! It should be out of circulation, but then again, it was the only copy in the system! Lucky me. Imagine the number of people who have held this book?

I came from " J C Fant Memorial Library, Miss. Sate college for Women, Columbia MS". 
It is second from the top of my current pile of books to read in the next several weeks.
1) Norwegian Wood -Haruki Murakami. Also borrowed from another regional library in Kosciusko, Ms. Must be read and returned by Aug 2nd, so it is first. Read somewhere that this is a very cool book. I shall report back if it indeed is cool and how long it takes me to read it.

2) The world as I see it - second because it also is from another branch and must be read by Aug 9th (I think!)

The rest in no particular order...
As I lay Dying - Wm Faulkner. Because I have just begun reading Faulkner and he is mind blowing good (so far)

The Crimson Petal and the White - Michael Farber - recommended in a book a just read (non-fiction!)

Stuffed -  Adventures of a restaurant family  - Patricia Volk. 

Slammerkin - Emma Donoghue Irish back story and I heard it was very good

Medium Raw - Anthony Bourdain - because I almost picked up this book at a Goodwill and thought instead of shelling out $2.99 I would check out of the library. Actually it was Kitchen Confidential but my library did not have it on the shelf so I grabbed this one.

That's seven books I give myself three weeks to read! Let's see if I can do it!
Do you purchase books? Amazon? Book store? Or do you head to the library?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


I never was what would be considered a scholar. I was not even a good student after sixth grade and out from under the iron fist of Sister Hildegard, a four foot tall mean relentless ruler wielding spitfire that an 11 year old did not dare to challenge.

I coasted ever since until my second attempt at college.

When I was riding the wave of know it all-ism in High School I was  doing everything possible to just get by. This included copying homework during Home Room. I also was a pro at  feigning illness to hang out in bed all day doing a crash study for Social Study tests.

Even then I loved to read, but only what I wanted to read. Not what was assigned. How I ever got through High School is a mystery and a miracle.

I missed out on reading a lot of terrific literature due to my stubbornness and proclivity to procrastinate. I recently picked up THE GREAT GATSBY. Didn't I read this in High School? Didn't I write a paper about the empty shells of fruit lying in the garbage and comparing it to the lives of the characters?

The reference to the fruit - ah, there it is, around page 40. I will bet the farm that is as far as I got in the book before seizing on that theme. I can see it now, thinking how cunning and smart I am as I happily wrote a couple of pages of BS that allowed me to disregard the rest of the book!

I am so sad that it took so long for me to actually read TGG. Did I love it? Do I consider it to be one of the greatest pieces of fiction ever written? 

What do I know? What I do know is that if I had to write a paper today I would examine Tom, Daisy's husband, and why he chose women from obviously a lower class to have affairs with!! That intrigued me. And I would rail against the symbolism of that green light! I would argue that FSF is laughing at us, where ever he is.

My ambitious endeavor of this reading challenge will include a lot of CLASSICS that I neatly sidestepped as a smart aleck during those formative years.

Did you ever use Cliff Notes in school? Or did you just fake it (like me)?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


It is sort of quirky that there is no rhyme or reason to how I choose which books to read. I have no particular genre that I prefer over another. At one period in my life it was "the thicker the better" as I read The Drifters by James Michener, War and Peace, Tolstoy, Atlas Shrugged , Ayn Rand...well, you get the picture.

Years ago I was in deep with mysteries, girl PI's  police drama, police beat novels  and courtroom dramas. When I discovered Sue Grafton I began with C is for Corpse and set out to read every one in the neoteric Alphabet series. Ever since, I have collected most of them and of late, checked her last two from the library. I went crazy over Wm. J. Coughlin, Sara Paretsky, Marcia Muller, Linda Barnes, Julie Smith, Scott Turow and Edna Buchanan.   Those are off the top of my head!

I went through a phase where I read all of Anne Rice. I picked up Queen of the Damned and was hooked and began with Interview with the Vampire and keep going and going until I became bored with her. My very favorite being The Mummy which, when I met her, asked if she were writing another Mummy and she told me yes. She lied!! Or else decided to not publish. My favorite last one was Tale of the Body Thief - I became dis-enamored with her trying to get through Merrick and just have never gone back.

