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March 31, 2006

Local Bloggers Unite

bloggers1.jpgA support group? A union? A class or convention? There was talk of track backs, permalinks, and spam. Mostly, we enjoyed meeting each other, some for the first time. We were old bloggers, new bloggers, wanna-be bloggers, and blog readers. The lap tops were lit up and the stats were compared. I learned that bloggers are an enthusiastic bunch, happy to find each other.bloggers2.jpg

Photos: We met at Floyd’s wireless Café Del Sol. The first photo shows Jamie of Jamie’s World and Doug of Blue Ridge Muse on the right. In the second photo David from Ripples is standing on the left, Leslie of Squirrel Spur is in the center, and Fred of Fragments From Floyd is standing on the right. Go visit David for another perspective on our blogger’s day out. His photos came out better than mine.

March 30, 2006

13 Thursday: You Got Mail

gotmail13-2.jpg 1. Sometimes I feel my writing is something like Erma Brombeck meets Rumi.

2. Pen and ink is to art what acoustic guitar is to electric.

3. I don’t write for a living but I live for writing.

4. My notebooks are to my mind what pans are to a house with a leaking roof.

5. DSL has finally come to my part of the mountains. My bill will go up from $25 to $40. I guess I’m invested in this blogging thing.

6. On two occasions this past year my girlfriend neighbors couldn’t get through to me by phone because I was online and had to walk over to my house to tell me something.

7. Considering all the junk mail I get these days, bills are starting to look like good mail. At least they have something to do with me, and I’m motivated to open them due to the late fees that accrue if I don’t.

8. Best news of the week: Our local grocery store just started carrying “Amish Chicken,” which means that it contains no preservatives, hormones, or antibiotics and was not raised in pens with the chickens on top of each other. It tastes good too!

9. The grocery store I’m referring to is a locally-owned one named “Slaughters.” When my son broke his leg years ago his doctor’s name was Dr. Boneset. Sometimes our names are our assignments.

10. Driving to Blacksburg to attend the book club of woman who just finished reading my book, I heard Stewart Sellman’s story on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” Sellman kept an audio diary after learning that he had a brain tumor and only had about a year to live. They played clips of his diary mixed with interviews with his wife. It was fitting to hear such a poignant story about dealing with death on my way to talk about my book, which chronicles the deaths of two of my brothers a month apart. Other things converged that evening into an eerie fit, the telling of which deserves a full future post.

11. The next night I heard Washington Post columnist and humorist, Art Buchwald being interviewed on the PBS News Hour from a Washington-based hospice. Buchwald talked about his decision to forgo kidney dialysis that would prolong his life. When asked if he believed in afterlife, Buchwald said, “The question is not where are you going, it’s what are you doing here in the first place.”

12. DSL internet hook-up isn’t cheap, but neither are stamps. They used to be cheap. It cost 3 cents to mail a letter back in the 1950s when I was born, and I think typewriters actually had a key symbol for cents, back went cents actually amounted to something.

13. Sometimes I miss writing and receiving letters sent snail mail. Emails are usually typed too quickly, read too quickly, and forgotten too quickly.

Note: I’m heading out to the mailbox to see what is there. Talk amongst your selves. Click on my 13 Thursday sidebar icon if you want to meet some new friends. Nicole has the 13 master plan. My other 13's are here.

March 29, 2006

Feedback

Life in the Rural Fast Lane, my blog entry turned radio essay that aired this month on WVTF public radio stirred-up quite a bit of feedback. The emails I got after the piece aired were all friendly enough, even the one from the man who wanted to inform me that “VDOT would be very upset to hear you say that there are no speed limits on the back roads.”
wpa_wildturkey02.jpg
He was referring to this: I’m 6 miles from downtown, but because there’s no traffic (or speed limits on back roads) it only takes me 8 minutes to get there. I can sometimes ride to town without seeing another car but if I do see one, it’s customary to wave, even if you don’t know who it is.

