Friday, August 10, 2018

... my last garden...

If you read one of my previous posts, you know that this summer has been a whirlwind of buying, moving, and selling houses. Today at 4pm *knock on wood* the buyer should close on the townhouse and we will return to being one-house-homeowners.

I walked through my new garden this morning. We have a tiny pumpkin growing. If he makes it, I will share him with you soon. There are blooms that I did not expect this year. We dug up and moved as many of the plants as we could and planted them here at our new home. Some did not make it. Some have balled up and decided that maybe they will consider life next spring. And, some, despite all the odds and doing what experts say not to do when transplanting precious gardens, have bloomed beautifully.

This morning I am reflecting about the old garden and its last blooms because that place will never be the same as it was; and, neither will I. 


Monday, August 6, 2018

... books, magic, vampires, and the authors who bring it all to life...

It was early May 2004 when I walked into the public library and discovered Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries. I checked out Dead Until Dark and within days, I checked out the rest of the series including Living Dead in Dallas and Club Dead. I loved them. Then I had to wait, fortunately not very long that first year, for the next book to come out in the series. I purchased Dead to the World and kept anticipating these books each May, published right around the time my coursework was concluding before summer break. I even pre-ordered the books at Borders, which I never do for any books… still! The clerks at Borders would tease me because many of them knew that I was writing my doctoral dissertation at the table in the café while sipping chocolate coffee. I miss Borders but that’s another story.

The Southern Vampire Mysteries were fun; Sookie didn’t just fall down, she fought back; and, she owned a house, something that I desperately wanted to do back then. Some of the storylines were silly; others were quite serious. I loved them all. When True Blood was even hinted at as a possibility, I went out and bought a television and later figured out how to order cable, specifically HBO. The television series was very different but I enjoyed it so much in the beginning and then like a loyal fan, watched it to the very end and cried. I kept reading those Sookie books, including the novellas and short stories that were offered usually around winter break.

I’m not a book series person. In fact, now if I walk into a bookstore to find a description noting a trilogy I abandon the book. Yet, every now and then I’ve fallen into a series. The Southern Vampire Mysteries was one of them. They were there published at the exact time I needed a break from academia and needed to lose myself into a story. I don’t come from a family of academics. In fact, my parents did not attend college. But, they were readers. My mom read, and still reads, novel after novel. My dad was more of a non-fiction devourer of texts. He also has a photographic memory, which I did not inherit sadly. Books were supposed to be fun but in grad school everything changed. I no longer seemed to have time to read for pleasure and when I did sneak in some reading I always felt guilty about it since I should have been reading some Proust or whatnot. The only time that I was able to comfortably put down the academic texts was at the start of summer break.  

I wish I could go back to recreate the feeling but just as one can never step into the same river twice, one can never recreate the magic of reading a book for the first time. Nevertheless, with so many books stacked up in my to-be-read pile, I finally have my very own copy of Dead Until Dark and I’m planning to give it another go.

Some of my favorite books of all time were library books. Oh, I wish that I had stolen that copy of Dracula the first time I read the book. I remember the cover and if I think hard enough I can almost smell the book. Old books have the best smell. Fortunately, my new copy of Dead Until Dark is pretty much the original cover art, which I adore. Now, I even have a signed copy!
Yesterday, I attended the 5th Annual Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival about two hours from my home. For the price of a $20 ticket, which also offered a tote bag full of free books, I attended the VIP Reader event right before the festival was open to the public. There, I met Christine Trent (and may have been a little stalkerish), as well as Julie Moffett, Alice Loweecey, and Aimée Hix. 

For me, the most exciting part was meeting and thanking Charlaine Harris for keeping reading fun during a time that I really needed it to be light and fun.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

...home haunted home...

Since my last post, I have finished teaching a summer class on historic cemeteries, published a chapter on vampires in adolescent literature, visited 13 cemeteries in San Antonio, bought a new house, moved to a new house, transported as much of my garden as possible to a new house, and put the townhome on the market, which is now under contract. 

I feel like I am forgetting something… oh, right! The house we purchased needed a new roof, needed gutters and downspouts, and needed its crawlspace to be gutted and repaired. Check, check, and check! And, when I learned that we could not have the custom wood blinds like I had in the townhome (it’s not only the aesthetic that I prefer but I grew up with a granddaddy who owned his own wood blind shop), I decided that I needed a picket fence. Wood outside since I cannot have wood inside, I suppose. The fences, a picket fence out front and a privacy fence for part of the backyard, went up last week. That was right after my fella was attacked by the meanest, badedst yellow jackets around AND after my mother-in-law had another heart attack. Oy! It’s been a busy two months. 

But, I have been nesting and starting to slow down. There are a few more maintenance to-dos before we head into the fall including having the fence stained black.

Here are a few pictures of our new home. It’s going to be the most perfect Halloween house!

Top picture is before the new roof; the bottom picture is the after with the black roof shingles

Added black gutters and downspouts, which beautifully outlines the house
Who doesn't swoon over her black downspouts?!?
Added a picket fence. This will be stained black in the next month or so.