Saturday, March 30, 2013

An End

My mother, Mary Katherine Page Brooke, passed away this afternoon. Her end was peaceful and fairly brief, after her long decline over the past six years. She was 94 years old and is survived by five children, and many grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren.

Friday, March 29, 2013

update, march 29

Mom came home this morning and is settled in for now. She is very near the end and is not expected to last more than a few days. Her body will not take nourishment any longer and rejects the food --- all we can do is try to keep her comfortable and give her a peaceful end.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

update, Mar 28

A quick update on what's been going on here---my mother remains in the hospital (the Campbellton-Graceville Hospital, which is close). If things go well, she will come home tomorrow, Friday, and be under Hospice care.

I know that this is the final stage of Mom's life. She will be leaving us soon, but soon could run from days to months. All that is to be done is to care of her until it's time and to pray.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

One Soul, a poem

One Soul

There is one soul and that is God.
We are worn, garments of the infinite,
of birth and death and rebirth,
becoming and going all at once.

Each of us is a reincarnation
of the other. I am your father
and you are my mother and the universe
is our progeny and our ancestry.

Time, after all, is but a shiny bubble
in the void, holding us only
until it bursts. There are no shores
on the sea of existence.

I have been and I will be
and both are the same thing,
a transubstantiation into myself.
There is one soul and that is God.

Stephen Brooke ©2013

What with it being Holy Week and all, life and death and resurrection and all that are in the air. Also, my mother is in the hospital and probably going into hospice care, so that's weighing on my thoughts.  So I scribbled this on the back of a paper scrap last night. I guess that's a rebirth too---junk mail becoming a poem.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Comings and, Perhaps, Goings

First, a quick mention that I converted another book to Kindle/mobi format and have it up for sale at Amazon. That would be my first poetry chapbook, 'Pieces of the Moon.' I'll try to get 'Dreamwinds' up also, when and if time allows. Each sells at 1.99 and you can check out my stuff at my author page:

Well, on the subject of time allowing, my mother has been declining quickly and become very unresponsive. I have a medical appointment for her tomorrow and suspect that she will be hospitalized. This may be the end or we may be able to place a feeding tube and bring her back home for a while longer. As always, only God knows and He's not telling.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Music and Merchandise

I was rather pleased to note that a fairly major US opera company ordered some of my silly Classical Music merchandise from my Cafe Press store. I’m always pleased to sell stuff, of course, but this could give me a bit of extra publicity.

Speaking of my designs, here’s a possible cover-in-progress for the album of children’s music on which I have been (occasionally) working:

It was fun to try out a few ideas for the recording while making up my ‘Mouse’ video, including exploring the capabilities of my Kel Song Sparrow, a well made and inexpensive microphone somewhat in the AKG mold. It has a nice clear sound but it is, obviously, not the best choice for my voice — I was continually flirting with sibilance despite being well back and below it. I could live with its sound though, if need be.

With my overbite and slight lisp, I do have to watch out for sibilance anyway. Fortunately, being such a mush-mouth, I never have that other common singing problem, popping Pees.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

By the Spoonful

It has reached the point where my mother, as do many Alzheimer’s sufferers, has difficulty — or simply doesn’t want to — swallow. Although this could lead, eventually, to the need for a feeding tube, I will hold off on that for as long as I possibly can.

I spent five years feeding my father through a tube, so I know the hows, including the ability to change it out every now and then (usually when the balloon that holds it in place in the stomach bursts). He needed the tube as he was in a semi-vegetative state but Mom should be able to continue to eat more or less normally for a while. That does mean pureed food or Boost or such for at least a while, fed one spoonful at a time. This will take up a fair amount of my time but then I was already spending a lot of time on her care.

Perhaps in time, she’ll feel like chewing and swallowing again. If not, liquids and semi-liquids for the rest of her life. In a way, this does streamline the process of keeping her fed. I do have to keep an eye on her to make sure she doesn’t aspirate food into her lungs (she swallows easier if she’s tilted back some but it increases the danger). I also have to be concerned about her becoming dehydrated — it takes a while to get enough liquid into her by the spoonful. Not to mention the need to keep her fiber intake up.

Well, this makes over twelve years now I’ve been a caregiver, with a brief break between the time my father passed and when my mother started showing signs of dementia. I’ll pray some, curse some, and carry on.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Four Time Seven, a poem

Four Times Seven

My brother had this thing
about always going back
the way he came.
So I won’t get wound-up,
he said. So I’m not
the only crazy one in the family,
just the most obvious.

The rocks just beneath the water—
I knew they were there
and didn’t care. A wave
is to be ridden and a broken
fin or maybe a toe
was sometimes the price
at my favorite break.

We laughed at each others jokes,
the ones no one else
seemed to get; were we
the perfect couple or just
the perfect audience?
The show is over and we
have both gone home.

Tide and sea breeze
have erased every line
I drew in the sand.
I will make new ones
tomorrow; nothing lasts,
after all, each line is
crossed and forgotten.

Stephen Brooke ©2013

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Nowhere? at Amazon!

As mentioned in the previous post, there is now a Kindle edition of 'The Middle of Nowhere.' It may be found (and, of course, purchased) at:

EPUB and print versions remain available at our own store and at Barnes & Noble and Apple.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Although, as I have stated before, I am not overly fond of Amazon and their business practices, I decided to try out publishing for Kindle. My YA novel, 'The Middle of Nowhere,' seemed the best choice for the experiment. So it, in theory, should show up for sale (and lending?) a couple days from now. If this works out okay, maybe I'll do some more.