I should have said “there are no POSTED speed limits.” Truth is, between the loose gravel and the narrow winding curves, you couldn’t drive over 55 on the back roads around here if you wanted to.

Only one listener who wrote mentioned the most obvious line in the essay…Because I have no visible neighbors, I can weed my garden shirtless if I want to, or sunbathe on a lounge chair in the nude (one of my top criteria for Paradise). “Isn’t it nice to go out to the garden to pick a tomato and not worry about what you’re wearing (or not wearing),” this fellow rural Virginian asked? (*I actually changed the word “topless” in the original piece to “shirtless,” thinking “topless” sounded too X-rated for public radio consumption.)

My favorite email in the group came from a man who has since become an email pen pal. I knew he was special when he unknowingly kept using words and phrases that I had just posted on my blog or was about to.

While beach camping at Hunting Island State Park, I wrote that I had one of my father’s favorite songs in my head, As Time Goes By. After that, my new friend just happened to use the same phrase in an email to me. On another day, just after typing the word “PRICELESS” for a post, in reference to some driftwood real estate on the Island, the same word jumped out at me as I read another email from my pen pal.

I knew we had something in common when he told me that he jotted poetry on envelopes while driving and that hearing my radio essay made him want to abandon his job and go home and kiss his kids.

After a few emails had gone back and forth and I was enjoying his writing, I realized that the compliment he initially gave me … You've got a gift of perception of the seemingly complex, yet the ability to communicate in an easy and straightforward manner…could be given right back to him.

I think we see ourselves in others, the parts that we want to develop further. I think we’re inspired by people we recognize who are tuned into the same wavelength that we are.

Update: He did it again yesterday morning. I was checking my email before posting “Floyd Wildlife” in which I tell about my experience with the “flock of turkeys” that looked like pterodactyls and invaded my yard. In his second sentence he managed to use the word “flock,” causing me to ask myself, ‘Is my brain being wire tapped?’

March 28, 2006

Floyd Wildlife

parkway.jpgOn this day, Joe and I walked a stone path lined with emerald green moss against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Appalachian Mountain Range, one of the oldest in the world, is a gently rolling scene of overlapping mountains for as far as the eye can see. It looks prehistoric, and I always expect to see pterodactyls. Today I saw turkeys instead. ~ Excerpt from The Jim and Dan Stories

Crows have emptied my peach tree of ripe fruit overnight, skunks have dug spoon-sized holes all over my yard, and last year a black snake stretched across my gravel driveway blocking my path to the mailbox. It also ate the newly hatched phoebes in the nest on our porch rafter.

Such is country life.

Deer, opossum, and raccoon are common here. So are turkeys. But my first experience with a flock of turkey was anything but common. I was sunbathing in my yard when I heard them before I saw them. Startled by the loud clumsy sound of flapping, which was low to the ground and very CLOSE, I felt like my yard was being invaded and was surprised when I saw how big, how many, and how pre-historic looking they were. Of course, when they saw me they couldn’t get out of my yard fast enough.

The first time I saw a fox I felt like I had entered into the plot of a fairytale. It strutted brazenly by me, more self-assured than a dog, which is what I first took it for. It was snowing and the fox seemed charmed, standing out blatantly against the winter white wonderland. Had it lost its den hole under a drift, I wondered?

It took nearly twenty years of living in the country before I encountered my first black bear and because it was standing upright, I thought for a second that it was someone wearing a bear costume. I was on the Blue Ridge Parkway, about a stone’s throw away from my house. Riding by in my car, I screamed when I saw it, not because I was afraid but because I was excited to be seeing a wild bear for the first time.

They say there are panthers and mountain lions in these hills. I haven’t seen any…yet.

