Author Archive

Redgunk Tales: Tales from the Kudzu (I hear it pairs well with red wine)

January 6, 2010

If you see this book, pick up your very own copy and enjoy the read!


Looking for a read that’s a little different from what you’re used to? My very own friend, Bill Eakin, a.k.a. William R. Eakin, has written a book that fits the bill. (No pun intended … maybe.) Here’s your chance to jump into his short story collection – Redgunk Tales.

The first volume, Tales from the Kudzu, is now available for voracious reader consumption. Published by Sam’s Dot Publishing, this is the first installment in the 5-6 volume series. The stories feature a real fantasy world where science fiction events and fantasy happenings create unforgettable stories and characters.

Ready to discover the clever world of Bill’s imagination? Get your very own copy of Redgunk Tales: Tales from the Kudzu. I know I may be a bit biased since I think Bill’s such a great guy and all, but the critics think he’s an amazingly talented writer, too. Here’s what some of them had to say…

Sort of like Thomas Wolfe on acid, or James Joyce on moonshine, Bill Eakin 
takes the words, the rhythms, the heat, the mud, the cicadas and the kudzu of 
the south and turns them into stories that touch your heart while messing 
with your brain stem and possibly tampering with your DNA. A truly original 
and unique voice…. 

–Shawna McCarthy, Realms of Fantasy

Bill Eakin is one of the more inventive writers making a name for himself today…. His southern-fried narrative is (in the opinion of this Bama Boy) one-hundred percent faithful and twice as irreverent.
–Kurt Roth, Tangent

Eloquent and witty, thoughtful and even heart-rending. . . . Every time I’ve read a Redgunk story recently, I’ve come away thinking the most recent was better than what I had seen before. I’m coming to realize that it’s not a question of better; each one has been good on its own. . . .Bill Eakin is a brilliant storyteller.
–Kim Mohan, Amazing Stories

So what are the Redgunk Tales? They’re stories, sit-around-on-the-step-and listen-to-your-crazy-uncle-bullshit stories. They have that kind of easy rhythm and flow and enthusiasm, and they’re written with a love of the sound of language that doesn’t rear its head often…a richness…that lifts it beyond pure regionalism and into an altogether more sparsely populated neighborhood….cracking good read. It’s one of those collections that’s so rich that it’s best read one story at a time, so that each can be savored and enjoyed on its own terms. It’s a slower read that way but then again, that’s more time spent in Redgunk. And that just can’t be a bad thing.
–Rowan Innish, The Green Man Review (July 2001)

Lizzie Kate – A Designer for This Stitcher

November 19, 2009

Design is everywhere, even the places you don’t really think of. I am a cross-stitcher, and despite the fact that it seems to be a dying craft I’m still addicted. Now, you probably wouldn’t know of this addiction if you visited my house. The walls are not covered with stitching projects from top to bottom. But if you find my project bin in the closet, you’ll see that do I like to stitch.

Closer inspection will tell you that one of my favorite designers is Lizzie Kate. All of the pattern designs are fun, playful and quick to do. The colors are vibrant and many of them also use a cool threads, buttons and other embellishments that challenge me to try new mediums, if you will. You can see all their patterns using the link above, and you can even download some free patterns from their site.

While I finished the stitching on these projects several years ago, I hadn’t gotten around to getting them ready for display. Luckily, they waited patiently as I figured out what to do with them. When inspiration hit this fall, I took advantage of it. And, thanks to ideas from one of Mona’s finishing classes at The Silver Needle several years ago, here’s where I ended up.

Fall Has Always Grown on Me

September 30, 2009

Where does the time go? I’m thrilled that summer’s out of here and fall has finally arrived. But I’m also thrilled with the progress my ready-made garden has made throughout the season. My post from May showed the beginning stages of the project, but here’s some pics of where we’ve ended up so far. Yes, most of those plants were only a few inches tall when we started, but they’re out of control now.

For me, this is the most wonderful time of the year. I’m really looking forward to spending these cool fall evenings on the porch with a good book enjoying all the colors of fall.

