Old Moon

Saturday, August 29, 2009


A glance at the calendar at this time of year is never necessary to know we're coming to an end of some kind. Autumnn is always beautiful, and for many, the favorite season. I can understand why, but not for me.

The beginning of school when I was a child has nothing to do with it because I looked forward to that. The feeling comes from so far back, I don't believe the symbolic connections influence my emotions. Perhaps those who understand "spiritual" matter might be able to explain. It's a sad time. Like so much that is most poignant, the very loveliness of the sensual world emphasizes the melancholy that underlies every day until the trees are bare and the first frost has browned the grass.

This is the season I tend to try to write poetry. Common adolescent hangover, I'm sure. This is the season when I need to be tied to the mast like Ulysses to keep me from spending a fortune on spring bulbs that I will later curse because I dislike the planting so much. Oh, and did I mention, this is the season of my husband's and my birthdays? After so many of those, you'd think I'd be over that by now!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Allbooks Reviews on Maiden Run

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Genre: Fiction—Family Drama

Title: Maiden Run

Author: Joan L. Cannon

In the history of every family there are times when everything changes. The Adams family has lived and worked Maiden Run since time out of mind, but the world is changing and everyone must struggle to keep up. Spanning thirty years, but focusing particularly on the summer of 1935, Maiden Run is the chronicle of the lives, loves, and challenges of three Adams siblings.

Maiden Run is a fairly simple story that recounts some critical points in the lives of a family. There are no paradigm shifts, and very few “events” to speak of, but Cannon’s skill leads the reader to care about the characters, to the point where you may feel saddened when the story draws to a close. Cannon knows her topic, setting, and place inside and out, and expertly draws you in and shows you around. The Adams family actually acts like a family, with tensions and unspoken rules and, in spite of everything, an overall affection that runs deeper than any trouble. Unfortunately, Maiden Run is distributed by a small press, that doesn’t put a lot of emphasis on editing, and so this book has been released with a large number of technical and contextual errors. Luckily for us readers, Cannon’s talent shines through, and these flaws become little more than annoying ticks in the face of her sweeping thirty-year saga. Cannon is truly a diamond in the rough, and I hope she is discovered by larger presses, soon.

Joan L. Cannon has already been discovered by magazines like Pulpsmith, Seacoast Life, Grit, and Thema, and she currently writes for the online magazine Senior Women Web. She lives in North Carolina with her husband.

Maiden Run is a parable for our times, taking us back to another era that was under heavy economic hardship, and reminding us of the value of family and heritage. I Recommend this book to anyone looking for a good, meaty bit of fiction.

Reviewer: J. Blackmore, Allbooks Reviews. www.allbookreviews.com

Available at: Write Words, Inc. and Amazon.com

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Wildlife on the Hilltop

My dog and I were walking along the road that runs through the community where I live one recent afternoon when I noticed a rather large eastern box turtle against the curb. At this time of the year, it seemed to me she might be on her way back to the river after laying her eggs. The Catawba loops around part of this property. Not everyone driving here would be able to see that the lump wasn't a stone, or it might open up and begin to cross the road.

I picked the turtle up. Its head had just enough showing at the front of its shell for it to see me, and it promptly withdrew it and its tail and toes and clamped its shell tight. We got home, I went behind the cottage and took the turtle down to the edge of the woods (between the cottage and the river) where I left it in the shade of a holly tree.

About an hour later I went to the window to see if it had emerged and moved on. The cottage is built on a steep hillside that provides grade level access to the basement, so I looked down about nine feet from the window. There, not three feet from the house, was a black bear just moseying along. Its thick black coat glistened and its brown muzzle swung slightly from side to side as it tested the local air. I watched it for about half a minute, then went to find my camera.

The cottages are arranged in a curving row with heavy woods and a very steep bank that begins a very few yards beyond them. Ours is about halfway along the row, so I assumed I could at least watch the animal continue along behind the neighboring buildings. When I got back with the camera, I saw I was wrong. It had clearly decided to plunge down into the thick undergrowth and young trees and had vanished.

My late husband outwitted marauding raccoons by using an electric fence transformer to protect the bird feeders and thus end their destruction of planters on the deck as well; I use red pepper to discourage total consumption of seed by squirrels who know how to jump from the grounded railing straight onto the feeders; we see deer and turkeys fairly regularly in early morning or late afternoon; we've seen a fox several times; we have a tolerant relationship with the rabbits and groundhogs; I love the skinks and fence lizards; a small family of skunks have amused us; we've seen a possum up near the dumpsters; there's an audible if not visible frog in our artificial pond by the front door; I look forward to the Harrier-like antics of the carpenter bee who comes each spring to the deck -- but a bear?!