March 27, 2006

Remedy

There are two kinds of gratitude: The sudden kind we feel for what we take; and the larger kind we feel for what we give.” ~ E. A. Robinson

I’ve been trying to resolve the difference between passion and obsession. There’s something exciting about doing what I love (in my case writing) until I drop off to sleep at night and then waking up the next day and getting right back into it while still in my bathrobe. But what about breakfast? My meditation practice? What about relationships and social interactions?

I’ve always been drawn to solitude. When I first read the following statement by author Christina Nealson years ago, it became a favorite quote and a goal: I must have days, lots of them where nothing is planned, where the rhythm is set free to improvise a beat that suits the soul.

Growing up as one of nine children, raising two sons, and then providing foster care for an individual with disabilities for the last 8 years, I’ve always had lots of interactive activity around me, as well as a built in structure to my days. Now that my sons are grown, and I’m only “working for pay” a couple of weekends a month, I’m getting my dream come true: time to myself. It’s mostly a good thing, but it also seems that the more time I get to myself, the more time I want, and if I allow my “nutty professor tendencies” to go to extremes, solitude becomes isolation.

From what I can tell, what passion and obsession have in common is that with both you “lose yourself” in them. According to the teachings of my mediation practice, losing one’s “self” is a good thing in a similar way that giving is ultimately more rewarding than receiving. In my own experience, I know that when I drop down into a deeper state of consciousness during meditation, I lose my sense of self, which results in a tangible feeling of peace.

But too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, and losing oneself in solitude can also be viewed as being selfishly “self-absorbed. Writing is a solitary and sedentary activity. When overdone, the isolation it creates can become a breeding ground for insecurity.

“When you lose yourself at the expense of others, I think that’s when passion becomes an obsession” was how one of my Satsang friends put it when I raised the question at recent evening Satsang.

When I find myself getting bogged down with the world that exists in my mind, sometimes going for a walk or working in the garden can bring me back into balance. Other times, something more is called for.

Because interactions with others are not built into my life anymore, I find that I have to choose to make them happen, and now that I have the luxury to discover more of who I really am, here’s what I’m learning:

I’m not a leader or a follower. I’m a party of one. But just as a socially outgoing person still needs time alone, so does a loner need other people. When I nudge myself to do what is out of character for me, I benefit from it more than anyone else. Making soup to bring to a friend who just had a tooth pulled, picking flowers for a new neighbor, picking up the phone and making the call I’ve been putting off to see how someone is are all activities that make me feel better because the best remedy for what ever ails you is to do something for someone else. We’re wired that way…for human contact…and to serve each other.

What a master plan.

March 26, 2006

The Great Escape: The Replay

joeyoga.jpgAKA: Remedy for cold spring weather.
How come it’s so hard to maintain that vacation state of mind when you get back home from one? I don’t want to relegate my recent oceanfront camping trip to the bowels of my archives too soon, islandlighthouse.jpgso here are a few snapped images for your viewing pleasure taken at Hunting Island State Park a couple of weeks ago. Those of you who know me know that I like to have an ocean somewhere on my front page. c-onbeach.jpg
I refuse to put gloves on today. palm2.jpg

March 25, 2006

First Thaw

jandaffodils.jpg
Pale as spring grass
beneath un-raked leaves
my skin under clothes
is wilted and withered

My shivering flesh
is the first flower exposed
at the first sign of thaw
when green rumors are spread

Photo: On a writer's retreat last spring. The poem is from 2005 as well.

March 24, 2006

The InQUIZition Results Are In

The answers to Tuesday’s Loose Leaf InQUIZiton are as follows:

1. This past year I wrote about winning what? On May 30th I wrote: On the night of the day that my essay aired on WVTF public radio, I participated in a poetry slam at The London Underground in Blacksburg and won $100 gift certificate to buy books at The Easy Chair! Initially, I was leery about reading my poetry in such a smoky, chaotic atmosphere where rowdy guys holding onto mugs of beer seemed to be waiting for the dartboards to be available again. While I did write about being nominated for a blog award, I only made it as far as a finalist. The answer is a Poetry Slam. Read more...

