" /> Loose Leaf Notes: September 2005 Archives

« August 2005 | Main | October 2005 »

September 30, 2005

This Way to the Hot Springs!

doyouknowtheway.jpgWe fell asleep to the sound of a rushing river and woke to the majesty of the white Chalk Cliffs. They were shrouded in a sort of “Lord of the Rings” band of fog that the bright morning sun was lasering its way through.

Most of Colorado is country, the way my hometown of Floyd is country, and so when I say we slept at a “Resort,” don’t get the wrong idea. The resort sits at the base of a mountain with nothing else around for miles, and the people who run it are so laid back that no one cared when we popped up our camper in the parking lot next to a picnic table and claimed it to be “home.”

Occasionally, what smelled like burnt rubber wafted its way into our make-shift camp, causing me to wonder what I left “on” in the camper. We first thought it was the mineral springs that bubbled up from the river below our camper, but later figured out it was the new Oriental rug covering the floor space of the camper.

It didn’t take long to discover the other reason for the laid back pace at the Princeton Mountain Hot Springs Resort. Soaking in the two large mineral spring pools is a deeply relaxing cure for whatever ails you. Besides the two pools – one at 99 degrees and the other at 89 – there’s a gas station (for those desperate enough to pay $3.39 a gallon), a lodge, a general store, and a restaurant with a full size stuffed bear and mountain lion, and the head of an elk by the fireplace.

After you go from the warming pool to the lap pool a couple of times, you can climb down into the river and dig your own little pool. There you can feel the hot spring water mix with the frigid temperature of the river, and if you dig your hands into the sand, you’ll see just how scalding hot the springs can get. You can prop yourself up in a Rocky Mountain boulder chair and watch the aspen leaves wave while you’re soaking…or think about the rugged mountain men of days long past before indoor plumbing who stumbled upon the springs and were able to bathe in the dead of winter.

Later, you might set yourself up in a lounge chair by the pool and write a blog entry while your husband writes a speech for the toast he plans to give at the wedding you’re soon going to in Aspen.

This Way to the Hot Springs!

doyouknowtheway.jpgWe fell asleep to the sound of a rushing river and woke to the majesty of the white Chalk Cliffs. They were shrouded in a sort of “Lord of the Rings” band of fog that the bright morning sun was lasering its way through.

Most of Colorado is country, the way my hometown of Floyd is country, and so when I say we slept at a “Resort,” don’t get the wrong idea. The resort sits at the base of a mountain with nothing else around for miles, and the people who run it are so laid back that no one cared when we popped up our camper in the parking lot next to a picnic table and claimed it to be “home.”

Occasionally, what smelled like burnt rubber wafted its way into our make-shift camp, causing me to wonder what I left “on” in the camper. We first thought it was the mineral springs that bubbled up from the river below our camper, but later figured out it was the new Oriental rug covering the floor space of the camper.

It didn’t take long to discover the other reason for the laid back pace at the Princeton Mountain Hot Springs Resort. Soaking in the two large mineral spring pools is a deeply relaxing cure for whatever ails you. Besides the two pools – one at 99 degrees and the other at 89 – there’s a gas station (for those desperate enough to pay $3.39 a gallon), a lodge, a general store, and a restaurant with a full size stuffed bear and mountain lion, and the head of an elk by the fireplace.

After you go from the warming pool to the lap pool a couple of times, you can climb down into the river and dig your own little pool. There you can feel the hot spring water mix with the frigid temperature of the river, and if you dig your hands into the sand, you’ll see just how scalding hot the springs can get. You can prop yourself up in a Rocky Mountain boulder chair and watch the aspen leaves wave while you’re soaking…or think about the rugged mountain men of days long past before indoor plumbing who stumbled upon the springs and were able to bathe in the dead of winter.

Later, you might set yourself up in a lounge chair by the pool and write a blog entry while your husband writes a speech for the toast he plans to give at the wedding you’re soon going to in Aspen.

September 29, 2005

High on Life at 10,000 feet

hangingrock.jpg
The Rockies are to Switzerland what the Appalachians are to Ireland… We spent the night near Colorado Springs at my husband’s childhood friend’s home. Across the sage-brushed flat terrain, we saw antelope grazing out the back door, and at night we heard coyotes howling. The rabbits, as common as squirrels are at home, didn’t seem afraid of people.

The next morning, we toured the Garden of the Gods, a park of giant 300 million year-old sandstone rock formations, before making our way up and into the Rockies, where one mountain range led to another and veins of golden aspen trees wound through the scenery of what used to be gold mining country.

After an hour or so of climbing, the vista opened up onto plains. From the winding shelf highway we were driving on, we could look down into the alpine valley and see a sight so foreign to me that it could have been the surface of the moon. We pulled over to watch a herd of buffalo and take some pictures of them. A George Harrison song played on the stereo… If you don’t know where you’re going, any road can lead you there.

By late afternoon and after stopping for supplies, we arrived at our next destination to set up camp and soak in the pools of warm mineral springs at the base of the Chalk Cliffs in Mount Princeton at 10,000 feet. More to come…

High on Life at 10,000 feet

hangingrock.jpg
The Rockies are to Switzerland what the Appalachians are to Ireland… We spent the night near Colorado Springs at my husband’s childhood friend’s home. Across the sage-brushed flat terrain, we saw antelope grazing out the back door, and at night we heard coyotes howling. The rabbits, as common as squirrels are at home, didn’t seem afraid of people.

The next morning, we toured the Garden of the Gods, a park of giant 300 million year-old sandstone rock formations, before making our way up and into the Rockies, where one mountain range led to another and veins of golden aspen trees wound through the scenery of what used to be gold mining country.

After an hour or so of climbing, the vista opened up onto plains. From the winding shelf highway we were driving on, we could look down into the alpine valley and see a sight so foreign to me that it could have been the surface of the moon. We pulled over to watch a herd of buffalo and take some pictures of them. A George Harrison song played on the stereo… If you don’t know where you’re going, any road can lead you there.

By late afternoon and after stopping for supplies, we arrived at our next destination to set up camp and soak in the pools of warm mineral springs at the base of the Chalk Cliffs in Mount Princeton at 10,000 feet. More to come…

September 27, 2005

Sailing Across Kansas

kansas.jpgHold on to your hat! We’re in Kansas where the wind whips across the prairie and with one good tornado you can end up in Oz.

Highway 70 West: We’re listening to “1000 Faces of the Hero” by Joseph Campbell on the tape player, read at a fast and hypnotic pace, as the calm sea of Kansas green spreads out before us. The length of the state is a full day’s drive and consists mostly of wide open and flat space. Mile after mile of it gives me an unsettling sense of vulnerablity, unlike a landscape buffered by trees, which can make me feel protected.

Joseph Campbell says: “mythology is psychology misinterpreted as biography, history, and cosmology.” I write it down and then avert my eyes from the blinding sun slipping down and try not to think about the fall of Humpty Dumpy and the hopeless fact that he won’t get put back together again. As daylight fades, I imagine a distant silo is a lighthouse and we’re sailing across Kansas.

On a clear night, like this one, you can see the Colorado Mountains far off on the horizon. They appear so suddenly that it’s hard to tell the difference between them and the clouds. Once I realize what they are, I point them out to Joe, as though I had just spotted land.

We pull into the campground, like a mooring ship at a dock and revel in the hushed stillness, a sharp contrast from the face pace of highway travel. The only thing visible outside our camper door is the expansive empty prairie under the big starry sky. Gone is the uncomfortable feeling of vulnerability. I feel safe in the midst of it all.

Sailing Across Kansas

kansas.jpgHold on to your hat! We’re in Kansas where the wind whips across the prairie and with one good tornado you can end up in Oz.

Highway 70 West: We’re listening to “1000 Faces of the Hero” by Joseph Campbell on the tape player, read at a fast and hypnotic pace, as the calm sea of Kansas green spreads out before us. The length of the state is a full day’s drive and consists mostly of wide open and flat space. Mile after mile of it gives me an unsettling sense of vulnerablity, unlike a landscape buffered by trees, which can make me feel protected.

Joseph Campbell says: “mythology is psychology misinterpreted as biography, history, and cosmology.” I write it down and then avert my eyes from the blinding sun slipping down and try not to think about the fall of Humpty Dumpy and the hopeless fact that he won’t get put back together again. As daylight fades, I imagine a distant silo is a lighthouse and we’re sailing across Kansas.

On a clear night, like this one, you can see the Colorado Mountains far off on the horizon. They appear so suddenly that it’s hard to tell the difference between them and the clouds. Once I realize what they are, I point them out to Joe, as though I had just spotted land.

We pull into the campground, like a mooring ship at a dock and revel in the hushed stillness, a sharp contrast from the face pace of highway travel. The only thing visible outside our camper door is the expansive empty prairie under the big starry sky. Gone is the uncomfortable feeling of vulnerability. I feel safe in the midst of it all.

September 24, 2005

Travel Sketch: Day 2

truckstopblog.pngPhoto: Colleen blogging on her laptop at a truck stop under a shawl to avoid screen glare.

We woke up in Kentucky at the nearly filled "Outback RV Park," an island of RVs surrounded by a mote of dark water, where a pig roast was to be held later in the day.

Under the pavilion, next to the bathrooms and a trashcan, a small dry-ease board hung from a pole. My husband, Joe, like a kid who feels compelled to flay his arms in front of the projector and onto the screen when the lights go out before watching a movie in school, just had to write on the clean slate,

After our breakfast at the camp picnic table, he directed to me to the place where I could empty our trash, making sure I would notice the dry-ease board that now read “Joe Loves Colleen.”

Later, back in the truck, with our 6” long rubber tarantula wiggling its legs on the dashboard, we engaged in some “road trip sort of conversation.” “Why do you think the dry ease board was there?” I asked.

Me: To time the pig roast?
Joe: Maybe there’s a horseshoe game nearby and it’s for keeping score.
Me: To deter graffiti?
He, who had earlier joined in a football toss game with a group of kids, while I sipped my morning tea: Maybe it’s there just for kids to play with.

En-route to Missouri and eventually Colorado, we spoke of our hopes and intentions for the next two weeks of vacation, before falling into silence, at which point I pulled out my notebook.

Sometimes I go through my notebooks and journal to cross out the old notes so I won’t have to repeatedly struggle to decipher my own scribbled scrawl. Such is the work of a scribe on a road trip.

Travel Sketch: Day 2

truckstopblog.pngPhoto: Colleen blogging on her laptop at a truck stop under a shawl to avoid screen glare.

We woke up in Kentucky at the nearly filled "Outback RV Park," an island of RVs surrounded by a mote of dark water, where a pig roast was to be held later in the day.

Under the pavilion, next to the bathrooms and a trashcan, a small dry-ease board hung from a pole. My husband, Joe, like a kid who feels compelled to flay his arms in front of the projector and onto the screen when the lights go out before watching a movie in school, just had to write on the clean slate,

After our breakfast at the camp picnic table, he directed to me to the place where I could empty our trash, making sure I would notice the dry-ease board that now read “Joe Loves Colleen.”

Later, back in the truck, with our 6” long rubber tarantula wiggling its legs on the dashboard, we engaged in some “road trip sort of conversation.” “Why do you think the dry ease board was there?” I asked.

Me: To time the pig roast?
Joe: Maybe there’s a horseshoe game nearby and it’s for keeping score.
Me: To deter graffiti?
He, who had earlier joined in a football toss game with a group of kids, while I sipped my morning tea: Maybe it’s there just for kids to play with.

