Thursday, June 16, 2022

Safety and travel

 

THE LONE TRAVELER

 

I have three questions this morning:

1) Should a person (my son) travel abroad alone?

2) And if they do, should they provide an itinerary to family?

3) Am I a worry-wort?

 

My adult son is traveling alone in a foreign country. I've asked for an itinerary of where he plans to stay and what he'll visit. The hints I'm getting from my husband is that the answer to #3 is "yes."

 

Ignorance can mean danger if not death. There's a sharp curve in the highway in front of my brother's house in Fairview where at least two accidents have occurred in the last several years, one of them with a fatality. My point is that drivers on the Wagener Highway, which is usually straight as an arrow, will encounter this curve suddenly, and if you don't know the road, you're a candidate for an accident. 

 

It's foolish to approach the unknown as if it is known, and a foreign country is unknown territory. Books on travel don't usually point out risky areas, gang territory, or antiAmerican neighborhoods.

 

THERE IS NO SURE LIFE. THERE IS SURE DEATH.

So if we want to be sure about anything, we can be sure that the day will come when we will die. Do we want increase our chances of dying?

 

We can do this in a number of ways:

—climb a mountain

—drive a car

—live on the south side of Chicago

—travel alone in Iran

 

My son is not in Iran, but a country that, by comparison, is "safe" for Americans. But is any lone traveler safe? Many things influence the odds affecting safety. Add one person as a companion and the safety meter improves.

 

DISAPPEARANCE

Years ago a businessman boarded a plane in Florida for a trip to Colombia and was never heard from again. Why do I remember this? My husband was traveling for business at the time. This was somebody's husband. Businesses keep track of their traveling managers for several reasons, not least of which is for safety.

 

PLAYIING THE ODDS

It's a matter of making favorable odds for yourself. A mountain climber equips himself, chooses weather and circumstances that affect his chances of survival. The way people drive influences those chances. So does where you live.

 

As I write this, my husband is traveling alone in Illinois. It is a comfort to me to have the name of his motel and his daily plans. We talk on the phone every day. However, international travel with multiple time zones makes phone calls problematic. Alone in Illinois is not the same as alone in Latvia.

 

AM I A WORRY-WART?

Years ago in the 1930s, a cousin of my father disappeared without explanation, and he wasn't in a foreign country, unless you consider the backwoods of South Carolina foreign (you can make the argument). The name Luico Gantt has become legendary in our family. There was a rumor he was in Washington, DC, and a cousin in the military tried to find him. Even today, I have a sense of loss for this relative I never knew.

 

Is it unreasonable for me to want to keep track of a family member? By asking my son for an itinerary am I a pessimist, assuming the worst?

 

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Béjart & skill in dancing

 In Béjart's life there's no lack of skill in dancing, but there are "ills of mankind" that make life adventuresome. He and the Augusto actors travel from one French village to another and put on shows of burlesque, farce, music, and comedy. Here's a sample of Isabelle's recitation for an audience:

 

“Oh, Johnny be fine and fair and wants me for to wed.

And I would marry him but me father said...

‘I’m sorry to tell you daughter what your mother never knew,

but Johnny is a son of mine and so is kin to you.'

O you never saw a maid so sad and sorry as I was.

I'll go to mother and complain to her of this.

'O daughter, your father sowed his wild oats,

but you need not fret.

Your father may be father to the lad but still,

he didn’t sire you, so marry if you will.'”

 

Portions of the Medieval song "Johnny Be Fine," as well as other songs in Béjart's Caravan, were taken from "Songs of and about Elizabethan Times."

 

As an aside, Simon and Garfunkel's song title "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme" is a line that appears in another Elizabethan song titled "The Cambric Shirt." 

 

If you like medieval France, theater, and/or a romp in the past, you'll find something to like in Béjart's Caravan. It's available from Cuidono Press and Amazon.

