Do you ever look into the deep green shadows of a primeval forest and wonder what those secret depths hold? Do you like to write about your new and inventive discoveries while sipping a glass of fragrant wine? Do you enjoy the creative process? Then I hope you will stop a spell, enjoy the adventure, and travel with me as we imagine the possibilities...

Monday, September 1, 2014

My Review of Dixie Ann Black's Book, "Just Chasing the Sun"

Review of Dixie Ann Black's book "Just Chasing the Sun"

Reviewed by Peggy Kassees

Joy, peace, and a poignancy that almost breaks the heart fill this jewel of a book.
Just Chasing the SunNuggets of poetry slip around short stories like long fingers caressing a loved one. They stroke the spaces between memories. When you read Black’s book, you know her—a happy, bright individual who carries sunshine in her footsteps. The story of going “home” to Africa, of being welcomed by the soil and sun, the animals, and the men and women of her ancestry relates to all people. It is the feeling I experienced when stepping foot in the south of France. Her words evoke the experience exquisitely.
Humor abounds – her poem “Holy Vessels” had me laughing. Black knows the human spirit and presents it simple words full of love and a bit of chagrin. She understands.
“Just Chasing the Sun” also delves into darker issues with knowledge and compassion. “Through My Eyes,” one of Black’s short stories walks the reader through a day in the life of a disabled individual who also lacks the capacity for speech. Not on the outside as an observer, but from the perspective of the individual. Please, God, I think as I read this, I don’t want to live this way when I’m older. And yet, so many of our elderly and disabled family and friends do.
Black loves to travel, and “Just Chasing the Sun” has stories that resonate with her wanderlust. You see the places she journeys through her eyes with wit and self-insight.
This book is filled with real stories; some funny, some sad, but all looking for a bit of light, a splash of joy – just chasing the sun.
Black’s book is not lengthy, but like gold, it is a treasure. You may want to keep an eye out for her book signings and readings. Black’s voice and presence add piquancy to her words that you will not want to miss.
“Just Chasing the Sun” can be purchased on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, in book stores around town, and at Black’s book signings.
Dixie Ann Black is a mother and a daughter, a Believer and friend. She is also a teacher, healer, artist, and a leader. She is a mother of two and an avid world traveler. She holds a black belt in martial arts and practices tai chi, yoga, and various other fitness oriented activities. She enjoys ballroom dancing, writing poetry, short stories, and public speaking. Her professional life has included social work and brokering real estate. She is passionate about health – both physical and spiritual. Black believes in the importance of building community and taking care of our planet. She is a seeker of truth.

Black lives in Tallahassee, Florida, and is a member of the Tallahassee Writers Association.

Tales from San Antonio, Texas - The Necessities

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

This is my set-up at the Courtyard Marriott. I pulled the desk out from under the counter where it awaited my arrival, then spread out. iPad, for music and added research. Computer, for – well – computing, new Texas coffee mug, and pocketknife. The blade is open, not to slit my wrists, but to cut tags off items I purchased. Prime reason for said #SanAntonio knife, though, is the swirly piece of metal that opens wine bottles, and the little hook thingie that takes care of beer caps. One must have one's standards.

Oh, please ignore the crumbs on the railing of my balcony. We aren't allowed to feed the birds. Those crumbs are for me. I'm letting them marinate in the fine air so they'll be perfect when I return to the room. I did stand on the balcony and announce this fact. Figure I'm covered.

Imagine there must be a statute of limitations -- right? 


Tales from San Antonio, Texas - Breakfast and the GBS Revisited (Great Bird Spirit)

July 21, 2014, 9:30am On the River

The Great Bird Spirit Revisited

Breakfast is on the patio by the river. Soft breezes cool my skin, and the sounds of people laughing lift my spirits.

I’m sitting here, minding my own business, eating a breakfast burrito filled with eggs, black beans, corn, peppers, and onions while sipping a cup of Starbucks finest. All good—until a chunk of burrito gets away from me, and lands on the Spanish tile. Five sparrows demolish it before anyone can say: “Howdy, y’all!”

Now I have a flock of about a gazillion or so birds watching me. Shiny black eyes follow the movement of fork to face and back. Guilt swarms my heart. What would the Great Bird Spirit think of me?

A few more bits of food accidentally hit the ground. More follow. I AM the GBS! I feed my flock. I love their many feathered shades of brown. Feel glory in their sharp beaks that range in color from burnished orange to palest sandstone. My soul is full. I’ve accepted the spirit of the GBS and seek to fulfill her mission. I will love my feathered friends. I will feed and protect them come what may.

