Saturday, October 31, 2009


Just gonna repost this ...because I am grinning and happy...

Sarah and Norah Kathryn -Mom is tired but happy!

Norah Kathryn Fletcher and Mom - this is the sweetest of photos with the tear in Sarah's eye and Norah Kathryn looking at her momma, and touching her face with her little hand! oh!!!!

and Norah Kathryn being just like her Granny Kat - that look of surprise on Norah Kathryn's face (above) and "what this all about????" *laughing* Look at those arms! yup, that's Granny Kat all right. Those are my arms. And my (and Daniel's) dark hair, big eyes. Look how healthy she is! teehee -okay, I'll quit gushing!

and Granny Kat at six months and whatever else ages she is *laugh*. I've called my biological mother and asked her if she'd please look for any infant photos of me so I can send them to my son and his wife. The six month photo is the earliest photo I have, and I never saw this until a few months ago.

Thank you all for all your well-wishes and Congratulations!

Have a great weekend, a safe and fun and chocolate-filled Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Dear Granddaughter, from your Granny Kat

Dear Granddaughter:

You aren’t here yet. Everyone is waiting for you to rush out into the big old world. And what a world it is! But, more on that later. For now, I just want to tell you how excited I am that you are to be born. I wish I could be there when it happens, to see your face, count your fingers and toes, stroke your soft newborn cheek. Too far away I am. Too far. But soon, I will be there. I will climb into a big metal bird and fly fly fly all the way to Oregon, all the way from my Great Smoky Mountain little log house. I will then stroke your cheek, rock you in my arms, and I probably will cry as I am about to do now. Your tough old Granny Kat rarely cries, but she would for you, dear one.

I had a funny thought. I was thinking about you 52 years from now, when you would be my age. I imagine you coming to see me as I rock on my porch of my little log house, the creek singing, the house warm inside, my wrinkled face bunched up in a smile to see you. You are the same age as I am now, I am 104. I say to you, “Granddaughter, 52 years ago, I sat on my porch thinking of you, waiting for you to be born. And now, in the blink of a cat’s eye, you have grown into a woman and stand before me 52 years old, the same age I was when I waited for you to come into this old world.” And you smile at me, stroke my wrinkled cheek, grown soft and thin as rice-paper. You say, “Granny Kat, you are crying!” And just as the day you came into the world, just as it will be when I am ready to go out of the old world.

Come soon and then wait for me and I’ll be there as quick as I can. And then the days and days and days will go by in a rush. Oh, it won’t seem so for you at first, but believe me, believe your Granny Kat when she says how quickly the days hurtle forward. I will tell your parents if I could one thing: Enjoy every little moment, for one day you will look back and wonder where all the moments have gone. But that is another story and one that has been told countless times by countless grannies. It will be such as it will be as it forever is.

Don’t be afraid to come into this old world. It is imperfect, but there is so much beauty and wonder to be found. I will see you soon, dear granddaughter…

Love, Your Granny Kat

SHE'S HERE!!!! AFTER A LOONNNNNG WAIT SHE HAS ARRIVED: NORAH KATHRYN FLETCHER! Now I can put up her photo instead of the generic baby photo! yayyy

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I Interrupt this Blog with a Special Bulletin! Wilson has been found!

Who could forget that terrible haunting poignant scene when a be-bearded and lean Tom Hanks cried out: "Wilson? Wilson! Willlllsonnnnnnn! I'm sorry Wilson *sob* I'm sorrrrryyyyyyyyyyyy..... WILLLLLLL iil iill illl soo ah-ah-ah onnnnnnnnnn WI I-il I-il I-ill soo ah-on ah-onnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn! *SOB*! WILLLSONNNNNNNNNNNNN!"

And poor Wilson just floated off in the South Pacific.

Well, he has been found! In our own Western North Carolina mountains, Haywood County, Lake Junaluska! Washed up by the recent deluge rain. How he made it here is anyone's guess . . . oh the stories Wilson could tell!

Now, sadly, he's been on the skids - as evidenced by the empty whisky bottle, the filth he's living in . . . and it seems he tried to alter his appearance and change his name; but! we know this is our Wilson, and perhaps the restorative nature of our Great Smoky Mountains will enable Wilson to bounce back to his former self. Perhaps he will help clean up the mess he and others have made to the beautiful lake.
Oh happy day! Wilson has been found.

We will return to our regularly scheduled blog posts later . . .
(PS -two things I forgot--first! Angie Ledbetter and I want to post again our Shop with our Online Artists and Artisan friends (and our local community vendors, booksellers, etc!). Check out her site, and also, here is the LINK to my blog post that lists places we can do our holiday, or any other kind of, shopping!

If you have books on your mind, don't forget the indie booksellers, like my own wonderful BelleBooks/Bell Bridge books. And as well, a small indie e-book seller that has, among others, a collection of stories perfect for halloween - published by Drollerie Press -- BUMP IN THE NIGHT. I have a story in there, but mine doesn't compare to the other writers--they have a better handle on writing "scary" stuff that I do, but it was fun being included in the anthology. Check it out - let's support the small presses out there, our blogging community, and our local community vendors!)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Louisiana Book Festival (and volunteers & staff)

The day of the book festival, I climbed out of my hotel bed with cotton clouds in my head, threw on some clothes, and headed down to the Hampton Inn’s lobby to find coffee. After two cups and some yogurt, I still felt a bit discombobulated. Showered, put on my Authory Clothes, and GMR and I headed to downtown Baton Rouge—to the state capitol grounds where the festivities were to be festivitied.

