Friday, September 11, 2020


    Frogs

The sweater was red and gold plaid, one of the warmest I owned at the time, and I wore it on September third, the year I turned sixteen.  I remember this because it was the second date I had with The Songwriter, and I was besotted in that unique way that teenage girls can be; we remember everything.  

There aren't many roads for a serious relationship to travel at that age; we still had so much living to do, so much life to discover.  So we became best friends instead.  We'd  go out on dates, then call each other up when those dates were over to run down to the all night record store together.  That was when the fun really happened.  We'd talk and laugh, neither of us realizing that the foundation for a happy marriage was being built right before our eyes. 

 So of course, I remember that sweater.  I think I even still have it somewhere.  It reminds me of many things: love, and history - youth, and the passing of time.  It also leads me back to the sort of autumns we used to know.  For today, I cannot even imagine wearing the warmest sweater in my wardrobe on the third day of September.

The old fable tells us if you put a frog into boiling water, he will, understandably, jump out.  But if you make him comfortable in a tepid pot, you can slowly turn up the heat until he boils to death.  Now, I have no intention of testing that theory, but it's a pretty apt metaphor for the situation in which we sit today.

I'm not all that old, but I can remember many September mornings on the first day of school when we lined up wearing new corduroy and wool.  Crisp air flowed in through open windows as we slept, we'd wake in the night with our noses cold.  Winter meant at least one or two good snowfalls, and Easter mornings were chilly and bright.  We only ran the air-conditioner occasionally in summertime; if the thermometer hit ninety, we were shocked.  If we'd suddenly been placed in the year 2020, like our friend the frog, we'd have looked for a way to jump out.  If we'd been shown the future, photographs like the one above from California this week, the horror would have been overwhelming, the fear paralyzing.

The disasters have increased slowly, hubris turning up the heat in incremental amounts.  The hundred-year floods coming every decade, then nearly every year.  Cataclysmic hurricanes no longer rare.  We have lost so much time in the past three and a half years as we've watched this administration gleefully rip up every regulation placed by its predecessor as roadblocks to disaster.  Beginning with his decision to lead the nation out of the Paris climate accord, the man in the White House has done more to roll back and weaken every environmental law than any president in history.  We have been hobbled by ignorance, idiocy, and arrogance to such an extent it is difficult to visualize breaking free of those ancient, calamitous chains.

Like "awesome", the word "devastating" has become so overused in the current parlance it seems to have lost all coherent meaning.  There is such a roster of issues in our country at present that meet the requirements for that definition - from the shameless bating of racists, to the 200,000 Americans lost in this pandemic, the severity of which the current president chose to lie about and ridicule even as he knew better.  It is difficult to imagine a more appropriate image for our current state than the chilling photo taken this week of the Golden Gate Bridge, its beauty obscured by the flames of a modern-day hell.

I doubt I'll live to see another autumn like the ones we used to know.  Perhaps none of us will.  But maybe, just maybe, it doesn't have to get worse.  Maybe, just maybe, there are enough people left who can see the seriousness of this next election and will choose for the children coming up behind us, children who deserve to live in a better world than this, children who will remember sweaters. 

Please go to Vote.org to make certain you are registered to vote.  
Make a plan for how you're going to do it, and vote as early as your state allows.
 
xx, 
Pamela


Monday, September 7, 2020

    


 The Book

When a dream is realized you no longer count the hours.  Those endless afternoons in a cranny of the library, lost inside a world no one but you is even aware exists, talking to people in your head who seem as real to you as family.  And when you emerge from that world to share it with others, you are amazed that they find it as fascinating as you did yourself, amazed that a fabulous agent wants to represent you, amazed that a publisher like Random House wants to publish you.  

    You are stunned when you see the beautiful cover.  Stunned to see your book up on websites for pre-ordering.  Stunned to know that in a few short months, people all over will be able to enter the world you created in the silence of your own imagination.  

