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Tag Archives: Chronicles

Making a Home

There’s no secret that I enjoy housekeeping and making a home. Sure, there’s the budgeting, window washing, scheduling maintenance, grocery shopping, washing clothes, cleaning house, making the nest inviting and cozy – all those sorts of things. Yet, there’s more to it.

One of the aspects of homemaking I like is to make attractive table settings and meal presentations. Why save Aunt Sally’s good china or Grandma’s silverware for only Christmas and Easter? Every day should be special. That’s not to say that occasionally I don’t whip out the Dixie® paper plates, paper napkins, and plasticware. I do. But more times than not, table settings are non-disposable.

We were having Chinese sweet and sour chicken for lunch one day this past week. First, I made a pot of green tea in my earthenware teapot from Poland. For napkins, I took out the lipstick-red linen ones that I hand embroidered. They have an Oriental flair to them, including the stylized letter “M” and the pink cherry blossom. Since forks and knives wouldn’t do for this special lunch, I added our personal, fancy chopsticks:

And you know what? It made the Chinese carry-out my beau picked up all that more special.


©2017 Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.

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Passport, Please.

I had just put down a few freshly washed russet potatoes on the cutting board and was stretching for the utility knife, when my beau yanked open the kitchen door.

“Well, that was quick.” I hadn’t expected him for a few more minutes, since he was out to get the mail.

“I didn’t go yet,” he said, practically breathless. “Come with me.”

And out the door I went:

The turtle was huge, bigger than my smaller dog. We guessed it weighed about 30 pounds.

✿●▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬●✿

As my beau was heading out for his walk, he found the turtle sitting in the middle of the street intersection, balled up inside its shell. Worried someone would run over the little guy, my beau bravely picked him up, and walked back in the hot sun to our cottage.

After a few phones calls to the veterinarian and then to the Wildlife people, we learned that it’s preferred that any found turtle be left as is, since it mostly likely is heading somewhere. Good. Now we know.

Yet the funniest part of this story is the conversation, or rather, the questions the Wildlife person asked:

Where was the turtle headed? Sorry, we don’t know. It was sitting in the middle of the intersection.

What was it doing? Just lying there, hiding in its shell.

Was it scared?  Maybe.  It was hard to tell since it was hiding in its shell.

Was it going anywhere? Well, we didn’t ask to see its passport, so we don’t know.

We put the turtle on the lawn. Quickly (yes, quickly), he scurried over to the other side of the street and headed back towards the intersection. We looked in that area about a half hour later, and he was nowhere to be found.

©Susan Marie Molloy, and all works within.


T-Rex and the Floating Orbs

In my travels, some of the most unusual sights pop up when I least expect them. Mostly, as I go on my merry way, I’m looking for something else, or nothing at all, and wham! there it is.

On a tranquil country road, in the late morning one day, ol’ Tyrannosaurs Rex appeared. Well, it was more like his bleached white skeleton standing frozen in a front yard.

“T-Rex and the Floating Orbs”
(c)2017 Susan Marie Molloy Original Photograph

What become more intriguing were the two floating bluish orbs behind the skeleton when I looked at the photograph later that day. Cretaceous Period meets Preternatural Phantasms.

Logic tells me the orbs are reflections of moisture from the car window.

Or are they?—

©2017 Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.


Heaven on the Shelves (Part 1)

Taking a break from work one morning, my beau and I headed out on a hunting trip. This type of hunting was looking for bargains at garage sales so that we can save money in furnishing our cottage.

We spent the morning up one driveway and down others, buying a little something useful here and there. I got a copy of “The Widow of the South” by Robert Hicks for barely a song, and I was happy. One can never have, nor read, too many books, I thought.

On our way back to our cottage, my beau and I stopped at a used book store. This was our first venture there, and as soon as we stepped across the threshold, we were in a paradise. Heavens, I don’t know where to start.

At the top of one shelf, I saw a book I’ve been meaning to get, one that’s been on my Goodreads list for well over three years. Yes, that looks good, but I’ll keep looking—for now.