I sit back in my chair, replete. My plate and the tile floor are clean. The birds are satiated.

But wait! Why do they stare at me so? Why are they edging closer? With horror, I realize what I’ve done – fed them eggs – fluffy, unborn, aborted, dead, baby chicks. I’ve turned my flock cannibal. Made them eat their own kind.

“I’m sorry,” I whisper. The sparrows ignore my words. Edge closer. These are no longer the feathered fluffs I was feeding. They’re freaking dinosaurs—Velociraptors in miniature—carnivoristic, ravenous beasts. And I started them on this path by feeding them scrambled egg burrito. The shame.

Birds line the railing, perch on chair backs, and coat the area around my feet. Little brains whirl. I know what they are thinking . . .

It’s too late for me.

In these, my last moments, I give you this warning. Dinosaurs are not extinct. They live in your yards, masquerading as cute little birdies, and one day, they will remember what they were, the GBS will rule, and they’ll dine on Poached Peggy, Fricasseed Frances, David and Dumplings . . .

Imagining the possibilities,


Tales from San Antonio, Texas - La Villita Village

Monday, July 2014, afternoon, La Villita Village

Heat shimmers in the air, each breath ratchets my core temperature another fraction of a degree. The sky is white – all blue coloration bleached away by the sun’s glory. I’ve been sightseeing, and on my feet, since I’d not rented a scooter yet. In old towns, there are places it’s difficult to maneuver if your locomotion is wheeled rather than two-legged. La Villita is one, and I didn’t want to miss it. Thankfully, San Antonio believes in benches at frequent intervals. I use them.

(Let me throw in a big thank you to Camelbak for the fantastic water bottle with filter. There was not a storeowner who wouldn’t re-fill my water container. These folks are the epitome of kindness and generosity.)

Remember the Alamo? Well, La Villita is the village where Mexican soldiers lived with their families – it is on a bluff above the San Antonio River, and therefore did not endure infrequent flooding that the Alamo did. The houses are small, and full of windows that let in soft breezes from the tiny river below. In the late 1800’s, German families moved there. Today, La Villita is an art village, and air-conditioned. Each home sells wares to capture the eye of visitors – and yes, my vision was blurred with the beauty offered. I believe in helping the local economies in towns I visit.

On one shady porch, the owner had placed a bench on either side of their door. A man slumped on the further settee, melted by the heat. His chin rested on an “I remembered the Alamo” T-shirt, sweat coated his shaved head, made damp circles under his arms, and across his chest. The hair on his legs lay in soggy whorls. His lips vibrated with every breath as he slept. A large camera rested under one protective hand.

Figured I looked much as he, as I settled on the opposite bench. Minutes went by, and I watched as a lady strolled out of a shop a few doors down. She carried several bags and wore a smile as she approached the house where the man and I rested. As she neared, he shifted and sat up, some inner radar advising him of her proximity.

“I’m going to be a better man,” he called out to her.

She stopped. “Why?”

“I’ve been reflecting, and decided I’m going to be a better man.” He stands, pulls his shirt away from his body, picks up his camera and a walking stick, takes the bags she was carrying and places them across his arm. “If hell is any hotter than this, I don’t want to go there!”

Imagine he's right!


Tales From San Antonio, Texas - To the Rescue

July 20, 2014, Sunday, Early Evening

Had a fun chat with a police officer yesterday afternoon - I had just entered the lower level of the Courtyard Marriott in San Antonio - #‎RWA14 and he noticed I was moving slow - asked if he could help. "No thanks you, I have asthma and have to take it easy." He insisted on bringing me a glass of water because I looked heated.(Well duh - 99 degrees, and I hadn't bought my cute hat yet, either.)
The officer disappeared in a room and emerged with a glass of ice water! Tasted heavenly. He was correct - I needed that water. So as I sipped, we talked - told him I'm in town for the Romance Writers of America Conference, and he told me he writes. Now you folks know I do love to meet other writers and encourage them. He's just beginning to write, and is working on a crime novel that has as the main protagonist a Shogun (Dutch Hinkle, forgive me if I've said the name wrong.) The officer has several black belts, and is taking classes to learn Japanese - those of you in the Tallahassee Writers Association know my thoughts had to immediately go to Dutch - and I asked if he knew of the old buzzard - Sure enough. The officer has several of Dutch's books. How cool is that???
And as wicked wonderful as I thought the chance encounter - he seemed to enjoy the conversation, too - asked me about our association - how we promote each other.

Best dang glass of water I had all day!

Imagining he's like this all the time - what a good representative of Courtyard Marriott on the River, and the San Antonio Riverwalk!