Views from Annie's Cabin

miscellaneous musings on aging and living and loving

Maddening Technology!

I’ve said it before and alas, I’ll say it again—I’m still tarrying in the 19th century!  As hard as I try, as often as I try, as intensely I try…I cannot break comfortably into the 21st (Hey, whatever happened to the 20th–???)!!  And that distressing fact became apparent again yesterday when I posted a new blog called “Midnight Serendipity.”  Somehow my “share” button got selfish or stubborn or recalcitrant or something.  And my post didn’t swish out to any mailboxes or Facebook accounts.


So my fabulous Bloggy Guru is going to try to help me get back on this ol’ technological rocking horse and get me up to speed again.  Hence this little diatribe……..


Thank you, Miz Guru Girl, Fay Choban!  You da BOMB!!

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Midnight Serendipity

Well, another interesting night unfolded last night.  Lots of rain, windows open, steady drummingIMG_2161 of water off the eaves and the incessant background roar of the rising creek waters.  I punched pillows and tossed and turned and discombobulated both husband and dog, so ultimately just gave into my own restlessness and threw on my faded old sweats and trundled back to Abbey—-Abbey the Book Barn— always my sanctuary, always my midnight cocoon.  And once I accept the fact that I’m wide awake and up for the duration of some unknown stretch of time, then I relax and look around and say to my books, now which of you all are gonna jump down and keep me company tonight?  And this evening, the first book that jumped off the shelf and into my hands and found me curled in my sagging blue reading chair, was Alexander Woollcott’s compendium of readings for men in the Armed Services—from 1943.  My father’s own copy, it bore a bookplate from Southern Bell (“Ma Bell” he used to call her), which reads:  “Your Company hopes this book will serve as a reminder of our appreciation for the job you are doing and of our eagerness for the day when you will return to us.  Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Co., Christmas 1943.”  And the free front end paper bears my father’s own inscription, in his handwriting, so uniquely his own and one which never fails to make my heart jump when I see it.  So I held the book, studied the book, tendered the book.  And then read a few passages—some Edna St. Vincent Millay, Robert Frost, some Thoreau.

And Thoreau reminded me of Jane Kenyon (who’d kept me company a few long nights ago), and a line from one of her poems (“It was/the author of Walden, wasn’t it/ who made a sacrament of saying no”) so I pulled a 1937 Modern Library, Scribner’s edition of Walden and Other Writings of Henry David Thoreau off the shelf.  A nice weighty volume, perfect fit for the hands and lap.  A real nice feeling book.  And wandered around the woods with Thoreau for a while, soft lamplight sitting in for evening starlight.   And while I like Thoreau, would like to step back to 1845 and share a walk with him at the Pond, he’s prone to indulge in what’s known in the colloquial parlance of today as TMI (too much information!).  But he had a passion for wise and honorable living which I admire—and always learn from.  A moral philosopher with plenty of time to think and codify his thoughts into his own moral philosophy.  A man, too, with his own spirituality…….

So I read his chapter on “Walking” and took it to heart.  I’m that much of a hermit myself.  Then I dipped into the chapter on “Visitors” and loved it even better than the one on walking.  It made me smile.  “I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.”  Aha!  pretty sensible…..but then he frets about the problem of society being “so close” to him:  “One inconvenience I sometimes experienced in so small a house, the difficulty of getting to a sufficient distance from my guest when we began to utter the big thoughts in big words.  You want room for your thoughts to get into sailing trim and run a course or two before they make their port.  The bullet of your thought must have overcome its lateral and ricochet motion and fallen into its last and steady course before it reaches the ear of the hearer, else it may plow out again through the side of his head….I have found it a singular luxury to talk across the pond to a companion on the other side.”  WOW, how did I not know—until the midnight hours of a lonely old night—that young Thoreau possessed a practical sense of humor?!  He and I will indeed take some more leisurely strolls through Time…..(I love his “big thoughts in big words”!)