    But my sweet friends, that is where I am right now.  Amazed, stunned and so very grateful.  Above is the cover of my new novel, THE SWEET TASTE OF MUSCADINES.  You can read more about it at the Random House website, and on all bookshop sites.  It will be released on March 16, and I pray for a happier, brighter, saner world when that date rolls around.  

    I hope to be writing more here soon.

Much Love, 

Pamela

and Apple, Andrew, George, and The Songwriter... all masked and doing well. xx

Saturday, April 11, 2020

This Easter


This Easter

Being an April baby, Easter has occasionally coincided with my birthday.  This was delightfully confusing when I was a little girl.  Bunny rabbits and fancy dresses, birthday cakes and sunrise services, gardenia corsages and presents.  All too much to take in properly when I was really small.  I soon learned, however, that, in order of priority, my birthday was quite a ways down the ladder of importance from Easter Sunday.

I suppose I've been pondering the significance of Easter for the whole of my life.  It is the crux of the Christian faith, after all.  If Jesus didn't really rise from the dead, the whole thing is pretty much rubbish.  As a person of faith, I believe that he did, and this tells me death is something that can ultimately be conquered; that we will live again, just as he did.  Even though it's far outside my understanding, that's still where I place my hope.

These days, it's hard to find Jesus in religion.  When one reads the Beatitudes, the values of Christ stand in razor-sharp contrast
to what we often see represented as American Christianity.  Those he called Blessed - the meek, the merciful, the poor in spirit, the peacemakers, those who mourn, those who hunger for righteousness - seem to have been cast aside, mocked and deemed weak, and in their place we find the arrogant, ignorant, and mendacious being praised and exalted as never before.  At a time when we so dearly need the comfort of faith, the church can seem like the last place in which it can be found.

But the words of Jesus cannot be drowned out by a louder voice, nor do they fade under a liar's glare.  We are seeing them come soaring to life right before our eyes.  As he told us in Matthew, "the last shall be first, and the first shall be last".  This pandemic is proving that truth in ways we couldn't have imagined.  For it is not the celebrated, the over-paid, or the powerful who are holding us  together at present.  It is the ones so often overlooked, undervalued, and discounted.  The grocery worker, the nurse, the sanitation worker, the delivery person, the ambulance driver, the hospital janitor.  Those whom many in this country would deem unworthy for a paltry increase in the minimum wage, the ones who don't deserve health care, education, or an affordable place to live, the ones who have to fight for their right to vote are, we see now, worth just as much, or more, than any corporate head.  Today, without them, our country would collapse.  It is divine truth, uncovered, and set out into the light.  The last are first.

This year Easter falls straight down into a grieving, frightened, insecure world.  One where we have been forced into silence and solitude.  The wonderful writer Arundhati Roy recently called this pandemic "a portal, a gateway between this world and the next".  In this time of quiet separation we have the time to ponder what we want to carry with us into this next world.  What will we set down? What will we hold tighter?  We have a lot of decisions to make. 

 Perhaps we've all been given a second chance to get it right.
  I have to believe that.  
After all Easter is synonymous with hope.

xx

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Black Swans


Black Swans

Long before any of us were walking around, people were sure about many things.  The earth was flat.  The surest way to cure a migraine was to drill a hole into your head.  Evil spirits lived inside brussels sprouts.  Women could become infertile if they did too much thinking.  And black swans did not exist.

That last surety was disproven in 1697 when a group of Dutch explorers spied black swans floating along a river in Western Australia.  Minds were blown.  Certainties were questioned. Knowledge was gained.

Some are calling this moment in time our very own black swan experience.  Many things that were so sure and so safe only weeks ago now seem as fragile as dust.  Much of what we thought we knew is only a memory now, and we struggle to make sense of this new reality, knowing, even as our brains fight to reject the idea, that things will never be quite the same again.

