redbuds abud

When the redbuds bloom, I think of the Oklahoma City bombing. They're blooming, too, on the site where 126 people were killed by a homegrown terrorist 21 years ago. I was there on the April 19 anniversary when memorial redbuds were planted, doing a story with Sasha Nyary and Derek Hudson for Life. In search of the militia culture that created people like bomber Timothy McVeigh, Ed Barnes, then at Time, found his way to the Ozarks and to Frank Martin, editor of the West Plains Daily Quill  in Missouri. He introduced me to Frank. I then did a story about Frank for the long dead George magazine, rediscovered the Ozarks, where I grew up, and bought an old gas station. This is Frank and Dianne Martin's redbud tree, as a storm rolls across the land. Full circle.


i once was lost

Lost in the Ozarks again
I wanted to see a man about some wood. Actually I was hoping to see his sister, who has a beard, according to rumor. But no one was home, so I meandered around on dirt roads, up hill and down dale, looking for a 4,000-acre organic ranch. Didn't find. Got completely lost. Went in circles. Saw many streams. Finally came out on a road I recognized. In my wanders, I did see this wonderful ruin of a farmhouse.
In other news
Milena Pastraich, daughter of my friend Peter, got an Emmy nomination for shooting The Amazing Song, a Sesame Street song about kids with autism. Check it out.
Sort of on the opposite end of the, ahem, spectrum, for those of you following or thinking of joining Donna Ferrato's Erotic Eye workshop series, the next one is in Berlin. Info here.
Can't wait for the wind farm on Block Island, though still not sure how it will affect my astronomical bills. They have already dug up Crescent Beach to lay cable. The beach is purported to be one of the best beaches in America. You can vote here.
And, back to kids,  toddlers kill more people than terrorists. The facts.


a man of many media

For cat lovers everywhere. Found art.

Reproductive art: a new press from the West Plains Daily Quill
At Washington University, Bill Dugan got his masters in sculpture, I think, but printmaking has been a sustaining love. That and road kill. Sometimes he combines the two, making prints with dead birds, discarded wedding dresses and desiccated insects. He is now doing prints of a Monroelike face for a pop art show and finding inspiration for his paintings in Pierre Bonnard, an artist he never appreciated back in college days. One's tastes mature. Though not, apparently when it comes to dead animals.
Heart art: A portrait of daughter, artist Jessica Rath and her mother, Ann.


the usual easter rant

Just about every year (Feel free to check back! I've been doing this dumb blog for my 20 readers for over a decade now! Not that you would know they ever look at the thing by the number of comments!), I go on a rant about Easter. To me it is a myth pasted on top of a fertility festival, and that anyone could believe in the literal version of this myth is inconceivable to me.
   The underlying truths are deeply meaningful to humans, however. We all need to believe that resurrection, rebirth and rejuvenation are possible. And they seem particularly possible in spring, when birds are nesting and seeds are being planted and we are all shaking off the torpor of winter. So let's go for it! Start all over again! Break the mold! Take the egg as your model!


more local color

Well actually, more local black and white.


the people you fly over

Preacher and wife dining at the 11 Point Cafe, Thomasville, Mo.

The sexism rack at a gas station, Birch Tree, Mo.
I always get into it here, but this election season is particularly bad. I was verging on real ire  recently, with people I like. Summer is going to be really rough, what with the conventions and all. I don't want to call out people but feel guilty listening to racism and prejudice. Arguing doesn't change anyone's mind—especially with the Internet echo chambers. Just pisses them off. What is my moral obligation?


night of the eclipse

Penumbral lunar eclipse begins. Not sure what that is.
Let's round up a few things. For starters, there's Hannah's new herbal product, Balance drops. Might be needful around an ordinary full moon, never mind an eclipse. You can read about them here and you can buy them on Amazon here.
Chien-Chi Chang has won a grant from Magnum (he is a Magnum photographer) to continue his project about Burma. Time Magazine mentions the others who won.
Adam Cohen got a big play in the NYT Book Review for his book Imbeciles.
And speaking of the full moon and imbeciles, a search on Tindr revealed maybe three prospects within a 35-mile radius including this available dude below. For hilarious Tindr chats check this Instagram site. Me and Heath didn't get that far. . .
On offer in the Ozarks for the right girl!


morning in T'ville

The sacred and the propane

The workplace (when it's cold out)

View of Main Street. Cafe, left, Bear's house, right.


lost in the ozarks again

There is a small matter of a leak at about a gallon every six hours or so. But, hey, I have water! And the floor is cement! And I can take a shower! And it's not snowing like it is in the east, though there was a bit of frost on the pumpkin this ayem. Or rather on the dead armadillo which increasingly resembles a pumpkin. The spriea and forsythia and daffodils are blooming, as is the beautiful magenta thorny bush that I think might be flowering quince.
   In T'ville news, the cafe across the street (visible through window) is still open but all the houses nearby are empty and ready for colonization. No Bear sightings. The other former gas station-cum-antique store in town is also now vacant.
   But the Goose is honkin!


the bug report

Armadillo was not armored against death.

