Here’s where I spent the last part of March and the first part of April – at Lake Waccamaw in Columbus County, North Carolina. I took a photo of this wonderful map from 1915 (Field of Operations, Soil Map) at Penn’s Grill in Whiteville, where we liked our breakfast so much, we went back for lunch the next day.
I went to Lake Waccamaw for my brother-in-law’s memorial party. My sister did a great job arranging it all, renting a large AirBNB home that accommodated most of the out-of-town guests, although this was mostly meant for the community of Lake Waccamaw. She had not meant to have a large event, but people kept asking about it. Tim was very, very loved.
She included some of the music that he requested for it, including Lucky Man by ELP. She told a lot of funny anecdotes about Tim, two of his best friends from different eras in his life spoke about him, and then Brooke, his daughter, read a poem about him. There was a ton of great food and a bar on the porch. I’m sure that he would have been pleased.
A few days before that, a poetry reading was held in his honor in Whiteville. Many people did not know about Tim’s love of poetry and support for other poets. One day I’d like to print a handmade book of his poetry.
I hung out with my sister and watched Bernie and Liz, her favorite duck couple that she raised from ducklings, bring their first brood of sixteen ducklings to her back yard! We got to see the babies on their first day out, then the next day we saw them take their first swim, close enough that we could see their little webbed feet paddle under the water. We knew that it was likely that not even half of them would survive with all the predators about, and a few nights later, five of them were dead or missing. Lisa thinks it was an owl.
Lisa and I were very laid back. We relaxed and read and played games and ate mostly leftovers from the party. The weather was gorgeous. One afternoon, on the ducklings’ first day, I sat in a chair outside reading and watching them. That’s when I think that I was eaten up by fire ants. I didn’t notice the bites until later, about two dozen! Fortunately, my sister has some good meds for them and so after a week I was not itching any more.
The lake has its beauty and its sadness – the circle of life took Bernie and Liz a couple of days after we left. They simply disappeared. We assume they were protecting their babies from one of these guys, since Liz hatched her babies across the street in the canal:
The good news is that the eleven ducklings were still alive as of yesterday, and one of the mallard drakes who can’t fly because of a wing injury seems to have taken over their protective care. Lisa is feeding them, as she does all the ducks that come to her yard.
More beauty – no one has mowed the back yard of our family house:
This is a hard post to write. You’d think that I’d have it all down by now, considering how many hours I’ve spent awake in the middle of the night writing it in my head. But it’s one of those occasions when words won’t suffice. My brother Tim died early on Christmas morning.
Sandy and I have talked about why this loss is so hard. He and I both loved him as a brother, and my family adored him. But Sandy nailed it finally when he said that Tim made everybody feel special. We couldn’t imagine a world without Tim in it, but now here we are.
Anyway, here is a favorite photo I found this morning, from when Jake was a little boy and they played pirate ship in the hammock at the lake.
I’m writing this afternoon from a present that Santa brought early, a new all-in-one desktop computer with a 24″ monitor. I hope that this will help with my physical issues that I got working on my laptop, but mainly I wanted a computer that I can use as personal device. I was never comfortable, for various reasons, using my other devices to blog. In the last few days I went on a wild (for me) shopping spree. I’m pretty sure it was a dopamine enhancer, since I’m trying to drink a lot less. I have enough food in the house to hole up for weeks. Somebody needs to stop me from going to Costco.
And it took a while to figure out where to find the classic option for the paragraph block again. I wish that WordPress wouldn’t make this so hard for those of us who were just fine with the typical Word format instead of blocks. It has made me seriously consider moving over to Substack, where I already created an account. If I ever decide to archive this one, I’ll leave a post at the top where to find me.
