Williamsburg Hill

Williamsburg Hill

Friday, March 27, 2020

Kindness

During these trying, uncertain times when we need each other, I'd like to share some quotes, sayings and song lyrics that hold meaning for me. It's the small things that count. Stay safe, everyone. Care about others and be kind.

* You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. ~ John Bunyan

* If you haven't any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble. ~ Bob Hope

* Oh, why you look so sad, the tears are in your eyes
   Come on and come to me now,
   and don't be ashamed to cry
   Let me see you through, 'cause
   I've seen the dark side, too
   When the night falls on you, 
   you don't know what to do
   Nothing you confess could make
   me love you less, I'll stand by you. ~ The Pretenders

* When the night has come
    And the land is dark
    And the moon is the only light we'll see
    No, I won't be afraid
    Oh, I won't be afraid
    Just as long as you stand 
    Stand by me.  ~ Ben E King, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller

* Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. ~ Helen Keller

* Out of difficulties grow miracles. ~ La Bruyére

* What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matter compared to what lies within us. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson



Thursday, February 13, 2020

Gratitude

Some of my photographs at Palladio Interiors, Memphis
I’m sitting at my desk, nursing an injured foot while my dog snoozes on the floor beside me.  Gordon Lightfoot’s If You Could Read My Mind is playing as I write this.  And if you could read my mind…what a tale my thoughts could tell, too.  This past year has been full of life: of living this gift too many of us take for granted, experiencing what it offers and enduring what it doles out to you, embracing the miracle of life, and mourning the loss of it.  The same as every person does, we all go through it.  And then life goes on; the sun sets on the past, and rises with new opportunities and hope. 
On January 10, 2012, this blog took life and while I had great ambitions for it to continue, I never thought it would be active very long.  There was no timetable planned, just something new I started to promote my books and give myself a voice.  It has been a struggle, the reasons why explained in past posts.  Yet, it still chugs along and I refuse to give up on eight years of investment in personal goals.  So here we are.  For those reading what I post, there might not be much in the way of value to many; however, for myself the words are invaluable and at times therapeutic.
In recapping 2019, I will start with the best of the year which happened toward the end of it: the birth of my first grandchild.  Being there for my daughter and seeing her little girl enter this world is something I’ll always cherish. The darling one has charmed me already with her ready smiles and curiosity.  Another best is finally purchasing that second home so that we can be near her, something that had been planned for years.
Some highlights of the year included updating and launching my new website, www.veronicabatterson.com, and starting work on a play about the suffragist movement (I have been promised a staged reading of it upon completion).  While I have shared two new book ideas in previous blog posts – one historical fiction piece set in Memphis with a dual timeline about the Yellow Fever Epidemic and Martyr’s Park, and the other being an Almost Famous type story (see my short story in this blog, Stardust from April 6, 2017), the third book idea happened recently while making dinner reservations in Denver, Colorado! These ideas drop in my lap in the strangest of ways.  Rounding out the work, I had an art exhibit at WKNO’s Gallery Ten Ninety-One during the month of May, and my photographs were exhibited at Palladio Interiors in Memphis for six months (June 1 – Nov 1).
In August, my husband and I traveled historic Hwy. 1 along the coast of California.  With our drive originating in Reno, Nevada, we visited beautiful Lake Tahoe and historic Truckee, drove through Sacramento and the Napa Valley to Inverness and Point Reyes Station, then headed south along the coast. Stops included seeing family and friends along the way while enjoying the beauty of San Francisco, Half Moon Bay, Monterey Bay, Morro Bay, Big Sur, The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, Hearst Castle in San Simeon, Solvang, Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez, 17 Mile Drive through Pebble Beach, Carmel-By-The-Sea, San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach (not in any particular order, and certainly overlooking much). We had the best lunch at Phil’s Fish Market at Moss Landing, and I enjoyed great seafood tacos at a place near Torpedo Wharf/Crissy Field in San Francisco.  There was also a nice brunch with incredible views at Café Kevah (Nepenthe Restaurant) in Big Sur. We flew home from LAX, the least favorite part of the trip, with great memories and a lot of beautiful photographs.
The year began in the worst way, however, by learning of the passing of a friend, who was the daughter of a friend.  Death snuffed out a light that was too young and new.  She left too soon, and I can’t in any way imagine the pain her mother faces every day.
