A folded snip of moon
opens like a swan
swimming slowly solo
across a blue paper morning
______Colleen Redman / Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads
A folded snip of moon
opens like a swan
swimming slowly solo
across a blue paper morning
______Colleen Redman / Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads
I’d never been to a Groove-off before. I grew up with Battle of the Bands at the Surf in Hull, MA but never knew what they were.
Both bands were absolute winners and for us dancers, it was a dance-a-thon. What could be better than a blues, rock, reggae, groove and funk band duel done all in fun and with a closing performance of James Brown’s I Feel Good?
-The following first appeared in The Floyd Press on April 2, 2015.
Over the March 21st weekend 24 young adults aged 18-34 attended the first in a series of Young Adult Meditation Retreats at the Floyd EcoVillage. The retreat was organized and led by Joe Klein, LPC and founder of iBme/Inward Bound Mindfulness Education, and Dr. Alan Forest, LPC and Radford University
Professor of Counseling Education.
Most of the retreat attendees were university students from Emory and Henry College, Virginia Tech, VCU and other Mid-Atlantic colleges. One-third of the attendees were alumni of past iBme Teen Meditation retreats led by Klein.
The retreat consisted of periods of walking and sitting meditation (both inside and outside) and small group discussions. Michael Blackwell of Natural Intelligence Designs led Nature Connection workshops.
The next retreat in the series will be 3 night retreat held over Memorial Day weekend, May 22-25. Please contact Klein at 540-745-2254 or visit the floydecovillage.com for more information.
1. Driving my Honda CRV/SUV is like using my PC, the way driving Joe’s low to the ground Honda Civic/Compact car is like using my non-standard keyboarded little Netbook with no Adobe Photoshop.
2. Four-year-old Liam to me: Your car smells old. Me: That’s because the windshield leaks and the water makes it smell musty. Liam: It smells like an old man. Like Hopa (Joe). Like Hopa’s grampa.
4. “As one who strives to take responsibility for my own happiness, I investigated why I felt out of my element and what ‘being in my element’ might mean. Routine, comfort, familiarity, safety, and periods of solitude all came to mind. But it wasn’t until I spent some time alone at the beach, snapping pictures and writing that the full answer came to me. Whenever I’m engaged in my own creativity, that’s when I feel at home.” – More from a 2008 post titled Who Am I Now? HERE.
5. As a documenter/reporter, I’m like a musician who likes to perform live more than in the studio. I like to cover live events and work off the energy of the experience, rather than write at the computer something from an interview and research, almost from scratch.
6. I recently asked a friend if she wanted to go to the book “launch” for an art/literature journal that we both have poems appearing in. She misread my invite and answered, “I can’t make it if it’s for “lunch.”
7. Broken pots turned into fairy gardens are pretty cool, but there must be something wrong with me because they still look like broken pots to me. See HERE.
8. Jon Stewart on leaving The Daily Show: “I’d covered an election four times, and it didn’t appear that there was going to be anything wildly different about this one,” and, “If Oprah can leave and the world still spins, I honestly think it will survive me.”
9. Listen to Nikki Giovanni rip into Bill Cosby and call for him to be hospitalized seven years ago HERE.
10. The word “ride” is in the word “drive.” It’s the same word with the letters mixed up, except that “drive” has an added v, probably to give more vroom (which is a real word/onomatopoeia).
11. I shook a poem out of morning like loose change from a pocket. It made me want to look under couch cushions to see if I could find more. – See what happened next HERE.
12. Don’t underestimate / the weight of a petal / What we see / and what we don’t / is equal. – Read the rest of this poem called Be Hold HERE.
13. Thoughts from Wendell Berry on Earth Day: “We see quite clearly that what happens to the nonhuman happens to the human. What happens to the outer world happens to the inner world … Without the soaring birds, the great forests, the sounds and coloration of the insects, the free-flowing streams, the flowering fields, the sight of the clouds by day and the stars at night, we become impoverished in all that makes us human.” – Read about Wendell Berry and his time in Floyd HERE.
