Archive for the ‘books’ Category

We make internet friends by following each other. WordPress has been a great gift of your blogs.  Some of you comment on things I have written, and I have also. There is much to learn and share.  And through it all, I feel enriched, inspired, and supported.

Today, in my email I was reminded of this sentimentality. I have been following Ali Manning, a bookbinder. Each of her  newsletters teach a technique. In addition, she welcomes photos of work by others. These she shares with her many followers.  I felt very comfortable last year sending a photo of a mini copper covered book. She writes in such a way that you feel she might be interested.

That first little book was in her newsletter even though I do not (have not) followed her instructions. Now today, in  her email she shares the mini crushed velvet book I made for a Christmas gift! She devoted a full paragraph explaining  how and why it was made.

I hope you will check out her blog vintagepagedesigns.com. In the menu is a link to Readers Books. The February 20, 2016 posting will take you there. And if you want to know many ways to bind books, follow her.

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My aunt read to us children while she ironed. Her selections were the classic stories from her youth or her teaching days. Rather than expect our schools to assign these old stories and writings by black authors, she supplemented our knowledge herself.

Which of the six children were readers? I do not know. I was one. The Public Library was about a mile away. It was the only place I could go alone. A rule prevented children from the adult room and the balcony.

Within a few years, probably aged ten, the librarians agreed with me that I had read all I needed to in the children’s room. (Even the chairs were too small.)

My favorite books were on the balcony. Egypt, Vikings and huge art books were like worlds away from the uncertainty I felt with no parents or home to return to. School libraries also provided novels to fantasize about. In our home, a glass-cased shelves held Daddy-Long Legs, Gulliver’s Travels, Robinson Crusoe and Pollyanna. They were reread many times.

As you know, I love Internet Archives for its mission to make books, music, radio programs and more available online and for free. I just read The Familiar Letters of Peppermint Perkins, pseud.. This book was printed in 1894, reprinted from the Boston “Saturday Evening Post”

The letters are written between 1885 and 1886. There are hilarious passages. They describe life and customs for both men and women. If you know Boston, you will enjoy and understand Peppermint’s references. So much is unchanged when she wonders why she, as a woman, should vote. Shelives with a brother, Joe and their mother.

I must confess that I find reading aloud difficult. However, this book would be hilarious entertainment for a family to read aloud together. I will urge my ‘dramatic’ granddaughters to take on some of the long passages. This book was downloaded to Kindle but there are more ways to read and enjoy.

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Open Letter to Kevin,

Your beautiful book just arrived. I cannot wait to read and share it. You took an idea from beginning to book in all the right ways.

You included me in getting involved so that I have followed all the ways you used the media so effectively. Who knew that you would use Kickstarter and get the money needed to publish the book? And will we see more from your publishing company?

It has been my pleasure to meet you through wordpress.com. I wish you further success. It did not pass my keen eye that you included a handwritten note. Thanks to you!


Re: The Vineyard We Knew, A Recollection of Summers on Martha’s Vineyard, by Kevin Parham (Pria Press, Plymouth, MA)

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Ribbon! (Photo credit: Cut To Pieces)

Where are recent posts going? Why Dolls?

When you cannot sleep because your mind is making poetry or music, you might as well get up. The things you wanted to create, fly away like moths drawn to another light. I listened to C-span books for company: a reading by Alice Walker

Note to self: gift book for 60-year-old friends.
My project now is to explain why I have been posting about the dolls.

A search using Bing confirmed that my memory served me well. Using wax on dolls is an old tradition. For a sale, I gathered a small group of dolls made 10 years ago. The baked clay parts were sewn into kente cloth, stuffed with cotton batting. I had a badly broken ankle. This activity helped fill the sedentary hours. Now that I am using wax, it is natural to try the dolls again.

My restless thinking was wanting to explain more. To myself, if not to others. Should I write about my childhood dolls, ramble on about life, forget the point? That can wait.

Tonight it is about life. Define it in blocks of decades, places I have lived, etc. I want a timeline ribbon, smooth with some textured pattern woven in. It needs to be so long that knots will stand for difficult times. The lengths in between, decades noted. Such a ribbon would be like a river in the moonlight. Silvery bright, moving like silk in darkness toward a knot of rocks beyond the curves.

Have you seen preschoolers walk in tandem with large name tags swinging from their necks? Each has a little hand holding a rope, knotted to keep their places. My ribbon will have stories to tell, memories to share. When all senses diminish, the sense of touch remains.

Once I wanted a story quilt but now hope for the ribbon. If and when I move away, my ribbon can br pressed into my hand. It will not matter which end is loose. I will find a knot or smooth space with my fingers like the garbanzo bean rosary or greek worry beads.

My memories are told or untold? Have you heard this story before? Listen….



