Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"Summer of 2014 Mind Travels" Part 1 of 3

Well...."Hello"...missed Y'all_but I was on Mind Travel & it was a wonderful Summer trip_many,many places! I packed my Vintage Gladstone Bag_

...Passport,My 2014 Reading List,Quality Wines & Teas,a snack or two_& "Let The Journey Commence"...

First stop...decided to visit Holden Caulfield  narrating from his psychiatric facility a few months after the events took place. 
I knew I was in trouble...as he babbled on about his long weekend around the late 1940's early 50's _a total of three days_from Pencey's Prep.School in Pennsylvania_then on to his adventures in New York City. Holden's tone varied between disgust,cynicism,bitterness,nostalgic longings, all expressed in a colloquial style of the time. I told myself if he refers to one more thing as G**D*MN...I'm outta here! That was the extent of his vocabulary. Holden's major conflict was his own mind.Part wanted to connect with people on an Adult level (especially to have a sexual encounter)_while the other part rejected adults as phony which made him want to retreat back to own memories of his childhood.So he continues down this road for three days_there's some tender moments & then you just want to say..."Get over yourself Holden"...it could be worst! I decided this was a bad idea to re-visit  Holden which I'd visited in my Freshman year of College(1967). 

PROFOUND THEN....BORING NOW! Much water has crossed under the bridge_but I still don't understand why it was banned.

I eased pass the 25 Psyche Guards dressed in black at Holden's Psyche Cell door_ with a scary look on my face_the Ward Cleaning Lady directed me to the closest EXIT...I got the hell outta Dodge!!! Whew,glad that's over with!So,I re-packed my Gladstone and headed to the Streets of... 

Hooked up with my Brother!Langston Hughes.I knew we were about to get Real...handle some REAL issues of 1934. We lunched at "The Cotton Club"_as they were finally allowing people of color to dine there,they could perform "Jungle Dances" but couldn't eat or drink there. We had a plate of  fried chicken,cornbread,green beans,sweet potatoes,collard greens and drank a couple cocktails_then moved on...barely! Meantime he explained  his new book....
...As a collection of fourteen stories. The title is derived from the story “Berry,” an account of a young black man who works as a handyman in a home for handicapped children. Berry is exploited and does more than his share of work for a pittance. He cannot understand why this happens and remarks, “The ways of white folks, I mean some white folks, is too much for me. I rekon they must be a few good ones, but most of em ain’t good—least wise they don’t treat me good. And Lawd knows, I ain’t never done nothin’ to them, nothin’ a-tall.” 

My favorite was "Cora Unashamed"...Wow! It is a story of  an isolated black woman in a small Middle Western town, who stoically survives her own sorrows but in the end lashes out against the hypocrisy of the whites who employ her. In other words she goes CRAY-CRAY at the funeral in the living room of her "Upstanding White Folks"_ in a community where SECRETS were the norm of the day! Hard to find movie(I Scored) but read the story....I am so laughing still at that scene in the Parlour! 
Overall, the stories comment on the suffering the black community endures at the hands of white society. I thanked Langston for his Hospitality & Insight...told him I was expected Down South in Stamps,Arkansas for a visit with Maya,Bailey, Uncle Willie &Momma (Grandmother Annie Henderson)_she was making her special "Caramel Cake" of her Quilting Bee Fame.

 FYI...the recipe & the story of "THE SLAPPING"starts on page 13-19 in Maya's Cookbook...amazing!

So, I caught the next Greyhound Bus & headed down South! After what seems like days upon days,gazing out of the window at the tallest Pine & Oak Trees ever_I arrived in Stamps,Arkansas. No need for directions because Sister Henderson ran the only African-American General Store in the African American community(for real).Maya,Bailey,Uncle Willie and Sister Henderson were sitting on the front porch waiting..Maya & Bailey in the Swing. Sister Henderson had on one of her freshly washed,starched,sun-dried,and ironed aprons.We went to the backyard _where a Table was adorned with a beautiful "Yo-Yo Quilt Tablecloth." 
                                       Yo-Yo Tablecloth

Couldn't wait for my slice of mouthwatering "Caramel Cake". And the story telling began....

