Peevish Pen

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

© 2006-2019 All rights reserved

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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.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Horse Trailer Scam Revisited

On May 14 2015, I posted about a horse trailer ad that my husband noticed on Craigslist. You can read it here: Anyhow, this ad sounded too good to be true. I was sure it was a scam and did a bit of Googling. Yep—it was a scam.

What surprised me was the number of folks who commented on my post. Some were almost taken in, but they did a bit of checking and found my blog. Last night I heard from a reader—Seth—who sent me some jpegs to post. It seems that the former "Jenny Cooper," now Eva Bond (who also uses the names Eva Baker, Amy Jones, Robert Munson, and Tara Lomas) is still selling that exact same horse trailer. Take a look (You'll have to click on the pictures to enlarge them):

Notice in the next one that "Tara" responds that she's "recently divorced" and has to sell the trailer fast because she's "leaving the country for a year on military duty with my medical team." Doesn't that tug at your heart? How could someone like that want to cheat you? Easy. . . .

From the comments on my original post, I knew she'd (he'd?) been selling a Bobcat and other equipment. But it turns out, she's also selling a car—a Nissan for only $1,500:

But folks are catching on:

Poor "Eva Bond" responds exactly like "Tara" in the horse trailer ad—that she's "recently divorced" and has to sell the car fast because she's "leaving the country for a year on military duty with my medical team." 

But word is getting out about Eva/Tara/Amy/Robert's scam. Check out Scam Warners at . 
There's a post by someone who paid her money and didn't get the car at Scam Book:$3,269.89

From what Seth told me, Eva/Tara/Amy/Robert/etc. uses fake gmail addys. Three of them begin totolomas65, emadun69, and evabond69. Plus she/he/they use a masked number when texting via Spoof Card that alters the caller's ID.

Let the potential buyer beware. And never underestimate the power of Google!
Thanks, Seth, for sending me the info.

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Mattress Cat-Work

by Tanner (Housecat-in-Chief)

Mommy wanted to vacuum under the bed the other day and wash the bedskirt. Ths involved pushing the matttress to the side, removing the bedskirt, and then pushing the box spring to get to the floor under the bed. Naturally I volunteered to help.

As soon as she pushed off the mattress I was on it. I had to give it a good inspection. I didn't see any problems.

I looked all around to see if anything else needed cleaning. This was a different perspective for me.

When she pushed over the box-spring, I checked the floor to see if it needed cleaning. It did.

Then I climbed back up to the top of the mattress. I liked the view from up there.

Plus, up top was a good place to be out of her way while she was vacuuming.

From up there, I could supervise pretty well until the box-spring was back in place and—Wait! Where did Alfreda and Arlo come from?

You might know they'd show up after most of the work was done!


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Necessary Lies

Last summer I read by Diane Chamberlain's Necessary Lies (St Martin's Press, 2014) but never got around to blogging about it.  However, with the current emphasis on lies and "alternate facts," now seems a good time to review the novel.

First, I'd like to quote parts of a few reviews in the book's front matter:

"This novel, about the courage it takes to be who you're supposed to be even when all of society's messages are telling you otherwise, is full of discoveries—for the reader as well as for the struggling but brave protagonists."—Katrina Kittle, author of The Blessings of the Animals

". . . you will be reminded how poverty is our enemy and how power is dangerous when it's in the wrong hands." —Leslie Kagen, author of Mare's Nest

". . . a powerful portrait of courage and redemption. . . . expertly entertwines histroy and matters of the heart—love, loyalty, and choosing what's right, no matter the consequences."—Heather Gudenhauf, author of The Weight of Silence and One Breath Away

I loved the book. Six months after I read it, parts still stick in my mind. Necessary Lies is set in 1960 in a rural North Carolina County, where Jane Forrester—newly graduated from the Woman's College in Greensboro and newly married to a pediatrician she'd met the previous summer—wants to work for a while before she has children. Her husband, of course, wants her to stay at home, join the Junior League, have children, attend country club functions, etc.—all the proper wifely things a husband expects. After all, he notes, she doesn't have to work—he can support her.  She can't even get the new birth control pills without his permission which he will not give. However, she lies to a doctor to get them and doesn't bother to tell her husband she's taking them.

Meanwhile, Jane goes to work for the Grace County Department of Public Health as a social worker. Since her husband disparagese her work—and would be shocked to know of her working conditions in the field, she doesn't tell him much about what her job entails. Besides seeing a slew of clients, she is expected to to decide which of those clients should be sterilized. Those who are poor, feeble-minded, or otherwise unfit to raise children are prime candidates. When her immediate superior breaks a leg, Jane is thrust into responsibilities that she isn't prepared for.

Among her clients are the Harts who work for Mr. Gardiner on his tobacco farm as did the generation before them—fifteen year-old Ivy, her elderly grandmother Nonnie, her blonde and beautiful older sister Mary Ella, and Mary Ella's child, Baby William. Mary Ella was sterilized witn Nonnie's consent not long after Baby William was born; she was told she was having her appendix out. Mary Ella won't say who the toddler's father is. Because of his dark complexion, it's possible it might be one of many black farmhands. While Mr. Gardiner is generous in providing some food for the Harts, it isn't enough.They need Jane's help.