It is a sad, sad holiday season. I’m expecting a call at any time that my brother has passed away. He is suffering and just started morphine, so I hope it is helping him and that he leaves us soon. Technically he is my brother-in-law, but in my heart (and Sandy’s heart) he is our brother. I last saw him on Sunday, when we exchanged a long hug and he said that this might be the last time he ever saw me. He wrote me a sweet email on Monday morning. He wrote his last Facebook post early Wednesday morning, bitching about politics as usual! Ah, he is a great liberal activist and writer. He was one of the original Moral Monday protesters that got arrested. And he is a poet, which not many people know.
Thank god I am not depressed right now, although my therapist is calling me on Monday to check on me. She has helped me so much. But I am grieving and think about him and what he is going through and what my sister is going through and what her grief feels like and what is happening now that I’m not witnessing nearly constantly. Their daughter and grandson are there now and the Hospice nurse was of help and I hope that my sister is getting some rest. And that she will call me as soon as she needs me, but I’m letting her make this decision. I remember that Daddy was very particular about who he wanted to see him in his last days.
And it is bringing up all those terrible memories of my father’s illness and death from colon cancer. He was a stubborn man, and lived much longer than he should have. It was a real life nightmare, one that I’ve never gotten over, although I’ve tried in many ways.
I have got to work on getting these tapestries ready for this show. I keep saying that but I can’t seem to get going on it again. I also need to bring home my stuff from the print studio, but I keep procrastinating on that as well. So I guess I better git.
I’ve had plenty of stuff to write about in the past month, but no motivation to do it.
I know what’s happening. As long as I keep my brain occupied by games of logic, I won’t think about what is happening to my brother-in-law, and by extension, my sister. He is suffering. She is suffering. It is a tough, tough situation right at the holiday season, so I feel less jolly than usual, thank you very much. But you can still tell me Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or whatever…kind words are always appreciated.
The thing is, I absolutely have to get these tapestries ready for the exhibition at the Folk Art Center and I’ve done hardly anything about it except to commit myself by sending in the paperwork.
I rejoined the print co-op in August, moved stuff back and forth, because I can’t make myself leave the house to go over there. There’s always something to do on the weekend and I don’t want to go after dark. I’ve been there a total of TWO times. I either need to use the space or leave. Is agoraphobia reentering my life? Could be. Most of my supplies are here after I picked up supplies for my book workshop in OCTOBER.
Pablocito is sitting in his spot behind my laptop under antique desk lamp. I like to think of it as his tanning salon. Diego becomes more needy and cuddly every day, which worries me a bit. Does he feel okay? He often has the hiccups and I give him a quarter of a famotidine tablet. I’ve been taking them too. Acid reflux has become a part of my life. Neither cat is happy with any kind of food I give them and I stopped feeding them canned food because they throw it up then leave it untouched in the bowl and cry. They both do better with the Purina Gastrointestinal Natural EN prescription food, and since that prescription renewal is coming up, I have to take Diego to the vet anyway. Pablocito hasn’t been in years. He has been very playful and fun. His latest game is “Magic Carpet Ride” when I pull a rug around on the hardwood floor while he lays on it and kicks it.
Since I last wrote here, Sandy turned seventy years old. We are both in shock about it, I think. I took him out to eat and a couple of our friends joined us as a surprise. We had a great time and the owner came by with a bottle of tequila, lemon slice, and salt shaker and offered him a shot for his birthday, but said he had to take it straight from the bottle and tell him when to stop with a thumbs up. He then poured it straight into Sandy’s upturned mouth and didn’t see Sandy’s thumbs up quickly so Sandy got a double shot. Of course we filmed it and posted it to Facebook and everybody knows what a badass Sandy is now.
The weekend after his birthday we took Amtrak to Charlotte. I don’t know exactly what kind of deal we got because I phoned it in, but it only cost $68 for us both round-trip. We would have spent more on gas and parking. Sandy had gout that weekend but it wasn’t so severe that it was a wasted trip. We got up Saturday, walked to the uptown farmers’ market, went to the Bechler Museum, brunched at Mariposa, then explored the Mint Museum. (I’m going to make a separate post with photos about this part of the trip.) After that, the day was pretty shot for us in a physical and financial sense, so we went to the Whole Foods Market close to our hotel and had dinner and appetizers and soup in our room while watching TV. The next morning he hurt badly enough that I changed our tickets to the 10:30 train and we headed back. Then something really weird happened.
