What Rose Forgot
Fasten your seat belts: this new mystery by best-selling author Nevada Barr proves to be a thrilling page-turner.
- by Scott Naugle
Nevada Barr was born in Yerington, Nevada and attended college at the University of California, Irvine. Her degree was in drama and she pursued a career in performance post-graduation.
After a career change, Barr became a park ranger, first assigned to the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi. She created her best-selling Anna Pigeon mystery series based on her experiences working in a national park.
In addition to the Anna Pigeon series of novels, Barr also published the novel Bittersweet, set in the early days of the Western frontier and the nonfiction Seeking Enlightenment… Hat by Hat: A Skeptic’s Guide to Religion.
Rose is heavily drugged, and after a bout of pneumonia when the drugs temporarily wear off, she questions why she has been placed in the facility. She foils the effort to begin the drug therapy again and escapes the facility.
Why and how she was committed to Longwood is at the heart of the What Rose Forgot.
Barr’s training in performance and movement is evident in the novel. Rose barely slithers through a partially opened window to escape a man bent on killing her, “Flattening her body against the slope of the roof, she inches away from the porch. The asphalt shingles sandpaper the skin on her cheek and palms. Her feet scuffle in the uncleaned gutter.”
Every small movement and resultant sensation are detailed much like a practiced performer perfects her stage-craft, aware of how movement matters to the audience.
And how refreshing it is to have a mature heroine, in other words, a vibrant, intelligent, active character, Rose Dennis, pushing seventy years of age. After escaping from Longwood the first time, “Night air, warm and soft, sinks into her, a balm for a sore body and a troubled mind… Fresh real air is sustenance for the spirit, filled with life-affirming qualities scientists will never discovering windowless laboratories.” Rose is a sexagenarian excited and optimistic to be alive.
Grabbing the knife from an attacker, Rose severs his finger. She crawls through shrubbery and undergrowth to hide in a child’s playhouse overnight. Rose re-enters Longwood in costume and subdues a night nurse twice her size.
And she cogently and logically thinks through the chain of events and the whiff of a few clues, to figure out who and why this was done to her. Age did not diminish Rose Dennis. Barr creates an extremely believable older female hero who becomes the heart and soul of What Rose Forgot.
I read What Rose Forgot in one sitting. I had to. Nothing else mattered to me until Rose Dennis thwarted the bad guys and solved the mystery.
The Gift of Thunder
The author marvels at nature's most powerful and breathtaking spectacle: a summer thunderstorm.
- story by James Inabinet, PhD
Turning my gaze to the gurgling creek, I notice its energetic flow despite the lack of rain. I love this place. It is a good place to be still among the beings of this forest with whom I share this beautiful place.
I listen for a while to forest sounds. I always begin mindfulness practice this way. I hear a cardinal to the north; cicadas are loud, primarily east; squawking jays fly over chasing a single crow caw west.
There’s silence for a while, and then more birds, a squirrel maybe. I’m not sure; it was a single squeak. I imagine I hear a faint sound of thunder.
Unsure, I listen closely for a while, more birds, the squirrel – it was definitely a squirrel. I hear thunder again, definitely thunder. There’s a storm to the southeast. I ignore it and begin my meditation. Thinking of nothing, I float inward.
After a while, I have no way of knowing how long, I am pulled back into the world by thunder. Looking southeast, I see dark instead of blue through the canopy. The storm is almost here. I decide to sit it out. It approaches quickly now; shifting winds animate tree tops. I settle firmly onto my pad, a kind of bracing. I look up and am ready.
Eyes closed, I focus on sounds and feelings, to hear the music of this place, bathed by rain, buffeted by wind–a flash of light, a huge raindrop–to see every flash, hear every thunder, smell the ozone, the cleansed air. There is magic in experiencing a storm. I am excited! The storm is almost here; it’s nearly dark.
The wind blows violently through the trees; falling pine needles prick my bare arms and back. The wind blows harder still, the thunder louder, flashes of light! Rain is falling, amazingly cold and hard – harder still! A flash of light north; wind blows wet hair; rain pricks skin. Thunder! The lightning is closer now. As air becomes water I close my eyes. Soaked through, I am getting chilled.
I open my eyes again to watch the lightning. I have to look down to see flashes; the rain makes looking up painful. I focus on the time between flash and sound. Twelve seconds for that one; ten for the next, then twelve, then five! I’m cold now – stuck here – what was I thinking?
