Vicki Lane's Blog

February 18, 2017

The flowering quince is one of the first things I planted in the spring of 1976.  It was an offshoot of a bush down at what was the Freeman's and is now Justin and Claui's house and it has persisted and spread to the point that every year I hack at it, trying to control its spreading tendency. But those early buds and blooms -- ahh!

Many of my daffodils date back to that spring -- the gift of that same neighbor. Daffodils multiply into big clumps that need thinning and resetting every few years -- another thing for the to do list. Daffodils also seem to be impervious to the various critters that wipe out tulips -- alas for all the beautiful tulips I've planted over the years that are only a memory now.

Forsythia, or Yellow Bells as my neighbor called them, is another vigorous and hardy spreader. It's nice to bring inside for some early blooms and it also roots quite easily, making it easy to share with friends.

 So much in my garden that dates back to those early years was the gift of friends and neighbors, and I think of many of them, now gone, especially when the blooms return in the spring -- the eternal return.
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Published on February 18, 2017 23:00 • 13 views

February 17, 2017

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Published on February 17, 2017 23:00 • 2 views

February 16, 2017

I grew up reading Greek mythology and knew those gods and goddesses and their carrying on backwards and forwards. But somehow I was never much attracted to the tales of the Norse pantheon -- for one thing the names were so hard to pronounce (and there are so many of them, even for inanimate objects like Mjollnir and Gjallerhorn.) 
And though I was aware that my literary heroes C.S. Lewis and J.R. R. Tolkien were deeply influenced by these stories, I managed to avoid knowing much more than the bare details of Odin, Thor, Loki, and Valhalla.
When I read Gaiman's wonderful American Gods and realized that it was all about the Norse gods, albeit in modern form, I thought to myself that I really needed to pursue this.
But I didn't. 
Now the perfect introduction has come along. Gaiman's very personal story telling style introduces the Norse pantheon in manageable doses. And since I have the audio version with Gaiman doing the reading, now I know how those tricky words should be pronounced.
It's not a scholarly approach -- it's a story teller's version. Indeed, in the introduction Gaiman encourages readers to make these stories their own, to retell them -- just as they have been retold down the centuries. As I listened to the tales, I could remember echoes of them in various books and see parallels in other religions and cultures.
I adore listening to Gaiman read. And here he's made these stories his own -- the Norse deities speak, not in the high flown language some might ascribe to deities but in colloquial English -- British English with a variety of accents. 
I highly recommend this book on its own merits and because it's a great start -- I foresee doing some more reading, serious reading, to broaden my  understanding of this mythology. 
 HERE is an excellent review from the Washington Post that pretty much coincides with my own reactions.
Neil Gaiman image by Beowulf Sheehan)
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Published on February 16, 2017 23:00 • 1 view

February 15, 2017

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Published on February 15, 2017 23:00 • 3 views

February 14, 2017

Sometimes a man just needs to be off by himself . . .
Away from the bother of family life . . .
The screaming kids, the quarrelsome wife . . .
Out in nature on the wild river
That flows down to Hot Springs . . . 
And the hot tubs . . . and the hippie chicks
Just off the Appalachian Trail . . .
Maybe looking for a real man . . .
But the river keeps running, not stopping for no one . . .
Bound for Tennessee and beyond . . .
River joining river . . . carefree
Sliding through state lines . . .
Into the great Mississippi, and down to New Orleans . . .
Music and booze, all night long. . . 
And the women . . . wild and free as the river, they say . . .
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Published on February 14, 2017 23:00 • 15 views

February 13, 2017

One of my Facebook friends posted that she and her wife were considering different plans for Valentine's Day -- dinner out? dinner and a movie? Fancy restaurant? View and Brew? They decided to go with picking up a pizza locally, taking it home, and watching Netflix in their jammies.
I had to laugh -- something like that's our usual choice for celebrations. Tonight we're fixing a Surf 'n Turf -- filet mignons and crab cakes, along with stuffed baked potatoes and green beans and salad. With expresso chip ice cream for dessert. Quick, easy, and indulgent. And we'll be watching Netflix too -- probably MidSomer Murders - a series we've just gotten into. All that gorgeous English countryside and amazing character actors!
A little bubbly and the spicy scent of the Stargazer lilies that were an early Valentine present from John -- how could it be better?
Hoping that you treat yourself to something special!

