Sunday, September 30, 2018
Photo of Wag during our morning walk by the retired Horse Vet. Wag is 16 years old, 112 in dog years. She still loves to walk.
Shadows Twenty-Six September 30, 2018
When Wag and I walk at the dam
shortly after it gets light, we meet
people, too. Two women–mother
and daughter--come to run. An older
man walks his father’s dog round
and round. He tries not to see me,
but to my “Good morning,” he mutters,
“Morning.” I see fisher people below
on either side of the dam, watch how
the lake water is now being released
to rush downstream. A new figure
appeared. An older woman with a
camera. She talked to Wag, who
listened. I decided she must be a
dog-whisperer. When she held out
her hand, Wag slowly approached
and sniffed. Her truck license said,
“Neigh Dr.” She told me she was
a retired horse vet. Now she talks
to me, too. She’s watching for the
eagles who have a nest not far
away. I saw one once, perched
on a pipe the way the vultures do.
Until I was close, I didn’t see the
white head and tail feathers. He
waited until I was close to fly off.
Perhaps he already knew me. I’m
sure the eagles know the horse
doctor. They’re probably curious.
She loves watching for eagles
and talking to Wag and me.
Sunday, September 23, 2018
The ninth Penny Weaver mystery, The Death of a Hell-Razor, comes out November 5, 2018.
In Death of a Hell-Razor, Penny is teaching remedial English under a new and more enlightened administration at St. Francis College. The new president set up a summer boot camp in English and Math for students not ready for college, encourages them to work as interns and assistants with various maintenance staff at the college, and the Drama teacher is putting on Fences by August Wilson, which is a morale boost for both serious students and those trying to slide by. The reforms are helping many, but some students are still selling and taking drugs, failing their classes, and engaging in sexual abuse. Penny has several students making Ds after having failed Reading and Pre-Composition several times already. When one of them is killed, suspicion falls on a 30-year-old ex-con, who had served many prison terms, but he is working hard to do well at the college, and Penny believes he is sincere and would never have killed another student. Even Penny’s friends, Sammie and Derek, believe Mitchell is guilty, although there is no evidence. It rests on Penny and Mitchell’s few supporters to find the real killer.
With the immediacy of almost continuous dialogue, The Death of a Hell-Razor focuses on relationships instead of violence, and on who needs support rather than on who’s to blame. It centers around the dark question of a murder, a simple reality in the cold, cruel, imbalanced world we already know, but the murder isn’t the point of the story–the love is. What makes this story surprising is the dream of an invested, concerned community built around that question, inspired by its fierce, respected, intuitively brilliant elder heroine, whose wisdom and patient unconditional support of everyone–whether or not they believe in themselves–is so compelling. I feel almost lonely without her.–Mindi Meltz, Author of Lonely in The Heart of the World
The Death of a Hell-Razor is a fictitious journey through the lives of staff and students at an Historically Black University (HBU). With all of its challenges and high drama, the characters are real and rich, with hearts as big as Texas. The journey brought smiles, tears, and sorrow. But at the end, the reader will come away with some serious soul food with a sprinkling of HBU pride. Great read!–Gary Tyson, Former Siler City, NC Police Chief
Hell-Razor sells for $15, $16 with tax, $19 to be mailed, checks to PO Box 253, Moncure, NC, 27559.
ISBN-13: 978-1721177059. E-book will be released October 24. $2.99 for Kindle. You may order on Amazon or directly from Judy. Two paperback mysteries of the nine published for $25, including tax and postage. Pre-orders from now. Judy Hogan
Sunday, September 16, 2018
Shadows Twenty-Three September 9, 2018
It is not easy to distinguish reality from illusion, especially when one lives in a period of the great upheaval that began a couple of centuries ago on a small western peninsula of the Euro-Asiatic continent, only to encompass the whole planet during one man’s lifetime with the uniform worship of science and technology. And it was particularly difficult to oppose multiple intellectual temptations in those areas of Europe where degenerate ideas of dominion over men, akin to the ideas of dominion over Nature, led to paroxysms of revolution and war at the expense of millions of human beings destroyed physically or spiritually. And yet perhaps our most precious acquisition is not an understanding of those ideas, which we touched in their most tangible shape, but respect and gratitude for certain things which protect people from internal disintegration and from yielding to tyranny. Precisely for that reason some ways of life, some institutions became a target for the fury of evil forces, above all the bonds between people that exist organically, as if by themselves, sustained by family, religion, neighborhood, common heritage. In other words, all that disorderly, illogical humanity, so often branded as ridiculous because of its parochial attachments and loyalties. In many countries traditional bonds of civitas have been subject to a gradual erosion and their inhabitants become disinherited without realizing it. It is not the same, however, in those areas where suddenly, in a situation of utter peril, a protective, life-giving value of such bonds reveals itself.–Czeslaw Milosz Nobel Lecture, 1980.