Rounding the corner was a double stack of Perry Mason paperbacks. That was a goldmine for me, and I picked up a couple.   All right!

Around the corner and down another aisle, there was a small hardcover book. My heart leapt when I saw the author, and I carefully turned the pages.

I’ll write about that book and what was in it, when I return to this subject next week. “If books could talk—”, is a memorable saying.

I say, “they do.”

©2017 Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.


The Effigy

Movie still from “The Mummy” (1932) with Boris Karloff and Zita Johann.

I reached to close the blinds in my dining room. Twice I looked at the house across the street. I moved a little to the left, my eyes fixed on the shape. There, in the window, between the blinds’ slats, I spied a distinct silhouette of broad shoulders and a head wrapped in ragged cloth.   A mummy!  An effigy of a mummy hanging from the ceiling! Or was it the twilight’s light and shadows playing tricks on my eyes?

My beau, seeing me with a puzzled look, surveyed the window across the street.

“Yep, it looks like a mummy.” He rubbed his chin. “Maybe it’s her dead husband.”

Life continued. Summer turned to fall. Winter melted into spring. And the effigy dangled in the window.

One late afternoon, I happened to see the neighbor from across the street with the mummy in her window.  She was at the end of her driveway in her leopard robe, white slacks, brown fuzzy slippers, and dark sunglasses. I called to her and walked over. After some general pleasantries, I asked about the hanging effigy in her window.

“Oh, that!” she whispered. She turned a pasty-white, bony hand towards her window. “It’s a North African fertility statue. It’s bolted to a post on the floor.”

And so, my inquisitiveness was satisfied. There was no dead, mummified husband hanging from the ceiling.

Or so she said.

©2017 Susan Marie Molloy and all works in between.


Language

Our language is beautiful in many ways: It’s flexible, lush with foreign root words, and there are thousands of words to convey our thoughts – so why should we debase it with vulgarity?

Today I spoke with one of my colleagues in Miami. During our conversation, he gave me one of the nicest compliments I received in the past month: He thought my use of rarely-heard words made our conversation so enjoyable, that it was “fun, in a retro way” to hear my playful use of clean language such as “swell” and “o-kee-do-kee” during our dialogue. In fact, he laughed, saying he hadn’t heard those types of words in over thirty years. For me, it’s been par for the course over a lifetime.

I grew up in a house where my parents and extended family didn’t use swear words. None. And yet, we kids received a rich education in words and usage. Yiddish words and expressions were such a norm, that I didn’t realize their origin until high school. (“His spiel is schmoozing with the schmo down the street.”) Even hip lingo made it under our roof (“Slap me five and give me some skin!”), and expressions dating from the 1920s (“She’s a hot tomato, but he’s a wet blanket!”) was the norm. A “fag” was a cigarette, and a “yo-yo” was someone who was out of touch, or crazy.

To this day, I use much of this slang, depending upon the situation. When I know someone well, and when the environment is relaxed, I’ll use it. Conversely, when I’m in a more formal setting, my words are more decorous. In fact, it holds true that when I’m speaking in certain circumstances, I allow my obvious combination of a Chicago accent-Polish dialect to bloom; yet in more formal settings, I tone it down.

I won’t use vulgarity in any setting, particularly swear and curse words. I cringe at hearing them, and I will stop reading when I see they are loaded within an article or in comments. I find that speaking without swearing projects a happier, positive mood and response. The other way – no.

Our language is too beautiful and the words too vast to slip in expletives every third word or so –

And I believe it’s more refreshing, too.

©Susan Marie Molloy, and all works within.


BOOK REVIEW: “Social Life in Old Virginia before the War” By Thomas Nelson Page

Social Life In Old Virginia Before the War.jpg“Social Life in Old Virginia before the War,” written by Thomas Nelson Page, is a well-written memoir of sorts of life in antebellum Virginia. This book was first published by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1897 and is an assemblage of Page’s recollections on the arrangements of the economic and social hierarchies in antebellum Virginia.

