Okay Winter, time to March right on out of here!

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.

Stay Safe. Especially Texas!

xx P

VICTORINE a Novel by Drema Drudge

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.

Why Victorine?

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.

Living on the Prairie

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.

Enjoy your Saturday and stay warms!!

xx P

Spread Love, Not Germs. XOXO

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.

xx P

We’re All in this Together..Right?

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.

Have a good one!

xx P

We Need a Little Kindness

Monday again. New numbers coming out for Covid. Oklahoma just can’t seem to get their shit together and make people follow the rules.

Last week we lost Grandma Mary. Covid. My in-laws, who are trumpettes, all have it! Karma is a bitch.

After the attempted coup at the Capital we found out who the racist bigots are! The county over one from us was represented by the Sheriff! Now we understand how these kids are getting shot in the back. And you know what? He is still in his job. I want answers. Why didn’t they just shoot them? You come in someones home uninvited you are going to face consequences or a bullet.

During all of this time OU Boy has blood clots in both legs. Strange bruises appearing daily and memory issues. Long haulers symptoms. Bad thing is we don’t know when, why or how we got this stuff. I’m still doing breathing treatments every day and not leaving my house. It’s a mess. Our doctor told us last week that we still aren’t taking the vaccine. Why? Because all the trials were with people who had no underlying conditions and until we see more evidence we won’t take it.

On the book front however, I am knocking those suckers back like tequila! Between drinking tea and reading I try and rest but I’m not good at it. I took all the ornaments off the Christmas tree and just moved the lighted tree into my office. Now it’s a Valentine tree. I have no time or patience for more. My moods are up and down and I may have told a *friend to take a hike and lose our number after spouting QAnon crap. He may have also been OU Boy’s boss. (He was and I did).

I tried the sourdough bread fad and three times ended up with moldy flour looking stuff that smelled bad. So I made chocolate no-bake cookies and used the jar for those. Perfect.

I still try and call my momma every day. I’m still in that denial phase. I didn’t realize how often I text her or send her a picture. It was a lot. Now I just want to know who’s in charge. Who do we tattle to? Apparantly it’s me. So far I’ve been asked health questions, marriage and birth record questions and if that is as bad as it gets I’ll live.

I sure hope this year brings us much needed peace and healing. And Justice, let’s not forget that one. Where were all the bullets and tear gas they used on the BLM peaceful march? As I sit here I just can’t quite believe all of this is real. Plagues, terrorists, racists, I swear if a hippo on a float went by I would just wave.

Praying for peace for all of you and your loved ones.

xx P

Happy Holidays To You All

‘Twas the night before Christmas and we were all happy about that because it brings us one day closer to 2020 being in the past. I for one don’t even want to count it as a year. Like Trump, it deserves an asterisk next to it. *2020 (Shite Year).

These past couple of weeks have been hard. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up the phone to ask my mother a question about a Christmas recipe and then I sob. I am processing the loss of Momma and it’s hard. A tip: Clean your stuff out before your children have to go through it. Good Lord!

This week in the mail I received a lot of photos of my parents and all of the photos I had sent them over the years. Plus my first attempt at cross-stitch when I stitched their wedding announcement and had it framed. I cried and put them all on the dresser. At which point OU Boy said, ” Well I guess we aren’t having sex in here ever again.” Which was funny but in the night the largest one fell over!

I have baked so much bread and bars and cookies and cupcakes and cake cakes this week in an effort to distract myself. The company Christmas Party was the grateful recipient of all that sugar. In a few hours we will be on our way to a secret getaway. I have no idea. It’s my surprise. Please don’t let it be camping.

OU Boy’s grandmother who has Alzheimer’s now has Covid. She is in a facility for Alzheimer patients. Numbers keep climbing and yet our Governor doesn’t believe in vaccines or wearing a mask and just made a new commercial inviting people to come visit. Don’t. Not worth dying for. We have had several people die at the hotel after being discharged from hospital.

Stay safe. Don’t put yourself in danger of catching anything. I wish you a peaceful and healthy holiday.

xx P

Candy Cane Lane from Celestial Seasonings Teas

Well, this picture says it all. I love this tea. It’s peppermint with vanilla notes that leave a feeling of creaminess. Very special tea and I adore it.

A few weeks back I had shared the tip that the holiday teas were now out. I ordered everything except for this one. I checked my list, saw a few packages in the holiday rotation, and moved on. At least one thing had gone well.

We were back to the hospital Friday. With OU Boy running fever, getting these odd red circles all over his body, and having mood swings, his doctor said to get there now. We did. It looked like a ghost town.

On the left side are about 10 police cars, 4 ambulances and a couple of choppers. We pulled up to the Valet and I ran in the first entrance and asked for Valet. The security guard said, ” We only do valet for patients who arrive alone.” I said, “Dude, I can’t drive right now. Call Dean Magee Eye Institute.”

