The last of the Vaudevillians.

September 29, 2010 § 2 Comments

Bill Harley, a fellow children’s book author, sat across a Formica table from me in a restaurant in Kern County, California.  “We are the last of the vaudevillians,” he said.

Like those old time entertainers we take our show to our audience (the audience that wants to hear how we write our books doesn’t drive).  So we drive to them, or fly.  I’ve even taken the Greyhound.

Although it’s the world’s best job, being a traveling author is not as glamorous as you might think.

I’ve gotten lost in an all-cabbage landscape in Georgia, broken three teeth on a school lunch, been upstaged by a dog wandering through my presentation, and had my fee paid out of the proceeds from an eighth grade beauty pageant (eighth grade beauties want world peace too).

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In defense of weeds.

September 28, 2010 § 4 Comments

The word “weed” is like any  label we use when we throw a lot of different things into one big pile, toss a tarp over it and say, “We don’t need any of that.

We call people we don’t like lowlifes, deadbeats, trash; places we don’t like slums.  And we call plants we don’t like weeds.  There is no biology to back up the term, just a judgment call.

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A day in the life… We buy the farm.

September 25, 2010 § Leave a comment

Journal entry written: October 10, 1999

I’m bad at change.  If it weren’t for Ray, a sofa would never change location in our living room.  If not for Ray we wouldn’t be signing a mortgage on 9.72 acres in Wakulla County.

The beauty of the project comes to me in flashes; a pair of bench seats hangs by chains from the limbs of a Live Oak; a sand road winds through the many gates on this property that was once a farm.

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A boy and his dog.

September 22, 2010 § 6 Comments

As a kid I yearned for a dog.  I just knew that if you wrote out one of life’s difficult questions and then filled in the answer-blank with, “get a dog,” you would be right nine out of ten times.

My mother’s death was the most difficult question life ever posed to our family, especially for my father who did not believe in the escape clause, “until death do us part.”  He had no desire to remarry.  He had three grown children and their children.  He’d make do with what family he had left.

After her death he spent winters in Tallahassee in the house across the street from ours, and summers “up home” in New Jersey.  When we called him there his voice was rusty from disuse.  “You need a dog, Dad,” I said.   He squeaked out the logical reasons why he could not have a dog.    « Read the rest of this entry »

A day in the life…the day George died.

September 20, 2010 § 1 Comment

Journal Entry written November 30, 2001: This morning when the TV came on they were showing a clip of George Harrison, bearded and singing, “My Sweet Lord,” and I said, “Ray, George Harrison must have died.”

And he has.

A middle-aged woman, one of many who have gathered in the Strawberry Fields section of Central Park, was crying.

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Back in the day I was a blues singer…

September 18, 2010 § 2 Comments

Fresh out of art school I got a job as the illustrator for The Baltimore Zoo.

Orgie Kimball worked there too, and had for many years.  When I met her she was a stooped and tired woman who wore a powder blue smock with cigarettes in the pocket and a shiny wig that had faded to a brownish-lavender. When asked what she did, her response was blunt.  “I clean toilets.”

But one day, bird keeper, Leon Dunn, said, “Orgie, tell Adrian what you used to do…”

She sighed and waved a hand. “Oh, back in the day I was a blues singer over to The Club Orleans.” She reached inside her smock and pulled out the wallet she kept tucked under her bra strap.  She flapped it open and handed it to me so I could see a photo taken when she was big and brassy and all-that.

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September 15, 2010 § 1 Comment

My friends and I are tired of the “stuff” we’ve worked so hard to acquire.  It’s being set out by the curb, dropped off at Goodwill, given away on Craig’s list—you have a big truck? 

Simplicity is beginning to look good, so we’re demoting our “stuff” to “junk” and letting it go.  

We no longer respect these objects or perhaps even the person we were when we acquired them—maybe we’re discarding that old self along with the junk, hoping to be left with something pure when the dust settles. « Read the rest of this entry »

Cheating the season.

September 13, 2010 § 1 Comment

It’s been the hottest summer I can remember.  Tomatoes, cucumbers, squash—one by one the plants went down. Except for the peppers, by early August our summer garden had succumbed to the heat. 

It’s mid-September now.  Mornings are almost cool.  It’s time to put in the winter garden.  But as a gardener, I have two traits in common with gamblers, I hope against reason, and I believe in luck, so a couple of weeks ago I spread my hand of seed packets on the table and pulled out the summer squash varieties that had the shortest time from germination to harvest, those promising squash in 5O days or less.

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September 13, 2010 § 2 Comments

I’ll start this blog about LIFE with something that happens every Sunday around here: cupcakes.  Sunday cupcakes are part of my justification for owning two houses, ours and what used to be my Dad’s.  These modest homes would be Baltic and Mediterranean Ave. on the Monopoly board—the two cheapest properties.  Still, two houses?  But when my dad died I didn’t have the heart to sell his place.  I needed to be able to walk into his old house and say “Good morning, Dad!”   « Read the rest of this entry »

The Front Porch Library

September 12, 2010 § 1 Comment

This is a deceptive view of a corner of the library.

You can see one of the two rockers that are big enough for an adult reader and a child to share, and the wooden book case that holds series books like “Captain Underpants” and “Junie B. Jones,” and a milk carton of picture books, and the dust jacket from “”The Monster Who Ate My Peas” taped up like a poster, and the sunlight coming through the porch screen.

What is missing is the blur of kids and the hubbub that surrounds them.

That will arrive at four this afternoon.

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