These are the only things I have been doing. Fishing, Camping, Swimming and Boating. And of course, reading.
It has been a hot month so far. We had like 7 days of rain that let the mosquitos breed, so that was fun. And by the fourth it was hot and humid. We were spending a week at the lake with the grandparents and that turned into one night and a trip to the emergency room. It was also the last tent camping we will ever do!
There was a lot of chuckling going on and several people stopped in just to look at it. In the end they stuck a needle in and numbed that sucker good. I told him just to do what he had to do and do not tell me. So when he was finished and I looked my thumb looked like the Hulk! Except orange from the Betadine. The doctor asked if we wanted the lure back. WE did not. We left with my thumb intact but OU Boy had to leave with a hole in his pants letting everyone see his festive boxer shorts.
We decided we are not fishermen or tent campers. Thank goodness for the a/c in the RV. So we sold all the camping equipment and bought a boat. Makes perfect sense, right?
My TBR pile got way out of hand. Now it’s doing well at 19. Kindle books. Maybe 20 physical books. But we lived through the vaccine, the fish hook, and the rain, so I think we are going to be good.
We had a big family Fourth of July picnic at the farm. The youngest was 6 weeks and the oldest was 90. It was a great day that ended with no injuries.
Finally all of my fingers are well now so I’m back to the things I do best. Read and whine.
OU Boy and I had decided I would take the Moderna vaccine and if I didn’t die then he would take it. I was so anxious the day before I almost chickened out but I need to leave the country soon and I have to have proof that I have had the shots.
Obviously the universe had other plans. We got there and I had my shot. Then Jennifer, our pharmacist told OU Boy she had one dose left as someone had chickened out. So he got stuck too.
For all the people in my life who told me how good they slept after the first shot and how painless it was? Screw you all.
From Saturday evening until Tuesday evening we couldn’t even move our arms. I was so glad I had mine in the left arm or I couldn’t have gone to the bathroom alone! We had fever, chills, PAIN. At one point I would have chopped the arm off. I had Covid last year. There was no PAIN. Granted it was six weeks of hell, but I recovered.
Wednesday dawned sunny and I had no more pain. Physical pain. As most of you know my mother left this earth on December 5th. May 5th is my birthday. This was the first time in my life I didn’t receive a card from my Momma. Plus that 5 a.m. text. So that set off the sobbing jag that lasted all day and night. I was already on the edge of a full-blown anxiety attack. As most of you already know it’s been almost five years since the great eye debacle (corneal transplant) and Monday my surgeon released me to a corneal specialist. I am finally stable. And what did I do? Pick up the phone to tell Momma.
It’s all these firsts that are gutting me. I am lucky I have three sisters and a brother who buoyed me up through texts, and lots of love. And OU Boy who took me to dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant where they thought we were celebrating Cinco de Mayo. I’m French. We lost that minor battle, so no, it was Cinco de Patricia.
But we made it through. But that second shot on the 29th I am already ancy about!
Hope everyone is well and doing their best to stay healthy.
The middle of the 1700’s were full of uncertainty for the thirteen colonies that Great Britain has founded so far. There are so many different battles going on it’s no wonder everyone was a little anxious.
Everyone wants to find a new frontier. And they are all willing to die for it. The Natives, the French, the Spanish and of course our mother country. The conflicts were gruesome and cruel. Everyone was lying. Someone’s word meant nothing. The Natives were rightly upset and everyone wanted a piece of the country.
And here is where we meet Daniel Boone. Well, actually my husband is a direct descendant of his sister, Elizabeth, so we thought we knew pretty much everything. We did not.
The name Daniel Boone brings me immediately to the song. First off, he wasn’t a big man. He wasn’t at all like the movie and cartoon versions. He was a man with a passion for finding out what lay beyond the Appalachians. He wasn’t a fighting man, but he did his part for the revolution. It’s always dangerous to turn people from the past into larger than life characters and that has been done with Boone.