Maya  describes her coming of age as a precocious but insecure black girl in the American South during the 1930s and subsequently in California during the 1940s. That visit ...well it lasted for two days straight (couldn't put the book down)! I loved the Ghost stories, tale of hiding Uncle Willie in the Potato /Onion Bin so the White folks couldn't find a Black man to hang one night,Sister Henderson in Church daring Maya & Bailey to breathe hard_they in return became hysterical with the giggles, how her Daddy rolled his ers/errers when he talked,etc...I vowed to continue Maya's Journey via_

Chronology of autobiographies:

  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969): Up to 1944 (age 17)
  • Gather Together in My Name (1974): 1944–48
  • Singin'and Swingin'and Gettin'Merry Like Christmas (1976): 1949–55
  • The Heart of a Woman (1981): 1957–62
  • All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986): 1962–65
  • A Song Flung Up to Heaven (2002): 1965–68
  • Mom & Me& Mom (2013): overview   

Watch the full movie on YouTube ...(very hard to find in DVD form):

...it was hard to say Goodbye! BUT...it was time to move on. Move on or maybe Move back?...in TIME that is....to the "Land of Sleepy Hollow".....hehhehehehhe_(in my best Boris Karloff voice).
                 "The Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane" (1858) John Quidor

OMG! I've always loved the Hudson River Valley Landscape Painters of the Mid-19th Century. As a Docent for several years at  "The Amon Carter Museum" (Ft.Worth,Texas)_the painting of Thomas Cole & Albert Bierstadt graced the walls & were my favorites! These Artist depict the Hudson River Valley and the surrounding area, including the Catskill,Adirondack and the White Mountains.Having lived in the area for awhile...I can confirm it is beautiful!

Time to pack the Gladstone,head back in time to 1790  in the countryside around the Dutch settlement of Tarry Town (historical Tarrytown,NY), in a secluded glen called Sleepy Hollow.Sleepy Hollow is renowned for its ghosts and the haunting atmosphere that pervades the imaginations of its inhabitants and visitors. The most infamous in the Hollow is the Headless Horseman said to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper who had his head shot off by a stray cannonball during"some nameless battle"of the American Revolutionary War and who "rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head."

The story written by American author Washington Irving was a collection of 34 essays and short stories entitled  "The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon,Gent". Irving was living abroad in Birmingham,England when "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" was first published in 1820. Along with Irving's companion piece "Rip Van Winkle"_ examples of American fiction with enduring popularity. 

I  sat around the table at the Tarry Town Tavern with the good ole Boys....The Storyteller commenced_

_while the fire crackled & the Storm brewed outside.Lighting terrified all of the Listeners as we dug in for a frightful night of images of  a headless Horseman trying to find his HEAD!!!... 

The "Legend" relates the tale of Ichabod Crane, a lean, lanky and extremely superstitious schoolmaster from Connecticut who competes with Abraham "Brom Bones" Van Brunt, the town rowdy, for the hand of 18-year-old Katrina Van Tassel, the daughter and sole child of a wealthy farmer, Baltus Van Tassel. Crane, a Yankee and an outsider, sees marriage to Katrina as a means of procuring Van Tassel's extravagant wealth. Bones, the local hero, vies with Ichabod for Katrina's hand, playing a series of pranks on the jittery schoolmaster, and the fate of Sleepy Hollow's fortune weighs in the balance for some time. The tension between the three is soon brought to a head. On a placid autumn night, the ambitious Crane attends a harvest party at the Van Tassels' homestead. He dances, partakes in the feast, and listens to ghostly legends told by Brom and the locals, but his true aim is to propose to Katrina after the guests leave. His intentions, however, are ill-fated........

The BEST movie adaptation I've seen...BAR....NONE is(I scored on Ebay)_

I continued on my journey with the other "Tales"of Washington Irving_with a slow steady pace,anticipating any quick movements of my Cat "Hank" that would scare the-hell-out-of-me.Mission Accomplished!  

I took a short "Respite" for an over -the -top- "Afternoon Tea". Moments later...re-packed my Gladstone,a couple of coats/shawls and my Vintage Wellies...
Next STOP....the "Buckshaw Mansion in the bucolic environment of England _to visit with 11 year old sleuth_
Flavia de Luce who has a "Passion for Poison"..... 

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Sage Book Whisperer's SUMMER through Fall Reading List 2014


 Well.....Maybe Not just Yet(Official 6/21/14)....BUT.....

