CXXXIII. Zinfandel

I have come to my blog this afternoon. I haven’t been here in a while. Maybe you noticed. The place is incredibly dusty. Moriarty, the Phantom of My Blog, does not dust. He sweeps up after parties, hangs new headers, and cooks borscht, but he does not dust.

I walk over to the round table. Even the orange candle in the bottle we keep in the center of the table is dusty. Someone has scrawled “Dusty Destry rides again” in the dust on the table surface, and, “Meet us at Bottle-Neck.” “Oh, so funny,” I think, dryly. “Moriarty.”

I open the windows and let in the light and air. I go into the kitchen. Fingerprints pepper the dust all over the black stovetop, and a stippling of dots, like someone has sneezed. There are a couple of corks on the stove, but no companion bottles. A pot of leftover chili sits on a burner, still warm, the handle of the big spoon sticking out at the rim of the lid. Moriarty must be here. I go into the back kitchen. Fingerprints are in the dust all over the old black stove here, too, and paw prints on the top front edge. And bird claw prints. Odd. I find a couple of rags in a drawer, dampen them and begin dusting. I climb to the catwalk. While dusting the apparatus, ropes and wires along the open spaces, I hear music – Moriarty’s banjo – and then peals of macabre laughter reverberate through the beams and railings. I stop. No … that’s not Moriarty. He doesn’t laugh that way. Silence ensues. A chill runs up my spine. Goosebumps rise on my forearms. This is my blog. I welcome visitors. But this – who else is creeping around in here…? A stranger listening for me? I’ll never get done dusting if I stop and wonder. I certainly do not want to be in here till midnight. I continue dusting. Once or twice I hear a dog bark – Moriarty’s black, fluffy dog, Dickens?

Now I am hungry and the chili back there on the stove smelled good. I come down to the kitchen, rinse out the rags and take a break. I reheat the chili, sit at the round table and eat what is left. In the gathering gloom I think I hear again the evil laughter. I listen; then, stillness unbroken. I look around. I see no one. I get up, go into the kitchen and wash the dishes, chili pot, and the stoves in both rooms. I stay at my blog until well after dark, dusting. Finally I am done. I close the windows. I am ready to go home.

I think I hear Dickens barking. They must be in the cupola. I am tired and want to sit and relax with a glass of wine and good conversation. In the kitchen I find a wine glass but no wine, just bottle corks, and no cheese and crackers. The cupboard is bare. Unusual. I should visit my blog more often.

I climb the creaking, winding staircase, carrying my empty glass, and, brushing peeling yellowing paint off my sleeve, remember that I must get Moriarty to put a fresh coat of paint on these walls.

At the top, the cupola door is shut. Beyond the door I hear muffled voices. The door sticks a little, but I push it open wide. Dickens rushes to me, all wiggly, nuzzling me. He sniffs my hands, to see if I am bringing food, and my clothes. I probably smell like moldering rags. He sneezes.

Moriarty lolls in one chair and across the space, in the half-light, I see a dark-haired scrawny man sprawled in another. The man’s face is sallow, bony and crumpled, uneven, like whoever planned this face hadn’t laid out the parts on a grid first. He has a small mustache and random curls drop over his high forehead. His eyes are sunken, yet bright and beady, like small black grapes. He is dressed all in black, a black turtle neck sweater, with a scarf wound tight and tied about his neck, and jeans. He wears black loafers but no socks, the mark of a Southern man, or one who has lived for some time in the South.

“Samantha, this is my friend, Poe,” says Moriarty.

“Poe? As in Edgar Allan?” I ask, still standing just inside the door, staring at the pair. Poe fixes his eyes on me. They shine with dark intent – mysterious glinting blades. I reach to the doorframe for support.

“Poe is my first name,” he answers. “Edgar Allan Poe is my ancestor. My mother named me after him. He is my ancestor on my sister’s side.”

“…What? Your sister…?” I ask.

“Yeah. Paula,” he says.

I don’t pursue the conundrum. He seems a bit wacky to me. And he is creepy looking. I hear a whirring. Suddenly, a large bird swoops down, close in front of my face, and perches on Poe’s shoulder. I start. It is a raven, having apparently been perched on the frame over the doorway, right above my head: the explanation for the bird claw prints on the stove.

“Come in. Sit,” says Moriarty, waving his arm toward the remaining empty chair. “I see you found my message.”

“The one in the dust about meeting you at Bottle-Neck?” I say.

“That one,” says Moriarty. His banjo stands against his chair.

“Where’s the wine?” I ask. “I’ve been dusting all afternoon and I’m ready to near-drown in a glass of Zinfandel armed with cheese and crackers serving as floaties. Where’s the wine?”

The two gaze at me blankly. No, sheepishly. Then I spot over in the corner, and lining one wall, even in the gauzy light of the few candles Moriarty has brought up to the cupola with him, a contingent of Zinfandel bottles. They are empty. All of them.

My eyes widen. “You drank all the wine?!”

“We’re having a frightfully good time,” says Poe.

“We’re telling each other spooky stories,” adds Moriarty, “and then singing them.” He sniggers.

I don’t find these two boys particularly amusing. I’ve been scrubbing prickly cactus on a dusty desert all afternoon, reaching precariously over the edge of the catwalk, filling my lungs with dust and my ears with reverberating peals of macabre laughter seemingly out of the ethers, I am moldering and thirsty, and I want at least one glass of wine, a large one. Filled to the rim.

“There’s no more wine anywhere?” I say.

“It was a faulty case,” says Moriarty.

“Now, wait a minute,” says Poe, indignant. “I didn’t think the case in my detective story I just told you was faulty.”

“No, the case of wine,” says Moriarty. “The bottles all had leaks.”

“We should have brought a cask,” says Poe.

“I’m sure,” I say, flatly. “And, no cheese and crackers?”

“Nothing more,” says Poe.

Dickens walks over and sniffs the empty plate on the floor next to the bottles. There isn’t even a crumb for him to lick up.

The raven burps. Dickens trots over to the bird and begins barking up at it, still perched on Poe’s shoulder, Dickens commanding, as if to say, “You ate ‘em all. Cough ‘em up, buddy.”

But, I suspect it was Moriarty and Poe who ate the greater balance of them.

The candle flames flicker in the bare draft whispering through the open window. The curtain rustles lightly. We sit in silence. Poe stares down at the shapeshifting shadow specters dancing a fantastic fandango across the candlelit floor. The raven blinks. Moriarty watches Dickens settle onto the worn red Oriental rug, against my chair. A distant bell tolls.

