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February 28, 2006


scrabblebingo.jpg “I call it a SCRABBLE, but Mara calls it a BINGO, so I’ve taken to calling it a SCRABBLE BINGO, just to be clear.” ~ Colleen to Joe

A SCRABBLE BINGO is to a Scrabble player what an eagle is to a golfer, or what two goals in a row made from the other end of the field might be to a soccer player. It’s when you use all 7 of your letters in one turn, for which you score 50 points over those that your word adds up to. It happened to me this past Sunday while playing with my friend Mara in the back of Oddfellas Cantina at the table with the kokopellis painted on it. For the first time in 30 years of playing, I was no longer a SCRABBLE BINGO virgin. In fact, getting my first SCRABBLE BINGO was a little like a first-time spontaneous orgasm.

“I’m so glad it happened with you, Mara, you know, rather than with a stranger.”

I wasn’t the least bit quiet about it. People at other tables craned their necks to see what the commotion was about. Some came over to look.

The word was RECITING. It rambled across the board. The waitress came back to serve our coffee and tea, and by this time Mara and I were standing up and hugging. “Don’t you want to go out for a cigarette now?” I asked her, hoping to get a little breathing room to absorb what had happened, but also just because I wanted to flaunt the innuendo.

“Don’t you?” she returned, laughing out loud as she said it, and then added, “I’d go, but I feel like I would be abandoning you. You know, missing out on all that afterglow.”

February 27, 2006

A Musical Haven

havens.gif“I have two ears, and they both hear something different, and I’m in the middle.” ~ Richie Havens at The Lyric, Blacksburg, Virginia.

Red and ornate, The Lyric Theatre in Blacksburg reminds me of the old Boston City Music Hall where, during the 1970s, I heard Jessie Colin Young, Sly and the Family Stone, Van Morrison, Donavan, and others.

With a group of Floyd friends, I sat in the balcony Friday night to hear the distinctive vocals and driving guitar rhythms of Richie Havens. It could have been a flashback. He came on stage wearing a flowing black tunic with rings on every finger, and when he sang Joni Mitchell’s “Back to the Garden…" By the time we got to Woodstock…we were half a million strong… my friend, Jayn, got teary-eyed. I leaned over towards her, in the seat next to mine, and whispered, “It’s our generation’s national anthem.”

Folk icon, Havens, who has played everything from Woodstock to President Clinton’s Inaugural, came to Blacksburg by way of Floyd’s own, Dylan Locke Productions.

“There are songs you wish you wouldn’t have to sing anymore…” he prefaced his rendition of Jackson Browne’s Lives in the Balance (still sadly appropriate):

They sell us the President the same way
They sell us our clothes and our cars
They sell us every thing from youth to religion
The same time they sell us our wars
I want to know who the men in the shadows are
I want to hear somebody asking them why
They can be counted on to tell us who our enemies are
But they're never the ones to fight or to die

Always political, but purposeful and hopeful, Havens is something of a cross between a monk and a story-telling comic. He hasn’t lost any of his honey-sweet voice or his charm. After the show, appearing in the lobby dressed in cowboy attire, he graciously signed autographs, which is when my friend Katherine said this to him: “35 years ago. Fairlawn Tennis Stadium.”

“You were there?!” he responded incredulously, and quickly added, “Janis Joplin!” as though he was as thrilled to have seen Janis as he guessed my friend Katherine was.

After she got her CD signed and bid him, “Namaste,” she said, “See you in another 35 years” to which Havens responded, “Don’t wait that long!”

Post note:
Today is the last day to VOTE in the Share the Love Blog Awards.

February 26, 2006

Remember This?

potwindow2.jpg I originally posted this photo, the front window of my Asheville potter son’s warehouse studio/ living space, on January 8, and asked, “How much is that pot in the window?”

Yesterday my son called and gave me the answer; $400.

It’s all one piece (the pots are glued onto wood) and has been purchased by private collectors. I’m hoping they will let us take a picture of it in its new home, so that I can update you all on this pottery adventure.

The couple who purchased it left a comment on the original post, which I first took for spam: COPUS Assemblage. Clay and wood, 2005/2006. Private Collection, Tryon, North Carolina

Hey, does anyone else have any wares to advertise here?

Post Note:
Tomorrow is the last day to vote in the Share the Love Blog Award of which Loose Leaf is a finalists in two categories, Best Writing and Most Thought Provoking. Voting is done here. Thanks!

February 25, 2006

In a Word

word.jpgThere’s a word on a Draper Street sidewalk in Blacksburg carved in cement that I love. It says WORD. I wondered then and I continue to wonder who carved it there and why. Maybe someone always wanted to carve a word in wet cement and so they did, literally. It makes me think about the line in the Bible… In the beginning there was the WORD, and sometimes I have the urge to add an L and change it into WORLD.

I found this challenge at ONE WORD:
One hundred nouns. No adverbs, no adjectives. Describing oneself. Go...











What words would you use to describe yourself?

February 24, 2006

My Place or Yours?

J&C3.jpgI used to think something was wrong with me, but now I just accept it. I’m not your hostess type. Burning pots on the stove and letting the housework go while being distracted by poetry is something I’ve always been upfront about and even confessed to in my wedding vows when my husband and I got married ten years ago on the Blue Ridge Parkway. My close friends know that if I attend a potluck, I’m more likely to bring a bag of corn chips than a homemade casserole or a pie. But I make it up to them with my yearly Christmas Eve Open House. With one fell swoop and a platter full of cookies, I get my hosting out of the way for the year.