The night before at the authors’ party, as we walked towards the state library, I watched as even in the dark the volunteers and state library personnel were working hard to set up tents and various and sundry other things that I and others would take for granted the next day. While I ate and drank and laughed in my dress and heels, those volunteers and staff were working. Even those at the party had a job to do. I can't say enough how appreciative I am for what they do and how they do it. And, of course, everyone knows South Louisiana knows how to put on a party!

I can only imagine the amount of work that goes into a book festival of this size. Not only do the Louisiana State Library staff, and volunteers, have to corral and manage and feed and water and et cetera the writers who were presenting, but there were other exhibitors, and there was food, and music, and books and people and—this Louisiana Book Festival is a huge event. Last year they estimated over 21,000 people attended and thousands of books were sold. I don’t know the numbers in the aftermath of 2009’s festival, especially with our weak economy, but even half that would be impressive to me.

GMR and I parked in the spot designated for those who had a special parking pass. Already I felt embraced. A bit “special.” We headed in to the state capitol building to look for the author’s lounge area, where they had volunteers to give writer’s their lanyards with their name and “presenter” or whatever, and where there was coffee, soft drinks (or in Louisiana they also call everything “coke”), and food. I have to give a shout out again to the volunteers and state library staff—at every turn someone asked, “Can I get you anything? Do you need a ride? Can I help you find something?” It was amazing.

Once settled in, GMR and I decided to walk the festival, find the booksigning tent, and just look about until it was time for my panel. My cotton-cloud head was feeling a bit clearer, but I do admit I was a little nervous—would people come to my panel? Would the other author on my panel like how I presented myself? Would anyone come to my booksigning table afterwards? It’s an author pressure I never knew about until I became an author, and it squeezes my innards into a tight ball of anxiety--I don't want to let anyone down, not the State Library, the bookseller, the publisher, et cetera.

The Louisiana State Capitol grounds are unique and the area is the perfect place for a festival. They can close it off to traffic, and more important, it is just a lovely place to have an event. The capitol grounds' gardens are stunning—big granddaddy oaks with heavy limbs touching the ground, magnolias, other flowering plants and trees, the big phallic symbol of Huey Long rising up to the sky (teehee), and a statue of Huey himself facing his symbol of power.

Stretched out on the road before the capitol grounds were tents full of books, food, music, and drink. And threading throughout all of this were the people. Soon, it was time to head back to the capitol building to prepare for my panel. I’ll talk about that tomorrow . . .

Google image of the back of Huey:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The thread of friendship stretches, but will not be broken--

I was born in West Virginia, but I have also lived in (no particular order because that’s how we sometimes moved): Virginia; Alpha and Dayton Ohio; Jacksonville (or was it Jackson?) and Fort Worth Texas, Shreveport and then Baton Rouge, Louisiana (where I lived in at least eleven different homes); and my Final Home, the little log house in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. Home is important to me. Belonging. Finding roots to set far into the earth.

Visiting South Louisiana brings out varied emotions—I feel like a tourist, but at the same time, I lived there for many years. And, I left behind good friends there—a solid group of friends it took me into my forties to find, and a teenaged friend I have found again after not seeing each other for years. But it is always with a sense of relief when I see those mountains rising up in front of me as I round a corner in my BoopMobile. Just as I feel a sad seep into my bones when I see the mountains retreating in my rearview.

Even so, I can now feel excitement when I cross into the Louisiana State Line and know I’ll see my friends and know the food will be good and those granddaddy oaks will rise above me with their Spanish moss hanging, and the egrets flying over water water water water, slooowww moving water, the LSU flags, the cars and people and, well, all those things from the post below.

This trip was with a purpose—the Louisiana Book Festival. I can’t tell you how honored and happy I was to be invited. I’d attended a few of them myself, when I lived in Louisiana, and always in the back of my brain was the thought, “I hope I can do this one day as an author.” Getting that invitation from the Book Festival folks had me yippe yo kai yaying and whoohoooing!

On Friday night, at the author’s party, I stood in my black dress and heels, lipsticked and mascaraed, a glass of wine in my hand, a big ole grin slipping round my lips, and I looked out over the crowd of people. I had a badge on! I was an author this time! I saw Wally Lamb across the room and knowing our friend Angie Ledbetter (Gumbo Writer) loves him, and also knowing Angie was coming to the author’s party, I stepped over to him and said, “I have a friend in love with you and she’ll be here soon . . .” He smiled, introduced me to his wife, we said whatever we said, and then I said my goodbyes. Later, when Angie and I were standing around, eating from a heaping plate of fried fish and other Louisiana delicacies (oh, all the food was good – including the chocolate fountain we later found); I glanced across the room and saw Wally Lamb and his lovely wife listening to another gentleman. I said, “Come on; I told him you loved him . . .” Angie and I headed over there and as soon as Mr. Lamb turned to us (which was quick as a flea's blink!), I introduced Angie to him and stepped back to watch. Teeheehee. Angie said, “I can cross this off my bucket list now…” Made me laugh and smile.

Later in the evening, Angie and I escaped outside to sit in the cooling Louisiana night. The jazz band’s music and the lights from the State Library filtered out in that way that gives the impression of the party, but leaves it separate. I knew the next day I’d have my panel and book signing, and I admit I was a bit nervous. But right then, it was just my friend and me, sitting on the concrete steps, looking out at that night, being friends, wishing we didn’t live so far apart. For a moment, I could almost forget I lived 11 or so hours away; almost forget I didn’t leave my friend far behind to find my Home. The thread of friendship stretches far but never breaks. Still. I miss her greatly. We chatted a while, in our dressy clothes, our make-up, our missing each other.
The Louisiana night sky hovered above those two friends and covered them. The next day’s activities were far enough off to leave the evening peaceful, but filled with anticipation. But then, right then, it was all about the friends, nothing else was important.