 


Wednesday, June 8, 2022

May events

Presentation and Graduation

The floor of Badd Boy's Café was littered with candy wrappers when I finished my presentation at Words & Wine on May 24. The audience became engrossed in 1672 traveling actors when I began to reward their attention with bonbons. The subject of Béjart's Caravan (my new novel) picked up a few actors as we traveled through 30 minutes of talking about sorcerers, relics, and Molière's grave. 

Making a pitch for my new book.
Went to Cincinnati for Granddaughter Ava's graduation from high school on May 29. Of course she was the prettiest and smartest student in the class. The entire family was grinning with tears in our eyes. She's off to college next year, a separation we aren't looking forward to. Can't help but wish she was a little girl again.  


Ava with diploma in hand.
Doug and I drove back from Cincinnati with a brouhaha in the backseat of the pickup--by which I mean grandsons Frank (15 years old), Marlon (14 years old) and Ivan (9). They stayed in Lexington with us for a week of tumble and rumble. A highlight was fishing, with each of them catching at least one. 

 

Went to a Blowfish game- Frank, Marlon, Ivan, Doug

They went home on Sunday. More sad partings. Frank returned to Cincinnati where he has a summer job at the Bluebird Café. Marlon & Ivan were off to Rome, Georgia and will spend most of the summer in Majorca with their maternal grandparents.

 

Saying "good-bye." Three grandsons and Dtr-in-law Noemi.

Tomorrow I'm having dinner with former classmates from Pelion High School. Our favorite HS coach, Walter Johnson, passed away this week. It will be good for us to be together and remember him. He was tall in many ways, most of all in spirit. Nothing got him down, not even our unruly class. 

 

Haven't been writing lately. Don't have the time nor the inspiration. As I write that, I know it's up to me to find the time. And inspiration only comes if I make the time to write.

 

 

 

 


Monday, May 16, 2022

Debut Béjart's Caravan

 MY Latest Novel is now AVAILABLE

I'll discuss my inspiration for writing Béjart's Caravan (my new historical fiction novel) at Words & Wine on Tuesday, May 24 at 6:00 PM.

 

EVENT:  Words & Wine

DATE:  Tuesday, May 24

TIME:   6:00 PM

PLACE: Badd Boys Cafe, 2711 Middleburg Plaza, Columbia, SC

PHONE:  803-766-BOYS

 

How could I have known that an entry in the nonfiction book Rest In Pieces by Bess Lovejoy would stick with me for more than a year and result in a novel of 350 pages? Lovejoy's book has gore, but not much blood, for it's about the adventures of the cadavers of famous people.

 

For example, there are reports of bodies buried in space (ashes), bodies frozen or sliced, of bodies on display for audiences, of body parts dispersed. We'll talk about these bodies at Words & Wine. Yes, it's morbid, but I'm living proof that morbid stuff can inspire creativity.

 

This is not exactly a "talk," it's more of a chit-chat with sweet rewards, i.e., audience participation. Free to the public—entertainment for readers and writers. I hope to have copies of Béjart's Caravan, which can be ordered at Cuidono Press or Amazon.

 

Would love to see you there!

Saturday, April 30, 2022

artfields

 

Me with sculpture by Diane Lublinski

April is Showtime for ART in SC

 

Yeah for ArtFields! Held in Lake City, SC this week. Ends tomorrow (Sunday). My sister Nila and I visited for two days and almost covered the exhibits.

 

Nila and Polly Turner's drawing

Each year Nila and I visit, we become curators of a sort. We individually give scores (1-5 with 5 being the best) to each presentation and at lunch or supper we compare notes. This year I gave so many "fives" to so many pieces of art. And although I usually down-score for plug-in art, this year I gave top scores to two of them. I also down-score for blatantly political art, which resulted in scores of "1" for some pieces.


Fabric art was more prominent this year. One of my favorite pieces was by Betsy Hughes

 

The one below by Carolyn Mara was painted with a mop. Perhaps I should have given it a 5 for a creative approach.


This is a highlight of the year! Thanks to Darla Moore who started this event 10 years ago to promote artists of the Southeast. 