His reply, as they were wheeling OU Boy back was, “Can’t you just close that eye and drive?”. Before I could throat punch him, a police officer came over and informed the guard it was illegal for me to do that and he would park it for me.” I sent OU Boy a text telling him I’m not allowed to even come in the waiting room. I have to stand outside. It was appropriate that I was dressed in my RBG sweater that said ” I Dissent”. Yep.

Long story short, he took another test and checked out AMA. We will happily die at home, thank you very much. Still haven’t received any results but found out if we had stayed, they would have flown him out of state because they are full. Then it was my turn to run fever and cough and just want to be drugged. And the ONLY thing that was going to make this bearable was Candy Cane Lane Tea. I heated the kettle and opened the box. EMPTY. Okay, okay, just open the others. EMPTY. All gone. Someone stole all of my tea. The Tea Fairy I suppose. Panic ensued and OU Boy made a quick dash to Sprouts and bought them out. He ordered on-line and picked up at the curb, so no germs. That is why I love him. He never even questioned the notion that I was delirious and could have had peppermint. Nope, he loves the hell out of me.

So we have lain about for days whining and generally just watching Netflix getting ready for The Crown. And finishing up this beauty that came out today! We have loved it and so needed it at this point in time.

So, yeah, that about sums up another crazy week. My Momma sent me a picture of her thumb and an empty paper plate. Curacao is back on the table for very soon.

The little people in trumpian land are quiet as the movie Quiet. Crickets people. Zip, Zero, Nada. And my gosh the adrenaline and tension release had us in emotional but happy tears.

What’s new in your area?

xx P

The Winter Teas Are Arriving! And I Voted!

Nothing makes my dark little heart beat quite so hard as when receiving new seasonal teas from Bigelow. Or from anyone to be honest.

This little group could not have come at a better time either. I was trying out a new Rum Cake recipe and invited friends over to taste test with a cup of Eggnog Tea. Seemed appropriate. And oh my goodness it was lovely!

This is all that remains of the small bundt cakes, I did some with nuts and some without. I was also reviewing the silicone bundt pan, so I killed two birds.

Winter has gone back to wherever it stays and once again it’s shorts and tank tops as we chop up tree limbs and haul them to the curb. We actually had to turn on the a/c we were sweating so hard!

But life goes on and crazy weather seems to be the norm now. Good news is we are going to be allowed into Curacao in December! Woo Hoo! Hopefully we can keep the cold at bay until then.

Hope you all have either voted or plan to. I have been so crazy busy and then sick this past month that I ordered a thermos to take to the polls to vote as the lines were down the street, only to be told I had already turned in my absentee vote weeks ago. Oh well, at least I am positive I voted. Thank you Kendra Horn for making sure I received a ballot! I voted for you. And Joe and Kamala and anyone who was against the feeble group we have now.

Happy Friday! (It is Friday, right?)

xx P

Happy Sunday! I hope you are all healthy and safe.

Oklahoma is having a second surge that is worse than the first one. Also troubling is that this week we added 2 more categories of positive age groups. Under 2 and 6 to 10. Our major positive spreaders are in the 18 to 35 group and next the 35 to 49 group. I’m not in any of those groups so I guess my natural tendency to stay at home is finally paying off. OU Boy and I are perfectly fine at the moment.

His heart is working just fine and for once no one is hurting anywhere. I swear when you hit 40 your entire body just says, ” That’s it. All systems shutting down.” I have found the way to encourage OU Boy is to keep telling him how cute he looks after losing ten pounds. He’s awfully vain and it seems to be working.

We may get Fall today! At least for a day or so. It’s 11 a.m. and still grey outside and nothing is moving. This is suspicious behavior for OKC. The wind is always blowing. For the past couple of days it has been so bad I was not allowed outside due to the eye thingy. So instead I caught up on reviews, and binge watched The Haunting of Bly House which I liked less than the Haunting of Hill Manor. Even with the Stephen King Easter Egg in one of the scenes. I saw that, Stephen!

The election smack talk is heating up on Twitter but now that he is out of Twitmo, he is being careful. As I explained to him, it is possible to read something you disagree with and just move on.

I bought this book for my granddaughter and then read it myself. She loves mysteries. Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, all the old ones. But now Sherlocks daughter and Watson’s son are hooking up solving crimes and it’s one of the best YA series!

The Covid thing is putting holidays in jeopardy. I don’t care for my relatives enough to travel 12 hours to eat turkey and get infected. North Dakota, I’m talking to you! Get your shit together and stop infecting people so we can go to Canada.

As I sit here in my flamingo pajamas looking out the window I am totally grateful that we are here and in good health. And I wish that for all of you. No holiday or gift giving event is a good enough reason to be foolish and infect grandma and grandpa with a deadly virus.

Now I am off to feed my squirrel that I have befriended during isolation. She had triplets 2 weeks ago and is chowing down now. What is the weirdest thing you have done during lockdown?

xx P