I turned to my good friend; she turned to me. We smiled, wistful. That thread between friends is strong and will never be broken. I sit here now writing this and feel a bit like crying. Her Home is South Louisiana. My Home is the Mountains. Our thread is stretched far and wide.

Monday, October 26, 2009

South Louisiana: Come as you are; Leave Different?

Each visit back to Baton Rouge brings change, but none more than after The Storm. But South Louisiana is more than about “Post-Storm,” I realize as I write. For if I begin with intention to expose change, I end with acceptance of what has never changed. A Louisiana slogan is: “Come as you are, leave different.” I think it should be, “Come different, leave as you are,” for South Louisianians would never try to change anyone, only affect them.

If pre-Katrina Baton Rouge was crowded, post-Katrina Baton Rouge is bulging. The crowding reminds me of those sacks of crawfish stuffed full and taunt, and the squirming wet sound they make as they jostle to fit. In South Louisiana, I see the familiar swirling with the new. The ancient oaks still hold their spilling moss. On the LSU campus, the hundred-year-old grandfather oaks branches are as big as the trunks of every tree in the state of Texas, some of those limbs so heavy they curve down and touch the ground—lovely. In spring, the Azaleas spill out on nearly every yard; they arrive early, because they do not want to share the spotlight. Lush colors of reds, pinks, purples, white, some allowed to spread and grow however they please, and others pruned and cut back to fit a gardener's idea of beauty. Azaleas inhabit the yards of the rich, the poor, the black, the white, everyone, for the azalea is the great equalizer.

Places where I'd last seen pasture, trees, vacant lots, or old buildings gone to ruin, have in their place new apartments, retail shops, restaurants. Cars line up to sit through two or three red lights, the interstate is noisy and slow, the surface streets are over-filled with cars that have futilely escaped the interstate. It’s as if a great foot stomped across an anthill and caused the ants to rush out and scurry here, there, and yonder…chaos. And I, now country-come-to-town, gaze wide-eyed with both wonder and terror when visiting my former adoptive city.

While watching WAFB Channel 9, I can’t help but compare little Maggie Valley to Big Baton Rouge. Newscasts begin with shootings—not one, not two, but in multiples. The camera pans over sheet-covered bodies, first on this part of town, and then on that part of town; the camera operators and the reporters scurry about to include all of the lumps under draped sheets, which seems so surreal I have to remind myself those “lumps” are people. People who were once children who ran laughing across summer-burnt grass. People whose mothers will rock back and forth, clutching chests that once cradled their infants’ heads, their lost-child moans inconsolable. I have to stop thinking about it.

I ask my friends, "Do you feel a change in Baton Rouge since Katrina?"

One answers, "Well, at first it was bad, then it leveled off."

Another says, “It’s gotten a bit crowded, I suppose.”

And yet another, “Maybe, but I love it here and would never want to move. This is home.” At this, she eyes me as if to say, “Unlike some traitors who move away from their best friends in the whole wild world to live on some mountain where I bet your booties the food ain’t good and it snows and gets too dang cold and big mountains where a body is likely to fall off a cliff never to be found!” Matter of fact, she does say this, loud and opinionated, and I laugh at her; tell her she’s such a flatlander. Tell her the mountains are Home for me and I’ve missed them, ached for them, knew I’d someday return to them. She harrumphs, tosses her head, and then pushes more food at me, tells me I’ve gotten too skinny since moving to “them mountains where I repeat the food ain’t good.” It’s all about the food in South Louisiana, everything is considered in terms of food. At breakfast, lunch is discussed; at lunch, dinner (or supper) is discussed; at dinner (supper), dessert is discussed; at dessert, the food eaten during the day is discussed. Funerals, weddings, birthdays, Just Because I’m Sad or Happy or Mad days, any excuse for a party where food is King and Queen and Subject: this is South Louisiana.

South Louisiana has always been a diverse, colorful, energized place. And Baton Rouge has never been a stationary, stagnant city. Baton Rouge is like that pot of spicy water waiting for the crawfish, roiling, bubbling—hot, steamy, pungent.

My visit ends. I drive back to the Smokies. I was born a mountain girl, and a mountain girl is who I am, but my visits to Baton Rouge are different now, for I now see it from the eyes of distance. I feel a tug for the Spanish moss, the great oaks, the swamps filled with cypress, the spicy flavor of the food and the people, the friends I've left there, the memories, the old ways squirming with the new ways, the gulf shrimp, the boiling frying grilling blackening, the jambalaya, the real gumbo,—the rich dark kind with goody goodness floating in it—the etoufee, Louie's, George’s, Mike Andersons, Don's, Calandro’s, Bet R, the bait stores that are also groceries with cheeses and wines and Stage Plank gingerbread.

I come back home to my mountains and with a strange awe, I ask, "What just happened to me?"

(This is an excerpt from a piece I had published in New Southerner Magazine--I thought it'd tell you more about my visit to Baton Rouge - tomorrow, more about the Louisiana Book Festival and So Louisiana.)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

CBS Sunday Morning: Obesity: A Weighty Issue....(and forehead butt society!)

