Them Old Cotton Fields Back Home

Well, we are home everywhere we go since we take our home with us.

Yesterday we took an excursion into Memphis to see some sights. We got up late due to not being able to sleep well the night before. By the time we got there and found the downtown welcome center it was almost noon. We had stopped at the travel center earlier and picked up some brochures of local interests. One of them had a rather extensive list of things to do, places to see, and restaurants. Maps were at the back of the brochure showing the trolley routes.

Due to a late start and taking the time to decide what we wanted to see first, which trolley to catch, and what direction it was going, we didn’t get to the Cotton Museum until 2:00.

We took the tour and learned a lot. Tourists are allowed to take pictures, which is nice. We didn’t get to the upper floor but were told it has been preserved in its original 1930’s appearance. The upper floor was the cotton exchange. The history is rich and vibrant, with many displays of the various uses of cotton. Did you know that our currency is made from cotton fiber? Some of our paper is made from cotton.

It was interesting to see and feel the trough with the recycled denim being used for household insulation. It is better for the environment and much gentler to handle than its fiberglass counterpart.

Mannequins displaying various types of clothing made from cotton adorned one display case. Some of the clothing was vintage 1930’s. One was a military uniform. Other display cases housed artifacts used in bygone eras which were used to produce and weave cotton.

There were four computer stations with headsets included to watch and hear video presentations on the subject.

Upon entry into the first section of the museum a large LCD screen may be turned on to enable hearing the history of the Memphis area and the impact the cotton trade had on its growth and development. The video highlighted the types of people involved in the industry and their impact on society.

The second room had displays showing the progress in harvesting the cotton, the modern weaving processes, and a couple of games to test your knowledge.

Tomorrow’s post will highlight the downtown area.

The Bondage of the Soul

This is just a short character description of a teenager. Maybe someday I’ll break into writing YA novels. Tell me what you think.

 

She’s a pretty girl, a slender runner with long brown hair that is wavy when she takes out the braid, straighter and soft around her face when it’s been a few days between braids.

Shyness seems to wrap itself around her, but it isn’t shyness that keeps her at arm’s length; it’s her brooding anger.

She likes to think of herself as different, set apart, a unique individual. Intelligence and artistic ability are her trademarks. Confidence is concealed until she has to prove she is right about something. At the age of sixteen it is not possible that she doesn’t have all of the answers. Yet she doesn’t come across as arrogant.

Her room is her favorite place to be, watching her television, reading a book, or working at some craft. Occasionally she listens to music—the heavy metal kind that reinforces her feelings of anger and resentment. Those feelings she keeps carefully hidden from view. She doesn’t know that it showed up on camera once when she thought no one was looking.

She loves her younger brother and hates her older sister. Her younger brother will do whatever she asks him to, and she doesn’t mind if he gets in trouble. He just shrugs it off and acts like it’s no big deal. He’s cute, adorable and thirteen. Everyone seems to love him. He probably gets by with more stuff than either of his sisters. That’s what makes him a good partner in crime.

Amazing Worldwide Photographs

Here are some interesting photographs, many in silhouette of people from other cultures, going about their daily lives. Reblogged from https://alk3r.wordpress.com

ALK3R

Needless to say, at the sight of his photos, that photographer Eduardo Rubio is a compulsive excursionist. Originally from Barcelona in Spain, this explorer, a professional journalist, goes to the four corners of the world to go hunting for clichés

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Update: How to Avoid Plagiarism, 5 Important Tips for A New Writer

This is information every author/writer needs to know. What constitutes plagiarism? Here is how to avoid it. Reblogged from https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Consider this an update to my popular post How to Know if You Have Committed Plagiarism.

Clearly, that 2016 post resonated with readers. Has anything changed in that time?

In the comment section of that post, readers shared horror stories. Some shared the horror of seeing their work reproduced without receiving any sort of credit on other websites.

Others shared nightmarish accounts of being accused of plagiarism and fined after they unintentionally committed plagiarism themselves.

One of the most common questions when it comes to plagiarism as it relates to bloggers concerns images. If you use someone’s image and cite the blog as a source, are you covered?

The answer is “no” since you don’t know where that blogger found the image. How will you find or ever be certain of the original source?

We live in a society where people are inclined to sue. I know bloggers who unwittingly…

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ChapterBuzz Writing Prompt Contest

Here is today’s prompt:

Your main character goes back in time 20 years, and notices one particular thing that makes him or her feel right at home…and not want to return to the future. What is it?