Even so, a date for dinner with my friend Juniper and her boyfriend was recently circled on my calendar, and because I’ve eaten at her house over a dozen times and she’s never eaten at mine, I agreed to host the get-together.

Juniper knows that my lack of hostess skills is complicated by the fact that I manage a longstanding variety of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and can easily become depleted of energy if I do too much. Because she was my employer when I worked part time at her Blacksburg bead shop years ago, she knows my frailties and tendencies. Back in those days, she learned not to be shocked when she occasionally found me stretched out on the floor in the back room, desperate for rest. She was always supportive and not only did she get used to the post-it poetry I tapped to cash register, she looked forward to see what I would post next.

I cooked up a skillet full of venison spaghetti sauce and had everything ready to warm up, knowing that I can’t cook and visit with friends at the same time; another idiosyncrasy that complicates my ability to be a good host. Of course a rest was scheduled into the preparations after cleaning the kitchen and whether or not it resulted in a nap.

As the dinner hour drew closer, I took off my black merino wool long johns and put on some dressier pants (also black). I called my husband, who is more socially skilled than I am, to make sure he wasn’t going to be late. Then, I lit a candle for ambiance and got out my notebook to write this all down.

The truth is, even though it always turns out better than I think it will; I’d rather write about hosting a dinner than to actually do it.

Post Note: We had a wonderful evening. It was worth every bit of preparation! The photo is of Juniper and I, taken at the Saddle Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway where my husband and I were married.

February 23, 2006

Thirteen Thursday: Got the Picture?

13pottery.jpg1. The downside of country life in Floyd? My friend, Doug, thinks it’s having no Chinese take-out. He also said this at lunch recently: “You have to work twice as hard for half as much money, but it costs 1/3 less to live here.” You do the math. I’m hoping it all balances out.

2. After my friend Katherine told me about a tea she tried because it was “good for you,” I said to her, “I don’t do anything anymore because it’s good for me. It has to taste great and be good for me. It’s just like clothes, they have to be comfortable and look good.”

3. I have dyscalculia. I can’t decide if my standards have gotten higher or lower.

4. Well the weather’s getting weirder, and The Red Sox have won a World’s Series for the first time in over 80 years, and my brothers, Jim (a novice weatherman) and Dan, (lifelong Red Sox fans) aren’t here to enjoy it. Since they died, in 2001, I see everything through their eyes along with my own.

5. Lately (and after having so many personal losses over the last few years), I assume everyone is dead. When I called the Harris Baker Furniture Store recently to ask about a possible warrantee on my kitchen floor, the man who answered the phone didn’t know a thing. He said, “Oh, Vernon would know about that.” “Is he…not there…right now,” I asked cautiously and was pleasantly surprised when he answered,” Vernon will be back on Monday,”

6. Not long after that, the phone rang. It was one of my girlfriends asking me if I wanted to go hear Richie Havens at the Lyric in Blacksburg this weekend. “Richie Havens!” I exclaimed. “Yeah, I’m surprised he’s coming to The Lyric,” she answered. “I’m surprised he’s still alive! He had no teeth when he played at Woodstock,” I remembered.

7. On two occasions recently I’ve served at an interviewee for my husband’s Masters in counseling assignments. The last interview was on sexuality. My interview alias is Ann.

8. Sometimes it feels like I spend all my time following the threads of thoughts that run through my mind and trying to decide which ones to pull, which to weave into the mix, and which to tie off for later.

9. I used to be physic with my mail. I frequently could intuit what letters where in the mailbox. Now it’s happening with the blog. When I dial-up and hit refresh to check my comments, I frequently know how many there are or aren’t. Sometimes I can feel when someone has visited. Like Monday, I was downstairs emptying the dishwasher when I thought of Deana at Friday Night Fish Fry. Later, when I got back to my computer, sure enough, she had left a comment right when I was thinking of her. Of course, now that I’ve put this in print, it probably won’t happen anymore.

10. The pots in the first photo were Christmas gifts from my potter son, Josh, this year. The one on the left is mine, and the one on the right is my husband’s. I named them “The sexy couple: The Next Generation.” The first “Sexy Couple” (earlier gifts that Josh also made) are posted here. Can you see how they got their name?

11. My favorite 13 Thursday last week was this one from Open Book, a chronicle of her effort to quit smoking.

12. The best zinger of last week on Dick Cheney’s infamous hunting accident came not from Jon Stewart or Jay Leno or any of the late night comics but from a fellow Republican, Senator of Nebraska, Chuck Hagel. “If he'd been in the military, he would have learned gun safety,” Hagel was quoted as saying.

13. When the weather gets warmer, my husband thinks about changing the oil in my car and I think about painting my toenails pink. Painting my toenails is my version of the groundhog seeing his shadow, or not. I haven’t painted them yet.

Post Note: Visit Nicole at Just the Girl Next Door to get the bigger 13 Thursday picture. My other 13 Thursdays can be found here.

February 22, 2006

The Poetry of Names

Names fascinate me. They add color to a place and time, whether in stories or in real life. In “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy names like Gandalf, Bilbo, Frodo, and Aragorn stir the imagination. In the adventures of King Arthur, it was Lancelot, Galahad, Gawaiin, and Guinevere.

Recently, over at Simply Wait, Patry, a writer, wrote about one of her hobbies, collecting obituaries, which she views as tribute snapshots into lived lives. I commented to her how much I enjoy the old mountain names in the part of Virginia where I live and that I sometimes read the local obituaries just to marvel at their originality. I couldn’t remember any names at the time, so I dug out a couple of newspapers from my kindling box to see what I could find. I wrote down the women’s names first, and then the men’s. They’re not all names of people who have passed away. Some of them are survivors of those who have. And don’t they just sound like poetry?

