SAFARI seems to no longer work
for comments...use another browser?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Palace Aphorisms: more Cooperstown maxims

Eminently Tasteless Illustration: A little boy, age 3, at a baseball game. Somehow I thought it suited today's Cooperstown aphorisms. Courtesy of and photographer Jessie Boudiette of Tulsa, Oklahoma.


Ah, Cooperstown!

There are many things about Cooperstown that are quite magical, and there are many worth laughing about--better to laugh than to steam! These aphorisms are a mix of the silly and the satiric, and they mark the end of the "fat people & tourists" series. You'll find mostly tourists.

Next up: poetry.

no. 19

Maxim for my house:
No matter how old a house grows, it will never metamorphose into a museum without sprouting signage, parking, and other appurtenances.

no. 20

Another maxim for my house:
A certain percentage of tourists appears wholly incapable of differentiating a house from a museum, and is dumbfounded by the wondrous entrances and exits of human beings.

no. 21

Another maxim for my house:
At the hour of 2:00 a.m., female tourists are irresistibly drawn to my lawn and streetlamp, where they scour the black depths of purses and rid themselves of assorted trash.


Proposed 'pick'-related signage:
Do not picnic on my lawn.
Do not pick my dadgum flowers.
Do not pick on your fellow family members or settle your family troubles under the shelter of my porch.
Do not pick my streetlamp for the illumination it may shed on the private examination of the contents of your possessions after midnight.
Do not pick my drive for your turn-around. If you do breath this rule, make sure that you miss hitting any children my considerally more than a hair's breadth (or even a hair's breath or a hare's breath. Please; just miss, okay?)
Do not open my front door and come inside.

What a lot of signs!

My children wax wrathful when certain things happen--flower-picking, particularly, and are always suggesting that I "put up a sign." All of the above have been suggested, in some version or other.

no. 22

Cooperstown maxim, apologies to Wallace Stevens:
A herd of panicked buffalo and a thundering gang of boys set loose from a baseball camp are one.

no. 23

Aphorism for the BHF:
A tourist, upon receiving the blue hand-brand of The Baseball Hall of Fame, immediately is seized by primal desire to claim territory and looks around for something to mark with fresh ink.

(At the moment, the favorite thing to destroy appears to be Ms. Jane Clark’s on-loan cow sculpture, insufficiently defended by the gentle restraints of stanchions and velvet ropes.)

no. 24

Maxim for Lakefront Park:
A fat man is an almighty enemy to the folding chair.

no. 25

Maxim learned over the years of gardening:
Black irises simply cannot survive the predations of tourist children.

no. 26

Aphorism for the Baseball Hall of Fame:
A small boy tourist with a miniature souvenir baseball bat from The Baseball Hall of Fame will always look for an exhibit worth pounding on.

no. 27

Aphorism for Dale Petroskey, who keeps his sense of humor:
It is surprising to us all how much damage a miniature baseball bat can do.

no. 28

Aphorism for Main Street:
The addition of a Brooklyn or Jersey accent to a run-of-the-mill shout fest from a tourist family lends a curious piquancy to the local scene.

no. 29

Writers all:
The Baseball Hall of Fame tourists tend to be the kind of storytellers who mediate their own reality by narrating it, play by play, into a cell phone. Whether this is Borg-ian or Borges-ian, nobody knows.

no. 30

Jailbird frolics:
Cooperstown is the only small town in America where a man can feel comfortable, easy, and accepted by general sidewalk society while wearing head-to-toe black and white stripes with a number on his back.


Monday, September 25, 2006

5 stars at Curled Up

Curled Up with a Good Book has reviewed another of my books--Ingledove--hurrah! Unexpected and rather late reviews are always fun, especially when they pop up just before the paperback. I had a few late-but-good ones over the summer, and this one is almost perfect timing.

The reviewer, Sarah Meador, is pleasantly aware of my intention to go against the grain of current fantasy and write a very American story: "Adantis is an inescapably American fantasy realm, proud of its mixed magical heritage, quick to reward both independence and hospitality, and somehow boundless. Adantis may be the closest neighbor to Frank L. Baum’s Oz."

She also pays attention to something else I spent some time daydreaming about: how to deal with the erotic in a large and generous way without anything ever happening between a too-young character and a very romantic figure: "Youmans outdoes herself in Ingledove’s relationship with Witchfinder Jarrett. The chemistry between them is never forced or artificial, and their friendship carries the charge of future romance without ever becoming romantic, sexual, or frustrating for Ingledove or the reader."