Poe sits bolt upright. He peals,

“‘And the people–ah, the people–
 They that dwell up in the steeple,
    All alone,
  And who, tolling, tolling, tolling,
    In that muffled monotone,
  Feel a glory in so rolling
    On the human heart a stone—,’

“I think I’ll write a poem about that,” he muses, “something about bells. It has a nice ring, don’t you think? It just rolls – rolls, rolls, rolls, rolls – rolls lightly off the tongue. A tintinnabulation.”

“You’re making me hungry,” says Moriarty. “Rolls.”

“It’s already been written. By your ancestor on your sister Paula’s side,” I point out. “It’s called ‘The Bells.’”

“Ah, iron bells.” The rusty tone of his voice rises from a deep well within him. There is a peculiar, dark nervousness about this man. He twitches and fidgets and then suddenly he is calm, strangely calm, glassy. Then, I notice his eyes are not black, but light, yet acute, and sad, yes, sad. And, every time he twitches and fidgets, Dickens watches, amused, as the raven puffs its wings, roughs its feathers and shifts its position.

“Has Dickens been fed?” I ask.

“Well, smooth, sweet nepenthe. Of that I must have more,” says Poe. “I must get my hat and depart thee. I must get to the store. Then, I am headed to my chamber. I feel an urge, a pressing urge to write ever more.”

He rises, turns and then stops. He stoops and reaches into one of the bottles, the raven hopping, turning, adjusting its wings and claws on Poe’s shoulder for balance. “Look at this. It’s a message.” He sticks a finger into the bottle neck and coaxes out the paper. “A message in a bottle. Cool.”

He unrolls it. “Uh-oh,” he says upon examining it. “I wrote this.” He hands it to Moriarty. I read it over his shoulder. It is faded and hard to read in the feeble candlelight, but I can make out the title, in large print: “MS. Found in a Bottle.”

“You just gave yourself away,” I say. “You’re the real Edgar Allan Poe, not some descendant on your sister Paula’s side.

“I won a literary award for this,” says Poe, “my only one. In 1833. I entered it in a fiction contest sponsored by the Baltimore Saturday Visiter [sic] newspaper. Fifty dollars, I got for my short story.” He reaches and pulls his black cape off the back of his chair, sweeps it around his shoulders, turns and heads down the winding staircase, the raven teetering as they descend as one. He waves a hand over his shoulder, “Ciao,” he says, and he and his raven vanish into the murkiness of the hour.

I turn to Moriarty. “You, my dear Phantom, have an intriguing menagerie of friends.”

Moriarty smiles.

The scent of fresh, wet earth rises as a soft rain begins to fall. Moriarty pulls the window closed and extinguishes the candles save one. He carries it to light our way as we head down the winding stairs, Dickens leading. Our shadows in the lost light glide alongside us like leviathan grotesques navigating inside a diaphanous wall.

“Remember, I asked you to paint these walls,” I say. “Would you do it soon? Please?”

“They have to be scraped first,” he says, “sanded down, to reveal the bones beneath.”

–Samantha Mozart
October 20, 2016


Liebster Award 2016

Version 2

I am pleased to announce that I have been given the Liebster Award for 2016. This marks the second year I have received the award; the first was for 2014. The Liebster Award is peer nominated, normally given by bloggers to other bloggers, and offers the opportunity to develop relationships with fellow bloggers and new readers. I accept this award and am honored to be part of this tradition. Thank you, Pat Garcia, for nominating me.

Pat Garcia is an inspirational writer of nonfiction essays and of fiction. She is an American writer, blogger, book reviewer, singer and musician living in Europe. Pat says her “heart lies in telling stories with a romantic twist that inspires.” You can find her uplifting stories on the Internet at: This is just one of her blogs, and it will lead you to her others.

The Rules

  1. Write a post about yourself, displaying an image of the Liebster Award.
  2. Link back and thank the blogger who nominated you in your post.
  3. Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
  4. Pick 5 – 10 new bloggers (must have less than 300 followers) to nominate and ask them 11 new questions. Do not re-nominate the blogger that nominated you.
  5. Go to each new blogger’s site and inform them of their nomination.

I must tell you that I hesitated to complete the acceptance of this award. To write all this about myself seemed rather self-indulgent, and I and other authors have said much of this before. Ultimately, I decided to go ahead with it. I might attract some new reader, and my present following might dig up something of interest. In my wilder dreams, an agent might come along and say, “I must find a book publisher for you and avidly promote your work.” I should advise you, though – this is really long, so you may want to read it episodically or just go ahead and binge read.

Questions Asked by Pat Garcia

1. What does writing mean to you?

Digging up the clams at low tide …


  • The importance of the fourth estate – journalism: the function of the press in a democracy is checks and balances; also, incisive investigation and communication of global affairs and humanitarian conditions.
  • Truth – whether by nonfiction or fiction, for consensus observes there is more truth in fiction than in nonfiction.
  • Human Interest profiles about individuals who have accomplished something extraordinary and beneficial for society.
  • Exchange of information and ideas – learning how and what others think; reaching truth, acceptance and compromise.
  • The messenger.

Providing the magic carpet to fly readers to the lands of their imagination.

2. Where do you get your inspiration?

I love storytelling and I am driven to write. Ask me how I’m doing and I’ll say, “Let me tell you a story about that.” My father and my uncle were always telling us stories, so I got that gene. Plus, I am interested in everything: I read, research and ask a lot of questions about a lot of things.

People fascinate me: Before I was old enough to wield pencil and paper I was an observer: I was 2 or 3 years old when my mother would tell me to stop staring at the passengers seated across from me in the trolley car. I studied them, wondering who they were, what their lives were like. Thus arose the genesis of transporting characters from the real world into my imaginative stories. By the time I was 8 or 9, you could hand me a pencil and a yellow legal pad and I would sit content, writing a story. When I began reading, I derived inspiration from fairy tales, The Arabian Nights, the logical illogic of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, Robert Louis Stevenson’s poetry (A Child’s Garden of Verses), children’s mystery (Nancy Drew) and biography books, and finally, F. Scott Fitzgerald. A great deal of my inspiration and influence develops from the set of 12 graded My Book House books my mother bought me when I was quite young.

3. Do you write fiction or non-fiction or both?

I write both fiction and nonfiction. I have been a journalist for years, writing features and human interest stories, and evolving to being an essayist, memoirist, short story writer and currently working on three linked novels. I especially enjoy the storytelling genre of writing creative nonfiction, intermixing fact and fiction.