En-route to Missouri and eventually Colorado, we spoke of our hopes and intentions for the next two weeks of vacation, before falling into silence, at which point I pulled out my notebook.

Sometimes I go through my notebooks and journal to cross out the old notes so I won’t have to repeatedly struggle to decipher my own scribbled scrawl. Such is the work of a scribe on a road trip.

September 23, 2005

Loose Leaf Star Date

battlestation2.png (Photo: Colleen at the control panel) I was once a prolific letter writer. I suspect that many bloggers were. As someone from a large family, who lives in a different state from most of my family members, my letter writing skills came in handy. When xeroxed Christmas letter became popular, I jumped on the bandwagon, and because I don’t enjoy long conversations by phone, I was soon sending out seasonal mass mailings.

Blogging is a lot like letter writing. I was bound to be a convert. But the transition from pen to keyboard didn’t come easy, and I still can’t get some of my family members online. I still use a pen to sketch out hand-written drafts, as if my mind did its thinking through my hand.

I’ve always been fascinated with how much history has been revealed through personal letters and journals. I treasure my own (my dad’s, really) tattered box filled with the priceless yellowed documents that give me insight into the past…the time, the place, and the character of family members who came before me.

Even fiction stories are sometimes told around personal journals. The movie “Dances with Wolves” revolved around the journal entries of Kevin Costner’s character. And if Captain Kirk hadn’t kept a journal, how would we have known about the adventures of the Star Trek Enterprise?

I consider my blog to be a time capsule of my recent life, and I plan to print out and bind a collection of entries for my descendents. It may not be as personal or stylishly classic as letters are, but at least it will tell my story (and spare them the struggle of reading my handwriting, which has deteriorated over the years to the point of being barely legible).

Loose Leaf and the Palomino camper are off for a new adventure (Where no man has been before? Probably not.). My husband and I are heading out for Colorado to attend his brother’s wedding. I plan to beam-up my blog entries whenever possible, but if my updates and comments in the blogsphere are erratic, you’ll understand why. OK SCOTTY, I’M READY.

Post Note: The commentary I posted last week, “AKA Spending His Way Out of the Doghouse,” which was about President Bush’s responsibility in being unprepared for Katrina due to his downgrading of FEMA, got picked up by “Just Response” and can be viewed here. “Katrina KOs GOP fiscal policies” by Jason Leopold, also on “Just Response” and on the same subject is also worth checking out.

Loose Leaf Star Date

battlestation2.png (Photo: Colleen at the control panel) I was once a prolific letter writer. I suspect that many bloggers were. As someone from a large family, who lives in a different state from most of my family members, my letter writing skills came in handy. When xeroxed Christmas letter became popular, I jumped on the bandwagon, and because I don’t enjoy long conversations by phone, I was soon sending out seasonal mass mailings.

Blogging is a lot like letter writing. I was bound to be a convert. But the transition from pen to keyboard didn’t come easy, and I still can’t get some of my family members online. I still use a pen to sketch out hand-written drafts, as if my mind did its thinking through my hand.

I’ve always been fascinated with how much history has been revealed through personal letters and journals. I treasure my own (my dad’s, really) tattered box filled with the priceless yellowed documents that give me insight into the past…the time, the place, and the character of family members who came before me.

Even fiction stories are sometimes told around personal journals. The movie “Dances with Wolves” revolved around the journal entries of Kevin Costner’s character. And if Captain Kirk hadn’t kept a journal, how would we have known about the adventures of the Star Trek Enterprise?

I consider my blog to be a time capsule of my recent life, and I plan to print out and bind a collection of entries for my descendents. It may not be as personal or stylishly classic as letters are, but at least it will tell my story (and spare them the struggle of reading my handwriting, which has deteriorated over the years to the point of being barely legible).

Loose Leaf and the Palomino camper are off for a new adventure (Where no man has been before? Probably not.). My husband and I are heading out for Colorado to attend his brother’s wedding. I plan to beam-up my blog entries whenever possible, but if my updates and comments in the blogsphere are erratic, you’ll understand why. OK SCOTTY, I’M READY.

Post Note: The commentary I posted last week, “AKA Spending His Way Out of the Doghouse,” which was about President Bush’s responsibility in being unprepared for Katrina due to his downgrading of FEMA, got picked up by “Just Response” and can be viewed here. “Katrina KOs GOP fiscal policies” by Jason Leopold, also on “Just Response” and on the same subject is also worth checking out.

September 22, 2005

Sign of the Times

WVTF.pngI used to go down the mountain regularly to restock my handmade jewelry at the Roanoke Coop and Seeds of Light. My jewelry crafting days are over, but I have a new product to peddle now…

Yesterday, I went down into the valley to tape a couple of essays that will hopefully eventually be aired on WVTF, our area’s public radio station. This activity makes one of the top 10s on my “Things that make me need extra deodorant” list. Although, reading in a studio with one other person present isn’t as nerve wracking as reading to a live audience can be for me, I didn’t feel on my mark. Not enough sleep or enough preparation? Nervous about the exposure?

Later, my husband, Joe, comforting me after I told him that my first reading last year went better, said “Well, usually, we’re not as bad as we think we are.”

All I can do at this point is hope that he’s right!

Sign of the Times

WVTF.pngI used to go down the mountain regularly to restock my handmade jewelry at the Roanoke Coop and Seeds of Light. My jewelry crafting days are over, but I have a new product to peddle now…

Yesterday, I went down into the valley to tape a couple of essays that will hopefully eventually be aired on WVTF, our area’s public radio station. This activity makes one of the top 10s on my “Things that make me need extra deodorant” list. Although, reading in a studio with one other person present isn’t as nerve wracking as reading to a live audience can be for me, I didn’t feel on my mark. Not enough sleep or enough preparation? Nervous about the exposure?

Later, my husband, Joe, comforting me after I told him that my first reading last year went better, said “Well, usually, we’re not as bad as we think we are.”

All I can do at this point is hope that he’s right!

Read the Signs

parkwaysign.png
This Blue Ridge Parkway sign is more my speed and makes me feel more at home, taken on the return ride from taping my essay at the WVTF radio station. What kind of signs have you been reading lately?

Read the Signs

parkwaysign.png
This Blue Ridge Parkway sign is more my speed and makes me feel more at home, taken on the return ride from taping my essay at the WVTF radio station. What kind of signs have you been reading lately?

September 21, 2005

The Poetry Reading: A Home Game

poetry reading 2.png Going to poetry readings – to read my poems in public – reminds me of going to a funeral. I want to go. It’s what I need to do. I know I’ll feel better later for having done it. But I always dread facing it, and I always feel uncomfortable…

Back in elementary school, I was one of those kids – you probably had one in your class, or maybe you were one yourself – who was terrified to get up in front of the class to give an oral report. The first time it happened, I was caught off guard and felt like I had come down with an illness. My heart pounded. My mind went blank. Embarrassed that I had no control over my shaking voice and hands, my face turned bright red, making the obvious worse.

I really don’t understand stage fright. It’s not a logical fear. It’s not as if anyone is going to shoot you, but somehow you feel in danger, adrenaline coursing through your veins...

When I first began reading my poetry in public, about 15 years ago, the trauma of public speaking was already deeply grooved into my nervous system. Back then, I couldn’t even bear to put my name on a sign-up sheet because I was never sure if I would actually get up and read. If the MC was an understanding one, I would signal when I was ready.

I’ve given more poetry readings in the last couple of years than I probably have in the last 15 years. The more I do them, the easier it gets. But it isn’t easy.

I have to rest the day before a reading, take rescue remedy (a Bach flower tincture for hysteria) as the reading time approaches, and if the reading is held in a restaurant, drinking a beer can really help. I begin to have pangs of anxiety about 2 days before a scheduled reading. Hanging out at the threshold of fear, but not opening the door to it, I repeat my mantram OM MANI PADME HUM (the jewel in the lotus of the heart) every time my mind wants to sink into panic.

My Writers’ Workshop and Oddfella’s Cantina hosted a spoken word evening this past Sunday night. My reading went fine. The variety and quality of work others shared was rhythmically rich and deeply touching. Not only was there a decent attendance of attentive guests, but I enjoyed myself and was probably was less nervous than I have ever been (that bottle of New Castle didn’t hurt).

Even so, I (half jokingly) said to my husband, who is well aware of the challenges I face keeping my phobias at bay, “You know, training my mind to resist the compulsion to sink into fear is hard work. Maybe it would be easier just to let myself be a nervous wreck?”

Oddly, it’s easier to do a reading than it is to deal with the anxiety of waiting for it to happen. When it’s over, I always feel better for having spoken-up. I think it’s our job as human beings to speak-up for each other and for those who are voiceless. For poets that’s especially true. And not only have I never been shot at while speaking-up at a poetry reading, when I finish reading, people usually clap.

Post Note: No one took pictures the night of the readings. The one posted here is of me reading at Floyd’s Pine Tavern, taken a year ago. The italic text above is excerpted from an essay that appears in my poetry collection, “Muses Like Moonlight” (pictured above). It’s one I occasionally use at readings as a sort of homeopathic remedy for stage fright. ~ The next Floyd Spoken Word Event is an Open Mic and will be held at Café de Sol, October, 15th at 7 PM.

The Poetry Reading: A Home Game

poetry reading 2.png Going to poetry readings – to read my poems in public – reminds me of going to a funeral. I want to go. It’s what I need to do. I know I’ll feel better later for having done it. But I always dread facing it, and I always feel uncomfortable…

Back in elementary school, I was one of those kids – you probably had one in your class, or maybe you were one yourself – who was terrified to get up in front of the class to give an oral report. The first time it happened, I was caught off guard and felt like I had come down with an illness. My heart pounded. My mind went blank. Embarrassed that I had no control over my shaking voice and hands, my face turned bright red, making the obvious worse.

I really don’t understand stage fright. It’s not a logical fear. It’s not as if anyone is going to shoot you, but somehow you feel in danger, adrenaline coursing through your veins...

When I first began reading my poetry in public, about 15 years ago, the trauma of public speaking was already deeply grooved into my nervous system. Back then, I couldn’t even bear to put my name on a sign-up sheet because I was never sure if I would actually get up and read. If the MC was an understanding one, I would signal when I was ready.

I’ve given more poetry readings in the last couple of years than I probably have in the last 15 years. The more I do them, the easier it gets. But it isn’t easy.

I have to rest the day before a reading, take rescue remedy (a Bach flower tincture for hysteria) as the reading time approaches, and if the reading is held in a restaurant, drinking a beer can really help. I begin to have pangs of anxiety about 2 days before a scheduled reading. Hanging out at the threshold of fear, but not opening the door to it, I repeat my mantram OM MANI PADME HUM (the jewel in the lotus of the heart) every time my mind wants to sink into panic.

My Writers’ Workshop and Oddfella’s Cantina hosted a spoken word evening this past Sunday night. My reading went fine. The variety and quality of work others shared was rhythmically rich and deeply touching. Not only was there a decent attendance of attentive guests, but I enjoyed myself and was probably was less nervous than I have ever been (that bottle of New Castle didn’t hurt).

Even so, I (half jokingly) said to my husband, who is well aware of the challenges I face keeping my phobias at bay, “You know, training my mind to resist the compulsion to sink into fear is hard work. Maybe it would be easier just to let myself be a nervous wreck?”

Oddly, it’s easier to do a reading than it is to deal with the anxiety of waiting for it to happen. When it’s over, I always feel better for having spoken-up. I think it’s our job as human beings to speak-up for each other and for those who are voiceless. For poets that’s especially true. And not only have I never been shot at while speaking-up at a poetry reading, when I finish reading, people usually clap.

