Her New Collection at Miss Nell’s Olde Bi-Curiosity Shoppe

Once a Favored Gallic designer, Edith Head-less is still centuries away from becoming the fashion icon of her inevitable, future legacy. Neither has she any knowledge of the many Golden Orbs and Pantomine Guild Awards she will accrue, the latter fondly referred to as the Panties.

Absolutely no other 16th or 17th century tailor-type could surpass her edgy vision, impeccable seamstry, and joust-stopping details on sleeves, epaulets, anywhere that could flash a bauble or bibble.

The drama of her legendary run-ins with the British monarchy made her name famous throughout the shires, at least until the glory days of Restoration glamour were long gone.

The casual reference to Headless’s surname has led to a great deal of Olde English slang as well as modern paraphernalia in Miss Nell’s Olde Bi-Curiosity Shoppe. Local Merchant Ambassador, Mrs Lovett, is working on new promotions to lease the remaining retail space.

The merchantress offers a great many styles of hoods, initially marketed by Miss Edie as Head Cozies for “men on the go”. They cleverly even doubled as overnight bags and/or modern skivvies for a proper Renaissance man.

We present the latest in men’s dress R-T-W fashion from the Renaissance era, including a humbolt of German, Italian, Gallic, Finnish, and French designs.

The collection includes daywear, evening clothes, and fashionable battle attire: exuding elegance in every situation. That Miss Head-less is a crackerjack business woman.

Lean back and let the boys do their thing. I, no doubt, shall be involved in yet another silly or whimsical venture. I bet you sense a pattern, Dear Friend. And please don’t chastise me for century-hopping.

I’ll simply let it be.

Monday, Monday

Russian Typewriter

Oh, my dear Miss Karen. You would’ve loved a day like this one, as Billboard did long before any talk of war or hormones. The pusses anticipate that those legendary showers might return this very April after many seasons of May arousals. May flowers, similarly, are ashamed of their bloomers and their lateness in bursting.

The Fool’s Day is Wednesday: Marigold’s first and Henry’s twelfth. My beloved and I have shared a baker’s dozen of such silly, yet somehow important days. We no longer discard them. Instead, we rinse them off. And somehow, Lord knows, our talks always turn to recollections. We seem so anxious to share them before they are lost in a sealed vacuum of memories.

I best begin my day and its welcome regimen, and ready myself for the nurse.

On this day of raining pets: stay warm, be kind, and keep your galoshes handy, my friends.

And remember that the day still can’t be trusted. Oh, Casey we miss you!

(Image: “Russian Typewriter” by Lucy Gaylord-Lindholm, oil on panel, 2012.)

This Silly Spring


“Poor, dear, silly Spring, preparing her annual surprise!” . (Wallace Stevens)

Alas, the real Spring has tossed its Marseilles wrap onto the steps and finally settled in, at least since 6:45 last night. My beloved and I humbly await a season of rejuvenation, rebirth, reconciliation, and a hefty bolster of hope. The season here in the Hinterlands is not as I’ve ever seen.

Earlier, bouquets of Star Magnolias announced the Majestic Bartlett Pear Festival, the weeklong event that traditionally ends with neither fanfare nor souvenirs. The only remnants of such a celebration are the strewn and still moist petals, poised to wither.

Weather alert and advisory: the ever-tardy April showers signed the guestbook on May 22.

(Image: “Self-Portrait as Skyscraper” by Julie Heffernan, 2009.)

Miss Muffin and the Belles of Marklewood


A while back, we had an interloper here at Marklewood. The outdoor pusses were the first to encounter her. A day later, the two of us had a determined stare-off when I first stepped onto the front stoop that dawn. As I slowly inhaled the moment’s nicotine, she guardedly peered at me from behind the giant cast iron plants that define the driveway’s foot. I stood up to fetch my coffee. She jerked, twitched, and scurried from my sight. That was when I first heard that damned bell!

Yes indeed, she is a “lost, but not yet found” cat: a diminutive marmalade with white boots, an unassuming face, and a bell secured to her neck with a pale pink ribbon. “How embarrassing!”, I thought, “to be thus branded in a juvenile and fey (if not “girlie”) manner.” As I approached her, she darted under the house, to the crawl space where those very same outdoor pusses often seek refuge, warmth, and safety.

Hmmmm. She must’ve spent the night since she knew exactly where the primary access points were! I imagined that she, Eve, and Lunesta braided each other’s fur and gossiped about the misfortune that prompted Precious to change her name and head downtown. At some point, they certainly giggled and mused of the neighborhood toms. Moreover, I assume they tried in vain to loosen the ribbon and remove the jingle.

