Sunday, November 17, 2019

The Late Years Fifty-Six

Judy by Elisabeth Plattner June 1, 2019

The Late Years Fifty-Six  November 17, 2019

Honor comes late but welcome.
The Veteran Feminists of America
have put me on their website. They
learned all my secrets. Most things
I did quietly. I didn’t waste energy
or time, but used the Zen wisdom 
when you cut up meat: “Go for the
spaces between the bones.” It worked
every time. I told women their writing
was important, and I published them. 
Mostly, I was ignored. Every once
in awhile a woman writes to thank
me for helping her. I didn’t receive
the big literary awards–the North
Carolina Award, the Literary Hall of 
Fame, but the landscape changed.
I helped and published men, too,
but the major change in our literary
landscape in the seventies was how
so many women’s voices were now 
being heard. I published them in
Black Sun/New Moon. I drew them to
a day-long meeting called “Tell Me A 
Story That’s True.” I never had much
money but I found it to make new
things possible. A woman bought me
a tee shirt when I didn’t have the money
at the conference. We used Muriel 
Ruykheiser’s words: “If one woman told the
whole story of her life, the world would 

split open.” I hear the first crack.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

The Late Years Fifty-Five

 Photo taken in 2017 when Judge Fox had ruled for us in court.
Things got more difficult later. Johnsie Tipton, first left, and John Cross, end of table on the right, died of cancer in late 2018 and 2019. Terica Luxton, of Lee County, also died in 2019.

The Late Years Fifty-Five  November 10, 2019

Sunday morning. Time to write
a poem. What will it be today?
We’re back to cold. Where is my
fur-lined coat? Buried in a chair
where I threw all my winter gear.
We go from 70 to 27. Cold is no
excuse not to do my morning walk.
Then I need to take the dog out and
feed the hens. Inside we can be
cozy. Tim will light the woodstove.
Outside the rooster complains,
and daylight is slower than usual
to grace us with its presence. Sun
will warm even this cold beginning.
We live far enough south. We have
wood from friends and fatwood fire-
starters. Yesterday, when Deb’s
front tire went flat, I drove my
old truck to Clayton for our coal
ash meeting. It refused to go very
fast, but with Deb calling out the
directions, we got there. After
the meeting, my truck wouldn’t
start. I’d left my lights on. John,
parked next to us, said he had
jumper cables, so we got the engine
going and drove home. Deb left
to check the air in her spare,
which a man had put on, when
we drove into the RV park. Every
time we had a car problem, 
someone helped us. Deb and I
called our day an adventure. It
seems more like a miracle. Is 
there a message here? Someone
is looking after coal ash fighters 

who won’t quit?

Sunday, November 3, 2019

The Late Years Fifty-Four

Judy sitting by the Haw River to write poems, 1992. Drawing by Mikhail Bazankov, 1938-2015. Cover of Beaver Soul, Russian edition, 1997.

The Late Years Fifty-Four  November 3, 2019

We talked about the Muse. What
Jacques Maritain calls creative
intuition, and Joyce Cary, simply
intuition. Cary says it comes upon
the artist or poet like a discovery.
Virginia Woolf says it celebrates
its nuptials in peace. It’s like a
swan floating down the river.
Eliot says what we write joins 
the tradition if it’s new and good,
and everything else shifts slightly 
to accommodate the new discovery. 
None of them, though helpful, 
wrote their thoughts as a woman
poet might. For me it’s a question
“What shall I write about today?”
which W.B. Yeats posed to himself.
As soon as I ask, the answer flows 
into my mind, a guide to follow,
word by word. My mind forgets
everything else, especially the
trivia: the new exercises I need
to do every day, whether my email
to the coal ash folks will reach them 
all successfully, and the cold
outside, the time change–seven
has become six, with daylight
earlier, and nightly dark, too. All
my worries and problems take a 
backseat or work their way into
the poem. As long as the words
in my mind don’t desert me, I can
live and write as a poet with a
sacred voice always there to
reassure and reward me,