It was a fast read and based on a lot of research. How did Boone become such a legend? He was seldom home, working as a trapper with a friend or his brother. They would be gone for long periods of time. He saw his fair share of suffering in his own household and they always seemed to be on the edge of financial ruin and yet Daniel did what he had to do to care for his family.
Here you can read his story as told from many different people. The history of America is in this book and I am better for having read it.
It is a rare day here in Oklahoma when the wind isn’t blowing like Kansas is sucking air from Texas and we are in the middle. But it is most definitely Spring and things are popping up all over.
The trees are budding, the daffy dillys are up as are the tulips and crocus. The trees are spreading pollen as if they were benevolent beings tossing beads at Mardi Gras. People are sneezing and we look at those people out of the corner of our eye because, well, Covid. Yesterday I was doing my walk and sneezed so hard I had to run back home and blow my nose.
This is such a great season. Everything is that new green and our grass looks like the inside of an easter basket. As our groundskeeper was watering the containers around the pool, she called to me and we found baby bunnies burrowed in a pot. Oh, my were they cute! Tiny as can be with the longest eyelashes. We didn’t disturb them. We also have our annual mallard mate here swimming in the pool. She has built a nest under the shrubs and blends right in.
We had an interloper yesterday. A young male. Very rude. I was inside taking my shoes off when I heard the most awful racket outside the door. With one shoe in hand I ran out to find the young male trying to ‘hook up’ with the Mrs. While the Mr. was trying to get him off of her I’m yelling, ” Get off of her! She’s married! That’s rape! “. To be honest I don’t feel as though the Mr. was as manly as he should have been. And she let him know it. So nature is doing her thing.
Since I have had to be indoors so much I have redone my bathroom tile. Painted the bathroom. Finished the kitchen and planted a lot of herbs to make tea with. My spinach is about 2 inches tall and so is the fennell. Now if this darn wind would go somewhere else I would be happy.
So March came in. I’m always surprised by how quickly it gets here. Can’t we just give February a couple of more days? I wasn’t ready for March.
We have gone from 2 feet of snow and the entire state losing its’ mind to me wearing shorts today and leaving all the windows open. So Winter can just March itself right on down the road. Like to Australia.
I have spent the entire past 7 days gathering up all of the Vine Voice things that have piled up over the year and either gave them to people in need or gave them to the church. I had an entire room full of everything from a cordless drill to an inflatable bath tub. That bathtub is awesome! It will be in my tent all summer.
I have been doing a series on downsizing and living smaller. People think if you live in an apartment it can be impersonal. But as long as you aren’t making permanent changes, you are good. So in that vein, I’m looking at this wallpaper thing on Wayfair. Especially made for renters. Peel and stick. Some of it is good and some is very cheap and ugly. One looked like those old cardboard Christmas fireplaces. Apparently the good folks at Wayfair also talk to Amazon because the next day the only one I wanted was on Amazon Vine. So I ordered it. I had seen pictures on the site and thought it sounded good. Thick, easy to move and it doesn’t take the paint off the wall. Mine looks like brick and has a pebbly texture to it. The 3D effect makes it look real.
I thought it would be like Contact Paper, but no, It’s thick like wallpaper and you can easily reposition it. It took OU Boy about an hour total to do our entire kitchen backsplash area. I love it and I’ve invited my friends over to see it and they loved it also. I just ordered another roll and paid for that one! I’m going to try in on my bookshelves.
I had ordered all of my tea making herbs plus all of my cooking herbs so I asked OU Boy if he would pick me up a bag of organic seed starting soil. He brought home a 50 pound bag that I didn’t even put a dent in. But they are all planted and labeled and sitting in my back bedroom that gets lots of sun in the afternoon and then to give them a boost I got a few grow lights. Can you tell I am ready for Spring? Time to till up the garden at the farm and get things ready.
How is everyone? Is the plague slowing down any? What are you reading? I’m reading a really good book about Ethel Rosenberg.
Victorine Meurent. You may not know the name, but you know her. Take a look at Manet’s Olympia or Picnic on the Grass. Victorine models for many artists. She is living in Paris, posing nude or clothed. But her secret desire is to be the painter, not the model.
