Monday, July 15, 2019

Clarksdale Sights

Adam and I are enjoying our time in Clarksdale. I wanted to share some of the sights with you before we leave this week. Clarksdale has so many cool old buildings in various states of dereliction or beautiful restoration. There are also quite a few fun murals painted on the sides of downtown buildings.
 This old drug store is next door to where we're staying. The Greyhound station is across the street.
 The impressive McWilliams Building, a skyscraper in its day, is in the heart of downtown, its many rooms empty. This is its back side.
 The back door of this men's clothing store has a fun image.
 The home below belonged to Blanche Clark Cutrer, who inspired a character in Tennessee Williams's work.
 T. Williams's grandfather was pastor at the Episcopal church, below.
 The Methodist church has fascinating architecture!
 Lovely homes:

This home is for sale for $285,000.
 This turret! There's a porch under it.
 The pink building was once an ice house and then an ice cream parlor. Next door (the little house) is Hooker Grocery, a nice eatery.
 The McWilliams Building from the front -- it needs some TLC:

 And now the murals:

 I like this little store, Miss Del's.
 Plenty of stores have spots to "sit a spell."
I'll end with a few more baby pictures, okay?

 He's a very good baby and sleeps well, but Anna still could use a nap or three.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Poppi and Nana

 Adam has been so excited about being a granddaddy -- or "Poppi," as he wants to be called. Some of our kids already call him that, and he likes it. He's a silly, teasing Poppi. Can you tell? If Anna weren't in the hospital bed across the room, I think she's smack him for all the annoying things he says in his delight at his new role!
 It was a very, very long weekend in the hospital, and labor progressed so slowly. We're thankful the hospital and staff worked with Anna and brought about the natural delivery she wanted ... even though at the end, in the pain and exhaustion, she wasn't sure she wanted it anymore. The tricky part about labor pain is that just about the time you realize you do want serious pain meds, it's too late to get them. Ah well. Anna was phenomenal and pushed through it all.
 A natural birth without epidural or C-section is the healthiest option for mama and baby, of course -- although sometimes those options are needed, even life-saving. Anna recovered so well that the next morning the pediatrician who visited her room didn't recognize her as the 'new mom.' 

Gramm was amazing, such an attentive and caring husband and daddy. He's just the best. For those of you who know my side of the family, you'll be happy to hear that Gramm has a calm, even disposition, thoughtful of others and not bossy. I told him we're so glad to have his genes mixed into the pool. Anna's hoping the baby takes after him!
 And in his appearance, I'd say that's true. When I look in this sweet little face (which is often hiding from this bright world at first) I see Gramm's family features. He is absolutely darling, calm and not fussy, is nursing like a pro, and doesn't like having his feet messed with. 
 All is well. Adam and I are enjoying our time in Mississippi here in the Delta, which is a rich, unique culture. He stopped to buy gas yesterday and came strutting out of the station afterward, pleased with himself and holding a little bag. He'd found fresh fried chicken gizzards, a favorite food that he can't find where we live. 

This sweet little bloom I found in the hospital garden, alone on the bush. It made me think of this fresh new baby, tiny, perfect, beautiful.
 I've joined two facebook groups for watercolor beginners. (Some of those folks are not beginners!) I painted this before baby's birth.
 And, so that you can all share in the giggles, here's a silliness I saw on facebook:
When I get home, I may work up my own version of a Jane Austen board game. This one seems rather heavy toward Pride and Prejudice. I'd prefer one that reflects a broader range of her books and is more complicated. But isn't this a cute idea? "Mr. Toffeebottom" and "take to your bed!"

Thursday, July 4, 2019

What's Happening in Mississippi

All's quiet on the baby front. We are waiting.

Meanwhile, here are a few shots from my first week in Mississippi. Anna and I got our toes done.
 I've walked around a little downtown.
 Clarksdale sports some cool shops!

Old store fronts abound. Some are closed.
 They do great murals though! 

It looks like I might be here a while!

My dear friend and cousin, Tammy, popped over for a few days' visit to keep me company.

We've done some pretty amazing cooking. I'm very out of practice, but Tammy and Gramm helped.

 This Best Chairs recliner is Anna's baby nursery chair. It goes all the way back and makes a narrow twin bed, and it's so comfortable!
We do hope to have a baby arrival some time next week. I'll let you know!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

A Little More Lindbergh

At the thrift store I found another Lindbergh book, this one called No More Words, by Anne's youngest child, Reeve. Reeve wrote this short book about her mother's final 17 months, living in a tiny house just up the hill from Reeve and her family. At the time, 1999-2000, Anne was 94 and Reeve was 55, my age.
Thank you, Lisa, for the beautiful bookmark. I use it every day.

I was used to Anne's voice, so I had to accustom myself to Reeve's voice. And I thought I knew Anne. I'd read three of her books, two of which were journals. How could I not know her? But seeing a woman through the eyes of her child is a different perspective. Seeing the home, the father, the marriage from Reeve's perspective was illuminating.

Reeve loved her mother devotedly, desperately, and seemed both awed and scared to have the privilege of being the child to care for her at the end of her life. Reeve went through stages of care, of coping with her mother's approaching death, and she frankly evaluates herself as she responds to the shifting timeline of death. I think, as we all watch our parents age, and watch ourselves approach the precipice as well, it's wise to read how others have coped and reacted. After reading Reeve's open confessions of her weakness, ineptitude, and misunderstanding, along with her dedication, delight, and humor, I feel better prepared myself going forward. 

