Thursday, June 30, 2011

Everyday Angel

A couple of years ago I asked my friend Dawn Tarr if she ever painted angels. She didn't answer, and I quite forgot about asking.

Dawn is a rising young artist who is not taking no for an answer. She's going to paint come hell or high water. You can see her art on the walls of the sets of popular television shows - shows like Bonnie Hunt, Ellen and the Animal Planet star Shorty Rossi!

Ms. Tarr and I met over a chafing dish full of mashed potatoes and we were in the process of feeding a room full of senior citizens at a medical adult day care center. I knew immediately this was a very special person, and as time went on I found this to be true.

Dawn paints with a bold palate and peoples her world with mermaids, male nudes and recently pit bulls! Search Dawn's name and you will find her work across the internet.

It makes me really proud to know Dawn - for her drive and talent stand out wherever she may go. As for the painting you see at the top of this post - this was Dawn's Christmas gift to me that year. Dawn has also painted the art for the covers of my four Chesapeake books, so if you like her art you can purchase a painting, a t-shirt, a mug - or a book with her art!

It is my opinion that Dawn Tarr is a rising star and that we will be seeing lots from her in the future. If you are interested, you can find Dawn on Facebook so look for her there and keep on the sunny side! Love, Terry

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dad's Random Apples

Well, the solstice has passed and summer is here! The time has come for vacations, yard work, and time out to read and enjoy a good book on the porch. Some of my readers have indicated that shorter stories might be welcome because they liked to finish a story and put the book down without wondering what would happen next. Keeeping this in mind, so I gathered up some stories I have written over the years and compiled them in a brand new book called Random Apples.

I drew on my childhood for the title of the new book, going back to frosty autumn mornings when Dad would take us to the orchard to pick up drops - apples of every sort that had fallen beneath the trees, perfectly good for canning, baking and munching, but not of all one prefered variety. After the outing, I vividly remember settling in behind the wood cookstove to read surrounded by the heavenly aroma of apple pie.

My father was a very positive person and he taught me to see the good in life no matter how hard life could be for us back there in the mountains. I sometimes wonder if my work is a bit too all-right to be what people want to read these days. I know sex sells, but it is not everything in life or a relationship.

And so, each of my stories contains a bit of wisdom I have learned from an elder, a funny story about work, or a tale of family love. There are stories from other times, scenes that have not seen light of day for decades. They remind me of Dad's apples.

And so, look for the new book please, and look for the sunny side.

Love, Terry

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Visit to a Dying World

A couple of weeks ago Ann Foley and I took a trip to Toddville where I took some photos of the remains of a once-vital industry on the Chesapeake Bay for a history book we are working on. At one time, hundreds of watermen plied the waters of the bay catching fish, crabs and oysters. Some of them built boats and sailed these small crafts out in the small hours of the morning to gather their catch.

If you travel to Toddville, or any one of a dozen or more small communities in the rural areas of Dorchester County, you will find house after house condemned by the government because sewage water has no place to go - the land and the water are one. Small mom and pop stores stand abandoned, their signs stil swinging in the wind. Post offices are closed, and crossroads communities have dwindled to only a few homes that the residents must leave each morning in order to work in town.

As you drive through the remains of these little communities, you may see broken boats parked in weed-choked yards or shifting sadly in the water where they are tied up to long unused piers. Women, who were once traveled to work at the local crab picking houses on boats of their own, grow old, surrounded by restless water and aging cats.

A way of life is dying here on the Chesapeake Bay and Dorchester County and sometimes I wonder what has happened to the beautiful world we were give. The country folks were good husbandmen who kept the land safe for hundreds of years, but those days are gone.Soon every trace of the old ways will be disappear and there will be no more watermen, no more crab pickers, no more homes dotting the marsh It is sad to contemplate.

I cannot save the waterside towns, but I hope that the tales of the brave souls who made their lives on the water will live on in the stories Ann and I find and record. I hope you think to preserve your own stories and keep on the sunny side. Love, Terry

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mining the Past

About a year ago a friend stopped by and asked me if I wanted to make a book with her. I jumped at the chance. Ann Foley had already done four local history books and was ready to do a fifth. I was cranking out a novel as usual. I will probably never stop that particular activity and I wasn't that enamored with the idea of writing a non-fiction book, but I am always open to new ideas, and so I said yes.

We started out by searching out some Library of Congress photos of cannery workers because Dorchester County just about fed the whole world in WW2. Well, that was really interesting and it woke the inner newspaperwoman who had been sleeping for quite some time!

It just so happened that I was writing a story about a cannery girl in trouble. Check it out in my latest novel Vienna Pride! Just looking at those Depression-era photos taken by government-subsidized photographers supplied detail after detail for my own book.

The next thing I knew, we were interviewing people who had lived and worked in the area for years. There was the farmer who carved world-class decoys. There were ladies who picked crabs down in the necks. There was the entrepeneur who had a half-dozen places of business and held down a full-time job at the DuPont factory just across the state line. There were boat builders and watermen Everywhere we looked, we found photos of the past and stories to go with them.

Are we finished? Not by a long shot, but we are working on the book during weekly meetings when Ann drives the 40 miles from Elliott Island to meet over lunch and scan the images of the past in Dorchester County.

If you have an unusual Dorchester story or a photo you would like to see included in this book tentatively titled Voices From Down Below, please give one of us a yell and please, keep on the sunny side. Terry

PS: This post's photo is of Sam Jones store in Church Creek. This old man's place of business was reputed to be the worst-kept store around, and it is easy to see why.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Harriet Tubman Conference

This weekend individuals from far and wide will converge on Cambridge to honor the memory and accomplishments of Harriet Tubman, a Dorchester-born slave credited with stealing scores of her fellow slaves and leading them to safety in the North.

Harriet, by all accounts was a small woman, but her portrait (newly repainted and installed in a little park on US 50) seems to show a backbone of steel - which she would have needed to flee the dismal, humid nights of tidewater Maryland and make her way to first Delaware, then Philadelphia with the help of Quakers who fed and clothed the miserable individuals who often walked to freedom under Harriet's guideance.

Harriet, who had been injured as a young woman, suffered from narcolepsy and perhaps strange, prophetic dreams that showed her the journey she must take. Legend has it local slaves sang the gospel favorite "Go Down Moses" when Harriet was in town. The hymn was a signal to those who meant to run away to a free life - first in Philly, and later all the way to Canada when the US Congress decreed that runaway slaves be returned to their owners - even when they were aprehended in free states.

Harriet not only worked what is now called the Underground Railroad, but also worked as a baker, a nurse and a Union spy. Promised a pension for her old age that never appeared Harried lived out her days in Auburn, NY where she kept a home for ancient slaves who remained in her care until they died.

MY poetry Runaway Hearts includes my attempt to tell the story of Harriet's youth. I hope you enjoy it! Have a good day and keep on the sunny side. Love, Terry

A FREEDOM DREAM from Runaway Hearts

Harriet Tubman was fine-boned,
but strong!
She worked in the world like a man.
Her story is here in the marshes
and woods
I’ll tell you as much as I can:

Screech owl call on a Bucktown night
Ain’t no moon, ain’t no light.
Child at rest on a corn shuck bed.
Strange dreams fill Mis Hattie’s head!

Seven years old, a runaway twice,
Once, last spring.
Before, there was ice!
There’s a tune that struggles
deep in her soul
Hat’s star points North,
a new life her goal....