But I laid  him down with thoughts of his lonesome spirituality still curling around the edges of my mind.  And sat with the comfortable book in my lap, and thought about a man living in such self-imposed isolation and how, in so doing, he becomes intimate with his own sense of spirituality.  Which led my eyes to wander over to the piano at my side where the light shared between keyboard and reading chair shone onto another one of my old favorites, J. W. N. Sullivan’s Beeethoven:  His Spiritual Development.  So I pulled it down from its sitting place (nestled in with Chopin’s Letters) and browsed around its thoughts and philosophies a bit.  This is one of the books I’ve always kept in my car against the unexpected traffic delay or long post office line; Shakespeare’s Sonnets is another one.  But Sullivan’s tracing of Beethoven’s spiritual development through his music compositions is a real tour de force–-yet quite approachable for a lay musician, although the book is best read while listening to the music; that way you can link the words and the mounting power of the music together and then it’s like—WOW, I see! Thank you!  But last night I was captured by a phrase that Beethoven had copied out in his own hand and framed and kept permanently on his desk:  “I am that which is.  I am all that was, that is, and that shall be.”  A bit of Eastern mysticism overlaying or intertwined with good old fashioned Catholic and Anglican credos.

**  **  **

Well, such was my SERENDIPITY on a rainy old night long past midnight.  The unexpected pleasure of one thing leading delightfully to another in the unstructured course of events, resulting in that ultimate comfort of after-midnight friendship:  Me and My Books.

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Night Dark Poem


Unravelled Scribbles

Another Sleepless Night.

Not that, these days, there are many—

But when they do come they surprise me

and I find myself unprepared.

And I like to feel prepared for life.

But last night I gave myself up

to the dark side of light,

and let the hours wander me where they would….

The creek roared her white-water tales

and misty apparitions

drifted through the soft lamplight

spilling over the water.

I let my pen sprawl

over the pages of my journal,

writing words that always startle

and amaze me

with their honesty.

I read Yeats and Jane Kenyon.

Read “Under Ben Bulben” thrice

dodging old memories between the lines,

while Jane’s homespun wisdom comforted me

like a time-worn quilt.

Not companion poets one would think,

but they both beckoned me to their pages.

I put up no resistance

and was the better for it.

It was a good night

strange and mystical,

alone with the rain,

the wild untamed water

my books

my dog

and unchained memories.


Soggy New November


Soggy, Dark, Wet, Dreary November….

Dear November,

Will you please go find the sun?!  I’m tired of the darkness.  Tired of the Time Change to Daylight Stealing Time.  Tired of towels at every door.  Tired of a smelly wet dawg—even after bathing her with Johnson’s Baby Shampoo!  Tired of umbrellas that don’t work, but that hide the fact until I’m struggling to open them, in a downpour, loaded down with a day’s “bundling” in my arms.  Tired of meetings in the rain.

I’m suffering from winter malaise early.  WAY too early, so it’s imperative (for my sanity and those with whom I live) that I begin to count my blessings instead of bitching and moaning about—of all things—the weather!  As if there were something I could DO about it!!  So why let it flatten my hair, downcast my spirits, ruin my shoes and mood?  Get UP!  GET OUT!  Annie needs to find a sweet place to park her mind…….

So, I’m counting my blessings.  Here I go:

l.  I really do love hearing the rain falling gently outside.

2.  I love hearing the music of the roaring river creek.

3.  I love the magic of darkness, of having breakfast by candlelight!

4.  I love the way Miss Grace and Mr. Darcy follow me around.

5.  I love doing my yoga by candlelight with the cats waiting patiently for their yoga brushing.

6.  I love sharing a cup of tea with my husband who’s been dutifully battling the mice who’re trying to nestle in with us…in the kitchen, pantry and wherever else they can scuttle in.

7.  I love having a gentle fire going all day and into the nighttime.

8.  I love staring out the big window, watching the water flow below me.

9.  I love the shimmering magic colors that are beginning to fade; the leaves that are swinging and swirling down from the trees.