no matter what.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

The Late Years Fifty-Three

Wag on the dam a few months ago. Photo by Doc Ellen, DVM

The Late Years Fifty-Three October 27, 2019

I have these aging symptoms: nosebleeds,
afib, falling. My doctor doesn’t want any falls.
They’re no fun–like falling half-way out
the chicken coop door or into the flower
garden, and once into the Christmas tree.
I rarely even get bruises. I go months
without a fall, and I’m very careful. 
Nosebleeds are a nuisance, but I know what
to do. I hate afib, but I endure it–drink
my lemon balm tea, and it goes away.
No harm done. I had seven falls in the last
year, so I’m to try physical therapy. Of
course, my sleep patterns are irregular.
I’m more of a night owl than I like.
My body is whimsical, and I have
strange dreams. Last night I was getting
to learn something new, and I was
happy about it. I had to have my dog
with me. But what was it? Not, I think,
physical therapy. Writing more, not
less, I think. I was in a big room with
other people. We were all doing it,
and we all had a dog. My Wag is old,
older than I am, has trouble with her
back legs. On solid ground she walks
fine, but on linoleum, she slips and
slides. I walk okay, and I don’t fall
most of the time. I’m very careful now.
I wanted to live to be a hundred, but
I didn't expect these annoying symptoms.
Still, I’m telling the story, and my heart
is good. I do sleep. Even if my body is
whimsical, it does still heal. I get more
chances. I don’t like these problems,
but I know how to change my life.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Late Years Fifty-Two

Eight years ago I sold my big crop of figs at our local co-op, Chatham Marketplace. But hard freezes have worked havoc on the figs in recent years.

The Late Years Fifty-Two  October 20, 2019

Mostly, I don’t think about dying.
My days are full of things to do
though I’ve learned to be satisfied
with less, to rest more, and take naps
on purpose instead of by accident.
I also do my cooking by stages, take
breaks to read my novel or answer
email. I still walk up at the dam,
unless it’s too wet or blustery. I
let my son close up the hens at night.
And in rain, I take the dog out early, 
even if we both get wet. I’m often so 
tired, I wonder if that’s how I’ll die–
too tired to move any more--but I 
sleep and my energy returns. What’s 
a little rain after all? And sleep still 
revives me even if I do wake up 
so slowly. I often wish I could do 
more. I haven’t been in the orchard 
for months. I missed the figs, if they 
were there, and the grapes. I stayed 
out of the garden when the rooster 
claimed it for his hens and chased 
me off. My heart still beats steadily. 
I remmber most things or they come 
back to mind if I’m patient. I keep 
learning to accept my limitations. 

A good life lesson after all.

The actual figs.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Late Years Fifty-One

Photo of blue-winged teals migrating by Doc Ellen Tinsley, DVM.
The Late Years Fifty-One  October 13, 2019

Aging. The term never meant much.
Now it does. I move so slowly. Every
morning my body has to start all over
again. First, sit up; then move to the
end of the couch so I can hold onto
it and two chairs to stand. Then a step
at a time, arms out for balance, into
the bathroom. Back to get dressed,
brush my hair, put on my glasses.
Every waking is like this–always gradual.
I don’t dash anywhere anymore. I still
walk without a cane–very carefully.
I fell twice, once going up onto my
front step, and once going down, so
I’m extra careful now. I get tired
more easily, stop and rest often. More
naps in the early afternoon, and then
I have to wake up slowly again. I
write, type, read, think–a blessing. 
I’m careful not to get too hungry
or too tired. When I sleep, I go deep.
It takes time to wake up. When I die,
it will be like that–a deep sleep and

no need to wake up.

Monday, October 7, 2019

The Late Years Fifty

No coal ash sign designed by Keely Wood and erected in April 2015 on Buckhorn Rd., Moncure, NC

The Late Years Fifty October 7, 2019

For Dean Tipton

Last week we lost Johnsie. The last time 
I saw her, she was happy, laughing. Two
months ago. We were celebrating Dean’s
birthday. Keely had brought a cake. She said
her doctors had told her that there was no
more they could do, after a year–or more–
of chemotherapy. Dean and Johnsie live by
the train track bringing coal ash to dump in
Moncure. They came to hearings four years
ago and said they lived at ground zero.
Johnsie told her co-workers at The Pilot that
the trains running through the center of 
Southern Pines were death trains, but no one
listened. Maybe they’ll listen now. She turned
up at our meetings whenever the chemo hadn’t
laid her flat. She was always cheerful and
thankful for all the coal ash fighters. We
tried, but we didn’t stop the coal ash trains.
So we lost Johnsie. She used to say, “Jesus,

take the wheel.” Maybe He did.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

The Late Years Forty-Nine

The Late Years Forty-Nine Oct. 6, 2019

Another reading–three books again
to read from, attract buyers, and
entertain in the short run. Last year
in July, when I went there to read,
no one came to listen. This year one
woman, who even took notes and
afterwards asked questions easy to

This time I didn’t lose any              

words. I forgot a few names, but
that’s normal these days. My son
went with me and listened, too.
He fetched my truck and drove us
home. Our dogs were frantically
happy to see us and bounced around
to hasten treat time. I made supper of
baked potatoes and a three-egg omelet.
He went off to watch the news. I
picked up my diary. My one reader
said she’d talk to the library about
my books. They should have them.
They’re about our county. A good
reminder. Readers are found one at
a time, and sometimes won.