Anne Lindbergh had the best possible care after her strokes a few years before. She had round-the-clock professionals, a whole staff. She stayed in her own little home with family visiting daily. She had professional hair styling and nail treatments each week. She had house calls from doctors and therapists. Still, it was a struggle for Reeve. How do people cope who have almost no resources, who have to enter poorly-run nursing homes, or live with family members who neglect or abuse them? This book helps me think soberly and honestly about these things. It's scary.

Some aspects of Anne's old journals are given new eyes in this book, which Reeve also calls a journal -- "A Journal of my Mother." Most people would consider Charles Lindbergh the more famous of the pair, but the child who speaks for the family, the writer, chose to write of her mother.  Here are a few telling passages:

"She rarely answers, in fact she rarely speaks, and she does not write at all. This astonishes me. Words were central to her life for as long as I have known her, and yet she appears perfectly comfortable without them. She does not miss them. I, on the other hand, am at a loss. I am bewildered, confused, absolutely at sea, in my mother's silence." (14)

This gives a little taste of how Reeve continuously ponders both her mother and herself, contrasting, comparing. Always tender, often puzzled.

Caring for an elderly patient is a very physical activity, especially when she cannot care for herself in even the simplest ways. 

"I like to watch Janet [a caregiver] working with my mother, who is now so completely, so uncharacteristically, willing to be touched .... My mother, who once so resisted physical tenderness that I wondered during childhood if it was an imposition to kiss her good night, now submits to care and coddling as never before. Her previous body-shyness has melted away ...." (80)

This, of course, is an aspect of Anne's personality and life that she never mentioned, but that her children were intensely aware of. Can you imagine being the child of a mother who you weren't sure if you should ask to kiss goodnight? How did that impact the home? Why was she that way? 

Perhaps the most interesting and telling passage:

"My mother's resistance to circumstances beyond her control has always been subtle .... My father used to say, 'Your mother devastates with silence.' ... I can recall what an effective weapon her silence was against his sudden tirades of opinion and mood. I remember well those times when he moved through the house like a strong wind, shattering everybody else's peace and concentration. It wasn't necessarily a matter of his being in bad humor, it was just that he was so much bigger, so much more energetic, and so much more active than anyone else we knew. When he was walking and talking and moving around, our father sucked up all the space in his vicinity like some kind of whirlwind, sometimes benign, sometimes ill-boding. If he was indeed angry over something his children had done or, more likely had neglected to do, the atmosphere was then twice as electric and doubly powerful, the house itself shaking with what my sister used to call "Ambulatory Wrath of God." If we could do it, we children would scatter out ... but our mother would remain silent, resting in her own silence, and sooner or later, our father would laugh ruefully, as if to acknowledge that she'd won .... He recognized that his wife ... was by far the stronger of the two." (154/155)

In her own journals, Anne's description of when Charles would come into the house was quite the opposite; she described him as bringing LIFE back into the house, as if the house and the family and she were all rather dead, or at least comatose, until he blew in, and everything leapt to life again. But clearly the children didn't feel that way, or at least the youngest one didn't.

Anne Lindbergh died early in 2001 after a long and productive life. I felt Reeve's goal in part was to continue to give nobility and worth to that life, even when the words were gone for which Anne was so respected. 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Writing Plans

Hello, friends! It's the heat of summer now and time for me to sit in my study with a fan blowing and gaze into the pasture. The dogs are lolling in the shade. The chickens are taking dust baths. I'm writing.

It feels so good to be writing again. I know writers say this all the time, but those dry, dusty periods when words don't come (or we don't let them come) are so discouraging. You wonder if you'll ever create something again. These times of fruitful productivity feel like spring, like a waterfall, like joy.

What am I writing? Here's the plan:

The Mortuary Murders - a series of books (I hope) set in a small Southern town. The first-person narrator is a brand-new funeral director, a woman. These books will be "cozies," quick, easy reads. Beach books. I'm over half-way through the first one. I'm writing about a chapter each day, trying to get the story out of my head and onto paper. Then Adam and I will go back and edit.

Three Against the Dark - This book is old history, but Adam has reread it and is jump-starting it again with lots of platform and support this fall. 
Ten Days at Federal Hill - Its sequel. My next project after finishing "Mortuary Murder #1" is to finish this sequel and get it tidied up. Publishers (if we decide to go that route) like series, so I'll need to have a second book to offer them, and promise of a third. The overall plot certainly lends itself to that.

PICTURE BOOKS - Punkin and the Littlest Mouse is done; The Thanksgiving Mice is done; The Rescue of William Shrew needs ten more illustrations painted. I have a Christmas story in my mind that I want to complete by December. I have one or two other story ideas in mind for this book cluster.

Greenfield Civil Wars - Another finished book that lends itself to sequels and could also be considered a bit of a "cozy." I started a sequel but didn't continue with it. 

Poetry - I have lots of poetry, and some of it (I think) is good enough to gather into a small book for publication, if I already had other books selling well. It would be easy to put together a little book for this purpose.

Doing all this, especially the daily commitment to writing each morning, makes me feel like a writer. I want to be a writer, to use that skill, to leave these stories in the world. I'd never considered how important it is that those who are story-makers should tell their stories, give them to others who want to read stories. I assumed most people thought up stories in their heads all day long -- what did anybody need my stories for? Apparently most of the population don't write stories in their heads all the time! If a person has the ability to create stories and the skill to put them into well-written text, that person has an obligation (I think) to write for others.

We'll see. But that's the plan! Now I must go finish Chapter 14 before lunch.