Jane becomes a bit too involved with the family. Things take a few dark twists and turns, but I won't reveal those. Suffice to say there are a lot of lies told and a lot of truths revealed. And some bad things happen. But there is light at the end of the tunnel, and truth ultimately wins out.

The novel has three narrators. Brenna who begins it in 2011. Then it flashes back to 1960 where Jane and Ivy alternate in telling the story. Finally Brenna ends it in 2011.

I remember 1960. It was a man's world back then and few rights were given to women—including the right for a woman to make her own reproductive decisions. It would be a while before women would be able to demand their rights.

It's difficult to believe that women would be sterilized against their will, but it happened too frequently back in the day. As the author points out in her notes at the novel's end, "From 1929 until 1975, North Carolina sterilized over seven thousand of its citizens. The program targeted the 'mentally defective,' the 'feeble-minded,' inmates in mental institutions and training schools, those suffering with epilepsy, and other whose sterilization was considered 'for the public good.' "

For the public good. The author notes: "While other states had similar programs, most of them stopped performing state-mandated sterilizations after World War II, uncomfortable over comparisons to the eugenics experiments in Nazi Germany."

So, while the characters are products of the author's imagination, the history isn't. Chamberlain does a skillful and effective job in blending the two. Her characters are believable and three dimensional. The story she tells is compelling. I highly recommend that anyone who is concerned with the rights of women read this book.

And that's no lie.

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Girl on the Right?

Every so often, this meme floats around social media. The picture of five little girls at a ballet lesson is called "Be the Girl on the Right." But do we really want to be that girl? What about the girls on the left?

The girls on the left appear to be trying to learn proper ballet technique. No doubt they are all looking in the direction of the instructor who is showing them what to do. Now, I'm no dancer (the only dance class I ever had was a one-semester modern dance class that I took my freshman year in college to satisy a PE requirement), but I know that ballet has five positions a potential ballerina must learn before she actually dances. It takes practice to become perfect at them.

The girl to the far left—the one at the head of the line—looks a bit stiff but is making a good attempt to get in position. She appears to be looking at the instructor for directions and she's trying. The next girl seems a bit confused about what she has to do, but again—she's looking for instruction. She's not being disruptive. The others aren't bothered by her attempts because at least she's trying. The third girl looks like she's trying hard—maybe trying to figure out what to do, but she appears to be concentrating on the instructor. Likely she'll catch on soon. The fourth girl exudes professionalism. She has both the graceful stance and the outfit. Her face shows concentration. She looks like the star of the class, and I'll bet she worked hard to achieve this. To her credit, she seems to be doing a good job of tuning out the disruptive girl behind her.

Does the ill-mannered girl on the right think she's so special that rules don't apply to her? Apparently  she wants to do her own thing and feel entitled to do so. Why?  Does she think she's in a gymnastics class? Does she not play well with others? Did her mother sign her up for ballet thinking it might make her behave better (if so, it didn't work)?  Whatever the reason, her antics ruin the lesson for those who truly want to learn and waste the instructor's time. Why should anyone want to be disruptive like her? If I were a parent who'd paid for my daughter to learn ballet, I'd be angry that the girl on the right is thwarting my daughter's attempts to learn. 

I feel sorry for the girl on the right. When recital time rolls around, she won't have the skills to be able to dance well, and the other dancers will hate her for screwing up their performance. 

I think it's important that all children benefit from experiences that involve teamwork—whether it's playing on a sports team, singing in a choir, playing in a band, acting in a play, dancing, etc. Children should learn that it's good to be in a cooperative situation with others, where all the participants' talents create a whole that's bigger than the sum of its parts. They shouldn't be encouraged to have an "I'm-gonna-do-my-own-thing-the-hell-with-you" attitude. They can do their own thing on their own time—at home.

I taught drama for many years, so I saw the results of what a group of like-minded students working together could accomplish. I think most of the kids I taught profited from being a part of the whole. (Yeah, I had one high schooler who didn't like her costume and refusd to wear it until I had a meeting with both her parents. And I had a few middle schoolers who wanted to do their own thing, including skipping a performance entirely. But most were cooperative. And I was proud to be their teacher.) 

One variation of the "Girl on the Right" meme adds another line: "There are two kinds of people in the world, you and everyone else." Uh, no. That would only apply to you if you were an insufferable narcissist who didn't give a rat's patoot for others and only wanted to be disruptive or thwart others in the pursuit of their happiness. Marching to a different drummer might be fine, but only when you're in a one-woman band. Actually, there are lots of kinds of people in the world—you're not as unique as you might think.

So, if you want to be the outcast that no one wants to play with, be the girl on the right. But if you want to improve your skills, contribute to the success of the performance, be the best that you can be, and generally be a responsible citizen, be one of the girls on the left.
OK. Rant over. Stepping off my soapbox now. . . .
[Images used on this post are on numerous sites all over the net. If I knew the creator, I would give credit.]