Sunday, September 29, 2019

The Late Years Forty-Eight

Sunrise at Jordan Lake January 1, 2019 by Doc Ellen.

The Late Years Forty-Eight September 29, 2019

After re-reading Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own

Virginia Woolf writes about the androgynous 
mind, both male and female, and at ease with 
itself, incandescent, even. All the grudges and 
spites fired out of it. And my mind? I do see the 
multiplicity of injustices in this new twenty-first
century. Plenty to protest, to fight about, but
even at this age, or maybe because of my age,
I’m writing what I see, and my vision is clear.
I can see through the tricks we play on each
other when we’re afraid to be open and brave,
but in the long view they’re foolish and no
point hammering about it. Let them simmer and
take in the truth of their own behavior. Virginia
Woolf’s books pointed me this way years ago,
toward her mirage of Shakespeare’s sister. For
me it became a goal. I could see nearly forty
years ago how I had created a world around me, 
not unlike his Globe Theater. I can look back on
how I courted experience: sex before marriage, 
living alone in New York City, making friends with
two little Puerto Rican girls watching me walk by
from their third floor window. Now I stop to talk
to my friend Tawny, who walks her infant daughter
in a baby carriage, with lively Ginger on a leash, and 
better behaved than when Tawny was pregnant. We both 
wait for baby’s smile. A room of my own? A priority 
since I was thirteen. Slam the door and write poems. 
I’ve lived with and without other people, at home
and abroad. Some dearest friends in Finland,
Russia, the West Coast. Laughter, confidences, tears 
together; songs, paintings, poems. All done by
women, whose minds are open, free, affectionate.
So many imbalances, suffering, poverty of spirit,
but I feel in me a tide of Life and Wholeheartedness,
the power to transform, if not to cure, anger, hatred, 
ignorance, and the need to dominate. The earth
is warming, shifting, toward Eros, away from so
much control, hostility, competition. If floods come, 
what will they wash away? If we lose face, what
do we gain? Maybe we learn to think more
clearly, see farther, love better? Isn’t that worth it?

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Guest Blog by Mary Susan Heath

Guest Blog from Mary Susan Heath for September 22, 2019

The Late Years Forty-Seven September 22, 2019
Mary Susan Heath, English Ivey climbing brick wall 

A Different Reminder: another part of Judy is not fragile. 

The Ivey planted in the old black wash pot was transplanted from a Christmas arrangement. The wash pot belonged to my mother’s mother, who used it every Saturday on the farm at Powhatan to boil water for the family laundry. It has been re-purposed now to hold the fertile soil that grounds the Ivey under my Mother’s carport—Still useful. 
Vines. A morning glory vine. English ivey, which is a kind of vine. It climbs and can also act as ground cover, spreading horizontally and reaching 8 inches in height. 
Judy’s roots run deep. She has lived and worked to create community among writers. There was the poetry journal Hyperion (1970-1981) and the founding of Carolina Wren Press in 1976. She was one of the founders of the NC Writers’ Network (1984) and served as the first President. Lots of shoots that are still growing. 
Those who speak for the protection of the environment are also part of her entwining circle. Fracking in 2013 and most recently the issue of coal ash shipping by Duke Energy. 
We’re all in there. Judy gathers us close, covers us with encouragement, and pushes us to climb—even if the wall is brick. Ivey is resilient to cold and drought. At 82, Judy keeps climbing and is, I think, at her best as a writer. Three new books out in 2019 —Baba Summer, Bakehouse Doom, and Fatality at Angelika’s Eatery. Still offering her excellent editing, teaching, and writing expertise. It is my pleasure to count myself among her tendrils. I’m in very good company. 
Mary Susan Heath
Author, Creative Nonfiction