And the conclusion is kind enough to hope for another volume: "This is a book of magical beauty, as captivating and dangerous as the magic of Adantis. Ingledove’s journey takes her through danger, pain, and sad farewells, but the beauty of Adantis softens the bitterest moments. The final farewell, when Ingledove has to be left behind in the turn of a page, brings all the sorrow that should come from leaving fairyland. There are two spells against that final farewell: one, that Ingledove will walk her hills again; and two, that Youmans might soon lead another voyage into Adantis." Those of us frolicking in the great unwashed mid-list can always use some spare hopes!

The paperback editions of Ingledove and The Curse of the Raven Mocker are forthcoming from editor Sharyn November's Firebird (Penguin) imprint on November 2nd and 7th. For a complete version of this review, click on the link above.

Oh, and that cover picture is by Renato Alarcão. His new web site and marvelous pictures are featured in the post below. He also did the new paperback image for The Curse of the Raven Mocker. It replaces the original Steve Cieslawski jacket, also lovely, so that the two paperback covers are a 'matched' pair.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Renato Alarcão has a website!

That is, Renato Alarcão has a website of dreams and beauty.

I met his illustrations through my editor in the children's division of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Robbie Mayes. Renato Alarcão recently did a cover for the upcoming (Nov. 2nd) paperback edition of The Curse of the Raven Mocker (Penguin's Firebird imprint, edited by Sharyn November) and earlier made illustrations for the jacket and frontispiece of the FSG hardcover (and forthcoming Firebird softcover, pub. date Nov. 2nd) If you search this blog on his name, you can find many sketches and illustrations. (Others don't appear--why?--but are close to the posts that do. Other unused sketches can be found on my website; see the links at right.)

Renato is wonderfully prolific and adept. For each book, he gave us more than a dozen sketches, all entrancing. He has a real grasp of enchantment, and will no doubt illustrate many more books. I expect that he will write a few of his own, some day, because he has "dream power" in many of his pictures.

His brand new website is wonderfully designed and full of beautiful work, as well as glimpses into many of facets of the artist's life, including his role as a teacher of young artists. It is, of course, the portfolio that most allures--be sure that you look at the children's books. Renato Alarcão has a grand fluency in many "languages" of illustration, and is a master of styles.

These are lovely illustrations, well worth your visit. The site has only been up for a week but has already been featured in "Drawn", a website listed by a recent issue of Time Magazine as one of the year's 50 best:

Illustrations here:
-Lanterna dos Alfogados (immediately below), the very first Renato Alarcão picture I ever saw, and one that still comes to mind when I think of him.
-Illustration (above) for Ana Maria Machado's História meio ao contrario (1978), a tale that starts with "and they lived happily ever after" and ends with "once upon a time."
Click on the pictures to see larger versions of these.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

October's aphorisms

will be
on the subject
of "poets
& poetry."

I imagine that they will be a bit more ruthless than the "fat people & tourists" aphorisms of September--fewer soap bubbles and hunters with popguns. I am quite willing to be tough about my own major concerns.

Skip down to the 19th for the previous batch of aphorisms.

Next week I'll finish up this series with Cooperstown tourist maxims that feature small boys with baseball bats, howler monkey parents, and general mayhem... We are not quite as civilized as we used to be in these parts, despite the ameliorating effects of Opera, the Fenimore Museum, and other local culture spots.

Lately I've had an increase in visitors but a decrease in comments, and it has been suggested via a number of amusing emails that nobody wants to be a Fat People! Or person. Or anything like that. As a Southerner, I am riddled with guilt any time I am tactless, or any time that I might possibly be tactless or may have been seen as tactless, etc. etc. and so interminably on. It's my genetic burden. I am usually quite tactful, but was driven on to the topic by the Imp of the Perverse, and I had a dratted good time, too.

In the interests of a peaceable Palace, perhaps we should resolve to lose 10 lbs. and go on to poetry. We can safely laugh at poets, because there are so few of them out there, right?

Or perhaps not. Maybe we are all poets.

We shall see.

