07.28.09

News Flash: Kerouac Estate Ruling

Posted in Kerouac, Life in general, Writers at 12:44 pm by Marion

JACK KEROUAC’S WILL RULED A FORGERY

It’s been quite some time since I posted, but I wanted to share this news with Fiction Dailyland:


Fla. judge rules will on Kerouac’s estate is fake

by the Associated Press

13 mins ago

CLEARWATER, Fla. – A lengthy dispute over the estate of Beat Generation writer Jack Kerouac has ended with a Florida judge ruling that his mother’s will was fraudulent.

Gabrielle Kerouac left all of her son’s assets to his third wife, Stella Sampas Kerouac, when she died in 1973. Ever since, the Sampas family has had control of Jack Kerouac’s manuscripts, letters and personal belongings.

But Jack Kerouac’s daughter and nephew believed the will was fake. They filed a lawsuit that has dragged on in Pinellas County for the last 15 years. On Friday, a judge finally ruled that the will was a forgery.

Bill Wagner, an attorney for Kerouac’s nephew, says its unclear what action his client will take next.

Previous reports have placed the estate’s value at $20 million.

I always suspected something was fishy about the way his estate seemed to be settled so strangely, since he was at odds with his third wife during most of their tragic marriage.

I’ll keep you posted.

06.28.09

Walker Hound News!

Posted in Events, Life in general at 3:24 pm by Marion

We have our priorities straight here at Fiction Daily.

So while the world watches the hopeful protesters in Iran, mourns the loss of two pop icons in Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson, the Fiction Daily world is abuzz with news of a different kind.

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After the loss of our beloved Annie Karenina Walker Hound, I took it upon myself to scour Petfinder.com last week while the husb was away … to search for a dog here in our community.

I went to PetsMart in his absence and, well, silly me! What was I thinking? That I would leave without wanting another dog?

After milling around for some time, I remembered seeing this Walker Hound, Sport. I asked if he was still available, and the young volunteer said, Yes, as a matter of fact, he was still available. And he’s a big couch potato.

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Come to find out, Sport was saved by the same wonderful animal cruelty officer who rescued our Annie. And Sport was at her home! I went to see him, and he was something of a train wreck of a dog. The volunteer foster mom said, “No one will ever adopt this dog.”

Well, those were fighting words, and over the next few days, I found myself thinking about that poor old guy more and more.

Yesterday, Greg and I went to see him. I was hedging, unsure, and Greg said, let’s take him home.

And we did!

So today, we’ve bathed a nearly 100-pound Walker Hound, taken a couple of walks, and had a few stern reprimands about not “treeing” the cats.

He seems to be fitting in very well. What’s best of all, he’s house trained!!

We wondered what to name him, and this morning, Greg comes out with “Mayberry.”

And so it is.

Mayberry.

May … Berry … RFD!!!

PLEASE PARDON THE IRREGULAR ENTRIES WHILE I AM CAMPAIGNING FOR GREENVILLE N.C. CITY COUNCIL. FD RETURNS IN NOVEMBER.

06.15.09

Mid-June News

Posted in Campaign '09, Events, Life in general, On writing at 7:07 am by Marion

A brief hello from Fiction Dailyland, where I am putting together a large article, working on a Web site and managing to get by in these uncertain economic times.

The article I worked on for many months, describing the earliest discovered European settlement in the Southeast (spoiler alert: it was Spanish!) has appeared in Archaeology Magazine. My hat is tipped to the fine editor I worked with, whose drive for a better article pushed me to a new level. My husband took the photos during our site visit last year.

You can find part of the article here, and the full article in the July/August issue of the magazine.

Meanwhile my campaign for Greenville City Council is chugging along. Met with my treasurer yesterday and she has taken the ball and is running with it. That’s one of the most important volunteer needs for a campaign, so it is a gift to have her on board.

Filing opens July 6 at 8 a.m. and Yours Truly will be there. Bright and early.

Meanwhile, in really really big news, I bought a new bird feeder from Wild Birds Unlimited. It’s awesome! Made from 37 recycled milk jugs, it has a lifetime warranty. It’s quite sturdy and the birds love it. If they can ever get away from the squirrels, that is. Yep, one squirrel just parked himself on the feeder last week until he emptied out all the seed. That must have been a half pound or more. (Must buy a baffle.)

The feeder was an investment, as it cost more than your average feeder. I purchased it during a moment of clarity when I reminded myself that
— I wanted to support local businesses, and Wild Birds Unlimited is a locally-owned franchise. Thanks Debbie!
— I needed more than “lip service” about recycling. Buying recycled items is as important as tossing plastic in the bin
— I believe in “Made in the USA.” The feeder components are all U.S. made, though I’m not sure where the feeder was assembled.