This character is from a trilogy I’ve been working on for about five years.  The main character in the first book is Mac Mackenzie, a native born American son of a Scottish immigrant in the late 1700’s.

I don’t know if I was dreaming, or if I really did go back to Mam’s homeland. I’m in America now, but my brain feels as if it is in a fog. I see mists over the moors and cliffs. Mule drawn carts are plodding down the cobblestone road. The wagon seems to be loaded with baked goods as the aromas are wafting toward me from under the cloths covering whatever is in that wagon.

My stomach is growling and my mouth is watering. I know that smell! Mam used to make mulligan stew when I was a wee lad. 

The cart rolls on by and I’m left standing there. Where am I? I look around me and I think the house behind me is the one Mam grew up in. It is a small gray stone house with a cobblestone walkway. It looks kind of run down, like no one lives there any more, no curtains at the windows, no broom by the door. Not even a place to scrape your boots. But I think Mam described it in the journal she left me. Seems there is no one of her family left. It creates a longing for something I’ve never known. Mam had two sisters that she left behind when she fled to America to have me.

Though it is a comfortable loneliness I feel here, it would be much different if I were to meet my sire, for my sire is also my grandfather. I’d like to kill him for what he did to Mam.

 

Frienemies

Chapter Six

It had been three days since Jason Gardner had been to the Jackson residence. It was planting and branding season. He had helped his dad get the livestock chores done, and had planted the seedlings of sunflowers around the perimeter of the vegetable garden. His mom had been seeding it the day Fawn had come over. Now he came galloping up to the the Jackson’s place, giving his horse his head, feeling the excitement of spring coursing through his veins. Plus, he wanted to see Fawn. I know she doesn’t belong to you yet, Lord, but I’m trusting You to work in her heart and save her soul. She will never know of my feelings until she realizes how much You love her. He pulled up to the hitching post outside the door.

Fawn was standing at the open door, grinning at him. “Did you give Garth the workout, or did he give one to you?” She laughed.

Jason dismounted easily, dusted his hat on his pants, and walked to the door. “Maybe a little of both,” he said, joining in her laughter.

Fawn opened the door. “There’s a tin cup hanging on the nail by the rain barrel. Help yourself. I pumped in fresh water this morning.” She held the door open, shooing flies as she waited for Jason to fill his cup.

Nana sat on the couch, rubbing her arthritic legs. “Come in and sit a spell,” she said, turning her head to welcome their neighbor.

“How’s yer ma?” Nana asked as they all sat down, Jason between the two ladies.

“Just fine, ma’am. Ma is working in the garden, making sure no weeds are sprouting up. We’ve had so little rain she filled a pitcher from the pump and started watering the seedlings just a trickle at a time.” His eyes twinkled with merriment. “I bet we’ll get some rain now.”

Fawn sat quietly for a few moments, letting the other two banter. Should she ask Jason to sit with Nana so she could look for work? Should she ask if Nana could stay with the Gardners if she did find work? Nana would definitely be resistant to that idea. She shivered involuntarily.

“Are ya cold, Fawn?” Nana asked.

“No, ma’am. I was just thinking.”

Jason was about to take a drink of water from his cup. He set it down and looked directly at Fawn. There was trouble in her hazel eyes. Today they were an olive green color with gold flecks around the edges. The tint of her freckles had deepened. “Fawn, what’s wrong?”

She told him about the break-in, the devastation. “I sold the wagon as you suggested and Senator Browning came and collected his rent. Jason, I have to have a job if we’re going to keep paying our bills, but I can’t leave Nana alone here after what. . .”

“Now you just wait a sugargum minute!” Nana interrupted. “I know what ye’re thinkin’ and ya kin jist fergit it. I ain’t goin’ nowhere. This is my home as long as we keep payin’ and I ain’t leavin’ it.”

“Mrs. Jackson,” Jason began. “You won’t have to leave here. We have two hired hands that live in our small bunkhouse. . .”

“No. I don’t need a babysitter. I kin shoot.” She crossed her arms over her chest and glared at the kitchen.

“Nana, you were hurt when our house got broke into. Someone came in here and did a lot of damage. You didn’t see the mess they made of the upstairs rooms.”

