Here I am, with Angela Durden, enjoying a break from our creative writing at beautiful Blue Mountain Beach at the recent Write By the Water retreat! We had such a good time! You know, it's hard work being a writer! We have to feed the muse.
Reason # 2
It's Good to Get Away from the Fam' for a While.
The demands of domestic obligations and entanglements can sometimes overwhelm our creative impulses. A little privacy and solitude can recharge those literary synapses. That's me at home in Alabama, second from left, wearing my obligatory domestic apron. Well, actually I'm third from the left if you count the donkey.
Your Brain Will Thank You
In the words of our host at Write By the Water:
"Held at international locations on, near, or at the water, we cater to the needs of dedicated writers, offering the time, space and solitude needed to give full focus to your writing projects."
I can attest to the fact that nothing encourages creative thought and expression more than being near the ocean, listening to the sounds of waves touching the sand, the cry of seagulls overhead, the smell of salt water and clean air. Writer's Paradise!
Time to Think, Compose, Write, Rewrite, Organize, Edit
Those are the actual pages of the first three chapters of my Moonlight Ridge sequel. This marvelous writers retreat provided lots of quiet, uninterrupted time to get those characters headed in the right direction.
Take a Deep Breath of Fresh Air
Then hurry back to the laptop, pencil, and paper! Write on!
Over the week-end, I went to beautiful, glorious Blue Mountain Beach, Florida for a three day Write By the Water writers retreat.
It was awesome! I had a glorious three days of walking on the beach, pondering, plotting, and recharging my creative batteries. Got some work done on my work-in-progress, the second book of The Moonlight Ridge Series. Talked to some beach birds, called my greeting across the waves to my dolphin friends.
On Saturday night, we had the pleasure of hosting a very creative and active local poetry group,
Say Word! Everyone got the opportunity to read to the group. I read my poem On Becoming One With Earth. And we listened to some fabulous guitar and vocal music performances by Weck and Rhoda, and creative easy-listening music from ConsthanDivine, whose name I may have spelled correctly, and maybe not. He's a sweet, talented fellow, and I'll correct the spelling if I have it wrong.
Linda Sands, the extraordinary organizer of Write By the Water, did such a marvelous job. She had everything ready for the visiting writers, and all we had to do was show up and enjoy ourselves. Linda is so talented, energetic, fun to be around, and her organizational skills are amazing.
Thank you so much, Linda, for a marvelous retreat.
I heartily recommend Write By the Water to all my writer friends. The next one is scheduled to be in Sicily! Y'all go for it!
Are all you ghosties and ghoulies, black kitties and possumies HUNGRY?
Here are some of the best Halloween foods, sure to calm all the creepies and make the most ornery "haints" happy! (You do know what a haint is, don't you?)
First of all, I'm really hungry! So I'm going to jump right in with the good stuff.
1 loaf French bread, at least a day old, cut into 1-inch squares (about 6-7 cups)
1 qt milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp vanilla
1 cup raisins (soaked overnight in 1/4 cup bourbon)
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 cup Kentucky bourbon whiskey
In a saucepan, melt butter; add sugar and egg, whisking to blend well. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. (Do not allow to simmer, or it may curdle.) Whisk in bourbon to taste. Remove from heat. Whisk before serving. The sauce should be soft, creamy, and smooth. Bread Pudding:
1 Preheat oven to 350°F.
2 Soak the bread in milk in a large mixing bowl. Press with hands until well mixed and all the milk is absorbed. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, sugar, vanilla, and spices together. Gently stir into the bread mixture. Gently stir the raisins into the mixture.
3 Pour butter into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking pan. Coat the bottom and the sides of the pan well with the butter. Pour in the bread mix and bake at 350°F for 35-45 minutes, until set. The pudding is done when the edges start getting a bit brown and pull away from the edge of the pan. Can also make in individual ramekins.
Serve with bourbon whiskey sauce on the side; pour on to taste. Best fresh and eaten the day it is made.
Yield: Makes 8-10 servings.
He was fiery and unapologetic, critical of American culture for its exploitation of Native lands, peoples, and resources. He not only denounced crooks, haters, and charlatans, but also the paternalistic do-gooders who didn’t have a clue about what was actually going on in Indian country.
He was a bully, he was manipulative, he was selfish, He was at times hypocritical. He did good, and he did bad.
Most of all, Russell Means was an advocate and spokesman for Indian people struggling to maintain their cultural identity. Some people loved him and some hated him, but no one could ignore him and the essence of his message.
"Don’t be ashamed of your Indianess," he said. "Be proud."
"Indian isn’t backwards," he insisted. "It’s better."