Meanwhile, I hear Mr. Blue singing a lot lately, so I imagine he must be ready to raise more babies with his wife. I’ll keep you posted. Happy week from all of us here at Fiction Daily!

06.02.09

News: Happy, Sad

Posted in Life in general at 9:17 am by Marion

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Big news in Fiction Dailyland today.

Since fall 2007, Fiction Daily has been a great love of mine and I’m sure that won’t change in the long term.

In the short term, however, a change ahead will probably curb my posts, though they certainly won’t end.

Yes, dearly beloved, Yours Truly is launching a campaign for the office of city council for the great City of Greenville, N.C.

Last week, I announced to the Daily Reflector, our newspaper, and reporter Kathryn Kennedy did a nice article that genuinely captured the early character of my campaign.

So while my great love is writing … books … and things literary, I am entering a new area, where I hope to learn all I can, put my principles to use, and serve the public and the community. It’s a proud moment to take part in that big, abstract, lumbering animal, democracy.

Election Day 2009 is Nov. 3 … so between now and then, expect erratic posts. It’s likely that my new campaign Web site will be located at www.marionblackburn.com. I may start a campaign blog … I will open a Facebook page (Elect Marion Blackburn for Greenville N.C. City Council) and yes, I will be Twittering.

Meanwhile … at night when the meetings have ended … and I’m wrapped up for the day … expect to find me with a big fat novel.

SPEAKING OF WHICH, I’m reading Perry Mason novels by Erle Stanley Gardner. They are incredible, real mind candy that’s also nutritious. Excellent writing.

AND THIS SOMBER NEWS: Our beloved Walker hound, Annie, passed away on Sunday night after a sudden, serious illness.

We were holding her sweet head in our hands when she passed, sparing us the decision to have her put to sleep. She was a marvelous dog to the end.

05.27.09

Attic Days

Posted in Events, Life in general, Writers at 8:55 am by Marion

The landscape of the home

Greetings from Fiction Dailyland, and my apologies for not posting yesterday. A peaceful Memorial Day brought a lot of focus and concentration … due not in a little way to the great clearing out of the past two weeks.

Yes, the roulette wheel spun and it came up ATTIC. So for that past two weekends I have gone through everything in the attic, from one end to the next, every box, every book, Christmas decoration, old cookie sheet and file.

To begin, I dragged out box after box and starting to pull everything out of them. It’s remarkable how, with time, I am better able to see what has meaning, for me, today. I tend to hold on to things because I want to remember times of my life, people and ideas I’ve read.

Yet years pass, and I no longer need to remember those times — either they are solidly a part of me, or I no longer care to cling to them, for whatever reason.

As I pulled items, papers and books out of those boxes, it became easier and easier to let go. Oddly enough, I felt my values and character emerge with each decision … I let go of all those old magazines I once held on to, worried that I’d not have enough strong clips of my work; I let go all those books I hoped to read one day (I’ll surely find them again if they are still worth reading) (though I did hold on to War and Peace) (some day!)

I decided that if a book was going to be worth reading, I needed to get it out of the attic. Because many times, I’ll store a book away, only to rediscover it, later. Such is the case with the book I can’t put down these days: Seven novels by Erle Stanley Gardner, creator of Perry Mason. His narrative is lock-tight. This book I’ve held on to for years and years, and once considered getting rid of it.

So how to make these decisions?

In one case, I saved a receipt for a power cord bought in Prague — but got rid of the cord itself.

I have limited days left, and want to read the best writing in the time that’s left. Pulitzer Prize winners in general get a reprieve, while lesser books — especially the experimental fiction I once loved to dip my toes in — is out.

Award certificates (OK, not many of them) were removed from their frames and will be kept with my papers. Bye-bye clunky frames.

Two boxes of MS drafts … gone. I once thought someone might care about my short-story drafts, but I’ll be happy if anyone cares about the stories themselves one day!!

As I sorted and let go, I felt inner peace. All those created items are returning to the world, to others, or to dust. As they do, I am freed.

As the Buddha said before his transfiguration, “Every created thing will pass, even the Buddha.”

After emptying the boxes, I recombined what remained of the books, my Grandmother’s china, my French materials and teaching papers, in an orderly way into plastic bins from Kmart. (Plastic, yuck, but sometimes it is useful.)

As I look over that marvelously neat and airy attic now, I realize that until I know who I am, I can’t decide what to save and what to keep. At 48 years old, I’m finally getting that figured out.

BLUEBIRD UPDATE: I hear the bluebird fledglings and parents from time to time in the yard as they call to each other. I’ve seen Mrs. Blue feeding two juveniles, but so far, have only seen the pair. Greg assures me that the other three are not lost, and that they must have already learned how to take care of themselves.