Tears formed in Nana’s eyes. Fawn hadn’t told her what had happened to those rooms but she had a pretty good idea. She knew how people felt about Native Americans. She could imagine what had been done to the blankets, pottery, and anything else Shawnee that may have been upstairs. The tears ran down her weathered cheeks. Although she herself was not Shawnee, her daughter-in-law and her granddaughter were. But she did not want to leave and she did not want strangers in her house babysitting her. What was she to do?

Fawn broke into Nana’s thoughts. She reached across Jason’s lap to grasp Nana’s hand. “I know you love this place, that it is your home. It’s my home too. It’s all I have ever known. But you are more important to me than this house or this land. Nana, I have to work or we will lose it anyway.”

Nana’s breast rose and fell with each deep sigh. Her shoulders hunched forward. Defeat etched itself into the creases that were smile lines only moments ago on her sixty-seven-year-old face. She nodded once, rose from the couch, placed a crutch under each arm and moseyed to her room.

Fawn lowered her voice and looked at Jason. “I need to find out who caused those hornets to swarm, driving Arctic Sun and the wagon into the creek. I need to know who ransacked this house and why. Jason, where do I start?”

“I’ve got some ideas. There have been some other strange things going on in this holler too. I’ll do some digging. Meanwhile, keep that shotgun handy, even when you’re going to the barn or the garden. Wherever you go, take a rifle or shotgun with you. Nana needs to keep one handy too. Maybe she can prop herself against the window or door if she needs to shoot someone.”

The finishing school had taught Fawn that a lady never reaches for a gentleman’s hand; she should always wait for him to start the gesture. She almost forgot. She started to move her hand forward, then caught herself and quickly tucked it back to her side. Instead, she lowered her head just a bit and looked up at him. “Thank you, Jason. I truly do not know what we would do without you and your family. Nana and I are grateful for your friendship.”

Jason twirled his hat in his hands. “We’ve been friends too long for thanks to be necessary, Fawn. We’re all neighbors looking out for each other. Somebody had to have noticed something. I’m going digging. Be back tomorrow.”
***

It seemed to be a week for visitors. Angel Browning came by the following afternoon. In typical Angel fashion, she galloped nearly all the way to the door before she jerked her horse to a halt and dismounted as if a pack of coyotes was after her. Fawn was already opening the door for her friend.

“Angel, what a great surprise to see you.” Fawn stretched both arms forward to clasp Angel’s hands in greeting. “Come in.”

Angel dashed strands of loose hair from her face. “You didn’t think I would stay away did you? I just thought you and Nana needed some time to adjust to life without your mom. May I have a drink of water?”

“Certainly. The tin cup is hanging on that nail by the rain barrel. Help yourself and come in. Nana is sitting in her room with her memories of Dad, Mother, and Gray. She may not come out today.”

“I’m sorry you two have to go through this. It’s part of the reason why I came.” She took a long drink from the cup. “I have a friend who knows some people in Pipestem. It seems the holler is in need of a teacher.”

Furrows etched themselves across Fawn’s forehead. “I’ve never been around any children except for Melanie and Lily Beth Gardner. I wouldn’t know how to teach.”

“Don’t be a ninny,” Angel quickly checked her tone of exasperation. “You know how to read and write. You can do basic arithmetic. How hard can it be?”

Fawn looked down at her trembling hands. She could be confident at home where she knew what to do and how to do it. Meeting strangers would put her in an uncomfortable position. “I can’t leave Nana,” she mumbled. “Someone has to be with her while I’m gone.”

Angel waved her hand in dismissal. “Nonsense. I heard about the break-in. I would be only too happy to sit with Nana. I can make tea and cook.”

Fawn looked at her friend. There was a look in Angel’s eye that she couldn’t quite fathom. “Thank you for your kind offer, but if I do get the position, who will stay with Nana while I’m gone? You know I would have to stay in Pipestem and take turns staying with various families in order to get to know the children.”

“Leave that to me. I have connections.”

***

As promised, Jason arrived later that afternoon bearing two loaves of homemade bread, a container of freshly churned butter, and a jar of apple blossom honey.

Fawn was in the garden behind the house so Nana hobbled to the door and opened it. “Jason, what a pleasant surprise. Come in and set yer bundles in the kitchen, then get yerself a cup of water.”

“Yes, ma’am. It’s such a pretty day today. Would you like to sit on the porch for a spell?”

“That would be nice.”

Jason did as he had been asked, then held the door for Nana to step outside onto the porch. There were four hand-made rocking chairs facing west. There were just enough white fluffy clouds to provide what would be a spectacular sunset later. He would be home by then.