Etheline, Vada, Reneda, Lita, Daphina, Lula, Essie, Alreda, India, Geneva, Zelma, Essie, Loreen, Nerene, Treva, Nelva Odellia, Ora, Arminda, Dessie, Alphaline, Lake, Dulcie.

Delmer, Buren, Coy, Hubbard, Ervin, Orby, Odell, Ocie, Harless, Greenville, Waller, Nulan, Edsel, Okie, Leston, Sampie, Nellis.

I think I have a new hobby.

February 21, 2006

Child Prodigy

stick out tongues.pngWe both enjoy the goofy, the gooey, and the giddy. Meet my nephew, Patrick, also known as “My Little Prodigy.” Every one in our family says that, apart from our hair coloring being different, he looks just like me when I was his age. This past December when I was home for my father’s funeral, I came across a picture of me as a young girl that looked especially like Patrick. Excited, I showed it to him. “Check this out, Patrick. See how much we look alike,” I said to him.

He’d rather die. He looked at me as though he couldn’t decide whether he was insulted or just didn’t get the joke. I guess the fact that the girl in the photo had an Easter bonnet on didn’t help.

This Just in: The results of the Share the Love Blog Awards have determined the 5 finalists in each award category. Loose Leaf is still in the running in the “Best Writing” and “Most Thought Provoking” categories! Voting for the finalists will be up later today. The lists are more manageable and Heather, host of the awards, suggests: Please look over our finalists so that you can make an informed decision. She also says: This blog competition is designed to encourage the widening of our reading world, and the fostering of community among women bloggers…. The competition is about sharing the love, and honoring excellence. I, for one, am really excited about a lot of the new reads I’m finding! Vote here.

Thanks to everyone for voting. Maybe Patrick and I should pull our tongues in now.

February 19, 2006

This is What Happens When Your Son is an Artist

joshenvelope2.jpgEnclosed in the package was a CD of photos and a small 3x3 note cut from a framing mat that read: I wish I had written you a long letter telling you how much I love you. Instead I wrote a little note that said the same thing. I love you, mom.

But I didn’t open the package until later that evening. It sat propped up on a living room coffee table like a work of art. The next day when I talked to my son on the phone, I told him how much I liked the envelope.

“You could just send out envelopes like that without anything inside them. It’s like getting a cool greeting card that you don’t even have to open,” I said.

Post Note:
So, how often do people nominated for something forget to vote for themselves? Monday is the last day to vote in the Share the Love Blog Awards over at One Woman’s World.

February 18, 2006

Self Portrait

looseleafselfportrait.jpgThe following are my answers to interview questions posed by Jake from the Jake Silver Show:

1. When do you first recall wanting to be a writer and what inspired that? I began writing Bob Dylan-inspired poetry as a teenager in my bedroom and then “letters to the editor” for local newspapers. As a young full-time mother I read an article in one of my favorite magazines, “Mothering,” and thought to myself, ‘I can do that.’ I knew I had something to say, but I had to teach myself sentence structure and punctuation by studying how it was done in books and magazines. The first article I submitted to “Mothering” was accepted for publication….and they paid me! (There’s a writer’s biography on my website that goes into more detail on my writing background and my genetic tendencies towards it.)

2. What made you want to start a Web Log?
I was writing lots of political commentary for The Roanoke Times, The New River Free Press, and online publications. I got burned out because it was painstaking work to reference everything I wrote and because after the presidential election on 2004 I felt defeated and lost faith in the system. I wanted to do something completely different and have some fun with writing. For me, I understand life by translating it into words. I needed a container for all my writing and a way to organize and cross-reference it. I also think of my blog as a memoir writing project, a time capsule into my life and the time and setting I’m living in.

3. How did you come up with the name and theme of your Web Log? I wanted green. I wanted to let my hair down and draw on my Irish heritage (you know what good talkers and writers the Irish are). I purposely chose the bio-photo I did because it was taken in Ireland and because I have a shamrock pinned to my sweater. Besides being a nice sounding alliteration, “Loose Leaf” conjures up images of notebook paper and tea, both of which describe me pretty well. I recognized the multi-purpose a blog could fulfill. I knew it would be a natural extension to my Silver and Gold webpage and figured that it would have a re-occurring grief and loss thread. Like my webpage, I wanted my blog to offer a model of encouragement to other self-taught writers with stories of their own to tell. I wanted a forum to write about writing, post occasional poems, and feature snapshots of the country lifestyle I live. Some of the other themes, which I particularly enjoy, like the “S-C-R-A-B-B-L-E” category and “Featured Artist,” evolved over time. My Asheville potter son who loves the Red Sox and my Scrabble partner and poet friend, Mara, are regular re-occurring characters that are always fun to write about.

4. Have you ever had an embarrassing situation occur because of Blogging?
The possibility to be embarrassed exists everyday when you put yourself out there (and use your real name like I do). I still swing from feeling really positive to vulnerable about blogging. I’m sometimes embarrassed that I have so little tech-no-logic sense about computers and that I have to rely on other people to help me. The worst thing that has happened thus far is this: A local city paper, which features links to regional blogs on its online front page, featured a blog post of mine entitled “Have You Seen Me Lately?” but the editor changed the title to read “America is Evil!” I thought it was a mistake or a cruel joke, but it wasn’t. I was mortified and felt exposed, misunderstood, and even libeled. By the time I got the editorial editor on the phone, I was in tears. They took it down, but for 4 hours that day people were clicking on my site looking for “America is Evil,” a black and white simplistic misrepresentation of what I actually wrote.

