a long time gone by Karen White

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My thoughts on this novel…

I have read most of White’s published novels, and I think this one is my favorite thus far!

Home means so much to all of us and to each it is a different definition in our minds. White creates a meaning for her characters and shares it with her words. Her sensory descriptions make the images appear to me as read this fabulous book. Heirloom objects mentioned in repetition throughout make it true to her reader.
Vivien is wild at heart and often coming undone with her past chasing her and matching her in thoughts. Dementia is appearing through her mother’s actions and her speech. Mothers and daughters are evolving inside the story. The Walker women share some history and it drives the storyline along with surprises towards the ending.
Inherited ways are thought and discussed. Returning home is the key to facing Vivien’s past. Through Carol Lynne’s dairy, the reader learns the meaning of motherhood and how a women’s destiny can be revealed through those that she gives life. Children often shape women’s lives and what they do in the future. This is what the circle of life is for mothers and it takes place in this story.
The ghost of the dead woman takes form and drives the story into the past and what happened before Vivien was born. Generations are involved and objects give clues to what happened in the past. A ring inspires people to seek its meaning and it brings curiosity along the way to the intended discovery.
Whites handles the shifting timelines so well in all of her novels including this one. The era of the 1920’s has always fascinated me, and I became compelled to learn more about this timeline as I read on.

 

Keeping a gardening journal and talking about the replanting of a garden that held family memories was a nice touch too. The meaning behind the visiting crows and what a certain tree meant to the main character made me think about how nature often influences our daily thoughts. Mississippi is the location and setting in this riveting well-structured fiction novel. Storms and flooding play into the family history as a ghost visits and the cypress swamp sings in the background. Vivien is on her personal quest and journey as she rebuilds her life and leaves one behind that involves a self-centered ex-husband and a step-daughter that she can’t forget.

 

Mississippi is the location and setting in this riveting well-structured fiction novel. Storms and flooding play into the family history as a ghost visits and the cypress swampland sings in the background. Vivien is on her personal quest and challenging journey as she rebuilds her life and leaves one situation behind that involves a self-centered ex-husband and a step-daughter that she can’t forget. A step-daughter that becomes her focal point towards the end of the book. Chloe has made a lot of inroads and personal connections by visiting Vivien after she returns home. She becomes unforgettable even after she is retrieved by her father.

 

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Spring Tides in Salty Water

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Spring Tides in Salty Water

Chirping and singing fills the air,

Tides peak on the border of a shoal

Beach grasses protect the Dolly Varden–

A crab that moves toward the muddy land.

It has a light colored shell covered with red spots and they are darkly outlined.

This is why some refer to it as a calico crab.

Remaining hidden with a thin rippling layer of water across it

At the low point of the ebb,

Here the water is so glassy,

And every detail is revealed.

Crystal clarity to the very bottom,

A little school of minnows flickers like silver sparks,

Bigger fish wander in along narrow passages and between the shoals.

Beds of Sunray clams rest in the deeper areas with whelks preying on them.

Crabs swim and bury inside the sandy bottom.

Life comes out of hiding with horseshoe crabs and a toadfish that hides in

A clump of eelgrass with neat black spirals and a banded tulip shell.

Others glide rapidly with a clear track in the sand,

Minute plant cells are a principal food of each new generation.

Pea crabs and ghost shrimp are alive, too.

Many of these effectively deceive the human eyes by being covered with seaweed.

As the tide ebbs away,

Great whelks are exposed and they glide across the surface in search of clams,

Microscopic plants are gathered inside as seawater streams from their bodies.

The stone crab is their enemy with a massive purplish body and two brightly colored

Claws; they lurk in caves and among the jetties with the rocks.

Gulls seize and carry channel whelks away,

Then, they drop them on a hard surface and the shell shatters,

 Their treasure is recovered leaving behind bits of shell.

It is a world of force, change,

And constant motion as the sand acquires new sea creatures

From the heavy pounding surf.