Russell Charles Means, an Oglala Sioux activist for the rights of Native American people, died today at the age of 72. He became a prominent member of the American Indian Movement after joining the organization in 1968.
I first heard of Russell Means during the occupation of the BIA building in Washington DC in November of 1972. The newly formed organization, the American Indian Movement, organized a nationwide caravan, which they would refer to as the "Trail of Broken Treaties". intended to bring attention to American Indian issues such as living standards and treaty rights.
The college was founded in 1902 by Martha Berry. Spanning more than 26,000 acres, Berry College is the largest contiguous college campus in the world. How anyone ever finds it is a mystery to me.
The theme for the 2012 conference was “Beginnings and Endings.” Speakers and presenters explored the concepts of both literal and metaphorical “beginnings” and “endings” in a variety of ways. I read my short story, In a Land That Is Fairer Than Day, published in Ordinary and Sacred as Blood: Alabama Women Speak edited by Mary Carol Moran from River's Edge Publishing.
If, in the picture at the top of the page where I stand in front of the beautiful architecture of the college, I appear to have bags under my eyes and a somewhat stunned expression, that may be attributed to the hilariously harrowing journey of the day before in which my sister, Susan Cleveland, and I lost our way big time! According to the map and driving instructions, it's a little over two hours from Birmingham to Rome, Georgia. And we both were totally acquainted with the fact that "all roads lead to Rome," so what could possibly go wrong? The two hour trip took us a little over five hours. Maybe more, I honestly don't know.
There are no words adequate to describe what all possibly could, and did, go wrong. Well, actually, it was just my sister and I who went wrong, at every opportunity; sometimes forging our own opportunity, into, out of, and back into The Twilight Zone. If there was a wrong turn within miles of us, we found and took it, at one point making a large backwoods-scenic circle and ending up precisely where we had been one hour before.
Then we honed in on a bucolic boulevard that looked promising enough, which delivered us to, I kid you not, Booger Holler. That's what the road signs said. I believe it was precisely at this point when our ever-constant radio accompaniment was blaring "Take the Long Way Home." We also were serenaded by "Slip Sliding Away," "Going to Carolina in My Mind," "I Wish I Was, Homeward Bound," "Welcome to the Hotel California," and "Still Crazy After All These Years."
But, we did eventually find ourselves on the expansive Berry Campus, met the Berry deer and Berry cows, made it to my session on Friday morning without a hitch, I read my story, and all was well!
I must at this point say "Thank You" to my Hoke of the Day, sister Susan Cleveland, for the rapturous and (seemingly) endless road trip to Rome.
I've been reading books about Jimi Hendrix. I finished "Becoming Jimi Hendrix: From Southern Crossroads to Psychedelic London, the Untold Story of a Musical Genius" written by Steve Roby and Brad Schreiber. Although I found a really confusing typo on page one, I found the book to be mostly informative and very readable.
And I just finished reading "Jimi Hendrix, a Brother's Story" written by Leon Hendrix, Jimi's younger brother. This book contains astonishing details of the childhood of Leon and Jimi, known to the family as Buster throughout his life.
I recommend both these books to anyone interested in learning more about the surprising life and mysterious death of this talented, shy, conflicted young man, one of the most talented musicians ever.
Jimi Hendrix was born Johnny Allen Hendrix in Seattle Washington on November 27, 1942. His name was later changed to James Marshall Hendrix by his father.
He died on September 18, 1970, at the age of 27.
Here's one of my favorite Hendrix songs, The Wind Cries Mary.
A special thanks to KC Sprayberry for hosting a Blog Tag Party. This is such a great way to meet other writers and new friends. KC's blog, Out of Control Characters, can be found at http://outofcontrolcharacters.blogspot.com/
KC asked us to let others know what we are currently working on. I'm currently working on two exciting projects.
The four books in the series follow the seasons of the year, and this second one I'm currently working on is set in the beautiful backwoods of Alabama in autumn. You'll want to read the first book first, which tells the story of two children and their summer adventures in a magical world called Moonlight Ridge.
My Moonlight Ridge Series is very definitely Southern fiction. It's published as adult Southern genre, but crosses over as YA fiction as well. Young people of all ages love Lily Claire, Willie T., and all their peculiar relatives and neighbors. Magic wands, friendly animals, singing possums and mysteries on the mountain are just a few of the unusual attractions.
Which actors would I choose to play my characters in a movie rendition? I've thought about this a lot! Because the main two characters are 8 year-old children, I believe there would have to be a talent search across the South to find two talented youngsters for those parts. And just maybe, now that we've seen his stellar performance in the Hatfields and McCoys saga, we could get Kevin Costner to play Granddaddy W.T. Greenberry. That's for the already published Sweet Music on Moonlight Ridge. For the "work in progress," we'll need a beautiful dark haired young lady to play the mysterious apparition that Lily Claire and Willie T. discover haunting the ruins of a 19th century landmark near their home.