The Songwriter and I are two of the fortunate ones; we already work from home.  Our three dogs are simply delighted with all the walks they're getting every single day now.  But as my head hits the pillow every night, my thoughts swiftly travel to those wonderful people who own the tiny Mexican restaurant we've been frequenting for decades, the charming couple who own the gem of an inn in the Highlands of Scotland, the tiny bookshop on the tiny street, the dog groomer, the favorite waitress, the bakery owner.  There's no getting around it; so many lives are being affected in so many life-altering ways.

Deep in my soul, I have known for awhile that we were heading for change - abrupt and irrevocable change.  There was simply too much greed, too much contempt, too much focus on the things that have never mattered.  Science was ignored, faith distorted, selfishness applauded, divisiveness engineered.  We were due for a reckoning, I suppose.  And what we're left with when this all ends - and it will end - will depend on the decency and humanity of every citizen of the world.

Tribalism is as ancient an idea as some of those insane ones up in that first paragraph.  This crisis has revealed that insanity by showing us - in technicolor, in real time - that we live and breathe, suffer and die, together.  The videos of Italians singing out from their windows, the doctors dancing together in Iran, the shopkeepers in Georgia opening their stores early so the elderly can shop safely.  No one is separate; no one is immune.  Our planet is tiny.  Perhaps we know that now.

One of the sweet people I follow on Instagram posted this yesterday and I thought it bore repeating here. 

"And the people stayed home.  And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still.  And listened more deeply.  Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.  Some met their shadows.  And the people began to think differently.  And the people healed.  And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.  And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed."
Kitty O'Meara


Help your neighbors. 
Stay safe, stay inside, and stay hopeful.
xx
Pamela


Saturday, February 1, 2020

Puppies and Patriots


Puppies and Patriots

Say hello to George!
I know, I know, three dogs is excessive.  But we'd been keeping an eye out for a playmate for our gentle giant, Andrew.  Then, without fanfare, an email landed in my inbox last Wednesday with a photograph of this wee chap and the dye was set.  Despite many applications for him, we were the lucky ones chosen and now, a mere ten days later, it seems George was always part of the family.  Apple finds him amusing, but Andrew plays with him constantly, and the sight of an 103 lb dog playing with a 10.5 lb puppy is entertaining beyond measure.  No one knows exactly which breed is dominant is this little fellow, though the vet believes he's primarily a wheaten terrier.  He does have pretty big feet, and he's seriously fluffy.  More photos of him can be found on my Instagram page. 

Also, work has begun at Random House on the cover of my novel, 
THE SWEET TASTE OF MUSCADINES.  
I'll share a photo when I have it.  The release will be January 2021 and it's all very exciting.  I am now hard at work on my second book.  Three big dogs sleeping under my desk can only help this all-consuming process.

And finally, yesterday was a brutal day, both for lovers of the US Constitution and an united Europe.  The faux impeachment trial of our president and the official onset of Brexit in the UK converged on the same day, a dark alignment of stars that will change the course of both our countries for generations.  Unlike US citizens, who have a chance to redirect their disastrous direction at the ballot box in November, those in Britain will have a rougher road.  This editorial gracefully expresses the truth and consequences of Brexit.

And, while I could write my feelings on the events of the week here in my own country, I'll instead turn to two of our founding fathers for their thoughts.  There is a reason our constitution has stood strong for 200 years.  These men anticipated our current predicament.  

From Alexander Hamilton....

"The truth unquestionably is, that the only path to a subversion of the republican system of the Country is, by flattering the prejudices of the people, and exciting their jealousies and apprehensions, to throw affairs into confusion, and bring on civil commotion...
When a man unprincipled in private life, desperate is his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents, having the advantage of military habits - despotic in his ordinary demeanor - known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty - when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity - to join in the cry of danger to liberty - to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government, bringing it under suspicion - to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day - It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may 'ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.'"

And, from Thomas Paine, whose words express my feelings so succinctly:

"I should suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul by swearing allegiance
 to one whose character is that of a sottish, stupid, stubborn, worthless, brutish man."