A Recipe for Retro

August 5, 2009

So, I’ve been working on recipe organization lately. After years and years of collecting, it was time to conquer the mammoth task. As I filled recipe box after recipe box, I thought they needed a little something extra to jazz them up. The plain, solid colors of the photo storage boxes just weren’t doing it for me anymore. For some reason, I thought decoupage was the answer.

Being that I’m a retro kind of gal, I started searching for 1950s food ads and images. In the process, I came across some real winners. Did you know that ice cream is a “nutritious dairy food” and that they’ll sing for a casserole with lima bean and tomato sauce? Can you believe that there was actually a recipe for Spam Fiesta Peach Cups? And the ad for Swanson TV Dinners shows a family sitting around a dinner table with no TV in sight. Overall, I think my favorite is the one from the Soda Pop Board of America. It actually claims “babies who start drinking soda during the early formative period have a much higher chance of gaining acceptance and ‘fitting in’ during those awkward pre-teen and teen years.”

Since I couldn’t pick a favorite, I used them all. This was my first decoupage adventure, and it was easy and fun and gave me a reason to purchase Mod Podge. (That just sounds hip, now doesn’t it?) Here’s what my finished products looked like.

Create Your Very Own Treasure Map

July 2, 2009

When it comes to bargain shopping, I’m a huge fan. I clip coupons and search sale ads for the basics. But when it comes to good, old-fashioned fun, my circuit includes thrift stores, flea markets, yard sales and estate sales. That’s why I was thrilled to find this in a coworker’s report a few days ago –

YardSaleTreasureMap.com

Once I jumped on the site, I was disappointed to find that it’s not a widely used tool in my area just yet, but I’m holding out. It will allow you to read the sale listing, remove the ones you don’t want to go to, add your own stops and mark your stops in the order you plan on making them. Once you’ve got a plan, you can get a print out complete with directions for your day’s excursion.

How cool is the potential of this? Check it out for yourself, and be sure to leave some deals behind for me.

Kleenex, I Say, “Bless You”

May 27, 2009

So, I’ve never really been a fan of the designs on facial tissue boxes. Not big on the crappy flowers in pastels that usually cover the box. And none of the “designer” or “seasonal” options blend into the decor. Let’s face it, facial tissue boxes should not be a critical element of one’s room design in the first place, but if they’re going to go through the trouble of adding a design to the box it needs to be a good one. Over the weekend, I actually found a “fun” one, and while it doesn’t really do anything for my home decor, I found the packaging to be unique, interesting and pricey. But I also found it to be worthy of  sharing with the rest of  you. 

 

Kleenex's limited-edition packaging - may it be fruitful

Kleenex's limited-edition packaging - may it be fruitful

Are Ready-Made Gardens for You?

May 10, 2009

Digging in the dirt is therapeutic for me, but that’s not necessarily the case when it comes to driving all over town to find plants. I can spend hours in lawn and garden centers searching for the perfect plant/color combination. And I usually buy way more than I need, all in the name of “it was pretty.”

This year, a catalog I got in the mail changed my way of thinking. Sure, I bought plants for the pots I’ve got scattered around, but when it came to the flower beds, I just couldn’t resist their ready-made gardens.

You can choose the perfect arrangement for your yard and space – sun, shade, moonlight, drought tolerant, deer resistant, etc., etc. They take the guesswork out of it by only shipping when it’s appropriate for your growing zone. (I fell victim to this faux pas last year when I lost quite a few plants to a late freeze.) And they also supply you with a planting schematic. Super easy.  

I know that ordering plants through the mail may seem a bit unorthodox, but I thought I’d give it a shot. It also helped that the catalog included a 50% off your entire order offer. (In the end, I spent quite a bit less than I normally would have had I been shopping around all over town.)

Here’s what I experienced once the shipment arrived:

Opening the box of gardening goodies.