The Late Years Forty-Seven by Judy Hogan Sept. 22, 2019

There are flowers you have to kill
when they sow themselves among
the vegetables: violets, honeysuckle, 
morning glories. I never want to.
They look fragile, but they’re tough
as nails. At the dam they were poisoned
out of existence, gone all summer,
but in the waning of hot days, they
began all over again. The orange
ones run like flame; the blue are coming
in fast, too, and the white ones hold
their own. I’m told my brain bleeds
every so often. I can tell when suddenly
I can’t remember my zipcode. Who
forgets a zipcode after twenty years?
I do, apparently. Then I’m okay again.
Mostly I am okay. I prepare for
classes on creative intuition, a major
lifelong gift if you have it, and on
books that delve into human feelings.
The whole secret of living is to be
yourself. Who else could you be?
Why do we even try? Our fate was
established years ago, and people
help us. Only a few bother to be our
enemies. Mostly we’re ignored. Those
with hearts whole figure it out, take 
that leap into speech and joy, know 
the zest of living well, laughing and
yielding to whatever comes.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

The Late Years Forty-Six

Doc Ellen Tinsley, morning glories on chain-link fence.

The Late Years Forty-Six September 15, 2019

Another reminder: part of me is fragile. 
“Keep listening to your body,” says my
doctor. I do. I sleep more. But some 
days are too full. I do my best, then rest.
I find blue morning glories, then orange,
to go with white. The tiger lilies rise above
the swarms of small sunflowers. The zinnias,
when the wind lays them flat, turn and
go up again. Their panoply of colors
makes Robin smile. I find okra. Despite
chaotic planting, it endured, but our
rooster, worried for his hens, chases
me off, and I drop the okra. I’ll go find
it before I open the coop. My second
Russian book will be published–stories
so important to me twenty-seven years
ago. They still are. I can yet write and
think, talk and plan my day. “Keep doing
what you’re doing,” says my doctor. 

I do. I will.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

The Late Years Forty-Five

 Morning glories in Judy's back yard garden

The Late Years Forty-Five  September 8, 2019

First, I waited for the leaves.
There had been–at the very edge–
grass clumps, but no hint of morning
glories. Finally, here and there
heart-shaped leaves. Then a week
without rain. I checked for any sign
of color to go with green. Then
came the edge of a hurricane with
wind and rain. Morning glory leaves
know how to hang tough. When sun 
returns, there they are–half a dozen 
white blooms. What color will show 
up next? We also have our quiet days
when very little seems to happen.
Are we healing? Will we live long
enough for our wishes to come true?
Have we still latent in us a success 
story? Will that editor choose the 
next book in my Russian series? 
He did. Jubilation! Let the world
know. Our story, our history is 
being told, book by book, year by
year. Do I have enough years left? 
Maybe not twenty, as I had hoped, 
but maybe enough to leave our love 

lie open to the wide, wide world.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

The Late Years Forty-Four

Photo of first zinnia by Tim Hogan in Mom's garden

The Late Years Forty-Four September 1, 2019

Was it love or simply attraction? Or both? 
What exactly is it when you can’t let go,
even when you try? You know you can’t
be indifferent. You see through his poses,
his act of not caring, his jealousy not hidden
very well, and after he died, you still have
him in your life. Funny, how a whole life
can hang on a few moments of ecstatic
union. His wife, his children, his grandchildren 
love you because you knew how much his 
family, his birthplace, his country meant to 
him. He said you’d have to be divorced.
That was after several weeks of tender 
communion. You ignored the word he was 
pointing to in the dictionary. It wasn’t possible. 
He could pretend, but for you it was too late. 
Did he think he could gesture to the wild 
forest and say, “Let’s go there and never 
come back,” and you would forget?
Foolish man. Then, in a book years later, 
he drew that image of a man and a woman 
walking into the forest. But from the very 
beginning, he’d prophesied that one day 
we’d each have a wing and fly somewhere–

together. I still believe it.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Late Years Forty-Three

The Blue Grosbeak at Jordan Dam, near Moncure, N.C.