This is what we suffer. This wears us down.
Those small towns I lived in as a child: Zenith,
Kansas, Cameron, West Virginia, Norman,
Oklahoma. I walked to the post office. I
Visited the women quilting in the church
basement, my parents took me seriously
and believed I could do anything I wanted
to do, even if, later, I scared them to death
by loving mavericks, challenging the racial
line, risking my life, my health, my safety.
Wherever I went, I built community,
fostered connections between those going
it alone. Milosz helped me see, at age
eighty-one, that our worship of science
and technology, our allowing a dictator
to be elected president, is killing us off.
The big electricity corporation has brought
us a present we couldn’t refuse of seven
million tons of poison. They say they’ll stop
now. They’ve done enough damage. Instead,
they’ll burn the coal ash again and kill us
faster. No one stops them. People are
getting sick. They don’t want to fight
any more. They forget: when we fight, we
love each other. We can live with our
differences. Black, white, and Hispanic;
church-goers and non-church-goers.
Andrew says, “You’ve won a victory.
Have a victory party.” Rhonda says,
“You’re defying the doctors. I predict
you’ll have a stroke.” She’s angry at her
body’s weakness, and at me, for trusting
myself and challenging doctors, our techno-
masters in a sickening world. The human
body knows how to heal itself. Instead, they
give us pills and then more pills, and the
body then is truly sick, won’t fight any more.
Milosz lived under the Nazis, under Stalin.
He fought and he survived. I, too, am
fighting, and I, too, am surviving. Love
can conquer. Give it a try.
Sunday, September 9, 2018
Judy making bread, with sticky hands.
Shadows Twenty-Two September 2, 2018
Proust thought Time destroyed us,
those hidden memories our only
salvation. For me, Time allows
fulfillment, to come into my own,
to learn, to heal, and even to be
recognized and valued. There were
people who hated me, but they
didn’t stop me. My own body
slowed me down, reminded me
I had done well and to think of those
I love. I persuaded my friends
and my doctor to trust my way
of life, my faith in myself; to let
me continue my independent way.
My son and I learned to live
together. We lost some crops,
but harvested bushels of tomatoes.
I made spaghetti sauce and soup.
Now there are grapes to make
Muscadine jelly, pears to make
preserves. I do my work as a
writer, editor, teacher. I celebrate
Jaki, whom I first published
forty-five years ago. I will
teach poetry and story writing.
Like the moon’s slow, steady
increase of its light, I resume
my own life of work and love.
Sunday, September 2, 2018
Zinnia with butterfly
You looked so fragile, but I
knew even then that you were
tough. Now I look back on
your resurrections. After you
left that March day in 1973,
I saw a small white dogwood
blooming across the racist fields.
It named your spirit. A briefcase
full of poems: some loving, some
harsh. I felt their power. Then
that Fourth of July, when we
went to Asheville, you with
baby Eva, and in your appointment
book for January, you wrote:
“background music, fireworks,
cheering,” and then, over and
over: “simmering of blood,
simmering of blood, simmering
of blood.” I put that page–110–
in your book. Those early years
I worried about your life. After
Imani died, I worried about
your health. In your grief,
your hands were paralyzed. You
couldn’t write. You healed again,
and now they’ve honored you,
made you the state’s laureate poet.
You wanted me there to celebrate.
I offended many in those days
forty-five years ago. I broke up
the cliques, published the writers
who were different, who were
marginalized. Together we changed
those margins, and you’re alive
and still speaking truth.