I enjoy women writers as opposed to men authors. That is not entirely true since I devoured many  Alexandre Dumas novels. I love H. Rider Haggard and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I had a crush on Sherlock Holmes for a long time. What a man!

But when I decide what to read there is actually no method to the madness. I will saunter into a library or a book store and just browse. Something will eventually catch my fancy. Either a cover or a description of the contents. I do not limit myself to fiction and you will find me equally among the the 916's and 914's. I am not much into biographies though I occasionally will tackle one, as I am now trying to read a Martha Gellhorn but only made it to page 50 and tossed it aside for another book of non-fiction which requires much less labor. There is something so.....cold about a certain type of biography, all the foot notes and the side bars and back story. 

When push comes to shove I will refer to Oprah's Book Club. I have rarely been disappointed.

How do you choose a book to read?

Monday, July 23, 2012

And what will you do with your wild and precious life?

I just had an amazing thought a little while ago. I thought I should be blogging about trying to read two books a week! My trials and victories. The reason why I feel like doing this. What I am learning. Why I choose the books I decide to read. The rhyme and reason. The ying and yang. The method and  the madness.

To begin, and perhaps the important  is the why. Because I don't know just yet. The mystery has not revealed itself. I just know that I am horrified that I can sit in front of a computer and two - three hours will just melt away. I will have achieved nothing. I would not receive much inspiration (if any), I will not be moved to any action, and most of all, I more than likely will be loosing IQ. Not to mention my e-bay addiction!

I am totally bored with TV unless it is Survivor or Justified. I would guess I spend about an hour a day in front of the Boob Tube. My hubs LOVES TV. Loves it. Channel surfing is his thing, his style. He can talk about television shows from eons ago, the jingles of a million commercials, and the directors of any movie ever made since the American invention of the double feature. His favorite line of disbelief when I admit that I have never seen a particular film, "That movie defined our generation!"

I prefer books to movies. I have never seen a movie that was superior to the book. 

Several weeks ago my Mother asked me, "So tell me Mary, what do you do on any given day?" I shrugged and thought to myself, "Is this a trick question to find out why I have not visited the Ewings'" (a friend of the family who moved to Memphis late last year).

The truth of the matter is .....I read. And I have been reading a lot and loving it. Maybe I am trying to escape something. I know there are things I should be doing and could be doing rather than reading the afternoon away, but I do not care.

Maybe I am avoiding the fact that I have to find a better paying job than the one at the Bucket. 

Maybe I am hiding.

Maybe I am reading my life away, but I am not wasting it. I am invigorated and energized by what I read.  And maybe just maybe whatever it is I am seeking will find me. Late at night. With the head lamp on, with the cat sharing my side of the bed as he and Joe give in to the slumber of the lesser possessed, as sleep eludes me and I go along for some wonderful adventure away from all the banality of my every day life.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Good Book Has No Ending

I am spending my summer being inspired by assigning myself an enormous reading program to better my mind and grease these rusty wheels.

I have made the acquaintance of several authors I never knew existed which in turn tossed me into a labyrinth of continuous consumption of the Southern Writer genre.

I have discovered Ellen Gilchrist and Michael Lee West and am trying to devour everything they have ever written. I should get on my knees every day and thank God for the public library and inter-library loan system.

I have just torn myself away from William Faulkner's LIGHT IN AUGUST to pound out a few words and give my eyes a break.

The other day while working at the Bucket a lady was searching for a gift to take back to California. She asked me what Mississippi was famous for?

My mind was over run with flashes of The Delta, the Blues, Civil right's and segregation, the Civil War, the Mississippi River and rail roads. But I took her to a display of cookbooks and suggested two of them to her. "We are famous for our fantastic cuisine!"

But in all honesty what makes Mississippi truly spectacular is all the fantastic writers that have emerged from this heady breeding ground of literature.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Why is so easy to just abandon and ignore a blog? The longer it stretches out the more difficult it is to jump back in. The longer you stay away the more resigned you become the more distant, withdrawn.