The Late Years Forty-Three August 25, 2019

We have so many poisons now. It’s a wonder
we stay alive as long as we do. We kill on purpose
and by accident with our pesticides and
herbicides, by what we let out of our smokestacks 
and car exhausts. Our big trucks do their share
with their diesel engines as they drag their logs
and tankers uphill. No wonder our emergency
rooms are crowded and we die before our time.
Still, I have lived this long: eighty-two years.
I can look at death and nod. Yes, eventually. 
I recognize the land of the dead when I see it.
Broken rocks, all sizes, browns and greys. No
color. No vegetation. It had seeds, but it was
sprayed to kill any life, vegetable or animal.
Yet I hear a cricket, and then the true miracle:
the heart-shaped leaves of morning glory
outwitting a rock death, rain finally rinsing off
enough poison to bring forth something green
right at the edge. Leave those rocks alone, and
they will bring forth the undead, the vine, and 
in time the pink, purple, blue buds, which will 

open to the sounds of a bird’s hymn of praise.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

The Late Years Forty-Two

Judy, while teaching at her Lifestyle Workshop for Writers on June 1. Photo by Elisabeth Plattner.
Usually I put up a blog on Sunday, but last Sunday, I went to the Emergency Room to see about this possible small stroke I had on Saturday. They did many tests, and no brain damage. Here's the poem. I just remembered to do my blog for last week. JH

The Late Years Forty-Two August 18, 2019
For my audience at South Regional on August 17, 2019

A curious conjunction. I had them
laughing, mesmerized, their eyes alight.
They wanted to hear every word I said,
but my words skittered away from me.
I said the wrong one, or the word I wanted
vanished while I tried to find another
one that would work. What overwhelmed
my mind that Saturday in the library I loved?
About ten women came, and my son Tim,
who brought me and also carried in the 
box of books I wanted to sell. A lovely
librarian, Teresa, had everything set up, 
even cookies and tea. She had a
sound man put a mike on me and
adjusted it. Women drifted in, eager,
curious, and I welcomed them all. Then
I transformed them, even while my
mind was playing tricks. Was I having
a stroke in the middle of my success?
By 4:30, I wanted to go home, but
they didn’t want to leave. Most stayed
talking while Tim packed up the books.
He brought me my yoghurt drink, and
our friend Virginia rubbed my back. 
Slowly, I felt better. I pulled on a long-
sleeved shirt and wasn’t too hot as we
drove home in ninety-degree weather.
I rested while they made supper. 

Afterwards I bathed and slept.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

The Late Years Forty-One

Judy by her hydrangea bush in early spring 2019

The Late Years Forty-One August 11, 2019

It’s so easy to worry, and I do.
About money, my health, my friends.
Then come the surprises. The credit
card company tells me I have money
with them which I didn’t know about.
They sent it to my bank. It’s teaching
time, but where are all my students?
I write to two of the silent ones. They
answer that, yes, they’ll take my class,
and one wants to take them both. I
Spend a day quietly to give my heart
time to heal, get back to normal. It
does heal. I rise early, breakfast as
usual, and take my morning walk.
The little bird sings to me before
sunrise. My friends see something
in me they value. They hang on,
let me see their agony. I wish them
courage. In this life we never get 
to coast. It’s “work, work, if we
don’t work, we don’t get anything, 
not even love.”* My Muse lives,
my health holds. I have enough
money. There are tears, but 
laughter, too. Don’t forget
to give thanks.

* Joyce Cary, The Horse’s Mouth

Sunday, August 4, 2019

The Late Years Forty

Photo by Tim Hogan

The Late Years Forty August 4, 2019

Lacrimosa was the name for Mozart’s Requiem 
in D Minor, played so often when we lose people. 
Tearful. Full of tears. Yet we laughed when 
Johnsie joined us. She’s still fighting her own 
personal war with an enemy invading her
body. We hug her. Keely has brought a cake
to celebrate Dean’s birthday and mine, and the
halt of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which is to
bring fracked gas and its accompanying
explosions into North Carolina. We’ve already
lost too many fervent souls. They fight and they
smile as long as they can. On other fronts, love
is demonstrated other ways. We have a leak
bringing down our ceiling plaster. I call Gene.
He has lost sight in one eye. A retina got
detached. He guides Tim by their smart phones
through the steps to stop the leak. Tim had
planned to sleep in, but he calls Gene to
learn how to stop the leak. Gene describes
that he needs to blow down a clogged pipe, but
how to do that? Finally, Tim finds a way, and a 
lot of gunk come out and then the water
that had been blocked. The air-conditioner
works again, and the wet ceiling dries. We
take a long breath. If only we could save
Johnsie, bring back sight in Gene’s eye.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

The Late Years Thirty-Nine

Judy by Emma Tobin, late 2018, teaching a class.