The final event of 2019 that I’m sharing is one that has been difficult for me to shake because I’m struggling to move past it; it haunts me, it won’t go away, and it makes me angry.  I remain shocked that it happened, question why every day, but more than likely I’ll never get an answer.  And if it can happen to me at my age, it can happen to any woman.  “It” has many names: GHB, Rohypnol, roofies, liquid ecstasy, Ketamine, Special K, GBL, club drugs, date rape drugs…they’re odorless, tasteless, and they can’t be seen; they can be slipped into a drink or onto your food.  If describing in humiliating detail the effects of what “It” did to me can help just one woman be aware, then I’ve made a positive out of something unthinkable.  I’ve also used this forum as I initially intended it to become eight years ago: a voice.  My voice.
On November 15, 2019, I attended an event in Memphis at a place where I have a right to be, and a place where I should not only feel safe, but be safe.  Within minutes of sipping a glass of wine, I started feeling nauseous and very warm.  Thinking all I needed was some fresh air, I stood up to make my way outside, took a few steps, turned and started stumbling, losing my ability to stand, much less walk unassisted. My vision became cloudy as well, everything was blurred.  I suddenly heard someone’s voice in my ear (a person I recognized) who helped me get to privacy, which was a room with fewer people, then he left to find help; I then remember setting my purse and cell phone aside, lying down on a settee and passing out, only to be forced awake by another voice I recognized (different person) urgently telling me to sit up. I’ve no idea how much time passed.  Eventually, I recognized two other voices (one was my husband); I couldn’t see any of them because I couldn’t make out shapes, nor could I communicate with any clarity.  I lost all cognitive function and vomited all over myself, shortly after that everything turned dark, and a chunk of time became a black void lost to me.  I have no memory of how I got home, only my husband relaying to me how I did.  My next recollection came at 4:30 a.m. when I awoke with a start in my own bed, clear-headed, scared and knowing something terrible had happened.  Something that had worn off and was no longer affecting me.
With all of this I was fortunate…lucky I was amongst people who I knew and who helped me.  It was fortunate that I didn’t choke on my own vomit, or that it didn’t prove to be lethal due to an interaction with prescription medication I take, that I didn’t go into a permanent coma or need a respirator.  I now know the potential horrors of what women face under the same circumstances if they’re alone or around strangers.  But I’ve also experienced a reaction to it from others, although not from everyone, that surprises me.  I’ve heard, “Well, no one can imagine who would do such a thing.”  That may be, but it doesn’t change the fact that it happened, and somebody did.  Another suggestion was that maybe I’d just had a seizure.  If so it was the first one I’d ever experienced and I have a lot of years behind me, but seizures are a side effect of these drugs. At any rate, it stresses the importance of medical attention in any such situation (intentionally induced or otherwise).  Timing is everything; it is critical.  It’s crucial for a diagnosis and to collect evidence; the timeline for such a drug to be in a person’s system is short (just a few hours), and it’s all the time a predator needs.  I didn’t get medical attention, and I wasn’t in a state to ask for it.  Two more things that are facts: I wasn’t intoxicated and I’d eaten a plate of barbecue for dinner at this very event, so it wasn’t due to the lack of food.  I was normal and coherent, and within minutes I was incapacitated.   
Which brings up two other things…how the burden of proof falls on the person who was victimized, and the victim is the one who has to protect herself/himself from it ever happening again.  How does one go the extra mile when you already run a marathon protecting yourself every day you leave your house?  Should I pack the car with water bottles and only drink my own at all events? Refuse to eat food that is served to me at the same functions (even though others are eating) out of fear?  As women, we have safety issues drilled in our heads from the moment we’re able to venture out on our own.  Do I look at it as, “Whew…dodged a bullet there,” and do a hand swipe across the forehead?  Sorry, I can’t.  All I know is this: it happened, and if it is what it appears to be, the predator who targeted me is still out there to do it again.  Just as bad: the expletive-filled slime knows he/she/they got away with it.  It’s illegal to possess such a drug, it’s also illegal to use it.  That night, apparently, I was the victim of a crime.  
This post is about gratitude, so I’m grateful that it wasn’t worse, and I survived.  However, I do everything in my life in a safe way, always careful (at times overly so).  I lectured my daughters about being aware of such drugs when they were teenagers and when they started going out with friends and on dates; I’m watchful and cautious. It still happened. One can be grateful and still be outraged.  That’s where I am, and seeking counseling.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

