Beale St., Memphis, TN – A Photographic Retrospective



Bibliosue and I made it back alive from our Booktopia 2012Oxford, MS adventure last weekend, as you'll already have gathered. The trip wasn't just a dang fine time full of writers and books and highly-caloric southern cookin'. It was also a chance to try out my new camera, my li'l Panasonic Lumix, with 16x optical zoom. It's my alternative to dragging around a backpack full of lenses and a tripod when on the road, when I just want to take a few good shots which may not be among my best.

So, here's my photographic tribute to Beale Street, Memphis, TN, a few things that caught my eye that I'd like to share with y'all.


A gift for my British friends. You know how I love you. Hush! You don't need to say a word:









 Later, Memphis. So  long, and thanks for all the fish.

Daily Photo

transit of venus, at the horizon

This was the last photo we were able to get of this once in a lifetime event, just before it dipped behind the trees. And yes, it required special filters. Aiming your camera at the sun without loads of protection isn't really the best idea.

It's remarkable knowing you're looking at another complete planet but there's no spectacular color. Guess I could fix that on PhotoShop but it would be fakery, so I suppose this view is the best to share.

We also have an 8' telescope, again with specialty filters, which provided a more spectacular view – including a clear shot of the sun spots visible from Earth. But the dark glasses that came along with the filters were pretty  much useless.

Other sites have much more impressive shots, using much more expensive equipment but this is our most impressive offering. Hope you enjoy it!

Daily Photo



Near Santa Fe, NM


When I took this photo the proprietor of this fine establishment actually leaned over the wall,  looking to see what I was taking a picture of. I’m thinking, Dude, you own a restaurant that  obviously caters to tourists, what do you THINK I’m taking a picture of?

Like everyone in New Mexico dries hot peppers by hanging them outside?



Photo of the Day






Last Wednesday was my birthday. In honor of that I’m posting a photo of one of the lilies in the bouquet I received.

The other part of my present was a gift card to Barnes & Noble, which I surprisingly have not yet spent. Every year my husband gives me a gift card in the amount of my age. This is the only reason I’d ever want to live to be 100. Not that that stops me from spending that amount on books already. So, perhaps this is a moot point entirely.

But hey. A gift card is a gift card…

This is the end…

Introduction, of a General Nature:

Time to start gathering 2011 into a big ball to tie a ribbon around it, considering tomorrow's le fin de la fin. Often I'm keen to start picking up the stray bits before it's reached this date, so I guess that means 2011 could have been worse. That comes as close as I ever get to saying something positive. You may want (first typed "wank")  to bookmark this post as proof I am not 100% glass half-empty.

As a general comment, looking back through Bluestalking from 2011 I'm more than a little disappointed with the quality of many of my posts this year. I'm also irritated by how much I've jumped around getting off-track more than I should.

So… Resolution #1: 2012 will see a separation of blog content.


Pointingfinger   My book reviewing and interviewing will remain here at Bluestalking.

Pointingfinger    Off-topic rambling concerning myself and other endeavors – some of them also literary-     related, but not reviewing per se, including my participation in World Book Day, etc. – will                be found here.

Pointingfinger    Photography, my painting and multi-media work as well as anything related to matters     artistic will be here.


Life, as it was, in 2011:

2011 began with the culmination of a series of shots under my left knee cap, injections I elected to try in hopes they would alleviate ongoing, unendurable pain. As a bonus, what started as a left knee phenomenon spread to the other after I tore the meniscus tendon in that knee, as well. Ironically, it gave up the ghost a few weeks into my very active exercise routine, fueled by the hope I could build up enough leg muscle to avoid that very eventuality. I walked miles and worked out at the gym for hours, with the result of a ripped tendon, the absence of its protection resulting in my right knee quickly became inflamed. Then I had two knees exhibiting excrutiating arthritis I'm far too young to have. Too young by fifteen or twenty years. But it's genetic, my older brother (by six years) is battling it as well, though only in one knee. Eventually I'd have succumbed. But so soon?

Resolution # 2: Actively search out viable solutions to minimize and work around the pain, don't curl up and succumb like a big, whinging baby.