The Late Years Thirty-Nine July 28, 2019

The human body has its ways
of sending messages, especially
when aging. I know when I need
to slow down, rest, listen, obey.
I had these messages years ago.
I’d have vertigo then. Nothing
to do but lie flat. I learned to
drink self-heal tea–better than 
Dramamine. Now it’s afib–
my heart racing. I drink lemon-
peppermint tea, take deep breaths,
forget about work, sleep if possible.
Then allow myself a lazy day: 
read a novel, write in my diary.
How I love to work, get things
done. I remind myself that
everything can wait for a day.
“Take a load off.” “There’s no
rush.” The work I want to do
will be there tomorrow and the
next day. I slept. I rested.

I listened. I healed again.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

The Late Years Thirty-Eight

Photo and sign by Keely Wood. A hot day in Moncure, N.C.

The Late Years Thirty-Eight July 21, 2019

I was thirty-eight when I had that dream.
I was sitting in a circle with black women,
and someone stabbed me in the back.
A nightmare which has come alive
in my mind again, but of course it has
happened before–in the intervening
years. I use my ingenuity and courage
and make things happen: a small press,
a major library program for new writers,
a statewide writers organization where
all are welcome, giving a death blow
to the clique mentality. It’s no wonder
I was hated. I didn’t publish them. I
Interfered with their power base.
Or here, I wanted to protect my
neighbors from coal ash poison, and
in years earlier, formaldehyde, plus
other causes of cancer. I lost John
Cross, who was always willing to help,
and Terica, endlessly inventive about
how to fight fracking and coal ash 
dust, and Cora, who told me she
loved me as if she knew people who
didn’t. I wouldn’t change what I’ve done
even if I live among those who stab
me in the back when they can. I forget 
more. I can’t go and do as much as
once. Yet here I am. Help me or 
harm me, but let me do my work

while I live.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Late Years Thirty-Seven

Photo of sunrise  from Jordan Lake Dam on New Year's Day 2019 by Ellen Tinsley, DVM

The Late Years Thirty-Seven July 14, 2019

It is quite true that the artist, painter, writer or composer starts always with an experience that is a kind of discovery. He comes upon it with the sense of a discovery; in fact, it is truer to say that it comes upon him as a discovery. It surprises him.
–Joyce Cary, Art and Reality, p. 15.

What then do all these words mean
that come upon me–years of them now?
I listen. I record. I respect, nay, I honor
that mysterious flow. As to Eliot’s vision
of how a new voice will become part of
the tradition that has gone before and change
it all, I’m hesitant to claim to be that
important. Besides, he says, such poetry
won’t be personal, and mine definitely
is. My friends and children, my chickens
and hydrangea bush, the little blue
grosbeak who sings to me at six in the
morning–at sunrise time–when I go to 
walk, are personal, or are they? Does the 
bird’s insistent call when the sky is pink 
all the way around, red, and even green
in places, and he waits to hear me sing,
“I see you!” does that stay personal
or does it change into a token of eternity?
What happens to the words I hear in
my ear and baptize with the water
of my spirit, which lifts me past my
balance problem, my lament that I can’t
do everything I did only eight years ago?
The answer comes easily now. I’m still
making discoveries, and they are 

still in possession. I needn’t be afraid.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

The Late Years Thirty-Six

Judy and Sheila Crump after Gospel Sing to raise money to fight our coal ash dump. Photo by Johnsie Tipton.

The Late Years Thirty-Six July 7, 2019

It has been so for most of my life. 
Some people love me, and some hate me. 
I think of the woman in the post office, 
being waited on. I didn’t know her, walked 
around her and put my package on the scales,
not imagining I would offend her, but when
she left, she said pointedly and coldly, “Sorry
I interfered with your post office business.”
Meaning: “You interfered with mine.” I
was reprimanded. True, I didn’t think my
gesture would be offensive. She probably
has me pigeon-holed now as a racist.
Another day, walking toward Food Lion, 
a woman coming out calls to me, “Miss
Judy.” It’s Delois, whom I know, and who
hugs me. “How you been?” “I’m fine.
How is your mother?” I hadn’t heard since
late last year. Cora was so sweet, so dear.
Once she told me, as if in defiance of 
somebody, “I love you.” “Mama passed,” 
said Delois. “I’m sorry. She was so sweet.”
I’ll be more careful in the post office, but
I doubt I’ll change the mind of the other
woman. Delois’s hug and Cora’s love
are what sustain me. A friend told me
 years ago, “If you make enemies, it means
you’re getting something done.” If people

love you, you’re doing something right.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Judy Featured in Two Events July 17 and August 17, 2019

Photo by Emma Tobin, December 2018

Judy Hogan featured in two events: July 17 and August 17, 2019

July 17, Wednesday, 2:30 p.m. I’ll be at the Eva Perry library in Apex near Raleigh, for an author tea, along with authors Peggy Payne and Anna Jean Mayhew. The Eva Perry Regional Library is at 2100 Shepherd’s Vineyarad Dr., Apex, NC 27502. 919-387-2122. Contact: Lisa Locke, Adult Services Librarian. Tea will be served, and the audience will have the opportunity to ask questions. Please come. It should be fun. 