I continue focusing on flash and thunder to forget about cold and rain. Maybe there’s medicine in this; I recommit. The air is charged; my stomach sinks like I’m on a roller coaster. I’m frightened – no, not frightened; maybe it’s alert, very alert, engaged, as storm and I become one.
A lightning bolt crashes very close. I didn’t count the time. Now I’m frightened. I focus again on the thunder; if there’s medicine it must be there, not in the rain. The storm begins to wane.
Lightning flashes are farther north and east now. Soon there are no sounds at all except distant thunder and water drops from trees. I am uncomfortable and that’s good; I want to feel it.
Soon I head for home, exhausted, although I cannot figure out why. I just blithely walk through the webs.
At home I reflect and feel I’m at a beginning. I am alive! The gift of thunder, its medicine, must be the gift of life for to hear thunder means to have survived lightning.
Today, as every day, I received a gift of life. It starts now and I mean to live it in a manner that recognizes the relationship between life and death, between thunder and lightning, and to a death that will eventually overtake me.
We never seem to think about life as precious gift so concerned we are with the “ten-thousand things of the world,” and so we take it for granted, and move through our life paths unconsciously, frittering that precious life away. Thunder teaches life. Thoreau says it, too, in Walden:
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
I did not wish to live what was not life, [but] to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.
The Hancock Community Quilt Project
A novel video project explores the rich and varied histories of our communities.
- by Steve Barney, president, The Arts, Hancock County
The project is based on a brainstorming session held in October 2018 at the Hancock Performing Arts Center (HPAC). The session was facilitated by visionary storyteller Julian Rankin in his capstone project with the museum, before taking on the role of Executive Director of the Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Ocean Springs.
In the session, residents from across Hancock County shared stories, challenges and aspirations; capturing a diverse set of opinions about the past, present and future of Hancock County. A wide range of topics were discussed spanning: development and economic access, community narrative, the arts and diversity and equality. Such as:
Professor Geil's residency focuses on the creation of a 360-degree videographic "quilt" of the communities in Hancock County.
“The metaphor of a community quilt”, Geil states, “is to explore the varied narratives and histories of Hancock County.”
He adds, “The project will explore and document what is special, vital, and difficult about living in Hancock County; at the same time, capturing the vibrancy of our communities by asking community members to show what is alive and amazing about where they live.”
This project is using novel technology; specialized 360-degree cameras. The cameras record a 360-degree view using two lenses that each capture a 180-degree view and then stitch the two sides together.
As a result, everything above, below, and on all sides of the camera is recorded simultaneously. Geil explains; “the technology itself invites playing close attention to the landscape. Even places that are inherently familiar are seen differently.”
Educators from several Hancock area schools are participating in the project, including West Hancock Elementary School, East Hancock Elementary School, Hancock North Central Elementary School, Hancock High School, Hancock Middle School, and North Bay Elementary School.
Students from these schools will make artwork and participate in activities engaging the themes of, “what I love about where I live, the kindness of others, and the most beautiful thing I’ve ever known.”
In addition to the stories being produced by the school groups, the general public has the ability to participate as well. On September 26 and 27, open sessions will be facilitated for members of the community to tell their stories. Everyone is encouraged to participate and tell your personal story on camera.
The success of the project depends on community involvement and the inclusion of wide range of thoughts and perspectives. The public sessions are Thursday September 26 at the Bay St. Louis Public Library and Friday September 27 at the Kiln Public Library.
Both sessions run from 1pm - 5pm. Drop in anytime during these sessions to come tell your story on camera. If needed additional sessions will be scheduled for October to make sure every voice is heard and captured.
The results of the project will premiere at the Inagural Homegrown Literary and Art Exchange taking place at the Hancock Performing Arts Center in Kiln. The Homegrown event kicks off on Thursday, November 21 with a free keynote presentation by National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward.
Friday, November 22 includes a day filled with interactive workshops for writers, visual artists and literary lovers; culminating in a live performance at 7pm, where the Hancock Community Quilt videos will be shown to the public for the first time, in a celebration of place and history.
After the premiere, the videos will be placed in a centralized online repository that can be shared across communities, and across the globe, via the internet. The videos will be accessible to view via smartphone, 3D viewer or web browser, providing opportunities to foster community dialog and exchange.
At the conclusion of the project, the equipment purchased with the grant will remain in the community to be shared by The Arts, Hancock County, libraries and area schools as an educational resource.
