Vicki Lane's Blog

July 23, 2014


As I struggle with making sense of and writing about the divided loyalties (some of which remain strong today) in my region during the American Civil War, in the present day world I am trying to make sense of the current Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
My friends on Facebook are divided -- some pro-Israel, some pro-Palestinian, and the majority, if they have an opinion, keeping it to themselves. 
I have no answers, only questions.  I begin by reading about the founding of the state of Israel HERE and I am at once reminded of the shameful history of the Trail of Tears -- in my own American backyard. The white settlers, feeling threatened by the Native Americans (whose land holdings had continued to shrink due to various 'treaties',) decided that for the safety of the white settlers, the Native Americans had to go. To Oklahoma. Not quite a genocide --that had happened earlier, over and over again as the New World attracted more and more eager settlers, looking for riches or fleeing oppression.
The similarities to the Zionist Movement seem to me to be strong. I've heard people say that there are no Palestinans -- that there never was a Palestinian state. True enough, there was never an independent Palestine -- the area was a part of the Ottoman Empire until WWI and then it came under British rule, during which time, it was determined to establish a Jewish homeland. 
But there were people living there all this while, Jews, Muslims, and Christians. How can you say there were no Palestinians? 
Others say the Arab Palestinians left voluntarily or they sold their land. Some historians beg to differ. Read HERE for an account of the Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948 from the Arab point of view. Imagine being afraid to stay in your home, on the land your family had held for generations. Imagine being expelled at gunpoint. Like the Cherokees.
Please don't accuse me of anti-Semitism. Many Jews, Israelis, and even some Holocaust survivors deplore what's going on in Israel today, as illegal settlements usurp more and more of the bit of land supposedly allotted to the Palestinians. Yes, I'm anti-Zionist. I'm anti any country that declares a state religion and marginalizes non-believers -- an ironic step for Holocaust survivors and their children.
So many countries in the world have sad histories concerning the treatment of the indigenous inhabitants -- the US, most of Central and South America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa. . . and most look back on it as a shameful period in their history. It's so much easier to regret something in the past -- when all those native populations are comfortably in the minority -- than it is to admit error and set about righting wrongs.
The US has traditionally been a strong friend to Israel -- to the tune of many billions of dollars. According to an article from the Congressional Research Service HERE : "Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $121 billion (current, or non-inflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance. Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance, although in the past Israel also received significant economic assistance. Strong congressional support for Israel has resulted in Israel receiving benefits not available to any other countries . . . "
Self interest, of course, is at the heart of this -- politicians receive campaign donations from supporters of Israel -- including those Evangelicals who believe that the survival of Israel is a necessary prelude the The Final Days spoken of in the Bible. And, of course, the oil interests, who want a strong ally in the region.
The West has been meddling in the Middle East for centuries -- beginning with the Crusades and long before the establishment of Israel. Small wonder so many Arabs have become radicalized. Instead of mouthing inanities like "They hate us because they hate freedom," perhaps it would be a good idea to read a little history -- as told by both sides.
There are no easy answers. As one of my characters in the work in progress says of the Union/Confederate division, "Hit likely  goes back as far as Cain and Abel."
A knotty conundrum indeed. 

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Published on July 23, 2014 21:00

July 22, 2014

 A stroll through the Wildacres parking lot yielded this collection of bumper stickers -- mostly political, mostly of the Liberal/Progressive persuasion. I know there were some folks on the Right at the workshop but I didn't see any such bumper stickers.

Folks don't talk politics at Wildacres -- which is nice -- but I couldn't help drawing some conclusions from the results of this informal stroll/poll.

I'll leave it to you to draw your own.


















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Published on July 22, 2014 21:00

July 21, 2014

This book grabbed me and wouldn't let go. Sure, it was a rainy day but I had plans to do some writing of my own. I'd started reading it late one night -- because I always read before going to sleep -- and I didn't want to stop. Finally my eyes were telling me they needed rest  so I reluctantly set the book aside.
The next morning, I told myself, 'just one chapter. ' And managed to get my morning chores done before falling back into the world of wise-cracking, flawed, gutsy Keye Street -- former FBI profiler, current private eye. 
This is the third in a series by Amanda Kyle Williams but it absolutely works as a standalone.  Keye is called to help a small town sheriff's office in the search for the abductor and murderer of two girls -- the sheriff is almost too nice and too good-looking to be true but others in his office resent Keye's 'intrusion' to their territory and are not so welcoming.
It's a thriller and a classic who-done-it -- I was reading carefully, looking for clues -- is this a red herring? why did that guy do that? oh, this must be the one!  -- and ultimately I was fooled.  Fooled good. But it felt fair -- the clues had been there all along. . . 



Amanda is one of Kate Miciak's authors and I wrote about her first book HERE when Kate sent me a copy to blurb. But I bought this book on my own because I wanted to see what Keye was up to. Wow and double wow! 
I highly recommend this book --  lots of small town ambiance (but it's NOT a cozy,) fascinating fully drawn characters,  really wonderful sly humor, and a twisty plot that will keep you guessing . . . and reading on and on, if you're anything like me.

Check out Amanda's web site HERE for more about Don't Talk to Strangers. 