4. Do you blog and if so, how often?

I blog. This is it. You are visiting and viewing my blog presently. I began writing my blog in May 2011, posting about twice a week; then, I was writing about caregiving for my mother who suffered from dementia. She died in April 2012. Since then, I have been posting on my blog as I feel necessary. I’ve taken the A-Z Blogging Challenge two years running, posting every day but Sundays throughout April 2015 and 2016. Lately I post intermittently. So, my blog has gotten dusty; and Moriarty, the Phantom of My Blog, although he does much work around here, such as hanging new headers, cleaning up after parties, and sometimes cooking meals which we share with his black, fluffy dog, Dickens, does not dust. So, I have to get busy dusting and I need to do that before I write another blog post so I won’t sneeze all over my pages, because then, Moriarty points out, the pages will stick together and my masterpiece won’t be much of a page turner.

5. Where is your favorite place or room to write?

I write in my studio at my iMac, listening to music, usually classical, looking out my window at the ever-changing dogwood and the activities of the birds, squirrels and my neighbor’s grandsons within its branches. Sometimes, too, I write by hand, using a favorite ballpoint pen, in my notebook, sitting in the chaise lounge between the perpendicular windows in my library. I believe it is necessary to write by hand. The process is slower, therefore allowing you time to think between the words and lines you are putting on the page; consequently, you go deeper into thought and detail and your writing flows like a soft stream over cobbles.

6. Do you have a regular routine, like writing in the morning or evenings? Or do you write whenever it hits you?

I like to write in the mornings, two or three hours; but sometimes I write best in late afternoon, for an hour or so, before dinner. I keep pen and paper all around the house and carry a pen and little notebook with me when I’m out, so I can capture that elusive gem the moment it rises above the ripples of thought.

7. Who is your favourite author? What kind of influence have they had upon your writing or upon you personally?

My favorite author is F. Scott Fitzgerald. He has taught me most of what I know about writing well. In pre-computer days, I read everything Fitzgerald wrote and everything written about him. I hand copied pages and pages of his essays on good writing and kept them in a file. Sadly, he died just before I was born. I chased after him to find the houses he had lived in nearby where I live – Wilmington and Baltimore – but found they had been torn down only a few years earlier. He is my kindred spirit and great inspiration, along with Thomas Wolfe and his marble angel. Thomas Wolfe’s childhood home still stands, in Asheville, and I have visited it twice. These two authors inspired me to believe in and discipline myself to write. They are my angels.

Additionally, the greatest short story writer, I believe, is Anton Chekhov, second only in talent to William Shakespeare. His nonjudgmental, incisive knowledge of humans and the human condition combined with his simple yet compelling storytelling approach the mystical. Too, there are Leo Tolstoy, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Edith Wharton, Daphne du Maurier and Jane Austen. My living favorites are Julian Fellowes, Adam Gopnik, Stephen King, William Least Heat-Moon, Orhan Pamuk, Gay Talese, Elif Batuman and T.J. Banks. I could go on.

Anton Chekhov and Leo Tolstoy were friends. Chekhov wrote, “When literature possesses a Tolstoy, it is easy and pleasant to be a writer; even when you know you have achieved nothing yourself and are still achieving nothing, this is not as terrible as it might otherwise be, because Tolstoy achieves for everyone. What he does serves to justify all the hopes and aspirations invested in literature.”

8. Do current events in the world have an effect upon what you write?

Of course current events influence what I write: they saturate us. You’d have to be solitarily confined not to extract some effect from your surroundings, and even then you might find something. Every writer must be attuned to his or her environment, whether it be war, misogyny and genocide in a foreign land; the sound of a piano through an open window; the way a squirrel grips with its hind paws a dogwood branch swaying in the autumn wind while turning the red berry in its front paws as it nibbles it; or the aroma of authors in a library, of the bindings and pages of their books. A writer, by nature, is an observer.

William Least Heat-Moon wrote in Blue Highways, “It was the Texas some people see as barren waste when they cross it, the part they later describe at the motel bar as ‘nothing.’ They say, ‘There’s nothing out there.’” Heat-Moon proceeds, then, while “driving through the miles of nothing,” to test the hypothesis. He stopped. “No plant grew higher than my head,’ he writes. “For a while, I heard only miles of wind against the Ghost; but after the ringing in my ears stopped, I heard myself breathing, then a bird note, an answering call … I heard the high zizz of flies the color of gray flannel and the deep buzz of a blue bumblebee. I made a list of nothing in particular.” He lists 30 things, and then says, “That was all the nothing I could identify then, but had I waited until dark when the desert really comes to life, I could have done better.”

9. How often do you read? Do you read books in different genres?

I read daily – everything from the backs of cereal boxes to The New Yorker to the great classic novels. I read different genres; however, I am a classicist in general, and I prefer and most often read the great 19th and 20th century classics – American, British, Russian, French and German. Too, I like how Middle Eastern storytelling starts from the middle and scrolls outwards to the beginning and the end. In my childhood I read the great classics from around the world, so those set my foundation. I think you’ll find that great writers have read insatiably as children. In my early childhood no one had TV, so I had to read. Most of the books I read had no pictures, so I had to imagine the scenes in my own mind, a phenomenon which modern screen time little supports.

10. Please share a paragraph or two of what you are currently working on.

Shortly, Lisa entered the lobby. She looked about 16, a perky blonde with a good tan. She wore a short skirt and pumps, no socks. The first thing I noticed as she led me down the hall to her corner office, which turned out to be about the size of my apartment, was her distinctly pronounced sock marks. Her ankles were snow white. It’s like she had highlighted them. The white sock marks looked so neatly painted in nice clean lines. That set the tone for our interview. “Did you use a stencil?” I wanted to ask as I followed her down that long, narrow, dark hall, her ankles practically lighting the way. I think the least I would have done was apply a tanning preparation — better orange ankles than Casper ghastlies. –From “White Sock Marks,” an essay included in my to-be-published collection, Leftover Bridges.

Were I to live forever, I would know him anywhere: Connell. His head was turned to his left, his dark eyes fixed on something across the street, and he was about to run into me.

It had happened once before: We worked together at Shoreline Catering. I cut a diagonal across the catering warehouse floor to his office to tell him something. Just as I arrived at his open office door, he jumped up from his desk and walked squarely into me in the doorway.

“Did he plan that?” I wondered. I wondered for seventeen years, the whole time I was away, living in Princeton, New Jersey. I had arrived back in Southern California two months ago, in October, just before the rains began and the snow-mantled mountains embraced the L.A. basin. I loved this time of year.