Peggy Payne (born 1949) is a writer, journalist and consultant to writers. She has written four books and her articles, reviews and essays have appeared in The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, among others. Her books focus on spirituality.

Anna Jean (A.J.) Mayhew’s first novel, The Dry Grass of August, won the Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction, and was a finalist for the Book Award from the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. She has been writer-in-residence at Moulin à Nef Studio Center in Auvillar, France, and was a member of the first Board of Trustees of the North Carolina Writers' Network. A native of Charlotte, NC, A.J. has never lived outside the state, although she often travels to Europe with her Swiss-born husband. Her work reflects her vivid memories of growing up in the segregated South. A.J.—a mother and grandmother—now lives in a small town in the North Carolina Piedmont with her husband and their French-speaking cat.

Judy Hogan was co-editor of a poetry journal (Hyperion, 1970-81).  In 1976 she founded Carolina Wren Press.  She has been active in central North Carolina as a reviewer, book distributor, publisher, teacher, and writing consultant. She was one of the founders of the NC Writers Network, and chaired the board from 1983-7.
She has published twenty-two books including seven volumes of poetry, ten mystery novels, and four non-fiction books, the latest being Baba Summer: Part One about her experiences with Russians in the 90s. Between 1990 and 2007 she visited Kostroma, Russia, five times, teaching American literature at Kostroma University in 1995 and giving a paper to a Kostroma University Literature Conference in March 2007. She worked on five exchange visits, as well as cooperative publishing with Kostroma writers and exhibits of their artists. Judy lives and farms in Moncure, N.C., near Jordan Lake. 

On August 17, Saturday at 2 p.m. Judy will read at the South Regional Library in Durham from two new books, Baba Summer: Part One, and Bakehouse Doom: The Tenth Penny Weaver Mystery. After a short break, Judy will give a workshop on writing memoir, from 3:15 to 4:30 p.m. there will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions and buy books. A memoir is a form that is quite flexible, and most people can do it fairly easily–tell the story of their lives.
The South Regional Library is at 4505 South Alston Ave, Durham, NC 27713. Contact Teresa May, 919-560-7410. It’s free!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

The Late Years Thirty-Four

Blue Grosbeak. Photo by Ellen Tinsley, DVM

The Late Years Thirty-Four  June 23, 2019

Did the little bird miss me when 
I stayed home to avoid the rain?
Then it didn’t rain. He hadn’t
forgotten me and sang robustly
from the razor wire protecting the
dam machinery and later let me
close before he dipped his wings
and flew away. When you move
slowly as I do now, you see more. 
You have time to watch the eagles
flying over. Once I saw two, both
carrying fish. The fishermen ignore
them, and the eagles ignore the
fishers. Right at the end, as I
return to my truck, I hear the
Carolina Wren cheering, cheering,
cheering me. I watch for morning
glory leaves, some orange native
ones, some invasive purples,
blues, pinks, and whites–no color
yet but crowding heart-shaped
leaves. Here no one fears them.
In my garden they can wrap
around a tomato plant and squeeze
it to death. Here their bright colors
imitate the sunrise, and no one
minds. They can be as invasive
as they want to be. The stones
and dirt that make this dam are

glad to see them, as am I.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Late Years Thirty-Three

Photo of family of deer crossing shallow water only a few feet from Doc Ellen Tinsley DVM

The Late Years Thirty-Three  June 16, 2019

Sometimes, when you have trust in
yourself, other people, the way things are 
made, results you never dreamed of
come to pass. You learn that the treasurer
of the coal ash fighters has quit, not the
first to give up hope. Then a name falls
into your mind. She seems like a long
shot, but, impulsively, you ask, and
she agrees to be the treasurer, which
saves our group from dissolution. I
promise to help her and show her
what to do. You were worried about
money, too. Can you pay for your
groceries till the end of the month?
Much less, any new expenses? Then
the bank statement comes. The sales
of your books through Amazon has
brought in over a hundred dollars. 
And your son’s dog, Sophie, so 
fearful of being abandoned, hunts
for him, waits for him, but then
comes to you, when you call her, to be 
petted and comforted. Sometimes
the Universes gives you the kind of
consequences you didn’t dare imagine. 
Not deus ex machina, which it feels
like, but fruit falling into your hands
from the trees you took care of. Yet
such fruit can only be called
the Gift of Grace.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

The Late Years Thirty-Two

Judy at Lifestyle Workshop, by Elisabeth Plattner.