Post Note: No one took pictures the night of the readings. The one posted here is of me reading at Floyd’s Pine Tavern, taken a year ago. The italic text above is excerpted from an essay that appears in my poetry collection, “Muses Like Moonlight” (pictured above). It’s one I occasionally use at readings as a sort of homeopathic remedy for stage fright. ~ The next Floyd Spoken Word Event is an Open Mic and will be held at Café de Sol, October, 15th at 7 PM.

September 20, 2005

The Names Have Been Changed to Protect the Innocent

red hat2.png All the people in my life should know this: Anything that happens when I’m with you could end up in a blog post. It’s not like I go around recording everything. Not even I know what will end up in a post. I just follow where the Muse leads me. I’m her slave.

So just for the record let me say, if I’m blogging about YOU, I might use your first name, but not your last, unless you are already using it online. I may post a picture but usually only a side viewed blurry one, one from the back, or from the distance. For full frontal face shots, I generally ask first, and I only post flattering photos of myself and others (excepting the one of my sisters that I cut and pasted myself on to).

Some people like to be linked and mentioned or have their photos posted. Others can’t get over the fact that some old nude photos of celebrities have been posted on the internet and that some people have lost their jobs because they blogged bad stuff about their employers. If I know you’re one of the second types, I’ll probably just refer to you as “a friend,” “a bystander,” or “someone.”

Rest assured, I don’t write negative stuff about people in my life or other bloggers, in the same way I wouldn’t use swear words in my act if I was a stand-up comedian. I just don’t find negativity all that interesting. Of course, occasionally, I write commentary about negative things happening around us, but I don’t consider that perpetrating negativity as much as reporting it…with the hope that it can be corrected.

So which type are you? Are you blog shy?

The Names Have Been Changed to Protect the Innocent

red hat2.png All the people in my life should know this: Anything that happens when I’m with you could end up in a blog post. It’s not like I go around recording everything. Not even I know what will end up in a post. I just follow where the Muse leads me. I’m her slave.

So just for the record let me say, if I’m blogging about YOU, I might use your first name, but not your last, unless you are already using it online. I may post a picture but usually only a side viewed blurry one, one from the back, or from the distance. For full frontal face shots, I generally ask first, and I only post flattering photos of myself and others (excepting the one of my sisters that I cut and pasted myself on to).

Some people like to be linked and mentioned or have their photos posted. Others can’t get over the fact that some old nude photos of celebrities have been posted on the internet and that some people have lost their jobs because they blogged bad stuff about their employers. If I know you’re one of the second types, I’ll probably just refer to you as “a friend,” “a bystander,” or “someone.”

Rest assured, I don’t write negative stuff about people in my life or other bloggers, in the same way I wouldn’t use swear words in my act if I was a stand-up comedian. I just don’t find negativity all that interesting. Of course, occasionally, I write commentary about negative things happening around us, but I don’t consider that perpetrating negativity as much as reporting it…with the hope that it can be corrected.

So which type are you? Are you blog shy?

September 19, 2005

All in the Family

bobandcolleen.pngThis is a photo of me and my brother Bob. One of us voted for and still supports Bush. The other thinks he’s ruined U.S. credibility and should be recalled or impeached. You could say we’re on opposite ends of the spectrum, but when you add to the equation that Bob leans towards Libertarianism and I tend to be fiscally conservative, maybe not. Regardless of how one might label me or my brother, we still love each other.

I’d like to thank my readers for the recent civil discourse on current events here at Loose Leaf. One of the things I love about blogging is that I get to interact with a variety of people that I probably wouldn’t cross paths with otherwise. Getting a peek into other people’s lives and risking letting them see mine, via our blogs, can be humanizing. The more I do it the more I can see the multi-dimensional nature of each person, and that, as human beings, we are more alike than we are different.

What about you? Do you live with someone on the other side of the aisle or with a different philosophy of life? Are you able to agree to disagree?

Post Note:
The photo was taken by my sister, Tricia, at our brother Jimmy's annual memorial picnic at the Blue Hill Observatory in Massachusetts.

All in the Family

bobandcolleen.pngThis is a photo of me and my brother Bob. One of us voted for and still supports Bush. The other thinks he’s ruined U.S. credibility and should be recalled or impeached. You could say we’re on opposite ends of the spectrum, but when you add to the equation that Bob leans towards Libertarianism and I tend to be fiscally conservative, maybe not. Regardless of how one might label me or my brother, we still love each other.

I’d like to thank my readers for the recent civil discourse on current events here at Loose Leaf. One of the things I love about blogging is that I get to interact with a variety of people that I probably wouldn’t cross paths with otherwise. Getting a peek into other people’s lives and risking letting them see mine, via our blogs, can be humanizing. The more I do it the more I can see the multi-dimensional nature of each person, and that, as human beings, we are more alike than we are different.

What about you? Do you live with someone on the other side of the aisle or with a different philosophy of life? Are you able to agree to disagree?

Post Note:
The photo was taken by my sister, Tricia, at our brother Jimmy's annual memorial picnic at the Blue Hill Observatory in Massachusetts.

September 17, 2005

Picture This

AKA Give Me A Vowel: Since my friend who I frequently play scrabble with won’t let me post the picture I took of him playing, I’ll just have to describe it. It came out great.

We’re playing at the Café de Sol wireless café in downtown Floyd. It’s his turn. He’s burly with a full beard, leaning forward over the checkered scrabble board with his hand resting across his beard, as if someone had instructed him to, “pose like your thinking.” He has a silver ring on his pinky finger. On the white cotton background of his T-shirt there are black silhouettes of people dancing in various wild poses. I can almost hear the drum beat they’re moving to.

Behind him, there’s a computer at a table with a cardboard giraffe mask hanging from the back of it. The top of a man’s head is peeking over the computer. Standing next to him is a woman wearing a zebra printed shirt.

I am not making this up. I love this picture. It’s an exciting composition, and if I were to name it, I would call it “THE SCRABBLE ZOO.”

By the way, have you noticed that the word verification pop-up boxes that bloggers are using to deter spam ask you to type in the most unusual combinations of high scoring letters to prove that you’re not a telemarketing monkey? The most recent ones I got were ORXZUTFA and JJJKWVQP. Stretching my fingers wildly across the keyboard, I’m thinking…these letters make me drool. Have I been blogging more lately just to see what letters I’ll get?

Picture This

AKA Give Me A Vowel: Since my friend who I frequently play scrabble with won’t let me post the picture I took of him playing, I’ll just have to describe it. It came out great.

We’re playing at the Café de Sol wireless café in downtown Floyd. It’s his turn. He’s burly with a full beard, leaning forward over the checkered scrabble board with his hand resting across his beard, as if someone had instructed him to, “pose like your thinking.” He has a silver ring on his pinky finger. On the white cotton background of his T-shirt there are black silhouettes of people dancing in various wild poses. I can almost hear the drum beat they’re moving to.

Behind him, there’s a computer at a table with a cardboard giraffe mask hanging from the back of it. The top of a man’s head is peeking over the computer. Standing next to him is a woman wearing a zebra printed shirt.

I am not making this up. I love this picture. It’s an exciting composition, and if I were to name it, I would call it “THE SCRABBLE ZOO.”

By the way, have you noticed that the word verification pop-up boxes that bloggers are using to deter spam ask you to type in the most unusual combinations of high scoring letters to prove that you’re not a telemarketing monkey? The most recent ones I got were ORXZUTFA and JJJKWVQP. Stretching my fingers wildly across the keyboard, I’m thinking…these letters make me drool. Have I been blogging more lately just to see what letters I’ll get?

September 16, 2005

Unprepared for Katrina

Subtitle: Is this what smaller government looks like? AKA Spending his way out of the doghouse

The following is an excerpt from a commentary I’ve submitted to several publications. ... The inadequacies of FEMA can be traced back to President Bush who undermined the progress it made under President Clinton by appointing a political crony with no emergency management experience to lead it, and then privatizing parts of it. In May of 2001, Bush’s FEMA appointee, Joe Allbaugh, suggested to Congress that FEMA had evolved into “an oversized entitlement program.” When Allbaugh resigned to pursue corporate opportunities in Iraq, he left his even less qualified college roommate, Michael Brown, in his place. Folding FEMA into Homeland Security further weakened it. No guidelines were provided for how Homeland Security would pick up the slack, or if they were provided, Homeland Security director, Michael Chertoff, didn’t seem to be aware of them.

Far-right Republicans, like President Bush, have shown little interest in preventative programs that help people and solve problems, like the UN or FEMA. Their answer to everything seems to be privatization, which sets the stage for corporate cronyism and greed. The only government program they clearly support is the military. For years, Republicans complained about the Welfare Program, less than 1% of the federal budget, while spending for the military under their administrations skyrocketed and deficits rose to record levels.

The outpouring of support that Americans have given to those in need has been a testimony to their generosity, but I don’t understand how so many can continue to tolerate an administration that elects to invade another country with the intent to impose democracy, while at the same time it’s systematically eroding domestic programs designed to protect its own citizens.

The Republican catch-phrase, “Get government off our backs,” sounds like a liberating ideal, but the reality is that the images of human suffering that followed Hurricane Katrina’s wrath is what smaller government can look like.

Two weeks after Katrina, with his approval rating the lowest of his presidency, President Bush took the uncharacteristic step of admitting that the response to the disaster was a failure of government at all levels. He’s promised to study what went wrong, but it’s never a good idea for a likely suspect to investigate himself. In order for a study to have any meaning it must be an independent one.

Of course, it shouldn’t take a large tax paid study to determine that the responsibility for recent emergency response failures lies largely with the Bush administration. Their agenda, like that of other far right administrations, aims to weaken social programs because they consider them to be too costly. The irony is that, especially in the case of Katrina, the government will spend more to make up for its grievous failings than it would have cost to prevent those failings by fully funding and supporting domestic programs already in place.

Post Note: I've added the entire commentary in the extended entry for those who might be interested. See below...

“The aftermath of Katrina will go down in history as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history.” ~ Louisiana official, Aaron Broussard as he broke down while being interviewed by Tim Russert. Everyone seems to agree that the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina was shameful, they just don’t agree on who was to blame for it. During the first two weeks after the hurricane, Americans were encouraged not to play “the blame game” by the Bush administration and others, but if we don’t pointedly address what went wrong, how can we expect to prevent another such failure?

Two days before the hurricane, the White House declared a Federal State of Emergency in Louisiana, as requested by Governor Kathleen Blanco. Part of the statement posted on the White House website reads: “Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.”

Considering that, coupled with the magnitude of the storm, and the fact that the Louisiana National Guard was already stretched by the deployment of more than 3,000 troops to Iraq, it’s understandable that Louisiana officials expected more of an immediate physical response from the federal government.

In the crucial two days following Hurricane Katrina, when it would have mattered most, President Bush failed to come forth to set the tone for the country. He, who had campaigned on his ability to protect Americans, neglected to act, even as state and local officials were repeatedly pleading for federal help.

But the weakest link in the chain of the botched response to Katrina appears to be FEMA, as news story after news story revealed: The agency dispatched only 7 of its 28 urban search and rescue teams to the area before the storm hit and sent no workers at all into New Orleans until after the hurricane passed (New York Times) … Louisiana National Guard requests 700 buses from FEMA for evacuations: FEMA sends only 100 (Boston Globe) … FEMA head finally requests that DHS dispatch 1,000 employees to the region, gives them two days to arrive (Associated Press).