“Connell!” I said. He was four feet from me and coming fast, as always.

He turned his gaze on me, his intense, dark eyes sparked from somewhere deep and scorched my soul. Time telescoped. –A short story, “These Eyes,” from Leftover Bridges.

11. Where and what do you see yourself as within the next ten years? Will you have relocated? Will you have become the writer person that you have dreamed of being?

In 10 years I will be 85. By then, if I’m still living, I might have relocated from Delaware to Southern California where I lived most of my adult life. As for my writing, I am on the retirement side of my 50-year professional writing career. I began with analyzing and summarizing legislation for constituents of a United States Congressman, and worked through marketing and sales copywriting to magazine and newspaper writing and editing, to ultimately blogging and book authoring and publishing. I have some things I’d like to clean up, though – finish and publish books I have been working on – novels and essays, and continue writing my blog as I see fit, while my books become bestsellers.

My Liebster Nominations

My Questions to Nominees

  1. When did you begin writing and what or who inspired you to dedicate yourself to writing professionally?
  2. Do you have a writing routine? Please tell us about it.
  3. Do you write at a computer, a typewriter or in longhand, or a combination of these?
  4. Do you have a designated space for writing? Where?
  5. Do you write to music? If so, what kind?
  6. What types of works do you read?
  7. Who is your favorite author and how has this author influenced you?
  8. What is your writing process from inception to completion and publication?
  9. Are you published? Through a publisher or indie? E-books or print or both?
  10. Please share a paragraph or two of a work in progress.
  11. Do you have an agent? If so, how did you get your agent? Otherwise, how do you market and promote your work?

–Samantha Mozart
October 8, 2016




CXXXII. “Under the Trees It Was Green and Cool”: F. Scott Fitzgerald

The singer is gone, but the song lingers on. September 24 is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s birthday. This year he would be 120.

September 24, 2016 — F. Scott Fitzgerald came to live in Wilmington, Delaware, in March 1927. With him he brought his wife, Zelda, and his little daughter, Scottie. They stayed two years.

The feudal atmosphere in Wilmington under the du Ponts, thought Maxwell Perkins, Fitzgerald’s editor at Scribner’s, would provide the creator of The Great Gatsby with the tranquility he needed to finish his new novel, “The World’s Fair,” and give him material for future work.

For $150 a month, they leased Ellerslie, the white three-story 1842 Greek Revival cupolaed mansion on the Delaware River in Edgemoor. Wilmington attorney John Biggs, Fitzgerald’s former Princeton roommate, found the house for them.

For the first few months, life at Ellerslie floated along on the wings of a dream. Fitzgerald wrote to Ernest Hemingway: “Address for a year – Ellerslie Mansion, Edgemoor, Delaware. Huge old house on the Delaware River. Pillars, etc. I am called ‘Colonel,’ Zelda ‘de old Missus.’”

Scott and Zelda devised a system of calls and echoes so they could find each other among the 14 of the 27 rooms they kept open. Scottie romped the broad green lawn with the Wanamaker and du Pont children. And from the second-story bay window room where Fitzgerald wrote, he could see the lights far across the river.


Ellerslie, image from the Hagley Museum and Library

At Ellerslie, in the deep night, amid the whispering old oaks, beeches and horse chestnuts, you might glimpse the suggestion of a figure, perhaps Gatsby himself, standing on the pillared portico of the magnificent house, lifting his arms outstretched toward the dark water.

The invitations went out and the crazy weekends began. Fridays the French chauffeur drove to the Wilmington train station to meet the guests who included Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, Thornton Wilder, Edmund Wilson and Charles MacArthur. The chauffeur drove them back on Sunday. In between were dinner dances, polo matches staged with plow horses and croquet mallets, and late-night bedside visits by the resident ghost. If things got dull, they caroused the town: John Biggs received the middle of the night phone calls to get them out of jail.

At Ellerslie, Fitzgerald had turned 30. Indeed, a weekend guest recalled one of the parties as being a virtual funeral wake for the passing of his 30th year. His sense of loss plagued him.

“There was a demon within him to be the greatest writer of his generation. He didn’t feel he was accomplishing this,” remembered Biggs.

He got distracted when he started writing. “I get afraid I’m doing it instead of living…. Get thinking maybe life is waiting for me in the Japanese gardens at the Ritz or in Atlantic City or on the lower East Side.”

Zelda wanted to build a surprise dollhouse for Scottie. Fitzgerald and his little girl waited in their car on a quiet red-brick street corner while she disappeared with some papers through a door lettered “Cabinet Maker.”

It was a fine November day. The last golden leaves clung to the trees, sprinkling little shadows here and there on the sidewalk. The daddy yawned. A very little boy walked up the street, taking very long strides. He went up to a door, took a piece of chalk out of his pocket and proceeded to write something under the doorbell.

“He’s making magic signs,” the daddy told the little girl. The daddy then wove a tale of fairy intrigue. ‘The little boy was the ogre and he was holding a princess captive behind the closed curtains of the flat on the corner. The king and queen were imprisoned 10,000 miles under the earth.

“And what, Daddy? What?” demanded the little girl, caught up in the magic. The man continued the story. He wanted to be in his little girl’s fairy world with her. A shutter banged closed, then slowly opened. Suddenly the room turned blue. That meant the prince had found the first of the three stones that would free the princess.

The man could remember that world but he knew he would never again see it or touch it for himself. “Outside the Cabinet-Maker’s” was published in The Century Magazine, December 1928.

The Fitzgeralds interrupted their two years at Ellerslie voyaging to Paris in the summer of 1928. There, at a dinner party hosted by Sylvia Beach, a Baltimore native and founder of Shakespeare and Company, Fitzgerald met James Joyce, where he was so overawed by the genius of the Irish author that he sank onto bended knee, kissed his hand and later referred to the evening as “The Festival of St. James.”

Leaving Ellerslie for good in March 1929 the Fitzgeralds sailed for Genoa. In April they were somewhere in France. By June they were in Cannes.

After they sailed, Ellerslie was acquired by the Krebs Co.

In Europe Zelda suffered her first major breakdown, most likely bipolar, and spent 15 months in a Swiss clinic. Upon her release the Fitzgeralds returned to the United States to live in Baltimore in 1931, but Zelda broke down again and was treated at the Phipps Clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Tender Is the Night, begun in 1925 as “The World’s Fair,” winged its way into the literary world in 1934. One year later, the big square rooms of the sweeping white mansion on the Delaware housed the offices of the DuPont Co. pigments plant.