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Published on July 21, 2014 21:00 • 6 views

July 20, 2014




 After several days of beautiful soaking rain and blissfully cool temperatures, it was nice to see the sun again and snap a few pictures before the clouds rolled in again. Mid-July is normally our hottest time and this respite has been glorious.








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Published on July 20, 2014 21:00

July 19, 2014


At Wildacres I found this mysterious arrangement at the base of a tree in the parking lot.

My first thought was of the Yunwi Tsundi -- the Cherokee Little People I've written of before. 

Then I decided it might be a charm of the sort my friend Byron Ballard (Asheville's Village Witch) works. The wrapped sticks could be prayer sticks; the pretty rocks, barred off by twigs, could represent wishes being kept safe . . .
What do you think?

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Published on July 19, 2014 21:00 • 1 view

July 18, 2014

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Published on July 18, 2014 21:00 • 1 view

July 17, 2014



I was out back planting a hosta when this narrow fellow (as Emily Dickinson called a snake in one of her poems) came from somewhere below the house, and climbed onto the rock wall. I hurried inside to get my camera  . . .
He seemed to have a mission and slid quickly along the wall . . .

He (or she) is a black rat snake, close to six feet long. We are happy to have these critters around to deal with rodents . . . but would prefer they stayed out of the chicken house. (They are fond of eggs too.)  
Completely ignoring the paparazzi, snake keeps going. . .

A beautiful blue tinge to the black . . .

Almost at the other end of the house now, I decide that snake is probably heading for the green house. We often find shed snakeskins in there.  
A snake with a plan . . .

Just keep going . . . 
Turn left at the gate . . . Ooze down . . .

A quick slide across the grass and there's the greenhouse . . .

I'd weeded this bed just the day before and while I really like these snakes, I prefer not to put an unsuspecting hand on one. . .

Where is snake? There on the window sill, looking for a way in . . .

And, thanks to a tear in the screen, snake is in. . .

The greenhouse is mostly empty of plants now . . .

Sometimes these snakes twine themselves through the trellis/shelf to remove their old skins . . . 
But this snake has something else in mind . . .
Into a hole in the wall he goes. It's probably a mouse hole and I expect that snake will wreak havoc among the mice.


I just need to remind John to keep the door that leads from his computer room to the greenhouse closed.


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Published on July 17, 2014 21:00 • 1 view

July 16, 2014

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Published on July 16, 2014 21:00 • 1 view

July 15, 2014


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One of the pleasures of Wildacres is hearing fellow faculty members read from their work. Marjorie Hudson's beautiful reading of  "New World Testament" convinced me that I needed her short story collection . . . as if the title and cover art hadn't already been singing their siren song.
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The 'accidental birds' referred to are the newcomers to the Carolinas -- whether today or in 1720.  The stories, rich in detail, characterization, and poetic imagery, put me in mind of Lee Smith, of Anne Tyler, of Tony Earley . . . but why should I natter on? Suffice it to say, I really loved these stories and recommend them to you.
Below is more praise plus a link to the title story. Just read it [image error]
STORIES PEN/Hemingway Honorable MentionNovello Literary Award Finalist
Perpetual Folly’s 2011 Best Story Collection of the Year and SIBA Nominee, Best Short Fiction“Like novels in nutshells, Alice Munro style”–Doris Betts“Magical scenes, magical effects, vivid dreams, mysterious events. Birds sing through several stories, and by the end of the novella, there’s been a symphony of mockingbirds, whippoorwills, sparrows, frogs, dogs, bees, butterflies and more. Each lost soul connect to the natural world for healing and solace.”
– Deirdre Parker Smith, Salisbury PostIn Hudson’s fictional Ambler County, some of the characters know each other well, some drive by and wave, and some pass unaware they are connected by place and time. Hudson has captured the moment when rural life was still dominant in the Carolinas and able to charm a stranger into staying.Like birds blown off course in a storm, landing in an unfamiliar country, the characters in these stories need a place to roost, somewhere to settle long enough to learn the secrets of their own hearts.Read the title story, published in  The Literarian at the Center for Fiction Praise for Accidental Birds:
“Here is a field guide to the human species in transition….The three longest of these splendid stories are like novels in nutshells, Alice Munro style”–Doris Betts, author of Souls Raised from the Dead“For any Southerner who’s ever wondered what it’s like to be a Yankee transplant, read Accidental Birds of the Carolinas… –  read more at North Carolina Literary Review Online, No. 21“Hudson must believe in magic, and uses it in her writing, creating magical scenes, magical effects, vivid dreams, mysterious events,” says Deirdre Parker Smith of the Salisbury Post. “Birds sing through several stories, and by the end of the novella, there’s been a symphony of mockingbirds, whippoorwills, sparrows, frogs, dogs, bees, butterflies and more. Each lost soul connects to the natural world for healing and solace.”“They arrived by Mustang, by marriage, by hitchhiking. The characters in Marjorie Hudson’s story collection, Accidental Birds of the Carolinas, have strayed — like vagrant birds — from familiar territory to reach a transfiguring moment in their lives. . . . Many of Hudson’s narratives explore themes of family — found, invented or inherited — navigating the often suffocating nature of belonging, or the catastrophes of reinvention.” — Kathryn Savage, Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune
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Published on July 15, 2014 21:00 • 2 views

July 14, 2014

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Published on July 14, 2014 21:00