A low cut moon
_________ Colleen Redman / Imaginary Garden with Real Toads
A low cut moon
_________ Colleen Redman / Imaginary Garden with Real Toads
It was actually a barn building, a workday and Copus family reunion at my son Josh’s property outside of Asheville, NC. He could give a better narration of what these construction photos show. What I saw was the generosity of many hands, family coming together from across the miles, bonds rekindled and new memories made.
Here’s what Josh posted with a group picture of the barnbuilders on Instagram, Facebook and his webpage blog: Epic family barn day. We got all the rafters and purlins up on the wild clay research facility. Huge props to my bro, my Joe, Uncles Mark and Bobby, and the original barn rasta @gabeaucottwoodworker, and to the not pictured but hugely important Aunt Brenda, who weeded all my gardens. And of course my tiny Mum, who took care of the kids and made sure we were fed.
I’ve been documenting Josh’s life as a potter/artist – his BFA show that led to a Wingate Scholarship, his wild clay excavations, ceramic exhibits, kiln building workdays, shed roof raisings, 16 Hands Studio Tours and more – since 2005. THIS post, titled The House That Josh Unbuilt, marks the start of Josh’s 2 acre land development, which started in 2007 with the material salvaging and burning of an old house on the property. HERE’S one from another monumental work day during the building of the first kiln, Community Temple, and another HERE on the Carolina Kiln Build, a three day intensive kiln building workshop that Josh and another potter facilitated, which resulted in two more kilns being built on the property.
We had just come from our first beach vacation as a family, Joe and me, our two sons (Josh and Dylan) and two grandsons (Bryce and Liam). Our hearts were full and the family workday only kept the love spreading, as we made a stop from Folly Beach to Asheville and met up with my sons’ vacationing paternal uncles, who I hadn’t seen in a couple of decades. I can’t be sure, but I think my two sons (above) hadn’t worked side by side since Joe helped them cut down trees on our Floyd property, mill the wood and build a cabin on our property when they were teens.
We were all amazed at the improvements Josh has made. Today, his potter’s homestead is a complex with three kilns, stonework, a garden labyrinth, a brick pizza party patio, small ornamental and fruit trees and more. His Aunt Brenda and I both agree that Josh’s flower gardens seem to embody the spirit of his British paternal grandmother, Pat. She was a free spirit with a love of tea and English gardens.
“Why is there a train here?” Liam asked when he saw the creekside Airstream trailer (aka the Land Yacht) that Josh once lived in. Both boys bravely used an outhouse for the first time, and there were lots of places to take cover in their army play games.
Joe has worked with Josh on several projects over the years, like THIS building of the first kiln, the Community Temple, in 2007. Josh likes to work with salvaged materials. I remember, during one of our visits to the land, Josh showed me these manhole covers that he had envisioned and acquired for his big picture plan.
Josh’s longtime friend and woodworking master, Gabe, who worked with Josh early in the week to set the stage for the barn building, has also helped with building projects over the years. He has the agility of a monkey hanging from the rafters, only he was doing it while running a chainsaw.
The rain tempted to halt progress, but everyone worked through the short bursts of showers and only stopped briefly for lunch.
After lunch, Liam and I picked blueberries and chased Japanese beetles away.
He also “worked.”
Meanwhile, Bryce stayed busy with his ongoing artwork series about the video game Five Nights at Freddie’s.
This picture was taken after Uncle Mark stuck his arm in his shirt and played that he had accidentally cut it off. The kids got a kick out of his antics but didn’t believe him because they didn’t see any blood.
I told the barn builders (Gabe, Joe, Josh, Bobby, Mark and Dylan) that it was like rounding up kids to get them to pose for a group picture because no one wanted to stop working before the job was done.
The day ended with a cookout around the campfire. It couldn’t have been more perfect.
1. At Folly Beach we eat seafood off Frisbees and dig to China on the beach.
2. My son Dylan posted on Facebook a few days before we left for the trip: Dear beach, I miss you!! But I’m glad we have a date for some drinks this weekend. You’re beautiful and I can’t wait to lay all over you.
3. I looked up the word “folly” to double check that it meant foolish, while humming the Beatles “Fool on a Hill.”
4. According to the Folly Beach website the island was named after its coastline which was once densely packed with trees and undergrowth, as the Old English name for such an area was “Folly.” The first official document that mentions the island is a land grant from King William III to William Rivers that dates to September 9, 1696.