My second Work In Progress is a YA supernatural mystery, with the working titleLovely, Dark and Deep.The first chapter won an award from Alabama Writers Conclave. The main character is a teen age girl who lives in a rural setting where mysterious events and night-time intrigue lure her into the woods at night. It's about dreams, a young girls attempts to figure out the meaning of her dreams, and a cute boy named Buddy who may not be as simple as he seems.
If you're visiting from the Blog Tag Party, please leave a comment. Happy blogging!
Dreams are true while they last, and do we not live in dreams?
Alfred Lord Tennyson
What a coincidence that my last blog post was about dreams! Today I just received word that my YA novel in progress Lovely, Dark, and Deep has been awarded an Honorable Mention from Alabama Writers' Conclave in their First Chapter of a Novel contest. And this story is all about dreams, but definitely not in the ordinary sense.
None of my dreams are ever in the ordinary sense, so I have plenty of material for Lovely, Dark, and Deep!
Now, I just need to finish my Sweet Music on Moonlight Ridge sequel, titled The Witches of Moonlight Ridge, which I'm determined to have finished by the end of summer, then get busy on Lovely, Dark, and Deep, a YA supernatural mystery.
Edgar Allan Poe said: All that we see or seem , Is but a dream within a dream.
Last night I dreamed that I was jogging toward home from The Rowan House, a restored home circa 1854 on Hwy 119, and I had some folded money in my hand. A cute, short guy with dark hair jogged up beside me and started talking about how he supposed I was a Democrat and he was a Democrat too. Then he went into this long discourse that was so far-fetched I couldn't follow him about Democrats in the UK! Just then I saw a wooden leg lying beside the road, and I thought it looked like something we ought to keep, but I couldn't stop to pick it up because the Democrat was so engrossed in his great conversation, and I was trying to follow what he was saying! And I thought it would be hard to jog all the way home carrying a wooden leg.
In his book, Navajos Wear Nikes, A Reservation Life, Jim Kristofic says Navajos eat beans every day. He was talking about school lunches, but I decided this sounded like a good idea for everybody. so I'm eating more beans. It's a good book, by the way.
The Pinto Bean
This food is very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Protein, Phosphorus and Manganese, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber and Folate.
For lunch today I'm having a bean burrito from Taco Bell...
And I'm trying, with minimal success, to keep it out of my lap and off the front of my shirt.
...and some Mexican Rice from Taco Bell.
I love Taco Bell rice!
For desert I'm having peanut butter pie from Rusty's Barbecue, a home-town epicurean extablishment serving gourmet barbecue and various scandalous desserts. I don't know for sure if the peanut is a bean...but I think so. A legume, I think.
Oh! This is sooo good!
I don't often blog about food, but because I'm extra hungry today, and haven't blogged at all for a while, and because this lunch is so tasty and delightful, well, I'm blogging about lunch!
2 c. pinto beans (I used well-drained, rinsed, canned beans.)
1 c. unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 c. light brown sugar, packed
1/3 c. maple syrup
1/3 c. light agave nectar
1/2 tsp. salt
4 large eggs
1 c. cashews, roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 350°.
Place chopped cashews on a rimmed sheet pan and toast for 8-10 minutes or until golden and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
Line a 9″ x 13″ baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, place the beans, melted butter, brown sugar, agave nectar, maple syrup, vanilla extract, salt, and eggs. Process until smooth and remove to a large bowl. (Note that you should process the mixture long enough that the beans’ skins are in small pieces; you’ll still see little bits of skin in the mixture, but you want to get the pieces as small as possible. I processed for approximately 2 minutes.) Stir in the cashew pieces. Pour the mixture into the lined pan and bake for 47-50 minutes. Cooked blondies will be set and dark on top and at the edges, which should be pulling away from the pan.
Allow blondies to cool to room temperature before unmolding.
This has been a loooooonnnnnnnng day. I'm sitting down for the first time... I've been at the circulation desk at the library all day...circulating.
I have fleas in my house. I have sprayed the dining room carpet twice and put medicine on 3 cats, Poppy, Buttercup, and Bunny. And gave Gretchen, the dog, a flea pill. I'm worn out from flea fatigue. So, this afternoon I have to go buy another package of cat flea medicine and apply it to 3 more cats, Musey, Aussie, and Big Tom. Then I'll have to get a flea bomb for the garage. Then I'm done. Hoping the fleas will subside. Hoping for no more hopping.
So, I wrote a flea poem. Trust me, I wrote this from a true-life experience.