After all, it is summer! I tend to fill up my time with lots of projects, events, traveling, blah blah blah. I have totally immersed myself into a reading program. I have promised to read two books a month and that has manifested itself into a marathon of reading. Any given day will find my nose hidden in a book. I just completed "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" and enjoyed it very much. I am not much of an intellectual - actually I have no intellectual tendencies at all! - yet I found myself pondering the many philosophical questions and statements raised by the two protagonists in the story.

I have been cooking up a storm teaching myself to bake bread. I have been exceptionally successful and the result is in the cinnamon rolls. I am very appreciative to the rail road crew that Joe packs up my creations and offers to them. I would have gained 15 pounds by now if not for them.

We have been running and completed a 5 K Saturday night. I have a long way to go before I am back to my previous status and performance level - if ever! After all I am getting pretty up there in age. On another note regarding my age, I have always been frustrated by the disparate amount of woman in my age group! When I began this strenuous insane hobby I thought aging was the best way to leave the competition behind. Wrong! They are insufferable and just seem to be multiplying rather than just going away! The fastest woman in my age group ran it in 24 minutes! Geez! If I can run as fast as I did 12 years ago, I would have finished in 5th place. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm

I am also falling in love with the local music around these here parts. The library has a fairly good selection and I check them out and burn a copy for myself. That is how I stumbled upon Mudboy and the Neutrons. Listening to a song called Money Talks, I though I heard a definite similarity to the early Rolling Stones. When I did a little research I found out that they are only a local band when not running a recording studio. Yes, Mudboy (lol) did produce one the 1970 RS albums! I am pondering the pros and con's of springing the $50 to purchase a non-resident Memphis Library Card. Their music library is featured nightly on the Library radio channel and is fantastic.

Well, that is enough of oiling the working parts of this humble little blog. Off to attempt home made ice cream! Chocolate Expresso! 

Friday, May 25, 2012


New Polaroid in Words

If you could have seen me the past couple of days you would notice that my nose is buried in a book. I wish I could read faster take speed reading advice and skip words, skim along and absorb the gist but I can not.  I read aloud every word in my head. It's a terrible habit I can not break, each word echoing in my imagination.

I have discovered Ellen Gilchrist and I am ashamed that I had to wait so long to come across her on the library shelves. I just thank God the shelves are crowded with her bounty. I devoured "Nora Jane" first, not really enthralled at first but as each page came alive in my head I became totally hooked and could not put it down reading it way into the wee dark hours of the night.

The second one I snatched off the shelf is "NET OF JEWELS" which I have only torn myself away from to write this short Polaroid because I must return to college days in the mid 1950's and a girl named Rhoda.

So, picture this, I am outside (my favorite reading spot next to being propped up in bed....) in the shade (the light is fantastic) my feet resting up on the bags of garden soil next to the pallet I am going to create a masterpiece with next to the assortment of herbs and nursery flowers with a glass of classic sweet tea with lemon at my hand as I turn page after page wishing it would never end.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Cosmic Countdown

A Day in a Word Polaroid

As I zoomed down the road putting space between my car and the family home base, I realized that I had not taken a picture of the front door as I had planned.

So much for my Polaroid of that day. I realized that I am not very good at this, or I am loosing my mind. Probably a little bit of both. So I will have to paint a picture in words, that which the camera would not, could not capture,  as I left a little bit of myself behind.

Actually not a little bit, a huge part of me. 