5. Some more Folly Island history and its connection to the Denzel Washington movie Glory: During the Civil War, Folly was occupied by Federal troops beginning in 1863. Despite the the jungle-like foliage, the soldiers constructed roads, forts, an artillery battery, and a supply depot. Eventually Folly Island had the capacity to hold up to 13,000 troops and their equipment. The Federal army used Folly Island as its main strategic base for the battle to take Fort Sumter. In May 1987 construction workers discovered 14 bodies at the western end of Folly Beach. A subsequent investigation by the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology established that the remains were of soldiers from the 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment. The 55th Regiment was joined on Folly by the 54th Regiment, made popular in the movie Glory. What was surprising, however, was that 12 of the bodies did not have skulls and other body parts. The bodies also had no obvious signs of battle injuries. Nobody knows why the bodies were buried this way. It’s a great mystery in the history of the Civil War!
6. Our four year old grandson Liam has learned to wear flip flops, take outdoor showers and love plums.
7. The benches here are made of surfboards and people name their cottages things like Vitamin Sea and The Big Pink.
8. Liam to his Uncle Josh: Let’s swim out further than boats!
9. Someone on Facebook just called my Asheville Potter Son Josh a Clayevangelist. You can follow Josh’s clay excavations and other adventures on his blog HERE.
10. “It got a little rowdy. Some in the rock and roll crowd with seats near the stage and others who moved up close and filled the aisle, seemed to be playing out Mellencamp’s “I fought authority” song” and giving the ushers a hard time. There was a “don’t make me come down there” moment from Mellencamp, who requested that people stop fighting and asked if everyone was alright.” – Read more about Mellencamp, who I’ve been falling since he was John Cougar and MTV was good HERE.
11. My grandsons’ honorary uncle for the week, Josh’s friend Gabe, just told us that the hip hop group Wu-Tang has a bigger vocabulary than Shakespeare. The story goes that Data scientist Matt Daniels compared the first 35,000 lyrics — or in Shakespeare’s case, the first 5,000 words of seven of his works — of 85 different rappers from Salt-n-Pepa to Drake and counted each unique word and those that appear only once to determine the extent of vocabulary and the rappers won out, with Californian rapper Aesop Rock at the top of the list.
12. The Pope is dope: “What would induce anyone, at this stage, to hold on to power only to be remembered for their inability to take action when it was urgent and necessary to do so? … We are not faced with two separate crises, one environmental and the social, but rather one complex crisis which is both social and environmental …Once we start to think about the kind of world we are leaving to future generations, we look at things differently; we realize that the world is a gift which we have freely received and must share with others.”
13. HERE is the post where we fed seagulls and posed with shark heads.
I’ve been following John Mellencamp since he was John Cougar and MTV was actually good. Mellencamp was born on the same day, month and year as my brother Danny, who died in 2001. Danny, who looked like Mellencamp and had some of the same mannerisms, was a big fan. In 1998, he turned me on to Your Life is Now on Mellencamp’s 1998 self titled album, a song that we danced and sang along to in our sister Kathy’s living room during a family
Labor Day cook-out. I had mostly been familiar with Mellencamp’s older stuff that played on MTV when he had long hair and I had a crush, so it was good to hear and appreciate his music again.
Joe surprised me by buying tickets to Mellencamp’s Roanoke performance Wednesday night at the Berglund Performing Art Theatre, part of his Plain Spoken Tour. It wasn’t like I had to be dragged to go, but I wouldn’t have bought the tickets myself. I thought they were too expensive and we see so much good music in Floyd, as it is. John (after experiencing his music so close-up, I feel I can call him by his first name) is a seasoned showman (40 years) with just the right balance of bad boy irreverence and heartfelt social conscience, not to mention a legacy of heartland songs that make you want to sing-along and dance, which we did.
I loved the non-Civic Center venue, about the size of the Music Hall in Boston, where I had seen The Youngbloods, Sly and the Family Stone, Van Morrison, Donovon and other ‘60/’70 bands, and not like seeing Led Zepplin at Boston Gardens, which was huge. It was reported that about 1,800 attended the Roanoke show. It turned out to be an unforgettable night, one that I experienced through my brother’s eyes, and I kept thinking that my sister Sherry (also a fan) was going to go crazy when she saw the pictures and video clips I got.