Ah, so no sooner do I post the blog post below "when did food become the (my) enemy," than CBS Sunday Morning has their entire segment: "Obesity: A Weighty Issue . . . " The comments are already coming in on their site - I'll be curious to see what is said - but, already there are . . . disagreements.

If you watched, or are watching, Sunday Morning, you saw Monique and how some people are mad at her for losing 40 pounds, as if she didn't own up to the words she said about big being beautiful. But, her message is still relevant, as she is saying, any size can be beautiful - women are beautiful and we should accept who we are, what we are, but as she said, we also have to have a point where we say "Am I too big to tie my shoes, to play with my children, to walk without losing my breath, ...etc." And an American woman living in France who was eating a muffin while a table of Americans made fun of her--then she pointed out, later, while looking at paintings of rubenesque women, they oohed and ahed at how beautiful the paintings are . . . huhn.

There's Valerie Bertinelli - who had to feed the hunger, had to fill that empty spot. And now? She has lost 40 pounds - ironically the same amount as Monique, but they both are very different women with different sizes . . . and both of them are absolutely gorgeous.

And now, laughing, Nancy Giles is stuffing tater chips in her mouth *laughing*Okay, back to watching as I missed what she was saying, dang it.

anyway - Deb from RGGrumblings won the signed copy of Tender Graces for the post below about "why do chickens lay so dang many eggs!" laughing... Congrats Deb...

I almost forgot about my Forehead Butt inductoreeeneer - Today's brilliant, creative, wonderful, beautiful, and all things oompa loompa doo Forehead Butt Society inductoreenee is: Barbara Kingsolver (although it's hard to see in this photo, it is there!). . . Thanks Lori for the idea of Ms. Kingsolver, and thanks Susan for reminding me! Down with Botox! Let the Forehead Butts show The Sign of how wonderful and brilliant we are!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Contest: Why did the chicken....lay the egg

this photo from HERE (and the images made me laugh!)

Sometimes thoughts hit me upside my haid and I then want to know the "why's" of something. And this chicken thang hit me upside my haid this morning while I was watching a goose cross the road (why did the goose cross the road? to make Kat start thinking weird shit).

So, I got to thinking about chickens and eggs. Most animals I know of have a certain amount of babies. A robin lays eggs and those baby birds are born and then the robin waits until the next time to have their babies. A horse, cow, human, dog, cat--they have their babies whenever blah blah, etc. But how come a chicken lays eggs every day, or near every day (I know that light has something to do with it and egg people will use artificial light to get them to lay more often - but why do they have the capacity to do this? what in "evolution" causes a chicken to have so danged many eggs - especially if some of them won't even grow baby chicks?--what's the evolutionary purpose? the survival purpose of unfurtilized laid eggs?)
I mean, if us humans weren't eating them, would their be millions of chickens running around, or, would there be all these eggs lying around that chickens have squatted out all over because no one is eating them(except other wild animals slipping 'round)? Wait, but we don't eat the fertilized ones, right? So, gol-dangit, why even lay those eggs? Chickens don't lay them thinking, "Here y'all go, here's some unfertilized eggs for y'all to eat, bawk bawk bawk...y'all don't think nothin' of it, all yallses just crack em open and have at it....bawk, my pleasure...bawk bawk bawk. Y'all enjoy now! Y'all come back soon! bawkity bawk!" I mean, what's the purpose of the chicken having the capability of laying those eggs every day or near every day?

What? Who is laughing? I want to know! Aren't you curious? What other animal lays eggs every danged day? And not just one, but sometimes several of them. Why? why why why does a chicken have so many danged eggs?

The first person to give me a real answer - I mean, one you can verify *laugh* - gets a signed copy of Tender Graces. If you already have a copy, then I'll send you something else -- and if you just don't want a copy of TG and want that something else, then for gawd's sake don't admit that you don't want TG or you might hurt my wittle feewings *laughing* - just say, "I want the other thang...." and we'll just pretend you already have a copy of TG...teehee bawk bawk bawk.

So, anyway....stop laughing at me...!

Before I go --- Don't forget to scroll down to the links below, where there are the Blogging Community (and local community) artisans, for which Angie Ledbetter and I hope you all will do your holiday and non-holiday shopping....and if you are a blogger with artsy kinds of things or books or whatever, leave your link and I'll post it. From time to time I'll be re-posting those links.

Have a great weekend - I'll leave this post up Sat'day and Sunday and see if anyone can answer my question (without laughing at me). Huhn. And if you google "why do chickens lay eggs every day" you'll get all kinds of whatevers that don't answer your question. huhn.

I'll be back Monday with more on the Louisiana Book Festival....and Louisiana food!

PS -- two of the most discussed about posts I have had here are when mothers abandon or give up their children (and are they held to a higher standard than men), and the post from the other day about "when did food become the (my) enemy." I have read all your comments and laughed and cried and stiffed up my back for you in indignation...all things. As for weight and body image for us women, I think we should revolt - yes, we should all contact Hollyweird and magazines and ask to be represented as real women - is this what Dove is doing? oh smart Dove! ha! Maybe More magazine is doing it? I wonder, if we all said, ENOUGH would it matter? Or maybe we have to affect the change only within our own attitudes and our children's attitudes! Our daughters! Our Sons! okay, enough of that - back to the Chickens...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Shoot Outs: Childhood Classics; A Fairy Tale-ish sorta

Once upon a time there was a handsome man.

and once upon a time there was a beautiful woman, who had no idea she'd meet the handsome man who had a wife and couldn't keep her. The handsome man put down for good his bottle of amber liquid and asked for the hand of marriage of the beautiful woman who lived on a farm. They were married - what a nice-looking couple! but oh oh! Little did the beautiful woman know that the handsome man's three children would need a home!