 

Me and fabric art by Beth Duke


Wednesday, April 20, 2022

poetry reading, Badd Boys

At the mic at Badd Boys Café
 

NONLITERAL LINES

 

On Tuesday the 12th, I joined eight other Columbia area writers for a poetry reading at Badd Boys Café in Columbia. The two poems I read from my book Time Carries All Things Away were "Adjustment to Eve's Onset" and "The Weather and Time," the former a complaint about approaching puberty and the latter about Aunt Lethea, who declined and died like an advancing winter storm.

 

It wasn't easy to read poems from my book because the light wasn't very good (ordinary overhead) and the type was small. Next time, I'll prepare and read poems typed in a larger font size, and take along a book light. Anyway, it was a good event. Many thanks to Chris Maw and Badd Boys Café.

 

Last weekend I came down with Covid (the latest variant, whatever that is). I've had three vaccines, but apparently this virus is getting ahead of the vaccines. Today I went to Richland Prisma Hospital, Bld. #10 for a monoclonal antibody infusion (bebtelovimab), which was ordered by my doctor. This intravenous treatment prevents further infection by Covid viruses that have not yet entered your tissues, which means you recover better. I'm feeling okay and expect to go Sumter's Art in the Park Festival on Saturday.

 


Friday, April 15, 2022

Flowertown Festival

Flowertown Festival April 1-3 at Summerville, SC

FESTIVAL AS MARKETING VENUE

The Flowertown Festival in Summerville, SC was a festival on steroids. When I took a break for coffee and slipped into the stream of people passing our booth, it was so crowded I moved when everybody moved. Despite the number of people, not many stopped to look at and/or buy books.

On the drive back to Lexington, Doug and I took stock of the weekend. By the time we had packed up the tent, unpacked, set up, and manned the booth for three days, we had more invested in the festival than we got out of it. I'm not good at selling books, and this weekend was no different. However, I'm not the only author still looking for a profitable way to market my books.

The winds of change keep telling us that books are in transition, if not disappearing.

— Print journals are becoming more rare

— Literary journals charge reading fees for submissions

— Number of independent bookstores declines

— Mergers of big publishing houses—

HarperCollins buys Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Hatchette buys Workman Publishing

Penguin Random House is trying for Simon & Schuster

— Appearance of artificial language programs such as AI writing

— Adult literacy below 6th grade level for 54% of population

Artists, including painters, potters, sculptors, et.al., have a similar problem to writers in that they have limited venues to sell their art. It's a dream of mine that artists and writers get together for festivals to attract a different crowd.

As for festivals, going forward, I will be more selective about the ones I attend. I have good expectations for Art in the Park at Sumter, SC on Saturday, April 23. It's sponsored by a nonprofit association. Best of all, I've been invited to read from one of my books.

Ready at my booth at 9:00 AM

 

Friday, March 4, 2022

Getting a Haircut

 

HAIRSTYLE SHOWPLACE

 

Went to Nicola's shop this morning to get a haircut. Her hair rarely looks the same. Today it is in 1" twists with cream-colored tips, which look like flecks of coconut against her black hair. Several months ago, she wore her hair cut even shorter and dyed blonde.

 

The beautician who works in the unit next to hers wears her hair as 2-3 inch twists dyed orange. As I went under the dryer, a woman with purple hair came out. One guy wore twists that ended in a tawny color.

 

Transitions Barber and Beauty Shop is more of a barber shop, with two beautician seats, which are at the rear of the salon, and six barber seats. However, today a man was in one of the two salon seats getting his hair done. The orange-hair beautician was braiding spirals of his hair, which were over two feet long. At one time a tuft of hair fell on the floor and the beautician picked it up and I suspect she braided it into his hair. Longest hair I've ever personally seen on a man.

 

Men in the barber chairs were getting a variety of cuts, but the most popular seemed to be what is called a hi-top fade (bushy on top with shorter cut descending to neck and ears, often blended to the skin at the neck/ears). The top might be fashioned as short dreadlocks, coiled twists, or an afro. One guy was getting a bald cut.