Here we go! It's that time of the Year....to choose BOOKS to Read. This year I'm going from "Classic American Literature"_both American & African-American Authors. And,a little bit of Contemporary. I'm in love with Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce Series (2009-14)_an outrageous 11 year old Sleuth. And a Classic_ Father Brown Mysteries (1911)by G.K. Chesterton.I love The Father Brown TV Series on PBS_thought I'd read Chesterton's work.I'm a big Agatha Christie Fan, so that works for me! Fun-"Who Done It" kinda stuff.So here we go...I've already started & finished some of my choices....p.s. might have to add mo'books,mo'books,mo'books...YES!

"Classics & Mysteries Reading List 2014"                                                                  ********

1.The Power of Sympathy (1791)by William Hill Brown & The Coquette (1797) by Hannah Webster Foster 

Overview_"The Power of Sympathy"_A tragic LOVE STORY,Sibling who fell in love without knowing they were related_Epistolary form of writing.

Overview_"The Coquette"_Based on the life of Eliza Whitman a woman seduced & abandoned courted by two different men,who give up on her & get married_she flirts, has illegitimate stillborn,etc.. COQUETTE : a woman who endeavors without sincere affection to gain the attention and admiration of men. We all know many in today's world!

2.Charlotte Temple (1794)  by Susanna Rowson 

Overview_"Charlotte Temple"_is a "seduction tale" which warns against listening to the voice of Love & counsels resistance_was a Best Seller during it's time 1790's.

NOTE: First American Novels_late 18th cent. & early 19th cent.

3.The Legends of Sleepy Hollow,Rip Van Winkle & Other Short Stories (1820) by Washington Irving 

4.The Ways of White People (1934) by Langston Hughes
One of the Great Harlem Renaissance Writers_1919 until the early or mid-1930.

5.I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings (1969) by Maya Angelou 

         ~In Remembrance of Maya's recent passing~
NOTE: I'm happy to say _my bid at EBAY Auction garnered me a 1st Edition Hardcover in pristine condition)

6.The Catcher in The Rye (1951) by J.D.Salinger 

 NOTE: Read this in Eng.Lit at Univ.of St.Thomas Houston in 1967...a re-read!

7. Father Brown Mysteries (1911) by G.K. Chesterton 

8.Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce Series  in order of Publication:
#1 The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie_ Read last year...got hooked! 

#2 The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag...loved it!  

#3 A Red Herring without Mustard...OMG!!!!   

#4 I Am Half-Sick of Shadows...finished yesterday 6/8/14 ..so good

#5 Speaking from Among the Bones ...started 6/8/14...yes that's a correct date!

#6 The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches...up next_last in Series 

I could re-read them all over! Just when you think you know WHO-DONE -IT...You will be so wrong.

I will have to Post a Follow-up on some of these Adventures...especially on #1 & #2 on the List....mmm,some contend this was Early "50 Shades of Grey"...Stuff...we shall see. Until,that time...

Saturday, May 31, 2014

"I Know Why The Caged Bird has STOPPED SINGING"

                  ~America loss a good Soul May 28,2014~

...AND,from that one sentence_"what I've learned"...has been one of the most meaningful lessons in MY Life. 

I read "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings"in the late 60's. Subsequently,her writings,essays,poems,etc have been a part of my reading list for many years.I was sadden by her demise. But realize...Ecclesiastes 3:1-15, A Time for Everything.

                 Maya as a Dancer & Singer 1951-1961 
Angelou's first album, Miss Calypso, produced in 1957, was made possible due to the popularity of her nightclub act.

                                       1st Edition..1969 
The title of the book comes from the third stanza of the poem "Sympathy" by  Paul Laurence Dunbar, an African-American poet..The "caged bird", a symbol for the chained  Slave is an image Angelou uses throughout all her writings.
                          Paul Laurence Dunbar 1872-1906

~Sympathy~ 3rd stanza
know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,
When he beats his bars and would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart's deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings –
I know why the caged bird sings

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is the 1969 autobiography about the early years of  Writer and Poet Maya Angelou.The first in a seven-volume series, it is a coming-of-age story that illustrates how strength of character and a love of literature can help overcome racism and trauma..The book begins when three-year-old Maya and her older brother are sent to Stamps,Arkansas,to live with their grandmother and ends when Maya becomes a mother at the age of 16. In the course of  Caged Bird,Maya transforms from a victim of racism with an inferiority complex into a self-possessed, dignified young woman capable of responding to prejudice.


