Count no’Count? Hardly!

Since my Dearly Beloved and I happened to be with friends in Oxford, Mississippi the week of William Faulkner’s birthday, we decided to visit St. Peter’s cemetery where he and a number of his family members are buried.  The original Faulkner burial plot was full by the time William died, so another plot was started and he was laid to rest there, as later were his wife and stepson.


The Faulkners are buried on the side of the marker away from the road and his stepson,  Malcolm Franklin, is on the road side.   I took several photos and although not known for my powers of observation,  I saw nothing in that fourth spot, beside Malcolm’s grave.

BUT, a University of Mississippi map of Faulkner sites of interest mentions that this fourth gravesite, long vacant, is now marked with a smaller stone for an old family friend, E. T., who “came home to rest with us.”  The map points out that the whole thing is a carefully guarded secret and that no one, except for Faulkner’s nephew, Jimmy Faulkner, knows who it is.

If the stone is there, it must be very tiny, indeed.  I don’t remember seeing so much as a pebble, although at the time, I didn’t realize there was supposed to be a fourth grave there.   At the top of the steps leading to the plot, the family name was etched.   Alas, no E. T.


Perhaps he phoned another home?

Remember the mysterious visitor–or perhaps more than one– who visited Edgar Allen Poe’s grave for over 70 decades on the anniversary of his birth and left behind a partial bottle of cognac and three roses?

It being the anniversary of Faulkner’s birth,  we (empty-handed, I confess) went to see if Oxford folks made a similar gesture at the grave of their famous citizen and left a special memorial of some kind..

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Um. . . not so much, although one person did leave an empty Maker’s Mark bourbon mini-bottle by the  column of the marker.  Faulkner would have preferred moonshine, but if not that, Scotch would do. Still, someone had been there.

Perhaps some Oxford residents are still holding a grudge.   After all, he did say this about the town in an interview with Esquire magazine in 1963:

Some folks wouldn’t even speak when they passed me on the street. Then MGM came to town to film Intruder in the Dust, and that made some difference because I’d brought money into Oxford. But it wasn’t until the Nobel Prize that they really thawed out. They couldn’t understand my books, but they could understand thirty thousand dollars.

To give the man his due, he said enough things–brilliantly–that earned him two Pulitzers and two National Book Awards in addition to the Nobel prize for Literature.   Here are a few quotations from his writings, not among his best known, although I found them interesting.

People … have tried to evoke God or devil to justify them in what their glands insisted upon.  – Absalom, Absalom!

Nothing can destroy the good writer. The only thing that can alter the good writer is death. Good ones don’t have time to bother with success or getting rich.  – The Paris Review, spring 1956

People everywhere are about the same, but … it did seem that in a small town, where evil is harder to accomplish, where opportunities for privacy are scarcer, that people can invent more of it in other people’s names. Because that was all it required: that idea, that single idle word blown from mind to mind. – Light in August









Happy Halloween!

When we were kids, every now and then, my mother’s youngest sister, Mary, drove us to a tiny community in southeastern North Carolina.  She’d park near the railroad tracks and we would wait in the dark to watch for the mysterious Maco light to come bobbing and weaving up the tracks as the old conductor Joe Baldwin continued his 100-year-long search for his missing head.   Sometimes we’d perch on the hood of the car, but we never dared venture up that track in an attempt to be the first ones to spot the light.  No siree!

I can’t say for sure that I ever saw old Joe’s light, although I’d have probably taken my own children to watch for it, too, had the railroad company not, in the 70’s,  removed the tracks and the trestle bridge where the light emanated.  Poor Joe Baldwin doesn’t even have a route to follow any more.

One dependable sighting in the mountains of North Carolina this time of year is this one:

the bear
The Bear Shadow

Just when most bears are beginning to pack it in for winter, this one emerges for a couple of weeks when the autumnal sun sets behind Whiteside Mountain, a 5,000-footer near Cashiers and Highlands.  My friend Birdie took this photo a week or so ago and shared it with me.

My blogger buddy, Mountain Woman has written about the bear too, as she also lives near that area.  There is an overlook area where people may stand to wait for it  to appear.  You can even shoot it, but only with a camera.

Now for some of the seasonal delights in my neighborhood. . . .  People around here are big on Halloween.  Perhaps because I ride past them so often,  the two houses one street over always grab my attention.  Out near the sidewalk sits this pathetic scene:

IMG_1738What could be so terrible in the house behind them that these poor babes have been abandoned, obviously in a catatonic state, in this antiquated wheel chair?

Arachnid Manor
Arachnid Manor

Spiders.  EVERYWHERE. . . a giant spider invasion!!!

Just a short distance up the street sits the Ghoul house.  One of the Ghouls must be a surgeon, as the magnolia tree on the right is festooned with hanging body parts.



                                                Happy Halloween !





O Sister, Where Art Thou?

My brother tells me he has found Mary Lee, the great white shark.   I  haven’t heard much about her lately and was beginning to worry.