            –J. E. Cook ©2014

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Exploiters in the Sea’s World~

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*Exploiters~*

A mole crab uses nets so efficient that they obtain
Numerous microorganisms in which whole cities
Live and where the waves break and splash.
In a spectacular movement an area of bubbles; like of a flock of birds
Emerge with crabs digging into the sandy shores with a magical ease
By way of a whirling motion, they dig into wet particles and wait for
Returning water.
They are flat with paw-like appendages and their eyes are mostly useless,
Depending on their sense of touch to guide them through the surf.
Sensory bristles and their gnome-like faces appear in a floating instant in the
Liquid glass stream—fading back.
There is a magical quality in these curtains hiding a world containing shifting sands
And foaming water.
They begin life as an orange colored egg, however, their life span is short.
Towards a summer’s end,
Transformation to an adult is complete.
Young crabs can be carried as far as 200 miles off shore in a current they may travel
Further…
Remaining active in the winter season
And spring brings their mating.
By July, most males are dead.
Females carry the eggs for several months until
They hatch before winter these females die.
A new generation lives among the coquina clams,
Screw shells, and Terebra.
                                                                                                     
                                                                          –J. E. Cook ©2014~Revised~2017
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Shared Sunsets

DONELOL
A Poem by Josie E. Cook M. A.
~Having the right connection~

Shared Sunsets

The girl that is rare
Is the one dear to one’s heart.

As I stand by my tree of choice
And watch the sun make its
Colors at Sunset
With the birds lining the tree
Branches–but not uttering a song
At all
As puddles fill with insects
And the rows of corn
Flutter in the wind
In all the fields sprawling
Before me
The black silhouettes
Further out reflect the remaining
Reds in the skies

Those evening skies
As I hold the hand of my closest
Friend and we remain silent
And happy with the passing
Of time
Because it happens with us
Together
Before this lovely scene in
The sky.
–J. E. Cook ©2017
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Moving On~not always a choice~

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Moving On

A Poem by Josie E. Cook M. A.

leaving a place of love and happiness…

Moving On

 

Moving is scary to me,

Leaving the things behind that I became

Accustomed and familiar to

the change of the seasons every year,

those colors the tree leaves always

become every fall,

the sunrises and sunsets full of the

emptying cloud ranges,

the places on their horizons

that I view each day after day,

sitting on the deck at dawn

watching the day begin and end,

In the morning, the sky bringing up its light,

sitting right beside the big Maple tree

that I will always miss after I am gone

from here,

listening to the rise of the day,

nothing there, except me and that

special tree,

a tree where my daughter spent her

afternoons after school swinging, talking with her

friends, and climbing with her cat,

daylight arrives and I think of haunts of this land,

I’ll miss this tree, the memories will bring it back

After I am gone,

But what I’ll miss even more is this weird little

White house I bought myself,

It’s creaking and moaning during thunderstorms,

Its own pellicular grace and style

That brought me happiness so many times

While I was here.

The garden that I tended and worked in

With its life cycles each season,

Tiny seeds being pressed into the soil

Waiting for them to poke through

The ground,

Maybe, I am just a seed, too

What I’ll remember most is my bedroom

Here,

Because it is right beside my big Maple tree

It stands there like a soldier guard,

My bedroom windows look out to the garden

That I love,

I hate to be a long time gone from this

Place of love and happiness

But, I am moving on. –J. E. Cook ©2017

 

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Allie & my daughter, Victoria having a discussion under the big Maple.

Reading Meanwhile there are Letters

This book is based on the correspondence of Eudora Welty & Ross Macdonald edited by Suzanne Marrs & Tom Nolan and it is quite a treasure to read.

In one letter to Welty:

“I don’t quite know what is happening to the country, or has already happened. A friend, formally in the government, writes from Washington about “the coming constitutional crisis,” as he calls it. I believe the country has gone through a moral crisis and failed to recognize it. We proceed cheerfully on our desperate way like a man with a bad doctor and a fatal illness.”– Kenneth Millar (102)
After reading this quote, I thought about how it is so fitting to our current situation in our country!

In her next letter to him I noted this passage relating to the above passage from his letter:

“…I think, the same feeling about the awful things we were perpetrating upon that midnight clear (in Vietnam). I hope and hope, while knowing there’s damage that can never be undone and something lost we can never get back. Just hope for the end of the killing–I think it has to come soon, don’t you?” –Eudora Welty to Kenneth Millar in a letter. (105)

I believe–Hope is always what keeps us going on in times like these! These writers’ thoughts seem to relate to our country’s current government decisions and actions.