A made-for-TV movie version of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was filmed in Vicksburg,Mississippi and aired on April 28, 1979 on CBS.Angelou and Leonora Thuna wrote the screenplay; the movie was directed by Fielder Cook. Constance Good played young Maya. Also appearing were actors Esther Rolle,Roger E.Mosley,Diahann Carroll,Ruby Dee,and Madge Sinclair.Two scenes in the movie differed from events described in the book. Angelou added a scene between Maya and Uncle Willie after the Joe Louis fight; in it, he expresses his feelings of redemption after Louis defeats a white opponent. Angelou also presents her eighth grade graduation differently in the film. In the book, Henry Reed delivers the valedictory speech and leads the Black audience in the Negro National Anthem. In the movie, Maya conducts these activities.

Of Note: Caged Bird has been on numerous "List of Censored Books".Parents and schools have objected to the book's depictions of lesbianism, premarital cohabitation, pornography, and violence. Some have been critical of its sexually explicit scenes, use of language, and irreverent religious depictions.. 

"one of the ten books most frequently banned from high school and junior high school libraries and classrooms".

With the passing of Maya_we are blessed to have her many works to reflect upon,learn from & engage our sensibilities,any time we wish! Indeed,The Caged Bird has stopped Singing_but her works Live on.

NOTE: to leave Condolences click here_

On another thought_I am grateful that we have Un-Caged Birds that sing into the Midnight Hour  & early morning here at Aaron's Hilltop Farm.But of course...they are the ubiquitous "Mockingbird"_the most vocal of all birds....especially when there is a full moon. The exact connection is not known for sure, but the moon’s reflected light is known to set other animals into “song” .Just in case,you need a reminder of how they sound....

* That reminds me of yet another great book_"To Kill A Mockingbird".Which means.....well,that's another Blog post! 

Upcoming on PBS....

              Meantime....R.I.P.~Maya Angelou~
                      She & Oprah could pass for Relatives!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Aloha! ~ My Hawaiian Luau Birthday Party 2014~

It's that "Time" of the Year...My Birthday! The actual date was May 17th...but the party was on ...May 18th! First,the venue was changed one week before_(circumstances beyond my friend's control),some of the group friends couldn't make it,the menu & decor was a quick throw together...since the party was originally planned around my girlfriend's pool....I was getting kinda sad! NEVER FEAR...where only a few "Good Friends" are gathered_there's still a PAR-TEE!

Sooooo,here's some of the happenings! We missed the other Ladies...Karen,Shelly,Amy,Bev..
BUT...we Par-Teed on!

Got the Old Farmhouse up & running for an "INDOOR Luau Party"_First things First_

Pu-Pu Platter_Ribs,Egg Rolls & Chipolte Chicken w/BBQ,Sweet&Sour & Chilpolte Sauce.
Heart of Palm Dip w/ Rosemary Crackers,Fried Pea Pods,Cheese:Parmentino~Medium Asiago~
Bruschetta Jack~ Creamy Havarti, Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Cold Slaw, Potato Salad, 
King's Hawaiian Rolls,Fresh Sliced Pineapples,
Watermelon & Cantaloupe....tooo good,I'm still full! AND_of course we uncorked...our favorite..
 AND...Jilly P. Tiki Bar Mistress made...

              "Lime in the Coconut Punch"

By this time ...with food & drink ...it was on! 

BUT...one of the things we learned from many ,many,many parties ago...TAKE OUR GROUP PICTURE FIRST! 

Me!...arranging the Food in my Hawaiian attire...my sweet husband gave me the flower arrangement. 
                The Three wĀhine (wah-hee-neh) = womEn

                                       ~Good Times~
We Wined,We Lime Punched,We Feasted on Good Foods,We Laughed,We Caught-up on News,We missed our other Friends &
on occasion we'd get up and do this....

I was inspired by a previous Post..to have a Luau!

Here's some other Birthday Parties:

Upcoming Post on yet another "Birthday Party" (2011)...

~MAHALO~for stopping by...Your Lei...