10.  I love the aloneness of a dark rainy day–the feeling of being outside of Time…..

WELL, I feel better!  Thank you, sweet unpredictable November, for making me step outside myself and count my blessings…some of them at least.  Which is a very good start to November, I reckon, indeed.



Gracie’s Rainbow

Well, yesterday was quite a day, filled with unexpected pleasures as well as problems.  It all started because I had to go into town to accomplish requisite errands.  Hot day and way too much traffic as I made my stately way across town, one side to the other.  Ending up, on the way home, at the grocery store.  I noticed I’d had several missed calls from home and realized I’d left my ringer turned off—ugh, never a good idea.  So I phoned Hollis and in a broken up reception he told me he was on Gap Creek Road taking Gracie to the hospital, that something had happened to her paw and he’d called the vet and they’d said to give a small half tab of Benadryl and come on up.  He was in a dither and so was I when I pieced the story together.

So, instead of going home, I, too, immediately headed up Gap Creek Road and up to Hendersonville to “Uncle Ted’s Western Carolina Emergency Veterinary Clinic.  And found Hollis holding a trembling little black dog who yipped and cried when she saw me come in the door.  He passed her to my arms and told me the story.  They were walking to the mailbox when she yanked and ran ahead with her leash, dragging him forward, and then suddenly she just dropped and fell over on her side.  She wouldn’t get up, couldn’t get up, so he picked her up, ran her home and called the Vet, left, and tried (again!) to call me.

As it turned out, the doctor couldn’t find anything at all, even with high-powered microscope—no bite, no cut, no abrasion, no nothing; all was intact— and she was calming down, so we bundled her back into my car and headed homeward, me following behind Hollis.  And it was then that the heavens burst wide open and the rain surged down.  Not just in sheets or waves but in blinding buckets that in five seconds flooded the road and obscured all vision left, right, back and forward.  So we pulled off into an empty church parking lot and Hollis put a towel over his head and jumped into my car where we figured, if we had to wait it out, we’d all wait it out together.

And that’s when we realized that neither one of us had ever had lunch and it was now close to 5:00.   Ah, but yes, I’d been to the grocery store!  So with Gracie in my lap, radio softly playing, rain pelting down outside, we had ourselves a little picnic in the storm.

A Jug of Wine

A Loaf of Bread—

And Thou

What a cozy little time we had, too!  Gracie was coming round and doing fine, we were doing fine, and it mattered not at all that the world outside wasn’t doing fine.  We looked at each other and said, “What a groovy way to weather the storm!”  and at that very moment, (no kidding!) the rain stopped, and a gorgeous lustrous rainbow arc’d across the sky!  We sat there breathless, speechless, thinking—what a gift, what a perfect ending to a day fraught with pain and worry and uncertainty!

So there we were, a  happy little threesome, channelling ‘ol Omar and his Rubaiyat, marvelling at the glory and splendor of Gracie’s Rainbow  in the parking lot of Grace Baptist Church—our hearts filled with joy and thanks.

(P.S.  turns out she was bitten by a teensy yellow jacket, smaller than a sweat bee.  There were several of them in the pathway this morning.  Their sting was mighty but  invisible even under lighted magnification.  So all’s well and our hearts are still full of gratitude!  And we’ll watch our steps even more carefully now that we know there’s yet another enemy lurking in these Dark Corner hills!)

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WordSplash…and me………..

IMG_1781Well, it’s been a while since I’ve been back to Annie’s Cabin and I’m a bit rusty, but hoping a little exercise will get things moving  along again.  March of this year saw Hollis and me undertaking the construction of my new writing studio, named WordSplash after a favorite phrase from one of my favorite crazy poets, Dylan Thomas.  And quite properly christened Castle WordSplash with a handmade sign by The Bear Man, Frank Nicolette, whose specialty is chain-saw carved bears.  And wizards.  And now signs for Annie’s Cabin!  And below I hope we’ll see WordSplash herself where I’ve been spending hours and hours since she was completed a few weeks ago.  Situated on a small knoll between two creeks leading into the bigger river creek down below, she is a cool place in every sense of the word.  And the good news is that the “real writing” is underway.  But it’s taken a while and before serenity could set in again, chaos had to reign, which it did, but now her reign is over and mine has begun!  But I do wish writing a blog were as user-friendly as writing a novel………….