5. What is the best aspect of keeping a Blog?
I like the interactive aspect of blogging and that it’s done without the obvious visual cues that can, sadly, sometimes cause us to judge people by how they present physically (age, size, culture, etc). I’m a social scientist at heart, and I’ve always been curious about people. I like that I can connect with those who I have something in common with, and I especially like that blogging creates a format that allows me to connect with others who live and think differently than I do. My book, about losing my brothers, my webpage, and my blog have all expanded me as a writer and a person, and have shown me that my writing can touch others, which has been very rewarding. But the best part of that equation is something I didn’t expect…the people I have touched with my writing have reached right back and touched me.

6. Is there anything that you'd love to be asked that I didn't ask you? This is like getting a blank in a Scrabble game. I know it’s an opportunity that should be welcomed. Most people like getting a blank, but I usually have a hard time visualizing it as anything other than a blank. I’m drawing a blank here, but I’m going to think about this question some more and maybe do a whole post on it someday.

February 17, 2006

Just Your Average Day in Floyd

weddingharvestmoon2.jpg AKA: The Bride and Big Foot
~ I drove into town on Tuesday to hang flyers for Saturday’s Spoken Word Night and to pass out brochures for my cousin Tammy, who is promoting an ICAN Birth Expo in Roanoke this coming April. My first stop was the Harvest Moon Health Food store, a grand central hub-bub in Floyd with one of the best community bulletin boards.

Upon entering the store, I picked up a basket to get a few groceries and a woman wearing a short white silky dress brushed by me. She had jewelry and make-up on and seemed a little overdressed for Tuesday afternoon Floyd shopping, I thought.

My friend Katherine, who works at the Harvest Moon and is the resident herbalist there, is what most people would call a Minister but what she calls a Priestess. We don’t currently have a Justice of the Peace in Floyd and so Katherine is often called on to do weddings. I was in the middle of talking to her about the price of cheese when she held up her hand and said, “Excuse me a minute…I have a wedding to perform.”

“OH! That explains the woman in the white dress. I love weddings! Can I come?” I asked.

It was a stress-free Valentine’s Day wedding that took all of 5 minutes, officiated by Katherine in front of the Harvest Moon with the bride and groom’s baby looking on from her stroller. I got to help by taking pictures.

Now, as if that wasn’t enough of a quirky twist to an average day, here’s what happened next: After the excitement died down and I relocated my abandoned shopping basket and finished my shopping, I headed out to my car carrying my bundle and saw a man’s barefoot footprints IN THE SNOW! (And this was before it had warmed up.) I felt as if I had discovered BIG FOOT, and so I went back inside to report my findings.

The woman’s face at the cash register dropped, but soon Katherine solved the mystery for us. “Oh, that was probably Carl. You know he never wears shoes,” she said.

“I know. But in the snow?!” I exclaimed.

After that, I went about my business, but not without wondering how Carl’s feet were holding up.

February 16, 2006

Thirteen Thursday: The Signature

13snowcarwindow.jpg1. I’ve been signing my name xocolleen for a long time now. My spell check wants me to change it to xerox.

2. I’m thinking of buying some jewelry tools. I sold mine when I started doing foster care work 8 years ago, but I’m not doing that much anymore. The idea is to make just enough jewelry to sell to keep me in money for printing ink.

3. I work-shopped one of Mara’s poem’s, “My Life in 7 Episodes Involving My Hair,” over the phone the other day. While we were talking, she told me that since she doesn’t have a computer at home her girlfriend sometimes reads my blog entries over the phone to her.

4. Mara will be out of town and won’t be able to make it to the Spoken Word Open Mic this coming Saturday at Café Del Sol. She’s preparing a tape of her reading, and she asked me to set her boom box up by the microphone on a chair and play it.

5. While driving to town the other day, I rode by The Jacksonville Center for the Arts and the parking lot had 3 Honda CRVs parked in a row next to each other. I had to do a double take because it looked like a Honda car sales lot.

6. I also rode by a large red bow in the snow on the ground, which probably blew there from a nearby cemetery. It made the snow covered earth look like a present.

7. Some people I know don’t like to fly on planes. I’d rather fly than go into the code template of my blog and make changes.

8. Just before the weekend snow, it was reported that our Channel 10 weatherman was found nearly dead at his home from a heroin overdose. I can’t seem to stop thinking about this.

9. In and out our hands descend…into the drawstring bag…as if the letters in it were nuggets of gold…and we could be rich if only we could spell…Rumplestilskin! I hope I can finish the poem I’m working on “Playing Scrabble with Mara” before the spoken word night on Saturday. It’s in answer to the one she wrote for me. I wonder if I should tape it as I read and then send it to her?

10. I think people like Rush Limbaugh have taught the whole country bad manners. Name calling is lazy person’s way to stifle debate and to avoid thinking further about something.

11. Last week’s number 11 read: This space could be yours. Leave a good love quote in the comments and I’ll put it here. I got a lot of good love quotes from readers that day, like these two from Simply Coll: To the world you might be one person, but to one person you might be the world. And….Forget love... I'd rather fall in chocolate!

12. I just finished answering interview questions on writing and blogging for Jake at “The Jake Silver Show. I plan to post them on Saturday. Here’s a sneak preview two sentences in answer to his question “What Made You Want to Start a Web Log?” I understand life by translating it into words. I needed a container for all my writing and a way to organize and cross-reference it.