Apart from the hope that this young fellow wouldn't alert his mama and thus pose a threat, I was thrilled. Even in a zoo, I've never been so close to a bear. This one was about the size of a large St. Bernard, I think. I'm really devastated that I didn't get a snapshot.

One more time, I was reminded of how absolutely vital the wild things are to my existence. I can't admit to my next door neighbor that I was pleased to see the blacksnake that lives in the compost bin because she can't even abide the thought of a snake, let alone the sight of one. I pity her. It won't be long now until I'll be watching for the migrating fox sparrows that pause at our feeders for a few days, the cedar waxwings come to strip the holly, the dark-eyed juncos and more visits from the wrens. Four breeding pairs of cardinals flock to the feeders twice a day now, along with the other regulars like goldfinches, housefinches, and titmice. I can't help wondering how many will stay around for the winter. The hummingbirds are now chasing one another off the feeders in spite of four ports on each one. In less than a month, they'll almost certainly be gone. The towhees stayed all last winter. I hope they'll spend another one here.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Rereading an Old Favorite

There seems to be a point at which too many things are clamoring against the skull, begging to be let out. I haven't posted in a while in part because I can't decide which of those notions might be right for this spot.

My first adventure with getting a youngster settled into a college dormitory, adventures with a neighbor who is about as comfortable with his lovely new PC as I might be with a Lamborghini, unexpected wildlife in my almost-but-not-quite rural setting, trying to find a way to go to sleep before midnight without total exhaustion first, comments on current reading…

Maybe the latter is the best. I'm more than half way through my third reading of a book I read first shortly after it was published. It has been out of print for many years. I sought out a copy several years ago because I had, after reading it the second time, wanted to own it. Imagine my surprise to discover it is now available again — and in paper! (Deliberate attempt to make the reader ask what in the world IS this book?) It's called Islandia by Austin Tappan Wright.

A "Utopian" novel published in the early forties (after the author's death, I believe) and set about ten years before World War I. Wright's sister apparently put it together and edited it slightly. She said it was a work that consumed more than ten years, and that her brother seemed to have no intention of trying to publish it.

If a reader would like to become immersed (I used the word advisedly) in a long (over 1000 pages) and detailed account not only of a nonexistent world, but also intriguing and unexpected characters, told in a style reminiscent of the late Nineteenth Century, this is the book for you. Just saying I'm reading it for the third time will give a notion of how much is included worth revisiting. For today's short attention spans, it's quite feasible to skim many of the descriptive passages, which indeed are a little repetitious, but in spite of the incredible volume of information, the story told by the narrator is as suspenseful in its way as any thriller.

Not just the style is slightly archaic, so is John Lang's (the protagonist's) own personality and morals. I'm old enough to find that extremely attractive. If you like a love story that builds sexual tension to an almost unbearable pitch, can admire enormous self-control, and were ever an adolescent with a yen for a date from the Round Table, this is the story for you.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

From an Elderly 'Techie'

Anyone who knows someone my age seems surprised to find that person cozying up to the technology of the computer, let alone blogging, the really fancy gymnastics of handling cell phones, even learning how to reset answering machines after a power failure. I have to say that without all these things, I'd be in an assisted living environment, I'm afraid. In the first place, my alleged mind would most likely be jelly, and my disposition would be either homicidal or suicidal.

I alluded to the loss of my alter ego four months ago and to a hint of how that has impacted me. There are a couple of saviors for me aside from the usual spiritual props most of us depend on. One is the computer and the other is my pets. Our children have been heroic about trying to take care of a parent who is some 800 miles away from them. My living situation is probably nearly ideal, as it is in a life-care community. None of the above can solve the basic problem, but all are useful. The computer and sites like this and the multiple others of its kind that I visit regularly and through which I've met some true friends, not to mention fellow survivors, are without any doubt what keep me as sane as I can be expected to be.

If I have any readers, I treasure their responses as evidence of their existence, so I hope anyone might feel free to disagree or even lambaste me. Just let me know you're out there! When one of you urged me to start a blog, I had little notion of how valuable it was going to become.