The inadequacies of FEMA can be traced back to President Bush who undermined the progress it made under President Clinton by appointing a political crony with no emergency management experience to lead it, and then privatizing parts of it. In May of 2001, Bush’s FEMA appointee, Joe Allbaugh, suggested to Congress that FEMA had evolved into “an oversized entitlement program.” When Allbaugh resigned to pursue corporate opportunities in Iraq, he left his even less qualified college roommate, Michael Brown, in his place. Folding FEMA into Homeland Security further weakened it. No guidelines were provided for how Homeland Security would pick up the slack, or if they were provided, Homeland Security director, Michael Chertoff, didn’t seem to be aware of it.

Far-right Republicans, like President Bush, have shown little interest in preventative programs that help people and solve problems, like the UN or FEMA. Their answer to everything seems to be privatization, which sets the stage for corporate cronyism and greed. The only government program they clearly support is the military. For years, Republicans complained about the Welfare Program, less than 1% of the federal budget, while spending for the military under their administrations skyrocketed and deficits rose to record levels.

The outpouring of support that Americans have given to those in need has been a testimony to their generosity, but I don’t understand how so many continue to tolerate an administration that elects to invade another country with the intent to impose democracy, while at the same time it’s systematically eroding domestic programs designed to protect its own citizens.

The Republican catch-phrase, “Get government off our backs,” sounds like a liberating ideal, but the reality is that the images of human suffering that followed Hurricane Katrina’s wrath is what smaller government can look like.

Two weeks after Katrina, with his approval rating the lowest of his presidency, President Bush took the uncharacteristic step of admitting that the response to the disaster was a failure of government at all levels. He’s promised to study what went wrong, but it’s never a good idea for a likely suspect to investigate himself. In order for a study to have any meaning it must be an independent one.

Of course, it shouldn’t take a large tax paid study to determine that the responsibility for recent emergency response failures lies largely with the Bush administration. Their agenda, like that of other far right administrations, aims to weaken social programs because they consider them to be too costly. The irony is that, especially in the case of Katrina, the government will spend more to make up for its grievous failings than it would have cost to prevent those failings by fully funding and supporting domestic programs already in place.

Unprepared for Katrina

Subtitle: Is this what smaller government looks like? AKA Spending his way out of the doghouse

The following is an excerpt from a commentary I’ve submitted to several publications. ... The inadequacies of FEMA can be traced back to President Bush who undermined the progress it made under President Clinton by appointing a political crony with no emergency management experience to lead it, and then privatizing parts of it. In May of 2001, Bush’s FEMA appointee, Joe Allbaugh, suggested to Congress that FEMA had evolved into “an oversized entitlement program.” When Allbaugh resigned to pursue corporate opportunities in Iraq, he left his even less qualified college roommate, Michael Brown, in his place. Folding FEMA into Homeland Security further weakened it. No guidelines were provided for how Homeland Security would pick up the slack, or if they were provided, Homeland Security director, Michael Chertoff, didn’t seem to be aware of them.

Far-right Republicans, like President Bush, have shown little interest in preventative programs that help people and solve problems, like the UN or FEMA. Their answer to everything seems to be privatization, which sets the stage for corporate cronyism and greed. The only government program they clearly support is the military. For years, Republicans complained about the Welfare Program, less than 1% of the federal budget, while spending for the military under their administrations skyrocketed and deficits rose to record levels.

The outpouring of support that Americans have given to those in need has been a testimony to their generosity, but I don’t understand how so many can continue to tolerate an administration that elects to invade another country with the intent to impose democracy, while at the same time it’s systematically eroding domestic programs designed to protect its own citizens.

The Republican catch-phrase, “Get government off our backs,” sounds like a liberating ideal, but the reality is that the images of human suffering that followed Hurricane Katrina’s wrath is what smaller government can look like.

Two weeks after Katrina, with his approval rating the lowest of his presidency, President Bush took the uncharacteristic step of admitting that the response to the disaster was a failure of government at all levels. He’s promised to study what went wrong, but it’s never a good idea for a likely suspect to investigate himself. In order for a study to have any meaning it must be an independent one.

Of course, it shouldn’t take a large tax paid study to determine that the responsibility for recent emergency response failures lies largely with the Bush administration. Their agenda, like that of other far right administrations, aims to weaken social programs because they consider them to be too costly. The irony is that, especially in the case of Katrina, the government will spend more to make up for its grievous failings than it would have cost to prevent those failings by fully funding and supporting domestic programs already in place.

Post Note: I've added the entire commentary in the extended entry for those who might be interested. See below...

“The aftermath of Katrina will go down in history as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history.” ~ Louisiana official, Aaron Broussard as he broke down while being interviewed by Tim Russert. Everyone seems to agree that the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina was shameful, they just don’t agree on who was to blame for it. During the first two weeks after the hurricane, Americans were encouraged not to play “the blame game” by the Bush administration and others, but if we don’t pointedly address what went wrong, how can we expect to prevent another such failure?

Two days before the hurricane, the White House declared a Federal State of Emergency in Louisiana, as requested by Governor Kathleen Blanco. Part of the statement posted on the White House website reads: “Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.”

Considering that, coupled with the magnitude of the storm, and the fact that the Louisiana National Guard was already stretched by the deployment of more than 3,000 troops to Iraq, it’s understandable that Louisiana officials expected more of an immediate physical response from the federal government.

In the crucial two days following Hurricane Katrina, when it would have mattered most, President Bush failed to come forth to set the tone for the country. He, who had campaigned on his ability to protect Americans, neglected to act, even as state and local officials were repeatedly pleading for federal help.

But the weakest link in the chain of the botched response to Katrina appears to be FEMA, as news story after news story revealed: The agency dispatched only 7 of its 28 urban search and rescue teams to the area before the storm hit and sent no workers at all into New Orleans until after the hurricane passed (New York Times) … Louisiana National Guard requests 700 buses from FEMA for evacuations: FEMA sends only 100 (Boston Globe) … FEMA head finally requests that DHS dispatch 1,000 employees to the region, gives them two days to arrive (Associated Press).

The inadequacies of FEMA can be traced back to President Bush who undermined the progress it made under President Clinton by appointing a political crony with no emergency management experience to lead it, and then privatizing parts of it. In May of 2001, Bush’s FEMA appointee, Joe Allbaugh, suggested to Congress that FEMA had evolved into “an oversized entitlement program.” When Allbaugh resigned to pursue corporate opportunities in Iraq, he left his even less qualified college roommate, Michael Brown, in his place. Folding FEMA into Homeland Security further weakened it. No guidelines were provided for how Homeland Security would pick up the slack, or if they were provided, Homeland Security director, Michael Chertoff, didn’t seem to be aware of it.

Far-right Republicans, like President Bush, have shown little interest in preventative programs that help people and solve problems, like the UN or FEMA. Their answer to everything seems to be privatization, which sets the stage for corporate cronyism and greed. The only government program they clearly support is the military. For years, Republicans complained about the Welfare Program, less than 1% of the federal budget, while spending for the military under their administrations skyrocketed and deficits rose to record levels.

The outpouring of support that Americans have given to those in need has been a testimony to their generosity, but I don’t understand how so many continue to tolerate an administration that elects to invade another country with the intent to impose democracy, while at the same time it’s systematically eroding domestic programs designed to protect its own citizens.

The Republican catch-phrase, “Get government off our backs,” sounds like a liberating ideal, but the reality is that the images of human suffering that followed Hurricane Katrina’s wrath is what smaller government can look like.

Two weeks after Katrina, with his approval rating the lowest of his presidency, President Bush took the uncharacteristic step of admitting that the response to the disaster was a failure of government at all levels. He’s promised to study what went wrong, but it’s never a good idea for a likely suspect to investigate himself. In order for a study to have any meaning it must be an independent one.

Of course, it shouldn’t take a large tax paid study to determine that the responsibility for recent emergency response failures lies largely with the Bush administration. Their agenda, like that of other far right administrations, aims to weaken social programs because they consider them to be too costly. The irony is that, especially in the case of Katrina, the government will spend more to make up for its grievous failings than it would have cost to prevent those failings by fully funding and supporting domestic programs already in place.

September 15, 2005

A Scrabble Squabble

scrabblenoon.png She, waiting for him to take his turn: Mind if I post the picture I just took of you on my blog?
He: Yes.
She: I won't use your name.
He: I don’t want my picture on the internet!
She: Okay.
He, while playing the word LANGOR: You spend a lot of time on the internet. I don’t know if it’s good for you.
She: No, I spend a lot of time writing. And I don’t know if that’s good for me.
He, responding to her word NOON: I would think you’d come up with a more exotic word.
She: I don’t care about what the word says. I care about how many points it can score!

She won.

POST NOTE:
I just got word that reader's comments are getting bumped for questionable "questionable content." I did a test and sure enough, it bumped me too. I'm going to talk to my "landlord" about this. I hope things will be back to normal soon, and I apologize for any inconvience this may have caused anyone. I hate when that happens!

A Scrabble Squabble

scrabblenoon.png She, waiting for him to take his turn: Mind if I post the picture I just took of you on my blog?
He: Yes.
She: I won't use your name.
He: I don’t want my picture on the internet!
She: Okay.
He, while playing the word LANGOR: You spend a lot of time on the internet. I don’t know if it’s good for you.
She: No, I spend a lot of time writing. And I don’t know if that’s good for me.
He, responding to her word NOON: I would think you’d come up with a more exotic word.
She: I don’t care about what the word says. I care about how many points it can score!

She won.

POST NOTE:
I just got word that reader's comments are getting bumped for questionable "questionable content." I did a test and sure enough, it bumped me too. I'm going to talk to my "landlord" about this. I hope things will be back to normal soon, and I apologize for any inconvience this may have caused anyone. I hate when that happens!

September 14, 2005

Finding My Voice

word lover 2.png I wrote poetry for seven years to learn how to write a sentence because I really wanted to write novels and I figured that I couldn't write a novel until I could write a sentence. ~ Richard Brautigan

I was raised on jump rope songs, nursery rhymes, and songs from the 40s that my father taught me. Those were my early influences and the foundation for my love of language. Poetry was the stuff we had to memorize in school that I hardly ever understood.

When I was a young adult, fresh out of high school, it was the lyrics of Bob Dylan and others like him that inspired me to write. During that time, I carried Yoko Ono’s book, “Grapefruit,” a conceptual book of verse and instruction, around with me like a Bible. I had a poet friend who introduced me to the poetry reading scene in Boston. I could never do that, I thought while watching the poets read their poetry. The same friend lent me books by Alan Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, and Sylvia Plath. But it all seemed over my head.

It was the poetry of Richard Brautigan, who I discovered on my own, that made me think for the first time… Wow, maybe I do like poetry. Later, I discovered Rumi, and so my self-identity as a person who loved poetry was cemented.

Although I wasn’t personally inspired by Ginsberg and the other Beat Poets, I suspect that Richard Brautigan was (some consider him a Beat). I’ve read that the poet who probably inspired the Beats the most was William Carlos Williams. I understand why. Williams, who was born in 1883 and died in 1963, avoided obscure symbolism in poetry, unlike other poets of his time. With his use of simple and direct language, sparse lines with a minimum of punctuation, his poetry validated my own and gave me an example to strive for.

This coming Sunday night my Writers’ Circle is presenting an evening of Spoken Word at Oddfella’s Cantina in celebration of William Carlos Williams birthday, the full moon and the last weekend of summer. It’s also my friend, Jayn’s birthday. I hope to read something for her.

