The Monday Book: WHERE TROUBLE SLEEPS by Clyde Edgerton

Edgerton’s books tend to circle a few themes; think of them as small circles that actually go down into the core of human beings. On the surface it looks like a simple, small concept, but the roots go into the fabric of what makes us tick.

Like when “rootless amorality meets deep-rooted morality” as he puts it – drifters come through, they do wrong, they’ve been doing wrong, they meet people who do right, and don’t you forget it. Little old ladies who sing in choirs. Churchgoers whose idea of sin is fishing in Sundays. And then this guy shows up driving a stolen car….

It’s kind of adorable, and symbol of Edgerton’s genius, that the Gypsy Man driving the stolen car takes a cabin at the Settle Inn.

It all kinda goes from there, in hilarious yet poignant directions. Gypsy man, the call to repent, the church goers, and life in small-town North Carolina in the 1950s. You laugh until you cry. E

Especially at the ending, which I won’t give away, but suffice it to say, never miss with a church-going little old lady who isn’t as old or as little as you think.


“Yeah, That’s a Toilet”: the bookstore’s front yard, explained

There are things in life I don’t understand. Folding underwear and landscaping are two of them. The return on time invested just seems …. small.IMG_4242

Jack and I decided last year that we’d had it with lawn care. We scavenged a bunch of old bricks from friends,  bought some ironwork statues, and when that didn’t cover the whole space, we paid a student who needed some grad school money to dig up the rest of the grass.

Voila: our place in the annals of Colorful Local Characters was secured.

Locals observing the bricks-and-statues procession described the work as “interesting” in a tone that implied this was not a compliment. When we ripped up the yard, “kooky” came into play–mostly whispered as doors closed behind us at social gatherings.IMG_4240

Bare earth offends? I’m not the world’s greatest conformist, but I bought three packages of “Perennials” –having first ascertained that, yes, these are the ones that come up every year and take care of themselves–and shook the packets out on the ground sometime late last summer.

Gosh darn if they didn’t come up this year and make the nicest collection of flowers and leaves and stuff. Amazing thing, this gardening trick.

I come from a long line of brown thumb women. I once managed to kill a spider plant. Still, lazy landscaping has its rewards. Last year when friends and I made book planters from some old tomes here, we had a few plants leftover I couldn’t figure out what to do with. I took them outside and set them down in a rainstorm (so I wouldn’t have to water them) and kinda forgot they were out there. Next time I looked, well, I thought they were dead, so just left them there for cruel winter to wipe out the remains.

IMG_4241Now they’re growing like the weeds they aren’t, studding the yard with gorgeous deep purple.

We let the clover and the other natural ground covers grow alongside the hostas we transplanted from the back on the advice of a friend (“Line your sidewalk with them and they look spiffy without care”) and the lilac and the azalea someone gave me for my birthday, all stuck out there in various nooks and crannies where we figured they’d cover our mowing sins. My idea of gardening is less cultivation that containment: mint, chives, sorrel, ivy. Let it grow. I’d rather hack than weed.

And as Jack and I sit on our front porch, sipping summer concoctions while listening to the drone of mower motors in the distance, we clink glasses and sip.