You see, I need a techno-wizard (as well as a hand-carved one) to remind me how to navigate Media Libraries and photos and I’m not quite there yet on my own.  But what the heck—I’m trying!

IMG_1782Is there anyway—-WOW, look what just happened!  I hit some wondrous button and the words started flowing right where I wanted them to!  Now, if I could only remember what I did.  haha…..

Anyhow, I do have a retirement routine which I adhere to pretty regularly. Correspondence and doggie walk in the mornings, yoga with my Ragdolls, a bite of breakfast with my good man and then—whoohoo!  I mosey on out to Castle WordSplash, usually around 11:00.  Except for days like today when I spend—or rather waste!—a couple hours re-figuring how to make a bloggy thing come alive again……but not complaining, just observing.

For here’s the point:  yesterday was Sunday and the afternoon found me up in WordSplash, on the floor, in front of two old wicker trunks loaded with memorabilia—letters, old diaries, newspaper clippings—not to mention all my grammar school report cards and kindergarten poems(!) I’d written to my mother aeons ago.  In essence, my whole life was a jigsaw puzzle of random unconnected pieces littered before me.  And Junior High and High School scrapbooks and newsletters and albums full of black and white photos from First Weeks at Pawleys Island…..and I could go on and on.   And after I got used to the apprehension of heartbreak with every letter and the mysteries and clues they held, it started dawning on me that i had a cultural world in front of me that no longer exists….The Last Age of Innocence as it were.  So I’m trying to figure out mnemonic tricks so that I can somehow put the puzzle together without getting run outta town on a rail—-!  I feel like the old guy from The Drones Club in a P.G. Wodehouse novel who was writing his memoirs.  Word got out among his friends and they became terrified at what he might put down in that innocent little memoir, and people started bribing him and threatening him and generally freaking out that their colorful pasts would be revealed in his! Haha—-think that just might be where I’m finding myself today, too!  Hold on to your hats—-I’ll keep ya posted!


A Quiet Visit


Last week I made one of my usual trips into town and as always I had to “bundle” my meetings, my errands, and all my stops in general.  But this time I had a long gap in the middle of the day with nowhere to go for lunch.  I didn’t want to schedule anything else—what I wanted was a quiet place to sit and eat my sandwich and read one of the books I’d tucked into my briefcase…just in case I had the luxury of a few minutes of quietude.  Last fall my favorite place to escape for quiet time closed down.  There I’d always  been able to find a quiet table in a quiet corner where the waitstaff knew me and knew not only what I wanted to eat, but they also knew I came to them for peace and quiet and they left me alone at a good sized table where I could spread out books and papers—and still have room for my luncheon.  But now—today—I had nowhere to go.  And there I was with an hour or so on my hands.  I didn’t want to go to any place bustling with people, noise, and activity.  I wanted a spot of my own—quiet, restful and peaceful.