Finding My Voice

word lover 2.png I wrote poetry for seven years to learn how to write a sentence because I really wanted to write novels and I figured that I couldn't write a novel until I could write a sentence. ~ Richard Brautigan

I was raised on jump rope songs, nursery rhymes, and songs from the 40s that my father taught me. Those were my early influences and the foundation for my love of language. Poetry was the stuff we had to memorize in school that I hardly ever understood.

When I was a young adult, fresh out of high school, it was the lyrics of Bob Dylan and others like him that inspired me to write. During that time, I carried Yoko Ono’s book, “Grapefruit,” a conceptual book of verse and instruction, around with me like a Bible. I had a poet friend who introduced me to the poetry reading scene in Boston. I could never do that, I thought while watching the poets read their poetry. The same friend lent me books by Alan Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, and Sylvia Plath. But it all seemed over my head.

It was the poetry of Richard Brautigan, who I discovered on my own, that made me think for the first time… Wow, maybe I do like poetry. Later, I discovered Rumi, and so my self-identity as a person who loved poetry was cemented.

Although I wasn’t personally inspired by Ginsberg and the other Beat Poets, I suspect that Richard Brautigan was (some consider him a Beat). I’ve read that the poet who probably inspired the Beats the most was William Carlos Williams. I understand why. Williams, who was born in 1883 and died in 1963, avoided obscure symbolism in poetry, unlike other poets of his time. With his use of simple and direct language, sparse lines with a minimum of punctuation, his poetry validated my own and gave me an example to strive for.

This coming Sunday night my Writers’ Circle is presenting an evening of Spoken Word at Oddfella’s Cantina in celebration of William Carlos Williams birthday, the full moon and the last weekend of summer. It’s also my friend, Jayn’s birthday. I hope to read something for her.

September 13, 2005

I Met Him at the Laundry Mat

joeapplewithstick.png You’re golden…I’m red delicious…basking in the sun’s October glory…You’re Adam…I’m Eve… ~ Colleen

My husband, Joe, moved to Floyd in 1987 to be a teacher at the Blue Mountain School, the parent-run cooperative school that my sons went to. We first met in the town laundry mat. He was with a couple of BMS parents tie dying shirts for a school fundraiser, and I was picking apples from a tree out front. The apples were green and discolored with black spots, but I was living on a low income, raising two sons, and I knew they would make good apple crisp.

Besides what obviously attracts 2 people who later get married, Joe maintains the two things that initially impressed him most about me were my enthusiasm for those foraged apples and the big pot of lentil soup I had on the stove the first time he came to my house.

Years later, when we were married on the Blue Ridge Parkway, we exchanged symbols of our union, along with our vows. I read a poem I had written for him, and he presented me with a large red apple, which I promptly and ceremoniously ate. It represented the care we had given to our relationship and the fruit it bore as a result, he said.

Joe and I don’t tend to remember our anniversary because our wedding took place on a blue moon in June, the date of which was not the point. But apple picking has become a romantic yearly tradition that we do celebrate, one that ties into our first meeting.

We live next to the escarpment of the Blue Ridge Mountains where there are abandoned homesteads down in the valley, no longer accessible by car. During our hiking explorations, we’ve discovered that, in most cases, orchards outlive houses. Occasionally, we come across an old run-down house or the remnants of a chimney still remaining, but mostly it’s fruit trees we find.

Our favorite red apple tree is at the bottom of a gorge, set apart from the rest of a small, hidden orchard. As soon as we climb over the gate into the pasture that leads down to it, we feel as though we’ve entered the Garden of Eden. And when we arrive at the “our tree,” which looks like something out of a fairytale, we are in awe, amazed by what nature provides.

Joe climbs up into the tree and shakes it, while I gather the fruit that falls. We bring backpacks to fill up, a snack for lunch, and a blanket to rest on, or do whatever else comes natural after our work (if you want to call it that) is done.

This past Sunday, on our ceremonious seasonal apple picking date, we heard turkeys gobbling just out of view and watched nearby deer watching us. Of course, there was an abundance of apples for dessert to linger over. We left some for the deer as well.

I Met Him at the Laundry Mat

joeapplewithstick.png You’re golden…I’m red delicious…basking in the sun’s October glory…You’re Adam…I’m Eve… ~ Colleen

My husband, Joe, moved to Floyd in 1987 to be a teacher at the Blue Mountain School, the parent-run cooperative school that my sons went to. We first met in the town laundry mat. He was with a couple of BMS parents tie dying shirts for a school fundraiser, and I was picking apples from a tree out front. The apples were green and discolored with black spots, but I was living on a low income, raising two sons, and I knew they would make good apple crisp.

Besides what obviously attracts 2 people who later get married, Joe maintains the two things that initially impressed him most about me were my enthusiasm for those foraged apples and the big pot of lentil soup I had on the stove the first time he came to my house.

Years later, when we were married on the Blue Ridge Parkway, we exchanged symbols of our union, along with our vows. I read a poem I had written for him, and he presented me with a large red apple, which I promptly and ceremoniously ate. It represented the care we had given to our relationship and the fruit it bore as a result, he said.

Joe and I don’t tend to remember our anniversary because our wedding took place on a blue moon in June, the date of which was not the point. But apple picking has become a romantic yearly tradition that we do celebrate, one that ties into our first meeting.

We live next to the escarpment of the Blue Ridge Mountains where there are abandoned homesteads down in the valley, no longer accessible by car. During our hiking explorations, we’ve discovered that, in most cases, orchards outlive houses. Occasionally, we come across an old run-down house or the remnants of a chimney still remaining, but mostly it’s fruit trees we find.

Our favorite red apple tree is at the bottom of a gorge, set apart from the rest of a small, hidden orchard. As soon as we climb over the gate into the pasture that leads down to it, we feel as though we’ve entered the Garden of Eden. And when we arrive at the “our tree,” which looks like something out of a fairytale, we are in awe, amazed by what nature provides.

Joe climbs up into the tree and shakes it, while I gather the fruit that falls. We bring backpacks to fill up, a snack for lunch, and a blanket to rest on, or do whatever else comes natural after our work (if you want to call it that) is done.

This past Sunday, on our ceremonious seasonal apple picking date, we heard turkeys gobbling just out of view and watched nearby deer watching us. Of course, there was an abundance of apples for dessert to linger over. We left some for the deer as well.

September 12, 2005

Ripped From the Headlines of My Journal

AKA Notable Quotables:

Colleen on feeling nervous before giving a poetry reading: “Well, I can’t be any worse than President Bush at a press conference, right?”

Joe on Colleen’s habit of loud sneezing: “You sneeze like your leading the drill team.”

Colleen after a scrabble game: “It’s embarrassing to win, but it’s more embarrassing to lose.”

Colleen on being tired: “I was so tired today that even my hair felt like a too-heavy weight to carry.”

Joe on Colleen’s computer skill gaps: “You’re like a gourmet cook who doesn’t know how to use a measuring cup.”

Colleen on politics: Republicans and Democrats are like Fords and Chevys. They’re like the Yankees and the Red Sox. They have an almost irrational need to take sides.

Ripped From the Headlines of My Journal

AKA Notable Quotables:

Colleen on feeling nervous before giving a poetry reading: “Well, I can’t be any worse than President Bush at a press conference, right?”

Joe on Colleen’s habit of loud sneezing: “You sneeze like your leading the drill team.”

Colleen after a scrabble game: “It’s embarrassing to win, but it’s more embarrassing to lose.”

Colleen on being tired: “I was so tired today that even my hair felt like a too-heavy weight to carry.”

Joe on Colleen’s computer skill gaps: “You’re like a gourmet cook who doesn’t know how to use a measuring cup.”

Colleen on politics: Republicans and Democrats are like Fords and Chevys. They’re like the Yankees and the Red Sox. They have an almost irrational need to take sides.

September 10, 2005

Drive-by Sales

My favorite thing about having a published book has been witnessing all the attention and support that my mother (after losing two sons) has received in my hometown of Hull, Massachusetts because of it - and if the book were a vacuum cleaner, she would be the salesperson of the month. After the article about the book, "Hull Native Mines Memories for First Book," appeared in the Hull Times Newspaper, my mother had people coming to her house wanting books; some she knew and some she didn't. One woman wanted my mother to sign the book, another said, after reading it, "Barbara, what a wonderful family you have!" Then there was the call from a local hairdresser asking my mother if she could drop by with a book because a customer there wanted to buy one. She doesn't go out without a couple of books in her pocketbook now, just in case. ~ Taken from my web page, Silver and Gold, What’s New? Nov 22, 2003, in which I describe selling the first 300 “Jim and Dan Stories” in just over month.

Did you know that the well-known author John Grisham self-published his first book and sold it out of the trunk of his car? “The Joy of Cooking,” a book I own, was self-published in 1931 and currently sells more than 100,000 copies a year. “Mutant Message Down Under” and “The Celestine Prophecy” are two books I’ve read that were also initially self-published.

Dan Poynter, author of “The Self-Publishing Manual” (who comes from the Massachusetts city I was born in), compiled a list of authors who had self-published at one time or another. I was surprised by some of the names on the list, which include: Deepok Chopra, Louise Hay, Mark Twain, Ken Key’s, Jr., Gertrude Stein, Zane Grey, Upton Sinclair, Carl Sandburg, James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, Ezra Pound, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Stephen Crane, George Bernard Shaw, Anais Nin, Thomas Paine, Virginia Woolf, ee. cummings, William Blake, Edgar Allen Poe, Rudyard Kipling, Henry David Thoreau.

If you were going to write a book, what would it be about?

Drive-by Sales

My favorite thing about having a published book has been witnessing all the attention and support that my mother (after losing two sons) has received in my hometown of Hull, Massachusetts because of it - and if the book were a vacuum cleaner, she would be the salesperson of the month. After the article about the book, "Hull Native Mines Memories for First Book," appeared in the Hull Times Newspaper, my mother had people coming to her house wanting books; some she knew and some she didn't. One woman wanted my mother to sign the book, another said, after reading it, "Barbara, what a wonderful family you have!" Then there was the call from a local hairdresser asking my mother if she could drop by with a book because a customer there wanted to buy one. She doesn't go out without a couple of books in her pocketbook now, just in case. ~ Taken from my web page, Silver and Gold, What’s New? Nov 22, 2003, in which I describe selling the first 300 “Jim and Dan Stories” in just over month.

Did you know that the well-known author John Grisham self-published his first book and sold it out of the trunk of his car? “The Joy of Cooking,” a book I own, was self-published in 1931 and currently sells more than 100,000 copies a year. “Mutant Message Down Under” and “The Celestine Prophecy” are two books I’ve read that were also initially self-published.

Dan Poynter, author of “The Self-Publishing Manual” (who comes from the Massachusetts city I was born in), compiled a list of authors who had self-published at one time or another. I was surprised by some of the names on the list, which include: Deepok Chopra, Louise Hay, Mark Twain, Ken Key’s, Jr., Gertrude Stein, Zane Grey, Upton Sinclair, Carl Sandburg, James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, Ezra Pound, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Stephen Crane, George Bernard Shaw, Anais Nin, Thomas Paine, Virginia Woolf, ee. cummings, William Blake, Edgar Allen Poe, Rudyard Kipling, Henry David Thoreau.

If you were going to write a book, what would it be about?

September 9, 2005

Chilling Out

house spider web.pngIt seems like we go right from butterflies to spider webs, reminding me that Halloween isn’t too far off. This is the time of year that harvested garlic wafts from my pantry, and I’m startled by the sound of nuts dropping from the paws of squirrels onto our shed’s tin roof. Garden plants are wilting and dying, revealing ripened orange pumpkins underneath, still clinging to their winding and shriveling vines. Lawn mowing is slowly being replaced by wood cutting. The cooler days seem penetrating and brighter, as the loom of summer humidity lifts. Putting aside my sandals, I look for shoes. This morning I put on socks.