It got a little rowdy. Some in the rock and roll crowd with seats near the stage and others who moved up close and filled the aisle, seemed to be playing out Mellencamp’s “I fought authority” song” and giving the ushers a hard time. There was a “don’t make me come down there” moment from Mellencamp, who requested that people stop fighting and asked if everyone was alright. “I must have been 27 when I wrote that song. I still feel the same way tonight as I did when I wrote it,” he said as he broke into the Authority Song.
He still chews gum and has the same swag strut that he had in his Hurt So Good video. He didn’t wear motorcycle chaps like he did during that video but started the show in a suit. After a brief intermission when he walked Carlene Carter off stage (who opened for him and then joined him in a number), and after a violinist and accordionist played a fine art performance of what we thought were Mellencamp songs, he took the jacket off, rolled up his t-shirt sleeves and even put a thumb in an imaginary blue jean waist loop for a second.
“I don’t even know why I play this song anymore, except I know you guys still want to hear it,” he said about his classic Jack and Diane, giving some background to the story. There were new songs and a couple from a musical he wrote with Stephen King. He also told a few funny stories about his family life.
John is a really good dancer, and I kept waiting for him to dance, my favorite part of those old MTV Hurt So Good, Little Pink Houses videos, but I’m pretty sure I heard him say in an interview once that he saw James Brown trying to do a split at 70 years-old and decided he wasn’t ever going to do anything like that.
There were so many highlights. “Thanks for getting me here,” I said to Joe. I don’t think he minded that I got a crush all over again and that I made front stage eye contact with John Mellencamp.
1. Coming into town for the Annabelle’s Curse show at Dogtown Roadhouse Friday night, and after spending the day in the garden and tending to chickens, I felt like I had landed in a different country and had to deal with jet lag. It was the start of the Crooked Road’s weeklong Mountains of Music Homecoming events, the start of the 3-day Floyd Artisan Tour and the Friday Night Jamboree and town was busting out all over with people.
2. I wasn’t the only one who noticed that the TV lawyer from Roanoke was there and that a well-known Dogtown employee was pushing a wheelbarrow through the crowd, which seemed out of place until someone reminded me that he was hauling wood for the brick fired pizza oven.
3. According to wikipedia: The origin of the red and white barber pole is associated with the service of bloodletting and was historically a representation of bloody bandages wrapped around a pole. During medieval times, barbers performed surgery on customers, as well as tooth extractions. The original pole had a brass wash basin at the top (representing the vessel in which leeches were kept) and bottom (representing the basin that received the blood). The pole itself represents the staff that the patient gripped during the procedure to encourage blood flow.
4. THIS is What Happens When You Break a Guitar String.
5. I’m not an early riser, but Joe is. I woke up early the other day, came out to the kitchen, saw Joe and said, “What’s up? “You are,” he answered.
6. Paper Cut: An unlikely weapon / Empty white paper / A blood sister’s razor / sharp complaint / Red vertical line / on horizontal blue / is a thin excuse / a slow to heal / stinging edit / a poet’s occupational / hazard.
7. Could shooting stars be Eros’ arrows and the curve of the new moon the bow they’re shot from? More HERE.
8. I went to my mother’s 90th birthday party in Massachusetts via Facetime. My sisters passed the phone around and took pictures of it with me on it, and I took pictures of them. See HERE.
9. Actually, there has been a lot of drama in the hen house lately, a black snake, a chicken that eats eggs before I can collect them and cliques between the old and new hens, which has caused me to spend a lot of time trying to keep the peace and to say, “I’m like a hen den mother.”
10. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas: “An experiment by Australian scientists has proven that what happens to particles in the past is only decided when they are observed and measured in the future. Until such time, reality is just an abstraction.” In other words, “reality does not exist if you are not looking at it.” – More from Scientists Show Future Events Decide What Happens in the Past HERE.
11. Honestly, I love this stuff but can’t quite wrap my brain around it, that time can go backwards and the future can cause the past. Einstein called it “spooky,” and Niels Bohr, a pioneer of quantum theory said: “if quantum mechanics hasn’t profoundly shocked you, you haven’t understood it yet.”