 

Nicola cuts my hair exactly as I tell her, the first beautician I've found in this area to do so. The numerous ones I've tried seem to cut hair the way they cut hair, and you can take it or leave it. Despite Nicola's talent, I quit going for a while, miffed at what I consider lack of professionalism. She might talk on the phone at length with a friend. She sings with the recorded music. She calls to other workers from time to time. But I've gotten used to her style and in fact have learned to enjoy it.

 

Popular hi-top fade haircut at Transitions


Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Getting-together a presentation

 

SPELLBINDER FROM THE PODIUM

 

I'm working on a lunch presentation I'll make for the Shepherd's Center in Lexington on March 17. I'm not a natural when it comes to speaking publicly, so it takes preparation and a script.

 

Advice I've picked up:

Tell a joke every five minutes. I have embarrassed myself so many times trying to tell a joke. I'm like my mother, who became so tickled in the process that she was the only one laughing at the punch line. At least she could remember the punch line.

 

ChuckPalahniuk wrote in his book ConsiderThis that he threw treats into audiences. Thinking along those lines, I bought wrapped candies. Doug ate them, so yesterday I bought more and have hidden them in the laundry room. I haven't figured out if I can work this into my presentation, but as the day nears, I'll have candy to calm me down.

 

Use PowerPoint, exciting visuals. The problem with this scenario is my technophobia. My laptop is a challenge, though I pride myself on having prepared zoom presentations on Keynote as well built a website . And obviously I manage to post blogs. However, I shudder at the thought of taking my laptop out of the office.

 

I love quotations. Oscar Wilde supposedly said, "Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit." I don't think I'm witless, but sometimes I have my suspicions. I have a framed photo of Wilde in my office. His quotes cheer me up if I'm down.

 

The title of my presentation is taken from a quote by W. Somerset Maugham, "There are Three Rules of Writing." You have to know up front that anybody who suggests there are THREE rules must mistake himself for God. Maugham saved himself, and I'll save myself, with the completion of that quote, which is: "Unfortunately, no one knows what they are."

 

 

Oscar Wilde, between my grandfather (l.) and my parents (rt.)


Monday, February 21, 2022

Website updated

 

ME AND THE BEAST (GODADDY)

 

I've revised my website , one reason I've been in a bad mood lately. I have a hate-hate relationship with Godaddy, which is the software I use. This past week I've offended myself with words I've spoken. At least only my computer heard me.

 

Godaddy doesn't turn up on "best" or "easy" lists of website builders, and for good reason. It's complicated and can lose work with no explanation. To their credit, it is possible to get an actual person on the phone when you need help (unlike Amazon which I've yet to make human contact, despite a number of attempts).

 

If it's so bad, why don't I change to another website builder? Excruciating thought. After the many hours I've labored to get the Godaddy site up? Lose all that time? Reconfigure all that information on another platform? I'm feeling a bit sick.

 

I have used Wix to build a website for my children's books, and it is easier to learn, though I've only done the bare minimum to get that site up. It has splashier options for composition but I don't sense the depth there that Godaddy has.

 

Anyway, take a look at the updates. Please let me know if you're flagged with "page not found," which has happened to me.

 

(left to rt.) Godaddy, my website, and Me


Sunday, February 6, 2022

My blog featured on Columbia II Writers

 

 

READING AND BOOKS

 

When I was growing up, I didn't figure out that I couldn't get smarter by myself. But in those long-ago days, it was more important to be good at sports than be smart. Today it seems that winning a video game award is more important. My ideas about the role of reading in a writer's life is featured on the Columbia II writers blog this week.

 

Actually, it's the second blog I wrote. Had to shelve/trash the first one after I gave it to Doug for a once-over. His reaction was an eye-opener. He was livid about the contents. I couldn't say what I had said. We had a fiery few minutes --and I didn't even think the article was controversial. But that's because I'm numb-headed and think that other people think like I do.

 

Anyway, I discovered it is controversial to say things like "people who've been disadvantaged in the past should be cut some slack and given advantages when it comes to access to education."

