Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Mrs. 'Arris

Recently PH and I happened upon this place.  You'd think the obvious.  But if you look closely in those windows you'd see large vats filled with beer.  We were looking for a restaurant at the moment and how could we possibly go wrong with a brewery/restaurant called The Library?  It spoke to both of us for different reasons.

 We walked in the front door and were greeted with a display of books (and beer cans,)  walls filled with books, this fabric was also on the seat cushions and chairs, and I was in love. How could we go wrong?
 There were books everywhere.  This pile was right at our heads, piled on the divider between the next booth.  All booths had piles of books there for the browsing.  It was my Disneyland. They were old, jacket-less, soft paged, mostly Reader's Digest Condensed books. You remember those, don't you?  Our mother's all subscribed to them and they came to the house monthly.  Now, where we live, used bookstores and library used book sale drop-offs tell you to leave anything but don't leave Reader's Digest Condensed books.  No one wants them, we can't even give them away.
      But here I was, apparently in the Reader's Digest cemetary. I took one from the pile and put it on the table.
     It opened automatically to this page. It opened so automatically I checked the spine to see if it was broken. Nope. Now, lately I've been talking a lot of coincidences, of  needing to listen to the inner me when I hear me tell me something and acting on what me is saying to me.  This was one of those instances.
     I had just heard about this book very recently.  And here, in this Reader's Digest Condensed book in an obscure little restaurant 13 hours from home I find the story.  I was quite frazzled as I tried and tried to remember where I had heard about this book.   I asked the restaurant if I could purchase this book, thinking they would say yes to a book that can't even be given away.  But I was told no, it was "part of the decor."
     Now I was seriously perturbed. Obviously, the coincidence was strong. WHERE had I read about this book recently?  Obviously it was something I needed to read because it crossed my path twice in a matter of days. There was a reason for this title being in my face now. It was written in the late 1950s so what's up?    We went back to our hotel.  I got my iPad and started searching Friend Laurie's blog because in a tiny fold in my brain I saw one of her posts and yes! There it was  http://www.thisismysymphony.net/2016/05/mrs-browns-lbd-my-mrs-brown-review/
      When we got home from our trip Friend Laurie brought the book to me. the real book, not Reader's Digest Condensed.  I started it late this afternoon sitting on the porch enjoying the late afternoon sun, looking for the clue from Mrs. 'Arris.

      Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s website, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-june-2016

Sunday, June 26, 2016


 Today an amazing thing happened.  The quilt exhibit I had been planning for a few weeks happened in our little church and it was an astounding success. There is nothing that could have been done better or different for the day to be any more perfect.  Well, it could have been cooler than 90 degrees, but we survived.

I thought I had about 70 quilts planned but we topped 105!  I thought we would put our 70 on both sides of each pew, two quilts per pew, but we had to put three in the pews to make room!
The color in the church was phenomenal, the looks of astonishment on the faces of the more than 250 people walking in was worth the effort.  You should have seen them!  Even the men stopped in their tracks when they walked in the door and saw the church transformed!

Nothing was for sale, nothing raffled off, no admission was charged.  This was an exhibit only. I was preoccupied to the point of worrying myself into a hole for weeks.  I knew, being very arthritic, I would be extremely tired and sore when it was over and that worried me.  How many days would it take to recover?  I worried about the weather.  Would it be hot and humid?  Yes, it would and did, but I brought along 'church fans,' those hand held fans on a stick you wave back and forth to cool off in church. Would the viewers be respectful of the quilts?  Would anyone come?  Would I have enough help?   Yes, yes and yes!
 I had this brainy idea a few weeks ago and talked to our pastor about whether he would allow it and when this particular weekend, the weekend of the parish festival, was chosen, I had to really put my nose to the grindstone finding quilters. I'm new to the town and the parish and I wanted local people and people from the parish, but I didn't know anyone. I leaned heavily on the people I did know. My friends and family.  My daughter took quilts off the kids' beds, as did my DIL Erin.  Friends Jan and Marilyn, SIL Joyce all gave quilts for the event.  But once word got out through the bulletin, people from the parish started to call.

As soon as my hands touched a quilt I put a name label on so I would know who to return the quilts to.  I didn't want any mix ups. From some I went around an collected quilts but many brought them to church or dropped them off at home.

Now that it's over, this four and a half hour event, I can't even remember some of the quilts I saw.  So many different tastes, talents, treasures!  We had one that was found by a realtor in an attic of an old house and was dated 1897!
 The astounding thing is, I am new to town and the parish and these women all trusted this stranger with their treasures. I am humbled and honored to have their trust and to have planned this wondrous event.

Friday, June 24, 2016

I Will Send Rain

  I Will Send Rain by Rae Meadows

      I have always had a fascination with the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl and the strength required of the people living in that time and area to survive.  I often wondered if I would have.  There are many books set in that time and place all demonstrating the hard, hard life.  But most of the books show us only one side, the side of the people who left their farms and homes to drive across country to California where they were promised more and better.   Of course, the work turned out to be less and not so great, but at least it was green and wet.
      I Will Send Rain is a story about a family that stayed.  In the town of Mulehead, Oklahoma, Annie Bell fights the dust with determination.  She is determined to make life appear normal even if it is far from it.  In order to make a difference in the drought, there must be 16 inches of rain and  in the excitement of seeing big black clouds rolling along the horizon, the family mistakes them for rain but the skies bring black clouds of dust instead, the black topsoil rolling along the land.  And this storm is only the beginning. Dust covers everything, hair, food, clothes, animal’s eyes, confounding the livestock. It gets into everything, even her son Fred’s lungs.  Fred has dust pheumonia, but he is never down about his condition.  He wants to be normal, not wear the mask, run and collect bones for his bone pile he hopes to sell for fertilizer someday.  
     Annie’s daughter, Birdie, is fifteen and anxious to see the world outside Mulehead.  She does what she can to help out and keep Fred’s spirits up, but she wants more than dust in her life.  Birdie and her neighbor Cy begin to dream of another life somewhere clean.
     Samuel, Annie’s husband, has turned to the only thing he can think of to bring rain.  God.  Samuel decides, along with Fred, to build an ark because when it does finally rain, they are going to need one.
     Annie can’t tolerate much for long anymore and finds her own ways to cope with the heat, dust and depression. 
     The more I read about this time in our history, the more I try to place myself there and question my own strength to endure. The more I read the more I know how weak I am.