Here is more Jeffery Beam,

Shedding the Old Self

In silence's adored and silkened embrace
I shed my body its skin a fragrant
papershell a narcissus
I shed it again and again
under the old motherly moon
I shed it in dreaming's womb
and always it remains the same
wrinkled and smooth

Soft body of sunflowers
body of iris blue and yellow body
you taste and smell of olives
and geraniums
With the strength of stones
you settle on the earth

And I shed you
like light on a mountain
under the sea
or a robe fresh woven
falling gracefully to the ground


The charming Boutique de Poésie, photograph taken in the town of in the town of St. Pierre d'Oléron, France, is courtesy of: and Ulrik De Wachter of Landskouter, Flanders, Belgium (website:

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

1.) Beams of light


As if the very
leprechauns &
fairies had spilt
blue tea —

the little flowers.

Jeffery Beam

2.) Little Mary

Mary Morris

Here is my mother, standing near the soft sand street at the foot of her house in Collins, Georgia. Her brother James, already a young man, later dug a strange, Asian-looking pine from the swamp and planted it in the corner by that stone she's standing on, and by the time I can remember the yard, the tree was towering. But not long after this picture, my mama liked to jump the little swamp seedling. There she is, the miracle baby that nobody had the slightest reason to expect...

3.) The Palace Aphorisms, 16-18

Fat People & Tourists Series

no. 16

During tourist season, local hunters show a remarkable restraint.

no. 17

The fat man dreams that he is a soap bubble.

The fat woman dreams that she is a tiny seed feathered in milkweed silks, floating up toward heaven.

no. 18

A very fat tourist with a tiny toy camera around his neck comes to see sights and is one.

The milkweed photo is courtesy of and Loretta Humble, who lives in Malakoff, Texas and describes herself as "owner/publisher of a small weekly newspaper and Living Well, a free health/senior tabloid."

Friday, September 15, 2006

Katie has a snack

If you look closely, you will see
that Ant, the friend of Katydid,
is coming to tea...

Here is my mama on katydids: "Katies are all over the place here too. It has been rainy or cloudy and quite cool so they have been quiet at night. Wesa loves to get them around the lights at night. Locals can tell you when the first frost will occur by listening for the very first of the Katie-did sawing away in their romantic mood. I believe they say exactly 90 days from the first. Whenever it comes, it will be too soon for me." She liked this katydid picture, though she doesn't care much for ants. Looks like she doesn't have to worry about this one anymore.

The cruel katydid, doing what comes naturally, is a photo from Frank Morris, who holds the honorable title of Cousin. He is also a Senior Projects Analyst. What exactly that is, I know not. But then, it also seems a mystery that we are cousins, out of all the billions who might have been cousin to me but are not!

Have a lovely green weekend before the leaves color and die, and if the shadow of a giant leaf falls over you, be sure to scurry as fast as your little ant legs will carry you, okay?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Palace Aphorisms, 13-15

Fat People & Tourists series

no. 13

Tourists are people in shorts who can smile in unison.

Fat tourists are people in shorts who smile in unison with their knees turned together.

no. 14

Delicacy is a fat man holding a porcelain tea cup.

no. 15

A person never plumbs his genius and capacity for annoying the natives until he is made a tourist.

The picture above was taken by my husband in Istanbul this summer, when Mike and B were tourists there (yes, we are sometimes tourists, and if we eat too much, are liable to get fat--except N, who considered it a feat to break 50 lbs.); it is the underground Constantinople cistern, lost for a millenia and a half. The pillaged columns were mostly Greek, but the builders would have called themselves Roman. The cistern was 'found' when someone investigated a rumor that people living in a certain area of the city could pull up water and fish from holes in their cellars. When discovered in the late Middle Ages, it became a dumping ground for trash and bodies, but has once again been cleaned up.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Kahn & Selesnick

torfzigeuner / peatwanderer
Flights & Wartime
Circular River
Scotland Future Bog
City of Salt
Apollo Future Prophecies

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Magnolia Bouquet

The wedding of my maternal grandparents, William Leicester Morris and Lila Eugenia Arnold, took place in the merry month of May almost a century ago--May 12, 1907.

The gown and veil are marvelous, but take a look at the magnolia blossom bouquet. This is one of my favorite pictures of my grandmother, right up there with the Japanese play and the Bible-and-pompadour photographs. I believe that she made the gown and headdress with veil.

W. L. Morris (January 10, 1869-September 22, 1955) was born in Washington Country, Georgia; he had a store in Collins, and he built public buildings and residences. The house he constructed for my grandmother is a major site in the world of my imagination and has appeared in a number of my stories. Fig trees, grape arbors, a towering persimmon tree, wonderful porches, raised house pillars, Queen Anne towers and porches, a well on a porch, outbuildings, and many other elements of that magical realm still are places to "go" in my mind.