 

Secondly, I should have known I was asking for a pie in the face when I protested that journals have no business asking me (as a writer making a submission) about my age, ethnic background, and sexual orientation. Even if it's in the name of "diversity." Isn't it an invasion of my privacy?

 

That first/rejected blog is in my "archive" file, too explosive for the light of day. I don't want to get crucified for taking a political position unpopular with the twitter crowd.

 

Anyway, I hope you'll click on the link and take a look at my blog. Thanks!


Is there anything more important than learning to read?

 

 

Saturday, January 8, 2022

2021 Christmas

 

Christmas Day at Jason and Ellen's place

CHRISTMAS IN LONDON

 

Doug and I spent Christmas with Jason and his family. Everything was great about the trip except the airport, which was a headache, foot ache, stomach ache...you get the idea. 

 

(L to Rt.) Jason, Ellen, Lola, Milla, Me, Doug

We were treated royally by Jason, Ellen, and the girls. I can see why a person would choose to live in London, tho you need a padded wallet. Bookstores still exist, for one thing. Busy streets with little shops of every make and model. Variety of eating establishments—pubs, cafes, restaurants, carry-outs, coffee shops. Food prepared on the premises --very little fast food.

 

I'm with granddaughter Milla at Abney Cemetery in Hackney
  

One of the places I return to when we visit is Abney Cemetery, which is a short walk from the house. It's a forest with chaotic graves and ancient headstones overgrown with vines.

 

Jason and Milla at memorial for soldiers killed in war

The Hackney Theatre is a glamorous venue with gold gilded trim, chandeliers, and a ceiling light that looks like the sky filled with stars. We attended a panto (short for pantomime, a uniquely English interpretation) titled "Jack and the Beanstalk." It was musical slapstick, fun for children and adults. 

 

We went to the Barbican Centre one night for Beethoven's Ninth. I'm reminded of the difference between hearing music on my earbuds and hearing it live in an auditorium. I'm not a classical music fan but when "Ode to Joy" came on, it was a unique and heartfelt moment. 

Me and Jason at the Barbican

I was reminded of not just our musical heritage, but of our history as humans, as creative creatures who re-invent the world with the passage of time. And what is new can only exist because of what existed before we arrived on the scene. 

 

One of my favorite photos, Jason at Abney Cemetery

Monday, December 13, 2021

Lexington Library Dec. 11, 2021

AUTHORS FOR LITERACY

 

Saturday I was with 17 other authors signing books at the Authors for Literacy event at the Lexington Library. I spent more time visiting with writers than selling books. Was glad to catch up on news of several writers I don't see often enough -- Kathy Widener, Pat McNeely, John Starino, Johnny Bloodworth, and Halina Schafer.

 

Thanks to Johnny Bloodworth for photo.
 

In the photo, I'm telling my writer friend Johnny to take several shots--too often my eyes are shut or my mouth open or both.

 

This is the last author event for me for 2021. What a change from 2020! With Covid on the run, this has been a come-back year with business getting back to normal.

 

I'm having an early Christmas dinner in Fairview, SC, with my Rawls family this Sunday. For the holiday, I'm heading to London to visit son #1 and his family. 


Saturday, December 11, 2021

Bonnie Appearances

 Photos of Book Festivals

At Aiken Book Fair Nov. 13

It's been my pleasure to participate in several recent book events, opportunities for me to meet readers and other writers. To get my work done, I spend a lot of time alone in front of a computer. Thanks to our libraries, writer associations, and other art organizations, people like me have a chance to get away from a desk.

At Aiken Christmas Craft Show Dec. 3-4

I know I'm not the only author who finds selling books an onerous task. However, these occasions combine socializing with selling, which lightens the load. The work that goes into packing books, tables, posters, displays, tablecloths, and sometimes tents, is worth the effort.

 

At Lourie Ctr. Books for Gifts Nov. 18
 

If I had the means, the finances, and the influence, I'd make an Art, Pottery, & Letters festival with books, paintings, photographs, and pottery. Painters and pottters have as much of a challenge selling their products as writers. Those of us in the arts, by going our singular ways, don't attract the interest that a combination would.