Tropical Storm Don

It looks as if Tropical Storm Don may be heading to our coast by Friday night.  Rain would be welcome as the drought has deepened.  The timing is good also because most of the cotton and sorgrum have been harvested. 

A tropical storm is preferable to a hurricane every time!  It would be nice to sit on the veranda and watch the rain come down.  I’ll be checking the rain gauge.


What you need is sustained outrage…there’s far too much unthinking respect given to authority.” – Molly Ivins

While I don’t want to take political sides in this blog, I can’t help but wonder what Molly Ivins would have to say about state and national politics today.  If she had lived, she would have been sixty-seven next month on August 30.

What would she think of the possibility that Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry might seek the Republican nomination  for president in 2012?  Would she regret her support of  Barak Obama instead of Hillery Clinton in 2008?  Would she be outraged that our troops are still in Iraq?  Would she be disappointed that President Obama’s health plan did not  include a single payer?  What would she have to say about this summer heat in Austin?  How would she react as a senior citizen?

For those of you not from Texas or perhaps too young to remember, Molly Ivins was a newspaper columnist, political commentator, humorist and author.  Her books included, “Molly Ivins Can’t Say that, Can She?,” “You have to Dance with Them What Brung You”,  and “Shrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush.”   She grew up in the affluent River Oaks section of Houston, but she wrote with a down home gutsy style that overshadowed her eastern education at Smith College and Columbia University’s School of Journalism.

 Austin, Texas was her home for many years where she wrote colorfully about  Texas and national politics.  She loved Texas but delighted in poking fun of its government – “The Lege” as she referred to the Texas legislature.  Yes, she was liberal, but she had no trouble criticizing Democrats, Republicans and anyone else in between that she felt needed taken down a notch.  She spoke out for the underdog and was passionate about any cause that she supported.  She was wickedly funny and always a rebel to the end.

She died in Austin in January of 2007 of breast cancer.

Other Ivins quotes:

Any nation that can survive what we have lately in the way of government, is on the high road to permanent glory.”

“It’s hard to argue against cynics — they always sound smarter than optimists because they have so much evidence on their side

“The thing about democracy, beloveds, is that it is not neat, orderly, or quiet. It requires a certain relish for confusion. “

from her last column, January 11, 2007:  “We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we’re for them and trying to get them out of there.”

I miss  Molly Ivins!


John Glenn, 1998

It must have been about 1966 when John Glenn and I rode up together – just the two of us.  We never exchanged a word.  He just gave me that gentlemanly smile as we  boarded  and the doors closed for the ascent.

Ok…I rode up in an elevator with John Glenn.  His wife, Annie, was a patient in the Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas for  surgery and my mother was there for surgery also.  I thought I recognized him, but I was too shy to ask, “Are you John Glenn?”  I don’t remember who got off first, but the next day I read in the paper that his wife was in the Methodist Hospital and knew that indeed I had ridden up with John Glenn.

My memories of him go  back to February 20, 1962 when as  high school students we were all called to the gym to hear over the loud-speaker via the radio (yes, I am a crone, remember) of his three orbits around the earth in  the Friendship 7 Mercury spacecraft and splashdown in the vicinity of  Grand Turk Island.

Commerative Stamp, Feb. 20, 1962

John Glenn will be 90 years old on July 18, 2011 and was recently interviewed on the CBS News commenting on the space program.  He has had a long and varied career –  combat pilot in World War II and the Korean conflict, one on the first seven astronauts, U.S. senator from Ohio and candidate for president of the U.S. in the 1984 Democratic primaries.  Then in 1998 at the age of 77  he ventured into space again as a member of the Space Shuttle Discover crew to study the effects of space on aging and became the oldest human to go into space. 

He and Annie have been married for 68 years and have established “The John and Annie Glen Historic Site”  at his boyhood home in New Concord, Ohio.  There will be a birthday celebration there for him on July 18.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JOHN!  You still inspire us!

Water for Elephants

 “A piercing  look at Depression-era circus life, where violence, laughter managed to coexist…Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants captures the sounds, smells and sights of the circus…Delicious.” – The Charlotte Observer

“You’ll get lost in the tatty glamour of Gruen’s meticulously researched world, from spangled equestrian pageantry and the sleazy side-show to an ill-fated night at a Chicago speak-easy.” – The Washington Post

Chapter One of Water for Elephants begins, I am ninety.  Or ninety-three.  One or the other.”

I haven’t seen the movie, but I read the book last year.  If the movie (released April 2011) follows the book, it will be a great movie.  Many chapters begin with an authentic black and white photograph from the period.  It is a love story woven around a murder.

Jacob Jankowski is a young man with his career goal within reach when a tragedy sets him on a completely different road (or rather railroad ) and takes him all over the country traveling with a circus.  He encounters all sorts of bums, freakish characters, circus animals and a dangerous love.  And as the Minneapolis Star Tribune put it, “Gruen performs a double trick in her novel: She gives an engrossing picture of circus life as well as a taste of what it’s like to grow old.”

The movie came out this year and stars Robert Pattison as Jacob and Reese Witherspoon as the beautiful Marlena.  Hal Holbrook is cast perfectly as Old Jacob.  A trailer can be viewed at the Internet Movie Database (IMDb).  There is an authentic dark richness in the sense of the colors as if the shadows were hovering just outside the big top.  The glamour is mirrored seductively in the glitter and lights of the center ring, then fades into dirty reality as the show is over and the crowds are gone.  The smells are sweaty and sensual.  The menagerie provides a dual background of innocent entertainment and animal cruelty.

I really must see the movie soon.  As Dr. Seuss wrote in Horton Hatches an Egg, “I meant what I said, and I said what I meant…An elephant’s faithful – one hundred per cent!”

This book proves it.


North Beach, 1978

Yes, that’s me  – the one in the middle with the sensible hat and Hollywood sunglasses – with my daughter and son enjoying a beautiful day at the beach over thirty years ago.   I’m sure  there was two-piece bathing suit underneath my shirt. 

My journey to becoming a crone has been a slow one day to day.  It has been a bit like T.S. Eliot wrote in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”: “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.”    Then at the end Prufrock confesses, “I grow old…I grow old…/I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled./…I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.”


1.  an offensive term that deliberately insults a woman’s age, appearance and temperament (insult)

2. a woman aged over 40 (approving; used by one woman to another)

3.  [14th century.<Old N French carogne “withered old woman,” literally “carrion” <Latin caro “flesh”]

4.  hag

5.  a withered, witchlike old woman

The Wikipedia gives a more detailed description of a crone throughout history.

There seem to be good crones and bad crones based, rather like witches, on how one chooses to use her knowledge and experience.  I prefer to think of myself as a modern crone who has survived women’s liberation, menopause and the realization that some  dreams may never come true.  But I can’t complain as there is life still to be lived!  There are relatives and friends who died young and will never have the sweet pleasure of growing old with someone, and  I will never know what they would have been like at my age.

So I will use this format to write about tales, trails and connections  to almost anything that washes up on my coast and hope that perhaps some will find it worth checking out!

The Coastal Crone