2. Besides a trip to the South Carolina coast, what other vacation destination did I go on this year and write about? On October 3rd I wrote: It takes longer to boil water in high altitudes, which is hard for a tea lover like me. The high altitude also effects nail polish remover. It dries before it can do what it was made for. The answer it Aspen. Read more...

3. In the year 2000 I voted for: On September 16th I wrote: 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... This is the only one in the group where the exact answer is not revealed on my blog, but most readers made an educated guess, in that no one said Bush. The correct answer is Gore. Read more.....

4. I usually play Scrabble with: On February 2nd I wrote: 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. Mara is the correct answer. Read more...

5. My husband likes to play: On March 16th I wrote: My husband loves to play golf to the point that some people might perceive me as a golf widow, but I think he, as the husband of a writer, was a widower first. Recently when he told me that he was going to play golf, I said, “You dog!” He looked dejected by my comment until I added, “No, I don’t mean you’re in the doghouse, I mean you lucky dog! Go for it!” Golf is the correct answer. Read more...

6. What 2005 Floyd Fest performer did I write about? On August 4th I wrote: Ani tells it like it is. She’s petite but her stage presence is big and I haven’t been so impressed with songwriting/poetry since the early days of Joni Mitchell. “Joni Mitchell revolutionized,” I turned to my husband and said, while she was changing guitars. Her life work is sharing her talent, not only to entertain but to raise consciousness. The correct answer is Ani DiFranco. Read more....

7. The alias I used while answering my husband interview questions for his human sexuality class
: On February 23rd I wrote: 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. (A reader then commented, “How fun is it to be Ann?”) The correct answer is Ann. Read more...

8. My brothers, who are the subject of my book, names are:
On June 3rd I wrote: When my brothers, Jim and Dan, died a month apart in 2001, the reality of impermanence hit me hard. I’ve been reading about death and contemplating it ever since. Although I’ve experienced firsthand how it feels to have a loved one die, I still don’t understand death. Most of us don't. We know it happens, but when it happens in our own family, our innocence is shattered and our understanding is reduced to that of a child’s. Where do we come from? Where do we go? How do you lose a person? The correct answer is Jim and Dan. Read more...

9. My sister’s blog name is an alliteration that begins with the letter:
On July 10th I wrote: My sister Kathy’s blog, “A Particularly Persistent Point of View” made its debut a couple of months before "Loose Leaf" did. It covers a mix of political and metaphysical topics, and is set up via a dialogue with her inner critic, which in this incarnation is a tiger. I don’t think I ever could have guessed so many years ago when she was first discovering the world wide web of the internet that we would both end up being so “online,” blogging side-by side. The correct answer is P. Read more...

I meant to post 10 quiz questions to make it easy to score percentages, but mistakenly only posted 9; so I gave everyone one free answer just for playing. The top best scorers at 90% go to two non-bloggers, Tammy! and Sherry! Others who scored 80% are: Deana, Kathy, Janet, Trish, Ivy, and Chris-sea. Thanks to everyone for playing! You can view the Quiz in its entirety here.

March 23, 2006

The Thirteen Thursday Thaw

13thaw5.jpg1. I recently had a first blog birthday. On Monday, March 20, when I posted “Happy Birthday to Loose Leaf” it was also my dad’s birthday, the first since he passed away this past November. He would have been 82.

2. I have an email pen pal who found me via hearing my blog entry turned WVTF radio essay, Life in the Rural Fast Lane. On the morning I posted “Happy Birthday Loose Leaf,” I received an email in which he informed me that we should all have off work because it was Big Bird’s Birthday. Sure enough, I googled “Big Bird” and his birthday is also March 20th. My friend hadn’t read my Loose Leaf birthday post yet. That’s the kind of synchronicity that goes on in my life all the time.