The three little children came, one...then two...then three. . . and blew their house down! The three little children came to live with the beautiful woman and the handsome father. One of those was a little west virginia pigtailed girl. Her shoes were too tight, but she never cried.

Then SURPRISE! the beautiful woman became pregant and had two of her own! Five children! Oh, but little did the beautiful woman know that one day, far and yet not so far into the future, she would lose one of those children born from her body. Her beloved son and beloved brother to all the children, for there were no halves and steps when it came to the four brothers and the pigtailed sister-there was only: brothers and sister. But, what choice would the beautiful woman have made if given it? To lose one from her own body? or . . . one of the three who came along one day, from another mother's body? What a terrible question! But it was asked by the three children who came to live with the beautiful woman. Yes, the terrible question was asked, "Did she wish it was me instead of her own?" . . . Oh, sad tales are told, sad tales are told, sad tales are lived within the hearts and minds of those who have loved and lost and lost again and forever.

But before that terrible day when the beloved son and brother left, the family was made into a whole, all the pieces come together like a broken tea set where one goes to garage sales and picks up a cup here, a plate there, a saucer here, and takes them home to make one complete, but imperfect, set.
And no one would know by looking at this picture that one would leave them forever; that the father would leave another home and wife; that the sons would scatter to other places save for one; that the pigtailed girl would one day tell fictional tales about families and love and belonging -because she does and she must.
But there are happy endings to this tale, to this broken-tea-set family. Yes . . . so do not fret, for the happy endings are there to soak up and take into your marrow. The beautiful woman found her another handsome prince and is living happily ever after. The brothers and the sister watch out for each other, linked by familial sibling love. The handsome father found him another beautiful princess and they live happily ever after, too.
the end . . . (yet not).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

When did food become the (my) enemy? "I just want to be healthy!" is that a lie?

Is this little girl a butterball?

Several things that have recently occurred prompted this post, which sat in my drafts because I was too chicken to post it. But, apparently I just had to write about it, because it’s still a thing that keeps people doing things and thinking things in secret, and its also something talked and talked and talked and talked about (and not always honestly or in a realistic way), but is it ever really understood?

I just read “The Wife’s Tale” (Lori Lansens, release date Feb 2010), which centers around an “obeast” (the character’s word for obese) character; I saw on the news where here in North Carolina state workers who are overweight (and/or smoke) may have to pay higher health insurance; as I write Secret Graces, I notice how my character Virginia Kate loves to eat, but her friend Jade fights food, and that facinates me: which one is me or is both me? I just had that thought just now! huhn....I never made that connection, but I wonder now if I'm writing about my own food struggles between these two characters. On Dr. Oz the other day, his guest was a woman who secretly binges; then as I’m walking out of the gym, there is Jennifer Love Hewitt on the front cover of this month’s Shape Magazine with a caption that reads, “I don’t care about my dress size, I work out to be healthy and feel good about my self—”

Okay, Ms. Hewitt, I bet I know what you are really thinking, deep inside yourself. I know because I’ve said the same thing—I just want to be healthy, that’s why I work out, that’s why I watch what I eat (and by watch what I eat, I mean be vigilant, don’t I Kathryn? Oh yes…let’s be honest here); who cares what my jean’s size is?, I say. But, Ms. Hewitt and I both know, deep inside ourselves, that if we went up a couple dress sizes and still were healthy and fit, we’d be working our asses off (literally) to get back down to the smaller dress size. We’d be panicked. We’d be going, “Oh oh oh oh shit oh shit, I’m gaining weight – oh oh oh no, what to do, stop eating stop eating stop eating ALERT ALERT DANGER DANGER DANGER WILL ROBINSON!”

Oh yes, we would—that’s the big lie we tell everyone: we just want to be healthy. On the flip side of the magazine, shown here, is another cover photo of the beautiful Ms. Hewitt in a bikini—she looks lovely and is not emaciated as many “entertainers” have become, but, still, she is shapely and lovely and thin—yet, she just wants to be “healthy” right? And she doesn't feel any poke to be what hollyweird and her peers and her ‘fan’s’ and whomever else her voices are say is “beautiful and sexy?” Huh? What do you think?

On the Dr. Oz show, when the secret binging wife said, “I’ve gained 60 pounds since we’ve been married, but he hasn’t said a thing…” And, the husband says, “I don’t care if she weighs 600 pounds, I just want her to be healthy.” Oh really? Do we believe him? I believe he loves his wife and wants her to be healthy and that he believes what he says to be true, I really really do. However, how many times have we seen “make over” shows or weight loss shows where the wife walks onto the stage all spiffied up and pounds lighter and the husband’s eyes light up and he’s all over her, “Ooohhh boy! She looks great, sexxx-yyyyy….wow! wooowee!” *beat* “Um, but I’m just glad she’s healthy.” How many times have we lost a few pounds and everyone says, “Oh, hey, you’ve lost weight, wow, you look great…” *beat* - “Um, you looked great before, but, yeah…!”

I am here to tell you right now, in all my honest honesty that I lie about food and weight and how I feel about the two all the gawd-damned exhausting time. I don’t always do it consciously; I mean, I usually mean it when I say it. And when I was a personal trainer and gave advice, I meant it—I truly did. But, did I always follow my own good advice about being fit and healthy versus being “thin?” Nope, nuh uh, not always.

