November 23rd


Today is my birthday.  It is my favorite day of the year.  I love the Thanksgiving holiday.  In the past,  because my birthday was around or on Thanksgiving, but now because I reflect on how very much gratitude I am blessed to possess.

I was born about 5:20 am the morning after President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.  That has always cast a bit of a pall and fascination around my birthday.  Strangely, 23 November was the birthday of Denise, the first wife of my husband, and Mommy of my boys.  I’ve written some about Denise or grief here, here, here and here.  Today would have been a milestone for Denise, her 50th birthday.  I feel sad for Tim, the boys, her folks and sisters, nieces and friends.

Tim and I were talking about it this morning, and he read some words to me by Kahlil Gibran, from The Prophet.

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent

knowledge of the beyond;

     And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart

dreams of spring.

     Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.


     Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd

when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid

upon him in honour.

I have some friends and acquaintances with my birthday.  A few months ago we lost one, Annie Mae.  She fought cancer for 60 years!  Her kindness was renown among her friends.  I was especially attracted and amazed by her incredible kindness to children.  She made delicious chocolate pie.  She loved God, her husband, Billy, and her children.  Her soul is one of the gentlest I’ve known.

Gibran says:

For life and death are one, even as the river and sea are one.


The Henrico Citizen has this amazing piece by its managing editor, Patty Kruszewski.  She lost her daughter to a hit and run driver this year.  It captures so well the agony and, yes, joy that accompanies a tremendous loss.  The price and reward for having loved another.

Gibran tells us in The Prophet our capacity for joy is only as large as our capacity for sorrow.  The full passage is here.  I love the line “Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.”  Tim and I have talked about that so much.

So, with compassion and love I’m thinking of the losses of my loved ones.  I’m thankful for my family and friends.  Life is good.








I’m reading..


Still the large tome about the history of missing people.  Started a good fluff novel by Dominick Dunne, A Season in Purgatory.  It’s main character sound like he is based on a young Teddy Kennedy, and the family described sounds very much like Kennedy’s.  Won’t take me long to read.  I ordered a couple of books recommended by one of  my birth pod members  (born 11/23, like me!-younger though!) Kim, and a couple I’d been saving w/ a 15% discount from, who else? Better World Books.  Here they are:

The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron (which I have somewhere in storage but I’ve no idea when I’ll see it again and must read now!) Me, compulsive?  Why, I …..

The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharp (Excitation!  Not a painter, etc., but a dancer/choreographer!!)

Disobedience: A Novel, by Jane Hamilton (have read 2 other of her fabulous novels; so very interesting!)

Thunderstuck, by Erik Larsen (who wrote Isaac’s Storm, an account of the Galveston storm of the early 1900’s that took many lives and really destroyed Galveston Island.  It is an excellent book and I highly recommend it.) 

Speaking of birth pod members–what do I call them?  Well, Michael Mouskos is closest to cosmic twin because he was born a mere 5 hours after me.  One of my bestest friends, Amanda V.M., born 1966, Kim, born 1966 (I think), Ashtoreth, born 1967, I get confused, Mandy, Kim & Ashtoreth born around the same time,   Amanda’s Dad, Billy, RIP, not sure what year, probably late 20’s or early 30’s.  And RIP, Denise, my sons’ birth mother and Tim’s first wife.  She had the same birthday, born 1962.  I was born 1963.   So, anyone else born 11/23?  Isn’t it wild Denise and I have the same birthday?

Ta Ta, had to write something uplifting after my moribund poems.  Not sure if I used moribund in its appropriate context, but it sounded nice, don’t you think?



A fellow Sag, Granny would be 101 today.  She was born in Lowland, Pamlico County, NC in 1908.  Her father was Captain Jim Howerin, he had a cargo ship he ran from the Pamlico River in Washington, NC through the dismal swamp (kindly cleared by slaves in the 1700’s or perhaps early 1800’s-Must have been back-breaking, dangerous work) to Norfolk, VA.  Otherwise the water of the Atlantic is quite dangerous between Eastern central NC & Tidewater, VA, especially around the lower outer banks.  When she was 12-ish they moved to from Lowland to Belhaven by boat.  Back then they didn’t have a lot of bridges.  Even today that area is accessible only by boat.  NC has a ferry that goes over to Pamlico County from the Bath area.

Pamlico County came to be in about 1867, from parts of Craven (New Bern, an old port town) and Beaufort (not the town, the county seat is Washington) Counties.  Prior to that, in Colonial times the whole area of all those small counties–Beaufort, Hyde, Dare, prob. Martin,  Washington, Perquimans, were referred to as old Bath County.

Granny’s birth name was Thelma Plum Howerin.  She got her middle name from the obstetrician, whose name was Plum, and she told me she never liked it.  She married my Grandaddy, Harold Thorne White, Sr., in about 1929.  They were married at the Methodist parsonage in Belhaven.  Granny was blonde with blue eyes.  Her hair had turned gray by the time I knew her.  She was genteel, always smelled so fresh and I never saw her sweat.  She wore light mauve lipstick, and you know how everyone has a certain way of “molding” their lipstick by the way they apply it?  Granny applied hers by pursing her lips and running the lipstick between the pursed lips.  The shape ended up being like a 2 sided skateboard ramp.  My lipstick always ends up flat.  You know, I might not remember correctly.  Maybe Granny’s lipstick was like 1/2 a ramp & I’m thinking of Cheryl with the 2 sided.