About 30 minutes away from Greensboro, Sandy decided to get up and find the dining car to get some water. I had drunk a bottle of water and we had snacks from the night before. He headed up to the front of the car, and there was a jolt and he stumbled. I remember thinking this is like turbulence on a plane. It wasn’t that bad though. He almost opened the door and then decided the car must be behind us and turned around. That is when the train decoupled and the rest of the train moved ahead of us and our part of the train came to a halt.
Sandy was so close to stepping through that door when the train decoupled. In this photo it is open to give us ventilation on the train, and the front half of the train is up ahead.
Somehow, a piece of tree trunk was on the tracks. It must have been between the rails. It ripped out the cables and hoses under the cars. I have to applaud the conductors. They got up under the train and repaired it enough that we were able to reattach and move on about an hour and a half later. In the meantime, my bladder had to hold on to that water because they didn’t want us to use the bathrooms, although if it was an emergency we could have. We were near a railroad crossing so some people who were getting off at High Point called people to pick them up and got off the train.
I have to wonder if some sick puppy put that tree trunk on the track. And I’m further pissed off, after seeing those railroad workers on the job in this situation, knowing that private corporations do not respect them enough to give them sick leave. Anyway, we didn’t derail, Sandy didn’t step out into space and get run over by a train, and I made it to the Greensboro depot bathroom.
Then on Wednesday, we went to Lake Waccamaw for Thanksgiving with my sister, brother-in-law, niece, and grand-nephew. (Post with LW photos later.) The food was great, as usual, and I didn’t cook a thing for it. It was all my sister. We had a good time until my b-i-l ate a bit too much solid food and got sick. This week he went in for draining the fluid that the tumors cause out of his abdomen, and a test to see if he could have surgery for a bypass on his upper intestine. Well, he got sick again, but they scheduled surgery for this week. He can hardly eat anything at all and it is devastating to see him basically starving to death. Our hope is that he can at least be able to eat again with this surgery, but he might not survive it. As it is, he can’t survive the way it’s going and he is miserable and suffering, so it is a little bit of hope we didn’t have before. No one would do this surgery at first. This kind of cancer is rare and doesn’t respond to any kind of treatment, so he is no longer on chemo.
On Saturday afternoon while they were resting, Sandy and I drove to Holden Beach, which is about 40 minutes away, in search of sea biscuits and shark’s teeth. I had intel from a shelling group on Facebook that dredging early in 2022 had uprooted a huge fossil bed and hundreds of thousands of sea biscuits. We found no teeth, and there were many fossil hunters and shellers on the beach, and we were not there at the prime time to find anything, but I did find a couple of whole sea biscuits, other fossils, olives (the shells, not the fruit), and several broken sea biscuits. It was fun and a bit of good exercise, and the weather was pleasant. It was a better haul that I expected. I might do it again.
So now. We did our holiday socializing this week, with a bit of drinking at Old Town with some faculty and at a new place, The Abbey Tavern, with some graduate students, on Thursday night, then at our department Christmas party on Saturday night.
Now I’m waiting to hear if my sister needs me to go cat-sit at Lake Waccamaw while my b-i-l is in the hospital this week. The traveling back and forth is exhausting them, and the cats at the lake don’t really get along with the cat and dog in Chapel Hill (my niece lives there), although they do usually travel with them back and forth. I can work online from the lake. The wifi is good and I’d be able to birdwatch from my sister’s glassed in porch. If this happens, I might use our lake house as a studio and work on my tapestries over there. Get ’em done. I have to get ’em done and ready to hang!
And I have to make some kind of decision about the print studio at the Arts Center. Move out or use it, but I have to figure out my storage capabilities here, Again, purging is in order, but mostly I just need to clean up the big pile of crap that has accumulated on my work table.