Not that I believe everything he tells me.  He also told me that he’d found BigFoot, which turned out to be a sweet bear family whose feet, frankly, are much smaller than his.

As for the whereabouts of Mary Lee,  this looks pretty authentic, don’t you think?  If so, she’s right in my brother’s Outer Banks stomping grounds.

2015-10-12 13.07.06

Mary Lee, if you’re out there, you go, Girl!!

My brother may be Big Foot.


For the past couple of weeks, I’ve had 76 sour trombones messing around in my ears when I swallowed or blew my nose.  I called the doctor after the first week and self-diagnosed that I had fluid in my ears.  She suggested Sudafed, but to call if I wasn’t better by today.

I called first thing this morning and left a message for the “triage nurse.”  It should be noted that in order to do that, I had to hear the “If this is an emergency, hang up and dial 911. . . ” message three times before being allowed to leave the message.   In addition, I also sat through the warning about not leaving multiple messages two times.

Just after I left my message and my home phone number, Dearly Beloved reminded me that he was going to be on a conference call in 20 minutes, possibly for two hours or more.

That meant I had to call and press through the three 911 messages again to leave my cellphone number to be attached to the aforementioned message, thus violating the warning not to leave multiple messages.

Five minutes later, our house phone rang and DB ran to answer it.  The conversation went like this:

Strange little voice:  Grandpa?  It’s your grandson.

DB a/k/a Granddad, not Grandpa:  Who is this?

SLV:  It’s me, your grandson.

DB:  Which grandson? 

SLV:  Michael.

DB:  I don’t have a grandson named Michael.  You have the wrong number.

At that point, the SLV suddenly morphed into a deep, angry voice and shouted,  F–k you, Man! and hung up the phone.

The triage nurse called to ask that I should come at 1:45.  I love my doctor and have followed her to three different locations.  The first one was in the neighborhood, the second 12 miles out in the suburbs and now it’s in the EpiCentre which is located uptown.  If the name sounds familiar, it was the site of much of the activity during the Democratic convention when it was held in Charlotte.  It’s three miles and a universe away.

The office is squeezed between a Five Guys hamburger joint and a movie theater, a short walk away from Whiskey River and Howl at the Moon.  See it?  The small doors behind the trash can?


Inside is interesting, too.


See the light at the end of the hall?  The blue door is the doctors’ office, but the light just in front of it is coming from the open door of Five Guy’s kitchen.  It is amazing how far the aroma of french fries carries.

Back to the subject at hand, which was the fluid in my ears. . . .

It turned out not to be fluid at all.  It was earwax.  GROSS!  Embarrassing!

It took an hour of two nurses and the doctor dropping anchor in my ear and pumping fluids into my ear canal to loosen the wax enough to get it out.  Since it was supposed to be about a ten-minute visit and I was there well over an hour, they will be behind all day because of earwax.  I apologized profusely.

The irony of all of this is that now I DO have fluid in my ears.   My ears are still whistling and squeaking when I swallow or blow my nose.   They said that it may take six weeks for it to drain.

My ears were sore and I was a little tremulous when I left the office.  I had an overwhelming urge to walk over to Whiskey River.

Suddenly the location made sense.

In case you ever find yourself here and need a good doctor, just look for the big phallic building.  The Epicenter is just in front of it.

You know I can’t make this stuff up.








Boxed In

Every time my Dearly Beloved sees that I’m writing a blog post, he asks bluntly, “Is this one going to make me out to be a dumbass?”

Dumbassness is in the eye of the beholder on this one.  You decide.

Our cable/internet provider periodically announces big doings to improve service, blah, blah, blah.   Although hope springs eternal, we haven’t as yet found that to be the case.  In fact, the last time our Atlanta grandkids were here and their parents allowed “screen time,”  forty toes lined up across the foot of the bed in the middle bedroom because that’s the only room that has a consistent internet connection.

The company’s best option for providing us with dependable service might be to buy us a king-sized bed for that room.

During the times we’ve moved around the country, I discovered that it was simpler to  register utilities in my name instead of his.  Back then, when I’d report an outage,  the customer service people insisted that only the Mister could to that, since the account was in his name.  Pshaw!  The damn service had gone out; I wanted service, not secret nuclear codes.

Once I put the accounts in my name, reporting problems became easier.  I had only to tell them my “social” (grrrrr!) to prove my true identity.   Of course, it’s simpler now because usually, customer service is a computer.

What I’m getting around to is that I can’t send them an e-mail about a problem, the cable company sends out a lot of e-mails to me these days.  However, once DB retired, I decided that he could now be the cable communicator.  I forward the e-mails to him for handling.  Like his predecessor, he ignores them.

In the spring, he eventually read one that said we needed to order a  doohickey for any TV that didn’t already have an ugly black cable box.   We have a small TV in the kitchen that doesn’t.