When the air finally warmed and the sun was dancing atop the pine trees, I returned to the front stoop, this time with the cats’ breakfast. The seven regulars dashed toward and circled the food bowl, tails swaying in June Taylor synchronicity. As I again sat on the stoop (contemplating life, liberty, and the pursuit of a better credit rating), that bell stirred my concentration. She instinctively ran to the bowl, as if she had been a long-term guest, but I had to leave any detective work until that evening.

It was almost time to head across the wide span of Raleighwood to my new job. I warned Jon about this mystery puss, jokingly referring to her as”Twinkle” or “Muffin”. She was an innocent “valley puss”, unfairly tagged by those who rescued her from a shelter. And there I was making light of her situation!

That night, long after I had returned, I took an extra large scoop of kibble outside, hoping the cats would forgive my tardiness. As always is the case at sunset, two came from chairs in the garden. Three, from the nearby woods. One jumped down from atop the storage shed. The last one raced from the jasmine-covered swings, her abandoned seat still rocking “fro and to”. As the seven were soon scarfing and gobbling with barely a chew, I again heard that bell!

Had she been at Marklewood all day? Was she ever going to return to”Muffinwood” or wherever her home is? Nonetheless, I made certain she ate, quite confident that if she needed shelter that her four-legged hosts would be hospitable and offer her shelter in the inn. But wait! She was too, too small to be “with child” although I was having irreverent musings. To the contrary, she appeared prematurely spayed.

She was clean and obviously well-cared for. My cats were neither scared nor intimidated by her so she seemingly possessed decent social skills. And of course, the ribbon indicated that she was loved and likely missed. I immediately visualized a weepy and sullen young girl with pigtails, or a lonely housecat who was missing his playmate, if not little sister. Oy ve!

Essentially for the next few mornings and evenings, the routine was the same. At mealtime, the pusses came from every direction with “Pinkie”pulling up the rear. Maybe her name was “Tinker”, “Belle”, or some combination therein. Or even “Rosey”. All I knew was that she was entirely too comfortable here.

I chuckled as I imagined her warbling “Take the Ribbon from My Fur!”

A few days later, she stopped coming when I fed the others. I no longer heard that bell announcing her proximity. I assumed she finally went home. That night as I sat on the stoop extinguishing my last cigarette of the day, I wondered if Eve and Lunesta would ever again have such a slumber party.

The next morning, I was checking email when I heard a loud knock on the front door. Jon was still asleep so I literally ran downstairs, at least as quickly as I could without tripping or accidentally stepping onto the creaky steps. Through the window I could see a big burly guy with a shaved head and tattoos. (Let’s just call him “Bubba”!) I opened the door and, with certain expectations, offered a reluctant “Yes?”

“Have you seen a small orange and white cat around here? She has a pink ribbon collar and a little silver bell.”

Oh my. I never saw that one coming. I recounted her plight but assured him that she had been gone for over twenty-four hours. I could see that he was worried, tearful, and “beside his big, beefy self”. I was surprised by the irony of the situation but knew what he was feeling … all too well.

I assured him that if she ever returned, she’d at least be well fed and safe from the roving raccoons and conniving coyotes. I told him that, if she ever got lost again he was welcome to survey our yard for a glimpse of ribbon. Or walk up our driveway and listen for the jingle.

That night, as I struggled to fall asleep, I wondered if she indeed ever did make it home and hoped that the Universe would care for her.

The next morning, since I was going to enjoy a day off, I slept a little later than usual and headed outside with my coffee, cigarettes, and a big scoop of cat food. Eve, Thom, Leopold, Yorick, DeWilde, Precious, and Sylvester Sue all came running. I count them at every meal, as if “taking attendance”, since we live in the hinterlands and are surrounded by woods. That evening, all seven were accounted for and present for chow time. Then I heard a faint jingle, listening as it grew louder and closer. She confidently rounded the corner and headed for the food dish.

She looked at me with a sweetness and a gratitude as if to say: “Call me Madam. Call me Miss Tibbs. Even call me Miss Ross. Just don’t call me Muffin!” She then squeezed in between Eve and Yorick, taking her place in the ritual.

I quickly ran inside, forgetting to avoid the creaky steps. When I entered the bedroom, Jon was stirring and squinting his eyes.