3. Feeling the impact of my father’s death is like an iceberg that I haven’t even seen the tip of yet.

4. I recently learned (from Sage) that Tom Fox, the Quaker who was kidnapped and killed in Iraq, kept a blog, “Waiting in the Light.” There are only 7 entries. The last one, which was posted on November 9th had 139 comments the day I was there. Here is an excerpt: We have seen again and again in the last one hundred years the evolution of warfare to the point now when the first two parts of war that have been in play for centuries, that of middle-age men sending out young men to fight and die to keep the middle-age men in power, has added a third component. Still the young fight and die to retain the power of the middle-age men but now most of those who lose their lives in the conflict are women and children.

5. The Soldier’s Arabic: The word for love, habib, is written from right…to left, starting where we would end it…and ending where we might begin… So begins a poem from Brian Turner’s book, “Here, Bullet,” a chronicle of poetry from Iraq, which I became aware of through a review done by Rick at Verb-Ops, a new blog I found (or did Rick find me?). Either way, I’m glad I know the way to Verb-Ops now.

6. Michele Agnew asked her readers this week, “What signifies spring for you?” My answer is a RAKE. Once the rake comes out, the race is on to see if I can rake out the flower beds before my husband finishes tilling the vegetable garden.

7. Some people think the only reason the internet exists is to forward mass mailings of jokes and chain letters to everyone on their address list. I enjoy an occasional passed on “find,” but not when it’s the only thing someone ever sends me.

8. For those of you who have expressed interest in knowing more about the Floyd lifestyle I live, check out David St. Lawrence’s blog post, titled, “Early Impressions of Floyd Life.” David, who read from his book, “Danger Quicksand Have a Nice Day,” at our recent spoken word event, and his wife Gretchen are new to Floyd.

9. Oddfella’s Cantina, currently my favorite restaurant in Floyd, was originally owned by the founders of Floyd Fest and was named for the odd mix of folk who live in our one stoplight town. Inside the restaurant there’s a birdcage hanging from a post with a Barbie doll in a red dress inside it.

10. In Floyd we have locally famous artists, potters, wood-carvers, writers, and musicians; alongside well diggers, saw-millers, hunters, and home builders. We also have midwives, herbalists, dousers, and rites-of-passage ceremonialists. Is it any wonder that I publish my books from my log cabin home, from a make-shift office that used to be my son’s bedroom, which is why Grateful Dead posters still hang on the walls? ~ excerpt about Floyd living from Homegrown, my essay that first appeared in Muses Like Moonlight and later aired on WVTF.

11. Yesterday I went to Blacksburg for a dentist appointment. Even the fire hydrants there are painted in Virginia Tech football team colors of orange and maroon.

12. Floyd artist, Alina, who I wrote about here, also participated in our spoken word open mic Saturday night. She’s been reading my blog and got inspired by it. Now she has one of her own, Sharing My Gold. I also found Leslie (or did Leslie find me?) of Squirrel Spur recently. She blogs about 15 minutes up the road in the next county over from me.

13. A sun cracked morning: The smell of wild onions…and dirt over easy…is awakening my appetite…for spring.

Post Note:
Click on the 13 icon on my sidebar for others who participate. My other 13 Thursdays can be found here.

March 22, 2006

The Google Oracle

looseleafscrabble2.jpgIn keeping with the week’s celebration of Loose Leaf’s first year mark, I consulted the Google Oracle to see what it had to say. I typed “Loose Leaf is” into their search engine and this is some of what I got:


Loose Leaf is heard on 227 stations and boasts 250000 listeners.
Loose Leaf is derived from the notebook-style format.
Loose Leaf is a leafy black tea infused with the flavor of lychee fruit.
Loose Leaf is devoted to local artisan items for sale by their creators.
Loose Leaf is best.
Loose Leaf is an offspring of the Silver and Gold website.
Loose Leaf is a woman owned and operated small business firm.
Loose Leaf is written and updated exclusively by a Senior Technical Editor who is a specialist in the field.
Loose Leaf is important, because the notes are archived along with the specimens.
Loose Leaf is required for collected assignments.
Loose Leaf is brewed in a gourd and shared with participants.
Loose-leaf is recommended because it will help.
Loose-leaf is preferred by most naturalists.
Loose Leaf is being applied.