13. I was nominated for a blog award at “One Woman’s World” under these categories: Best Writing, Most Inspiring, Most Thought Provoking, and Best Discussion. WOW. Thanks so much to those who nominated me, and as they say at the Oscars…just getting nominated feels like winning. The voting part of the contest has started and will last until February 20. Here.

Post Note:
Nicole is keeping the master 13 Thursday link list. She’s just the girl next door. My other 13 Thursdays can be found here. Photo? It's the side of my car.

February 15, 2006

The Weekend Storm

snowangel.jpgThere was a blizzard of writing on the Love-Link, the family email group I belong to that was started before my brother Danny died and while he was in the hospital. Words like “projectile vomiting” were flying around, along with recipes for chicken soup and updates on how many inches of snow were falling in Boston where most of my family members live. My sister Sherry described the snow scene outside her house as a crystal chandelier and posted this photo of an angel she made in the snow. Plowing, shoveling, four wheel driving, and walks in the snow were all part of the weekend's Love-Link mix. Since then, we’ve moved on to spaghetti sauce recipes and a few nightmare waitressing stories.

The Love-Link was started by my niece Chrissie, who has recently put her feet in the blogging water. She is one of the few of us who is technologically savvy and knew how to set up a yahoo group account. For more about how and why the Love-Link started and how it evolved go here.

February 14, 2006

That’s All She Wrote


1. A picture is worth

1000 words…

or is that kisses?

2. This is a game

where we both win.

3. Got one of your own?



February 13, 2006

Happy Birthday Dylan!

dylanatsix.jpgMy youngest son, Dylan, is 24! I’ve always told him that he was born the day before Valentine’s Day because he’s such a “sweetheart.” This photo was taken when he was 6years old. The questions below, asked when he was 4 ½, were part of an interview done for “The Dolphin Messenger,” a Blue Mountain School Children’s Newsletter that I helped students put together when I taught creative writing there years ago.

Dylan, what are you going to learn to do when you grow up?

1. How to ride a bike.
2. How to ride a motorcycle.
3. Maybe I could jump from the clouds on a parachute
4. I’ll learn how to swing from vines.
5. And open an orange by myself.
6. I’m going to learn how to work on cars with a screw.
7. And open sodas by myself and put one in my lunchbox and go to work.

Dylan, what did you learn to do this year?

1. I know how to climb up the ladder.
2. At the river, I can go under.
3. I’m learning how to sew.
4. I made my new pouch.
5. I learned you can’t drink right out of bottles.
6. And I learned how to climb trees and get some apples down all by myself!

How much of the above has come true, you might wonder? He’s a skilled mechanic, does plumbing, electrical, and carpentry work. He likes to buy and sell cars, seems to have a different one every year, and owns a 4 wheeler.
Post Note: February being the month of love, Heather at One Woman’s World has announced the first annual One Woman’s World Share the Love Blog Awards! Heather says, "The competition is designed to encourage the widening of our reading world, and the fostering of community among women bloggers." Nominations will be accepted until midnight on Monday, February 13th at which point voting will begin. Go see the categories and the nominations thus far.

February 12, 2006

My Yard is an Uninhabitable Planet

jazzy in the snow2.pngSipping tea on the couch while looking out my window, I can just barely see the footprints made yesterday when my husband and I went out walking in the snow. They look like craters on the surface of the moon.

The morning sun across the stretch of yard where my sons used to play soccer is making it glisten. No one has ventured out into that part of the yard since the snow fell. It’s uncharted territory and could almost look inviting except for the howling wind that woke me too early, which is now catching snowflakes and throwing them around in a chaotic frenzy like a dustbowl storm across a prairie.

My down parker, like a space suit, is resting on the chair, but only the dog is brave enough to venture out.

February 11, 2006

Moondala Ooh-la-la

womenof7thveil.jpg I have written scores of poems about the moon. One of the first little chapbooks I put together for myself was titled “MOONDALA OOH-LA-LA.” During that time I was participating in an improv-movement class and was one of three women in a local poetry troupe called “Women of the 7th Veil.” In our hey-day, we presented a poetry performance for a Mountain Rose Dance Recital (a local dance studio that is no longer in existence). Dressed all in black except for the white scarf around my neck, I read moon poetry while my troupe partners (one of whom wore my multi-tiered wedding dress, suggestive of the full moon) did improv movement to it. Here’s one of the little moon ditties from that period, which was also published in the Wemoon Journal of 1993.


full moon temptation
at the traffic lights
the red light says,
but the moonlight says,
awakening my natural signals

Women of the 7th Veil, (I'm in the middle in this case) performing in the building that housed The Tea House Jam and Altared Space Gallery, which would later became Oddfellas Cantina.

February 10, 2006

How Do I Love Thee?

Vaisforloversjoeandcoll.jpgI've got a notion…I might as well be closer to your heart…It's out in the open…I might as well be closer to your heart… ~ song by Clannad ~

While walking hand in hand to the mailbox recently with my husband, I asked him, “Can you remember the exact moment you fell in love with me...an instant when you just knew?"

It didn’t take him long to answer, “It was the night you were sweetly singing that Clannad song as I was drifting off to sleep.”

Then it was my turn.

“I think I knew I was in love with you when we were walking arm in arm down by the pond at the 709 house. Looking down at our feet, I noticed how in sync we walked together and the beautiful rhythm we made while we walked, just like we are right now.”

When did you fall in love with your sweetheart?

Post Note:
Thanks to d. challener at Rough Draft. Number 8 on his “13 things I love about Jeni” reminded me of the above recent conversation.