Good Neighbor Gregory Barabino
In his job for the state and his role as a volunteer community leader, Gregory Barabino covers all the bases when it comes to Hancock County’s youth - and more.
- Story by Lisa Monti
photos by Ellis Anderson and courtesy Gregory Barabino
The Nature of Nature
The author takes time to study the quietness of the forest and the unique qualities of its inhabitants.
- story by James Inabinet, PhD
Winged blue jays were doing bird-things: eating muscadine berries, building nests in early spring, picking aphids off of stems, and singing songs. Wiggling earthworms were doing earthworm things: tunneling just below the surface of the ground, eating leaves, feeding armadillos, squirming when encountering ants or sunlight.
Hopping frogs were doing frog things: sitting on lily pads, hunting insects, swimming, calling for a mate, and feeding snakes. Crawling fence lizards were doing lizard things: running over the ground, hunting, slipping tongues in and out of their mouths, performing push-ups to show off blue underbellies, feeding birds, digging under leaf mats, and remaining motionless when the shadow of a bird passes over.
Rooted red maples were doing maple things: limbs reaching toward the sun, growing tall in moist bottomlands, flowering and seeding in mid-winter, and feeding squirrels.
The initial goal of the investigations was simply to make careful and detailed observations of anything that captured my interest.
In the goldenrod field, for instance, I sought the unique character of goldenrod so as to understand its process of becoming, to understand how it became what it is. Not a form frozen in time, goldenrod grows and becomes, changing every day. Through detailed observations I noted how goldenrod expressed itself: basal rosette of fuzzy green leaves, long straight stems, robust yellow fall flowers.
In the beginning, all goldenrods looked the same. Over time, the more I looked, the more I began to notice variations. I noticed that goldenrods in the field were usually small in stature, but large in flower while those in the forest tended to be large in stature and small in flower.
Further investigations revealed individual differences. No two goldenrods were alike. I was eventually able to detect particulars for each one, a unique and individual character–though detecting that individual character was often difficult.
After many forays watching animals, I noticed that after an organism’s needs were met, she would often sit idly, perhaps resting in a protected nook. A coyote near the bayou with a rabbit once panted under the low-lying limbs of wax myrtles.
A frog-fed copperhead curled up on the creek bank in the shade of titi limbs. Satiated towhees sat on limbs, either singing or resting quietly. A finch left a bush half-full of berries and never returned - unless she slipped in and out without my noticing.
It seemed that nearly all of the organisms I chose for careful study rested when not hunting or hiding or escaping. With no dire call to incessantly hunt and store food, enough seemed to be enough.
In these ways and myriad others, I noticed that the characteristics of each organism amalgamated into a unique expression.
Deathcaps of the forest floor displayed a unique sense of fungusness unlike that of puffballs. The squirrels of the canopy displayed a unique sense of squirrelness, an identity unexpressed by any other organism. Water oaks displayed a sense of oakness unique to their kind, an expression that I became so familiar with that I could eventually distinguish water oaks from others by gazing at twilight silhouettes from far away.
I called each organism’s manner of being its identity. Each organism in the forest possessed a unique identity, unique as species, unique as individuals. The primary inclination of each individual seemed to be to express its unique identity as individual in its forest home.
I longed to find out what humanness must be like in my forest home. I longed to find out my identity, to find out what Jamesness must be like if it were to be fully realized.
Mystery author Julie Smith sets her detective novels in big cities - but the award-winning writer is embracing the slower pace of living here in Bay St. Louis.
- Story by Rheta Grimsley Johnson, photos by Ellis Anderson
Julie’s 20-plus books have been set in cities, New Orleans and San Francisco, so it is hard to imagine Julie living in a small, seaside, tree-canopied town with plenty of parking and little crime. But imagine again.
A few of Julie Smith's books
Murphy's Musical Notes - September 2019
One of the Mississippi Gulf Coast's beloved rock bands can trace its roots to a book club, of all things.
- Story and photos by Pat Murphy
Some years ago (before Hurricane Katrina), I worked as a sales representative for a line of windows and doors, calling on a lot of architectural firms. John and Allison Anderson happened to be among my customers and even employed my windows and doors in their personal residence.
One day I happened to be at the Anderson residence talking to John, and I noticed a set of drums and a bass guitar in his living room. When I asked about this, John told me that he and his kids played some at home.
