Category Archives: Writing

Rhode Island “Spring”

It’s been a busy year as we learn to be Rhode Islanders! Sorry y’all for the delay in posts, but you can see what you missed by checking on Facebook. I’ll copy some of those posts here so you can follow our transmogrification from North Carolinians to Rhode Islanders.

March 14  It’s Pi day, my engineer tells me, so I mixed crust, he opened cans, I added brandy for flavor.

Dirk w pies 3:17 Nice treat after shoveling—4 in of VERY heavy Slush! If this had stayed snow we’d be having more to move… It’s been raining the past 3 hrs., making mush. I was wet through after 40″ out there. Crocuses & snowdrops had somewhat recovered yesterday, now under snow again. Inside the house, under a grow light, vegetables for our future garden are thriving–such a lovely contrast!

Snow back yard 3:17

Seedlings 3:17

Snow again, sticky, perfect for a snow man, & school’s out.
Here are two of five little cape/shawls I’ve made from Dirk’s mother’s left-behind sock yarn left-overs. Some have gone to friends, the rest to church for their prayer shawl program.

Interfaith Vigil at Holocaust Memorial in Providence on March 5. All our Rhode Island elected senators, representatives and Governor Raimondo as well as rabbis, immans & pastors and 300 or more people from our state were there. It was a large crowd, in spite of the temperature about 10 degrees by wind chill, which had already started to thin by the time we made a united circle around the central stone, Rabbi Aaron played and sang some rousing songs, and we placed  our own small stones there to say, “Never again–we remember.” What a strange world this is, for there to be bomb threats at Jewish temples and community center/schools in Rhode Island, where Roger Williams came specifically to form a colony with religious freedom. RW is on top of this tower.

Feb. 23– Our first crocuses are in bloom six weeks later than we saw them in NC. Such a treat to see an actual sign of spring. Dirk is wearing his new argyle sweater from our own wool. This project took about 5 months, including spinning the yarn. Only the orange is commercial. I’ve started cleaning up flower beds, including stems of last year’s flower heads, now completely empty of seed. Just hung up another bird house. I need to find seed for veggies that mature in a short season. So disappointing last year that bell peppers & Cherokee red tomatoes had to be picked green and small the day the killing frost was due. Suggestions?

Maeve and Emily enjoy the daily walks Dirk takes with them. Sometimes I go (when I’m not updating my blog!) or vacuuming up pet fur. He recently met a neighbor around the corner with chickens and more eggs than she needs. He dropped off the empty egg box with some of my Almost Lost dish cloths (thanks, Katie Verna) for which she was thankful and gave him another dozen eggs! Finally I’ve found someone with chickens to whom I can give egg boxes to recycle them.

Dirk's argyle; walking dogs 2:17

Emily is slowing down, and at 12, for a Great Pyrenees, I guess it’s time. She was barking at about 1 a.m. last night, so I let her out. She slipped on the icy deck and did a belly flop, and no foot found anything to grip. She looked at me so mournfully, those sad eyes, so embarrassed… as though I had made this situation happen. I brought out a throw rug and rolled her back and forth to get it under her for traction, and she popped up and took off. She loves to patrol all around the fenced  half-acre back yard at night, just like she did in our sheep pastures in her early years. I know we have a fox–my nature camera took his picture. I’ve seen deer, turkeys, smelled skunk, and my neighbor has muskrats, mink in her wetland back yard garden area–and then the perpetual vermin, coyotes, are everywhere. No one in this neighborhood has seen fisher cats yet, thank goodness. Those cousins to hyenas or badgers are a real threat. My hosta is never eaten by deer, in contrast to my friends’ gardes–I guess the dogs keep them away, which is great!