“Honey, I think ‘Dr. Markle’s Finishing School for Wayward and Erstwhile Pusses’ has a new boarding student.” Perhaps, I was daydreaming again but I could’ve sworn she registered as Pinkie.

And then there were eight!

(Image: “Monkey Dog and His Mistress” by Lucy Gaylord-Lindholm, 2000.)

Come On In, Dear Boy. Have a Cigar Box


Each year, on and around Labor Day, it was again time to shop prudently for school supplies. Those of you who were obsessive pre-pubescent scholars know well that rush. A shot of some euphoric, sublime, and self-organizational adrenaline would take hold of one’s entire being. Margy, the aforesaid mother in my silly musings, and I would go on a cigar box hunt.

The discarded boxes were covered on all sides with some great lithographic illustration, often depicting two people sharing an old Havana moment. The heavy cardboard boxes came in all different sizes, of course on the smallish side. And they were perfect for storing pens, pencils, quills if you must. One might also hide a small toy or memento inside.

It was indeed a treasure box hunt. We made the rounds asking tobacco merchants if they had any “obsolete” Macanudo, Padrón, or Oliva containers. Ultimately, our search was usually rewarded with a gem, albeit with a lingering, sweet tobacco fragrance.

I would always select a spare box … just in case a replacement was in order. In the event of torrential rain or unseemly acts of playground aggression, I’d be back in business as soon as I got home and grabbed a YooHoo. Being prepared in such a way is one of the 1,047 invaluable tenets that the daunting Daughters of Charity at St Pius X preached.

And I survived. Once as I completed Freshman Orientation at UNC, I quickly welcomed redemption, rehabilitation, and recovery from my many years of parochial school and lessons of self-deprecation.

Oddly, that cigar box “rush” continued to come around every Labor Day, until I was 25 or so. Of course, I kept all of those obsessive urges in check. I best appear well-acclimated to adulthood.

Flash forward. Flash forward through my years with the anti-Christ. Flash forward through my dalliance with the Icelandic twenty-something. Flash forward through those enriching years with Michael … and his last year of deteriorating. Somewhere, I started smoking cigars.

As I would peruse the vast selection, I realized that the tobacco purveyor would have many, many glorious boxes. They were ideal for storing sewing accoutrements, receipts, batteries, and of course pens, pencils, quills if you must.

A cigar box is also perfect to store all those moments of memories that are too burdensome to carry around all day.

There is one such box on my desk, hidden behind my monitor Miranda. Yes, I do still name every appliance or electronic “thing-a-mabob” under the tin roof here at Marklewood.

That’s where I hide my quills from the pusses when they’re on one of their frequent, naughty, and curious escapades of “not-so-careful” rambunction.

Thank you, Pink Floyd.

The Fidget of Father Time: Changing the Calendar for Good

Or so it feels. These somewhat beige days spin like an electric fan set to “HIGH”. The dizzied Gēras is tossed aside like picnic orts.

There once was a bit of an aesthetic and pride in time and its keeper. Calendars of yore, however, have since become obsolete puzzlements.

Calendars now remind of us of a time when:
the world seemed calmer,
the cityscapes were filled with marvel,
a single flower was noticed, and
details really mattered.

We don’t see much beauty these days, frankly, because our eyes are tightly shut. If we truly scrutinize the world around us, somehow humanity loses its power, or so we’re surreptitiously told. God forbid we ever acknowledge the majesty of the Universe and its creation.

Yes, I am still a liberal Democrat. And I am frightened that Time will go the way of Beauty and Kindness.

It’s tragic how more and more of our daily lives are controlled by a server. The forgotten Gēras would be mortified.

Such are the Days of Our Lilies

As spring sneaks into the yard from the brambly woods in the back, one thing is certain. We will have flowers soon, probably of some new cross-bred curiosities of Roses, Lilies, Impatiens, as well as Henry’s and my favorites, Lobelia and Nasturtia. The Lilies, of course, are of the garden or glade varieties, not what we in these genteel parts call “Ditch-lilies”.

I have lived out here in the hinterlands of outer Raleighwood for almost thirteen years. I had two dozen peony bushes in the back yard, mostly white and yellow, and a few black ones to confuse folks when we had outdoor parties. They would’ve survived neither the drive nor a new home. I never even confessed to my perennial confidants that the dirt at Marklewood is actually NC Red Clay, with a smattering of added topsoil where needed.

