Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Snail Mail Scam

Most of the scams I run across—like the the Nigerian ones telling me I'm going to get whopping amount of money— arrive via e-mail and are caught in my spam filter. I still occasionally get a phone call scam wanting me to call about the interest rates I'm paying on my credit card. But a snail-mailed scam—that doesn't happen much anymore. However, the other day my husband got this one:

Lily Shaw, the vice-president of American wants to give him two round-trip airline tickets to anywhere in the US. Note on the envelope above and the letter below that she doesn't have a return address. You'd think a high-ranking individual in American Airlines would have a return address. The envelope is postmarked "Phoenix, Arizona."

 But wait—it doesn't exactly say "American Airlines," does it? It just says American." Here's what the real American Airlines logo looks like:

See, nothing like the one on the letter:

I did a bit of Googling. The American Airlines Headquarters is Fort Worth, TX, not Phoenix, AZ. Somehow, VP Lily Shaw isn't even listed among all the other vice-presidents on American Airlines' corporate structure page.

Turns out a lot of other folks got the same letter. One of them commented:

I got the same letter, no return address, no official letterhead, hand addressed envelope. My husband called the number, the business is Direct Vacation Deals, they claim to be a ticket reseller, they buy in bulk. They ask if you if your income is 50k or more, if you refuse to say they hang up on you. They want to make an appt with you at a hotel for a sales pitch but they won't say what it is for other than they want to be your travel agent. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Yep. Scam. But at least the scammers had to shell out a stamp in their attempt to scam us.


Thursday, May 23, 2013


Imagine you're a creature who has spent nearly two decades underground. Then you and other creatures just like you emerge through holes in the earth.

Your emergence might leave a mound of earth around your portal into your new world.

You climb out of the husk of who you used to be and emerge as a slightly different creature.

The other creatures who came with you do likewise and leave empty husks behind.

Soon you're enjoying a new existence.

Kind of like something out of science fiction, right?

Nah, it's just the cycle of the 17-year cicadas.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Find The Cat

. . . or several cats. Cats are easy to spot in some of these photos. Like this one:

Somehow the bars don't hide the cat. In the picture below, the lavender bushes don't hide him either.

The cats below sort of blend into the quilt pattern, but you can still spot them.

Two cats in the picture below:

Now three:

Three again:

Only two in this one:

Just one here:

And here:

These two are easy:

 This one is easy, too:

This one's a little harder:

This is a toughie. But there's really an orange and white cat here.

OK, here's an easy one. That little solar light isn't enough to hide him.

Thanks to George, Dylan, Tanner, Chloe, Jim-Bob, and Olivia for appearing in these pictures.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

So Green

The rains this spring have turned grass and woods so green I don't know how they could be greener. Recently I walked around Smith Farm and marveled at how green and luminous the vegetation was, like these black walnut leaves against the sky.

Pictures describe it better than words.

If weather permits, the hay will be cut next week.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Abingdon Road Trip

The Appalachian Authors Guild, headquartered in Abingdon, had invited me to be their guest speaker at their meeting on Tuesday. I knew several of the members, having met some at their wonderful Heritage Writers Symposium last June.

Since I hate to drive on I-81, I invited my friend Ibby Greer to pilot my PT Cruiser to the meeting, which was about two and a half hours from us. Tuesday was the perfect day for a literary road trip. Besides attending the meeting, we poked around Abingdon and Wytheville.

We stopped in downtown Abingdon to see the sights. Here's one, an interesting sculpture in the parking lot next to the Martha  Washington Inn.

Near the sculpture was this sign about the Crooked Road, which begins in our neighborhood back in Franklin County.

This sign was in front of the Martha Washington Inn. Was there a love-in at the inn? If so, we missed it.

As a lover of gazebos, I liked this one on the inn's lawn.

I took a picture of myself in the inn's very elegant ladies' room.

Across the street from the inn, was an interesting fountain (you can see the Barter Theatre in the background).

It's such a big fountain, I couldn't look at it all at once. It had some animals around the bottom, like these little foxes . . .

. . . and this bunny . . .

. . . and a turtle and some fairies. . . 

. . . and someone holding a comedy mask.

A nearby sign identified the fountain. One of the creators was Charles Vess, who designed the Jack Tale brick wall at Southwest Virginia Community College. I'd blogged about that wall last year when I was a presenter at last year's Appalachian Heritage Writers Symposium.

 Next we stopped briefly at Heartwood, one of my favorite places. I wanted to see if they still had any copies of my books in their Appalachian Author section.

They did! But not as many as the last time I was there. They had a copy of The Girl Who Raced Mules, two copies of Where's There's a Will, and several copies of Ferradiddledumday.

They also had a display of Nell Fredericksen's jewelry.

Here's a closer look.

After Heartwood, we headed for the Tuscan Italian Grill where about twenty members of the AWG heard me read and speak. They were a great audience! 

On our way home after the meeting, we stopped in Wytheville and made a pilgrimage to the big pencil.

Across the street was a picture of a big paper clip.

All in all, it was a good trip for a couple of writers to make.