Post Note:
There is still time to play the Loose Leaf InQUIZition below. Answers and scores will be posted on Friday. Thanks to everyone who has played!

March 21, 2006

The Loose Leaf InQUIZision

Okay, now let’s see who’s been paying attention! I found a great little quiz over at Weary Hag’s place that I wanted to adapt for Loose Leaf. I had fun playing (her version was called the "Hagsperiment"), and I especially liked the game show sound effects. But when I went to set up my own quiz the link didn’t work anymore. I’ve recreated it here, without the game show sound effects, unfortunately. Can I have an imaginary drum roll, please…On your mark, get set, PLAY.

This past year I wrote about winning:
1. A free trip to Disney World
2. A Poetry Slam
3. A Scrabble Tournament
4. A Blog Award

Besides a trip to the South Carolina coast, what other vacation destination did I go on this year and write about?
1. Hawaii
2. Aspen
3. New Orleans
4. Ireland

In the year 2000 I voted for:
1. Gore
2. Bush
3. Nadar
4. Martin Sheen

I usually play Scrabble with:
1. Sherry
2. Kenju
3. Mara
4. Katherine

My husband likes to play:
1. Scrabble
2. Racquetball
3. Golf
4. Tennis

What 2005 Floyd Fest performer did I write about?
1. Nickel Creek
2. Willie Nelson
3. Ani DeFranco
4. Dar Williams

The alias I used while answering my husband interview questions for his human sexuality class:
1. Bambi
2. Joan
3. Ann
4.Chris

My brother’s names, who are also the subject of a book I wrote:
1. Joey and Dan
2. Jim and John
3. Bob and Josh
4. Jim and Dan

My sister’s blog name is an alliteration that begins with the letter:
1. B
2. P
3. M
4. L

March 20, 2006

Happy Birthday Loose Leaf

looleafbirthday2.jpgMy blog is a year old. It was born on March 12, 2005 at Blogger.com. Five days later, with the encouragement of friends and fellow Floyd bloggers, it took its first steps and made its way to Moveable Type. Below are excerpts from some of Loose Leaf’s first words:

March 12: How's It Working For You?

The last thing I said to my husband, before turning out the lights last night, was: "All I want to do is write, but I feel like I have to invent the printing press first!"
The Good News: Putting up my first blog was easy. In fact, I inadvertently created 3 of them. The Bad News: It took me 5 hours to post my picture in "About Me," and in the end it wasn't me who did it. (Thank you to Nelson Pidgeon, my tech support webmaster). Posting blog messages is easy and I quickly understood how to make links. I have a rudimentary understanding of how to post pictures now, but I haven't done it myself yet. Too busy doing other things. Such as: figuring out how to delete the other 2 blogs I mistakenly set up. Read more...

March 13: Do you feel like this?

The Poem: It starts out as a sensuous pleasure, the right chemistry of words and feelings at play. But then comes the daunting work of putting it all together…digging deeper for the details…editing out the unnecessary…laboring over every line break…all done with an underlying urge to get it all just right. If you can persevere though, the effort will often lead to a satisfying climax, a sense of completion, and an excitement to share it with others. Funny how every creative process is like birth, marriage, or sex. Read more...

March 14: The People I Want To Thank

Ed was the first person who coaxed me to sit down in front of a computer for the first time. It was a scary sight. EEK…I would practically jump up on the chair, as though I had seen a mouse, every time I lost a page or got to a new one without knowing how it had happened. I acted like a high-strung, wimpy, school girl handling a live rodent when I inevitably lost control of the computer mouse and was not able to align its movement with what was happening on the screen. Ed, who was not daunted, provided my first introduction into the world of virtual desktops, folders, and files. Read more...