DUCK UPDATE: My neighbor’s female ducks have nested in our yard, where they are sitting on eggs. Not sure if they will hatch, but they sure enjoy chasing the dogs.

05.21.09

No Tech

Posted in Computers & Technology, Events, Life in general at 7:53 am by Marion

TECH-LESS THURSDAY

Trimming my computer time in the past two weeks, I’ve felt much more connected to the world, and to people. How does this happen? Not sure, but it did.

This shift began several weeks ago when I pulled out a novel that was sitting on my shelf for some time (more about the novel next week). Instead of forcing myself to pick up the nonfiction (i.e. dense) books I’d been reading for, well, years, I simply picked up a novel without thinking what I should be reading.

Simply put, I wanted to start training myself to read again. I didn’t care what I was reading, and frankly, I also bought a lot of junky magazines (you know who you are, People!)(Though Rolling Stone magazine has some of the best contemporary writing anywhere these days.)

I even bought so-called “women’s magazines” and salivated over the photos of recipes, though I don’t like food and never cook.

From magazines, I got to the novel. And from the novel, though it was not a satisfactory one, I found myself again.

Now I am reading a collection of Perry Mason novels by Erle Stanley Gardner. Wow, he is an excellent writer!

He captures the legal world with incredibly vivid language. And if Mr. Strunk ever wanted to see exceptional use of active voice verbs, Mr. Gardner is a perfect example. Rarely does he use “is,” “are” or “am” or any passive voice. It’s all active, transitive.

Yet as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, his world is dated — women with curves, from the wrong side of the tracks, and men who can’t see beyond the curves; bullies and bodyguards; debt collectors, and rich uncles.

Yet like Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, Gardner in many ways is responsible for creating the “noir” world, for giving us these now-stereotyped characters.

And a note about legal fiction: If you like the law (with all respect for Scott Turow) … these Perry Mason novels are for you. Quick moving, smart and airtight plots.

BLUEBIRD UPDATE: I saw Mrs. Blue a couple of days ago feeding babies on a tree branch. I only saw two babies … of course that doesn’t mean the others aren’t around, but it emphasized for me that living in the natural world is harsh and losses are high. Even in the best circumstances. No wonder mankind is causing mass extinctions. Who can compete with our toxic ways?

CREDIT CARD REFORM: I understand the new credit card reform has now passed into law. That’s good, though mixed, news. I carry a balance and have usually been able to keep them from hitting me with the late fees and jacked-up interest rates. Oddly enough, however, so-called “good credit” folks like me are known in the industry as “deadbeats.” It’s likely I’ll soon have a higher interest rate and possibly an annual fee. In the end, after looking into the complexities of this market, I’m thinking it’s preferable to pay a little bit more so I’m not being subsidized by the hardship of others. Now let’s all get better educated so we’re not losing our houses and filing bankruptcy because we don’t take time to understand credit and mortgage terms.

A note about the credit card bill: It passed with its own “fine print:” Loaded guns are now allowed in National Parks. Wha?

05.19.09

‘Reality’ TV

Posted in Buddhism, Computers & Technology, Events, HH Dalai Lama, Hiking, trails, Life in general at 8:58 am by Marion

Here we are, a Tuesday in May. In last week’s Tech Thursday, I wrote about a hike to Wolf Rock, in Stone Mountain State Park, that opened my eyes to the meaning and value of real experiences versus online ones.

That experience has become something of fulcrum for me now, as I look more deeply at what has true value for me. I’ve examined what experiences allow me to feel more fully human. (And it’s not computer ones.)

So today, a few more thoughts about what’s real and what really matters.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama writes about the Buddhist ideas of Perceived Reality versus Ultimate Reality. Most of the time, we go through our daily routines without much thought, taking care of our obligations, eating and talking with other people.

His Holiness explains the ancient Buddhist idea that what we see out of our visual window is just a skimming, a deformation, even, of reality.

Ultimate reality, the real real, is unseen. It’s the world behind the seen world. It’s a world of inner emotions, human mystery, needs and desires, suffering.

It’s so easy to get entangled in the seen world that we forget to pay attention to this invisible one.

That’s a metaphor for so much about our daily life: The “seen” world also describes the online, the television one, the film one. They are illusion. Sham, or shell.

As anyone knows, I am a huge fan of House M.D., Lost and the film director Krzysztof Kieslowski. Yet do I need to watch a DVD or TV program download every night? Do I need to sit through more Seinfeld reruns?

For every hour of broadcast television watched, expect 13 minutes of commercials. So when I watch a two-hour program, or when I sit down to watch news, then an hour of syndicated programs, an hour of regular programming or more (three-four hours of TV) — I have lost an hour of my life to commercials. An hour I will never have again.