This is an afghan I made for a friend we left behind in NC, mostly from yarn Dirk’s mother left-behind. She died in Oct., and his father boxed up all her yarn and patterns and sent them along. I used her pattern in his argyle sweater. Both the “dog patch,” and the “sheep patch” are from my homespun yarn.  There’s a pocket in the center of the yellow square the right size for a cell phone or anything else that’s small that might fall out of her recliner or wheel chair. (She was delighted with that feature 🙂 These socks are from commercial superwash wool, cozy in winter, and I’ll wear them for St. Patrick’s Day. And last but not least, this is a picture of our church in Wickford, from the side, the First Baptist Church of Wickford. It’s lovely inside also, the glass still the wavy old 200-year old windows. I wish we could fill it up Sundays… We’ve made lots of friends there.

Narragansett wavesDirk & Judy, trop storm, Pt. Judy

This is one of the special things about living in this area. Narragansett Pier is right here, with the large beach and sea wall. Here you see a snow bank pushed up after one of the storms, and the lovely breakers rolling in toward the breakwater. I can be there in ten minutes, any time I want to watch the water roll in at high tide, which is invigorating! People walk their dogs on the beach all winter, parking is free until May or so. This was one of the big reasons why we moved north, to be this close to the salt water. The lower picture was taken during a tropical storm which turned out to be only lots of wind, at Point Judith Light, where the Narragansett Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. My pulmonary Doc was right–my asthma does like the salt air!

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Filed under asthma, climate, dogs, Family, gardening, Homespun yarn, knitting, Weather, wildlife, Writing

Summer Solstice in NC

Warm steam envelopes my air-conditioned skin. Humidified air needs no machine to provide air-borne water. Peep-toads whistle over the wetlands to fireflies floating around the tomato plants. Perfumed gardenia surrounds the beauty of blooming double pink and bright purple petunias, white pansies, red snapdragons and sage, pink and white verbena with a pink and green sweet potato vine curling toward the deck over the edge. Lantana matches marigolds, but fragrances compete. Red petunia and dusty miller’s yellow blooms tower over salmon-pink verbena peeking through from behind. Lily stalks are tall and heavy with flagrant pink perfumed blossoms, sunflowers stretch for the sky bobbing under bumblebees. A chastened rose bush is half its May size, trimmed of the spent vines, blooms and hips, loved by sheep. Lush new dark red and green leaves on soft vines watered daily with dishwater, shoot out to catch hair and clothing. Neighbors’ dogs are sleeping. In full dark the whip-or-will begins to sing, its voice echoing around huge pine trunks, making location impossible. A shhhh indicates water trickling on gardens, soaker hoses making tiny sprays of water up under leaves of tomatoes, peppers, acorn squash, kale, butternut squash, chard, beets, string beans, and cucumbers. Gone are the sugar peas and spring onions of the cool spring, and the massed pansies in all my pots, thriving through a mild winter.

White smudge of magnolia bloom peers at me through the near-dark, holding its fragrance for me to get near to wrap myself in the heady perfume, sweet and musty. One bloom fills a large bowl and scents a large room.

The sundial  is completely in shadow, and points to no time passing at all. Time is suspended in this silent peep-toad stillness. Trees have lost their color, moving from green to a shadow outline against a pale blue sky, empty of planes, even the birds are asleep.

Possums and rabbits silently roam the woods. Shining my lantern toward the wetland, I see hundreds of shining eyes peering back at me.

Birds’ nests peep from forks in holly and in a bag of pine cones not used for kindling last winter. Friendly wrens keep close company, nestling on little brown splotched white eggs in a cozy bundle of leaves, like the wind blew them there, shaped the small tunnel of pine needles, twigs, leaves and bits of soft grass and left-over wool. Soon the nest will arrive in a classroom to teach and charm children.

A yellow warbler clings to a butterfly bush branch working at a bit of partly-felted wool too short to spin, dangling there just for nests. I waited and watched as she struggled with the stubborn fibers, finally tugging a mouthful free and taking off in a flash. She was back in no time, lining her nest with our soft Romney wool.

The whip-poor-will is in a tree very near me. He doesn’t know I’m here. In winter they come to search the yard for bugs, ignoring bird seed. Summer is bug-time, birds are overjoyed: blue birds, fly catchers, cardinals, chipping sparrows, titmouses, chickadees, nuthatches, orioles, grosbeaks, gold finches, robins, catbirds, even the cow birds; especially the woodpeckers, tap, tapping on the pine bark.