March 15: Spring Fever

Sitting in the office of my Chinese Medicine Practitioner, whose practices include cranial sacrum energy work, acupuncture, bone setting, and herbal infusions, a newcomer and acquaintance inquired, “You’ve been coming for a while. So, do you feel better?” I laughed. “You know,” I answered, “you might come here to cure fatigue and be cured of mistrust instead. I can’t be attached to what needs to happen first with healing.” I added, “For me the cure is not the goal – but progress is!” She understood, and I was used to her type of question. Read more...

March 16: Question for Other Bloggers

10:00 a.m. – Are you familiar with the impatient weight in your fingers when you have a post “copy” to “paste” but have nowhere to paste it? And what did you do with your time when you couldn’t get on the blogger.com site all of last night and so far all morning to post today’s entry? I cleaned off my desk (or made a dent in it) and sent in an essay submission to “The Sun” magazine. If my submission is successful, should I thank blogger.com for being unreliable? What nice things have happened to you, due to the fact that the server is down? Read more...

March 17: Moving Day

My first blog was born on March 12, 2005. Five days later it took its first step. With the help of my friend, Doug Thompson, I have moved on to another server, faster and easier to use, I am told. Coincidently, on the day my blog was being set up at this new location, the blogger.com server that initially hosted my blog was inoperable for nearly 24 hours and no one could post during that time. I’m sure every blogger knows how frustrating that can be. (See yesterdays post.) Is it also a coincidence that the rebirth of my blog is making its debut on St. Patrick’s Day? Was it a coincidence that my parents named me, the only one of their 9 children who has taken an interest and our Irish heritage, Colleen, which means “girl” in Gaelic? Read more...

March 18: Tools of the Trade

I don’t even want to mention notebooks. I try to buy them in different colors, so I can tell them apart, but it seems that I start writing in one, and then prematurely go onto a newer one, until soon they all look the same. I have scraps of paper with words scribbled on them in every room of my house. (Some people actually use file cards?) Here’s one that just says: “Things that make me have to put on extra deodorant.” An idea for a new list or a blog entry, I suppose. Below it is written, simply “105,000.” I struggle to remember that it’s probably the suggested mileage # for changing the timing belt on my CRV. Some of the various sized scraps of papers have web addresses or phone numbers written on them, and others seem to have expired, which means that I waited too long to do something with them and now I can’t read my own writing anymore. Read more...

March 21: My Normal Abnormal

My Asheville, North Carolinian, potter son, Josh, who is also a closet super-hero, turned me on to New Castle Beer, a dark but not Guinness dark beer made in Great Britain. Around the same time he showed off – what he would call “flash treads” or more informally “kicks” – his new pair of New Balance sneakers. For about a year after these incidents, whenever I was in a restaurant ordering a beer, I would ask for…“a New Balance, please.” Someone would usually laugh. Someone else would look confused. The mix-up is understandable, if you know me. More recently Josh hand-built a treadle wheel, a pottery wheel that you operate like an old model sewing machine, with your foot. I kept calling it “the tread mill.” Read more...

March 19, 2006

The Wine of Words

tipjar.jpg All my friends would like to know…how I can sleep so late…well, I have a gene for it…the wine of words is mostly partaken…in the wee hours of the morning…I write alone. ~ Colleen, From The Zen of Winter Poetry, Muses Like Moonlight.

The open mic that began as a community outreach effort by the Writer’s Workshop I belong to is taking on a life of its own. The wordsmiths and bards came out in full force last night, the night after St. Patrick’s Day, to the Café Del Sol to share their poetry and prose. Our 7-9 P.M. announced schedule went over by at least an hour. With a front row seat that happened to be a comfy couch, I nursed a beer while taking in the fare and found myself becoming intoxicated with language.