Post to Note:Common Ground,” an August 18th "Loose Leaf" entry I wrote on dissent was published in “The Roanoke Times” yesterday under the title “The Very American Art of Protest.” You can view it here.

Chilling Out

house spider web.pngIt seems like we go right from butterflies to spider webs, reminding me that Halloween isn’t too far off. This is the time of year that harvested garlic wafts from my pantry, and I’m startled by the sound of nuts dropping from the paws of squirrels onto our shed’s tin roof. Garden plants are wilting and dying, revealing ripened orange pumpkins underneath, still clinging to their winding and shriveling vines. Lawn mowing is slowly being replaced by wood cutting. The cooler days seem penetrating and brighter, as the loom of summer humidity lifts. Putting aside my sandals, I look for shoes. This morning I put on socks.

Post to Note:Common Ground,” an August 18th "Loose Leaf" entry I wrote on dissent was published in “The Roanoke Times” yesterday under the title “The Very American Art of Protest.” You can view it here.

September 8, 2005

More 100 Things About Me

cobaltcup.png Here is the last of the series that I’ve posted in 4 parts. 100 things about me part I, II, and III can be found here.

75. I collect cobalt blue mugs from places I’ve been to.
76. I like to people watch.
77. I like to thrift shop.
78. I come from a blue collar working class background, and I’m proud of it.
79. I’m a registered Independent, fiscally conservative, who votes Democrat because they represent my interests in Labor Rights, Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, and Environmental Protections better than their counterparts.
80. I’m a night shift stenographer hired by the muse to take down the moon’s business.
81. I once had a job as a night watchman.
82. I frequently write poetry about homegrown produce.
83. I’m a 5 on the Enneagram system of personality types. Now you really know everything about me.
84. I like toys – tops, small gadgets that wind-up and glow, and kaleidoscopes. I still play in the sand. Adults call this “sand tray therapy.”
85. When I was 4 years old, my older cousin carried me around Paragon Park. I pretended I was asleep so she would keep carrying me.
86. My father was in the CCCs (Civilian Conservation Corps) during the Depression. He was artillery solider in Patton’s army and his regiment helped to liberate Buchenwald Concentration Camp. He never got over seeing what went on there. My siblings and I (9 of us!) were educated early about the horrors of the holocaust.
87. My mother has a lake in Nova Scotia named for her family who were from there.
88. I like blogging because it helps me break down my life and my writing into bite size digestible pieces.
89. My favorite writing assignment was an interview I did for a Blacksburg art magazine. I interviewed 92-year-old Ruby Altizer Roberts, the first woman Poet Laureate of Virginia. After it was published and she read it, she sent me a card that said: “You are better than the best. You read between the lines!”
90. My energy is like a ball I’m trying to keep up. If it falls it stays down for a while.
91. Sometimes when I hug people, I see colors with my eyes closed. I call this my “vision.”
92. I once spent so many hours in China Town in San Francisco that I got confused and thought for a split second that I was in China.
93. I once bought a Kachina doll on the Hopi Mesa.
94. I have Andrew Wyeth, Gustav Klimt, RC Gorham, and Susan Seddon Boulet framed prints in my house.
95. I saw Phil Donahue in an airport, Phoebe from “Friends” in Sedona, Arizona, Stephen Tyler shopping in Hingham, Massachusetts, and Jessica Lange at the 2003 Washington DC Peace March. I only spoke with Jessica and just stared at the others.
96. I saw Led Zepplin at the Boston Tea Party before anyone knew who they were. I also saw Joe Cocker around this same time with my sister Sherry. We thought he had Cerebral Palsy because of the way he contorted himself when he sang.
97. I like to make up bumper stickers. My favorite is “If we all got more erotic, we wouldn’t be so neurotic.”
98. “Recess instead of Ritalin” is another one
99. I have a reputation for peeking at my Christmas presents before it's Christmas.
100. I don’t like knick-knacks. I just see them as more things to dust.

PS. I like lists and resist structure and authority (like sticking to the 100 things rule). I think there’s a sequel coming.

More 100 Things About Me

cobaltcup.png Here is the last of the series that I’ve posted in 4 parts. 100 things about me part I, II, and III can be found here.

75. I collect cobalt blue mugs from places I’ve been to.
76. I like to people watch.
77. I like to thrift shop.
78. I come from a blue collar working class background, and I’m proud of it.
79. I’m a registered Independent, fiscally conservative, who votes Democrat because they represent my interests in Labor Rights, Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, and Environmental Protections better than their counterparts.
80. I’m a night shift stenographer hired by the muse to take down the moon’s business.
81. I once had a job as a night watchman.
82. I frequently write poetry about homegrown produce.
83. I’m a 5 on the Enneagram system of personality types. Now you really know everything about me.
84. I like toys – tops, small gadgets that wind-up and glow, and kaleidoscopes. I still play in the sand. Adults call this “sand tray therapy.”
85. When I was 4 years old, my older cousin carried me around Paragon Park. I pretended I was asleep so she would keep carrying me.
86. My father was in the CCCs (Civilian Conservation Corps) during the Depression. He was artillery solider in Patton’s army and his regiment helped to liberate Buchenwald Concentration Camp. He never got over seeing what went on there. My siblings and I (9 of us!) were educated early about the horrors of the holocaust.
87. My mother has a lake in Nova Scotia named for her family who were from there.
88. I like blogging because it helps me break down my life and my writing into bite size digestible pieces.
89. My favorite writing assignment was an interview I did for a Blacksburg art magazine. I interviewed 92-year-old Ruby Altizer Roberts, the first woman Poet Laureate of Virginia. After it was published and she read it, she sent me a card that said: “You are better than the best. You read between the lines!”
90. My energy is like a ball I’m trying to keep up. If it falls it stays down for a while.
91. Sometimes when I hug people, I see colors with my eyes closed. I call this my “vision.”
92. I once spent so many hours in China Town in San Francisco that I got confused and thought for a split second that I was in China.
93. I once bought a Kachina doll on the Hopi Mesa.
94. I have Andrew Wyeth, Gustav Klimt, RC Gorham, and Susan Seddon Boulet framed prints in my house.
95. I saw Phil Donahue in an airport, Phoebe from “Friends” in Sedona, Arizona, Stephen Tyler shopping in Hingham, Massachusetts, and Jessica Lange at the 2003 Washington DC Peace March. I only spoke with Jessica and just stared at the others.
96. I saw Led Zepplin at the Boston Tea Party before anyone knew who they were. I also saw Joe Cocker around this same time with my sister Sherry. We thought he had Cerebral Palsy because of the way he contorted himself when he sang.
97. I like to make up bumper stickers. My favorite is “If we all got more erotic, we wouldn’t be so neurotic.”
98. “Recess instead of Ritalin” is another one
99. I have a reputation for peeking at my Christmas presents before it's Christmas.
100. I don’t like knick-knacks. I just see them as more things to dust.

PS. I like lists and resist structure and authority (like sticking to the 100 things rule). I think there’s a sequel coming.

September 7, 2005

Ponder This

katrina.jpg "If we can't respond faster than this to an event we saw coming across the gulf for days, then why do we think we're prepared to respond to a nuclear or biological attack?" Newt Gingrich
Contrary to what some Bush supporters think, that his critics are now trying to blame him for the weather, no one has said that President Bush is responsible for Hurricane Katrina. The criticism is related to the slow response to the crisis, at the expense of human lives. In times of crisis, the president’s job is to lead and set the tone, neither of which he did when it would have counted most.

Frank Rich of the New York Times writes, “The president’s declaration that ‘I don’t think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees’ has instantly achieved the notoriety of Condoleeza Rice’s ‘I don’t think anyone could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center.’ In fact, there were documented warnings for both and neither excuse holds up.

Reporting from New Orleans for the nightly news last night, John Roberts was asked, “Is there anything good happening there?”

“There’s a lot of good,” he answered and went on to talk about the large numbers of newly arrived National Guardsmen. “But it’s too late,” he added, sounding frustrated. “There are no people here now.”

The majority of the people are either dead – an estimated 10,000 another reporter predicted – or they have moved on to makeshift shelters.

Below are a few quotes culled from the last few days of news to ponder. Decide for yourself what part President Bush played in the slow response to the Hurricane Katrina:

“It took him most of a week to get there” …and then “…he launched a rescue mission to restore his own image after mounting criticism of an apparent shortage of federal leadership.” Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times staff writer.

“A president who flew from Crawford to Washington in a heartbeat to intervene in the medical case of a single patient, Terri Schiavo, has no business lecturing anyone about playing politics with tragedy…” Frank Rich from “Falluja Floods the Superdome” New York Times.

"They can go into Iraq and do this and do that, but they can't drop some food on Canal Street in New Orleans, Louisiana, right now? It's just mind-boggling." Martha Madden, former secretary of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

“And most chillingly of all, this is the Law and Order and Terror government. It promised protection — or at least amelioration — against all threats: conventional, radiological, or biological. It has just proved that it cannot save its citizens from a biological weapon called standing water. …Anybody seen the Vice President lately? The man whose message this time last year was, 'I'll Protect You, The Other Guy Will Let You Die'?” Keith Olbermann MSNBC

“Race is perfectly appropriate to talk about. 88% of all black people didn't vote for Bush, so maybe the slow response was payback?” Comment found on http://blogs.washingtonpost.com/achenblog

“We have been abandoned by our own country. Hurricane Katrina will go down in history as one of the worst storms ever to hit an American coast. But the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will go down as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history. … Whoever is at the top of this totem pole, that totem pole needs to be chainsawed off and we’ve got to start with some new leadership. It’s not just Katrina that caused all these deaths in New Orleans here. Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area and bureaucracy has to stand trial before Congress now…” Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish in New Orleans (pictured above, broke down and crying uncontrollably, being interviewed by Tim Russert).

Post Note: For two informative articles on this subject, which deal with FEMA's role in the disaster and at what point a state of emergency was declared, see "Time to Take the Blame," and "Trying to Avoid the Finger," both found at Capitol Hill Blue. My sister also has a post on her blog "A Particularly Persistent Point of View," which ties in and is a well worthy read.

Ponder This

katrina.jpg "If we can't respond faster than this to an event we saw coming across the gulf for days, then why do we think we're prepared to respond to a nuclear or biological attack?" Newt Gingrich
Contrary to what some Bush supporters think, that his critics are now trying to blame him for the weather, no one has said that President Bush is responsible for Hurricane Katrina. The criticism is related to the slow response to the crisis, at the expense of human lives. In times of crisis, the president’s job is to lead and set the tone, neither of which he did when it would have counted most.

Frank Rich of the New York Times writes, “The president’s declaration that ‘I don’t think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees’ has instantly achieved the notoriety of Condoleeza Rice’s ‘I don’t think anyone could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center.’ In fact, there were documented warnings for both and neither excuse holds up.

Reporting from New Orleans for the nightly news last night, John Roberts was asked, “Is there anything good happening there?”

“There’s a lot of good,” he answered and went on to talk about the large numbers of newly arrived National Guardsmen. “But it’s too late,” he added, sounding frustrated. “There are no people here now.”

The majority of the people are either dead – an estimated 10,000 another reporter predicted – or they have moved on to makeshift shelters.

Below are a few quotes culled from the last few days of news to ponder. Decide for yourself what part President Bush played in the slow response to the Hurricane Katrina:

“It took him most of a week to get there” …and then “…he launched a rescue mission to restore his own image after mounting criticism of an apparent shortage of federal leadership.” Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times staff writer.