Night things will be out in the barn, mice, an occasional rat, and the large snakes who hide well, and thrive on the rodents. In the yard our snakes eat moles, voles. Black racers, garter snakes, rat snakes, and ordinary black snakes need to dodge my Aussie, who hasn’t learned which are poisonous. She has yet to meet a copperhead. My Great Pyrenees, Emily, is wise to the difference– knows a corn snake from a copperhead, a prudent and sophisticated analysis. Emily ignores snakes unless its aggressive and could hurt us, her, or the sheep she protects.

Coyotes are in someone else’s fields and woods tonight–no yipping pack of predators and barking neighborhood dogs, lead by my Great Pyrenees, tonight. The danger is real: my friend’s Aussie was killed by coyotes last summer. Our fences are a mere impediment–if coyotes want in, they’ll get in. Sheep pasture has sturdy fence as well as a fierce 4-footed very loud protector.

Mosquitoes are waking up and finding warm blood to feast on (mine) while I revel in the solstice evening, clear and quiet.  One mosquito bite too many and I glide toward the house. Standing by the door, I hesitate to leave this magical dusk . Rain barrel is nearly empty, flowers gulp water in 90-degree summer. No respite at night when “cool” is 79 and humid.  Rain barrel and buckets of saved rain water breed flying bird-, toad- and peep-toad meals. Flowers have the benefit of extra compost in the squirming black noodles swimming in their water.  Highest-priority watering bucket is dark with embryos, air is thick around it with freshly hatched flying blood-suckers. Fewer of them to bite and breed, after I pour the bucket along rows of vegetables.

In dry summers, a dozen empty buckets and the rain barrel sit and wait for rain.  Kitchen gray water and compost coax gardens to thrive. Hot summers yield a pale-blue twilight, as the summer sun fades in the shadows of the yellow pine and oak, revealing a carpet of stars, by its absence. Dark arrives and “too-hoo” echoes off invisible woodpecker-drilled trunks of 90-foot yellow pines.


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Filed under gardening, Health, sheep, wildlife, Writing

Hip replaced again–not metal; recovery–reading, gardening, patience…..

Feb. 19, 2012

I haven’t written in the blog for a while as I recover from major surgery. My metal-on-metal hip replacement had caused “metallosis” in my joint, similar to the lungs of metal-workers not wearing masks. The balloon of fluid  grew to obstruct circulation to one leg, which swelled progressively over 2 months. An ER visit eventually pin-pointed the problem (two of my regular doctors were consulted first–no clue). So back in mid-December I had the metal parts removed, and now have ceramic and plastic, which seems to be the “standard issue.” Turns out Johnson & Johnson have been aggressively marketing this DePuys hip in this country, since it’s been removed from the market in countries where they keep a nationwide database on implanted medical devices. With all we pay in this country, we keep no national statistics like this. After the surgery, I had time to skim Google, and in no time found two meta-analyses of data on this type of hip from Switzerland and the UK, both of which do keep nationwide records. They provide insurance for everyone there, so it benefits citizens, as well as their country’s economy, to keep people well. In this country, be contrast, profit is everything. Since medical device companies can now provide lobby money (bribes) to not only law-makers, but also our Supreme Court justices, citizens in this country receive care that would not be tolerated in nations who provide insurance for all. Am I angry? You bet. Had I happened to be living in Canada, for example, where they also have insurance for everyone, and keep nationwide records, I would not have had this type of hip replacement since they’d had considerable trouble with it, and had stopped using it the year before mine was inserted, here. About 15% or more metal-on-metal hips need to be removed in less than 5 years. Now, why didn’t my doctor at Duke know about this from the conferences he must have attended each year? Data goes back at least 15 years documenting  the serum collection in the hip causing the muscles to be pushed out of place and thinned as they stretch around 2 pints or so of liquid that doesn’t belong there. In my case there was also the development of granulomas around each nano-sized piece of metal, destroying both muscle and bone.  My blood stream sports cobalt and chromium levels hundreds of times higher than normal, which is nearly zero, and no one knows the long-term effects of this. I wore a brace for 2 months, and will be on hip precautions for the rest of my life. I’m walking with a cane nearly 3 months after the surgery and still taking a small amount of pain medication. That’s why I haven’t added to the blog.

