Monday, November 30, 2015

First Word: Suzanne Adam: Dishrag

Damp, dishwater gray, smelling of old food. I don’t want to touch it. I’m a house guest in a friend’s kitchen. On the whole, my friends are clean and neat people, but then “clean” and “neat” are relative concepts along a continuum of housekeeping habits. I follow my mother’s customs: one dishrag for washing the dishes (we have no automatic dishwasher) another for wiping up: spilled water on counters, grease spatters on the stove and mysterious spots on the floor. (How did that get there?) 

            In the category of kitchen towels, again there is an ample span of customs. Mine, also inherited, are to have on hand a thick one for drying hands and a light weight cotton one for drying the dishes. Whenever I enter the “Sur Le Table” kitchen store, I take my time choosing among the richly-patterned dish towels. In others’ kitchens, towels appear to be multi-purpose, whichever is handy, even if encrusted with previous meals. When my sisters-in-law come into my kitchen to help clean up, I point the respective towels sand their uses. But when one grabs the wrong towel, I let it pass. I’m smart enough not to look a gift horse in the mouth.
           Wastebaskets and garbage cans came up in the conversation yesterday. Hubby informed me that our kitchen garbage can is ridiculously small. He compared it to one in the house of my friend we recently visited. Then he proceeded to find fault with the bathroom wastebaskets. I consider them homey, rustic baskets – no metal or plastic. “You can see everything in them. There are so many better ones out there.” Did he have in mind wastebaskets he’d seen at the multimillion dollar house whose construction he’s been supervising?
            I just shrugged my shoulders in surprise. News to me. I admit I’m particular about dishrags and towels but my standards for garbage cans and wastebaskets are less demanding.
           The trouble is that I now I see the ones in our house in a different, more critical light. I shall be noticing bathroom wastebaskets in other’s homes to settle these newly-planted doubts.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Blood Flowers Launch at UCA

Join us for a launch of Mary Judith Ress' novel Blood Flowers at UCA on November 30, 5:00 PM.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

First Word: Pamela Yorston: Energy

Electricity, collecting in the atmosphere, pulling together in an incandescent mass, forking out in a million fiery veins, lighting up the night sky with the flash of a trillion flash-bulbs.  And then darkness – pause - a rumble - pause - an ear-splitting crack that echoes and continues and grows. The sound fills the valley and then recedes.  The ancient hills crouch in the darkness.  Nothing has happened – as far as they know.

            I often sat at night at the picture-window at Longmile, the house up on the hill overlooking La Cumbre.  If you’ve never witnessed a summer storm in Cordoba, you’ve never really seen it rain.  The volume of water pouring down completely obscures the view three feet ahead of you.  Fat torrents bounce and splash upwards, making umbrellas and rain apparel a hopeless joke.  Water swells in gutters, covers roads, and pours down hills driving everything before it.
            One such storm raged in the spring of 1915.  The water dragged away vehicles and houses, and people to their deaths.  No drainage system could cope with the volume of a small ocean tearing through a town.  Raymond Bennet had been warned about erecting his house on the bend in the river.  “It’s built of stone,” he’d said.  After that, the inhabitants of La Cumbre were afraid.  Nature was so much bigger and more powerful than they.
            But this is 2015 and we are not afraid.  We happily pave the countryside, build on river beds, harness streams and change the landscape.  We build in cement.
          Nature bides her time and smiles. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

First Word: Mary Judith Ress: Dishrag

How about wet rag, or wet towel?  A real downer of a presence.  The one who always cay bashes every idea, every plan, who spoils every party with a dose of reality.  The spoilers of the world.  How to deal with them? Can we ever make them content with their life, their Karma? Probably not.

            How to include them in a novel?  They always show up to spoil the plot, mar the goodness and sparkle of the protagonist by bringing out the worst side of everything and everybody.
            I suspect these poor slobs carry humanity´s collective shadow. So they can´t be dismissed.  Actually, they need to be engaged, analyzed, written about with honesty, even with kindness.  Digging deep into their motivations, their infant traumas, their sorrows and trials might even make us love them, might be the stuff of which we too are made of.  Which is why that novel is probably an autobiography and why the author is woven forever into the sinews of the protagonist.