Rays of Light:

For the positive of the year, I've already expressed how wondrous were matters reading and literary event-related. The books I read were nothing short of miraculous but even that may be slightly eclipsed by the memories of authors met. One day, when I'm old and grey – oldER and greyEr, that is – it will finally hit me I really did meet these people, talk to them, hear them speak and learn more about what makes each such a wonder of humanity.

Their genius is humbling, if also a bit depressing if I'm totally honest, since it reaffirms I would need ten lifetimes to begin to approach that level of creative ability – which is why I read, review, blog and love from afar while they produce works of enduring beauty. I'm the thwarted Romeo to their Juliet but I love them no less for it.


Authors met in 2011:

Ian Rankin

Sebastian Barry    (Have I mentioned that?)

Michael Cunningham

Goldie Goldbloom

Elizabeth Berg

Chris Bohjalian

Bill Br yson

Rebecca Skloot

Resolution # 3: Carry on meeting, greeting, reading and adoring amazing writers.


The New Library World Order:

You won't like hearing this any better than I like telling you but libraries, within roughly the next decade, will no longer resemble what you've become accustomed to. I know this because I've been reading about "advances" other libraries are making and/or planning in order to fulfill a whole new function in society. I also know the same is in store for my own library. The planning has already begun.

Roughly 50% or more of print books will be going away, the space they occupied devoted to classrooms for instructing the public on how to use up and coming technology. Other space will become private meeting or similar technology-related areas.

That is, libraries which aren't to be shuttered will be transformed. I should qualify that. As a profession, I don't think it's too soon to say librarians will gradually cease to be. And, you may recall, I received my Master's a mere two years ago.

Enough said.

Resolution # 4: Change, adapt, accept. Or scream, break things and swear. It's a toss up.


A Few 2011 Highlights:

Hollywood and Harry Potter

A Widow's Story by Joyce Carol Oates

NBCC winners

Acadiana: … by Carl Brasseaux

I predicted the Orange Prize Winner!

Stones for My Father by Trilby Kent

Netsuke by Rikki Ducornet

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch

The Filter Bubble by Eli Paliser

Salem Press declared Bluestalking one of the better General Interest Library Blogs for the second year in a row

Bluestalking turns five

Fourth of July – Lisle Hot Air Balloon Fest

Goodbye, Borders

Lamb by Bonnie Nadzam and I Married You for Happiness by Lily Tuck and Sebastian Barry

Julian Barnes, the Man Bookers, Alan Hollinghurst. And Sebastian Barry.

Errm… Sebastian Barry

A photographic romp

Julian Barnes! and gratuitous mention of Sebastian Barry

Bit more Sebastian Barry

Dean Faulkner Wells



Partly new start, partly continuation of the status quo. In my next post I'll talk a bit about what's ahead for me, so many exciting details you may want to make sure you're sitting down. A small cocktail wouldn't be out of order.

In the meantime, celebrate the New Year well and safely. As for NY Day, the Scots believe you should do, on the first day of the year, a few things important to you, that you'd like to do much more of the rest of the year. And yes, that sounds a bit awkward but in my case I'll read a little, write a little and create – whether painting, photography or whatever – and be back here to post on the year ahead.

Wishing you all much health and happiness in 2011. And thank you, so much, for reading.


And now for something completely Halloween-y

White Cemetery, on Cuba Road in Barrington, IL has a certain reputation for being haunted. Say what you will about your aunt's cousin's brother's friend and his spooky story about meeting a ghost but I'll believe that when I see it. Orbs? Mysterious cars that follow you, right up on your bumper, then disappear? Dudes with lanterns?

Right. Tell that to the judge.



I lucked out getting into White Cemetery. Because stupid people will act stupidly, the village now has to keep the gates locked to prevent vandalism. At another Chicago-area cemetery, Bachelor's Grove, graves have been defiled, tombstones knocked over and general havoc wrought. Why, people? Why? What's the thinking here? I think this place is haunted, so I think I'll take me home a souvenir bone? Idiots. They think they're acting out some Satanic ritual, local legend says. More likely they're drunk, doing something gruesome – not to mention disrespectful – on a dare. Are there even real Satanists?

I retract that question. There are stupid people of all persuasions. Silly of me. Equal opportunity and all that, etc., etc. No one can be any less important than any other! Right? Right! We're ALL WINNERS!    