12. Seen on Facebook: A wise man once said nothing,” which reminds me of what my Dharmacratic friend Will has said, “Don’t just do something, sit there.”
13. Life couldn’t be better or wetter HERE.
Curved bow of light
in the romance of night
Shooting stars carry torches
Affections burn bright
________Colleen Redman / Imaginary Garden with Real Toads
I call them “my little fishes.” Liam said Bryce was a hog fish that eats pancakes. Stinging jellyfish, lobster claws and octopus were regularly after Hopa Joe.
Bryce floated on a pool noodle ship that Liam said looked like a tail. Liam, who didn’t have his floaty vest, gauged his comfort in the water from one to ten, saying, “I’m one nervous, I’m two nervous and three and four as he got out deeper.
“You the man, Noodle Man,” became the saying of the day and Liam called the pool noodles “bisgetti.”
By the end of our pool time he had forgotten all fear. We practiced swimming lessons, while Bryce showed us his water flips skills and basketball cannonball dunks.
Life couldn’t be better … or wetter.
_______Our World Tuesday
My sisters passed the phone around the community room and took pictures of me on it.
I also took pictures of them. I couldn’t get my mom lined up very good.
It looks like I got right into my brother Bobby’s head.
This is my mother being surprised. She got sick in December and ended up in the hospital, then rehab at a nearby nursing home, where she seems to be doing well.
My brother Joe made the cakes.
Here are my sisters, Kathy, Trish and Sherry, some of their grandkids and Sherry’s husband Nelson.
This is what we call the Redman “population,” a term coined by my father for what he and my mother created by having 9 children. My mother is surrounded by my siblings (brother John is on the right in the black and white striped shirt), their husbands and wives, children and grandchildren. They all live in Massachusetts and I live in Virginia, but that didn’t stop us from getting together the best we could.
And this is how much fun we have in Floyd.
The band was Annabelle’s Curse, headlining the start of the Crooked Road’s week of Mountains of Music Homecoming in Floyd and our town’s 3-day Artisan Trail Studio Tour. It was also Friday Night Jamboree and the streets and music venues were packed for the festivities.
Building on the tradition of Appalachian old time, they play a kind of new southern rock, singer songwriter alternative folk in the flavor of the Lumineers and the Avett Brothers. And it’s hand clapping foot stomping danceable.
“Are you here with the band?” I asked someone at a long table of people watching the Dogtown Roadhouse stage performance. It turned out the man I asked was the rhythm guitarist’s father. I told him how much I enjoyed watching his son play with so much heart.
They are from Abington and Bristol, Virginia and Tennessee, I learned. I meant to ask how the band got its unusual name. The lead singer is Carly, and not Annabelle. The rhythm guitarist (Carly’s boyfriend/far right) graduated from Floyd’s neighboring county, Carroll.
The band is a Floydfest favorite, returning for this year’s festival. I’ll be sure to hear them there, do some more sing- along and dancing, and maybe ask about the name.
It finally happened. We had a girl in the house, our ten-year-old niece Catherine who was visiting with her family for a day, and she actually played with my dollhouse. I didn’t know it at the time, but a few days later when I went into the spare room where she had slept, I discovered her handiwork. For years I’ve been trying to get children to play with my dollhouse but it had fallen into chaotic disrepair because the children in my life are boys with no attention span for dollhouse playing. I’ve never understood how these boys that I mention love super hero action figures but won’t play with dolls in houses. They won’t admit that their figures are dolls, and I learned early not to call them that because they are insulted by the suggestion.
The picture to the right is some of the riff raff that Catherine evicted from the house. Now if I can just get someone as neat as Catherine to help me with the rest of my house.
Post Note: The dollhouse was a fantasy-come-true gift from Joe for Christmas about 10 years ago. He knew when I was a girl that I always wanted a dollhouse but never had one.
1. “Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty” is today’s “Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life” and was coined in 1982 by the writer Anne Herbet when she wrote it on a placemat at a restaurant.
2. If you love it set it free HERE.
3. Me (responding to my grandson Liam who used the number a “zillion”): Is a zillion a real number? Grandson Bryce: Yes, but we don’t know what the last number is. Only God knows the last number.