Fitzgerald published “Afternoon of an Author,” a short story, in Esquire magazine in August 1936. In the story he wrote:

“He went into the kitchen and said good-by to the maid as if he were going to Little America. Once in the war he had commandeered an engine on sheer bluff and had it driven from New York to Washington to keep from being A.W.O.L. Now he stood carefully on the street corner waiting for the light to change, while young people hurried past him with a fine disregard for traffic. On the bus corner under the trees it was green and cool and he thought of Stonewall Jackson’s last words: “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.” Those Civil War leaders seemed to have realized very suddenly how tired they were—Lee shriveling into another man, Grant with his desperate memoir-writing at the end.”

Fitzgerald took rooms at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina, for the summers of 1935 and 1936. He thought the respite at the inn would help him stop drinking and write more.  Tender Is the Night was not selling well: during the Depression people weren’t inclined to read about the highlife of the rich. He was supporting Zelda’s institutional stay and daughter Scottie’s Vassar education. At the Grove Park Inn, Fitzgerald turned 40.

The Grove Park Inn, Asheville, N. C.

The Grove Park Inn, Asheville, N. C.

Some years earlier, Scott Fitzgerald had met Asheville native son, Thomas Wolfe, author of the autobiographical novel, Look Homeward, Angel, through Maxwell Perkins, their mutual editor. Perkins and Wolfe marked birthdays around Fitzgerald’s, September 20 (1884) and October 3 (1900) respectively. So, you might regard this story as a triple birthday commemoration. Wolfe and Fitzgerald maintained a correspondence on the philosophy of writing.

In 1937 Fitzgerald went to Hollywood to write for the movies. Gone With the Wind was one of them. He was also working on a new novel, The Last Tycoon. He stayed at the Garden of Allah residential hotel in Hollywood.

Garden of Allah

Garden of Allah

On December 21, 1940, Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, lyrical prose writer, author of novels, short stories, poems, essays and plays, died in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, of a heart attack. He was 44.

Thomas Wolfe died on September 15, 1938, in Johns Hopkins Hospital, his brain riddled with tuberculosis.

Maxwell Perkins, a kind father to both these men, died on June 17, 1947 of pneumonia.

Zelda perished in a fire at Highland Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, on March 10, 1948, when flames ripped through a wooden building where she and eight other patients were housed.

In 1972, the gracious summer home on the Delaware, riddled with termites, was demolished.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, great grandnephew of Francis Scott Key, the author of the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the United States national anthem, was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on this day, September 24, 1896. Happy Birthday, Scott.

Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards
Already with thee! tender is the night

—from Ode to a Nightingale, John Keats

This Ode to Fitzgerald is in part excerpted from a piece I published in the Wilmington (Del.) News-Journal, “Only the Memories Remain,” under my byline Carol Child,
April 24, 1986.

Samantha Mozart

A to Z Challenge Reflection 2016: Without Silence

A-to-Z Reflection [2016]

Without silence, we could not distinguish the notes of the music. Even so, the music of the words that play within the walls of my mind is not the same as the sound of a voice that speaks aloud.

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote “At five o’clock he felt the need of hearing his own voice.” That’s pretty much how it’s gone for me every day, the 26 days in April writing my A to Z posts. But, I’m not living in a communal house on the Princeton University campus, so I can’t retreat to that house like Amory Blaine in Fitzgerald’s 1920 novel This Side of Paradise to see if anyone else has arrived. I am alone, sitting in my studio at my computer. I feel the urge to pick up the phone and call someone. But I conclude that’s hopeless. No one wants to listen, no one has much to say. Few like talking on the phone these days, anyhow. They text. I don’t text; but even if I did I wouldn’t be hearing my own voice. I’d be seeing elisions and acronyms, oft misspelled, standing in for words and phrases, arriving on a tiny screen with the size typeface and images made for 18-year-old eyes, and a keypad for 3-year-old fingers.

So I climb the rickety, winding staircase, with the peeling white paint on the walls, to the cupola of my blog. Maybe Moriarty has arrived. He is the Phantom of My Blog, a low talker, a thoughtful thinker, someone I can converse with, even if he doesn’t dust.

On the way up I’m ruminating on why I chose the theme I did for 2016, “From Sea to Shining Sea,” my landscape photographs from my travels across America, pictures of places where I have lived or visited. I thought it would be quick and easy: use photos already in my computer and then say a few words. Not so. I found that for each photo in my computer, to give a true sense of place, I had to scan in more. Plus, the photos are old, 20 years or more, so I had to research each place to update my facts.

My photos are old because I spent the last decade caring for my mother, at home, who suffered from dementia. I had no time to do much else. In fact, I started my blog in 2011 to write about our journey through her dementia. Writing this story not only served as a catharsis for me, but also as information and support for others in similar circumstances. My mother died on April 11, 2012, hence this month marks the fourth anniversary of her death. She was 97. Many of the photos I used in this A to Z theme are of trips she and I took together. So, for me, this theme was a journey into a place called Nostalgia; and because the photos are old, I felt that I was seeing my whole life pass before my eyes. Often that made me sad. I was sad to see all those lost loves that I could look at, but whose voices I would never hear again. Without silence, there is no Nostalgia.

I am favored nonetheless to have had those travel experiences, to have met the enchanting and the enchanted along the way and to have traveled with the greatest companions. So I thought maybe my readers on the A to Z journey with me and from around the world might like seeing places in America they had not seen. Out of the corner of my imagination I observed that the native peoples who originally inhabited Santa Catalina Island off the coast of California made me a box out of soapstone. So, climbing upon my soapstone box I achieved my Scheherazade Chronicles mission of storytelling about sustainability of the environment, wildlife and humanity, that whole ecosystem. I did so verbally in some of my posts and in photographs in all of my posts.

As a journalist for over 35 years I am used to meeting deadlines; therefore, for that aspect, I facilely met the daily A to Z post deadlines. I took the A to Z Blogging Challenge last year for the first time and I found the writing, reading and meeting new friends exhilarating. This year I wasn’t going to take up the challenge, because I knew I didn’t have time. I was already inundated with obligations. But, I did it anyway. I found out I can’t do it all. I’d drop some quotidian pieces, forget and then have to go back and pick them up when I’d stumble over them, and affix them into their proper places in the picture puzzle on my mind table.