I haven’t been able to do very much but read, walk, and knit. I’ve watched my gardens grow up in weeds, the crocuses fighting for light. I’ve developed some long-handled tools, since I can’t bend over. The first was a steak knife duct-taped to an old broom handle, with which I could saw off the tap root on weeds after I’d loosened the dirt around them with a 4-pronged cultivator on a long handle. It took 2 weeks to fill a cat litter plastic can with those small weeds–extremely frustrating, and painful after only 20-30 min. because of the torque I was giving back and hip. The doctor refused to order PT at first because he was afraid even gentle exercise would dislocate the hip. I begged for PT and OT after 5 weeks, and finally he allowed it. They came to the house for only 2 visits each, since I had a visit with the doctor the following week, and he ordered the brace off, and said I could flex the hip slightly more, up to 70º so that I could drive, sort of, still leaning far back, and sitting on a high cushion. To my dismay, I learned that I had been doing far more than either of them advised with the restrictions he’d placed. Since I had not been allowed PT/OT, I had no way to know that, and tried to moderate my gardening within the “don’t bend, don’t sit” rule. Turns out the one I wasn’t aware of was, “don’t twist!” After doing the prescribed walking, and seeing all my gardens neglected, I decided if I could walk I could use a rake and cultivator, so set to work, a little at a time, to do enough work that I wasn’t leaning over the railing on the deck and sobbing in frustration. I didn’t want to disturb my husband, who works from home. When he thinks I need something, he’s right there, and I couldn’t have him sacrificing his work for my flower gardens. He’s been very supportive, but after 2 months of this dependency, I really do feel like a burden. My feeling, not his.

The the 5-pound “spica brace” I wore for 2 months, 24/7, including having to put it right back on, soaking wet, it after I’d washed it in the shower. It does not come apart–no spare parts to wash and wear. It takes more than 9 hours to dry, whether on a sunny day when I spent most of the afternoon outside, or a cold day, when I turned round and round in front of the wood stove, changing towels under the wet brace about every 15-30 minutes, blotting it somewhat from the inside. By bedtime it was still damp. I found not a single experienced person to tell me how to wash the brace–the sales person suggested spraying it with lysol or covering the smell with scented powder. I also have asthma, so neither of those would have worked. After the brace started smelling like an unwashed street person, those remedies would not have removed the emanations. The only time for two months that I went out was to doctors’ appointments. I wore some elegant muu-muus given to me by an elderly friend some years ago. She’s now gone, but I thanked her every day for those gowns to cover the brace. Clothes of any sort were out.

I’ve been so distracted with struggling with daily activities and pain that I haven’t even written anything since the surgery. I had started working on a story for the Creative Nonfiction Journal 6 months ago, which I continued working on and submitted that a month after the surgery, well before deadline, but I haven’t been able to free my mind from these daily struggles to create. Maybe this blog entry will be the key to open my mind to the world of words again.