A New Year, New Work

As I begin my ninth year of blogging here, I will start a January (which has almost slipped by already) post by sharing some new products from a photo I recently took, which I've added to my Pixels/Fine Art America site. This photograph was taken from my front porch in Colorado! Many products can be ordered with this image (as well as other photos that I've recently added). Check out my website at www.veronicabatterson.com for more information. A new blog post is coming soon! Happy New Year, all!








Thursday, December 26, 2019

Boxing Day

(The following source is credited to the Farmers' Almanac.)
"Each year, on December 26th, several countries around the world celebrate a holiday known as Boxing Day. It is officially recognized in Commonwealth countries (places like the United Kingdom, Australia, and our neighbors to the north, Canada). Americans see this holiday on the calendars, but few know what Boxing Day represents.
In fact, even though this holiday has been officially recognized in the UK and Canada since 1871, many of the people who celebrate it each year are unclear on what it means or how it came about. 

Good King Wenceslas

The traditional Christmas carol “Good King Wenceslas” tells the story of one of the possible origins of Boxing Day. The events of this carol take place on December 26th, which also happens to be the Feast of St. Stephen. In the song, Wenceslas, a 10th century Duke of Bohemia, sees a poor man and he decides to help this man. The Duke enlists the help of his page in gathering food, wine, and firewood, boxing it all up so that they can take it to the peasant. Then, Wenceslas and his page brave a blizzard to deliver the boxes of goods.
Legend holds that Wenceslas’ actions started a tradition in which churchgoers would donate money during the Advent. Then, on the day after Christmas, the boxes of money would be broken open and distributed among the poor. After decades of carrying out this (un)boxing tradition, December 26 became known as Boxing Day.

Employee Bonus Day?

Another tradition says that it originates from the practice of the aristocracy giving their employees bonuses and presents on the day after Christmas. As the stories go, employees would take their boxes home and open them up with their families, hence Boxing Day.

What We Do Know About Boxing Day

We may not know precisely how this holiday came to be, but we do know one thing: The first recorded mention of Boxing Day comes from a 1830s version of the Oxford English Dictionary. The definition given is “The first week-day after Christmas-day, observed as a holiday on which post-men, errand-boys, and servants of various kinds expect to receive a Christmas-box.
In other words, according to this definition, Boxing Day is a day to recognize all the service people in your life by leaving them Christmas presents. This year, if you want to celebrate Boxing Day the right way, make sure to leave a box of goodies for delivery people, the sanitation worker, and all the other people that make life easier for everyone."

(Per the Farmers' Almanac)


Friday, November 8, 2019

Fourth Annual Mid-South Arts Against Hunger Food Drive

It's that time of year again. The fourth annual Mid-South Arts Against Hunger Food Drive (benefiting the Mid-South Food Bank) will begin November 18 and run until December 13, 2019.  Last year, over 4,600 pounds of food was donated.

This event is close to my heart and I'm very proud of how well it has been received in the Memphis area. Some of the arts organizations participating this year include the Dixon Gallery & Gardens, Brooks Museum, Ballet Memphis, Opera Memphis, Arts Memphis, Theatre Memphis, Playhouse on the Square, Blues Foundation & Blues Hall of Fame, and the Orpheum Theatre & Halloran Centre for the Performing Arts & Education. 

Collection boxes will be at all of the locations, so if you're in the mid-south area and attend an event at one of these organizations please consider donating some non-perishable food items. Many of the groups offer free admission for donations, as well.

Many thanks and Happy Thanksgiving.