February 9, 2006

Thirteen Thursday: XOXO

13february.jpg1. My first act of guerilla graffiti with my new label gun was to print up labels on bright red tape saying “I love you” and then stick them on certain people’s briefcases, cars, cards and such.

2. I’ve decided that my graffiti tag is XOXO.

3. My son Dylan’s birthday is February 13th (which is why it’s circled on the calendar). I’ve always told him that he was born the day before Valentine’s Day because he’s such a sweetheart.

4. Has anyone ever found a style of designer checks where you like all the designs? There is always one ugly one thrown in the batch that I save for paying the bills I really dislike.

5. My definition of a cliché: Lingo that’s been played.

6. Blogging: Rapid fire writing.

7. My best cry of last week happened while watching the Susan Saint James and Dick Ebersol family on Oprah talk about losing their youngest son Teddy in a plane crash. Teddy’s brothers were on the show too, one of whom survived the plane crash, as did his dad. Having lost two siblings, one violently, the show really hit me hard. I also related to the strength the family showed and the fact that they are avid Red Sox fans.

8. Best read of the past week was a speech made by U2’s Bono at a recent Presidential Prayer Breakfast that I found on (L)amb. Bono began his speech with a joke…Please join me in praying that I don't say something we'll all regret…. but soon got to the real reason he was there: It's not a coincidence that in the Scriptures, poverty is mentioned more than 2,100 times. It's not an accident. That's a lot of air time, 2,100 mentions. You know, the only time Christ is judgmental is on the subject of the poor… 'As you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.' (Matthew 25:40). As I say, good news to the poor…. And finally, it's not about charity after all, is it? It's about justice.

9. Everything in February has a Valentine theme. The February Museletter, the homespun local publication that I co-edit, is always printed on bright pink paper. I’m currently drafting a blurb for the next Spoken Word Open Mic, February 18th 7 pm at Café Del So, for the Floyd Press. It starts, “Is there someone you want to serenade?”

10. When putting the Museletter together in February, I looked for good love quotes to sprinkle throughout the publication. Here’s one of my favorites by poet Anne Sexton: Love and a cough cannot be concealed. Even a small cough. Even a small love.

11. This space could be yours. Leave a good love quote in the comments and I’ll put it here.

12. Best news of the week: On Wednesday, a group of 86 evangelical Christian leaders went against the Bush Administration’s environmental policy (or lack thereof) by issuing a “call to action” on global warming. “The Christian leaders said they were impelled by their faith to launch the campaign out of a growing realization that the threat of global warming was real and that the world's poor would suffer the most,” one newspaper reported. Of course the nightly news felt they had to feature a counter comment, ‘They should be pursuing causes that protect the sanctity of life,’ one far right talking head ironically remarked. DUH?

13. Best Grammy moment: For me, it was Bruce Springsteen’s solo performance of the title song from his new recording, Devils and Dust, which one reviewer called “one of Springsteen's most nuanced, intense looks at what it means to be an American in dangerous times.” In a break from of all the flash and glitter, Bruce sat under a spotlight on a stool with the lights turned down low. After singing his acoustic number with piercing intensity, he took off his guitar and spoke the words, “Bring them home” before walking off the stage.

Post Note:
Go see Nicole at the The Girl Next Door for the details on 13 Thursday or click on the 13 icon on my sidebar to see links to other players.

February 8, 2006

Virginia is for Lovers

virginiaisforlovers1.jpg The Appalachian Mountains…ran like shivers up my spine…they rose in my dreams… Was I always destined for Virginia? How did I go from a small coastal town in the South Shore of Boston to living a rural life in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia? Was the fact that I grew up infatuated with Annie Oakley, Daniel Boone, and Davy Crockett a sign of what my future held?

In my mid-20’s my sister, Sherry, came back from a vacation to Virginia Beach with a button that read “Virginia is for Lovers.” I was smitten. After convincing her to let me have the button, I pinned it to my pocketbook where it remained my motto for the next couple of years. Another sign?

My first husband and his family are electricians. When construction in the South Shore of Boston during the late 1970s dried up, Texas and Virginia were the two states they were considering for relocation. The Texas Oil Boom won out, and I ended up living near Houston for 7 years, which was where my two sons were born and how my brother Danny came to live in Houston.

While I have good memories of my years living in Texas, we never meant to live there as long as we did. I missed my family and the seasonal changes. It was hot and flat. As my interests in home-schooling and homesteading grew so did my urge to move to the country. While exploring a map one day, I glanced upon the word “Shenandoah,” a valley that runs alongside the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains, part of the Appalachian Mountain Range. I had a visceral and emotional reaction to the word. A shiver went up my spine. Soon after, and although I had never even seen mountains before, I had a vivid dream of the soft rolling green-blue mountains that I would later come to know as The Blue Ridge.

Other factors converged and eventually led me to Floyd where I found other home-schoolers, lots of tofu eaters, quartz, clean water, and country charm. Considering that most of my ancestors came from Ireland, when I learned that the Appalachian Mountains were once the same land mass as Ireland and Scotland before the ice age, I better understood my draw to the mountains.

My home-place roots in Massachusetts run deep. I visit my family and the ocean every year. But as much as I love where I grew up, I also can’t ignore that I was guided to live where I do. I think of the button that my sister brought back from Virginia Beach 30 years ago as an open-ended ticket that began the journey to the rest of my life.

Photo: Sherry and her husband, Nelson, visit me in Virginia. The photo was taken up at The Saddle Overlook on The Blue Ridge Parkway, in Floyd.