Love and Grace to you all.
xx
Pamela







Friday, December 6, 2019

Here it Comes Again


Here it Comes Again

"I cannot believe it's Christmas again."

Keeping an ear out for interesting conversations cannot, in my opinion, be considered eavesdropping, particulary when those conversations are exchanged in voices loud enough to be heard a couple of lunch tables over - and when the above exclamation was rather gloomily uttered by a woman seated directly behind me, my ears perked up to listen.  I couldn't see her, but could easily tell from the river of negativity that flowed through her sentences that the holiday season was not something that in any way made her jolly.  For her, this year's calendar appeared to have been bewitched, sped up to an obscene rate for the sole purpose of forcing the festive time upon her much sooner than was expected or desired.  Everything about it made her grumpy.   The shopping, the baking, the wrapping of gifts.  The parties, the dinners, the concerts of carols.  "Here is all comes again."  And she heaved a laborious sigh.

As I sat sipping my coffee at the table behind her, I couldn't help but grin.  For every single thing she mentioned as a trial beyond bearing was just one more thing I was looking forward to with every inch of my being.  I love the holiday season.  And this year, as every year, it seems to have returned precisely when we need it most.

I suppose that's the wonderful thing about Christmas.  It always comes back.  No matter the turmoil, no matter the trials, just when we think the days are at their bleakest, here it comes again.  The lights, the color, the carols, the warmth.  Again.  And, again.  And, again.  It is the yearly reminder that we are loved, and perhaps, more importantly, that we can love.
I wish you all the Happiest of Christmases.
xx,
Pamela

And if there is still some shopping to do...
here's a list of some of my favorite gifts this year.
Hopefully, it will give you some ideas.

*****

1.  Henry and Baloo 2020 Calendar
I have followed these two on Instagram for a year or more.  Their every post makes me happy.  Henry was a shy and anxious rescue dog until his adoptive parents adopted Baloo, another rescue, but this time, a cat.  These two are closer than brothers now.  They warm the heart like nothing else.
Find them on Instagram, HERE
Get, and give, your very own calendar, HERE

2.  John Derian Travel Bag
On an October trip to NYC, I finally made it over to the East Village to John Derian's magical, wonderful shop.  
So many unique treasures! 
 This velvet bag stopped me in my tracks.
Find it HERE.



3. Drunk Elephant Marula Oil
The Songwriter and I have a little game we play every autumn.  He wants to turn on the central heating at the first cool breeze, I would wait until January.  (Apple and Andrew are on my side, by the way.)  He thinks I'm being ridiculous.  I'm thinking of my skin.  Nothing is more drying than articicial heat.  But this stuff has made my argument a little weaker.  It's fabulous.  Really.
Find it HERE.

4.  Coat
Love this coat from Zara.
Find it HERE

5.  The Other Side of the Coin
by Angela Kelly
Cannot wait to read this!
Find it HERE


6.  Middle England
by Jonathan Coe
And this is brilliant!
Find it HERE

7.  Shilasdair Socks
I picked up a couple of pairs of these fabulous socks when I was at the gorgeous yarn shop, Shilasdair, on the Isle of Skye in September. 
 I haven't had them off my feet.
Find them HERE.

8.  Dog-Walking Hat
The Songwriter grabbed this on the Isle of Harris. 
 He wears it for every dog walk and even, sometimes, wears it indoors.  (See Number 3 above.)
Find it HERE

9.  Dog Lead Hook
And speaking of dog walking, 
this is the perfect place to hang those leads.
Find it HERE


10.  Sophie Digard Scarves
As a knitter, I make a beeline for Loop every time I'm in London. But they have more than yarn.  
They also carry these exquisite handmade scarves
 from Sophie Digard.
Find them HERE.