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Published on February 13, 2017 23:00 • 13 views

February 12, 2017

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Published on February 12, 2017 23:00 • 4 views

February 11, 2017

This is what I'm working on now -- while I wait to hear the fate of my Civil War novel -- a loosely connected series of short stories set in my neighborhood or someplace similar. 
Here's the opening of The Carrion Crow:

Frances packs up her little overnight bag and takes three containers of her special chicken vegetable soup out of the freezer. She is making ready to go stay with Miz Petunia Shelton who is lingering on death’s doorstep past all reason. After two weeks of waiting by their mama’s bedside to be with her at the end, old Miz Shelton’s children have given up. They need to get back to their jobs and their own lives in Charlotte and Atlanta and Knoxville.  They all still work, though they are up in their sixties, and since their mama won’t die, they have called in Frances who used to be an aide in a nursing home and isn’t afraid to change a diaper or clean up a mess.
She looks around her little apartment for the Word Search book she is working on and for her bag of romance novels from the library. A job like this involves a lot of sitting and she wants to be sure to have some entertainment on hand. TV might bother the patient though Frances has been in houses where the TV runs night and day, a winking blue light and a low background noise that some folks get uneasy without. You never know just what you’ll find.
 This ain’t her first rodeo, sitting with the dying when their family couldn’t or wouldn’t do the job. There are some who call her the Angel of Death for her calm and gentle way with the dying one. There are others, and she could name names but won’t, who call her the Carrion Crow or maybe the Carrying Crow and say she does this job in hopes of carrying off bits and pieces that the dying person or their family might give her.
It’s true that folks have given her things. The dying, when they’re still in their right minds, are often eager to be shed of worldly possessions; maybe thinking on the Bible verses about the rich man and the camel and the eye of the needle,  they want to lighten themselves to ease the trip to the other side. Or maybe they just like to believe someone will remember them kindly when they look at the plate with the Praying Hands, or the little microwave that’s been in the box since the grandchildren sent it last Christmas, or the mouse-stained quilt top that’s lain at the back of the closet shelf for thirty years. Frances always accepts whatever it is in the spirit in which it’s given and finds a place in her life for these precious gifts, trying to remember to say a little prayer for the giver every day. 
Sometime she sits in her recliner (a gift from Juanita Sprinkle’s daughter after Juanita passed) and goes around the room, looking at all the mementos and naming and praying for each of the ladies she’s stayed with – and she only stays with ladies any more, after the bad time she had with old man Ray. Who would have thought a feeble old fool on his death bed could have had such nasty thoughts or been so bad to grab?
The Word Search is in the pocket of the recliner. She pulls it out, along with her red ballpoint pen, and drops it in the bag with the library books. Her only houseplant – a jade plant that the late Dessie Randall gave her -- has had its little drink and will do fine even if she’s gone a week or more.
Frances climbs into her cute little blue Ford Escort – the one that stated the whole Carrying Crow business when Patsy Ramsey left it to her in her will – starts it up and pats the steering wheel. “Thank you, Miss Patsy,” she says. “I hope you’re resting easy up there.”

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Published on February 11, 2017 23:00 • 3 views

February 10, 2017

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Published on February 10, 2017 23:00 • 3 views

February 9, 2017

The planters on the deck still have a few blooming violets, planted last September. They also have weeds. Aha!  A gardening task of just the right scope . . .

The day was mild and it was a pleasure to be out and have my fingers in the dirt, however briefly. 
And small wonder -- studies have shown a therapeutic value to messing about in the dirt. You see, there's this good bacteria in soil -- Mycobacterium baccae -- that has been found to trigger the release of serotonin. . . and serotonin is a mood elevator and anxiety decreaser. Plus, and this is no small thing, it seems to improve cognitive function.
I feel better already!

See more about this bacteria HERE -- it's being tested as a treatment for cancer, Crohn's Disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.

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Published on February 09, 2017 23:00 • 4 views