Bevy of ladybugs halos every light.
It's always an adventure opening up the Goose for the season. One year it was a dead squirrel; last year it was a blue-tailed skink; this year it's a dead armadillo. But at least the armadillo did not lose its life behind my bed like the squirrel. (Where are those damn turkey buzzards when you need them?) Sometimes it's a plague of flies or wasps. This time, it's a pestilence (or bevvy?) of ladybugs.
   But thank heavens Virginia cleaned up this spring so it's only the shower of recently hatched ladybugs. No brown recluse spiders, no mold, no fuss nor muss. Windows polished. All I have to do is get out the vacuum and suck those little spotted damsels down.
  And the forsythia and spirea and flowering quince are all abloom. Beauty next post.


blasting through

Sunset over Columbus, Ohio. Now safe and sound at the Goose.


yes we have no bananas

Top o' the mornin' to ye. Yes, it's the first St. Patrick's Day since the discovery that we're more Italian than Irish. Well, the kids are more Irish than Scottish, it turns out, so we got that generation covered.
   I think I'll celebrate with a new round of "What's in the Truck?"
   Actually, there is nothing much in the truck yet, but there will be in about 45 minutes when I take off for springtime in Missouri, hoping not to encounter winter on the way as I blast past Pittsburgh.


going into battle, er, ballet

 It used to be Hannah in the pink tights and the tight hair, facing the mean girls and sometimes the mean teachers in Discipline Class, or, as it was also known, ballet. And now Hannah is helping her daughter suit up for dance, and it's Camilla hanging out at the barre. Camilla really wanted to do it—as did Hannah—so what can you say but okay and pray she never goes on toe.
Oh, and Hannah's take on work-life balance.


big doings

The Block Island brothers

Town Beach
Yes, that's my ex-husband and ex brother-in-law—or, as I call them, family—keeping track of the installation of a cable from the first ocean wind farm to be constructed in the United States. The cable is going to run from the ocean up to Town Beach, then along Corn Neck Road and up Beach Avenue—to the power company? Not sure. Anyway, it's quite the excavation.


The famous kitchen table has a new companion, a large leather wing chair that dwarfs everything else in the room. I bought it for Ed (and his dog Prince) who will henceforth be known as King Ed. Hopefully he will buy a newspaper so he can lean back and snore gently with the paper over his face, rather than heading for the couch like he usually does. He has not seen it as yet, which caused us to have our first fight a few days ago. (The fight also involved, as usual, my never going to Brooklyn.)
  If it seems a bit acharacteristic of a person who does not own a single piece of new furniture (other than beds) to buy an expensive, brand new chair, you are right. As it happens, there is a very simple explanation: I am broke. I always seem to start spending money when I don't have any. I can't explain it. Maybe you can.


round em up

Great NYC photograph by Debby Gobert
Adam Cohen was interviewed about his book Imbeciles on Fresh Air. There was also a review yesterday in the NYT.
The guy who founded the Block Island Times talks about the history of the paper and the new ownership.
A surgeon I spent time with doing a story on a girl who had a multivisceral transplant (she died) has just done the first uterine transplant in the US. Any guys signed up yet?
My brother Ben has done the music for a documentary about uranium poisoning, Hot Water, The trailer here.
Hannah has done a quiz for Calm-a-Mama called Which Drops Do You Need? Try it! According to Vogue, flower essences are very trendy—and fair game!
Donna Ferrato takes over Instagram this week with Visura for International Women's day or week.
Upcoming, for those not afraid of zika, Chien-Chi Chang does a workshop in Brazil.


bad cats

Agent Diabolique, with a piece of my hide in his mouth.Was this a "righteous bite?"