It’s a gorgeous day. Even yesterday with its rainstorm was great. We spent about an equal amount here at the lake house and at my sister’s house, visiting, eating good cheese and grilled chicken. This morning we could hear the birds sing, and the occasional car or truck on its way to and from Easter services or the boat ramp – you know you can find God in either place.
I did my usual poking around for natural objects that are attracted to me. Including the mayflies, which have to be the most harmless critters in the world.
That weird bone is why you should be careful when handling a catfish. They stick out from the sides of their head.
Sandy and I wandering along the canal looking for the Easter Gator. We finally found her trying to take a nap. She said to feck off, she is out of eggs.
Purty little purple wild asters haven’t been mowed down yet.
My sister has my grandmother’s high school diploma. She graduated from Welsh Neck High School in 1904.
Now I have to go make the deviled eggs. It is Easter in the U.S. South.
Yesterday I started blogging some of my earliest memories and I’m going to continue to do that from time to time. I think a lot about them when I am in that world between wakefulness and sleep. Plus, there is not really too much else to write about in my personal life, and I prefer to not write about politics, although occasionally I will have to put my opinions out into the world. I don’t want anybody assuming that because I am a white Boomer from North Carolina that I am right wing. I am a leftie all the way, and I have been since high school when I began to understand what humanity is doing to our environment. I can’t say that I understood racism then, although my heart was in the right place.
My mother and father always voted opposite parties, until my father started catching on to Reagin and voted against him in his second term in 1984. He still voted for Jesse Helms, though, bless his heart, because he said Jesse was head of the Senate Ag Committee and everything was about small farms for Daddy. After Jesse was re-elected, he moved to the Foreign Affairs committee so Daddy’s reason was moot.
I am a leftie to the point that Portugal not only calls me because of its affordability, beauty, and friendly people, but because it has a democratic socialist government. I am going to do my best to get there and get EU citizenship when I retire in 2023, and Sandy seems to be committed to this as well. What is going to be the big headache is downsizing our hoard and fixing the house and yard up to get our property sold. It will sell quickly, based on what I’ve seen on this street. We invested well.
Once we get Portuguese citizenship, I hope that will be my back door to moving to Ireland, which has always been my dream, but its income requirements are beyond what we make.
I keep saying that I will get back to artwork but I just can’t seem to do it. At least I have started exercising. I joined Sandy for his “one mile express” low impact exercise video yesterday and my feet were fine last night. Hopefully my tendinitis has healed enough that I can continue to exercise and sleep without pain.
Yesterday afternoon, I retreated here again and played games on my Kindle and read news articles and my current book and cuddled with Diego.
The bed frame is from my Aunt Lib’s bedroom from the Parham house. It traveled to my parents’ house, where it became my grandmother Jones’ bed while she lived with us. It is just the right size for this room, big enough for me, the cats, and my books.
Right now I am reading “House Made of Dawn,” a slim book with beautiful prose that takes place in New Mexico. Given my renewed interest in writing, I may read Natalie Goldberg’s book on memoir writing, “Old Friend from Far Away,” next.
This really will be a brain sweep, since I am kind of overwhelmed with all of the possibilities that I have for this weekend. All of them at home, of course. I’m trying out the gallery feature on WordPress for the first time.
So, a bit of autobiography. My earliest memory is probably my grandfather Parham (aka Daddy Thad) sitting in a red leather armchair with metal studs on the upholstery. This had to be when I was two or younger because he died in 1963. I spent a lot of toddler time in my grandparents’ house in Marietta. My mother had a hysterectomy after I was born so I like to joke that I broke the mold, but in truth it meant that between that and a lot of eldercare on her part, I was babysat a lot.
My grandmother Parham, Eliza Henley, died in the 1930s from a sinus infection, when my father was 13. My grandfather Parham remarried my mother’s aunt, and that is how my parents met. So the woman who I called Grandmother on that side of the family was actually my great aunt. It wasn’t until much later that I worked all that out. My father called his stepbrother “brother” and mother called him “cousin.” She called my “grandmother” Aunt Pauline.