In this book, Page shows the fallacies of Southern antebellum culture and presents his objective view of Southern life in those days before The Rebellion (1861-65). Even in those days – both in the era in which he lived and in the years prior and after – Southerners were described as shiftless, lazy, base, ignorant, brutal, and prejudiced people.

Page judiciously shows that the South wasn’t at all like that. He describes everyone’s vital role in maintaining and running the plantations, and that each person, from planter to field worker to servant to planter’s wife had important roles that kept operations running and productive.

I found this book to be very well-written and educational. Though there are some clichés (women’s complexions described as “peach-blossom,” for example), one can overlook that in favor of the actual facts and elements of many aspects of Old Virginia: How the English judged the Virginian accent and word pronunciation as being “near perfect;” the myriad and critical roles of the planters’ wives in running the farms; the maintenance of orchards; planting fields with various crops (wheat being one of them); the depictions of the harvests; the social hierarchy of the servants; the education of both planter and servant; et al.

Though most depictions of antebellum Southerners have them as leading an idyllic, mostly unproductive life complete with mint juleps and vapid conversations, Page’s book begins to dispel those views. Life in the Old South was anything but idyllic and unproductive. Those planters who could afford vast home libraries filled with the classics and books in languages other than English (Latin, Greek, and French, for example) were, indeed, filling their libraries with books they actually read. Those library were not just for show.

Indeed, “Social Life in Old Virginia before the War” clearly shows life in old Virginia and leads the reader towards a better understanding of the Southern mind today.

Thomas Nelson Page (1853-1922) was an American lawyer, writer, and ambassador to Italy. He was born in Hanover County, Virginia. He attended the University of Virginia and Washington College and practiced law in Richmond, Virginia between 1876 and 1893. He wrote many books and papers about the South and the antebellum years.

Readers can find “Social Life in Old Virginia before the War,” on Kindle through Amazon. I highly recommend this book as a continuing education for anyone who wants to have an honest and well-rounded primary source view of the antebellum years and to gain a better understanding of American political economic, and social history.  It is a good compendium to other contemporary works.

©Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.


BOOK REVIEW: Love Lost and Found

Summer days are still with us, and they can be hot and heavy. Some romances are like that, too. If you want to add superb and tasteful piquancy to your library, Pamela Beckford’s “Love: Lost and Found” is for you. This is seventh in my series of book reviews; I hope that my recommendations inspire you to read these books as the spirit moves.

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“Velvet Kisses.”

Of the nearly one hundred poems in “Love: Lost and Found,” these two words are mated perfectly in just half of one line in the double acrostic poem, “Love or Lust.” They stand out as one of the most weighty and passionate-driven images any poet or writer can share.

“Velvet Kisses.”

We feel the softness of lips touching lips, we experience lips caressing skin, we are aware of lips sweeping across bodies with compulsive gentleness and full richness. These are luxurious kisses described with just two effortless words, and they stand out for me as intense demonstrations to exhibiting love.

Pamela Beckford is a remarkably talented writer. After reading “Voices of Nature” (a co-authorship between her and Kirsten A.), and “Dreams of Love” her solo authorship, I was undeniably expecting more delightful poems in “Love: Lost and Found.”

And Pamela did not disappoint.

She has an exceptional style in which she conveys varying emotions and sentiments between two people in a complex relationship, and more particularly in this collection, the thoughts, dreams, desires, and understanding the speaker conveys throughout each poem.

One of the more striking poems is “He.” Here we see the juxtaposition of this relationship at a point in time:

“He is my everything
I am his plaything.

“He is my world
I am his toy.

“He is my number one priority
I am his second choice.

He is my day and night, sun and moon
I am his amusement.”

In just four unfussy stanzas, we see her realizations: a two-sided relationship, serving definite opposite purposes for both parties, both tangible and intangible. We understand her perspective of an ethereal significance to this relationship – He is important to her, something beyond the here and now, otherworldly, infinite emotional love. Conversely, we recognize his attitude – She is less important, a toy, a secondary thought – when there is a thought to be had.

Pamela intelligently captures love and relationships; there is a mature allure in each line, in each scene, in each description of togetherness and estrangement. The reader is allowed to use his or her own imagination of what is transpiring at any given moment.