I’ve done lots of reading, however. I’ve started going along the shelves of my own library here, beginning with some very old books that were my mother’s, and just getting lost in another world. I’m now nearly done with Gene Stratton Porter’s “Girl of the Limberlost,” an early environmental critique about saving swamps and wildlife from farming and oil wells, with excellent character development. Taylor Caldwell’s “Tender Victory,” 3 books about the Trapp Family Singers, including the last one, “Maria,” a memoir by–yes, Maria von Trapp. That was a positive experience, as she, the elder mother, reflected on mistakes she’d made over the years, and decisions she’d made to continue a productive life when the children grew up and moved on, and the singing group dissolved. Frank Slaughter’s “Daybreak” was sad, about psychiatric care in the ’50’s, methods, successes and failures–and a final positive ending to bring it together on a positive note. “Moloka’i” by Alan Brennert is a Holly Springs Library book club reading this month. This topic reminded me of readings in the last 2 Trapp books, when they’d visited this former prison island of leprosy patients in Hawaii, the book covering 80 of the 100 years before sulfa drugs came along to cure leprosy. Still piled beside the bed are a Pearl Buck story about her father, “Fighting Angel,” Elizabeth Gouge’s “Green Dolphin Streeet,” and “Intern,” by Dr. X. And when I’ve completed that stack of old friends, Sue Grafton’s latest, “V is for Vengeance” awaits (a Christmas gift from my mother-in-law), as well as the book my daughter in CT sent me at Christmas, which I’m enjoying a little at a time, Michelle Edwards’ “A Knitter’s Home Companion.” So if I’m not writing, I really am reading.

Also I’m knitting. I figure if I have to tote a high-density foam pillow wherever I go because I can’t sit on a “regular” chair (remember–only 70 degree flexion–not the 90 degrees I’d have to do in a chair–the risk of dislocation of the new hip is high because of the damaged muscle the doc needed to remove, and the remaining muscle stretched to ribbons around the large sack of water in the joint–so no flexion…) I made the pillow case a pretty one–knitted a round lace doily from the Austrian lace pattern book a friend gave me when we were in Styer some years back, the graph pattern translated by a German knitter in our H. S. knitting group. I’ve knitted 2 pr. of socks in lace for myself, knitted wool roving slippers for a friend, a scarf for a niece, Christmas bell ornaments for my own “steel magnolias,” friends who have been strong and resilient helping me recover. I’m working on my 8th hat for the New Hill knitting charity project, have completed two more baby sweaters for friends at church, one in my own wool, in case one of the families wants to be more “natural” than acrylic “throw-it-in-the-washer” sweaters.

I hope I’ll be able to spin before long–I do miss that “therapy” of repetitive motion, and the soft fiber flowing through my fingers into yarn. I’m very glad I had a great deal of yarn spun before this surgery so I could entertain myself as I recover. Shearing is coming along in about 2 weeks, and I’d like to have a workshop on that weekend, if I can be on my feet enough to manage. We’ll see…


Filed under Aging, community, Compromises, gardening, Health system, knitting, spinning, spinning workshops, Writing

Losing Becky

Oct. 2, 2011


My neighbor gave Becky a can of cat food the cats didn’t like the day before she died. He said she ate it immediately! I know she loved that. I was still focused on her weight, and about twice the last month flushed a can of cat food down the toilet after it sat all night. She’d have loved to have it. Becky could get around so little, that her “perfect day” was when it occurred to me to put old pillows under the wool blanket she liked to lie on by our bed, and folded a comforter from the thrift shop under the one in the living room to pad her old bones. I can’t imagine how many dog treats we went through those last weeks. She loved finding them on all her beds around the house, waiting to surprise her. If she went to one of her “lie down” favorites and there wasn’t a chew there (because she’d already walked by and eaten it!) she’d look up at me wistfully, and I produced one. I guess her whole last month was as perfect as I could make it, even changing the bird bath every day or two, since it was her favorite outside place for drinking water.

I miss having a dog in the house, but I can’t get another one too soon. It wouldn’t be fair to the newcomer. When it happens, though, the cats, who are now thrilled with being the top banana, will have a major adjustment crisis! It’s touching, though, how they keep lying down on Becky’s spot on the rug, first Licorice, then Liam.

Oct. 10, 2011

Losing Becky

The cell phone rang as we were lining up to board the plane in Providence to return home from a visit with family for a week. I’d brought Becky, our Aussie, to the vet two weeks earlier just to check her out, since she had less energy and was less interested in food–even our food! I knew when that number from our home came up on the cell phone that it meant trouble.

“I was just over there an hour ago,” our neighbor said. “I gave her water, she drank, then walked down the deck to the shade under her favorite tree. The garage door is open so she could have come back in if she’d wanted to. I checked on her again because she didn’t look right, and an hour later, she was gone. She died on the deck in the sun. I covered her with her blanket.”