A flea, a flea
a flea on me
it’s on my toe
it’s on my knee
it’s hopping high
it’s hopping low
it’s on my neck
and my elbow
It’s on my leg
it’s on my shoe
it hops so fast
what can I do
it’s hopping here
it’s hopping there
on my shoulder
in my hair.
A flea, a flea
a flea on me
and I’m as mad
as I can be
I took a bath
I took a shower
I soaked and scrubbed
about an hour
and now the flea
cannot be found
I’m glad to say
I think he drowned.
Soooo - I went to Fairhope with sister Joanne and nephew Jed, for the Alabama State Poetry meeting! We had a wonderful trip, beautiful weather, good conversation on the road, everything delightful for an enjoyable week-end.
Here we are, the traveling poets, enjoying the beautiful weather and brisk wind on the bay.
My poem, "Eden Road" won 1st Place in the Alabama Residents Only contest, and my poem "david's blood" won an Honorable Mention in the David Cato Prize contest.
Joanne won a truckload of prizes, including a 1st Place, a 2nd Place, two 3rd Place prizes and 2 Honorable Mentions.
Apache Indians at Mt. Vernon, Alabama
We had a great time, and cruised around Mt. Vernon and McIntosh on our way home, hoping to see some historical sites and glean some knowledge of the history of The Old Man, Geronimo, and his time spent in south Alabama in the late 1800s. We saw Searcy State Mental Hospital, the original building which was the military fort around which the Apaches built their cabins, and there were some little white houses which we guessed may have been from the Apache period.
We all thought that visiting a mental hospital after the poetry readings seemed like a logical progression. Jed, who was the designated driver, did "joke" about leaving me and Joanne there, but ended up bringing us back home!
The hospital is scheduled to be closed in September, and we saw no one around to answer questions. I think I'll have to do some online research and make another trip down.
Hello world! Ramey and all the painted possums have been out of touch for a while! There has been a flurry of activity here in Possum World, now it's time to blog.
I sent ten poems to the Alabama State Poetry Society's spring contests. And this weekend I plan to attend the ASPS conference in beautiful Fairhope, Alabama, one of my favorite spots to visit.
Also, I have sent entries to the Alabama Writers' Conclave contests. The AWC conference is scheduled for the week-end of July 21st in Huntsville this summer, and I look forward to a trip up north for that event.
** One of the oldest writers' organizations in continuous existence in the United States. **
This is a busy time of year for Alabama writers.
Also, I'll soon have a big announcement concerning my book Sweet Music on Moonlight Ridge. A new edition is soon to be available in ebook and paperback, and I'm working on the second in the Moonlight Ridge Series.
I just entered one of my children's picture book manuscripts in the National Children's Book Award of the Year Contest, sponsored by the NAESP Foundation. My picture book manuscript, of course, features a possum!
I'm so excited about this manuscript and this contest! I wrote this story many years ago for my daughter, India Camille, when she was about three years old. She's all grown up now, and this is still one of my favorite stories. I've been working on illustrations and, I must say, the possum and his co-stars are enchanting!
For anyone interested in history, the history of the civil rights movement, especially in Alabama, and a look at the life of a Southern belle, this is a must read.
Virginia Foster Durr, born August 6, 1903, was a delightful, intelligent individual, a civil rights activist and lobbyist, and a talented writer. She was married to lawyer Clifford Durr, who shared her ideals, and she was sister-in-law of Supreme Court Chief Justice Hugo Black. Virginia Durr was a champion of civil rights, and close friends with Rosa Parks and Eleanor Roosevelt, with whom Mrs Durr worked closely in lobbying for legislation to abolish the poll tax, a device that kept black and white southerners from voting.
Outside the Magic Circle truly opens up a world we might otherwise never be privileged to witness, and does it so well that the reader will feel a part of Virginia Foster Durr's life and the historic events recounted in this book.
She was inducted into the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame in 2006, seven years after her death.
"A possum by any other name would still be a possum." William Shakespeare
Here at The Painted Possum, I'll talk about literature, fiction, poetry, art, music, Native American issues, family, geneology, POSSUMS and other wildlife. From time to time, I'll post my original stories, poetry and artwork. These are copyrighted and can't be used without my permission.
Sharing the adventures of Lily Claire and Willie T. as they discover the magic and mystery in the woods of Moonlight Ridge has been a great pleasure.
The second book of the four volume Moonlight Ridge Series is on the way, with some unique surprises. Characters from the past are lingering in the lonely, deserted places where Lily Claire and Willie T. spend their autumn days, and a few encounters with spirits on the mountain will lead the two adventurers into haunted, perilous situations. Watch here for upcoming announcements.