Anyway, I went into the cemetery and was really glad to see there was no apparent vandalism. A couple older tombstones were broken, but that sort of thing happens. I didn't see anything else that appeared to have been caused by humans. All I saw was a really pretty place that just happened to be populated mostly by dead people.



I drive my kids crazy having absolutely no fear of death, the dead or belief in any superstition, ghost story or anything else unexplained by this recent invention called SCIENCE. I'll go into any cemetery at any time: morning, noon or night. I don't get the creeps, the heebie jeebies or whatever else you may call it. I am immune. That doesn't mean I don't like hearing the stories, of course. I'm pretty sure we all do. It's silliness that doesn't cause any harm, a bit of gothic chill made perfect in the autumn season.







But, to be honest, I'll admit this thing creeped even me out:




Then there was this:




But scared of ghosties and ghoulies? I don't think so. Trust me, there's enough to worry about in this world without having to make up anything else. Given a choice between believing the dead can wreak evil and knowing man's seemingly limitless capacity for being inhumane to one another, I'll take the dead. At least I can rub garlic all over my body and carry a cross to keep them away. Everybody knows that. Except for the werewolves. Damn the werewolves! For them you need silver bullets.


White Cemetery, like hundreds of thousands of others, is just a quiet, reflective place to hang out. If you enjoy the art people generate in the memory of the dead it's pretty – especially when the leaves are changing, blowing off the trees and skittering across the ground. And if it does give some a little thrill, that irrational fear hanging their foot off the bed risks having it grabbed by THE BOOGY MAN! that's probably one of those life things we have built into all of us. Because who knows what's OUT THERE? What's BEYOND?

I can tell you right now: I have no clue.



Just do me this one favor. If you, too, decide to check out a location with a reputation for being haunted, possessed or what have you, don't be a jerk. If you have to prove you're brave by defacing something, breaking or stealing what has no meaning for you, but does very much so for someone else, you're not much of a person at all.


And because of people like these, the rest of us with good intentions may get no further than the gate. Not that that really deters jerks but if you're on the fence (no pun intended), if it seems it could be a bad idea, it probably is.





I know. Catch-22. Blah blah.


Lisa’s photographic romp through the wilds of suburbia

I will not lie. In general I'm not much of a naturalist. When life gets to be too much, though, I'm all in favor of an excursion someplace wild, unspoiled and, in the fall, colorful. And what passes for that around here are called "forest preserves," pockets of undeveloped land some hippie freak protested to set aside, thus saving it from development.

Here's the sort of stuff I found:










Now it's time to go collapse on the sofa, as between the above photos and now I've spent roughly five hours shopping with my daughter. Among other things, we discovered a store called Five Below (at which nothing costs above $ 5, natch). We are both in love with the place. Pure, capitalistic bliss.

More soon, quite possibly tomorrow. Not more nature, let's get real. But more book-related stuff I've been working on but haven't finished, like my interview with Michael Cunningham. Yes! THAT Michael Cunningham!

My life's rough that way.



Vacation 2011: Route 66 – Seeing the Signs (Pt. 1)










The road signs along Route 66 are wonderfully retro, aesthetically beautiful and, at times, profoundly sad. So much of the highway has fallen into complete disrepair; what's been replaced is now cracked pavement (when it exists at all) sprouting grass.

The signs that haven't been restored are the ones I love best, but if no one ever restores them one day they'll be gone. Catch-22.


A few of my favorite things: Photo Surrealism.



This just gives me the shivers. It's so gothic and eerie. I would love to have a print of this on my wall.

Wonder how he does it? Mix and match photography, a photo program and maybe some work by hand? That's my best guess.

Talent like this is humbling. I think about how long I sit here tweaking my photos, and how rewarding it is when I like the final results. It's hard to fathom taking it to this extreme. I know I don't have the vision, or talent, for it.

Fine art is leagues away from what most of us do, but there's great benefit to be had working on amateur art projects. Playing around with different media, seeing what comes out, makes you appreciate what goes into making art like this.

However he does it, it's amazing.


The Art:

Photo Surrealism

The Artist:

M.J. Ticcino