We haven’t had cable tv for years, and sometimes, I must admit, I think how nice it would be to sit in front of Animal Planet, Discovery Channel or even SciFi to watch. Then I remind myself it is junk, ad after ad.

An illusion.

Isn’t peace what we’re really seeking — an engagement in something meaningful?

To be continued in tomorrow’s FD

05.15.09

FD returns next week

Posted in Life in general at 2:55 pm by Marion

With all the excitement of the bluebirds flying away this week … Fiction Daily will resume next week.

Wishing you a Happy Weekend!

05.13.09

Fledged!

Posted in Events, Life in general at 10:13 am by Marion

Big news in Fiction Dailyland this morning … the bluebirds have gone!

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Mr. Blue with a mouthful of worms

I placed worms out for the bluebird parents early this morning and noticed that only the mom showed up. She looked a big harried, I’ll admit. No sign of the father. Mrs. Blue picked up a few worms and took them high into a tree in our backyard woods.

So I suspected something was up.

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Mrs. Blue feeding last weekend

The mysterious changes actually began yesterday evening. When I left for a meeting at 4:30 p.m. I placed some worms in their dishes. There the parents were, chirping and fluttering nearby, coming to within a few feet of where I stood. (We’ve become quite close.)

When I returned home last night I put out some worms. It was about 8 p.m. No sign of Mr. and Mrs. Blue.

I figured it was too late for feeding. But I suspected something was up. I left the worms for them, which were gone this morning.

After seeing Mrs. Blue fly away this morning, I watched the nest for a few more minutes. Nothing.

I gently tapped on the box, slowly cracked the door … lifted out the nest cup … empty!

At this point, it was quite heavy, however. Though the bluebird parents remove most of their babies’ excrement, once they’re nearly ready to fledge, it’s hard to keep up with it all. So by the time they leave, the nest is full of, well, marvels.

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Empty nest, with salamander and cricket at right

I found a dead salamander and camel cricket, as well as a few uneaten meal worms. There was a lot of heavy bird dust, flakes of waste, down and who knows what.

Unfortunately, the nest was infested with mites. When I see mites on the babies, I try to clean them up. I’ve even changed nests before — removing the mite-filled one, and making a new one myself out of pine straw.

These mites must have moved in during the last few days, since I stop opening the box around Day 14. (You have to stop checking the box when they’re nearly fledging. Wonder why? I accidentally did so once, and they jumped right out at me!! I placed them back in the box, and everything turned out OK. Lesson learned.)

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Empty box, drying this morning. At right is the swinging food tray. Dish on top of box

So today, despite the mites, another happy ending. I’ve washed out the box and nest cup and propped it open to dry in the sun. In a week or so, we’ll have a new nest.

MIDDAY UPDATE: I’ve placed worms out and Mrs. Blue has come to get them. I saw two birds follow her into a tree, and I’ve heard the soft, low “coo” they use to call each other in the woods behind our house. I also heard a male’s song, so he must be quite happy, too.

05.12.09

Wildflower Mysteries

Posted in Hiking, trails, Life in general at 8:02 am by Marion

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Bluff Trail at Medoc Mountain State Park
Last weekend brought another exceptional hike to Medoc. In spring, the wildflowers are remarkable here. My mother and grandmother made pilgrimages here to see the wildflowers and now, I seem to be following in their hiking steps.

For me, wildflowers were always a mystery. I never could keep them straight, all those names floating around in my world, and unable to know which names go with which flowers. Or colors. Not to mention the Latin names.

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Jack-in-the-pulpit opened bloom
Again and again, I’d ask mom, When does bloodroot bloom? What’s the Latin name? (Sanguinaria canadensis) What’s a trout lily? What’s the elegant white flower that blooms in boggy places? You get the idea.

At long last, some of it has taken, well, root, in my mind. In the 11 years Greg and I have been hiking together, I’ve learned to recognize so many flowers, now. I still ask mom for help quite often, What does trailing arbutus look like? When does it bloom?

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Atamasco lily

So on Saturday, Greg and I were in Medoc again, and this time, we hiked the Bluff Trail. Within minutes, we found an expired moccasin flower bloom (pink), and then nearby, a blooming partridge berry. Bluets, yellow cinquefoils, wood sorrels. We saw two atamasco lilies, as well as mountain laurel in bloom. (In western North Carolina, atamaso lily also goes by the Native American name “Cullowhee.)

So in today’s Fiction Daily, it’s not fiction at all, just genuine images from our hike.

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Mountain laurel along the trail

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Jack-in-the-pulpit bloom by bridge

All photos by Marion Blackburn

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