Opening the box of gardening goodies. I couldn't believe everything actually fit into one box.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Potted plants were packaged in these plastic holders. The bottom flap secured the pot while the open upper section protected the live plant.

Potted plants were packaged in these plastic holders. The bottom flap secured the pot while the open upper section protected the live plant. None of the plants arrived damaged.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the potted plants also arrived in these cardboard holders.

Some of the potted plants also arrived in these cardboard holders. The pots inside were wrapped in mini-plastic bags to keep moisture in the soil during the shipping process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's what the 15 plants for the drought-tolerant sun garden looked like once they were out of the box.

Here's what the 15 plants and the schematic for the drought-tolerant sun garden looked like once they were out of the box.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is recommended that everything be planted at once, but instructions are included in case you can’t get them into the ground upon arrival. Mine actually came in the midst of this year’s rainypalooza season; however, I did manage to get all but seven bulbs planted last weekend. Those bulbs spent all week in the veggie crisper of my fridge until I planted them this morning.

The seven bulbs I planted this morning, meeting the fantasia mum neighbors that moved in last week.

The seven bulbs I planted this morning, meeting the fantasia mum neighbors that moved in last week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here’s what the stuff I planted a week ago looks like now:

Week 1: Drought-tolerant sun garden progress

Week 1: Drought-Tolerant Sun Garden progressing nicely

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 1: Progress on the Easy-Care Summer through Fall Sun Garden

Week 1: Progress on the Easy-Care Summer through Fall Sun Garden is kind of hard to see at this angle, but everything seems to be going well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All in all, I am quite pleased thus far. The plants are rather small and not nearly as developed as those I would buy at a local nursery. But I’m okay with this since nurturing the plants and watching them grow is part of the process.  

Another nice thing is that most of the plants I’ve just never really seen around here, so I like that aspect as well. I’ll keep you posted on their progress. Hopefully, they’ll look like this about this time next year:

Last year's transplanted perennials are making a comeback

Last year's transplanted perennials are making a comeback after an introduction to the new fantasia mums.

A Racy Conversation

May 7, 2009

Several months ago, I was sorting through my mail and came across an interesting addition – a catalog from Frederick’s of Hollywood. I flipped through the pages and got a chuckle, but it wasn’t until I got to the back that I noticed that my neighbor’s name was on the back, not mine.

I thought about all the legal ramifications regarding the fraudulent use of other peoples’ mail – briefly. And I thought about showing up on her doorstep to deliver it in person. Now wouldn’t that be awkward? I envisioned the conversation going something like this, “Excuse me, your trashy lingerie catalog was accidentally delivered to me. By the way, I think you’d really rock the house in that outfit on page 12. Do you happen to have that get-up on page 7? Can I borrow it?” Unfortunately, I passed on the fun and just decided to recycle the catalog.

It seems that my second chance has arrived. In yesterday’s mail, I got her Adam & Eve mailing, complete with a 25% off coupon. (If you don’t know this company, don’t assume that you do. And don’t check it out at work.) Any ideas on how this conversation could go?

Special thanks to deepfriedcreative for …

May 2, 2009

Special thanks to deepfriedcreative for finding me this awesome profile pic. It rocks.

Get Distracted

April 30, 2009

It’s that time of year again. College campuses across the country are  filled with students cramming for finals. And in a few short weeks, they will be shooing graduates off the stage and into the “real” world. I’m a little wary of this “real” world, especially since no one’s reality is the same.  

That aside, I thought I’d share this commencement speech with you. Even though we all may have graduated long ago, the message is still quite relevant. It was delivered in 2007 by Dr. David Strain. 

And, just for the record, I have tried Dallas Skaggs’ hooch…

 

 

I never knew a road

From which the whole earth didn’t call away,

With wild birds rounding the hill crowns,

Haling out of the heart an old dismay,

Or the shore somewhere pounding its slow code,

Or low-lighted towns

Seeming to tell me, stay.

 

Lands I have never seen

And shall not see, loves I will not forget,

All I have missed, or slighted, or foregone

Call to me now.  And weaken me.  And yet

I would not walk a road without a scene.