He and my grandmother had nine children, eight of whom survived to adulthood. They could not have been more surprised by the last baby--my mother, the "miracle child." W. L. and Lila were old-fashioned pillars of their community, devout people who added a good deal of beauty to the world. They lived creative lives, my grandfather with his house-building and carpentry, my grandmother with her needlework and household arts. Her pantry was a wondrous thing. Their lives were very "dense" and full with labor, creation, gardening, child-rearing, and strong religious belief that gave shape and meaning to all else.

While the postwar era and depression meant that they lost much financially, what strikes me is that their acts and days were creative and fertile. What they made had usefulness and gave aesthetic pleasure. How much we came down when so many ordinary people gave up making things in the realm of "useful" and domestic arts--and after that came a time when we stripped away the beautiful and were left with the purely intellectual. And now we have the great effort to bring "a return to beauty" in the arts...

Lila Eugenia Arnold has already popped up on the Palace. She was born in Triplett, Georgia, August 17, 1883, and died February 13, 1968. She lived a long life, and although she was away on a visit at the time of her death, she was still living in the lovely house my grandfather built for her. Too many elderly ladies are toted off and stuffed into "homes." My grandparent's house began as a single room, where young Mrs. Morris would rock her first baby with a pistol on her lap. Times were wild in the south Georgia countryside, not so very long after the war.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Palace Aphorisms, 11-12

Being a subset of the
Fat People & Tourists series,
having to do with the polar opposition
between Baseball Tourists
& Opera Tourists:
a peculiarly Cooperstonian subject.

no. 11

The baseball tourist is invariably fatter, louder, crueler to children, more indignant with the locals, more bursting with uncontrollable passion, more apt to bellow his family troubles to the street—altogether more operatic than the opera tourist.

no. 12

The baseball tourist has a tenuous relationship to reality; he often mistakes houses for museums, lawns for garbage cans, and gardens for his own picking-ground.

The opera tourist shudders delicately at the baseball tourist, purchases a catered picnic basket, and tidies up the opera grounds afterward.

Or, to put it on a more personal level--

The baseball tourist has a tenuous relationship to reality; he mistakes my house for a museum, my lawn for a garbage can, and my cottage garden for his own picking-ground. Etc.

Photo of Glimmerglass Opera courtesy of and Adriana Martins of Guaratinguetá, Brazil--no, my mistake. That's actually the Vienna Opera House. But Glimmerglass is quite nice in its own lake-and-rural-barn way...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Sally Jo Hance

Here is Sally Jo Hance, my maternal great-grandmother, at the age of 9. Despite losing her father at Gettysburg and having a mother with a pack of little girls to raise, she looks very fine here, with her be-ribboned dress and ringlets, all gone to sepia.

For Sally Jo Hance Arnold in old age, scroll down several posts...

The Palace Aphorisms, no. 10

Photo credit and information below.

From the first series of
The Palace Aphorisms,
devoted to that immortal topic
"Fat People & Tourists."

no. 10

Fat men are hell on joggling boards.

Now, if you happen to be the unfortunate soul who does not know what a joggling board is, you may pay a visit to The Original Old Charleston Joggling Board Company on King St. in Charleston, or you may hop to their more e-thereal address at Their motto is Put a Joggle in Your Life, and it's not bad advice. As the joggling board makers say, "The Old Charleston Joggling Board has been part of Lowcountry life since the early 1800's and is still seen on porches, piazzas and in gardens throughout the Lowcountry. Legend has it that there was never an unmarried daughter at the home that had a Joggling Board."

As a proper South Carolinian, I can say that I have joggled in my time, and that I hope to joggle again, preferably in a lush, lovely, hot Charleston garden and not in a Cooperstown snow drift.

The picture of the joggling board above belongs wholly and exclusively to The Original Old Charleston Joggling Board Company, and is probably not supposed to be pilfered for blogs. I shall have to inquire. Perhaps they will take pity on the unfortunate Carolinian in shivering exile.

* * *
Dear Jogglers,

I have taken the liberty of effusing about The Old Charleston Joggling Board Company on my wee blog, and of snitching a picture from your web site to illustrate, all as part of an ongoing and entirely serious (dead serious!) series of aphorisms. I hope you will forgive me for the pilferage! If not, I hope you will inform your lawyers that I am a penniless writer, living in a faraway snow drift.