In 1863, a woman artist is laughable. It is not a career that is encouraged by parents or society. But Victorine is no ordinary woman. No. She is a force of nature, steamrolling her way to her dreams. She doesn’t want someone else’s life, she wants to live her life. And she does.
She endures the horror of the occupation of Paris. She makes do with nothing. But she is always kind and loving.
Victorine is one of the most interesting women I have had the pleasure to read about. She is smart, curious, and determined. Her personality is so strong and the author portrays her so well, you can feel her emotions. This is not something I come across every day. I wanted it to last longer. I honestly don’t have words for the energy this work of art is. Victorine came to life with the language the author used. I have a feeling we shall see more!
March 17th, 2020 by Fleur-de-Lis Press
This book is a real force of nature. Once you begin to read you will be helpless to stop! So I had some questions for this author who has such a flair for the written word.
She was kind enough to answer
Thank you so much, Patricia, for having me on your blog today. I appreciate it.
So, this is your first published book?
Yes. It’s the culmination of a lifelong dream of being a published author. I’m still pinching myself and I find myself holding it in my hands and turning it over and over sometimes.
I was in a college class, The Painted Word, that was about literature featuring paintings. The professor put up a PowerPoint presentation with artwork to inspire us. When he got to Manet’s Olympia, something about the painting, the nude woman in it, arrested me. I had never seen it, but I felt like there was so much she wanted to say to me. I told her I would listen. It was only later I discovered she was Victorine Meurent, not only a model, but a talented artist as well.
What type of research did you do?
What I wanted more than anything was to go to Paris to learn more. I refused to even attempt to find out anything about her until I could see “her” in person. (My process is learning from the artwork directly first, to see what it can “say” to me. Then I do book research.)
I was in grad school at the time, and we took a trip to Paris. I couldn’t sleep the night before I went to D’Orsay, because I knew “she” would be there. When I stood before the painting of Olympia, I felt like the model still had something more to say, but I couldn’t figure out what. I started crying in frustration.
Then a tour group came by, and their leader started talking about this model in the painting whose nose had been broken by her boxer boyfriend. That was the first I had heard of that. The funny thing was, I could never find any proof of that in my research, that there was a boxer boyfriend. But I knew it belonged in the book. Willie was born. He remains one of my favorite characters in the story.
Once I was home, I dug deeply into the internet for information. I discovered there wasn’t much to know about Victorine, which disappointed me. But by using the paintings of her, by reading about the time period, I was able to put together something that approximated her story. Many of the best-known painters of the time painted her, not only Édouard Manet, but also Alfred Stephens and Toulouse-Lautrec.
When I realized she was an artist herself, but history had forgotten that fact, I knew why she had chosen me to tell her story: she wanted me to return her to art history. (Or “herstory.”) My initial research only showed one known painting of hers, rediscovered in 2004. However, as my husband and I dug deeper, (besides being my sweetie, he’s also my research assistant) we
found three other paintings of hers. This included her self-portrait, which thrilled me. Seeing how she saw herself after all of the paintings of her confirmed for me that I had heard her correctly. (And I should add, we didn’t discover this painting until right before the book went to press. I quickly made a few changes to the scene where she paints herself. I also got permission from the painting’s owner to use the painting on the back of my book, the first time her painting has ever been published. I felt absolutely validated in my journey with her, then.
What is your favorite writing genre?
I love writing literary fiction. It’s sometimes difficult to write, is sometimes difficult to read, but there’s something deep and universal about it that speaks to me. It deals with what’s most important in life. It’s a full meal with something to snack on after the fact, too. Or I think that’s its aim. Not that it’s without its faults. Sometimes it takes itself too seriously. Sometimes it goes too dark.
That being said, I read lots of different genres, because sometimes you want something lighter. While I classify Victorine as primarily literary fiction about art, it is also historical literary fiction.
And who knows what I might write in the future?
Can you share with us what you are working on now?