12.  English Fairy Tales
from F. A. Steele
The perfect book for anyone, any age.
For as C. S. Lewis so wisely said:
"When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so.  Now that I am fifty, I read them openly.  When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."
Find it HERE


Wednesday, August 7, 2019

A Line Across Humanity


A Line Across Humanity

A few weeks ago, when I promised to be a more regular presence here on the blog, I mentioned how much more difficult that promise is to keep that it used to be.  The world has changed dramatically in the past two and a half years.  It seems ridiculous to pretend otherwise.  But I vowed to try and post various things, more regularly.  Then as I was working on a few ideas for this week, the shootings in El Paso and Dayton occurred and I realized how impossible it is for me to post what I'd planned in the cold light of such tragedy.  Anthing I came up with would be so irredeemably trivial it would feel obscene.

There have been 255 mass shootings in the United States so far this year.  The current occupant of the Oval Office, along with his champions at Fox News,  blames this chiefly on video games and mental illness, never once mentioning the idiocy of a citizenry that is allowed to walk the streets with assault rifles in their hands.  While other countries around the world have both video games and mentally ill individuals, their statistics on gun violence reveal these "causes" to be nothing more than what they are:  a continued appeasement of an evil and increasingly unhinged gun lobby.  And while the occupant of the White House decried white supremacy in his official statement Monday morning, one cannot help by refer back to his shocking behavior during his rallies and the endless rascism contained in his tweets to see how well his knows the language of white supremacy.  He uses it freely.  When racist websites are gleeful over their "friend in the White House", it is beyond disingenuous to deny the connection.  When hateful manifestos of mass murderers echo his own words, the responsibility squats like a poisonous toad on his shoulders.

I'll keep trying to write something other than this in later posts.  But for now my thoughts are best expressed by an offical letter released last week, before the shootings, by the National Cathedral.  It is a rare thing for them to put out such a statement, even rarer as it is addressed to a sitting president.  But I'm very grateful they did, and I hope you'll take a few moments to read it.
  This man has drawn a clear line across humanity.  
It is up to each one of us to decide where to stand.

Have We No Decency? A Response to President Trump
The escalation of racialized rhetoric from the President of the United States has evoked responses from all sides of the political spectrum. On one side, African American leaders have led the way in rightfully expressing outrage. On the other, those aligned with the President seek to downplay the racial overtones of his attacks, or remain silent. 
As faith leaders who serve at Washington National Cathedral ¬– the sacred space where America gathers at moments of national significance – we feel compelled to ask: After two years of President Trump’s words and actions, when will Americans have enough? 
As Americans, we have had such moments before, and as a people we have acted. Events of the last week call to mind a similarly dark period in our history: 
“Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. … You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?” 
That was U.S. Army attorney Joseph Welch on June 9, 1954, when he confronted Senator Joseph McCarthy before a live television audience, effectively ending McCarthy’s notorious hold on the nation. Until then, under the guise of ridding the country of Communist infiltration, McCarthy had free rein to say and do whatever he wished. With unbridled speech, he stoked the fears of an anxious nation with lies; destroyed the careers of countless Americans; and bullied into submissive silence anyone who dared criticize him. 
In retrospect, it’s clear that Welch’s question was directed less toward McCarthy and more to the nation as a whole. Had Americans had enough? Where was our sense of decency?
We have come to accept a level of insult and abuse in political discourse that violates each person’s sacred identity as a child of God. We have come to accept as normal a steady stream of language and accusations coming from the highest office in the land that plays to racist elements in society. 
This week, President Trump crossed another threshold. Not only did he insult a leader in the fight for racial justice and equality for all persons; not only did he savage the nations from which immigrants to this country have come; but now he has condemned the residents of an entire American city. Where will he go from here? 
Make no mistake about it, words matter. And, Mr. Trump’s words are dangerous.
These words are more than a “dog-whistle.” When such violent dehumanizing words come from the President of the United States, they are a clarion call, and give cover, to white supremacists who consider people of color a sub-human “infestation” in America. They serve as a call to action from those people to keep America great by ridding it of such infestation. Violent words lead to violent actions.
When does silence become complicity? What will it take for us all to say, with one voice, that we have had enough? The question is less about the president's sense of decency, but of ours. 
As leaders of faith who believe in the sacredness of every single human being, the time for silence is over. We must boldly stand witness against the bigotry, hatred, intolerance, and xenophobia that is hurled at us, especially when it comes from the highest offices of this nation. We must say that this will not be tolerated. To stay silent in the face of such rhetoric is for us to tacitly condone the violence of these words. We are compelled to take every opportunity to oppose the indecency and dehumanization that is racism, whether it comes to us through words or actions.
There is another moment in our history worth recalling. On January 21, 2017, Washington National Cathedral hosted an interfaith national prayer service, a sacred tradition to honor the peaceful transfer of political power. We prayed for the President and his young Administration to have “wisdom and grace in the exercise of their duties that they may serve all people of this nation, and promote the dignity and freedom of every person.” 
That remains our prayer today for us all. 
The Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington
The Rev. Canon Kelly Brown Douglas, Canon Theologian of Washington National Cathedral