“A president who flew from Crawford to Washington in a heartbeat to intervene in the medical case of a single patient, Terri Schiavo, has no business lecturing anyone about playing politics with tragedy…” Frank Rich from “Falluja Floods the Superdome” New York Times.

"They can go into Iraq and do this and do that, but they can't drop some food on Canal Street in New Orleans, Louisiana, right now? It's just mind-boggling." Martha Madden, former secretary of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

“And most chillingly of all, this is the Law and Order and Terror government. It promised protection — or at least amelioration — against all threats: conventional, radiological, or biological. It has just proved that it cannot save its citizens from a biological weapon called standing water. …Anybody seen the Vice President lately? The man whose message this time last year was, 'I'll Protect You, The Other Guy Will Let You Die'?” Keith Olbermann MSNBC

“Race is perfectly appropriate to talk about. 88% of all black people didn't vote for Bush, so maybe the slow response was payback?” Comment found on http://blogs.washingtonpost.com/achenblog

“We have been abandoned by our own country. Hurricane Katrina will go down in history as one of the worst storms ever to hit an American coast. But the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will go down as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history. … Whoever is at the top of this totem pole, that totem pole needs to be chainsawed off and we’ve got to start with some new leadership. It’s not just Katrina that caused all these deaths in New Orleans here. Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area and bureaucracy has to stand trial before Congress now…” Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish in New Orleans (pictured above, broke down and crying uncontrollably, being interviewed by Tim Russert).

Post Note: For two informative articles on this subject, which deal with FEMA's role in the disaster and at what point a state of emergency was declared, see "Time to Take the Blame," and "Trying to Avoid the Finger," both found at Capitol Hill Blue. My sister also has a post on her blog "A Particularly Persistent Point of View," which ties in and is a well worthy read.

September 6, 2005

Handle with Care

Donating money to The Red Cross for the victims of Hurricane Katrina is all well and good, but the satisfaction I felt doing so didn’t compare with that of preparing a personal care package for someone in need that I’ve never met. I did this recently when I learned that a Floyd couple would be driving to New Orleans to deliver some much needed supplies. The act of collecting personal belongings to give away, gave me an emotional connection with those who have lost everything that I wasn’t able to feel by just witnessing the devastation on the TV.

I found myself thinking about young mothers and their children. I wondered who might walk in the sandals I packed. What would I want to receive if I was in their position?

Included in my modest box of donations were: sheets, towels, a notebook and pen, children’s books, a matchbox car and a stuffed animal, brightly colored alphabet cards, 5 days of brand new women's underwear, several combs, bars of soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste, t-shirts and shorts, a Reeds Lumber cap, canned goods and a can opener, and a hibachi stove with coals.

What would you include in a care package to New Orleans? What would you want to receive if you were one of the displaced there?

Handle with Care

Donating money to The Red Cross for the victims of Hurricane Katrina is all well and good, but the satisfaction I felt doing so didn’t compare with that of preparing a personal care package for someone in need that I’ve never met. I did this recently when I learned that a Floyd couple would be driving to New Orleans to deliver some much needed supplies. The act of collecting personal belongings to give away, gave me an emotional connection with those who have lost everything that I wasn’t able to feel by just witnessing the devastation on the TV.

I found myself thinking about young mothers and their children. I wondered who might walk in the sandals I packed. What would I want to receive if I was in their position?

Included in my modest box of donations were: sheets, towels, a notebook and pen, children’s books, a matchbox car and a stuffed animal, brightly colored alphabet cards, 5 days of brand new women's underwear, several combs, bars of soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste, t-shirts and shorts, a Reeds Lumber cap, canned goods and a can opener, and a hibachi stove with coals.

What would you include in a care package to New Orleans? What would you want to receive if you were one of the displaced there?

September 5, 2005

The Power of Print

When we do what we were made for and follow it to a completion, when we offer our work as a way to touch others, it opens the way for more. ~ Colleen from “Book Signing”

My husband, Joe, and I recently attended the 1st Annual Franklin County Book Festival where I met other local authors and publishers. Held at the Rocky Mount Library, the day’s events were structured around morning and afternoon sessions related to Local Fiction, Regional History, Local Publishing, Memoirs, and more. Each session consisted of a panel of authors and publishers who shared their literary experiences and then took questions from the audience.

We arrived too late for the morning sessions, and so, after a light lunch at a local café, Joe attended the afternoon session entitled “Jack Tales and other Appalachian Stories,” and I headed for the room where the memoir panel was converging. There, I listened to the following four authors: Ibby Greer, publisher of the Blue Ridge Traditions magazine; Judy Light Ayyildiz, creative writing teacher, founder of the Blue Ridge Writers Conference, and former editor of Artemis, a Roanoke poetry publication; Rodney Franklin, a Roanoke author and retiree from teaching and the military; and Diane M. Popek-Jones, freelance writer and author of two book on local history as well as 2 memoirs.

Each told a unique and interesting story of how and why they chose to write a memoir, and each, I was pleasantly surprised to learn, had self-published their memoir in some form or other.

When I lost my brothers 4 years ago, I already had a number of articles, commentaries, and poems published. It was natural for me to make meaning out of loss through writing. In fact, it felt as I was born to write “The Jim and Dan Stories” and that all my writing before their deaths was done in preparation for it.

I’m a firm believer that stories are meant to be told, that real-life stories are often the most interesting, and that the power of print should be accessible to the general population. On my website, where I chronicle how I came to write and locally publish my own book, I wrote …start where you are and let your expression grow from there, work locally, be famous in your own small town for whatever it is you do, because a small town is really just a microcosm in which the whole world is reflected.

One of the memoir authors at the Book Festival published her book via “books on demand,” a fairly new online publishing option that is affordable and available to most everyone. Another, pointed out that when you publish with a small press, you will be doing most of your own marketing anyways. With self-publishing, you have full control. The financial investment is all yours, but so are all the profits.

Indeed, after I set up “"Silver and Gold Productions” as my virtual publishing storefront and then employed local resources to print the first 300 "Jim and Dan Stories," a couple of people wanted me to publish their books under the "Silver and Gold" umbrella (which I would do if I had more skill and ambition). This is often how small presses are born. It’s also an example of what “in house” publishing is. The following is a excerpt from an essay from “ Muses Like Moonlight“ called “Homegrown,” in which I address in-house publishing.

One of my husband’s mentors, Bo Lozoff, is an author and co-founder of the Prison Ashram Project, which teaches meditation practice to prison inmates. Bo has a new book out called “It’s a Meaningful Life: It Just Takes Practice.” After years of “in house” publishing, his new book was published by a mainstream publisher. On a recent visit to the Human Kindness Foundation in North Carolina, where Bo and his wife Sita live, Bo told my husband that mainstream publishing isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. He can’t get copies of his new book without buying them, which creates a problem since part of the Prison Ashram Project is making Bo’s books available to inmates free of charge.

I must have done something right because “The Jim and Dan Stories,” was first published in 2003 and is half-way through a 3rd printing now. Beyond that, all the re-connections that it’s rekindled, and the heartfelt positive feedback it’s received by the students at the Radford University class where it’s used in a grief and loss curriculum, through letters, emails, and in person…has been PRICELESS.

The Power of Print

When we do what we were made for and follow it to a completion, when we offer our work as a way to touch others, it opens the way for more. ~ Colleen from “Book Signing”

My husband, Joe, and I recently attended the 1st Annual Franklin County Book Festival where I met other local authors and publishers. Held at the Rocky Mount Library, the day’s events were structured around morning and afternoon sessions related to Local Fiction, Regional History, Local Publishing, Memoirs, and more. Each session consisted of a panel of authors and publishers who shared their literary experiences and then took questions from the audience.

We arrived too late for the morning sessions, and so, after a light lunch at a local café, Joe attended the afternoon session entitled “Jack Tales and other Appalachian Stories,” and I headed for the room where the memoir panel was converging. There, I listened to the following four authors: Ibby Greer, publisher of the Blue Ridge Traditions magazine; Judy Light Ayyildiz, creative writing teacher, founder of the Blue Ridge Writers Conference, and former editor of Artemis, a Roanoke poetry publication; Rodney Franklin, a Roanoke author and retiree from teaching and the military; and Diane M. Popek-Jones, freelance writer and author of two book on local history as well as 2 memoirs.

Each told a unique and interesting story of how and why they chose to write a memoir, and each, I was pleasantly surprised to learn, had self-published their memoir in some form or other.

When I lost my brothers 4 years ago, I already had a number of articles, commentaries, and poems published. It was natural for me to make meaning out of loss through writing. In fact, it felt as I was born to write “The Jim and Dan Stories” and that all my writing before their deaths was done in preparation for it.

I’m a firm believer that stories are meant to be told, that real-life stories are often the most interesting, and that the power of print should be accessible to the general population. On my website, where I chronicle how I came to write and locally publish my own book, I wrote …start where you are and let your expression grow from there, work locally, be famous in your own small town for whatever it is you do, because a small town is really just a microcosm in which the whole world is reflected.

One of the memoir authors at the Book Festival published her book via “books on demand,” a fairly new online publishing option that is affordable and available to most everyone. Another, pointed out that when you publish with a small press, you will be doing most of your own marketing anyways. With self-publishing, you have full control. The financial investment is all yours, but so are all the profits.

Indeed, after I set up “"Silver and Gold Productions” as my virtual publishing storefront and then employed local resources to print the first 300 "Jim and Dan Stories," a couple of people wanted me to publish their books under the "Silver and Gold" umbrella (which I would do if I had more skill and ambition). This is often how small presses are born. It’s also an example of what “in house” publishing is. The following is a excerpt from an essay from “ Muses Like Moonlight“ called “Homegrown,” in which I address in-house publishing.

One of my husband’s mentors, Bo Lozoff, is an author and co-founder of the Prison Ashram Project, which teaches meditation practice to prison inmates. Bo has a new book out called “It’s a Meaningful Life: It Just Takes Practice.” After years of “in house” publishing, his new book was published by a mainstream publisher. On a recent visit to the Human Kindness Foundation in North Carolina, where Bo and his wife Sita live, Bo told my husband that mainstream publishing isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. He can’t get copies of his new book without buying them, which creates a problem since part of the Prison Ashram Project is making Bo’s books available to inmates free of charge.

I must have done something right because “The Jim and Dan Stories,” was first published in 2003 and is half-way through a 3rd printing now. Beyond that, all the re-connections that it’s rekindled, and the heartfelt positive feedback it’s received by the students at the Radford University class where it’s used in a grief and loss curriculum, through letters, emails, and in person…has been PRICELESS.

September 4, 2005

Blue Law on the Blue Ridge

blue ridge.png AKA: Sunday is Optional
When I was growing up Catholic, we couldn’t eat meat on Fridays. Girls wore hats to church and the mass was still done in Latin. During Lent, we gave up candy and other sweets. No one shopped on Sunday because all the stores were closed.

In the spirit of the colonial New England blue laws, I’m going to give up posting on Sundays (or at the very least make it optional). This isn’t like a new year’s resolution or something I’m giving up for lent; it’s just an experiment to see if I’ll like having one day blog-free day a week. My plan is to spend more time in the church of my choice on Sundays, which for me is…the great outdoors. Amen!

Blue Law on the Blue Ridge

blue ridge.png AKA: Sunday is Optional
When I was growing up Catholic, we couldn’t eat meat on Fridays. Girls wore hats to church and the mass was still done in Latin. During Lent, we gave up candy and other sweets. No one shopped on Sunday because all the stores were closed.