Some of you may remember the devil cat who tore into me and ripped off my skin (see above) in Otra Rubia's aerie. As always when I have to do with cats (or really, most animals), I am being, ahem, hounded by Attourney Nose Bite Kitty (or, as he styles himself, being French, Nez Bite Kitty, Esq.) Following is his latest missive in translation:
Dear Madame: It is I again, Nose Bite Kitty Esq.:  Regarding your post of Feb.1: By inciting our agent Le Diabolique to bite you, you have inadvertently as they say in your country, "blown his cover." Agent Diabolique, a member of our agency,  has been working in combination with the French police and your FBI.  Posing as a house pet, he is part of a large sting operation attempting to infiltrate and expose the illegal importation of big cats into the United States. These "fat cat" Americans seem all too fond of big cats themselves, and more than one has been arrested so far. Luckily for you, your friend Otra Rubia has been cleared of any involvement. We would like to inform you that both the French police and the FBI consider the injury you experienced to be a  righteous bite," much like a "righteous shoot." If you are contemplating assault charges, we advise you to lick your wounds and remain quiet.*

*For the original French—"Chère Madame, Il est je encore, Nez Bite Kitty Esq .: En ce qui concerne votre poste de 1 er février: En incitant notre agent Le Diabolique à vous mordre". . . etc etc etc—please inquire in the comments section.


the great santana

The feisty Ana Santana

The story of the brake repair was long. It involved a pregnant daughter, a missed ferry, a rain storm, a late-night rescue, a dismissive garage owner and many tears. Oh, and racism.
   Ana told the story over and over to anyone who would listen, about how the woman at the repair shop gave her an estimate, didn't finish the job on time, never told her the charges were going to be higher and wouldn't return her car without cash on the headgasket. Ana believed she was a mark because she is originally from the Dominican Republic, and people in Rhode Island are prejudiced against people with accents. (She is absolutely correct: They are. She has had people sneer at the Latin music she plays in her earphones, try to kick her out of her apartment for having too many family members to dinner and suffered countless slights.)
   Even Ana's family got sick of the story, but she wanted everyone to hear. It was the principle of the thing. And finally she got her day in court.


old style

Remember film and telexes and typewriters and carbon sets and pay phones?
Adam Cohen on the old-style research for his book

A few people at the demonstration outside of the Supreme Court carried one of these old-style recording devices, but not many. By the time you wrote down a quote or a crowd estimate in your notebook, the tweet or the video or the photograph was already on line. And by the time Whole Woman's Health had stated its case against the restrictive "trap" abortion clinic laws in the state of Texas, the hundreds of people at the rally had posted up selfies with their signs and voices ("Repro Rights! Repro Rights!") and spread their messages far and wide: Keep abortion legal and accessible. Keep the government out of my uterus. A woman has to be able to control her own destiny.
   Adam Cohen has just published a book about perhaps the most egregious example of the Supreme Court invading women's uteri, Imbeciles (Penguin Press). "Three generations of imbeciles are enough," read the blistering 1927 decision by Oliver Wendell Holmes that endorsed the sterilization of some 60,000 people for being "feeble-minded" and gene-pool buzzkills. In the judgement, that is, of a bunch of arrogant, powerful white men.

And really, what has changed here? Arrogant, powerful white men are still trying to tell the little women what's best for them. Today, however, at the moment there are three women on the Supreme Court also making their voices heard. Let's just hope that old-style justice does not prevail. For if it does, old-style abortion—already on the rise in states like Texas and Louisiana—will also prevail.

One girl asked a faraway clinic what she might use from the kitchen to cause abortion.


a journalist's life

You leave home and go somewhere else, by plane, train or automobile. Train.
You check into your hotel, motel, or a friend's place. Hotel. Near train station.
You explore the territory. Note TV crew doing standup in front of the Supreme Court.


a day in the life

That's a swamp chestnut oak. Oh, and yeah, the Supreme Court building.
 At least one will endure. I will report on everything soon. But after a quick 24 hours in DC, I must to bed.


dreams of my ancestors

I had a dream. I had a dream that I was not a total white person. I was sure of it. I had my Cherokee, African, Jewish heritage all figured out, I knew where it came from and how it got there and how boastful I would be.
And then I tested my DNA, and my bubble burst.
Donald Drumpf would probably marry me if I was 45 years younger. 
The wackiest it gets is a hint of Indian/South Asian, a hint of the Caucasas/Middle East (you dawg, Ghengis Kahn!) and Finland—Finland?
But I read this elementary explanation of inheritance at ancestry.com and realized (duh) that since you inherit only 50 percent of your DNA from each parent, your siblings don't necessarily inherit the same exact 50 percents. So I have dreams for them, if I myself am doomed.
Note to siblings: I can get you a DNA spit test for only $79!