I don’t know why I was so formal with what I called my grandparents. I called both grandmothers “Grandmother” and both grandfathers “Granddaddy.” My other siblings called my grandmother Jones “Mom-o.”
Anyway, Grandmother Parham/Great Aunt Pauline spoiled me rotten. She lived in the back part of the house and the rest of it was shut off, dusty and mysterious, and I was terrified of the rest of the house. There was a small room with a propane heater, a sofa and chair and a little bed to sleep on. Perhaps because she was descending into dementia, I got a hefty fear of ghosts from her, because I remember her sometimes talking about Granddaddy like he was still alive, and it was very confusing. She cried a lot and reminisced about her once long red hair. I loved staying there, though, and I know that she loved me to pieces. She scratched my back to settle me down and I still long to have my back scratched when I need comfort. There were interesting old books of fairy tales and nature illustrations, and wooden blocks and little plastic figurines to play with. Outside, I loved to pick figs from her tree and her next-door neighbor, Miss Marie, had a rope swing. I remember spotted tiger lilies and lantana.
I was enthralled with a cup that had a picture of a cow on a cup that had a cow on a cup into infinity. I see the kitchen so clearly in my mind. I must have eaten many meals there.
When I dream about this antibellum house, which is often, there is a mysterious stairway down to a huge cavernous abandoned ballroom, with lots of interesting antiques and junk to poke through. It is scary and fascinating at the same time.
My brother and his first wife lived there for a time, and then my sister inherited it and rented it out. I explored it thoroughly and found some treasures. The attic was huge, pitch dark, unwired, and full of 19th to early 20th century junk. This house nearly fell apart before my sister finally sold it to someone who spent a huge amount of effort and money fixing it back up. The chimney actually fell through the roof. Then they went bankrupt and it sold to someone in the community who takes loving care of it. It is a beautiful house now.
Later, Grandmother Parham/Great Aunt Pauline went to a nursing home, and Mama and I visited her every week. She descended into that violent paranoid place where she attacked her roommate for stealing from her. I was told for a long time that I inherited Aunt Pauline’s “nerves” which I can tell you that I did not appreciate hearing. I dread the specter of dementia more than anything else in this world.
I have such complex memories of that old house, and it’s usually a pleasure when I dream about its rooms. If there are any photos of it, there aren’t any that I can access. The visual memories will all have to reside in my brain. My brother has the Civil War era bowie knife that I found in a closet. I have a Civil War cavalry manual, stack of 19th century magazines, a corset, a spinning wheel, and an American history book that is pre-Civil War.
I finished “How Green Was My Valley,” a coming-of-age novel set in a small Wales mining village, at a time when workers were beginning to strike against the mine owners. My great-grandmother was named Martha Washington David, from a line of Davids that immigrated to South Carolina from Wales in the early 1800s.
Anyway, it set me thinking about maps and names, and how it seems that the Welsh often have what we consider to be a first name for a last name – like David, Thomas, James, and John. One of my direct ancestors is named David David. Variants of John’s son are common in the English speaking world, and Jones is a major line in my family.
In a parallel reality I am a historian researching names.
The funniest one I found last night was Hypolite LeFevre. He was from Middlesex, England.
Anyway, here is a map of the area around Swansea where the Davids came from. Looks like a beautiful place to put on the bucket list. I found these maps on a great site: A Vision of Britain through Time.
I love the language and the names of the places, but I can’t imagine learning Welsh.
Owen David was born in Pembrey, Carmarthenshire, Wales in 1711. He died in Cheraw, South Carolina in 1788. Pembrey is in the bottom right corner of the second map.
Thomas David was born in Llanfihangel Aberbythych, Carmarthen, Wales in 1622.