He felt so bad. Our dog had died on his watch. If we’d been here, it probably would have played out the same way. He certainly is not at fault in any way, but he still feels guilty.

Becky, our 14 year-old Australian Shepherd, a rescue when she was two, had the genes to herd sheep, and loved her work. Becky saved my husband and I hours of chasing escaped sheep around in the woods. She moved the sheep from the barn to the shearing pen in an instant, saving us wrestling recalcitrant sheep up one by one. She was never as happy as when she was herding–well, eating was right up there as her next-to-the-most favorite activity.

This is from a story I wrote, a letter from Becky back to us from her present location on that Rainbow Bridge: “I remember one time when you had company, a couple with a little girl 18 months old. She had been playing with toys in the living room, but left that room and toddled down the long dark hallway, where you had turned off the light and closed all the doors so she couldn’t get into anything. You were all talking at the kitchen table, drinking tea. I was watching the little girl. I didn’t feel comfortable about her walking off in the dark alone, so I went with her. I got in back of her, very slowly, because I didn’t want to frighten her, or knock her down. I very gently put my head behind her, on one side, then the other. She thought it was a game, and giggled and laughed, but she walked the way I was leading her from behind, back down the hall toward the lighted kitchen where her mother was sitting. It took a few minutes to herd her back where she belonged, because I wanted her to think we were playing. I herd much faster when it’s sheep. When we finally arrived at her mother’s knee, everyone was laughing and petting me, as though I’d done something wonderful! That was just what I love to do. I believed I had work to do, and did it. It wasn’t unusual for me, although it appeared to be for the rest of you. It was just my job, I’m good at it. I love herding–sheep, people–whatever.”  –Becky Tysmans, Remember Me, Sept. 27, 2011

Guilt? Oh, yes. I feel like we abandoned  Becky. We left her, and she died before we could get home. The vet had taken an x-ray to be sure she didn’t have an enlarged heart or a tumor, but nothing appeared to be wrong except arthritis. We had planned the trip a couple months before on the only available weekend for both my daughter and us until nearly Christmas, so we decided we’d make the trip. The neighbor was familiar to Becky–he’d taken care of her and the cats for years when we went away, which wasn’t often. He gave her many treats, as I had been doing, and spoiled her as we had, and Becky knew him well. The other neighbor who cared for the sheep and Emily, our Great Pyrenees guardian dog, also came in and gave her a treat when she came to take care of the field animals. I know Becky had company from people she knew well. It seemed she went quickly, of whatever it was. Those facts comfort me.

Our trip home was sombre. We arrived at nine p.m. in the dark, and started digging her grave. By 11 we’d completed her funeral by the light of the car headlights and various lights and lanterns we use in the barn.  I was a little surprised none of the neighbors came over to see what was going on.

Emily, our Great Pyrenees, said her farewell before we tucked Becky in beside the fence where she used to like to lie down, with Emily lying nearby on the other side of the fence. Emily went to her nose, very slowly and respectfully, then to her tail, then back to her nose, and stood silently for at least two minutes, her ears forward, and her head and tail down. This had been her companion, although they had never played together, since their roles were different. Emily would not have allowed Becky to come into her pasture with her sheep. Becky would have spooked the sheep if she came near them, and Emily was dedicated to her role as protector of the sheep. When Emily and the sheep were in the yard, Becky was inside the house. I was moved by Emily’s obvious sadness, and Dirk and I stood beside her and cried with her.

We wrapped Becky in the soft comforter that provided a cushion for her old joints, and put in some of her favorite dog food for her journey. She rests beside the path to the pasture, in a shaded spot she liked, that we see every day. We’ll always remember Becky, our rescued red merle Aussie who herded our sheep, and honored us with her love.



Filed under cats, community, dogs, dogs and cats, Grief, sheep, Writing

September garden; spinning workshop

September 1, 2011

The weather is cooling down a bit, and a great relief it is! I picked four cucumbers today, several tomatoes, more figs. We are getting just a little tired of figs, I admit, but I have a neighbor who wants some. Folks from church have come to pick, and two other friends, and I still have about four gallons in the freezer from last year, plus the overripe ones are going to jam about once a week. We haven’t bought any fruit for the past six weeks: figs are us!