Granny had 3 sisters I remember, Nellie, born about 2 years after her, who I knew well.  She also lived in Belhaven and lived on the water.  We would swim at her house and also watch the 4th of July fireworks on her pier.  Her other sister was Vera, or Sissy.  She lived in Beaulaville in Duplin County.  Her husband kind of looked like Grandaddy and he was really nice & funny.  Her other sister, gee, don’t remember her name.  Only saw her once, at Granny’s funeral, and she looked a lot like Granny.  She lived in Norfolk.   Granny had several brothers.  I knew her brother, Calvin.  He lived in Belhaven.  He was a waterman and a pig farmer and I think earlier in life he was a merchant marine.  She had 2 other brothers who lived in Norfolk and I never met.  They were Herman and Vernon.  They were also watermen, and I think merchant marines.

We loved Granny.  She was very grandmotherly.  She always had something chocolate around the house.  She made the strongest, sweetest iced tea.  Her fried chicken was so good.  I remember her potato salad, chicken and rice, biscuits, bacon and this great cake that I guess was called a marble cake and had fudge icing on it and through it.  That was the best.  She made good fudge.  She liked chocolate.   I loved being at her house.  It always felt so safe.  She had a big front porch on Main Street which was perfect for people watching.  Her house was clean as a pin.  It was cool in the summer and toasty in the winter.  Granny liked to be comfy, like myself.  I remember Granny had a 1974 Monte Carlo.  She could put the metal to the pedal because I remember she got a speeding ticket in that car.

She was the town clerk of Belhaven all through the 1960’s, and, later, she and Nellie shared tax collector duties.  Each worked 1/2 day, Granny in the morning and Nellie in the afternoon.  Granny had a jewelry box full of costume jewelry that I used to run my fingers through.  I loved the texture and sound of the beads slipping through my hands.  With Granny you always felt special, because you were alone.  If my siblings and cousins were there I did not feel special.  She had her favorites and I wasn’t one of them!  That doesn’t mean she didn’t treat me well, because she did.  But it was always more fun to be alone with Granny.  That’s just how it is when you come from a family with 4 kids!  You have to take your special treatment whenever and wherever you can!

Happy Birthday, Granny.  I love you!

Since Thursday…


Friday, we went to the prevew at the VMFA.  It was wonderful.  We started in the tapestry gallery which is part of the 1936 building.  Also northern & southern baroque period paintings, other paintings.. a number of Flemish and Dutch, which I love.  However, I wish a little that we’d begun at the new contemporary and modern art gallieries, because this art interests me so much.  I do believe we spotted my favorite art patron, Mrs. Frances Lewis,  without whom this wonderful museum would not be the comprehensive institution it is.   When it re-opens in May, it will be one of the top 10 comprehensive museums.  Have I mentioned that before?  We had a nice dinner after, at Tripps, where Tim and I went on our first date almost 13 years ago.

Saturday I went with my friend Susan to the North Richmond Artists’ Sale.  It was at 4 or 5 residences all together on Westwood & Suffolk avenues.  I was quite impressed with the artists’ work, and bought several birthday and Christmas gifts, as well as a couple of original paintings by a gentleman named Bill Kinsey, who studied art at VCU when it was VPI, worked for several local businesses throughout at career in the graphic arts, and is now producing some unbelievable work.  I was very, very impressed with his work.  He has a studio and a show at the Uptown Gallery, and I recommend that you check out his wonderful work!   Oh, and he isn’t nearly as uptight as he looks in that photo!  He was a warm, friendly man, and we realized we knew someone in common.  Tim tells me I never go anywhere that I don’t see someone I know, and he is right, at least in this area of Virginia, and probably a good part of eastern North Carolina!  Why I just found a photo of the watercolor I purchased from him.  I think this is it.  It looks very much like it, but the one I purchased had a couple of humans in the background, very small.  Perhaps he added them later.  Here it is:

I also purchased an oil of a lady he painted.  She is the lady who owned Bygones Vintage with her daughter.  I remember her.  I loved the painting.  AND he said we could visit him in his studio.  He does collage work, mixed media, and encaustic.  So I’m very excited to have met him and honored to have some of his work now. 

I also saw Eliza Askin and got a print of Phil’s right by the Westhamton Theatre for Mandy who shares my birthday.  Mandy and her kids, Jackson and Meredith, celebrated our birthday later Sat. evening with a viewing of “Night at the Museum 2”  at the Byrd (surprisingly funny and enjoyable) and then dinner at Joe’s Inn.  Funny, I’d been craving Spaghetti a la Joe the night before!  It was a great evening, but I could tell I was getting sick, and I work up Sunday with a terrible cold and asthma. 

I’m annoyed with myself.  Perhaps I could have avoided this if I’d taken a little better care of myself.  Had to miss the craft+design show which was probably best since I spent my limit at the North Side Artists’ Tour.  I slept most of the day yesterday, and late today. 

I received so many messages and greetings today for my birthday.  I had to cancel birthday dinner with TT & Diane, but we are hopefully going to do it next week.   Tim has taken such good care of me, and he has been taking care of Elsie too.  Barrettt and I played Scrabble tonight, and Andy texted me today.  It’s been a great day.  I feel very loved.