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

End of October

Much has happened in the last month.  The biggest being that my first grandchild was born, and I’m experiencing apartment living in Colorado for a few months so that I might help my daughter and bond some with her new little girl.  I haven’t lived in an apartment in, well, a very long time.  Fortunately, my dog is with me, which has been the greatest adjustment.  I should write a blog post about that one, which I probably will at some point…try using a Gentle Lead/halter on an eleven-year-old dog that’s never had the need for one. It hasn’t been easy but it’s working. 
It’s also snowing.  Having moved to Memphis nearly four years ago from Chicago, I’ve missed the snow, so I’ve gotten my fill of it through four separate snow events in the last month.  But it’s been cold, as well.  Too cold.  Come on back, autumn temps…I’m ready!
Research on the Suffrage Movement
The stay has allowed me to focus on writing a play that I’ve been working on for a while.  In celebration of the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment being ratified, it’s a play about how women earned the right to vote.  One Act, Two Scenes, Four Characters (three historical/one fictional).  I’ve been promised a staged reading, which has been the best motivation for completing it.  It’s coming along.
Also, when you have a new grandchild, fires tend to get lit under your feet and things happen that you’ve been planning for years.  My husband and I are in the process of buying a second home here in Colorado.  Will share more when the closing happens. 
New work on Fine Art America 
Finally, worth repeating, please visit my website www.veronicabatterson.com, my photography site www.veronica-batterson.pixels.com (Fine Art America), and this blog for new work and updates. Looking for fall reads?  Williamsburg Hill is waiting for you to check it out on Amazon. 
I’ll end this blog post and month with the lyrics to one of Dan Fogelberg’s songs, Old Tennessee…appropriate and kind of where I took the title of this post, even if it is actually the end of October. 


Old Tennessee
By Dan Fogelberg

End of October
The sleepy brown woods seem to
Nod down their heads to the Winter
Yellows and grays
Paint the sad skies today
And I wonder when
You're coming home


Woke up one morning
The wind through the window
Reminded me Winter
Was just 'round the bend
Somehow I just didn't
See it was coming
It took me by surprise again

And I hear you're in San Francisco
Living with your sister who's a mother to be
And her husband's way down in Georgia
And I'm still in old Tennessee...
Wishing you'd come home to me

Life here is easy
I'm sure you recall
How it's so warm and breezy
In the Summer and the Fall
But Winter's upon me
And I've got no heat here
And I miss your fire so sweet, Dear
I miss your fire so sweet

And I hear you're in San Francisco
Living with your sister who's a mother to be
And her husband's way down in Georgia
And I'm still in old Tennessee...
Wishing you'd come home to me

End of October
The sleepy brown woods seem to
Nod down their heads to the Winter
Yellows and gray
Paint the sad skies today
And I wonder when
You're coming home
I wonder when you're coming home



Monday, September 30, 2019

Autumn

Baraboo, Wisconsin
This is the closest I've been to missing my deadline. I've maintained this blog for several years and have always made at least one post per month, which has been a goal I set for myself. But here I am, the last day of September 2019, sliding in with a big sigh of "that was close."

Tomorrow starts October, which I've always viewed as the beginning of autumn even though the calendar states otherwise. Some areas of the country are still battling summer heat, but I'm currently in Colorado and hope to enjoy some cooler temperatures and pretty color for a bit.

Below are some quotes and poems referencing my favorite season. I included one of my own from a short story called Precipice which I shared here recently.

Baraboo, Wisconsin
Here's to apple orchards, pumpkin patches, seeing your breath on the air, hearing the crisp crunch of fallen leaves under your feet, and of course to glorious color everywhere. Happy harvest, all!

"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all." - Stanley Horowitz

"October's poplars are flaming torches lighting the way to winter." - Nova Bair

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower." - Albert Camus

"Summer ends, and autumn comes, and he who would have it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night." - Hal Borland

"Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn." - Elizabeth Lawrence

"Just before the death of flowers,
And before they are buried in snow,
There comes a festival season
When nature is all aglow."
(Author Unknown)

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns." - George Eliot

"Come said the wind to
the leaves one day,
Come o're the meadows
and we will play.
Put on your dresses
scarlet and gold,
For summer is gone
and the days grow cold."
(A Children's Song of the 1880s)

"The meadow opened before her like welcoming arms ready to embrace, its colors beginning to alter as autumn waits patiently to paint the landscape with rich hues of yellows and reds. Wildflowers and wheat fields swayed on the horizon, defying the inevitable change as if crying, 'not yet, not yet' but gradually all would bow and sleep; the palette of fall would insure it." - Veronica Randolph Batterson (Precipice)