And then the picture began to clear:  here it was, one of the first beautiful warm days of spring, with the trees beginning to bud and the azaleas promising their sizzling glory; daffodils up everywhere and the grass beginning to turn soft and green.  And I thought, I’ll go sit with my Mother and Father and have a nice little visit!  I was close to where they were waiting for me, so I turned into the parking lot, and checked to see if I still had my old piece of tapestry in the backseat.  Voila! I did!— so I tossed it over my arm, and, with my little leopard-print cooler holding sandwich and water, I walked up the steps and down the footpath and said hello to Mama and Daddy.  The sun was too hot to sit in the spot right beside them, where one day my husband and I will rest, but I found a nearby tree, just beginning to leaf out, which afforded enough shade for me to sit down, spread out my tapestry and books, and relax, enjoy my luncheon, and commune with the people I love most in this world……the two people who’ve given me everything I am….my heart, my brain, my yearnings…my beliefs, my hopes, my dreams…my courage, my strength, my weaknesses……..all that I am is a gift from them.  I now sat down with them and broke bread in their peaceful company……and every now and then I’d read aloud a favorite passage from Rupert Brooke or Dylan Thomas, two of the other poets in our company that day.  They remembered about Rupert Brooke, though not so much about Dylan Thomas, but that was okay too—–I read to us all while the birds sang springtime in the trees, and Mama and Daddy rested and dreamed peacefully beside me.

To live in hearts we leave behind

Is not to die……..



Dangerous February!

Merlin & Archimedes, waiting for spring...

Merlin & Archimedes, waiting for spring…


I woke this morning feeling all out of sorts. Nothing pleased me; nothing made me smile. I walked the dog, but she only wanted to zip out and back in quickly, so I went about my morning chores and then silpped back to Abbey my Book Barn, to my little yoga studio and did a full routine…a hybrid mix of Hatha, Kundalini and the Five Tibetan Rites. I could feel how much I needed the lengthening and stretching and deep steady breathing.

But I still didn’t feel right. Something was wrong with my inner soul, my woman-heart, my poet-mind. I was grumpy and didn’t like myself and found myself grumbling at husband, cats and dog and the world. Harumpfing and being snide. Not my usual Pollyanna self!

And then I had an Epiphany (I love Epiphanies! Thank GOD for Epiphanies!). I remembered my mother’s words to me, her warning words to me, which she issued every February: “Anne, remember, February is your dangerous month. It’s the month you always want to change your life—your hair, your job, your house, your husband, your world. So be mindful of February.”

And all of a sudden the burden lifted and I understood. ‘Tis not me at all—it’s the bleak and dispirited month of February to blame! YESSSS! I felt better, though not “better” in the all’s-right-with-the-world-immediately better; just better remembering that February’s always been my most dangerous month and that I’d better pay protective attention to my inner soul, my woman-heart, my poet-mind………

It’s like…whenever the Black Dog jumps upon me and weighs me down, I’ve learned that all I have to do is check my Biorhythms and voila! problem solved: my emotional wave is waaay down there lapping the bottom of the chart. Which, granted, doesn’t undo the problem, but it alleviates the worry from my mind. I’m reminded that it’s the Universe’s fault, not mine. I can blame it on the moon, yes, the moon, the inconstant moon—not me, this lone innocent woman who’s really trying to do her best: to meet her obligations, care for the ones she loves, and keep the creative flame a-burning all at once. (“Each being a full-time job every day unto itself,” she grumbles. “STOP IT, Anne!” her self retorts back.)

So, I’ve lived with the remembered knowledge of February’s curse now for almost a full day, thankful for the memory of my mother’s observed wisdom. And I decided that the best thing might be to sit here and write the gloom out of myself on this blog…to chase the moody ol’ Grinch of February away.

For I’ve been expectantly watching the daffodil noses push up through their winter bed of leaves…..and watching the sun glistening upon the glass of the Bottle Tree…and I’ve been watching Merlin steadying himself against the windchill of February, too. And so I say to myself, at least we’re all in this together…..and I know we’ll all survive, for we always do. For the daffodils do bloom, and the earth does quicken and my heart does warm up with every ray of sun that filters through the grey clouds of February. And the birds are singing in the mornings now despite the cold and little warm drifts of breeze nudge me on my morning walks. So I know spring is around the corner. I just pray that I can be a good girl till then…..Need your help, Mama! Stay close beside me till I’m safe…till the glow and bloom of spring warms my inner soul, my woman-heart and poet-mind once again.



Preparing for Springtime….