Take time in the dark
collide with cement
and win the battle against it
Some insight comes
from closing a door
and looking out for others
The weight of a petal
What we see
and what we don’t
___Colleen Redman / Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads
I appreciate New Orleans jazz and a big brass band sound, but I’m more of a rock and roller at heart. I grew up loving Motown, singer songwriter folksongs, psychedelic rock, Led Zeppelin and the rest. I like some funk, rhythm and blues and am a fan of all the great lead guitarists.
While staying in the French Quarter recently, Joe and I sampled some fine street and jazz club music, but it wasn’t until the first day of the French Quarter Festival, a yearly free event that spotlights local music stars, that I really felt at home. It was the original music of New Orleanean George Porter Jr. and the Runnin Pardners on a stage alongside the Mississippi River that got me to stay put and got me up dancing.
He felt familiar. Was it generational? Was that a bit of tie dye on his t-shirt? I really loved his sweet song about old friends gone and that before starting it he called out to a friend, Teddy, and said, “Thanks for bringing my mom to the gig.” I also liked that he performed with his daughter.
When we got home, I googled George Porter to find out more about his music and discovered that he had not only been here in Floyd (VA) but that I actually had a blog post about him with his picture front and center! Porter, who I think would be a great Floydfest headliner, is mostly known for the band he co-founded with one of the Neville Brothers in the mid ‘60s, The Meters. But he also plays with the 7 Walkers, the band that Bill Kreutzmann of the Grateful Dead put together after Jerry Garcia died. (Note: that’s Joe dancing in the left hand corner.)
The 7 Walkers played at Floyd’s Dogtown Roadhouse in 2011. It was a show that remains a personal highlight of my Dogtown dancing days. Here’s what I wrote in a post titled The Sound of San Francisco Meets New Orleans: It was jam sweet, funky and fresh with New Orleans musician Papa Mali, who has said he was inspired by Dr. John and others, whose voice reminds me of early Leon Russell and whose guitar playing can rival that of Garcia. Other band members are bass guitarist George Porter, a founding member of the 60/70’s funk band The Meters, and keyboardist Matt Hubbard, who occasionally pulled out a big old New Orleans horn or a harmonica, and who is best known for his work with Willie Nelson. Kreutzmann’s mother was born in New Orleans so it’s a fit that works. I think Bill was smart to wait to find the right musical components to create a band that would embody such heart after Jerry died. Read the rest HERE.
Another Floydish connection happened when we were catching a shuttle to Mardi Gras World that was leaving from the Hilton Hotel. The hotel concierge noticed a monogram of the Floyd Great Oaks Country Club (where Joe plays golf) on Joe’s shirt and asked where that was. As Joe explained, at one point he said, “It’s near Blacksburg,” and the concierge told Joe that his good friend Nikki Giovanni lived in Blacksburg. He, Michael Murphy, published her “Love Poems” in 1997 when he was the publisher at William Morrow.
I told him about sitting in on Nikki’s creative writing classes years ago, seeing her shopping at Walmart and how she had forgotten her guest speaker engagement for the launch of the new incarnation of Artemis, a local literary art journal that was dedicated to her and in which I also had a poem in. But she was such a good sport that she came and made a good story out of it all, and it prompted THIS blog post: She May Have Been Late But She Wore Great Shoes. (Note: That’s me and my best new friend Marcus posing for someone else’s selfie above.)
Once home I googled the former publisher, hotel concierge and there was his picture big as life. I discovered that he went from publishing to being a literary agent and that he was the author of the book I had been seeing all over town: Eat Dat. Next time I’m in New Orleans, I’ll not only get me a copy of Michael’s book, I’ll try out some of his best restaurant suggestions and I’ll know where to get the book signed. _______Our World Tuesday
A visit to the Garden District to see New Orleans mansions didn’t seem worth the long crowded trolley ride (although our trolley conductor was very entertaining), but it did get us to Lafayette Cemetery, which was a worthwhile visit.
The cemetery dates back to 1833 and is known as one of New Orleans’ “cities of the dead” because of the use of above ground tombs, which look like buildings. Above ground tombs and wall vaults were used because New Orleans was built on a swap and buried bodies eventually float.
Layfette Cemetery was formerly a part of the Livadudais Plantation. It was featured in Ann Rice’s vampire books and was the setting of several movies, including Double Jeopardy and Interview with a Vampire. Also, music videos by LeAnn Rimes and the New Kids on the Block were shot at the cemetery.