The Late Years Thirty-Two June 9, 2019

Alone again, but then I have always been.
Today, only I to walk the dam, hear the
little bird who sings to me. The fishers
are down below. An early eagle flies 
low over the dam. When it rains, my
bird stops singing. When I take down
my umbrella, he starts agaain. A
Carolina wren joins, then a cardinal.
A few lights come on as the clouds
move back in. I’m alone, yet connected.
Each of us, the bird, the fishers, the big
eagles, all alone, like it or not. I know
I take more risks than some. I want to
be in this life as long as I can. To be
alive–fully alive–is to be at risk. In
one way it’s all risk. You love someone,
and rarely and amazingly sometimes
he loves you. But sometimes not.
In any case, you’re always still on 
your own. Don’t forget. Yet one small
singer, blue-winged, can make
all the difference.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

The Late Years Thirty-One

Blue Grosbeak photo by Ellen Tinsley, DVM

The Late Years Thirty-One June 2, 2019

When I arrived at the dam, a little bird
sang to me. He perched on a pipe by the
side of the road over the top of the dam
some minutes before sunrise, and as I
walked closer, he flew to the next pipe 
and again sang. Then the next. When
his mate joined him, they flew up and
then down to the river. I made their
day without even trying, and trying
sometimes doesn’t do it. A freely given 
gift, on the other hand, is always
welcome. What do I give the dark
blue bird, the blue grosbeak, with
his merry song? Only my presence.
He doesn’t ask me for food or drink.
But each morning he returns, as if
to lead me toward the sunrise he
knows in his small bones is coming
closer any minute. He thinks he has
made a conquest since I follow him and
love his little warble, and miss him
when he swoops off again. So many
gifts are given to us every day, but
we have to see them and let them
in to our deep soul. Who would
have thought that my hydrangea bush,
a gift of my daughter, then cut to the 
ground by a neighbor man helping
with yard work, would not only rise
again but put on a hundred blue
blooms? Do we see these gifts? Can
we allow what lies outside our 
familiar inner world, to stir our
gratitude when it’s so freely given?

Sunday, May 26, 2019

The Late Years Thirty

Wag on the Jordan Lake Dam, 2018. Photo by Ellen DVM

The Late Years Thirty May 26, 2019

My dog and I have both slowed down.
We don’t walk very fast, but we
still walk every morning our half a mile
across the dam at big Jordan Lake. And
when I put her outside, she walks her path 
in the backyard, round and round, though
in the house often her feet slide apart, 
and she can’t get traction. I’ve put down
mats to help. I might have twenty more
years if I’m lucky, but she is close to
one hundred and nineteen dog years, 
while I am turning eighty-two. She
sleeps a lot, and I work on typing a book
I wrote eight years ago. My son and our
friend replace the boards on the back
porch in the hot sun. It’s easy for me to
worry about her, and yet she still waits
for me near the gate when it’s time to
take our walk, and she nuzzles me to 
let her out when we reach the dam. Bird
calls ring around us. A blue nuthatch 
sings from a pipe as we start across the
dam, and then his mate joins him for a
celebratory flight. Some people say that
dogs have souls. I believe it. Wag rarely
barks now, but her soul is in her eyes 
when she looks at me.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Late Years Twenty-Nine

Photo last winter of Judy and Wag coming out of the fog at Jordan Dam by Ellen Tinsley, DVM

The Late Years Twenty-Nine May 19, 2019

Gifts. Why is it that I receive
so many gifs? When I fell, trying
to avoid a speeding car, my son
determined to move here from New
Mexico to help me, and he did,
though it took him eight months. 
When I began to worry about money,
a long-time friend asked me to help
publicize her new book, and sent
me $100. When my new book on
my Russian friends was slow to
take off, a Russian immigrant in
Canada wrote me how much she
loved the book and began to
share her enthusiasm in the world
wide web. She sent me her review,
and it will be published here, too.
Sometimes I want to complain,
but I hardly begin when something
unbelievable and unexpected changes
my tune. Instead, I am forced

to be grateful.