Thank God for the invincible 4′ Cast Iron plants I bought, perhaps fifteen years ago, from my dear friend Peggy. She was my plant guru and wholesale contact, but she passed away the season immediately before both my father and a close lifelong friend had passed away. I shall stop with that as to keep any melancholia sealed until another day … except that despite neglect and drought, they still thrive. Perhaps, if I’m not having health coverage issues in April, I shall quarter them. The yield would be a majestic overstatement of twenty-four plants that would span just shy of 100 feet.

I am rambling I know. It is late and I’m overwhelmed with thoughts and words and artwork tonight. Some hot tea while I decompress would be perfect.

The image I included here is of a painting by the iconic French actress Leslie Caron of “GiGi” and “Lily” fame. I always found her to be lovely and shy and genteel and compassionate and … Oh I wish I could find a better word that sweet! I like the almost childlike innocence of the flowers and the torch-like hand holding them, as well as the blue hues.

Tonight I shall think about my Columbine and roses that now dress their beauty for a family of four.

“I sit at the window and watch the rain,
Hi-Lili, Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo.
Tomorrow I’ll probably love again,
Hi-Lili, Hi-Lili. Hi-Lo”.

Spilling Some Thoughts Regarding Clever Inkings

Austrian artist Paul Flora (1922-2009) is known for his clever, whimsical, caustic, and occasionally colored black-ink line drawings. I’d guess even more so than I am for my over indulgent and undiagramable run-on sentences, “ad infinitum” as it were.

How can either the serious bookworm or light fluff-browser not like Flora’s work. I find his art amusing, intimate and sensitive when the subject touches on the bleak. It is always psychologically accessible. After forty years in the literary desert known as the Bible Belt of the Southern U.S., His marionettes, birds, and fez-donners all make me smile and stop to reminisce.

Flora’s unmistakeable style at once can take me to the nostalgia of my schoolboy years, surpassed by only Sir Elton’s “Good-Bye, Yellow Brick Road”. While the hour may now be later, the details a bit sketchy, and the sweetness mellowed with time, my cloudy mind’s eye recollections exaggerate the enjoyment in thumbing through German books and Illustrated journals.

I only knew two or three words and always had to imagine the narrative, keeping “mum” as to details. Eavesdroppers probably thought I was either mute or schizophrenic. I never let on. Besides, my homework was certainly waiting and I could always “talk my way” back home before I was made by my friends Damian or Mark..

I was still on the cusp of puberty with years ahead to mull over and hone my persnickety view toward art and its glorious forms.


Mush, Mush, Sweet Charlotte


Tonight, the eleven cunning rescues that are known to frolic while Jon and I nap, offer a toast in honor of all of the magnificent Iditarod entrants. Those well-toned dogs must have unequaled stamina and endurance skills. The “shy one” or “one shy” dozen is out tonight, drinking actual bowls of White Russians and shooting buttery nipples at Harley’s Cat Bar and Bait Shoppe..

They are toasting, smoking cigars, and telling tales out of school. They rarely leave Marklewood except to see Dr Grant, so we expect a pussy all-nighter. The mollies Kitty Carlisle and Feral Streep are surely already sound asleep. Charlie and Blanche Hudson are on the prowl, likely caterwauling looking for toms of a certain state.

Breakfast is at six: if the Rooster shows up sober.

The Ititarod champs have spent their lives training, strengthening heart and lungs, as well as toning all the pertinent muscles. About as strenuous as other modern feline and canine competitions, there is, however, a simple compromise which in no way mandates rules and priorities that pertain to contestants behavior, They will be housed in the very lush, indulgent Stuckey’s Super Pet-Inn, behind closed and dead-bolted doors. No, not there. T.H.E.R.E. silly!

Unfortunately, the dogs that still in the race are resting and get massages, and having a big ole manly steak.

However the rules of Idinarod spectator behavior and sportsmanship attitudes are expected, yet closely monitored.
And a shout-out to a friend who is the very doctor who will be officiating while acclimating Arctic weather,.

My beloved and I wish them all well. Right now, ABC11’s weather “ambassador” has projected the outside temperature at 65, with an overnight chilly 53.

Alas, having survived already their daily indulgences, they will likely head back the day it ends. It’s a long, long road. That comes from someone who, after a day at work drove to Chicago on a Saturday and returned the following morning. I wasn’t spontaneous as I was optimistic.

Oy vey ist mir.

It’s good to be warm. It’s even better to be selfless and proficient like Claire.

Graffiti on the Wall of Sir H. Alistair Dumpty


Little is known about Sir Humpty until he moved to the United States, finally settling in the “Big Over Easy” in 1891. He has enjoyed a colorful and proud tradition in politics, nursery rhymes, theater, and local military skirmishes.