Monday, July 29, 2019

Too Soon For School... A Summer Book List


Too Soon For School
A Summer Book List

Humans have complained about change for as long as time has been unwinding.  I do my best to embrace it, particulary because it's one of the best ways I've discovered to learn, grow, or improve.  However, when I run into my local supermarket and find all the familiar aisles have been inexplicably rearranged and I can no longer find the butter, I'm as irritated as the next grump.  It's so often the little things that chip away at my sanguinity.  When your favorite lipstick is discontinued, when the BBC cancels the one show you really liked, or when Ben Affleck is cast as Batman.  Those are the changes that niggle.

Children roll with change far better than adults.  This is perhaps because they are too young to have become well and truly used to much.  For instance, here where I live, school starts this week.  On August 1st.  There are so many things wrong with this I haven't room to list them all.  But for one thing, it's still hot.  Blazingly hot.  What happens to the beloved tradition of "back to school" clothes shopping, which was, let's face it, the seriously great thing about having to go back to school?  How fondly I remember the wool skirts, the sweaters, the plaid.  Dress like that this week and you'll find yourself in the emergency room before lunch, half dead with heat stroke. 

When I was a little girl August 1st was the start of our last, most delicious, month of the summer holidays.  We always went to the beach in August.  When the days were hot and oppressively humid, and it was far too uncomfortable to play outside, all the summer books were pulled out and finally read.  September was the start of school; August was the grand finale of summer.  Here at The House of Edward, it still is.  So even though I'm a little late, here are some great new books to read during summer's last hurrah.
As always, click on the book to see more.
I hope you enjoy them.
xx

The Overstory 
by Richard Powers

Walking in Wonder
by John O'Donohue

Reasons To Be Cheerful
by Nina Stibbe

The Long Call
by Ann Cleeves

Vita and Virginia
by Sarah Gristwood

Woman In Their Beds
by Gina Berriault


What I Stand On
by Wendell Berry

The Testaments
by Margaret Atwood

The Dutch House
by Ann Patchett

The Mueller Report

Where The Crawdads Sing
by Delia Owens

Big Sky
by Kate Atkinson



Sunday, July 21, 2019

Big News and Big Dogs


Big News and Big Dogs

No one goes to the Shetland Isles by mistake.  People don't stop by on the way to someplace else; it's never the destination for a day trip.  The ferry takes fourteen hours across seas that are often less than placid and the plane flight, though admittedly shorter, is a wibbly-wobbly affair whose ultimate success is wholly dependent on the whims of the winds.  Choose the ferry if you can.  Being a romantic, I always feel one should approach a Scottish isle by the sea.  True to that conviction, I embarked on my second ferry trip to Shetland in late May, chock-full of Bonine and an almost giddy sense of anticipation.