I listen going on,

The richer for regret.

 

            Roughly twenty-two years ago–to the considerable inconvenience and discomfort of  your mothers, I might add–you set out on the road Richard Wilbur speaks of in his poem “The Sirens,” which I just shared with you.  Roughly six years before that, I sat where you are sitting today, a college-graduate-in-waiting.  It was a rainy, humid day in an aging gymnasium without benefit of air-conditioning.  Some chap whose name I never quite caught made some remarks I never quite listened to about the “real world.”  When I was your age, when I sat where you sit, I thought that was a total load of rubbish.  Well, now that I’m more than twice your age, I know  it is. 

          In every conceivable sense, you’ve been in the real world from the moment your mother ceased screaming and, after a brisk slap on the fanny, you began.  I say that because every fork in the road you set out on that day has both determined the routes open to you and cut off other routes.  You are where you are today through twenty-two years of real-world choices.  And though we academicians are fond of the term “commencement,” you’re not really “commencing” anything.  All that will happen once those on the platform this morning finish imparting our final bits of wisdom is that the restrictions on your driver’s license will officially expire.  (And through long and close experience, most of us have a pretty good idea of how much attention most of you have ever paid to restrictions of any sort.)

            So let’s not talk about the road behind you, shall we?  Let’s talk about the road ahead.  Having spent nigh on fifty years travelling it, I have a fair amount of eminently practical advice I could give you.  However, most of it would just bore the bejeezus out of you.  And the part that wouldn’t bore the bejeezus out of you, I’m not about to give in public.  So in bringing final greetings from my colleagues, what advice can I give?  Simply this:

            Get distracted. 

            Since quite a number of you appear to be taking my advice already, let me repeat it for you:  Get distracted. 

            A couple of qualifications.  First, please note that I did not say “get easily distracted.”  For unless you first have a focus, you’re not distracted but aimless.  Second, I suspect that not all of my colleagues would agree that, even with that qualification, I’m giving you good advice.  However, while there are those among us who love Interstates, I am not among them.      

            Mind you, I’ve spent a fair amount of my life on Interstates–metaphorical and even literal.  In fact, on the latter score, I’ve made no fewer than forty-seven trips, over the last twenty years, to or from the east coast.  Most of them in an Escort.  Virtually all of them in the company of dogs, cats, or Dr. Heil.  Once with a macaw.  At some point or other, my Escort and itinerant veterinary clinic have traveled down 35 of the 46 Interstates east of the Mississippi.  (And two of the ones we’ve missed run for less than 30 miles.)

            Now, the logicians among you may think you’ve detected a contradiction in my reasoning.  For while I’ve told you that I dislike Interstates, I seem to know them exceedingly well.  Do I contradict myself, then?  Not at all.  I simply dislike airports even more.  Granted, if one really must get somewhere in a hurry, airports are a necessary evil (rather like committees).  Moreover, since my friendly American Airlines AAdvantage page informs me I’ve racked up 239,636 frequent flyer miles over the years, I’m not exactly averse to airports.  Still, if I’m not in a hurry, I’ll drive before I’ll fly.  Were I more easily distracted than I am, I would no doubt drive only back roads.  However, as I said before, one must maintain some focus in order to get distracted.  Moreover, there are numerous back roads in Tennessee and West Virginia onto which a man who wears blue glasses and drives a ’98 Escort with 183,000 miles and an iffy record of oil changes deems it imprudent to venture.

            So, having gotten modestly distracted myself with all that rot about Interstates, airports, and the sound of distant banjos, I’ll now return to my point.  The road ahead of you beckons.  If, after we’re finished here, you load up your suburban assault vehicles and take Rogers Avenue out of town, you can drive 1,101 miles on I-40 in one direction, 1,454 miles in the other.  With that in mind, some of you will down numerous cups of bad coffee, torture your bladders, and clog your arteries with the fare of endless fast-food joints–all to avoid getting distracted.  But to what purpose?  So as to arrive early in Barstow, California?