He was married to both Mitzi Gaynor and Angie Dickinson, the latter having taken acting classes from our ovoid buddy. The group would normally meet after breakfast at his exclusive and private mansion in Brentwood, once the home of superstar Karen Valentine. He is, of course, famous for having pioneered the Hump Your Method Theory of different levels acting.

He has been the subject of many biopics for Merchant-Ivory, and regularly appears on TVLand. His story is highly sought after by many distinguished biographers, from Jacqueline Susann and Jackie Collins to the less intellectual, yet mature Readers Digest.

Humpty appeared in the Buffalo stage presentation of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass (1872). He was in all his glory, mesmerizing the audience and sctors alike. In this scene in Act I we find the celebrity he discussing semantics and pragmatics with Alice:

“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,'” Alice said. Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously.

“Of course you don’t—till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!'”

“But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument’,” Alice objected.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master? That’s all.”

Alice was far too puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. “They’ve a temper, some of them—particularly verbs, they’re the proudest—adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs—however, I can manage the whole lot! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!”
Les Massages et ménages débridées sont disponibles, peut-être, les Ménages aux dixieme.

Quelle que soit la saveur.. Je préfère les œufs pochés herbes des agriculteurs avec quelques herbes sacrificielles, principalement de noix de muscade, et certains Garlique finement hachée.

Sir Alistair is remarkable: well-educated, distinguished, talented, skilled in carpentry, and fluent in Esperanto. But he does get a bit riled if a fan is rude and improper.

It is ever so rare but that is the only time you’ll ever hear him say, yet oh quite sternly: “Eat me!”

I tremble.

God Bless the Cranky Ones!


As Thursday’s dawn is waiting in the Green Room, I am enjoying a quiet moment. I am thankful for my friends, even the cranky ones. I am thankful for relatives with whom I haven’t spoken in years, even the cranky ones.

I am appreciative of the internet, “Sherlock”, Edy’s Coffee Ice Cream, Target’s Bloody Mary pickles, and Tammy, my home health care nurse.

I am not especially fond of that darned “Auto-Fill”. It would never pass Mrs Whitlock’s English class.

After year and a half, I am still not acclimated to my ever-cumbersome 24 hour IV. But it is the Dobutamine that keeps me awake and alert at least for a while each day.

There is, however, a relatively wee issue bothering me a bit this morning. Who was it that thought we needed yet another Cinderella film? Is there really something new to bring to the editing room? Yikes.

Before I forget: I am always appreciative of my beloved who, after 13 years, no longer nags me if I stay up late. He also manages my health this days as I am fading and not always altogether lucid.

Oh yes. I am thankful for Henry, Hermione, and the delightfully odd and “Kitty Go-Lightly-ish” Marigold. (Claudja is on triple probation.) And I am always thankful for all of the outside pusses, even the cranky ones.

That Being Said


My cardiologist warned me about excessively watching CNN. It is the indulgent, fatty, caloric, and indigestible element of modern television. My arteries start to throb and send me mixed messages. I must learn to exhale.

That being said, most of you either know firsthand or assume that I am liberal. Not only is it in the truest sense of my socio-politico-theologico humanist views. It suggests how I maintain my soapbox. Mostly, however, it keeps my humanity safe and governs most of my daily life.

THAT being said, what the hell is going on in Ferguson? The combative attitude of its citizens is deplorable. One is to assume that the electorate, make that “residents”, must be complacent, lazy, or just living in another era. How is it that Law Enforcement can truly monitor crimes and keep folks safe with racist, non-inclusive, and denigrating behavior?

I just don’t get it. The system there is broken. Fire the obviously “guilty” members of the FPD and review the rest. Then bring in the National Guard with a positive directive from Congress. And let John Boehner think it was all his idea so that he doesn’t lead a resistance.

Further, it is inappropriate and offensive for the media to constantly repeat inappropriate and offensive jokes and emails. Repetition gives the hate-mongers more credence and air-time. And it fuels the issue on a national level, while the solution is the burden of the local and state communities.

I have watched a media institution air Ferguson’s dirty laundry. Repeatedly. I suspect it is true with most news rerouting services.

The ugliest side of humanity continues to thrive.

THAT being said, is there a Twelve Step program for news junkies?

Doctor’s orders.

(Image: “Cardinals of the Venetian Cornaro family assisting to the ecstasy of St. Theresa” by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in Rome’s Cornaro Chapel, 17th.c.)