The non-segregated, non-denominational cemetery is the resting place of over 25 immigrants from over 25 different countries. It’s the burial place of Marie Laveau, the legendary “voodoo queen,” and other New Orleanians who achieved world fame. Along with family tombs there are society tombs for several past volunteer fireman organizations, the independent Order of Odd Fellows, German Presbyterian Community, Home for Destitute Boys and the YMCA.
The Save Our Cemeteries non-profit organization says: The cemetery was named for the City of Lafayette, which was annexed to the City of New Orleans as the Fourth District. The area of New Orleans that once was the city of Lafayette consists of two designated historical districts, the Irish Channel and the Garden District. The residents of the Irish Channel were first-generation immigrants many from Ireland and Germany, the two largest groups of immigrants to settle in New Orleans in the two decades before the Civil War. It was known as a working-class poor neighborhood, a rough and tough riverfront area. The Garden District, on the other hand, represented the new wealth of immigrants from Great Britain and the North who came and made their fortunes as cotton factors, brokers, and merchants after the Louisiana Purchase.
It’s a tourist attraction. Money from tours go to preserve the cemetery, which has an impressive wrought iron gated entrance and the big shade trees throughout. Some photos of Mari Gras floats are HERE.
________Shadow Shot Sunday
Weddings tend to find me and I’m not too shy to crash them, whether on the beach in my hometown of Hull MA, while shopping at the Harvest Moon in Floyd or stopping at a pub in Ireland that just happened to be the set of the BBC series Ballykissangel where a real life wedding was taking place.
You’ve heard of the Jazz Funeral? I think of it as the New Orleans version of the Irish Wake, a celebration of life taken to the street. While in New Orleans for spring break, we happily came upon what I think of as a Jazz Wedding (complete with the African American traditional jumping broom).
At first I thought it was theatre or an art performance. Everyone was dressed to the nines. There was a rapper-looking guy all in white with a red rose on his lapel sitting on a red Cocoa Cola chair/throne, and a brass band of musicians standing by. The longer I stayed the more I knew it was the real thing, and I was very moved by the vows that the bride and groom exchanged. I couldn’t hear the words but could read the emotion.
The wedding took place in Jackson Square on the first day of the French Quarter Festival, which is where I met Marcus.
He was poking me in the back with his little two-year-old fingers. When I finally turned around and laid eyes on him, I kind of fell in love.
He sat on my lap while we listened to George Porter perform. We danced together and I threw him kisses goodbye when the concert was over. We made quite a scene but I wasn’t the only one he had wrapped around his little fingers. He was high fiving and drink toasting with anyone who’d play along. Joe swears a reporter from the Times-Picaynue took a picture of Marcus and me and that our image is living on somewhere out there. Whether or not, I’ll never forget little Marcus.
_________Weekend Travel Inspiration
1. It’s always a good idea to keep dollar bills in your pocket to tip the musicians and street performers when you’re in the French Quarter of New Orleans.
2. Eating beignets – New Orleans’ take on Native American’s fried dough – is a French Quarter rite of passage.
3. I wanted to eat a beignet on Tuesday so I could take a picture and caption it: Getting Fat Tuesday, but I didn’t get to try one till Thursday.
4. From the Super 8 in Atlanta Friday night : Bill Maher just offered Elizabeth Warren a million dollars if she would run and win the Democratic Party nomination for president.
5. But she’s not: “Liberals might not like hearing this, but it’s going to be Hillary Clinton or a Republican in 2016. It really breaks down to these two options: Either get on board with Hillary Clinton, even if she’s not everything you’ve dreamed of. – or – Whine and cry because Elizabeth Warren isn’t going to run, become apathetic, then let Republicans win the White House in 2016; likely replace four Supreme Court Justices over the following 8 years; start a war with Iran; ruin the planet; destroy our economy again; and undo all the good that’s been done these last 6 years. Yes, it’s really that simple.” More HERE.