4. Liam’s and my favorite new library book is called Pete’s a Pizza. Pete is sad because it’s raining and he can’t go out to play, so his father plays that Pete is a pizza. He puts checkers on Pete for tomatoes and paper for cheese. He puts Pete in the oven (the couch) to cook and when Pete is done, he starts to pretend to cut him up, but Pete runs away. “Just like the Gingerbread Boy,” Liam says.
5. My 10-year-old home-schooled niece may be able to speak German and Latin, write her name in Korean, win contests for Irish step dancing and solve math equations that I can’t, but I can still beat her at hula-hooping. See HERE.
7. Sometimes I imagine that I’ll see poetry the way I see hidden pictures in 3D art when I take my gaze off the obvious, when I trust that a poem already exists just below the surface, and I let myself fall into it. – More on Poemwork HERE.
8. The Eiffel Tower: “It was over my head.” That was the way I explained seeing the Eiffel Tower when I was too young to appreciate it to my blogger friend Tabor who is posting about her trip to France.
9. Sometime at the end of the day I have a glass of wine to “wine down.”
10. I’ve never liked sunscreen but I don’t like sunburns either. I’d rather use a hat, keep a lightweight shirt nearby and limit my sunbathing exposure than slather on sunscreen that has been shown to contain carcinogenic and endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are polluting our water sources and are now found in 97% of American’s blood. Along with that, studies also show that sunscreen and lack of exposure to the sun is causing a massive epidemic of deficiencies in Vitamin D, a vitamin that protects against sunburn and skin cancer. Consider that sunscreen could be the next health care recommendation reversal and read more about it HERE.
11. The longest verified record for hula hooping was made in Ohio by Aaron Hibbs who kept a hoop spinning for 74 hours and 54 minutes, from October 22, 2009 to October 25.
13. Even the smallest thing, which we consider unimportant, can make a huge difference in the world HERE.
Sometimes I give myself
a poemwork assignment
to fill an empty notebook page
I hunker down with pen in hand
imagining that I’ll see poetry
the way I see hidden pictures in 3D art
when I take my gaze off the obvious
When I trust that a poem already exists
just below the surface
and let myself fall into it
I start to imagine that I can track a poem
like the sun tracks the crystal
that hangs in my window
and makes rainbows orbit
around the room
I tilt my head and squint my eyes
concentrating on that rare alignment
like a birdwatcher with binoculars
waits for the wild sighting
and listens for the herald of its song
______Colleen Redman / Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads
My Ten-year-old home-schooled niece Catherine is braver than me when it comes to catching chickens.
She can speak German and Latin and write her name in Korean.
She may win contests for Irish step dancing and solve math equations that I can not.
But I can still beat her at hula-hooping!
- The following first appeared with a larger selection of photos in the June 4, 2015 issue of The Floyd Press.
Floyd County High School (FCHS) Principal Tony Deibler spoke to the 2015 graduating class about what it means to be awesome. “If you can be involved in something larger than yourself to improve the lives of those you come in contact with, that is awesome,” he said during his Welcome Address at Sunday’s Graduation Exercises.
Deibler congratulated the students and told them to “keep being awesome,” before introducing 2015 Salutatorian Bryce Altizer to the podium, referring to Altizer as “one of FCHS’s finest seniors.”
“I’m very proud to be a part of this class of 2015. I want to wish all of you the best and thank you for everything,” said Altizer, who described the teachers at FCHS as “wonderful and determined.” Applause broke out from full gymnasium crowd when Altizer fondly remembered classmate Jake Phillips, who died in an accidental drowning in 2013.
Principal Diebler introduced FCHS 2105 Valedictorian Zane Moran by referencing his scholastic, leadership and school citizenship honors. In his Valedictorian/Class President’s address, Moran paid tribute to the talents of his classmates, who have excelled as musicians, artists, chefs, athelets, farmers, welders, mechanics and more, he said.
The FCHS combined chorus performed You’ll Never Walk Alone and Climb Every Mountain under the direction of chorus teacher Sandra Smith. Graduating senior chorus members performed the song My Way.
Graduating senior and Roanoke Youth Symphony Orchestra member Laruel Brooke was featured on violin during the performances.
Dr. Kevin Harris concluded his Superintendent’s Address, saying, “The class of 2015 has truly been a special class. You have left your mark on FCHS. May the best always come your way.”
Read more about FCHS Graduation 2015 and see a few more photos HERE.