DB called and ordered it and not long afterwards, they sent a cardboard box inside a large, inpenatrable envelope made of some Spanx-like material.  Although a box of that size from Amazon would have been ripped open in the entry hall, this one sat unopened  for three months.

Oh, speaking of Amazon, I usually try to keep a few of their neat, small/medium boxes on hand for mailing packages.  DB,  promptly puts them in the recycling bin.  Thus, when I made cookies to send to friends last week, there was no box available. . . until I spotted the doohickey box.  Perfect size!

By then, DB had opened the box, but hadn’t done anything with the contents, so I dumped everything onto a countertop and mailed off the cookies in the box.

Having the pieces lying there may have inspired him to speed up the process, or maybe he’d planned to do it all along, but DB moved them all to the kitchen island and set about the task of connecting, even going so far as to read the instructions.

That TV is not an easy one to reach because it’s on a shelf above the ovens.    DB spent most of the day mumbling to himself as he fiddled with it, hanging it off the shelf in various precarious positions to get to the back of it with his growing assortment of tools.   No service.

The Doohickey
                           The Doohickey

The next day, he went over his work a second time.  At some point, he came upon an instruction that read something like,  If you’ve gotten this far and it isn’t working, call us.

Hell, for my husband, is a tossup between holding and painting.  That day was pretty bad because periodically I’d hear him muttering, “I hate having to hold.”

Don’t we all, Babe.

Finally, he was told that NOW it would work, just give it time to set itself.

For the next two days, he’d go into the kitchen to check that blank grey screen “resetting” itself.  Long after all my watched pots had boiled, the screen continued to hibernate.

DB went over all the steps–except for calling them–another time.  Still nothing.

That night he advised me that he was at an age that he didn’t have to dance to the cable company’s tune, he was going to do exactly what he wanted to and figure it out himself in his own time.

His “figuring” seems to be happening in glacial time.   He hasn’t touched it since.

Dear Cable Company:  your doohickey isn’t worth a toot, according to my husband.

But I must say,  the cardboard box worked perfectly.

And Suddenly It Mushroomed!

My English friend–she of the lovely thatched roof house and cottage garden, the delightful parties, and the picturesque village, has four granddaughters who must love visiting there.  She has created a delightful fairy garden for them:  wind chimes, toadstool seats, and other delights.

When she decided that the little house tucked back among the shrubs and trees could use a new coat of paint, she brought out a can of green paint with the intent of having it blend into the landscape.

Hah!  She couldn’t do it.

She decided to go bodacious, instead.

Can you even LOOK at this place without smiling?

If I ever go to visit her, I may ask to stay here.


Up Yours

When one of the chain supermarkets here wanted to build a large store on a lot too small to accommodate it, they made it two stories so as to reduce the footprint.

The neighborhood was abuzz.

At first we heard that they planned to  put a Starbucks up there, which didn’t sound unreasonable.  It was obvious during construction that there was going to be a nice veranda up there.  We discovered that no, it would be the location for paper products, toiletries, snacks, laundry supplies, and wine shelves,  meaning that ‘most every trip, we’d have to schlep our carts up there.

Once up there, it isn’t bad.  It’s more like a mezzanine, I suppose.  The outer wall is glass and looks out to the veranda which now has umbrella tables, outdoor furniture and plants for customers to enjoy.  The inner side looks down into the colorful produce section and the deli beyond.

An elevator was mandatory.

Said elevator is upfront, in the center of the store near the floral department.  Tables of flower displays flank the doors to give customers something to distract them from watching the hydraulics through the stationery see-through elevator doors as it goes up and down.  There are transparent doors on both sides:  push your cart in, mash the button, and the doors in front of you open when you arrive, allowing carts to continue in a forward direction.  No U-turns necessary.  Got the picture?  Just like hospital elevators for stretchers.

There are stairs there, too, which sort of wrap around the elevator.  sigh.  I should have taken a photo.

One look at the call station buttons lets customers know this is one high tech elevator.  I did take a photo of that.


Firefighters and emergency personnel knew exactly what to do, but what about the customers?  They’d stand there, waiting for someone already up there to come back down to enable them to shove their carts inside as soon as the doors opened.

Where the hell was the call button to get the elevator down?

As one who once stood first in line, hoping her frozen yogurt wouldn’t melt before she figured it out, let me say in the customers’ defense:  nothing on that fancy panel looks like a pushbutton.   Eventually, an employee came over and pushed the disk under the words Buzzer Reset.

The elevator cometh.

There is a wine bar upstairs.  I felt like I could use a glass by the time I got up there.

Eventually someone added a helpful sticky tape note:

Version 2

I smile to myself now when I see that little sign now.  Perhaps the people who designed the thing should have run it by someone who was actually going to use it.

Oh, Engineers!

It’s by understanding me, and the boys, and mother, that you have helped me. I expect that is the only way one person ever really can help another.”
― Willa Cather, O Pioneers!

If you die in an elevator, be sure to push the Up button.
Sam Levenson