6. When traveling, it all boils down to this: Joe looks at maps and I take pictures.
7. It’s amazing what we did with the iPhone during the 12 hour (each way) road trip, even though we both barely know what we’re doing. Joe found an app that let him listen to the Masters Golf Tournament via the iPhone through the radio. We listened to Terry Gross, the best story I’ve ever heard on This American Life and Pandora. We face-timed our grandsons, used the GPS for directions and found a restaurant that led to the best sushi dish I’ve ever have had in my life and caused me to write my first Trip-Advisor review.
8. The first thing I did when we got home from our spring break vacation in New Orleans was to correct all the typos made while blogging on the road with a netbook and no Adobe Photoshop.
9. On writing a poem a day for NaPoWriting like some of my online poet friends: I’d be happy to write one a month.
10: This month’s begins: I mourn the loss of turquoise / and the richness of royal / periwinkle, powder / cobalt and cornflower / Sometimes black looks navy / Sometimes in the morning / I catch a glimpse of aquamarine / but by afternoon it’s all turned white … More from my latest poem, I Don’t See Blue HERE.
11. Speaking of poets, see what kind of poetic and photogenic blog post elicited this comment from me: I’d rather have a navel, best this time of year. I once had a pink suede pocketbook on the beach that the tide swept up and stained. I called it “tide-dyed.” Your words unhook the dress of my mind. Like Van Morrison doing The Back Room. HERE.
12. Home is Where You Hang Your Mardi Gras Beads HERE. Where else but in New Orleans can you see a woman feeding a pig in the street and another one parading around bare-breasted and giving out spankings to passerbys?
13. “I don’t know why people work so hard to anticipate failure.” Barack Obama
I mourn the loss of turquoise
and the richness of royal
cobalt and cornflower
Sometimes black looks navy
Sometimes in the morning
I catch a glimpse of aquamarine
but by afternoon it’s all gone white
I imagine gray as baby blue
and dream about the passion of indigo
I write about a robin’s egg cracking
and the glass marble sparkle I knew in your eyes
But where is my bluebird of happiness now?
My Ella Fitzgerald blue sky?
I imagine it off living a new life
with those who take it for granted
I strain to remember the Caribbean sea
the iridescence of clam shells in New England
the blue quilted jumper my mother dressed me in
while my sister wore red for school picture day
______Colleen Redman________Imaginary Garden with Real Toads
I just got finished posting about how happy I was to be in New Orleans when
there was no Mardi Gras going on because I thought it would be too overwhelming and was probably overrated like Times Square on New Year’s Eve.
The day after typing that we took a trolley and shuttle to Mardi Gras
World where they store the classic larger-than-life floats and where
artists work on new float props and re-designs.
We saw a film about the history of the Mardi Gras, dressed up in Mardi
Gras costumes for photo-ops, toured the float warehouse, watched the
artists work and even ate King Cake (all for a $19 tour fee).
While watching the part of the film that showed footage of past parades, I said to Joe, “I could do that!”
We had fun posing with some cultural icons and took some pictures with
the grandsons in mind.
While in New Orleans, we stayed in the French Quarter at the Lamothe House, a Victorian hotel tucked in between old oak trees and within walking distance of Frenchman Street Jazz Clubs and the French Market.
The Lamoth House was built by a wealthy sugar cane plantation owner in 1839, with renovation improvements taking place in 1860.
With Old World charm and New World conveniences, the hotel lived up to its description and pictures on the internet.
I’m glad we didn’t learn that it was included in the local ghost tours and has a storied past of murder and suicide until after we had checked out.
– More on our stay in the French Quarter HERE.
________Shadow Shot Sunday
We got the historic horse and buggy tour of the French Quarter and learned that Bourbon Street is not named after liquor but after a famous French family. Our guide talked while reining her horse about the Creole and Cajun traditions, pecans and pralines (pecan candy) and how po boys were invented here.
She told us that one of the reasons New Orleans was dubbed The Big Easy was that during the times of slavery the African and Caribbean slaves had Sundays off, unlike anywhere else in the country. She also told us about John McDonough who purchased over 3,000 slaves, helped them develop trades and freed them. We passed one of the many schools he funded, the one that Richard Simmons and Lee Harvey Oswald went to it, she told us.
We passed one bar that used to be a blacksmith shop, another that cooks meals on Cadillac hubcaps, and still another, Johnny Whites, that is known for being the only bar that stayed open through Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.