February 7, 2006


imageshalfmoon.jpgStars of champagne
are bubbling over
from the moon’s bowl
of sparkling light

~ Is the moon half empty or half full? Before climbing into bed Sunday night, I peered out my window to see where all the light was coming from. Happily, I discovered the moon was half full, balancing in the sky like cup. Inspired by the image, while drifting off to sleep, my mind began to craft a poem; but when I woke up the next morning, all memory of it was lost. Or so I thought…

While visiting Leanne’s site, Artist by Nature, Monday morning, I noticed the word “bowl” in her post. It immediately triggered my memory of the moon the night before. Although her mention of “bowl” was of an entirely different entity than the one I was thinking of (LOL), it enabled me to recapture the image I had forgotten and finish my poem.

And so, I offer Leanne the above concentrated little sip of a poem in the manner of a toast across the blogsphere. Cheers!

February 6, 2006

Floyd Nightlife

doveDance_Free2.jpgDance: Poetry of the foot. ~ John Dyden ~
Since the days of The Surf Ballroom in my amusement park hometown of Hull, Massachusetts, dance has been my body’s native language. I love it the way my husband loves to play soccer, and I treat it like a favorite sport. Resting during the day before dancing, as if preparing for a marathon, when it comes time to go, I fill up a jug of water and make a protein snack to bring along. I like to be prepared to keep my energy level up because if the music is good, I never sit down between songs.

The hardwood floor at The Winter Sun Music Hall in downtown Floyd has just the right slip and slide for a dancer’s feet. I know that because I danced on it 3 times in the past week. Last Friday was our monthly Dance Free; two days later my friends and I danced up a storm to the music of Gaelic Storm; and this past Saturday night marked the debut of Sonic Safari, a new local band, described on the Sun’s Music Hall website this way: “ this 5-piece band has a sound all of their own. Combining jazz, funk, rock and original moves, Sonic Safari will enthrall dancers and listeners alike.”

I recognized an Average White Band and an Allman Brothers song. There was a psychedelic thread running through the jams that broke down the separation of past and present. With my eyes closed and slightly dizzy from spinning, I could have been back at The Surf, dancing in 1969. Occasionally, I opened my eyes, looked around, and smiled at the familiar Floyd faces swaying and twirling all around me, but for the most part, it wasn’t a social activity. I was there to dance.

I feel blessed to have such excellent entertainment right here in our small town of Floyd, and the dancer in me has been lobbying Sonic Safari to be the new Floyd house band.

Photo: Dove, a regular Dance Free participant, clipped from the Winter Sun webpage. Don't sit down yet. There's a monthly Contra Dance, also at the Winter Sun Music Hall, this coming Saturday night. You can check out The Blue Ridge Country Dancers website for more information about the dance.

February 5, 2006

Should I Get theT-Shirt?

clip_image002.jpgThis is fun. I saw it at “Out of My Mind with Worry” from a website called “Snapshirts.com.” You type in the name of your blog and it creates a word collage based on what's found at your site. I think this one is a pretty good representation of “Loose Leaf,” and I imagine the results would change as my blog entries do each day.

February 4, 2006

Friday Fish Fry

johnwithfish.jpgOn Friday, my whole day revolved around fish. It had nothing to do with the fact that I was raised Catholic and it was considered a sin to eat meat on Fridays back then, and so my family usually ate fish. It had everything to do with a local Floyd business that consists of two women who travel to the coast each week and bring back fresh seafood that they sell out of the back of their truck. Their fish business is called “Indigo Farms,” but I call them “The Indigo Girls.”

I didn’t a have stick of fish left in my house and hadn’t for several weeks. I knew that they only sell fish in Floyd on Friday mornings in front of Harvest Moon Natural Foods, and that if you arrive after 10:30 you’re probably too late; the girls will have already begun their trek to Blacksburg to peddle their delicacies there.

When I arrived at the Harvest Moon parking lot, it was nearly 10:30, and there was a line behind the white refrigerated fish truck. “Should I take a number?” I shouted out in jest to one of the girls, and then took my place in the line. The woman in front of me had a blue cooler slung over her arm, and the man in front of her thanked the girls profusely after he got his fish, saying that he appreciated them ‘more than they’ll ever know.’ He said it more than once, which made me curious. Did someone’s life depend on fish? (And of course I thought my dad, who frequently used the ‘more than you’ll ever know’ line, was talking to me through the man.)

My order came to $52! I have a freezer and plan not to run out of fish for awhile. “Can you put it on ice?” I asked the Indigo girl who reminded me of the Amy Ray part of the duo. “I have some more errands to do.”

Inside “The Harvest Moon” (one has to live on more than fish) I was stopped by Katherine, Harvest Moon icon, herbalist, and close friend, “What are you doing here so early,” she questioned, knowing how much of a morning person I am not.

“It has 4 letters and starts with an F!” I answered her in game show fashion. She responded with the look of someone who had just been told a joke that they didn’t get, so I shouted out, “FISH,” and then headed over to the bulk grains bin to get some flour for the frying.

Post Notes:
The photo is of my fisherman rouge of a brother, John. He wrote on the back, “Your brother John with a 30 pound King Salmon.” Besides being a fisherman, he also manages a fish market, so I don’t guess he actually caught it. Don’t forget to visit “Friday Night Fish Fry,” the blog whose namesake I used for the title of this post, to see what she’s been cooking up.