“What brings you over today?” Nana asked.

“Bringing gifts from Mother’s kitchen.” His gray eyes twinkled as he spoke.

Nana rocked in her chair. Peace settled on her face as she watched the sky and enjoyed companionable silence for a few moments. Lord Jesus, thank You for Your many blessings, for kind neighbors, for health, and for what family I have left. Thank You, too, for this lovely weather. Amen.

Jason watched Nana’s expression. If only Fawn would ask Jesus to be her Savior, they could marry and he would be able to take care of her and her grandmother.

The back door slammed shut and the two people on the front porch jumped. “That you?” Nana called through the open front door.

“Yes, Nana. The door handle got away from me. I was just pulling weeds in the garden.”

“Come on out here,” Nana called. “We got comp’ny.”

Fawn noticed the bread,butter, and honey on the table and knew who had brought them. She quickly tucked loose strands of hair back into their coil and briskly went to the front porch. She chose a rocker to Jason’s left. Nana sat across from them.

Jason cleared his throat. “I told you I was going to do some snooping to try to find out what’s been going on in this holler.” He took a sip of water and drummed his thumb against the tin cup.

“I don’t have any proof of who is behind any of this. What I do know is that more than one person is involved. It seems that there has been a lot of fracking going on to determine if there is any natural gas in the area. That may or may not have anything to do with homes being vandalized.”

Nana banged the tip of her crutch on the porch. “That don’t give nobody the right to start attackin’ folks in their own homes.” She stomped the crutch again.

“We have to find out if all of this is related, Nana,” Fawn said.

To follow the gaps in what I post here, you can read more at the following link:

ChapterBuzz

 

Creating that “Killer” Character

Excellent advice, Reblogged from https://ryanlanz.com

A Writer's Path

by Georgio Konstandi

“I shall not exist if you do not imagine me.”   – Vlamidir Nabokov, Novelist/Poet (1899-1977)

From Blanche Dubois to Ebenezer Scrooge, literature has never failed to produce characters that resonate with millions of readers from across the globe. But where did they come from? What ignited the first wisps of smoke of these authors’ imaginative infernos? How do we, as modern-day writers, emulate such success when we sit down, a blank screen before our eyes, fingers at our keyboards?

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Frienemies

Chapter Three

Senator Jeb Browning raked his right hand through his graying black hair. His household ledger lay open before him on the roll-top desk. “Angel, have you learned nothing of finances? I have had you educated in the best school. If you were ambitious enough I would send you to college.” He sighed and picked up the quill pen. “This is the last time. Do you understand me?” He wrote out the check.

Angel smiled. “Yes, father.” If he could be so generous with the likes of the Jacksons then he should not be so reluctant to help his own flesh and blood.

***

The scent of pine and juniper mingled with the new blossoms of rhododendron as Fawn approached the embankment. This would have been a lovely day of solitude and reminiscence had it not been for the nagging feeling that something was amiss. There had to be a reason why the horse went down the embankment. There had to be a reason for the hornets swarming.

Keeping her feet sideways to avoid slipping she made her way down the embankment. Something was glistening on the rocks near the broken harness. Closer inspection revealed clear fishing twine. That would not be unusual if the twine had not been tangled in the harness. She looked behind her and to the left where the hornets’ nest hung. The same color twine was dangling from the nest. Following the line she saw that it led across the road. She found the end tied to a sturdy pine sapling. Who wanted Mom dead? Why? If only she had found the line before the rain yesterday, perhaps she would have seen footprints. Then again, everyone wore shoes or boots. The likelihood of identifying the culprit by footprints hardly seemed likely.

***

Doctor Henry arrived with a new crutch for Nana. No one answered the door when he knocked so he let himself in. “Miss Jenny?” he called as he waited by the door.

“Doc Henry, is that you? I’ll be out in just a minute. You can have a seat on the couch.” Her one crutch tapped across the floor in alternate rhythm to her other foot as Nana hobbled across the bedroom floor. By the time she sat down on the couch next to the doctor, her heart was racing and her left leg muscles were dancing a jig from hip to toes. She nearly fell back against the back of the couch, leaned her head toward the corner and closed her eyes for just a moment.

“Excuse me, Doc, but that was a chore getting across that floor to come out here. I’ll be fine in a minute.”

Doc Henry patted her hand. “No hurry. I brought you a new crutch. Have you been getting enough rest?”