The author makes this collection of poems enjoyable to read by the fact she employs varying styles of poetry: acrostic, ehteree, tanka, senru, for example. In fact, “Tantalizing,” an etheree, is fun to read aloud with the alliteration of the “t” that begins each line. Moreover, it is an edification to learn what other styles of poetry exist. This collection is diverse, indeed.

I highly recommend “Love: Lost and Found” by Pamela Beckford. I encourage readers to savor every poem, and find the love lost and the love found.

You can find “Love: Lost and Found” through Amazon — CLICK HERE.

© Susan Marie Molloy and all works within. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material and any works here on this site without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


BOOK REVIEW: Dreams of Love

Love, romance, and relationships know no season, and “Dreams of Love” by Pamela Beckford is no exception. If you ever were in love, still in love, think you’re in love, or wish you were in love, this collection of her poetry is waiting for you to read. This is sixth in my series of book reviews; I hope that my recommendations inspire you to read these books.

. . . .

Breathtaking.

That singular word – breathtaking – is the best one-word description of “Dreams of Love” by Pamela Beckford that kept coming to mind as I lingered within the pages.

“Dreams of Love” is a superb collection of thirty-one poems that not only touches upon the varying facets of a relationship, but is also a powerful timeline of the changeable levels of growth in a relationship. Simply put, “Dreams” can be read in no particular order as stand-alone poems; conversely, if read in order, it presents a love story.

Pamela Beckford is an extraordinarily talented poet. After recently reading “Voices of Nature” (a co-authorship between her and Kirsten A.), I was, indeed, expecting more delightful poems in “Dreams.” What I didn’t expect was the exceptional style in which she conveys varying emotions and sentiments between two people finding themselves in a complex relationship. For example, in “It Started With a Look,” I felt and saw the excitement, both physically and emotionally:

“Your hand in mine
Electric was the air
I started to talk, but then
You began to play with my hair.”

Initially, the speaker is seemingly in control of this momentous meeting, with her hand in her lover’s and by her beginning to speak. However, suddenly it’s her lover who takes control of the meeting by playing with her hair, and as we read further, using his “finger [that] traced [her] mouth/Eager to explore . . .” Many emotions and illustrations are woven into just those few lines alone: desiring, loving, caressing, controlling, surrendering, holding, longing, looking, tenderness, playfulness, peacefulness, heat, and hearts skipping beats. Though Pamela doesn’t write those words per se; they are the emotions and thoughts she creates succinctly and implicitly. What we do find here and with this collection is a complex back-and-forth relationship between two lovers.

My favorite poem in this collection is “Melting.” Specifically, the line “Two melt into one” is a beautifully written thought that conveys everything about what a loving and trusting relationship is, not only in the passionate sense as we might initially interpret here, but also in the everyday condition where two people walk together side-by-side through the mundane, too. Indeed, “Melting” has a duality about it: the here-and-now passion and yet, a wanting for the future.

In “Just Out of Reach,” we feel the pain of the lover going “home to her” (my italics) and the speaker woefully, yet hopefully, calling out to him that “. . . forever my heart will be yours.” This poem is, indeed, heartbreaking and forlorn. There is a feeling of desperation with threads of love and hope on the female speaker’s part.

I cannot say enough positive aspects about “Dreams of Love” and Pamela Beckford. I would like to analyze and speak to every one in her collection here, but then that would be taking away the enjoyment for you, her current and future readers. I encourage you to enjoy it, as I have — without preview, to fully enjoy and interpret yourselves.

This collection of love poems left me in breathless wonderment. I liked it so much, I’ve read it three times already. We all, I believe, can relate to her poetry. Certainly, as she wrote, “Poetry is an expression from deep within the soul.”

Pamela Beckford articulates beautifully. I applaud her for conveying those deep, soulful expressions in such a magnificent, yet intimate, way.

I highly recommend “Dreams of Love” by Pamela Beckford.

You can find “Dreams of Love” through Amazon by clicking HERE.