February 3, 2006

Gaelic Storm

celticstorm2.jpg We didn’t wear the right shoes. We were dressed in too many clothes for what would ensue. By the end of the first set, we had escaped from our seats and were dancing in the aisle. By the beginning of the second set, we had kicked off our shoes and were dancing up by the stage. I still have the ink on my hand from being stamped at the door (at least I did when I wrote this). I can’t tell what it’s an image of, but it’s definitely Irish green, and so I’m thinking it’s a smudged shamrock, a fitting symbol for a foot stomping band named “Gaelic Storm.” ~ This is the continuation from Wednesday’s post.

Fellow Floyd blogger, longtime journalist, and founder of Capitol Hill Blue, Doug Thompson has launched another new online site, FloydCounty.com. Besides presenting local news, views, and entertainment, the site also features regular updates of other Floyd bloggers, including those from Loose Leaf. Doug’s impressive bio can be found here.

February 2, 2006

Thirteen Thursday: The 13 Score

13scrabblelace.jpg1. While playing scrabble last week with my friend Mara, at one point she confessed, “I want Sy Safransky (editor of the Sun Magazine) to love me." I think I can work that line into a poem.

2. I also played with my friend Alex in the sunny alcove of her kitchen. At times her cat wanted to plop itself right in the middle of the scrabble board. “She likes to be the center of attention,” Alex explained.

3. Alex, an accomplished artist, is undergoing serious cancer treatments and currently only feels good one week out of every three. I feel honored that she would want to play scrabble with me during her good week.

4. I caught some of the “Oprah” episode where she was (rightfully so) taking author James Frey to task for presenting his book as a memoir when, in fact, much of it was fictionalized. While watching, I found myself wishing that someone would take President Bush to task for the mushroom clouds and other distorted images and misrepresentations he used to take the country to war. Shouldn’t we hold presidents at least as accountable as authors?

5. When my blog page was recently off center for a week, I felt off-centered too.

6. Being off-centered wasn’t as bad as being unable to post. That was like being in an at-fault car accident. While cruising in my main index template (actually, it was more like parallel parking), I took my eyes off the road for a second and took out a large section of code. The blog paramedic eventually came and helped me out, but since then I’ve been afraid to go back to the scene. There are several blogs I want to add to my links list, but I have to work up the courage.

7. Walking in town last week with the wind whipping through my coat and stinging my ears, I walked past The Blue Ridge Café and the sign on the door said, “Shirt and shoes required.” Duh.

8. I found two new regional blogs. Well, one found me. DL, at the Blue Ridge Gazette, writes to “celebrate, educate, and raise awareness” of all that The Blue Ridge Mountain region and its people have to offer. Through a link on his site I found another Floyd blogger, The Blue Ridge Writer. Two more sites for my blog link waiting list.

9. I was really disgusted by the recent news that Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest oil company, recently claimed the largest corporate profit in U.S. history, while we’re all paying higher gas prices and many people can barely afford to heat their homes.

10. In and out… our hands descend…into the drawstring bag…as if the letters in it were nuggets of gold…and we could be rich if only we could spell…Rumplestilskin… I definitely feel a Scrabble poem coming on.

11. Sitting down to work on a poem draft is a lot like sitting down with a crossword puzzle. It’s fun and frustrating at the same time and something I can easily spend way too much time on. It can even sound like I’m doing a crossword puzzle. While writing, I often call out questions to my husband…like, “What’s another word for “spill.” He suggests, “leak,” and I shout back, “No. I can’t use leak. I already used it.”

12. One of my favorite quotes on writing poetry is this one by Marianne Moore: "In a poem the word should be as pleasing to the ear as the meaning is to the mind.”

13. A quote by Brian Cappelletto, former World Scrabble Champion, helps me put the game in perspective and to feel okay when I lose: "The game has luck, no doubt about it. It is up to the individual player to figure out how best to minimize the bad and maximize the good. Failing that, one can always blame their shortcomings on having a fuller, more interesting life than those who have done well in this game."

Post note:
Visit Nicole at the The Girl Next Door for the rules of the 13 Thursday game.

February 1, 2006

One Thing or Another

I sit when others are standing…I lay when they sit…Arriving last and leaving first…I lean on walls to look less suspicious…I walk when others are running…I stop when they keep going… ~ Colleen

My husband, Joe, headed down to Roanoke Sunday morning with a young man that he’s taken under his wing, to hear Bo Lozoff speak at the Unitarian Universalist Church. He has met Bo, author and founder of The Prison Ashram Project, a couple of times before and considers him to be a mentor. I wanted to meet Bo too. I read his newsletter and have a deep respect for the service work he does. Not only does he teach meditation practice to prison inmates, but he is a compelling speaker, an accomplished musician, and he and his wife head up “The Human Kindness Foundation” in North Carolina, where they live.

I reminded my husband how hard it is to get me to do anything first thing in the morning, especially if church is involved (having already filled my church quota as a girl). But the real reason I didn’t go to meet Bo was that I had already made plans with my women friends to hear a Celtic Band that was playing right here in Floyd that evening. Due to the fact that I’m in ongoing recovery from Chronic Fatigue, I can’t do two events in one day. I suffer from sensory overload much quicker than other people do. If I got out in the daytime, I generally don’t have enough energy to go out at night, and if I am going out at night, I need to precede it with a low key day with the right combination of food and rest.

Joe came home from his long day in Roanoke just as I was getting ready to go out, and his enthusiasm was infectious. As he raved about Bo’s talk, of which the theme was “Going Deeper,” I began to feel the sense of a missed opportunity and doubted that I had made the right choice; the Celtic band over Bo’s talk.

“It’s like choosing one of my sons over the other,” I complained to Joe, feeling bad about my own limitations, just as a horn beeped outside, signaling that my ride had arrived. To be continued…