            For what it’s worth, I would give you rather different travel advice.  For one thing, answer Mother Nature when first she calls, not when she finally insists.  For another, drive into town and eat some real food.  For a third, if you come to a scenic overlook, stop, get out, stretch your legs, overlook.  In short, get distracted. 

            Virtually nothing I value in my life came about as the result of the great master plan I once drew for myself.  If you can believe it, thirty years ago I wanted to return to Mountain Home, go into banking, get wealthy and influential, and become the first Republican Senator from Arkansas since Reconstruction.  (If any of you just heard a strange noise, it was probably the sound of David Ray gasping.)  All that I value–everything and everyone that I love–has come about, shall we say, as the result of changes of plans.  

            Be open to those.  Granted, sometimes you’ll make a real pig’s breakfast of things.  A few years ago around Christmas time, I was driving down I-81 in western Virginia when I noticed on my map a road running parallel to the Interstate that was lined with green dots.  In RandMcNallyspeak, of course, this meant that it was a “Scenic Route.”  After dodging a passing Buick, I was able to adjust my trifocals so as to determine that this string of green dots ended just south of I-66, which I planned to take into Washington.  Needless to say, all that was more than enough to distract me.  So I took the first exit that would lead me over to the road less travelled.  Now, though I’m a humanist by both training and disposition, I’m not so ignorant of science as to be unaware that, all other things being equal, temperatures tend to be lower at higher elevations.  Nevertheless, this fact caused me no concern as I wound around the hairpin curves that gradually took me from the Shenandoah Valley to the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Nor was I concerned as the day’s light dusting of snow began first to cover the ground and then to turn into ever more substantial accumulations.  In fact, I remained indifferent even when I began to encounter intermittent ice patches along the green dots, even when those patches grew less intermittent.  It was a glorious winter day, I had escaped the tedium of the Interstate, I was driving through breathtaking scenery, mounds of pristine snow were piled high along the tree-lined roadside, and I was even going to miss rush hour on the Beltway.  It was only when I came to a sign that read “Plowing Ends 1 Mile” that it occurred to me that it might be rush hour on the Beltway before I got back to I-81.

            So has mischance cured me of distractions?  Never.  Over the course of ten years as an administrative drudge, I have helped to hire roughly every fourth person seated among the ranks of the faculty this morning.  Unless I got distracted by something during his or her interview, I’ve asked each two very simple questions:  1.) When was the last time you tried something new?  and 2.) When was the last time you failed at something?  People who never try anything new never get off the bloody Interstate.  As for people who never fail, they are even worse:  they get off only at rest areas.  As far as I’m concerned, it takes a little more spunk than that to teach at Ozarks.  For if you aren’t open to distractions, you’ll simply never begin to fathom the deep joy of watching undergraduates grow up.

            So get distracted.  Have a go at that free 72 oz. steak in Amarillo.  Read blogs you dislike.  Try sudoku.  If your idea of the outdoors is Boston Common, visit Strawberry Bluffs.  If your idea of a city is Dallas, visit Boston Common.  Watch a presidential debate and pay attention to the no-hopers.  Watch a film with subtitles even after you’ve earned your last convo.  Sample Dallas Skaggs’s hooch.  If you love Sanjaya Malakhar, lay off the hooch.  If you hate Sanjaya Malakhar, keep sampling it until he begins to grow on you . . . . 

            For, in the end, if current rates of life expectancy remain constant, those of you in today’s graduating class can anticipate, on average, 20,452 more sunsets.  If you’re too focused to get distracted by any of the next 20,451, don’t expect the last one to amount to much . . . . 

            The choices I have made in my life–my distractions from the road, my inability or unwillingness to maintain the the laser-like focus of some of my old friends–have cost me, yes.  However, as God is my witness, it’s a bill I pay cheerfully again and again and again.  For as my old friend Mr. Wilbur summed up the matter,

                        I would not walk a road without a scene.

                        I listen going on,

                        The richer for regret.


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