In the spirit of the colonial New England blue laws, I’m going to give up posting on Sundays (or at the very least make it optional). This isn’t like a new year’s resolution or something I’m giving up for lent; it’s just an experiment to see if I’ll like having one day blog-free day a week. My plan is to spend more time in the church of my choice on Sundays, which for me is…the great outdoors. Amen!

September 3, 2005

Give me 5!

sherry's wedding3.png5 Years and 5 Things Ago…
What were you doing 10 years ago? I was watching my youngest son Dylan’s soccer games and my eldest son Josh wrestle in his first state tournament. I was taking prom pictures of Josh and teaching him to drive. Dylan dyed his hair red and got a bb stuck in his leg. I was vending my jewelry at Grateful Dead concerts and working at a bead shop. Joe and I traveled to the South West, hiked into the Grand Canyon and camped at the Havasupi Indian Reservation.

5 years ago? My youngest son, Dylan, graduated from High School. My sister, Sherry got re-married, and I was her maid of honor. Our brothers, Jim and Dan, were still living. I was doing full-time foster care for an adult with disabilities…doing direct-care, going to trainings, and writing quarterly reports. I swam in a phosphorescent bay in Puerto Rico and saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time.

One year ago? I attended the Hull Village Reunion and saw friends I hadn’t seen in 30 years. It was also a book signing for my book, “The Jim and Dan Stories.” The Boston Globe did a story on it. Joe and I rode our bikes on the Virginia Creeper Trail. We put a new roof on our house.

Yesterday? Paid bills, dug garlic, planted lettuce, filled my basket and arms full of produce, talked to my son on the phone, cleaned off the kitchen table, cried while watching Dr. Phil, made spaghetti sauce, blogged and worked on my writing in between all of this.

5 snacks you enjoy? Kettle chips, peanut butter balls, mozzarella, carrot cake by chef, Kelly Erb, heath bar crunch ice-cream.
5 songs I know all the words to? I Could Drink a Case of You by Joni Mitchell, Higher Love by Steve Winwood, Layla by Eric Clapton, My Favorite Mistake by Sheryl Crow, and most all the Beatle’s songs.
5 things you would do if you had a million dollars? I would give some to family members, progressive politicians, and charities that I support. I’d buy an oceanfront cottage, go to Italy to eat lunch, and tuck the rest under my mattress.
5 things you like doing? Dancing, gardening, writing, walking the beach, taking a hot bath.
5 bad habits? Burning pots of food, starting books and not finishing them, having nearly illegible handwriting, putting off making phone calls, keeping my car a mess.
5 things I would never wear again? Platform shoes, Toni perms, midriff showing clothes, my big floppy hippy hat, or my boyfriend’s school ring around my neck.
5 favorite toys? Literally…tops (especially if they light up), kaleidoscopes, squishy goop with sound effects, small doll house stuff, and things you wind-up.

I found this meme a couple of months ago on mommy-matters.blogspot.com. I’ve listed the people I’m tagging below. For the best cross-pollination results, taken from “Five Things I Miss About My Childhood,” the tagging instructions go like this: Remove the blog at #1 from the following list and bump everyone up one place; add your blog’s name in the number 5 spot; link to each of the other blogs.

1. Loose Leaf : http://looseleafnotes.com
2. Simply Coll: http://colleenscorner.com/blog
3. MommaK: http://petroville.blogspot.com
4. Writing from the hip: http://writingfromthehip.blogspot.com
5. Blue Stocking: http://bluestocking.typepad.com

Next: select four new friends to add to the pollen count. (No one is obligated to participate and anyone can play if they want to).

Give me 5!

sherry's wedding3.png5 Years and 5 Things Ago…
What were you doing 10 years ago? I was watching my youngest son Dylan’s soccer games and my eldest son Josh wrestle in his first state tournament. I was taking prom pictures of Josh and teaching him to drive. Dylan dyed his hair red and got a bb stuck in his leg. I was vending my jewelry at Grateful Dead concerts and working at a bead shop. Joe and I traveled to the South West, hiked into the Grand Canyon and camped at the Havasupi Indian Reservation.

5 years ago? My youngest son, Dylan, graduated from High School. My sister, Sherry got re-married, and I was her maid of honor. Our brothers, Jim and Dan, were still living. I was doing full-time foster care for an adult with disabilities…doing direct-care, going to trainings, and writing quarterly reports. I swam in a phosphorescent bay in Puerto Rico and saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time.

One year ago? I attended the Hull Village Reunion and saw friends I hadn’t seen in 30 years. It was also a book signing for my book, “The Jim and Dan Stories.” The Boston Globe did a story on it. Joe and I rode our bikes on the Virginia Creeper Trail. We put a new roof on our house.

Yesterday? Paid bills, dug garlic, planted lettuce, filled my basket and arms full of produce, talked to my son on the phone, cleaned off the kitchen table, cried while watching Dr. Phil, made spaghetti sauce, blogged and worked on my writing in between all of this.

5 snacks you enjoy? Kettle chips, peanut butter balls, mozzarella, carrot cake by chef, Kelly Erb, heath bar crunch ice-cream.
5 songs I know all the words to? I Could Drink a Case of You by Joni Mitchell, Higher Love by Steve Winwood, Layla by Eric Clapton, My Favorite Mistake by Sheryl Crow, and most all the Beatle’s songs.
5 things you would do if you had a million dollars? I would give some to family members, progressive politicians, and charities that I support. I’d buy an oceanfront cottage, go to Italy to eat lunch, and tuck the rest under my mattress.
5 things you like doing? Dancing, gardening, writing, walking the beach, taking a hot bath.
5 bad habits? Burning pots of food, starting books and not finishing them, having nearly illegible handwriting, putting off making phone calls, keeping my car a mess.
5 things I would never wear again? Platform shoes, Toni perms, midriff showing clothes, my big floppy hippy hat, or my boyfriend’s school ring around my neck.
5 favorite toys? Literally…tops (especially if they light up), kaleidoscopes, squishy goop with sound effects, small doll house stuff, and things you wind-up.

I found this meme a couple of months ago on mommy-matters.blogspot.com. I’ve listed the people I’m tagging below. For the best cross-pollination results, taken from “Five Things I Miss About My Childhood,” the tagging instructions go like this: Remove the blog at #1 from the following list and bump everyone up one place; add your blog’s name in the number 5 spot; link to each of the other blogs.

1. Loose Leaf : http://looseleafnotes.com
2. Simply Coll: http://colleenscorner.com/blog
3. MommaK: http://petroville.blogspot.com
4. Writing from the hip: http://writingfromthehip.blogspot.com
5. Blue Stocking: http://bluestocking.typepad.com

Next: select four new friends to add to the pollen count. (No one is obligated to participate and anyone can play if they want to).

September 2, 2005

The Redman Sisters

clairemiriampatsygertie.pngAKA: This is Us Someday
I love women and what they share together. As one of 4 sisters, this photo of my father’s 4 sisters has a particularly touching relevance. It was recently posted on The LoveLink, an email group of mostly Redman siblings a few Redman family fans, under the subject title: This is us someday. Not only did the photo stir heartwarming memories and our sensitivities to sibling bonds and impermanence, but we all tried to pick which Redman sister today would best represent which Redman sister of the past. You can scroll down to yesterday’s photo to compare for yourself. But the truth is this: I’d be proud to represent anyone of these awesome women and just looking at them makes me feel proud to be part of their line.

The Redman Sisters

clairemiriampatsygertie.pngAKA: This is Us Someday
I love women and what they share together. As one of 4 sisters, this photo of my father’s 4 sisters has a particularly touching relevance. It was recently posted on The LoveLink, an email group of mostly Redman siblings a few Redman family fans, under the subject title: This is us someday. Not only did the photo stir heartwarming memories and our sensitivities to sibling bonds and impermanence, but we all tried to pick which Redman sister today would best represent which Redman sister of the past. You can scroll down to yesterday’s photo to compare for yourself. But the truth is this: I’d be proud to represent anyone of these awesome women and just looking at them makes me feel proud to be part of their line.

September 1, 2005

One of These Things is Not Like the Others

sisters2.png AKA: More Cohorts
Although my sons probably consider themselves Virginians who love the Red Sox because of their parent’s Massachusetts roots, they were actually born in Texas.

When my first marriage brought me to Houston, Texas, I was initially homesick for my family and my peninsula hometown of Hull. After living in Texas for seven years, and when my sons were ages 3 and 5, we moved to the Mountains of Virginia. I felt more at home there, maybe because, according to author Sharyn McCrumb, the Appalachian mountain range and Ireland, where my ancestors came from, were once the same land mass (pre-ice-age). But also, Virginia was more conducive to our homesteading and home schooling interests.

After losing my brothers, Jim and Dan, 4 years ago, I went through an identity crisis. I wrote in my book, “The Jim and Dan Stories”… Danny and I had a shared dream of buying a beach front condo in Hull, so we could both spend extended time there. I’m still in Virginia, but Danny is home now. If you stand at his grave, lean forward and look to the left, all the way down Duck Lane, you can see the ocean.

Since their deaths, I find myself homesick for the ocean and Hull again. Whenever I’m there, I want to stay. But it’s crowded and expensive to live there. When I return home to Virginia, I realize, once again, that I love country living and thrive on the green space of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

I have 3 remaining brothers and 3 sisters who I love dearly. When I received the above photo of my Massachusetts sisters at a wine tasting home party, I felt left out. So I cut and pasted, injecting myself onto the photo – fresh (or not) from Christmas vacation and the elements of St. Augustine beach in Florida.

I guess this means that I’m still working through my identity crisis. I suspect that being torn between 2 places will be an ongoing theme in my life.

What about you? Are at home with where you live?

Post Note: This post was inspired by a photo seen on “Just Coll” (another Colleen’s blog) of her and her sisters.

One of These Things is Not Like the Others

sisters2.png AKA: More Cohorts
Although my sons probably consider themselves Virginians who love the Red Sox because of their parent’s Massachusetts roots, they were actually born in Texas.

When my first marriage brought me to Houston, Texas, I was initially homesick for my family and my peninsula hometown of Hull. After living in Texas for seven years, and when my sons were ages 3 and 5, we moved to the Mountains of Virginia. I felt more at home there, maybe because, according to author Sharyn McCrumb, the Appalachian mountain range and Ireland, where my ancestors came from, were once the same land mass (pre-ice-age). But also, Virginia was more conducive to our homesteading and home schooling interests.

After losing my brothers, Jim and Dan, 4 years ago, I went through an identity crisis. I wrote in my book, “The Jim and Dan Stories”… Danny and I had a shared dream of buying a beach front condo in Hull, so we could both spend extended time there. I’m still in Virginia, but Danny is home now. If you stand at his grave, lean forward and look to the left, all the way down Duck Lane, you can see the ocean.

Since their deaths, I find myself homesick for the ocean and Hull again. Whenever I’m there, I want to stay. But it’s crowded and expensive to live there. When I return home to Virginia, I realize, once again, that I love country living and thrive on the green space of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

I have 3 remaining brothers and 3 sisters who I love dearly. When I received the above photo of my Massachusetts sisters at a wine tasting home party, I felt left out. So I cut and pasted, injecting myself onto the photo – fresh (or not) from Christmas vacation and the elements of St. Augustine beach in Florida.

I guess this means that I’m still working through my identity crisis. I suspect that being torn between 2 places will be an ongoing theme in my life.

What about you? Are at home with where you live?

Post Note: This post was inspired by a photo seen on “Just Coll” (another Colleen’s blog) of her and her sisters.