In Jackson Square she pointed out the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis King of France, the oldest Catholic cathedral in continual use in the United States. Later Joe and I made up for forgetting Easter by visiting the church, talking to the guide/historian there and maintaining a reverent spirit.
The Preservation Club features traditional jazz and is the club where Harry Connick Jr, had his first gig. Connick’s mother was a judge and his father was a district attorney of Orleans Parish.
This perfumery makes custom perfumes based on each person’s unique scent. Elizabeth Taylor had her own perfume made there and liked it enough to go on to create her own brand, White Diamonds.
We stopped at this Corn Fence Hotel and we learned a little about the making of wrought iron, which is all over the French Quarter.
This Voodoo shop had some interesting altars but the shopkeepers were explicit about no photographs and I didn’t want to make anyone there angry, so this outdoor display was all I got to represent that New Orleans tradition.
We passed the house where Tennessee Williams lived and wrote the play Streetcar Named Desire. Our guide described yelling contests that go on during the New Orleans Literary Festival where contestants see who can shout “Stella!” the loudest.
She also pointed out the oldest licensed pharmacy in the U.S. It inspired the song Love Potion Number 9! Except for the fact that I can’t get the song out of my head now, it was the best spent $18/40minute tour of the trip. – More HERE.
1. The first sign that we were in the south while on our spring break road trip was when Joe spotted a dead armadillo in the road.
2. Somewhere driving through Alabama or Georgia, we gained an hour, which was like the gift that kept on giving and put a whole new perspective on the idea of “free time.”
3. It’s nice to be where palm trees grow and fragrant roses are in bloom. I called this one “Worth the Price of Admission,” but in actuality when I stopped to breathe in its fragrance, I said to Joe, “People should smell so good.”
4. Said to Joe on our first night in New Orleans: I feel like I’m in an extended Saturday Night Live Street Scene Intro.
5. New Orleans was built on wrought iron and a lot of life happens in the courtyards.
6. Looking at the colorful cottages in the French Quarter, I said to Joe, “It’s like Martha’s Vineyard Tom Ryan style, which means something like Paris meets Jamaica.
7. We met a young photographer named Joseph Walton vending his art at the Frenchman’s Market. He looked like our Floyd friend Jade, and we bought his photo of a New Orleanean at a jazz funeral. “We’re calling him Mr. Tambourine Man until we learn his real name,” Joe later told me that he and the artist decided.
8. While in the beach town of Fairhope, where we were getting around on bikes, after drinking some beers at the local oyster bar, I asked Joe if he thought we needed a designated biker?” After our first night in New Orleans, we were leaving a club, and I joked about a “designated walker.”
9. I’m not even interested in being in New Orleans during Mardi Gras because I imagine that it’s overrated the way Times Square on New Year’s Eve is, and judging by how much action there was on a Monday night in the French Quarter, I don’t think I could handle a Mardi Gras.
10. I’m typing this under a misbelief fruit tree, according to a New Orleanean who works at the hotel we’re at. Curious, I did some research and discovered that the fruit in question is actually a mispronunciation of the French word for a type of loquat tree: “mespilus.”
11. Last night I dreamt that my six year old grandson Bryce was cutting my hair. In the dream I had to remind myself that he had done it before and did a great job. The feeling of the dream was of putting my utmost trust in Byrce and in his abilities.
12. Some good advice I came up with sometime during a car ride conversation: Sometimes the advice is ‘don’t give advice.’
They might have named Fairhope “Utopia” because that was what its creators had in mind when they designed it around the turn of the twentieth century.
Situated along the shores of Mobile Bay, the Alabama town was founded as a colony by a group following economist Henry George for the purpose of “establishing and conducting a model 1894 by community or colony, free from all forms of private monopoly, and to secure to its members therein equality of opportunity, the full reward of individual efforts, and the benefits of co-operation in matters of general concern.”
Home to many artists and writers, Fairhope was named the second best small town in the south by Southern Living magazine, which made me curious about what number one was: Beaufort, South Carolina.
Well, as I said to Joe, “Today is our Fat Tuesday.” We’re off to the Big Easy to take it easy, or not. – More on our time in Fairhope HERE. Watch our friendly Fairhope heron up close HERE. ____________Our World Tuesday