This woman thought she looked a bit chunky in this photo, so she decided she best not eat any "bad" foods for a while...and thus lost a few of those horrid nasty pounds . . . she hates the photo; should she?

I have been fighting the enemy food for years and years. Since I was a young girl. Since the time someone first called me “butterball” and yes, I STILL recall that day—I was maybe in first or second grade and it was school photo time and the photographer said, “Okay, little butterball, hold still….” I still remember how I felt—at that young an age! Back then, in the 60’s, there weren’t as many overweight children, or overweight people in general, as there are now, so if you were even just a little bit chubby, or had a round face as I did, then, well, Butterball!

Is this little girl a chunky chubs?

I have battled Enemy Food since the time my brothers got snickers or other gooey treats and I got a peppermint patty, since the time someone looked at me and called me fat or or chunky or chubs, since the time a friend was tall and willowy and I was shorter and rounder—full hipped and full breasted at too young an age to be full hipped and full breasted.

When I was 17-18 years old, I took the weight loss too far. It didn't start that way. But, I remember I began to lose weight. People began to comment on it. Huhn. Okay, I thought, maybe there is something to this. And I lost a little more. People commented more – oh, don’t you look gooooood. And a little more. Wow! Look at you! And a little more. Boy, look at Kat, she’s so sexxxyyyyy and thinnnnnn! Soon, every time I stepped on the scales, I NEEDED to be lighter or I was a failure. The last time I weighed, and yes, the year 1975 and I actually remember stepping on the scales and watching it go down and down and actually remember the day I was 92 pounds—and I know I lost more after that. Did anyone tell me, “Oh my god Kat, you are getting too thin! Eat something! You are losing too much weight!” Nope.

Fast forward a year and a half later. I guess I was hungry—imagine that? I began gaining weight—I was so hungry, so very hungry! I couldn’t get enough to eat. All that year and a half of starving myself took its toll. I needed food. Food was good. Starving, hungry, hungry hungry. I was the biggest I’ve ever been in my life. Not “obeast” by any means, but overweight for my height of 5’2”. What do you think happened? I bet you guessed it. I was called a “fat hog,” I was told, “Boy you sure are getting fat!” I was told, “You need to lose weight, eyeww…” you get the idea—people were disgusted by my weight gain and told me how I used to be “sexy and pretty, but now you are just fat.” Huhn.

It was okay to be starving, eating practically nothing and living on alcohol and bites here and there of—what a lettuce leaf or two? But, it was not okay to gain weight, even if I was healthier at some point in the higher weight than I was at the lower. Oh believe me, I shed that weight and became even more vigilent: Not paying attention and relaxing means gaining weight. Must be vigilent.

When I turned thirty-five, I relaxed because I'd been the same weight for a while, and I put on about eight or nine pounds. My gawd! You'd have thought I'd committed a mortal sin, at least in some people's eyes. I weighed just over 130 pounds. Not overweight by any means, but, people couldn't stop discussing my weight gain. Geez. And I didn't find out that until I'd lost the weight, then it was, "Oh yeah, boy, you look so much better. I thought you were going to explode out of your clothes!" "Oh geez, I bet you feel better now!" "Oh, dear, we didn't want to say anything, but you were getting, um, healthy..." *sigh*

So, food is the enemy. . . Can't relax . . . Relaxing means weight gain, weight gain means people turn their judging eyes on my body . . . and I play games with food just as someone who has an enemy does. I love it and I hate it. I want it and crave it and then detest that I want and crave it.

I playfully tell friends, “Oh boy, I can’t wait to eat a big ass piece of cheesecake after I have French fries and (insert something ‘fattening’ here)” – but, when it’s time to do that, to have those foods, I can feel the stress in my innards—the feeling of, “Oh no…if I eat this, I’ll be fat. If I eat this, it means I’m out of control. If I eat this, bad things will happen.” And, when I do eat it, there is that stress in the background, hovering there—taunting me. There is seldom a time when I completely enjoy myself with food, and that’s a damned shame. Now, sure, there are times I eat something unhealthy and gooey and fattening and deee-lish and don’t obsess (liar) and then the next day I just get back to my healthy eating (obsess over what I ate and try to atone for it). Entering menopause has caused a tug-o-war with myself. On the one hand, I am more accepting of myself—my body image. On the other hand I just told a lie.

Instead of “Do these jeans make me look fat?” I should be asking, “Do those inner voices make me look fat?” Whose voices are they? Who set the seeds inside a young girl who would grow up afraid of food? Why, many things and many people! Was it the photographer who first put the seed? Someone else? No one at all but only me? Did I receive mixed messages: Eat all the food on your plate because there are starving people somewhere- - don't eat that because you'll gain weight. . . Or . . . Just be healthy . . . but if you gain weight we'll judge you. . . Or . . . Looks do not matter -- oh my god, did you see how so and so Let Herself GO?

And what of you? Is food the enemy? Or, is food your best friend? The comforter—where food is your friend and lover and soothes and heals and is a balm for your wounds.

Surely there are people in between us. Normal people in between those of us afraid of food and those for whom food is their salvation and friend?

Who are you?

(I'll be back with more on Baton Rouge and the Book Fest - but, I'm posting this before I chicken out - because today at the gym, I got on the scales and said, "OMG! I gained almost 2 pounds while in Louisiana! oh oh!....*sigh* oh dear. Let's not go there, Kat....)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

George's Restaurant in Baton Rouge: gotta go there when you are in So La

Don't forget to check out the "Blogging Community Artisans shopping links" for all your holiday and otherwise shopping!