My mind kind of looked like this (hover your mouse over the image for further comment):

Sea Foam 1

So, this 2016 A to Z series is a new journey upon which I embark and share my old journeys with you; old friends, fellow bloggers, have come with me and along the way I have met new friends with utterly fascinating thoughts and lives. I am always interested to know how others think and to hear their voices. These are the treasures I encounter on the journey from A to Z.

I watched Ken Burns’s The National Parks, which just happened to be showing on TV as I neared the culmination of my A to Z postings mostly about designated parks and landmarks, and I realized what I had done in my life, where I had been, what I had photographed and written about. I should like to continue this.

Ah, here we are at the top of the stairs. I hear a tap. I look around the cupola. Moriarty is here. He’s sitting in the light by the open window. The pale, yellowed gauze curtain undulates in the soft breeze. Moriarty is tapping his iPad. He’s reading my A to Zs.

I speak.

He interrupts me. “This series is a photo essay,” he says. “And, where am I? Not one mention of me throughout, let alone a picture. It’s like I’m not here.” He is silent for a moment. A shadow of sadness passes across his eyes. And then he continues, “So, would you please post a photo of me. Your readers think I am a figment of your imagination. And, I am not. I am real. I am a genuine Phantom. And, besides, they always liked me better than you.”

So, dear reader, I give you Moriarty, The Phantom of My Blog:



–Samantha Mozart
May 8, 2016

Inspiration: At five o’clock he felt the need of hearing his own voice, so he retreated to his house to see if any one else had arrived. Having climbed the rickety stairs he scrutinized his room resignedly, concluding that it was hopeless to attempt any more inspired decoration than class banners and tiger pictures. There was a tap at the door.

From F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise, 1920. BOOK ONE:
“The Romantic Egotist”; CHAPTER 2: “Spires and Gargoyles.”



What more could so fulfill the human spirit than the sound of waterfalls gushing,  wind dancing through the tops of the tall conifers, birdsong echoing, the scent of pine bark and incense cedars, crystalline air and high granite walls artfully sculpted into graceful formations that soar above you and embrace you in their splendor? It is as if a grand master laid it all out before you and with loving kindness said, “Here. This is for you.”

Yosemite Falls YS004

There are no words to describe Yosemite Valley. It exists to inspire awe in nature’s grandeur, to give inner peace and regeneration. I experience this place as heaven on earth. John Muir called it Nature’s Grand Cathedral, and so it feels. So, please hover your mouse over these images to identify them.

El Capitan Alpinglow 1 YS016

Half Dome Alpinglow & Royal Arches 1

3 Sisters

Intoxicated by the mystique of its scent, I stood beside an incense cedar and took this next picture:

Green Merced

They rode horseback into the great Central Valley of Alta California and the Sierra Nevada foothills. Lieutenant Gabriel Moraga and his expedition sought suitable sites for Spanish missions. Hot, dry and dusty, they had traveled long without water. Mercifully, on September 29, 1806, the thirsty men and their horses came upon the banks of the river. Gratefully relieved, they named the river El Rio de Nuestra Señora de la Merced, The River of Our Lady of Mercy.

John Muir called the Sierra Nevada Mountains “The Range of Light.” He called Yosemite Valley “The sanctum sanctorum of the Sierra.” Glaciers sculpted and polished the granite rock and then retreated 15,000 years ago leaving this pristine valley and its near twin in Yosemite, Hetch Hetchy Valley, 20 miles to the northwest, the Tuolumne Yosemite, as John Muir called it.

Yosemite Vly-Merced River YS003

So, tell me again … why did you dam the Tuolomne and fill Hetch Hetchy with water…?

Hetch Hetchy Reservoir & Dam 1

“These temple-destroyers, devotees of ravaging commercialism, seem to have a perfect contempt for Nature, and instead of lifting their eyes to the God of the mountains, lift them to the Almighty Dollar. Dam Hetch Hetchy! As well dam for water-tanks the people’s cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man.” –John Muir, from The Yosemite (1912), Chapter 15.

First chief of the United States Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot said of damming the Hetch Hetchy, “It is for the good of humanity. The greatest benefit to the greatest number of people.”

Half Dome YS005

Enraptured, I stood in the spray of Bridalveil Fall for a long time and watched it dance on the wind. Bridalveil Fall never runs dry in the summer like the other falls, because it is fed by a living glacier.

Bridalveil Rainbow YS001

Bridalveil Snowstorm 300 copy

Bridalveil Thru Trees YS010

Yosemite New 3

Yosemite Valley Snowstorm YS006

“I wonder if leaves feel lonely when they see their neighbors falling,” John Muir wrote to his daughter.

This day, after I took the above photo looking down into Yosemite Valley with Half Dome in the distance, barely visible just under the clouds, in the right center of the picture, my companions and I got into our car and left the valley. We drove the Tioga Road, high over the Tioga Pass at almost 10,000 feet. It was the month of May. On our way along the road snowflakes began to fall.

–Samantha Mozart








Thomas Jefferson stepped out onto his Monticello portico and gazed out across America. He called this country Eden. He didn’t see the need for a national park, for all America was, he perceived.

The years went by. Industrialization spewed out over the landscape and the people found themselves crowded into big, noisy cities where tall buildings cast long, sooty shadows over their canyons.

It was a time when the gap between the rich and those of lesser means began to widen. People such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Muir, Teddy Roosevelt, Frederick Law Olmsted and Stephen Mather saw the need to preserve American’s places of natural beauty for the people, no matter their income or station in life. The evolution and establishment of the national parks grew from the ground up. It was a grassroots movement.

Paintings and then photos were circulated, and the first tourists arrived in Yosemite in 1855. At first they came on horseback and by stagecoach, and soon, by train and automobile. My party of companions and I entered Yosemite 135 years later from the east at Lee Vining, near Mono Lake, and drove over the Tioga Road.

YS007W Tuolumne Meadows

One of the first places you see along the road after you go over the Tioga Pass at 9,943 feet altitude is Tuolumne Meadows at 8,619 feet. In the distance, back among the trees in this photo, you can see the Tuolumne River meandering through the meadow. The Tioga Pass is closed in winter, deep snow making it impassible. By sometime in May the snow melts and the pass opens. We came in the spring, May and June; and once in July, but by then many of the waterfalls had dried up, except those fed by living glaciers. The waterfalls are full in the spring when the snow is melting. The Tioga Road began as an Indian trail, was paved for cars in 1937 and realigned and dedicated in 1961. In winter you can get into Yosemite National Park, the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and Yosemite Valley through the lower altitude, warmer, western entrances.