My Mom was sitting at the kitchen table, a worn down version of my fantastic go getter Mother. She had her walker at the ready, dressed up this day as she was to have visitors in a short time. She will stay propped up in her "electric chair" watching the news, the rosary at 1030 (maybe 930), going thru and writing  her correspondence as she is old school and unwilling to conquer the newfangled invention of the computer. She is a avid Thoroughbred enthusiast and stays in contact with all her racing and breeding buddies from her Blood Horse and Keeneland days. She has her telephone at her elbow, which rings all day with her friends keeping an "eye" on her and her needs.   She keeps a journal of her days. Perhaps she will write a letter to the editor of the local paper, the regional paper or if she is in a mind set,Time magazine. She did have a letter published during the 1970's when she took some Big Wig Economist to task over his belittling of stay at home Mom's. She contradicted him, with solid back up evidence, that at home Mothering is THE MOST IMPORTANT JOB OF ALL! (ahead of her time! A semi-feminist who disagreed with anything that contradicted The Church) Sorting  thru her stamps in anticipation of her monthly stamp club meeting with the elementary kids at St. Leo's. She has been turning kids on to stamp collecting  for close to 40 years now. She will not hesitate to name drop some of her Star Stamp Collectors who have gone on to become the pillars of society not only in the small part of the world she adopted as home (being a bona fide New Yorker) but those who have spread their wings into the larger stage of the outside world. 

She is who I left behind, content and happy with her life as it has settled into a soft routine since my Dad passed away.

As I back out of the drive way I look to the front door and see the spirit of my Dad, his ghost, the image of him forever imprinted on my heart, standing at the screen watching me leave. Waving a small good-bye, settling his hands clasped behind his back, as was his familiar stance. I always waved and threw kisses to him.

This is my Polaroid of the day.


Monday, May 14, 2012

A Life in Polaroids

Yesterday I had this terrific idea to offset my boring life. I would document every monotonous day with a snap shot courtesy of my temperamental smart phone.

As luck would have it, I would have taken a picture of the "home made" peppermint ice cream we were served at the Bucket. Due to it  being Mothers Day and us having to work and all. Usually the busiest day of the year, next to Thanksgiving in the restaurant biz.  Due to the color, most the staff was referring to it as  "Pepto Bismol" ice cream. Which was funny. 

As I was saying, as luck would have it, my phone was in another room and not nesting in my pocket so I missed my opportunity to gross you all out.

There will be other times.

And then Sinbad walks into our Bucket.

I see him and I walk around him and then I think to myself, "that looks like Sinbad." So I go to one of the cashiers and say, "He looks like Sinbad doesn't he?" and she agrees. He is on his phone, tall with red hair, very short, white runners, loose fitting clothes with an an animal print scarf laying casually over right shoulder. 

It was the scarf that  gave it away.

A very quiet riot detonated within moments. He was cool about it, letting people take his picture and then they sat him very quickly.

Everyone forgot about the Pepto Bismol ice cream.

Dang, I wish I had my phone to document my boring life.
I am getting my cracker barrel on at horn lake near south have. Now if you don't know what state this is....Well then it wasn't for you :)

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Getting My Hands Dirty

The Beginning May 8th
How long has it been? The last time I put my hands into some soil must have been spring of 2009 as I weeded my rose  garden in Indiana preparing to move yet again to a remote part of Kentucky. The lilac bush I had planted the year before was in bloom, the roses were doing well and the tulips had come and gone leaving me with a feeling as stripped and spent as their bare stalks, testaments to what once was and what shall rise again.

I was not going to go another summer without some fresh home grown by me tomatoes. And some eggplant and peppers thrown in. I have to find another area for the butternut, yellow and zucchini squash I love. The local Home Depot did not have these plants available so I will have to seek out a feed store. Lucky me.

Truly, lucky me.

I am also looking for a confederate jasmine plant.

My herbs sit waiting also. Sweet basil, peppermint (gotta have mint juleps, baby!) parsley some patchouli if I can find it.

The sun on my back, my hands filthy as I shunned gardening gloves this time around, my mind emptying of all the recent worries, traumas and dilemmas the day presented replaced by a humming of my soul, a melody that is ever present on the edges of my conscious, shoved to the last locked attic of my being let out only in times like this day, when it is calm and peaceful and stress has packed her bags.

Friday, May 04, 2012

The Bank Robbery

Last night I was told, “The older you become the more self absorbed you are!” This is added to a cache of “The older you become….”  allegations  that has come with more frequency as he changes and seems more needy and reliant on me!

First it was, “You’re mean!”

Then it became, “You are becoming intolerant!”

A few moments later I left the room, not in a huff, but under the pretense of having no interest in the Military Channel and the sudden urgency of cleaning up the kitchen before turning in for the night.