You see, just two days before I sailed away for a week of knitting and hiking, (a divine combination of activities led by the wonderful Shetland Wool Adventures and one that included copious amounts of chocolate and homemade scones), my literary agent had submitted my novel to twelve of top publishers in the country.  Had I been home during this time I would have no doubt checked my email and phone hundreds of times a day, all the while vacillating between hope and despair while I waited.  However, as I was in Shetland, a place that feels - and, is - so very far from everything,  I didn't really thing about it at all.  My days were spent learning from some of the most creative and talented textile artists imaginable and hiking into the some of the island's most glorious scenery.  We enjoyed interesting and entertaining conversations, delicious meals, salubrious weather... I even got to hold a lamb!   I only had internet at night and was usually too sleepy when I fell into bed after another adventurous, inspiring day to even glance at my phone.  I concluded the trip with several sunny days in London and returned home inspired and refreshed, not even dreaming that my life was about to change.

Within a week my novel sold to Random House.
It will be published in early 2021.
And no, I still can't quite believe it.

Writing a novel is an all-consuming affair, as evidenced by my sporadic appearances on this blog over the past year or so.  I found it impossible to do any other kind of writing whilst I was immersed in the book.  Now that it's done, I'm hopeful I can be here a bit more often, though I'll admit, I'm still figuring out what that will look like.  To be perfectly candid, in this space I've always written what was on my heart at any given moment, and these days my heart is often heavy.  Three years ago a rock was lifted up off parts of my country and lots of ugly things have since crawled out, more of them emerging with each passing tweet.  It's impossible not to notice, and difficult to refrain from commenting.  I'm one of those people who believe that history has shown us silence is often equated with complicity.  But I've always tried to make this blog a honest place of hope and light in the midst of darkness, and even though at present there seems to be more darkness than ever, I'll continue to keep that as my focus whilst I'm here even as I sometimes shine a bit of that light on the more repellent parts of our current culture.  There is still love, there is still humor... there are still dogs.



Which brings me to Andrew, the big puppy who is now a year old and ninety-four pounds.  Andrew is happy all the time.  He is not afraid of thunderstorms or fireworks and he has a outsized love of cake.    He lavishly adores everyone he meets.  His favorite activity is riding in the passenger seat of the car and as he sits up as high as I do we provide lots of hilarity for our fellow drivers whenever we're out and about.  He sleeps on my feet every night when I'm knitting and rests his head on my chest when I'm reading in bed, which makes it sometimes challenging to adequately see the pages.  If he could sing, he'd sound like Ray Charles.


And I'm delighted to say that at fourteen and a half, Apple is going strong.  Her hips are sometimes stiff on cold mornings but she still goes for two walks a day and rolls around on her back after she eats to celebrate the feeling of a full tummy.  Like any vain and aging Southern Belle, her fur is still jet black though I can verify she's had no help from a salon.  She's very zen, very calm and gives off an certain air of wisdom which is, I suppose, what we all hope for in our golden years.

That's the view from here for now.  I'll keep you all up to date on the progress of the novel and I sincerely thank you for reading over all these years.  Your kindess and affirmation to me as a writer have been an inspiration always and no doubt gave me some of the confidence I needed to attempt this. 
 Bless you all.
xx
Pamela

Next up:  Summer Books, While It's Still Summer!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

How Similar We All Look


How Similar We All Look

When the flame-eaten spire of Notre Dame fell yesterday it caused a pain of grief as sharp as any death.  People gathered on the bridges of Paris - staring, singing - strangers made recognizable to one another by the shared shock of unimaginable loss.  I myself fought against tears all day long, on another continent, many miles away.  Into a dark night the tentacles of collective heartbreak spread and spiraled out over the civilized world.

Notre Dame was a symbol of beauty.  We feel its loss most acutely, for as humans, we need such beauty to fully live.  Anyone who had stood in the Holy light of Notre Dame has stood in the midst of such beauty and felt the presence of God.  And, as the late Irish writer, John O'Donahue, reminds us, "we feel most alive in the presence of the Beautiful for it meets the needs of our soul."  To watch such a structure, one that has withstood the barbs of revolutions and world wars, crumble into dust right before our eyes was shattering.