Sincerely yours,

* * *
There. That ought to do.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Palace Aphorisms, 7-9


One of the following aphorisms is not true, but why let that get in the way?

Aphorisms are sometimes true. Aphorisms are sometimes opinion. The idea of order in my brain may be sheer frolic or mayhem in yours. To boot, my moon view and my world view cannot be yours. We knew this after the Stevensesque aphorisms.

No. 7 is derived from the sight of a plump family, provided with a quick, agile child to bring them somemores from the campfire.

To read about The Palace Aphorisms, go here for the lowdown, the rules, the needful disclaimers!

* * * * * * *

The Palace Aphorisms 7-9, from series 1: Tourists & fat people

Aphorism no. 7

The fat woman is a perennial Girl Scout who waits by the campfire for somemores.

Aphorism no. 8

The devil likes to dance with the fat girls.

Aphorism no. 9

A party of very fat tourists, powdered with baby powder and dancing in the moonlight, is remarkable for many things, but most of all for their tiny, twinkling feet.

* * *
Moonlight and rotundity provided courtesy of and doom girl of Tamworth, Australia.

Frolicking on the other side of the fence

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Twigs on the family tree

Sally Jo Hance

The daughter of Sallie E. Latimer and James Washington Hance, Sally Jo is my maternal great-grandmother. Born in Turin, Georgia on December 27th, 1859, she was the third of four daughters; her sisters were Blanch Corainne, Daisie Eugenia, and Mary Alice Elizabeth (called Mamie).

When Sally Jo was three, her father was killed at the battle of Gettysburg, while serving as Lieutenant Colonel for the 53rd Regiment, Georgia Infantry. He had earlier served with the 19th, and appears to have been made Colonel on the day he died, July 2, 1863. James Washington Hance never saw his youngest daughter, and Sallie was left with four little girls. She applied for a Confederate widow's pension in 1891.

Sally Jo Hance Arnold is buried with her husband in Greenwood Cemetery, Atlanta. In old age, she lived with my grandmother, Lila Eugenia Arnold Morris, and she died at our family home in Collins, Georgia on June 28, 1939. My grandmother is shown next to her mother here. More about her anon, because she appears in other strange and wonderful pictures...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Palace Aphorisms, no. 6

series 1: Fat people & tourists

The Palace Aphorisms
no. 6:

The tourist comes to see what he has been told to see and traps a tiny portion of its soul in his little digital camera.

Rules & such for The Palace Aphorisms are here.

* * *

Photograph of a tourist by Cecilia Alvarez of Barcelona, courtesy of

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Palace Aphorisms, series 1, nos. 3-5

Series 1: Fat people & tourists

For more about the Palace Aphorisms, see the post of August 12th.

* * *

With apologies to the Wallace Stevens of Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird and The Emperor of Ice-Cream:

no. 3

The fat woman of Haddam never sees how the blackbird walks around her feet.

no. 4

A man and a woman and a blackbird are one, but a fat man is splendidly two or three.

no. 5

The ruler of the fat men is the only Emperor of Ice Cream.

The photograph "Abode of Crow" appears courtesy of andSteve Ford Elliott of County Clare, Ireland.

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Palace Aphorisms, series 1, no. 2



Too dratted lazy to read a good book?

If so, my frivolous, time-frittering friend, take a look at for The Varieties of the Balloonhat Experience, something that may sound like William James but is not. See people from 34 countries around the world in balloon hats, the weird enterprise of Addi Somekh and Charlie Eckert, who must be wacky, wonderfully wacky.

Okay, now that that's out the way, here's the 2nd aphorism from the Tourists & Fat People series:

Inside a very fat tourist is a slim young man who longs to be a vagabond and a wastrel.

Hop one post down for the first aphorism, etc.; skip three down for more information about the Palace Aphorisms.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Palace at 2:00 a.m. Aphorism no. 1

Aphorism 1, series 1: Tourists & fat people

A tourist is a person who does not fit in.
A fat tourist is a person who does not fit in chairs.

* * *

In comments, you may: tinker with my aphorism; offer your own aphorism; natter on about this or unrelated topics. Slide two posts down to look at the rules of the game.

Disclaimer: The Palace at 2:00 a.m. is open to people of all shapes, sizes, stripes, polkadots, patterns, colors, and so forth. The inhabitants are occasionally tourists.

Credit: The photograph, "Butt print on the beach," is by Irum Shahid of Islamabad, Pakistan, courtesy of