The story of The Electric Sheep's foundation and growth begins with a wives' wine and book club that met periodically. While the wives enjoyed their wine and literary discussions, some of the husbands (John Anderson included) gathered at another residence, playing instruments and jamming together, working up songs. From these humble beginnings, a band grew from there.
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Fast forward about ten or twelve years. I started hearing good things about a new band in the area named the Electric Sheep. I discovered that my architect friend, John Anderson, was a member of the band, along with a physician named Sanjay Chaube whom I did not know.
A short while later I began seeing the band billed as Phil "Smooth" Williams and the Electric Sheep. I knew from the music business that Phil Williams led the St. Rose Men's Gospel Ensemble.
Since I had been a member of the Men's Ensemble and worked with Phil in the ensemble for a period of time, I knew he was a powerful gospel singer and vocal force to be reckoned with.
Eventually Williams branched out from gospel looking for opportunity and started working with local bands like the Relative Unknowns (who were responsible for his moniker "Smooth") and later Jesse Loya and his band.
Phil Williams performed with the Electric Sheep for a couple of years before being diagnosed with terminal cancer. He succumbed to the disease about a year ago. The band values their experience working with Williams for a time, and they continue to move forward, honing their skills and their sound, and just having fun.
Today, the Electric Sheep is made up of guitarist John Anderson, bass guitarist Sanjay Chaube, drummer Landon Parolli, and Parolli’s wife, Jamie, on vocals and harmonica. The band in its present form has been together for about two years.
Singer Jamie Parolli's vocals are deeply rooted in the female rock vocalists of the 1980s and 1990s, and she’s been influenced heavily by performers like Alanis Morrissette, Lita Ford, Joan Jett and Pat Benatar.
Songs from this genre play a big part in the Sheep's repertoire and are regularly included in the band's live performances. This band isn't timid about approaching other male dominated music like Nirvana and Gary Clark, Jr.
The Electric Sheep’s songlist also includes some classic rock tunes by the Doors, Fleetwood Mac, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Animals and Bob Seger.
The Electric Sheep can be seen live occasionally at Bacchus on the Beach in Pass Christian and the Beach Bar under the Silver Slipper Casino Hotel. If you get the chance, check the Electric Sheep out at one of their local gigs – you will be glad you did.
Moon, Guido - Tourism's Dynamic Duo
Talk of the Town - September 2019
- story by Lisa Monti
Two local business owners and tourism professionals - and longtime friends - were recently chosen for key appointments to promote the Mississippi coast.
Nikki Moon, owner of the Bay Town Inn, is the new president of Coastal Mississippi’s Board of Commissioners. The organization oversees the promotion of the three coast counties as a regional tourism and convention destination.
Nikki also is president of the Hancock Chamber of Commerce board and was recently elected Citizen of the Year by its membership. She has 30 years of experience heading sales and service at the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau.
She also has served on the board of Destinations International. Her Bay Town Inn has been featured in many regional and national publications and broadcasts, and it regularly appears on travelers’ favorite lists and social media posts.
Talk of the Town
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Nikki said she would like to see more revenue for Coastal Mississippi during her year as president to better promote the 12 communities in the three coastal counties.
“Once visitors experience the coast, you know they will return. They love the people, the hospitality, the food, the art - oh, did I mention the people?
"Another hope is to make sure our locals believe in our coast as much as those who promote it do. Bring your family here, your high school reunion, your wedding. Let your friends and family experience what we know is the best of the South, maybe the best of America – the Mississippi Coast.”
Janice Guido, the owner of Bay Life Gifts in Century Hall, has been tapped to replace Nikki as the Hancock Chamber’s representative on the Hancock County Tourism Development Commission. Janice worked for 30 years in the hotel, hospitality and tourism industry in New Orleans. She and Nikki worked together all those years, promoting the city and its attractions.
As the Chamber's tourism liaison, Janice works with the other appointed members and Myrna Green, Hancock County Tourism Development Bureau Director. Members work to promote events and attractions and to support new events that will draw more people to visit the county.
Janice also was named to fill the newly created ex officio tourism liaison spot on the Hancock Chamber board.
“I report to the board to keep them aware of what’s going on and update them on tourism in general and about anything relevant they need to know.” She also works with the Chamber relocation committee that focuses on getting new residents to move to the county.
“My goal is to try to keep everybody in loop and not miss any opportunities,” Janice said.
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