In this holiest of weeks, it is difficult to view the fiery consummation of one of our world's most beautiful holy places as anything less than an symbol of something vital:  a reminder, a portent, an omen.  We live in a time when we are fervently encouraged to slide backwards into tribalism, when we are told our chief concerns should only be those within our own borders, when we are urged to separate, label and fear.  How quickly those darker impulses fade when our eyes are turned towards the same burning light.  How similar we all look, weeping.

Notre Dame will be rebuilt.  It will rise from the ashes stronger and more beautiful than ever before with the help of a myriad of many-colored hands from many different nations.  For while it is a landmark of Paris, a hallmark of France, it is also a lodestar for the rest of the world, one that points humanity towards hope and light, and we cannot lose its Holy beacon when we need it most.  May yesterday's tragedy awaken our better angels to unite and rebuild not only a broken cathedral, but a broken world.


Tuesday, December 25, 2018

No Matter Where You Are


No Matter Where You Are

The first time I boarded a plane my Father looked me straight in the eye and told me, "If you need me, all you have to do is call.  I'll come and get you.  No matter where you are".  This vow - and it was a vow, I can tell you - was even more significant because it was coming from a man utterly terrified of flying.  Having served on an aircraft carrier during the Second World War, he had witnessed far too many pilots fail in their attempts to land squarely on the deck, and that spoiled his faith in air travel for the rest of his life.  It was another testament to his great love for his daughter that I never once doubted his sincerity.  If I was in trouble, if I needed him, I knew beyond question he would surmount anything to reach me.

Over the past year I have thought a lot about the comfort afforded me by Daddy's promise.  As my heart broke night after night thinking of the children separated from their parents at our southern borders - in cells and, God help us, in cages - at the hand of our own government, my mind would inevitably return to those words of my father's.  I know what a gift it is to have security in childhood.  I can only imagine the damage done when it is so cruelly taken away.  It is an awful feeling to know that something so despicable is being done by your country, essentially in your name, and you are powerless to stop it.

This horror was but one of many in this unique year.  Sometimes it was overwhelming. I have seen and heard things that were unthinkable a decade ago.  I have lost respect and trust in people and institutions that once seemed unassailable and true.  I have heard truth denied and lies applauded.  I have begun the process of raking up the ashes of what has burned away, and using them to fashion a shelter that can withstand a harsh wind.  I have learned the value of listening to the murmurs and whispers of my soul and have discovered the need, the vital need, of trusting the still, small voice of my heart rather than the tinkling brass and sounding cymbals of those who have placed their faith in the arrogance of certainty.

Writer Anne Lamott tell us that "these are holy days".  At first glance this statement seems at the very least contradictory to what we read in the papers and see on the news, but I think I know what she means.  We have only to look at Christ to see what is truly holy and we need that holiness today more than ever before.  The warmth of friendship, the balm of forgiveness, the covenant of acceptance.  Tolerance, humility, compassion, loving kindness.  These all may seem small in the face of so much ugliness we cannot control, but a little light shines brightest when there's darkness all around.   In this age when so many claim to speak for God, these holy qualities from Christ's life and words are more valuable than gold, and they are what I cling to.  They stand in direct contrast to the hatred, pride, indifference and greed of our present day.  In these holy days we are called to build bridges, not to hide behind walls.

Tonight as we celebrate the birth of Christ I am reminded that, much like my Dad, He has promised to "be with us always, even to the end of the world".  The past couple of years have often felt like the end of a world I thought I knew.  Maybe it's felt like that for you as well.  If so, it is my prayer and hope that all of us can sift through the wreckage to find the truth in this promise and know that when we need Him, no matter where we are, He will come and get us.

A very Happy and Hopeful Christmas to All.

xx