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Button Clutter

Decluttering is apparently the current fad—at least in magazine articles and online stories I've seen. Apparently, at least according to the stories, I would be much happier if I stripped my life down to as few possessions as possible, but I don't think that's going to happen. I kind of enjoy burrowing into my clutter. And I like being around stuff I've inherited that I'll never use—stuff that generations before me touched and used.

I come from a line of women who saved stuff. My mother and grandmother lived through the depression, so they saved anything that might be useful again. My great-grandmother was born just after the Civil War, so I imagine her family saved anythig that might possibly be used again. Among the things they saved were buttons.

Many of the decluttering lists say to get rid of buttons. On this list,  #1 is "Spare buttons from clothes that you are keeping 'just in case.'" On the Embracing Homemaking list of "200+ Things to Throw Away," #66 is " buttons   

I can recognize a few buttons that Mama sewed on my clothes when I was little. She made most of my clothes until I was 10 or 11. But I don't know which buttons belonged to my grandmother and which belonged to my great-grandmother. I do know that the canning jars which contain the buttons belonged to my great-grandmother

I don't can, but I have no intention of getting rid of these jars, either. Seeing them and the buttons they contain—and knowing when I touch them I touch my past—makes me much happier than getting rid of them would do. 

"Waste not, want not." 


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Monday, January 16, 2017

Temple Secrets

I love southern literature with strong women characters, a bit of the paranormal, and a happy—or at least mostly happy— ending. Throw in wisdom, a little humor, eccentric characters, redemption, and a strong sense of place, and I’m hooked. 

Temple Secrets, by Susan Gabriel hooked me and reeled me in. I hated to see the book end. Temple Secrets has a lot of what I like to find in a book.

I like a book with a strong opening paragraph, and this one has it: Iris Temple has been threatening to die for three decades, and most of the people in Savannah who know her want her to get on with it. Queenie looks up from the crime novel she’s hidden within the pages of Southern Living magazine and takes in the figure of her half-sister, Iris Templeton, across the sunroom. Everything about Iris speaks of privilege: the posture, the clothes, the understated jewels. Not to mention a level of entitlement that makes Queenie’s head ache. An exasperated moan slips from her mouth before she can catch it. 

That paragraph tells us about the two main characters and the relationship between them. It tells us where they are. The details made me want to read more. Why did so many want Iris to die?

I like a book with a strong sense of place, and Temple Secrets surely has it. My husband and I visited Savannah when we lived in Charleston during 1968-70 and took day trips when I wasn’t teaching/getting my MAT from The Citadel and he wasn’t working on Polaris subs at the shipyard. I can see Gabriel’s setting exactly. I can feel it, too, because there’s nothing like the heat and humidity in those cities.

I particularly like elderly women characters who have a “gift.” (Remember Aint Lulie in my self-published novel, ThemThat Go?) Old Sally, age one hundred when the book begins, communes with ghosts, is precognitive, and knows Gullah. The granddaughter of a Temple slave, she knows a few secrets, too. Old Sally’s daughter, Queenie is also a strong woman, who’s kept one secret for sixty-some years. For generations, Old Sally’s ancestors were the white Temples’ slaves. After emancipation, a few of the slaves’ descendants were employed as domestics by the Temples, and the Temple men took advantage of the situation.

But the ill-tempered Iris Temple, who has a delicate constitution and suffers from horrendous flatulence is up in her eighties and won’t last forever. She’s promised the family mansion to Queenie, but her son Edward Temple III, who rarely visits, wants it all. Iris’s daughter Rose, who’s missing a pinkie fingertip because Edward cut it off with a family sword when she was five, is estranged from her mother and has been living out west for the last twenty years and likely won’t inherit much, if anything. Rose writes to Queenie, but she and her mother don’t communicate. Meanwhile, Old Sally’s granddaughter Violet helps support her school-teacher husband and her two teenage daughters by keeping house and cooking for Iris.

But who’ll get the book of Temple secrets that’s kept in a safe deposit box. Iris uses the information supposedly contained therein to threaten Savannah’s society and bend them to her will. And therein lies the complication—someone is leaking these secrets to the newspaper. Soon threats are posted to the Temples on the wrought iron fence, a brick is heaved through a window, anonymous phone calls disrupt the household, etc. But I won’t give away any more of the plot. Suffice to say that it has some interesting twists and a few secrets revealed.

I like books in which characters share their philosophies or their wisdom—especially when their thoughts impart a universal truth. Since I’m elderly, I could identify with this passage about Old Sally:  That’s what it’s like to get this old, she thinks. You look up one day and your whole life has rushed past so fast you barely caught a glimpse of what’s what’s passing. Then before you know it, you’re at the end of your life and wondering how you got there.

I liked this book so much that before I knew it, I was at the end. And I wondered how I’d gotten there so fast.

I highly recommend Temple Secrets!

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