If you haven't already, stop by the Rose & Thorn to check out our new website. Feel free to drop us a line to let us know what you think. Also feel free to email the writers/poets--we all love to hear when someone has read something of ours and enjoyed it, don't we? Let's support each other!

The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar has a blog: An online journal in which members of The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar document their noble efforts. They have a book, and, "Ten percent of our royalties goes to support The National Brain Tumor Society."

Louisiana and the Louisiana Book Festival: When GMR and I arrived in Louisiana, we stopped at the fairly new Louisiana Welcome Center (it's really well done). When we opened our car door, we were about blown back by the heat . . . yup, we forget about Louisiana's heat. And October is a "cooler" month - meaning, the oppressive humidity isn't as thick and you don't feel as if you are in a steamroom at the gym: I'm not exaggerating either--it is truly that thick, wet, and hot. So, going "whew, it's hot . . . dang . . . I forgot how hot it gets here . . . phew . . . " we headed on in to Baton Rouge where we'd stay our first two nights at the Hampton Inn off College Drive. Which reminds me, I'm all in a dither because I forgot to leave a tip for housekeeping. I just completely forgot and everyone says I need to just let it go, but I can't. I am thinking I should call, find out who our housekeeper was, and send her the money via mail, then I can stop thinking about it.

Hampton Inn is right on the interstate, so yeah, when I opened my car door again, not only did the heat slap me upside my head, but the noise entered my ears, wrapped itself around my brain, and set up a roaring that near about sent me scrambling back to my mountain cove at Killian Knob. lawd! But, I wasn't gonna do that, since I wanted: friends, book fest, a shrimp poboy or some other Louisiana food, and a gander at the hundred-year-old oaks with their spanish moss all mysterious and beautiful.

The next morning, we were hit with a surprise . . . SURPRISE! the weather changed. Turned chilly on us. Well, dang me. Good thang I brought warmer clothes - - in fact, good thang it changed to cooler weather since like a dumb-arse, most of what I brought were warmer clothes, having come from cooler fall weather on the mountain and forgetting about Louisiana's heat. Haw!

But I get ahead of myself. The very first night we arrived there, the first thing we did after we put up our luggage, etc, was to say, "Let's go to George's and get something to eat!" Of course. Can't be in Louisiana more than a minute without thinking about food, needing that food, wanting that food, requiring that food. I called up Phyllis, a childhood (or teenhood) friend, and said, "Meet GMR and me at George's!"

The (Original) George's I love is under the interstate, a little squat building that looks like you'd not want to go in there and eat, but you do - yes, you do want to go in there. There's dollar bills all over the ceiling, some so old they're yellowed and barely hanging on... people write on the dollar bills and then attach them. Some are along the wall now, and I included my own: "Buy my book . . ." and signed my name. Only problem was, I had no pen that would deface that American Dollar Bill and had to use my lipstain. Alas, you can barely read my words, but I got a dollar bill at George's now. haw!

We ordered our food, which wouldn't be on any healthy eating menu I am telling you what. A couple beers and a coke, a big arse plate of onion rings, and GMR, Phyllis, and I ate, drank, talked, and had a good ole time; talked about when we were teens, talked about what we were up to at this point in our lives. Ate, talked, talked ate. There was football on the television, there were people hunkered at the bar, there were people at other tables eating poboys or gumbo or huge plates of fried shrimp or oysters, or both - - don't wear your fancy clothes there, come as you are -- in fact the slogan for Louisiana is: Come as you are, Leave Different.

We left George's with our bellies full of Louisiana food. Said goodbye to my friend, and GMR and I drove in the traffic back to Hampton Inn. The traffic is a whole other entity in Louisiana, like the food is.

More later. Here's the first part about our trip, below :-) including a link to a new blogger y'all can give a "hi" to - like I said, we all know what it's like to have a new blog and need bloggy love.

Also, our Kim Richardson author of The Unbreakable Child has an interview over at Behind the Books. Go check it out!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I am Home from Crazy ole South Louisiana

Home! And it is a gorgeous day on the mountain.

South Louisiana is a strange place *laughing* - I mean that fondly, though. The food - lawd be! the food! I ate too much. And forget any "vegetarianism" when you go to So Louisiana. I just shrugged my shoulders and ate the meat when I needed to- although, I still said no to pork! Which by the way, did you know that "ham" is not pork? Nope, not in certain areas of the south. *laughing!* One time I asked if the soup had pork in it, “No Ma’am” said the waitress. She brought my soup—there was stuff floating in it and I asked, “Um, what is that?” She said, “That’s ham!” Okay… laughing! … and that’s happened before, “Oh, I know you don’t eat pork, so I’ll do a nice ham!” haw! Anyway, I’m going to have to detox from all the food running round in my innards.

South Louisianians are crazy and one of a kind. They are wild and wooly crazy. Yes, we all are one of a kind in our areas, but So La’s people are just in their own special category. And talk about football fans! For every ten cars, nine of them sported an LSU sticker—and sometimes more than one and sometimes with flags, too, and sometimes with a Fleur de Lis and Saint’s sticker to boot. And they are busy. Always going somewhere, always on the move, always eating, drinking, laughing, partying-go go go go go go go go go go! So different from my mountain life.

And, I don’t know what it was about my BoopMobile, but several times young men rolled down their windows and shouted out at GMR and I, grinning and smiling and giving us whoohooos and the like. I haven’t a clue why. Maybe it’s the Black Bear on our license plate, or the Friends of the Great Smoky Mountains. Or the Boop. But, made me laugh. Although, one time I saw where there was a camera at a red light, and I rolled down my window and pointed to it like a country bumpkin – the fellow next to me gestured and laughed and pumped his fist in a whoohoo and etc. It wasn’t until later I thought maybe he thought I’d flipped the camera the bird *LAUGHING* - lawd.