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one of 4 reports i wrote on cross-dressing rev...

one of 4 reports i wrote on cross-dressing revolutionary war vet deborah sampson. (Photo credit: Melody Kramer)

Changes in place and routine are exhilarating. Back to the daily pattern of one’s life is quite an awakening. A quick U-turn may seem more like a stroll around the park.

My transitions take time. My patience is tested. The new work must wait. The house demands a plumber. Missed me? The bills must be paid, and accounts renewed. Days are spent waiting, waiting for workmen. Waiting for those who did not come.

Add then, coming are holidays and New Year’s resolves.  Perhaps, a vacation can be arranged by spring.

Reading in November
I found Lelia, by Andre Malraux while visiting. It is a biography of George Sand, the French writer. The first painting I completed in my current series of women, “Women Who Dressed as Men,” is of this woman. She may be best known for her romantic relationship with Chopin. This biographer had access to her correspondence and interviews. You come away with a better understanding of her personal motivations and history. Her work was important and her liberation as a woman broke through many barriers.

This reading enhanced my trip. It enlarged my understanding of a complicated woman, her place as a woman who adapted the freedoms men had. Her work was prolific.

I completed reading the book online (Internet Archive.) This series started because of Deborah Sampson, Revolutionary War soldier. However, the painting of Sand came together first. There are more than 16 works completed at this time.

Who k

Georges Sand

Georges Sand (Photo credit: George Eastman House)


Internet Archives is requesting contributions to keep up its good work. They hope to digitize all books and the store on copy for posterity. Access to their work is still free.

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I do believe in black cowboys!

I do believe in black cowboys! (Photo credit: gwen)

On the Trail of Ancestors: A Black Cowboy’s Ride Across America

by Lisa K. Winkler

I loved this book which I ordered from Amazon Kindle. The large type and illustrations made for an easy read. I like the fast availability and notetaking in this format.

From the very beginning, I was also ‘riding a horse’ on this amazing trip. The author does not overplay the excitement, nor does she avoid the challenges. It takes planning and work to follow one’s dream.

Without repeating other reviews on the details, this book satisfies on inspiration and history. Memories came to mind of our drive from Massachusetts to CA with two teenagers. The stares we got were directed at our license plate. We had friends to stay with and family at the end. I will never forget the crowd of hotel employees in San Francisco who said they rarely see MA plates. Driving back, it seemed a really long way.

I took an old book with WPA research of roads built before interstates. It had cost $0.10. Each point along these quaint state and county roads were described with points of interest. We would never have arrived at our destination if I had been allowed to direct us to every waterfall, statue and museum.

Like this cowboy, we strayed sufficiently to make the trip interesting and educational. My daughter kept a travel journal. It captured the spirit of the adventure.

Miles Dean’s descriptions of the historical sites and people he saw kept me wondering, Where is he going next? Will he mention Cathay Williams as a Buffalo Soldier? Yes. How much is still in his journal? How much did the author have to research? I did not want him to come to the end of the journey.

What can you learn in addition to the tale?
It is rich in information about horses and today’s cowboys. It weaves together the past and the present. It can be a resource for home and school. The author poses questions at the end for discussion and further study. She provides a bibliography and offers a study guide, if needed.

Who should read this book?
Fathers should read this aloud to their boys. Mothers and girls will love the story of how to follow your dreams. All will gain knowledge about the country and its unique history. Teachers and creative artists should find much material to build on. All will be enriched. I cannot wait for the movie!

Who knew?

My Birthday Gift to You

A lot of you are checking out my art website (below). Please leave a comment or sign up for emails when I add something you might like. Don’t forget the checkout code: BSSNNX


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A Day's Outing

End of Summer

Now that the nights are cool and the mornings are foggy, it is time to put away the signs of summer. It seemed the heat would never end.

Who knew?

Cleaning out of a drawer had a hidden treasure – my

handwritten poems Narcissus, Hibiscus and Mandrake. With them are the research notes on the relationship of the flowers and trees used as the theme. And, as if that was not enough, notes from the Writers’ Conference my daughter and I attended.

I flew on People’s Express from Nashville to the hub in Newark. The daughter was in graduate school at Rutgers. Such convenience. We flew from Newark to Michigan for the conference.

Cesar Chavez & Audre Lord at Plaza 16 Public g...

Cesar Chavez & Audre Lord at Plaza 16 Public gallery at 16th St BART (Photo credit: Steve Rhodes)

Audre Lord, the outstanding poet, was one of those featured. Manuscript in hand we absorbed as much as we could and returned home the route we came by. Just ending a long marriage, I felt such a euphoria of independence (which had been lacking).

Read poems at


And Now

Just recently there was news that an unknown novel written by a Harlem Renaissance writer had been authenticated. It was found by a graduate student looking through some unopened boxes. Will my manuscript and notes have the same fate and be written about in the New York Times?

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