I'm suspending the blog after this entry, and wanted to thank those of you who have logged on since January 2013 to read my writings and view the photos. I've tried to cover topics relevant to life in upstate South Carolina (a region where the catbird most definitely sings, or meows), with many of my entries focused on the two-stoplight town where I live with my husband, a place I call Traveler's Joy.*
Hemerocallis 'African Diplomat' is blooming in the garden now,
despite 3-digit daytime temps
These entries reflected my interest in things horticultural and cultural, sacred and profane; and in my fascination with small towns, big stories, and the intrinsically paradoxical nature of southern life and southern history.
Never one to be concerned with the commercial aspects of any enterprise (that explains why I'm so rich!...
not!...) I didn't work actively to maximize those aspects of the blog that might have generated larger readership, yet I had hoped to initiate a dialogue with readers.
I blame myself for the fact that this dialogue didn't fully develop.
Asiatic lily 'Forever Susan' in early June
were my only means of written communication with the world, I might have tried to sharpen my social-media skills in order to engage a wider audience. But it is not my only forum. I completed a novel that will be published by Algonquin Books in the fall of 2016,
The Second Mrs. Hockaday
, and am currently at work on another novel,
, which is about life in a South Carolina cotton mill-town at the turn of the 20th century.
Hem. 'Lois Barnes,' spider
For the last 18 months, that writing has consumed most of the waking hours not devoted to my day job (teaching English Composition at a college in Spartanburg) and will most likely continue for as long as there are people out there willing to read my book(s).
I took this photo of the giant water oak that shades
our yard on the last day it stood. An insect
infestation made it necessary for our neighbor to
take it down.
That is another compelling reason to set aside the blog for the present, despite the therapeutic benefits I derived from writing it. This was especially true for painful subjects, notably my mother's death in 2014 (no less painful for being expected) as well as the loss of Miss Billie, the one-eyed cat of whom we allowed ourselves to grow dangerously fond. It was dangerous because cats in our neighborhood do not appear to have nine lives, and the
life each cat is granted tends to be 'nasty, brutish and short,' to quote the philosopher.
There was never a shortage of topics for the blog. With no newspaper in my town and no communication on critical issues between the townspeople and the town government, I felt a strong responsibility to give voice to some of the residents' key concerns in my essays, especially since these concerns are emblematic of larger problems confronting southerners in the 21st century. We have seen some of those concerns intrude themselves tragically into the national dialogue with recent, terrible events in Charleston, S.C. -- murders which precipitated an international dialogue on racism followed by the dilatory takedown of the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds. 'Dilatory' is a word that belongs in our state motto, and might even be an improvement over
"Dum spiro spero,"
Latin for 'while I breathe, I hope.' (Note that the verb 'to think' is noticeably absent.) We lag far behind the more conventional beliefs and policies that prevail in those states where the 21st century has arrived. Divorce was illegal in South Carolina until 1949, interracial marriage was banned until 1967 when the U.S. Supreme Court struck it down, and as late as 2013 our House legislators were distinguishing themselves by voting the federal Affordable Care Act to be "null and void" and authorizing law enforcement to arrest anyone trying to implement it. I thank God that ridiculous piece of theater didn't accomplish its goal, for without the ACA I'd be
The highlight of the spring was a pilgrimage made to
William Faulkner's home, Rowan Oak, in Oxford,
Mississippi. (His boots.) Remember, it was W.F. who
famously wrote of the South: "The past isn't dead.
It isn't even the past."
In other words, the issues that engage me and many people like me in this region continue to be enormously relevant, nevertheless, I have had to be honest with myself and my readers in assessing the value of continuing this forum. Any objective view of it confirms what I've been feeling intuitively for a while: that the time and attention this project demands is unsustainable for now.
Thank you so much for dropping by in Traveler's Joy* from time to time. It's been my pleasure to write with each and every one of you in mind!
FKVP, touring the Cannonball House with me in Macon, Georgia, in May
All the best,
Our erstwhile and soulful companion in Traveler's Joy*, Tiny Alice
Traveler's Joy is a fictional name for a real town.