Gladly! While I adore writing about art, I’ve taken a break to write about another topic that thrills me. Virginia Woolf is my favorite writer, so I am incorporating some of her book To the Lighthouse in mine. My novel is about Briscoe Chambers, a grad school student working on her thesis on Woolf. She’s married to a country music singer, Michael, and she’s also his manager.
The book opens with her discovering very publicly that he has cheated on her. The problem is, he’s contractually obligated to work with the woman he cheated with. And Briscoe has invested so much of her time and energy, not to mention her heart, in him and his career that she has to decide what to do next. It’s not as easy as just walking away. Reading and writing about Woolf help her come to a decision. Add in a distinctly Southern flare (I’m originally from the South and my husband and I lived in Nashville for a stretch) and I think it’s a fun one.
Who in the literary world do you look up to?
As I mentioned, Woolf is my absolute favorite writer. Her work is layered, nuanced, and challenging but rewarding. W. Somerset Maugham’s work is amazing. Toni Morrison is in my top ten, for sure.
Sena Jeter Naslund’s writing is a current writer whose work astonishes me with its delicate beauty. (Full disclosure: she’s also a mentor and dear friend of mine.) When it comes to art in
fiction, Stephanie Storey’s writing is lovely as well. Irving Stone’s writing about art is beyond compare.
I am a classics fan, clearly, so the Brontës are favorites of mine, all of them, William Shakespeare and Jane Austen, of course…I could go on and on here.
Thank you again, Patricia, for having me on your blog and for all you do for the literary community.
Well, it finally made good on the snow promise. It snowed, and snowed, and snowed some more. I personally did not care because I don’t go outside if it’s under 74. You have to draw a line. So, I watched as it piled up. It was the pretty snowman making type of snow. Dry. The good news was there was little wind which is odd for Oklahoma. It tickled my dark little heart to watch everyone lose their minds over snow. No ice. Just a few feet of snow.
We couldn’t get out so OU Boy pretty much stayed at the hotel. Until Thursday when this happened.
All the fire sprinkler lines in the ceiling busted sending tons of water down. There was at least 5 inches just in the lobby. The elevator shaft was full. Needless to say, we called the Fire Department and the Insurance guys and they came fast. Everyone on all three floors were evacuated, since we have no fire equipment working we had to close. But trying to find places for guests in the middle of the night was a pill. Most of them were here from Texas, where they had no power or heat and they never wear masks so I felt no sympathy.
Only problem was all 3 of our hotels were flooding. In the end after OU Boy stayed two days at work to oversee the remediation work,he was able to catch a nap.There were about 30 or more water main breaks so we had no power or water at home. Yesterday we were filling crab pots with clean snow just to flush the toilets. I’m one of those people who always have 6 or 7 gallons of water in case of emergency. I did share with my friend Sonya since she has been feeding me for a long time. Today we have water, power and hot water. The hotels will be closed for at least a month. So Texans, go home and take your Ted Cruz germs with you.
Tommy actually found 16 Mexicans hiding out on the third floor this morning. Scared the crap out of him.
Tommy has never been around for the morning ritual that is Sonya, who is full-on Russian, and her dad works with Putin. She is the best pastry chef I have ever met and we adore each other. So he finally was awake to see the past few days. Picture it. Front door. A gentle knock. I open the door and hand her an empty plate and she hands me back a full one. Air kisses and boom, breakfast. This week we had PAVLOVA… With pistachios she ordered 3 months ago from Turkey.
And Medvik, or Honey Cake.
For dinner tonight she brought over a Lamb Dish with fresh Thyme and a loaf of warm home-made bread.
She also told me not to cook a cake for Tommy’s birthday tomorrow as she is making him a giant Pavlova. I was not even planning on making a cake, so that’s nice.
Other than that I’ve just been reading and waiting on packages that never seem to arrive. I don’t know about you but I have been adding to cart everyday! Swimsuits, camping gear, scuba gear, floats. Yep, I’m skipping straight to summer.