David Davies was born in Denbighshire, Wales, and married Anna Ellen Morgan in Llanrhidian, Glamorgan, Wales in 1618. His father’s name was David Rees, and his alternate name is David ap David. I assumed “ap” means “son of” and kept going back.
The farthest back this line is traced in familysearch.org is Jenkyn David, father of Ieuan Ap Jenkyn David, who was from Llantwitt-fardre, Glamorgan, Wales, whose first wife, lo and behold, has a first name from “How Green is my Valley”: Angharadd.
Each child from this marriage is listed as having the last name Davis or Davies, but their parents and ancestors hark back to the old naming conventions.
Let’s look at Angharadd Verch Philip Jeven, born in Gwydir, Caernarfonshire, Wales in 1550. Her father was named, you guessed it, Philip ap Jeven Gwilim. So “Verch” must mean “daughter of.” Her brother: Rees ap Philip.
So that’s my Welsh lesson for today, courtesy of the Church of Latter Day Saints. If you read this far, congratulations!
Just finished up 2011 on the Flickr to WP blog project. And boy, in hindsight, it’s obvious why I ended up needing hand surgery. I was a busy bee. There were SO MANY photos of books that I made in these posts that I forgot about entirely, and were either sold or given away. I was also stitching and weaving. I wish I could conjure up some of that creative energy now. It’s been good to see that I am capable of all this, though.
Today is the anniversary of my father’s death, which was in 1986. However, this morning I was thinking about the day that I walked away from my mother, the last of her children to depart after the funeral. I felt her eyes on me long after I drove away, but maybe that was just me. She was pretty angry with me for minor stuff, like what I wore to the funeral, and we would have the worst fights of our lives for the next six months, saying awful things to each other that still haunt me. In my defense, the worst came from her. I really put up with a lot and tried to appease her, since I realized what she must be going through.
I wondered what she did after she turned and went back into her house that day. Did she sleep? Did she cry? She was living alone for the first time in her life.
Later, she thrived in her independence. She traveled without having to worry about my father or her children. She had part-time work as a temp for the local postal service and made enough money to get by. She could have married again to a boyfriend who she really loved, but decided against it because they lived about a hundred miles apart and neither wanted to move. She was the Queen Bee of Marietta, NC, and stayed constantly busy in church, community, and art groups. Her children actually worried about her doing too much when she hit her 80s, and she was, until back pain and frustration with computers slowed her down. She worked until she was 83 and had a huge garden until a couple of years after that.
I’m glad that we finally started getting along. I miss her. I think that Daddy would have been happy with the way her life continued after he died. On one hand, I wish she was here for me to turn to in these dark days. On the other, I am glad that she didn’t live to deal with it. She would probably be in a nursing home and miserable, and by the time she died she was ready to go.
I was proud of my mother. She lived her life fully. I was Daddy’s girl, but by the end, I was Mama’s girl too.
My beloved Aunt DeLaine passed away on Saturday night at the age of 91. She had a long, amazing, adventurous life. The last time I saw her I had a feeling that I might not see her again, so I told her that I have adored her all my life and that I hoped that I would “grow up” to be like her. At that time she was recovering from heart and hip surgery, and was in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s but still living in her own apartment and still walking up and down those 17 steps. That was the long weekend when we went to Cripple Creek, Colorado. That was in September 2017.
In 2016, we visited a lovely French bistro/shop in Longmont, and later the Manitou Springs Cliff Dwellings Museum:
Our visit in September 2015 included the infamous ziplining adventure over a creek in Idaho Springs. I ended up having a panic attack and wimped out. DeLaine, however, was the most enthusiastic and stalwart of the four of us. At age 87, she may have been the oldest zipliner they had ever had.
I have loads of photos of Aunt DeLaine. I chose the ones of our adventures in Colorado together during the past nine years, but she came to North and South Carolina to visit often as well. She was a world traveler, and had lots of tales to tell, including about the celebrities she met when she was a “Girl Friday” for KBIG in Los Angeles.