I just sent off another story for a competition, a short essay.

The clover is springing up again after some rain this week, and pretty soon we’ll bring the sheep up to the front lawn again.

We had a spinning workshop last weekend, and now there are two more spinners out in the world! Through a new spinner from Fayetteville, we learned of a spinning shop there, and we plan to get together for a spinning reunion there before long.

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Filed under gardening, spinning workshops, Writing

Creative Writing program at CCCC

Aug. 8, 2011

I haven’t mentioned my writing lately. I’ve submitted articles to several magazines and a couple of contests the past couple months, and am enjoying using my writing again. My English degree has been gathering dust for years, and is finally getting tuned up. Chatham County Community College has a certificate program in creative writing, and I’ve taken several courses in that program. I might have an English degree, but creative writing was not available in my college, so this is a valuable exposure to ways to create and analyze my writing. When I get to 50 submissions, as Steven King says in his very helpful book, On Writing, I may expect to finally see a publication. I’m only at about 16 now, so I’ll keep you posted!

Most recent classes were Nancy Peacock’s all-day workshop, Melissa Deldridge’s “Creative Non-Fiction,” and Marjorie Hudson’s “Fiction Writing.” I’m now in Tim McKee’s “Write where you are.” These authors are delightful to listen to, have many solid writing techniques, and each one has vastly different experiences with writing, and each is very helpful.

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“Remembering New Hill” oral histories of the old South

August 7, 2010   It seems a lot has happened here since my last posting, so here we go! I’ve just completed the second edition of the oral history book with stories by the elders of New Hill, NC: Remembering New Hill. It will go on sale as of next week, as a benefit to the New Hill Community Association, as we try to prevent the huge sewage plant and incinerator planned by Cary and “Partners”–three other large municipalities–right in the downtown area of the New Hill community. Since I’m only about 1 1/2 miles away, as the crow flies, I’ll be getting the drift from this plant, also, and I already deal with ozone from the Raleigh municipality only about 30 miles away–so the particulate matter which wafts this way will not be an enhancement to my health, either. For those within 1/4 mile of the plant, it will be a serious problem–and that includes two churches, with cemeteries and playgrounds, and the homes of hundereds of people (75% African American). To learn more about the New Hill community, please see: If you’d like to buy a book, send your check for $25, which includes postage, to: New Hill Community Association,  P. O. Box 68 New Hill, NC 27562.

We had a spinning workshop recently, and now there are three more spinners in this complex world. I hope sincerely that they very much enjoy the craft, and keep learning as they continue to enjoy turning fiber of all sorts into delicious yarn. We’ve broken several temperature records already this summer, and we still have two more months of it to go. Most days I make two trips to the barn with three frozen bowls of water to put in the fresh water I put in the barn for the sheep, so at least for an hour or two there’s one cool place in the pasture, right in front of the fan. I’ve seen Deborah, who’s a very large sheep, Romney and Finn cross, with her chin in the ice water, or with cool water dripping off her chin, and her face right in front of the fan, just standing there, like she’s saying, “It doesn’t get any better than this!” I have yet to get the camera turned on in time to take her picture while she’s still standing there… Our sheep are up in the yard today, and early this morning went over the whole area provided to them, starting their picnic with clover and trumpet vine. The lawn looks much nicer, and the sheep thrive on these fresh greens. The summer has been so dry, they’ve mostly just had hay, with some grain.

The garden is growing nicely, we’re enjoying tomatoes and peppers, and the figs are just starting to ripen, so we’ll have plenty to share very soon. I usually pick 20 lb. every second day during August and the beginning of September. It never stops… I’ll make jam 🙂 Dirk’s family sent some lemons from their back yard in California, so I’ll have some sweet lemons to add…

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Filed under community, gardening, sheep, spinning workshops, Writing