I just finished a week of long-hauler syndrome. Again. It seems my new normal is one week out of the month I will be feeling exactly as I did with Covid. It’s horrible. The unending fatigue. Fever. Coughing and breathing treatments. But am I complaining? Well, yes. Do you know me? But seriously I’ll take that over OU Boy’s weird after effects. Blood Clots are not on my bucket list. At least I am off the steroids now and not biting any heads off.
After cruising through December and January in shorts, February is coming in cold. It started as a small shower that froze and people lost their minds. There were 30 car pile-ups on the interstates. Dead cows on the highway and people in no way prepared for this. Today we have cold again. 19 degrees. Plus little snow flurries now and again.
I have been hibernating and dealing with Covid. Deaths of our grandmothers. Deaths of friends and the unmitagated gall of Texans refusing to wear masks in the Marriott. Marriott is very good about standing by their employees however so now you can’t get in without a mask. Can’t. Open. The. Door. One of our residents who was recovering away from his house from Covid is now back in hospital with liver failure and gall bladder surgery. This is not something to take lightly.
Coming up on the anniversary of The Eye thing. 5 years. 4 years today since the first surgery. Still have 12 stitches in there. Not too worried about them. My eye feels great and although it hurt to give up the contacts, I’d rather keep the eye.
Between reading and watching The Magicians again, we are pretty content. I made a huge crock of Irish Stew this morning and it is simmering in the oven beside a loaf of whole grain bread I made.I figured out that baking heats up the house.
So Sunday is Valentine’s Day. But not in our house. Every husband and child was born on that day so it’s not my day. We made reservations at the Tea Room for the Valentine Chocolate High Tea on Monday. We love that.
Everyone still hanging in there? I sure hope so. Stay warm and safe and be nice. Seriously.
The last day of January. It feels eerily similar to last January. People are still complaining about wearing masks. The newest thing is fake cards saying the person doesn’t have to wear a mask because of lung cancer. Total fake. We have had several people at the hotel trying to use these. Fortunately for us we aren’t dumb.
The DOJ put out a warning about these fake cards in July. Read a paper. We just cancel their reservation and move on. Better to wear a mask than a ventilator. OU Boy is still dealing with his weird after Covid symptoms. But at least nothing is worse. We bought industrial masks and double up on them. We order groceries. Our meds are delivered.
I haven’t been out of my house except for doctor appointments. My neighbors think I am rude. My elderly nun neighbor moved back to Boston today. And much like the day Biden was sworn in, my stomach stopped hurting. I don’t care how old you are or what you do, but I will not have negative energy in my life and this lady talked crap about all our neighbors so I haven’t seen her since before Christmas when she brought a package over and gave it to OU Boy. That is important because I was in the bath. I would not have accepted a gift from her. She is on a fixed income and we just don’t do that gift thing. But HE answered the door and I feel he is the one who should have told her no. He opened it. It was a $250 beach themed cuckoo clock and every hour on the hour a seagull comes out and what is supposed to sound like waves and gulls just comes off as a ghost in your wall. Scared the living daylights out of us. So it is in it’s box. Don’t know what to do with it.
We have binge watched The Ranch with Sam Elliot and cried and laughed so much the people we tell about it are mad at us for getting them involved in the emotional roller coaster that is The Ranch. Loved it. We tore through Bridgerton, The Queen’s Gambit, The Magicians and lots of serial killer documentaries. I gave up on the gym because no masks were worn so I bought a bike like the one I use at the gym. OU Boy bought a kayak. For two.
Although I am allowed to go to Curacao now, I just don’t feel safe flying into Florida. So my poor sister is having to do everything down there by her self. She’s doing well though. As for me, I still try and text my Momma everyday. Yesterday I received some honey with the honeycomb and I was so excited to call and tell her. She made honeycomb ice cream and we loved it. I hung her huge portrait in the living room so I can just talk to her like that. She agrees with me a lot more now that she can’t talk.
Let’s all hope February treats us better. In Oklahoma we had our first tornado of the year yesterday. WTAF? At least we have no snow. Just endless wind blowing across the prairie like a sand blaster.
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