The preview looked acceptable. I will, of course, make an official announcement at my publishing blog when it becomes available. At 2.99, by the way.

I must admit that I do, very occasionally, shop at Amazon. Just last week, I finally got around to ordering a copy of Wendy Welch's 'The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap.' Waited till I needed some other stuff so I could get free shipping! I know Wendy from when she briefly ran the Folk program (and the Florida Folk Festival) at Stephen Foster Park. She wisely fled from that thankless post to open a used bookstore in Big Stone Gap, Virginia.

Watch for my review in a while, at least at Good Reads and maybe here too.

Incidentally, Wendy was the one who allowed my friend Karen's pug dog into an event there at the park as a 'member of the act.'

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Tuskegee Haibun

I thought I had lost this piece, written nine years ago. I could not find it in my papers, in my computer files, online. So last night it turned up in a folder of completely unrelated material and it now appears here for the first time.

This is a 'haibun' or sort of, anyway --- alternating prose passages and senryu-style poems. I wrote it after one of my trips to record at Tuskegee University.

Tuskegee Haibun

The students at Tuskegee chatter as they walk past Booker T. Washington’s resting place. The marker has become a part of their everyday life, seen but not seen. In the late afternoon, the cross atop the chapel casts its shadow across the small plot of graves.

no longer notice
the old grave

The chapel is tall and angular, pointing to the Alabama sky. Inside, a pianist practices for her evening performance. This is why I have come so far.

three hundred miles
to hear a piano
played well

I set up a pair of microphones to record. It is no great skill, yet suddenly people become deferential. I am, of a sudden, doctor, shaman, possessor of arcane knowledge.

the engineer
fusses with his settings
for effect

Bach and Liszt, waltzes and hymns: the music rises into the scalloped vault. I check my levels from time to time, then listen. This is music I do not wish to experience through headphones. After the applause — lower the volume — I pack for the long drive back. Soon, I am on the road, stopping only at the rest areas for coffee and snacks.

vending machine
sells Moon Pies~
almost home

Stephen Brooke ©2004

More or Less

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Book Review: Wherefore Art Thou, Jane?

A short review of the new novel from Jean and Mary James, 'Wherefore Art Thou, Jane?' 
from Woodrock House, ISBN 9780984860524

By Jove, I rather like this book! An adventure story incorporating a good bit of humor, it is set in the Panhandle of Florida (where I, incidentally, live). ‘Wherefore Art Thou, Jane?’, introduces us to snake-hunter and writer Jane Pate and her polished British publisher, Reginald Faircloth (who does say ‘by Jove’ occasionally — yes, he’s an unrepentant anachronism).

It may not have the intensity of Michael McKinney’s A Thousand Bridges but it offers similar insights into rural Panhandle life and attitude. A quick and entertaining read, with mystery, action, and a dash of romance. And you’ll learn way more about catching snakes than you ever would have wanted!

Disclaimer: I received an advance copy of this book free and, furthermore, the James are relatives of mine (Mary James is, of course, Mean Mary).

Monday, March 11, 2013

New AP Catalog

The March 2013 catalog from The Arachis Press is now available for download. Information on our six current titles is included.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Comfort Food, a poem

Comfort Food

Give me a comfort food existence,
a simple, satisfying,
mashed potatoes life.
Excitement is over-rated

and interesting times remain
as much a curse as ever.
Bore me with your love.
I’ll fall into the routine

of you and me, of home and bed
and Sunday church and dinner.
What’s wrong with that? I ask.
What’s ever been wrong with that?

Stephen Brooke ©2013

Friday, March 08, 2013

A Mouse Is On You Tube

After a couple of years of planning and postponing, I finally put together a simple video of my illustrated kiddies' book, 'A Mouse Is In The House.' This is the very firstest video I've ever made.

This is a simple, quick, and slightly truncated version. When I get a commercial version of the song recorded, it will be longer and have more instrumentation. That is me singing, of course, but the music is all loop-based stuff.

Of course, the pictures are my work. The book itself remains available from the Arachis Press.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Side Trip

I have been working on my long-delayed album of songs with a Florida theme but it’s been delayed again. I have, however, laid down loop-based basic arrangements for most of the eighteen possible songs (I’ll probably end up with fewer than that on the final product). These arrangements are intended as guides — most of the loops will be replaced with ‘real’ playing when I get back into the studio.

But on the subject of Florida songs, I once again failed to make an impression at the ‘Best New Florida Song’ contest held in conjunction with the Will McLean Festival (March 8, 9, 10). I did tell my niece, the one and only Mean Mary, about the contest and, of course, she placed a song in the top ten. Naturally it wasn’t as good as mine but that’s life, eh?

Mary will be at the WillFest to perform sometime that weekend. I’ll miss out on getting down there once again.

Okay, about the delay: I have become sidetracked into recording some children’s songs. It started with me working up a video of my song/illustrated book ‘A Mouse Is In The House.’ To be put up on YouTube eventually, if I figure all that video stuff out. As long as I was recording the song, I decided to go ahead and do a bunch of them and put out an EP (maybe download only?) as sort of a warm up for the Florida album. I have four of my own songs and might add a couple public domain tunes.

So, I’m working those up. I probably won’t even have to get into my studio to finish them. I do find that I need a little bit of a rewrite on one song (it’s just too short as is!) but otherwise things are looking good. When I get back to the Florida album (‘Sunshine Land’) I may want to find someone other than myself to play on it. Not that I can’t do a more-or-less adequate job, if need be.

Incidentally, I may create some children’s books to accompany the songs. We’ll see if I have time for that.