Well, October has all of a sudden turned into January… did that happen? Oh, I remember: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s! and rain and frost and winds and winter fires and walks…and, oh yeah…the sweet winter blues. That cross between contentment and yearning….that place between loving the solitude of winter and longing for the tumultuous noises of springtime…..Welcome to my world!

And ever since the long-gone blue skies of October, we’ve been planning to tidy up the front “yard”—or rather, the front river creek which suffered a devastating (and horrifying!) 15-foot flash flood and landslide August a year ago. But things don’t happen quickly up here in the Dark Corner—rather, they happen on Mountain Time and Mountain Time happens to be whenever it suits the party in question to amble over and get ‘er done! And hooray for my (fidgety) patience, hooray for (my reluctant) learning how to go with the flow! For the day finally dawned (totally unexpectedly, but totally welcomed) yesterday morning for the work to begin. Hallelujah!

Swimming holes, rivulets, and river rills; nature-carved stone chairs and proud island rocks—it took a while and it took brawn, but the flood damage has been softened and become people-friendly once again. It’s still a mighty work in progress; we still need to find the perfect stepping stones for the refurbished river bank, and fill in here and there with whatever will thrive (and survive) and be beautiful in the eye of the beholder in what can be an unpredictable climate….but hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day—and neither was River Rill! Suffice it to say that today—on this beautiful SUNNY WARM winter’s day, I can dash down the steps and splash into the ice-cold water iffen I so wish to do. That, in itself is progress; that, in itself, is something to celebrate! Champagne on a river rock in a January river, anyone? Bring out the faded old Oriental rug and the vintage flutes—the water will do the chilling!


Rainy Sunday Morning



It’s been a while since I’ve jumped back into my blog, and I’m rusty! I woke to a sweet quiet rainy Sunday morning, still dark at 8:30 up here in the Dark Corner. Rustled myself and Miss Grace out for our morning walk…and found myself thinking. Thinking about writing. My book. My blog. My diary. And wondering just what Fury it is that pursues me.

Since last I wrote I’ve been getting my house and world in order. Satisfying in ways but oh so time consuming—my days have been eaten up with organizing and all the details that entails. But all these things have been on my bucket list of to-dos, and all the years spent working in the outside fray have kept me from putting the essentials of my life in order.

For I’m an orderly person to a fault I believe. I’ve never been able to WORK WORK if my world’s out of order. And up to this point I’ve skimped by on surface appearances, having to be content with whatever semblance of order I could manage in minutes and hours yanked from other responsibilities. Now, retired….Oh My God. Drawers have been cleaned out, and kitchen cabinets and my closet. And my garden has been weeded and bedded down for the winter. And all the treasures from my traveling days, and all the treasures from my family have been carefully listed and described….with their stories told, and provenance.

And the jewelry from my traveling years,too, all those funky pieces that told the stories of where I’d been over the last 50 years—-those, too, have been organized and packaged into a neat little suitcase. To give other people joy now. To be gifted to the universe again, to make memories for some other young and footloose world traveller…..

And now it’s time for the rubber to hit the road. To put my money where my mouth is. To shove aside the Fury of Tidiness to embrace the Fury of Creation.

Walking this morning, in the cool rainy mist, I walked with my new characters, with Clara and Edward, and this morning particularly, with Edward, and with Clara’s mother, and discovered Clara’s mother’s story, her background…though as yet I don’t know her name. Till this morning she was a shadow character who just inched her way forward in this early morning rainy walk. And talked to me about leaving Charleston for the mountain country…leaving the City of Tears, the City of Heartbreak. Which of course informs the whole world that Clara now finds herself in…..But see—I didn’t know any of that until this rainy Sunday morning walk…….

So I feel heartened. And I love being “Surprised by Joy” (to borrow from CS Lewis). The Fury of Creation has gentled down into my Spirit Guide, the Wandering Muse who told me (again) this morning, that she’s with me, beside me and all I need to do is to be quiet enough to listen to the voices inside my head waiting—-to come alive on the gleaming white page.

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