Marmot & Tioga Rd View 1

This is the view of Yosemite Valley from near Olmsted Point, elevation 8,300 feet. Olmsted Point is named for American landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and his son Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. for their work dedicated to preserving the land and towards establishing a national parks system. We saw lots of Steller’s jays along the way, beautiful blue birds, and I’d like to tell you that this critter in the photo below is a hungry bear, but it’s actually a marmot hoping to be fed. I do not feed wild animals.

Marmot & Tioga Rd View

Over the Tioga Road we wound down into Yosemite Valley, along the way passing wildflowers and interesting rock formations, and around a bend, suddenly a small waterfall issuing through a crack in a granite rock. You can look down into the valley from a point near the head of Yosemite Falls, where Yosemite Creek spills over the edge.

Yosemite New 2

We came to Tenaya Lake on our way into Yosemite Valley.

Down in Yosemite Valley, altitude 4,000 feet, we encountered the awesome 1927 Ahwahnee Inn and ate lunch there in the cavernous, cathedral ceilinged stone dining room while we looked at mule deer in the grass just outside the window. Ahwahnee is the name the native people of the valley, the Ahwahneechee, gave to the valley: it means wide open mouth or “place of gaping mouth.” To me, such an opening means opportunity.  Behind the inn you see the Royal Arches rock formation.

Yosemite New 1

New concessionaires recently have bought the Yosemite Valley hotels, restaurants and outdoor activities and are changing the name of the Ahwahnee Inn to the Majestic Yosemite Hotel. This short Los Angeles Times piece tells the story. Yosemite is the native people’s word for “people who should be feared: they are killers.”

Half Dome Alpinglow & Royal Arches

These are the Royal Arches.

We also went to see the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias:

Giant Sequoia

Here I am standing in front of a giant sequoia.

And, below, is one of my companions going through the hollowed out trunk of a fallen sequoia.

The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, is located in the southwest corner of Yosemite. The tallest tree stands at 285 feet, the oldest tree is 1,900-2,400 years old. Bristlecone pines grow in the region, too. They survive in subalpine climates where there is little rainfall. The oldest known bristlecone pine in the world is located in the White Mountains in the Inyo National Forest. The White Mountains are not part of the Sierra Nevada range. They rise just to the east. This is the tree. Its exact location is kept secret to protect it from human despoilment. Its name is Methuselah and it has been carbon dated to be 4,847 years old. It is a Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva). This photo is from (Mother Nature Network Earth Matters Galleries.)


Tomorrow we will journey into Nature’s Great Cathedral, Yosemite Valley …

–Samantha Mozart

X Marks the Spot – Bodie Ghost Town

They said there was gold in those hills, and he struck pay dirt. He staked his claim. In 1859 William (Waterman) S. Bodey discovered gold in the central California hills, near the Nevada border. Mr. Bodey didn’t have much time to revel, though, for in November that same year he died in a blizzard.

Wall Wheel Flowers 300 copy

Today, Bodie State Historic Park, Calif., is a ghost town, “preserved in a state of arrested decay.” Interiors of the 110 remaining buildings are untouched as they were left. It looks like someone hollered, “Scram!” and they ran, leaving dishes on the table, coffeepots on the stove, a shirt across the bare springs of a cot, children’s toys on the floor.

Church-House Room-Store 1

Bodie plus

Even the store is stocked as it was.

Church-House Room-Store 2

Bodie, just north of Mono Lake, a salt lake, is located at Bridgeport, Calif., near the Nevada border, just below where the eastern border of the state bends to the right. Bodie is northeast of Yosemite and about 75 miles southeast of Lake Tahoe, on the high, open Bodie Hills. The 1973 Clint Eastwood movie High Plains Drifter was filmed at Mono Lake. The production company built a large façade town at Mono Lake just for the filming, and tore it down afterwards. No remnants remain on the site. But remnants of Bodie, a real ghost town, remain. Bodie’s a photographer’s gold mine.

Mono-Gull-Sun&Shadow 2

Bldg Cluster-Road-Graham

A House in Bodie

Bldg Cluster-Road-Graham 1

Ghost Town Scenes 1

Ghost Town Scenes 2


Bodie House 300

The photo above is the rich man’s house. None of the other houses in the town was as big.

In 1861 a rich strike was made at Bodie and a mill was built. Over the next years the railroad and the telegraph came and the population swelled from 20 to 10,000. It is said there existed three breweries, 65 saloons, an abundance of brothels, a Chinatown, opium dens and a Wells Fargo Bank. There were gunslingers and shootouts. It was a full-blown Wild West town. Bodie became the second or third largest California town and one of the earliest United States towns to acquire electricity.

Bodie Mine Close

The big strikes were soon depleted, though, and the town slid into decline in the 1880s. Miners moved on to Tombstone, Ariz., and other legendary places. Bodie was officially labeled a ghost town in 1915, after the last newspaper closed. The ghost town was designated Bodie State Historic Park in 1962 when the final residents left.

Bodie Mine & Street Scene 1

BD006W Church

BD005W Car & Gas

Bldg Cluster-Road-Graham 2

Even in its boom days, I wonder how residents survived Bodie winters. It is one of the coldest places in the U.S. Up in the Eastern High Sierra Nevada Mountains, elevation 8,375 feet (2,554 m.), where the winds sweep through (up to 100 miles per hour, according to Wikipedia), Bodie has a subarctic climate — temperatures even on summer nights can drop below freezing. The most snow recorded in one month was 97.1 inches in January 1969. Bear in mind, the snow doesn’t melt until spring. That’s when they discovered William Bodie’s body, in the spring. The population of Bodie is now a few park rangers and assorted ghosts. The rangers use snowcats to get around through the deep snow. The park is open in the winter, but only to those with skis, snowshoes or snowmobiles. I have visited Bodie in the daytime, in the spring, on a blustery day in May. I dream of returning with a digital camera to take a nighttime Ghost Walk.

Mono-Gull-Sun&Shadow 1

A California Gull came by to graciously pose for photos. Well, maybe looking to get fed.

Bodie Ghost Town is a National Historic Landmark.

Bodie Alley 300 copy.