In all honesty I needed to mull over the accusation in private to test it’s validly. Was I really becoming more self absorbed? Or was it the fall out of his bad day?  A bad day triggers my reaction, which is to retreat and not  run the risk of stumbling in front of the Freight Train. He may see it as self absorbed but I know it as self preservation.

Yet, the remark had zapped me and the stinger hurt. Was I really becoming more self absorbed? Intolerant? Mean? Maybe so.

The other night one of the “girls” I work with told me she was diabetic. Since I am beginning to think I am diabetic I asked her how it came about.

I expected something along the lines of simplicity such as, “On an annual check –up” . What I got was a 10 minute history about her Dental office job, pissing some foreigner off, drinking a coca-cola, having a four pound tumor, the Doctor weighing 300 pounds and throwing back his head and laughing,  one of the blood clots bursting and soaking a chair……..I had to stop her there as I was beginning to get squeamish and the answer to my question was not even on the horizon yet! 

What was so bizarre about the whole thing was the entire time I was listening I barely heard her above the buzzing in my head. I was listening to an entirely different conversation presented to me by my sister in law about witnessing a bank robbery while eating at a restaurant across the street. “I had the roast beef with mashed potatoes and gravy. Not as good as mine, I swear they use instant. X had the salmon. I think he is dieting. I ate some of it, it was pretty good. I looked out the window and said ‘X is that your bank being robbed?’. X said, ‘No Mama that’s just the police making a deposit.’ And I said, ‘it sure looks like they have their guns pulled’ and X said, ‘ My eye sight is better than yours and I don’t see any guns’ . Then we asked to talk to the chef and ……..”

No one can be more ponderous than that. Or so I thought until I  listened to the lumbering diabetic story thanking my lucky stars when she began to include blood so I could bow out before passing out. Literally.

So maybe, in all honestly, Joe is right. As we change as we grow older. Sometime for the better , sometimes not.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012


My parents set exemplary examples for their children. The major standout, among many, was their generosity to others. It was not uncommon to have a bag of onions or a sack of potatoes laid at our back porch from the family that lived behind us. My Mom was always helping them out of a bind.

My sister had the brilliant idea of asking everyone invited to my parents 50th wedding anniversary to write some tribute or memory to be included in a large book she gave to them at the party. I was brought to tears reading the many letters of thanks for their benevolence and how they managed to change lives with their kindness.

Some of the best advice my Mom ever gave me was this, "Only lend money when you understand you are giving it away." 

I have a soft heart. I remember once asking my Mom what attributes she would assign to all us kids. Not that I remember what she said about the rest, but I have reflected ever since her assessment that I am the most compassionate of the lot.

When I am trapped at bottom of an off ramp within striking distance of a man (usually always a man) holding a sign stating "Have not eaten - please help" or “Will work for Food.” I will, most times, dig change from my ashtray and hand it over with this request, “Please do not buy alcohol with this” and one time, out of nowhere I handed over a $5 with this unsolicited advice, “Help Yourself!” I have no idea what came from! It just came roaring out of me from somewhere deep that also made me hand over that $5. 

The coolest person I know is my brother in law, K. You know about coolness, some intangible essence that lays on the surface. Cannot be defined, cannot be duplicated, nor can it be imitated. It is or it isn’t. K has it. My sister Omega told the story how K. gives away all their cash to these Down on Their Luck Vagabonds and tells her, “Omega, you never know who really needs it!”

It helps me accept the irresistible urge to give. I guess it is Divine Intervention.

And so, when I met this young couple who so eagerly wanted to rent our home in Indiana last fall and I was so eager to rent it, I shooed away my reservations and decided to give them a break and lease the house to them.

I have paid for my kindness and tender heart ever since. Bounced checks, unanswered text messages, tears (mine and theirs), late rent payments, no rent payments, registered letters and demands for payment have finally culminated into them telling me they are going to vacate the property!

So I sit here both relieved and alarmed – the usual. I just hope I find another Professor or another Mexican that pays on time and keeps me from having a nervous breakdown. 

Cheers from K