Nana’s breathing slowed as her heart settled into its normal rhythm. She slowly sat upright and answered him. “Yes. Thanks. Woke up a few times, thinkin’ I heard prowlers. Prob’ly just the wind or something. Can I get you a drink of water?”

“No, thanks. If I want water I’ll get it. You need to recover your strength. Sit still a mite while I check your vitals.” He held her wrist to check her pulse. Normal. He checked the wound on the side of her head. The blood had clotted and begun to form a scab. “Everything looks good. Can I get you anything?”

Nana tilted her head in thought. “Reckon I could use some quinine water. Feels like I got worms crawlin’ inside my leg from hip to toes. Sometimes it hurts.”

“I got some in the wagon. You sit tight. I’ll go get it.”

“How much is it gonna cost me?”

“An invite to dinner. Rumor is you’re a mighty fine cook and my wife could use a break.”

“You got it. Y’all be here Friday around five. Thanks, Doc. I appreciate it.”

***

Fawn crossed the road back to the embankment. She again made her way to the creek and retrieved the broken, mangled harness. Still jumpy from the break-in the day before, her nerves were tense, on edge. A twig snapped behind her. She whirled with her arm in the air, slashing the harness across the face of her would-be attacker. His left hand went to the bloody welt on his face while his right grabbed for Fawn. She ducked away from his grasp and rammed her head into his abdomen, knocking him to the ground. She rammed the heel of her booted foot into his groin and ran for the house.

She hadn’t heard the doctor come up the road. Perhaps the combined singing of birds and rush of the water over the rocks in the creek drowned out the noise of the wagon. Not to mention her mind was focused on other matters.

Panting and gasping for breath, she yanked open the door and bolted it from the inside.

“What on earth?” Nana said.

Doctor Henry took one look at Fawn, looked out the window, and said, “Where’s the shotgun?”

“Propped against the wall next to my bed,” Nana said. “What’s going on, Fawn?”

“Doc, is he coming?” Fawn choked out the words between gasps.

“Didn’t see anyone but you’re white as a new flour sack. Where is the varmint?”

“Out by the creek. I went out to try to figure out why the horse went over the embankment. The rain washed away the wagon tracks but I remembered where they were when we came back from the funeral.”

“Did you recognize him?”

“No. Never saw him before, but he may be in need of your services. I got him pretty good before he could get me.”

“Fawn Jackson, I’m asking you for the last time,” Nana yelled, “what is going on?”

Finally Fawn was able to sit down and tell Nana the whole episode.

Doc went out the door with the shotgun in hand. “You ladies stay here. I’ll be back directly.”

When the doctor arrived at the scene he could see where the man had fallen, but there was no one there now. There was no sign of hoof-prints or wagon wheels either. The man must have hidden his horse or other conveyance some distance away where there would be no evidence and he could sneak up on someone. That would mean he had been watching the house. For how long? And why? He went back to the house.

“You two ladies are not safe here. There has obviously been someone watching. . .”

“That’s right,” Fawn interrupted. “Mom’s death was no accident.” She realized that she was still holding the piece of harness. “Look at this. See this twine here? It was wrapped around the hornet’s nest in that tree that overhangs the bank. It had been strawed across the road and attached to a pine sapling. Obviously someone was waiting and watching for an opportunity to cause the horse to bolt. There must be a connection between that and our house being ransacked.” She gulped as memory suddenly dawned. “Oh, no. I never did go check the upstairs rooms.”

“You let me go up ahead of you, Fawn. I don’t want anything happening to you two.” Doc was insistent.

The upstairs rooms had also been thoroughly ransacked. Fawn sank to the floor and moaned. “Will this ever end? What are they after? Who is doing this?” She looked up at the doctor.

“I don’t know yet, but you better believe I’m going to try to find out,” he answered. I’m going to the police before I go home. Can you shoot that gun?” He asked Fawn.

“Yes, sir. My dad and brother said we womenfolk needed to be able to defend ourselves while they were off soldiering. I was only nine at the time but they taught me how to aim and shoot, same as they did Mom and Nana. Of course, with Nana’s arthritis we were hoping we wouldn’t have to depend on her. But we learned.”

“Good. You keep the door locked after me and keep that shotgun ready. If anybody you don’t recognize comes to the door you point that gun at them and tell them to get off your property or get shot. You hear?”

“Yes, sir. Thank you, Dr. Henry.”