© Susan Marie Molloy and all works within. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material and any works here on this site without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


BOOK REVIEW: Twilight’s Indian Princess: Book I

I'm a member of Rosie's Book Review Team.

I’m a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team.

If you have an empty block on your kitchen wall calendar this summer, “Twilight’s Indian Princess” by Margaret Jean Langstaff might just be the thing to fill in that space. This is fifth in my series of book reviews; I hope that my recommendations inspire you to read these books.
……….

Ever have “that kind of day” where nothing goes as intended? Ever have one of “those” days that actually spread across years—maybe across a lifetime? Ever realize everyone around you is perpetually demanding, needing, pulling, provoking, and commanding even more from you while your see your life go unendingly neglected and suitably unfulfilled? Ever feel like dumping all it back on their heads like a hot mess and taking your life back for yourself?

Margaret Jean Langstaff brings this all together in “Twilight’s Indian Princes” through her protagonist, Sarah Sloan McCorkle, and frames the scenes into delightful, and at times, hilarious vignettes. This is a novelette short enough (40 pages) to read on the train to the office or during the lunch hour.

The story is framed around Sarah Sloan McCorkle and how her family treats her: from her nagging mother; to her sweet, yet ever-wanting, children; to her husband who, despite supposedly being below her station in life, she loves and appreciates and married anyway.

We see Sarah look at herself one day, and feeling “mired in her dark wintery responsibilities of daily life,” she looks to begin “to focus on focusing.” And so, one day, she focuses on the blank squares on the kitchen wall calendar. She sees them as representing unscheduled family activities, yet she sees them—perhaps subconsciously—akin to the empty spaces in her life, where others convinced her to follow a safe, traditional path rather than the “risky, dangerous” avant-garde profession of which she dreamed and was gifted to do. She wanted to fill those spaces, and if she couldn’t fill them post haste with her own dreams, she at least wanted to fill them with time for herself, even if it happened to be “up to her neck in fragrant froth” in the bathtub. Indeed, she “was beginning to enjoy her time off from Time.”

Yet, as the Scottish poet Robert Burns once wrote, “The best laid schemes of mice and men oft go awry,” and that is how Sarah’s day continued. We watch as she deals with an incident that finally snaps her, and thereafter, we follow her to more serene and introspective moments.

Margaret Jean Langstaff has a writing style that keeps the reader’s attention, and the reader must reciprocate by paying close attention. There are well-written long sentences, like streams of consciousness. Humor pervades throughout the pages. I laughed at a scene where “a hush puppy whizzed across the table and hit [Sarah] on the nose.” The author made the scene even more powerful when “Sarah set aside her fork, dabbed her lips, folded her napkin, lay it down next to her plate and stood up.” We know by now something is afoot, something quite unexpected.

The author gives several characters perfect southern accents with questionable grammatical structures that you can fairly hear amplifying from the pages yet not think twice about. It’s natural. The letters that Sarah’s children write to her are convincingly children’s voices. To Sarah, Wesley, her husband, is a “cave man” and “gorilla,” yet he is likeable with an unforgettable regional voice, peppered with out-of-date words, particularly one.

Margaret Jean Langstaff writes lovely descriptive scenes, most particularly:

“Her mind went all loose and bubbly and took off on its own, unmoored and rudderless, and sailing here, there, everywhere, like a drunken butterfly floating through the warm moist air, darting off, alighting, tasting, returning, then fluttering off to something else.”

Sarah saw her life the same way: rudderless, darting off, fluttering off to something else, and she was looking for what she wanted, not what everyone else wanted. She wanted to be free, unrestricted as a horse running in the open plains.

“Twilight’s Indian Princess” is quirky, yet fun, and stimulates familiarity and reflection. Initially, I wasn’t sure of where the story was headed, but as I kept reading, I found some ways to identify with Sarah and the people around her.

I recommend “Twilight’s Indian Princess” for a fun, quick read. Indeed, you may find things in common with some, or all, of the characters.

You can find it HERE on Amazon.

© Susan Marie Molloy, and all works within. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material and any works here on this site without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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