The smells are different in Louisiana from here. There are food smells everywhere—you can’t gently toss a small pebble without hitting a restaurant or food place of some kind, and the aromas linger in the atmosphere. But, there’s also the chemical plants smells, and at one place on the interstate on the way home, I had to cover my mouth and nose—it was so strong my eyes burned. I worry about Louisiana in that way.

The noise is something I am no longer used to. I’m a mountain-born girl, but I lived in South Louisiana many years before I moved here five years ago. When I opened my car door to go into the hotel, I was blown back into my seat by the noise! Cars, horns, sirens, people, zoom zoom whoop whoop, awooga awooga, shreee, roarrrrr, va-rooom – it was incredible and I am overwhelmed by it now, but facinated by it as well.

The Louisiana Book Festival was wonderful. I will write more about that later, as I am catching up on hundreds of emails—gark! And I haven’t worked on Secret Graces in days-lawdy be, don’t tell my publishers I said that *shhhhh* Also, I want to read all of your comments, too, and catch up on BlogLand goings-on. But, I enjoyed my panel and thank you to those of you who could make it – and I apologize to those of you who tried to find me and could not. Thank you for buying Tender Graces. Your support means a lot. And thanks, y’all, for stopping by here while I was gone and keeping my blog feeling warm. And thank you Wally Lamb and your lovely wife, C, for stopping by my signing table and buying a copy of my book (and to your wife, Mr. Lamb, thanks to her for coming to my panel. How gracious and lovely you both are.)

The worst part of leaving Louisiana was leaving my friends. I miss them terribly. *sob*

While I am here, I want to give a shout-out to a new blogger. BelleBook’s thriller writer, Mark Nykanen, author of PRIMITIVE, has started a blog. As we all know, when we first start our blog, we need bloggy love from other bloggers! So if you can, stop by and say hi to Mark by clicking on his name here: Mark Nykanen.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Rose & Thorn is LIVE and I am in South Louisiana

The Rose & Thorn is LIVE!

I am now in Baton Rouge for the Louisiana Book Festival (see post below -- they have a wonderful festival poster!)
I can't wait to meet Chef John Besh - teeheehee *blushing*

What a difference to be here from our quiet cove -- when I lived here five years ago, I was so used to it, but now, it's almost overwhelming--the traffic, noise, buildings, the everything! However, I am so happy to be here to see my friends (hi Angie!) and eat some good food, and then, to be a part of the Louisiana Book Festival - whoo whee!

I hope you all have stopped by the Rose & Thorn, and if not, that you will. It's now "unlocked" and open to the public! I thank you all who have spread the word -- appreciate you!

Now, on to go find some more food -- haw!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Rose & Thorn Goes Live & Louisiana Book Festival

Isn't their poster gorgeous! The Louisiana Book Festival by Lorraine Gendron. Character based on The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, text 1992 by John Scieszke. Original Illustration ©1992 by Lane Smith. Used by permission of Viking Penguin, A Division of Penguin Young Reader Group. All rights reserved.

My friends! I am on my way to Baton Rouge, Louisiana for the Louisiana Book Festival!

If you are in the area, here is where I will be-- on a panel with a Louisiana author (Chris Tusa), and signing books:

Schedule 1 PM – 1:45 PM
House Committee Room 3

AND! The Rose & Thorn Journal is going live today! Our new R&T newsletter should be on its way to you; if you have not signed up to receive the quarterly newsletter and would like to receive it, please go the the Rose & Thorn and sign up HERE. Angie Ledbetter and I are excited, to say the least - and we both want to give a big shout out to two stand out staff members: Managing Editor/Sr Poetry Editor Cynthia Toups, and Newsletter Producer Susan Kramer -- I am astounded at how hard they both worked, and very appreciative. Our thanks goes to all the staff of R&T for their work. They went above and beyond the call!

I am writing this in such a hurry because I must get on the road. While I am away, someone else will sit on my porch in our cove and rock in my chair. Someone else will take our Big Jake and out Little Girl on their walks. Someone else will wake up in our little log house to crisp fall mornings and coloring leaves! Ah, lucky mountain will wait for me to return.

So everyone, check out the new look of our baby: the Rose & Thorn Journal, and support the writers and poets there.

Wish me luck at the Festival -- *muwah!*

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Rose & Thorn Goes Live Tomorrow!

Enjoy the Haywood County fall pics while Angie and I are working hard to get the Rose & Thorn newsletter ready to go out to readers today, and please sign up for our quarterly newsletter that will announce each issue. The new website for Rose & Thorn Journal will go live Thursday, tomorrow! That's when I'll be wending my way to the swampland of South Louisiana for the Book Fest - and to see my good friend Angie (Gumbo Writer) and my other NAWW friends...big smiling.....

Our wonderful and supportive and marvelous blogging community friends are helping us spread the word as our new R&T goes live tomorrow. THANK YOU ALL! So when tomorrow comes round and all the "locks" are lifted from the new site (since we're still tweaking and polishing it today), please browse around and give us honest feedback, and as well, wish us well and forward and onward for success!

Also! Scroll to the post below for LINKS (or click on the word LINKS) for writers/readers/shoppers. There's the community blogger artisan sites, Nathan Bransford's contest, and etcetera . . . Let's all support one another!