sea change

So one minute I am sweltering on Alan's porch, praying for a breeze under the clear blue, and the next minute I am looking through Pam's door watching a Northeast front blow in.
Weather is amazing.
And, sadly, getting more amazing with every passing year. See this interactive feature on how much hotter it is in your home town during your lifetime.


photographers' night out

Keri Pickett was in town from Minneapolis, and Donna Ferrato and Ellery were around, so we gathered at 98 for a repast. It was so hot in NYC that a cold collation plus gin and tonics seemed like the best idea. Donna was happy to demonstrate her mastery of chopsticks with the sushi. And Ellery was kind enough to demonstrate her mastery of the scissors by trimming my hair.


bathing beauties

My father took this picture of my mother, barely 17, with his Brownie. When he gave me the print, he said, “Every daughter should have a picture like this of her mother.” I am still puzzling over that. Every daughter should have a picture of her mother as a teenager, newlywed, object of desire? What about every son? He died three years ago  at 94, and he can’t tell me. I can’t show it to her, either; she died almost a year ago at almost 91. I am glad to have my own Botticelli, a testament to my mother’s beauty, and my father’s ability to see it. And it reminds me that old people are also young.
    Meanwhile, my mother’s youngest granddaughter, 17, was in my apartment recently and noticed a resemblance. “We’ve got the same elbows,” she texted. I encouraged her to restage the pic. The main difference is not in appearance, but in attitude—perhaps based on the fact that my niece’s picture was taken by her older sister rather than her newlywed husband.



horror show

There were potions and near poisons. Cauldrons bubbling and casting of spells. Wands and wizards. It was more like a Halloween party than a birthday party. But it was, in fact, Isaac Bright's fifth birthday party. By request, no children were invited other than his sister. Though what he lacked in children, he made up in relatives: three grandmothers, a grandfather, an aunt and an uncle, along with other favored guests. Also by request, a Harry Potter theme with Lord Voldemort as the focus. He and his sister have listened to their mother read the first five of the Harry Potter books at about the rate of one a month.
Every attendee received the Dark Mark on the left forearm. And a wand.

These were incredibly nasty jelly beans. I spit out the rotten egg one. Avoided the vomit.

Lord Voldemort was consumed almost in entirety. He looks evil but was tasty.


real jungle

Rendalia Motorway, Talladega, Ala.
Kudzu was apparently introduced as an ornamental to shade southern porches in the late 1800s. In the early 20th century, the US government promoted its use to cure Dust Bowl erosion and provide cattle fodder, paying farmers to plant it and giving away some 85 million seedlings. Now it is considered invasive. Kudzu is very difficult to contain. What you see aboveground is almost matched by the root system underneath. It is typically confined to open roadsides, however, rarely killing back more than the outer trees of a forest.
   It certainly has taken over the road to Jan's house in Alabama recently. There is so much more of it than there was even last year. But then, it has been rather toasty on the planet this year.


welcome to the jungle

 The plants managed to thrive on their journey through 15 states in less than a week, though the dracaena is a bit battered. Now we'll see how they do with city life.
   I plunged in immediately, waiting for my great parking spot to be legal, unpacking with Debby's help and going out for oysters and martinis with Ed. Great to be home.



B loads the dragon.
The plantmobile. Now in New York City!
The plantmobile left Alabama on Saturday, Georgia on Sunday, and West Virginia today. It is now home in New York in a valid parking space. Who travels with a rosemary plant, two coleus, a dracaena and three bitter melon sprouts along with one swordbean? (Only the coleus and rosemary traveled outside.) Also arrived in NYC with one hard-boiled egg, one kiwi, one banana, one watermelon, two tomatoes (sorry Leonard) and a 12-pack of Stella. Oh, and a Christmas dragon named Buddy. That's what's in the cardboard box. But more on that later.


sweet home

Jan maneuvers with her safety noodle.

Having a big time in Alabama!
Jan and I did our toes, we went swimming at a neighbor's pool, Jan cooked, and we have had several entertainments. Seeing my cousins this evening.
Today, Talladega. Manana, Madison.


coleus and crepe myrtle to kudzu and cotton

The coleus rode outside and did not enjoy the drive.
Them old cotton fields back home. Left the Goose in the plantmobile. Carrying the coleus (mailbox decor), attempted transplants of swordbean and just-sprouted bitter melon (karela), and the dracaena, which barely fit in the back seat and waved at me every time I went over a bump or tuned on the AC.  The dracaena  also made it somewhat difficult to switch to the right hand lane, which didn't become a problem until Birmingham, Ala., where I saw more cars in two minutes than I'd seen in the two months prior in Missouri.


last days of summer

Duck and cover
 I had been wan ting to take a picture of this place for a long time. I wanted the kids in the pool, the folk barbecuing and sitting on the trailer steps, the laundry on the line. But I didn't have an opening until they decided to hold a yard sale. So Todd and Carly, my houseguests, and Dianne and I went with that excuse. We met Christa, who let me take a picture of the pool and showed us her bunnies. I asked, "Are they for pets of for meat?" She said, "Both." I did not tell this to animal lover Dianne or tender-hearted vegetarian Carly. 