As I continue to read and reflect on this:

As I read this thick volume slowly, I reflect on so much of the material covered in their correspondence through their letters, specifically what Welty tells him about nature, writing, and also how he responds to her questions and her personal concerns in the areas of her writing and doing interviews. This can be so useful to authors and poets today. Millar is always reinforcing her through his perspective on her writing talents and her public speaking engagements. When she doubts her written work and her speaking abilities, he always seems to have the right answers about her troubling thoughts and how she might be somewhat off the mark with her personal reflections on her public interviews that she reveals to him inside her letters.  Millar gives her his expert perception on them, and they are always on spot with what is happening with her writing and her unique capabilities.  She, in turn, does the same for him often through her reviews and her feedback on his writing.

Their relationship was truly a working one as far as their writing is concerned. They seem to feed off of each other and reinforce each other as they correspond making their writing endeavours stronger and more successful as years go by.

I will be reading more about them soon and I may post more here on what I find in this treasure of a book about Welty & Millar and their growing relationship as they communicate with each other through letters.

 

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Sunflowers

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Sunflowers

 

A field of sunflowers

Is a feeling of freedom

And surrounded beauty.

The inner core becomes

Touched by the natural

Essence flowing in the air

With the ever changing clouds

Above as the last rays of

The sun touch the growing

Stalks reaching for their

Full bloom existence

Until they must bend

Their heads towards

The soil that gave them

Their first start towards

The glowing orb overhead

Of them.

            –J. E. Cook ©2016

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I’m Remaining Wild

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I’m Remaining Wild

Scars under my skin,

Cracks remain,

However, all the structure

Is sound and existing with

The blemishes, crevices, and creases

Revealing the wear

And a time past.

 

I look forward to dying doing

Something I love.

 

Hope keeps me going

And seeking my dreams in this life.

 

Keep the light green for me,

As the ever flowing sea keeps

Surging like me.

          –J. E. Cook ©2016

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Nobody’s House

Nobody’s House

Vintage lacework
Lines your crumbling porch steps,
Wicked weeds
Grow through your spindled bars of cracked gray-white,
Brown-green moss
Crept in to devour
Your smooth cool surfaces of beady pebbles.
You became so forgotten,
And your history has no recent accounts to verify,
Except for those silk spider webs
and some eerie transparent beings,
Lingering inside your dusty halls,
Where cracked wallpaper becomes tiny dust motes,
With mystical orbs floating upward among the decaying
light fixtures,
And tattered tapestry walls.
Your red clay shingles, long gone in many places,
leaving Big black holes,
Where the spirits and old sorrows collect,
Panes of tall glass are missing and long ago shattered.
Hearty vines are tangled and growing through open areas,
And they surround loose metal gutters clanking in the wind.
You look mournful and sad
With a permanent tired presence,
Circled by tall dead grass and brown gathered scrub,
You have fallen apart
In this lonely address,
Located on a dreary back road,
Among the plowed rows and endless fields,
That meet the sinister thickets,
In abandonment.
–J. E. Cook ©2016
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Her Creative World

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Her Creative World

She visited her realm often

that became her creative world,

having been born with a curious observance

She decides to write her thoughts down,

her daily whispers,

Are carried on the winds of her unique world,

That she created,

this place of eternal magic,

where everything floats

out of time,

As she stares into her cracked looking glass,

Finding her reflected new life; through fancy images dancing forth,

she decides to enter through one winding break,

Silence at first, as the skies open before her curious eyes,

She takes in the scenery of her newly created world,

a place where shimmering green dragons fly free

and tiny garden fairies dip daily among huge blossoms of

fragrant flowers and abundant new growth,

where the clear rivers flow between rolling pristine hills

of fresh alfalfa,

there, the sunshine reigns over most days,

until the thirsty blooms call to the curving puffed-up clouds

begging for some moist refreshments,

their requests bring a gentle release with

a double rainbow appearing in the west as the drops

cease to land on their upturned faces,

this placid misting is all they require climb up

higher, just as her thoughts continue to create

another world for her everlasting escape.– J.E. Cook ©2017

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