–Samantha Mozart


Wrigley’s View

Avalon & Wrigley House

Avalon Harbor & Catalina Casino

Santa Catalina Island was discovered in 1542 by Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, a Portuguese explorer sailing for the Spanish crown. He christened the island San Salvador and claimed it for the Spanish Empire. Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino rediscovered the island in 1602, and since it was St. Catherine’s Day, named the island Santa Catalina. That was long after the Native American Pimugnans or Pimuvit and their antecedents had settled here around 7,000 years ago, as archaeological evidence shows. These were people of the Gabrielino/Tongva tribe. They spoke an Aztec related language and they paddled their plank canoes regularly between the San Pedro and Playa del Rey (Los Angeles County) mainland and the island for trade, particularly their soapstone for other items. The Pimugnans called the island Pimugna or Pimu. Of course, the Spaniards brought diseases which wiped out most of natives. Yet, there are people living in Southern California today who have Gabrielino ancestors. Eventually the island was transferred from the Spanish Empire to Mexico and later, to the United States. Santa Catalina is one of the Channel Islands of California.

Catalina Hilltop Views

Over the years the island served as a stop for the usual array of smugglers, gold diggers, pirates, hunters, the Union army, missionaries, a chewing gum magnate and sunbathers.

Catalina Beach & Boat 1

Descanso Beach, Avalon

After a series of owners and failed attempts to establish Santa Catalina Island as a resort, the sons of Phineas Banning bought the island in 1891. Phineas Banning (1830-1885), financier and entrepreneur, was born in Wilmington, Del., moved out West, founded Wilmington, Calif., and the Port of Los Angeles. He operated a freighting business and stagecoach company. The Banning Brothers established the Santa Catalina Island Company to develop a resort. They built the city of Avalon and established beach areas, a hunting lodge, a guest lodge and stagecoach tours. Then a fire burned down half of the buildings in Avalon in 1915. The First World War had begun the year before, and hard times ensued.

Catalina Beach & Boat 2

The Bannings were forced to sell the company in 1919. William Wrigley Jr. (1861-1932), the chewing gum founder, born in Philadelphia, Pa., bought nearly all the stock in the company without having seen the island. This event recalls those who, sight unseen, invested in and thrashed through Florida swamp with large fly swatters at about the same time. William Wrigley’s view when he finally arrived on Catalina, however, convinced him to buy out the other investors to become sole owner of the Santa Catalina Island Company.

Wrigley Mansion

Wrigley Mansion. The hillside beneath is shored up.

Wrigley invested millions in the island and in 1929 built the iconic art deco/Mediterranean Revival style Catalina Casino, which has the world’s largest circular ballroom. Besides the ballroom, the structure rises to the equivalent height of a 12-story building and houses a museum and a movie theater specifically designed for sound talkies. The island served as a military training facility during the Second World War and was closed to tourists.

High & Harbor 1 copy

Descanso Beach in Avalon Harbor

Many Hollywood movies have been made on Catalina, starting from the days of silent film.

Along the Road

Today the descendants of William Wrigley Jr. continue to own the Santa Catalina Island Company and carry on his vision to develop Catalina as a world class island resort. Eighty-eight percent of the island is protected by the Santa Catalina Conservancy, a nonprofit private land trust founded in 1972.

Catalina Hilltop Views 1

Avalon Harbor View

The Santa Catalina 2010 census human population is 4,096; the buffalo population is maintained at 150-200. The 14 original buffalo were flown in to be movie extras in 1924. The highest peak, Mount Orizaba, is 2,097 feet (639 m.) above sea level. The island is 22 miles long and eight miles across at the widest point. Boats carry passengers across the 20-26 mile Gulf of Santa Catalina from the mainland to the island in an hour, with up to 30 departures a day, year-round. Almost no gasoline powered vehicles are permitted on the island; there is a 14-year waiting list to bring a car onto the island. Residents and tourists roam the island by golf cart, bicycle or foot. Buffalo roam the hills by hoof.

Catalina Beach & Boat

–Samantha Mozart

Victorians & Menhadens – Cape May, New Jersey

Merry Welcome 300

Cape May is at the southernmost tip of New Jersey, separated from the mainland by a narrow channel. In 1878 a fire destroyed 40 acres of homes. So, the buildings were rebuilt in the Victorian style contributing to the charm of the town and attracting many tourists. In 1976 Cape May was declared a National Historic Landmark City.

Menhaden Rigging 480

Menhaden fishing boat rigging.

Anchor for Sale

Anchor for sale.

CM001W Cinzano

Let’s get together.

CM109W The Virginia II

The Virginian hotel.

And One Cat smaller

And one cat….

Flying A

Victorian Walk CM020

Merry Welcome Doors 300


Menhaden fishing boats.

–Samantha Mozart

Up Along the Appalachians

My mother and I took a road trip in 1995 up along the Appalachian Mountains from Georgia through the states of Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia, Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia, not far from Jefferson’s Poplar Forest retreat, though it was only just being restored and wasn’t ready for visitors yet. Here are some photos of our trip.

Dillards & Marble Angel

Dillard’s, a popular family restaurant, Dillard, Georgia.

Gatlinburg & Cove Field Ridge BR Pkw 1

Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Pidgeon Crk & BR Pkwy

This vista is at the junction of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway. We drove through the Great Smoky Mountains, then through the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah National Park, with a stop in Asheville, N.C., to visit the Biltmore Estate and author Thomas Wolfe’s childhood home.

Gatlinburg & Cove Field Ridge BR Pkw

Cove Field Ridge, from the Blue Ridge Parkway, elevation 4,620 feet.

Pidgeon Crk & BR Pkwy 1

Pigeon Creek, N.C. My mother took this photo.

Biltmore House

An aspect of Biltmore House on the Biltmore Estate, Asheville, N.C.

Gargoyles & Hermit

“Spires and Gargoyles”: F. Scott Fitzgerald, who stayed at the historic Grove Park Inn in Asheville, titled his first novel This Side of Paradise and named the second chapter “Spires and Gargoyles,” after the architecture of Princeton University where he had studied as an undergraduate. Here is an apt excerpt from that chapter:

“The night mist fell. From the moon it rolled, clustered about the spires and towers, and then settled below them, so that the dreaming peaks were still in lofty aspiration toward the sky.”

Gargoyles & Hermit 1

The Hermit.

Finally, this side of Asheville …

Thomas Wolfe House 1

“My Old Kentucky Home,” author Thomas Wolfe’s childhood home in Asheville, N.C. This was the boarding house his mother ran. It figures in Wolfe’s autobiographical 1929 novel, Look Homeward, Angel as “Dixieland” in the fictional mountain town of Altamont.

Dillards & Marble Angel 1

This marble angel, a centerpiece in Look Homeward, Angel, is inlaid in the sidewalk in Asheville.

… a stone, a leaf, an unfound door; of a stone, a leaf, a door. And of all the forgotten faces.  –Thomas Wolfe, preface to Look Homeward, Angel.

–Samantha Mozart