Snuggle bunny.
Christa checks out the shoppers.


the reveal, 2018

Not as much progress as I had hoped. Particularly when you realize that the footprint is only 16 by 22, and the bathroom takes out a hunk of that. I basically got two walls mostly done. Didn't get to the bathroom or the floor, either. I like the color scheme though. The shelves ate up a lot of time, but it was worth it. Like the new dishwasher too. And I fell in love with the styrofoam it came packed in. How many places do you see it used?
Doing a round of entertaining before I hit the road on Tuesday. Houseguests tonight.


the slab

An inadvertent self portrait wrecks a beautiful scene.
 It's not the slab itself I like so much, although it has a certain concrete charm, but the road that traverses the slab. One of the first things I do when I get to Missouri is to drive that road. And one of the last things too. I guess I have one trip more tomorrow before heading out on Tuesday. But yesterday the timing and the light were perfect.
My favorite tree is, sadly, on its way out.

David at the slab


evening in the ozarks

 I don't usually post sunset pictures (because trite) but once in a while I'm wowed. Thomasville on one recent evening put on quite a show, with a beautiful sky and roping practice—with a fake calf towed by a four wheeler. When I pulled up in my truck, several people came over to see who I was and what I was doing there. They chilled when they found out I was a neighbor (and which neighbor).


politicks is local

Onward and upward. This is Missouri, where Trump won with 20 percent of the vote and Sen. Claire McCaskill is a lone, endangered Democrat. Her fate (and maybe ours) will be decided in November. The big primary race here in the West Plains, Mo., area is for circuit judge. My cronies are supporting Melissa Stewart. I don't vote here and thus don't follow too closely, but you can't but note that a lot of women are running. Stephanie Kernodle, for instance, and the thought of Kernodle in a kerfuffle. . .


brunch with punch

 We foregathered at 11:30 am. We parted around 8 pm. In between we ate two types of gazpacho, shrimp ceviche, peach and cherry salad, watermelon surprise and quiche. And, oh yeah, the lemon-raspberry-blackberry (? post Champagne and wine and etc) sorbet-granita.
  The guest list included a former owner/publisher/editor of the local daily newspaper, a rancher, an AIDS activist, a former judge, and the town's only writers of reknown, Katie (Dahlia's Gone) Estill and her husband Dan (Winter's Bone) Woodrell of country noir fame.
  We all had a swell time talking to people (of about the same certain age) with evolved vocabularies.


selfie in the acka emma

 The upstairs of the Goose was untouched by the flood. Had I been here, I would have been out on the porch being rescued by boat. The porch now overlooks a concrete slab where Bear's house used to be and a lot of greenery where other houses used to be. Bonfires and bulldozers and dump trucks ply the neighborhood with the remains of Thomasville. But a fair number of people are rebuilding. Some have gifted land or house shells to younger relatives or others who have the energy to start over. Me, I think this is the last time I can renovate. I just can't paint any more!


country life

Always love birds on a wire—even if they are always starlings.
    It's August. I just realized I have to leave this country pretty soon. With my painting of the Goose downstairs only about half done. How can it take so long to paint one room? And not even beginning the bathroom. I guess part of it is it's hard to paint and live in the same 16- by 22-foot space. And part of it is I'm a shitty painter who hates painting.


virginia's dream

Virginia got all dressed up—"with a necklace and everything"—to get her picture made for her new driver's license, but the DMV wanted an eye test. Whoops! No renewal until she gets new glasses.
   On her way back, she saw me in the yard and stopped. We sat on the tailgate of my truck, since I had mopped myself out of the house.
   "I had this dream about you last night, that you drove me to New York City." She had already told me that she would love to visit and see the Statue of Liberty, the World Trade memorial, the Empire State building. I'm sure they wouldn't measure up to the Bible theme park in Tennessee (the one with dinosaurs coexisting with people) where, she said, "I learned so much history." Sigh. But anyway her husband, who calls her "Baby," doesn't want to go to the city. I told her I could drive her one way, but she'd have to fly the other. She wondered how much that would cost.
   We chatted, and she gave me a hug as she left, saying, "I just love visiting with you."