Beginning with the performances of a few talented students from the high school’s forensics’ team and ending with my friend Jayn reading her poem, “City Boy Country Girl” …Yeah, we're in love… Exposed hearts melting in our personal global warming…causing floods of correspondence… climate changes in poetry…and occasional research trips into each other's changing world… there must have been a dozen readers reading all variety of works.

I got to inject my best Irish accent when it was my turn to take to the mic with a poem called “My Grandmother’s Brogue”… My grandmother came to America to be a servant… and then have 11 children for the Catholic Church…Jesus Mary and Joseph! And my friend Katherine, whose article on home-birthing twins was published in Mothering magazine over two decades ago, shared her image-rich remembrances of childhood while writing at her now-deceased mother’s desk.

Although it is actually a serious subject, Doug Thompson, fellow blogger and journalist, brought the house down with his humorous response to being a target of the Bush Administration’s investigation into reporters who write unfavorable stories about them: On an unspecified day last week an employee of a federal agency that cannot be revealed delivered a document that cannot be identified to a company that cannot be named seeking information that cannot be discussed.

His piece was written following a more serious report on the matter, "Bush Declares War On Freedom of the Press," which is excerpted below but can be read in its entirety at Doug’s news site, Capitol Hill Blue. In recent weeks, the FBI has issued hundreds of "National Security Letters," directing employers, banks, credit card companies, libraries and other entities to turn over records on reporters. Under the USA Patriot Act, those who must turn over the records are also prohibited from revealing they have done so to the subject of the federal probes… Just how widespread, and uncontrolled, this latest government assault has become hit close to home last week when one of the FBI's National Security Letters arrived at the company that hosts the servers for this web site, Capitol Hill Blue. The letter apparently demanded traffic data, payment records and other information about the web site along with information on me, the publisher…

Sipping tea over breakfast this morning with my husband, Joe, I realized out loud that 4 of my 5 closest women friends are writers. We spent the rest of the morning poring over an article my son Josh had been asked to submit for a Studio Pottery publication with an editor’s eye (all 4 of them) in mind. This afternoon our Writers’ Workshop is set to meet. Tomorrow night my calendar tells me that I’m scheduled to attend the Blacksburg book club that recently read my book “The Jim and Dan Stories.”

I feel a hangover coming on…

Post Note: Floydian, David St. Lawrence, also one of the night’s readers,has an account of last night’s event, "The Spoken Word is alive and well in Floyd, VA", posted on his blog, complete with photos. The one posted here is of the tip jar on the counter of Café Del Sol.

March 18, 2006

Ireland Loves Me

shamrock.jpg I’m so confident in my Irishness that I went out yesterday wearing purple and completely forgot to post an Irish related entry on my blog or tell an Irish joke to someone.

On the other hand…

The two posts before St. Patrick’s Day were related to Ireland, and I did go out to eat and hear Irish music with friends at Oddfella’s Cantina last night wearing a white and kelly green shamrock scarf around my neck, and speaking in my best Irish accent, which I learned I had while reading "Angela’s Ashes" out loud to my son.

Saint Kevin’s Monastery:
Glendalough, Ireland

Lime-green shamrock umbrellas
Ireland loves me
She loves me not
She loves me

I press them in journals
like a monk preserving archives
or twirl them like kilts
on giggling girls

In the name of the Mother
the Sun and the Holy Wells

Ireland is a green kite
let go by the fairies

Landed in the ocean
and anchored by rock


Post Notes:
I wrote the above poem in Ireland in 1997. The photo is of the shamrock displayed at my brothers' graves on St. Patrick’s Day (there is also a Red Sox World Series pennant there.) And this is a shout out to Deana, a fellow blogger, who I got to meet last night at the Cantina: Hi Deana!

March 17, 2006

Open for Funny Business

scrabblespread2.jpg It was noon when Mara and I set up our makeshift office and scrabble game station in the corner of the Café Del Sol. The last time we played we did so without a net, which meant that neither of us brought a dictionary. On this day, we not only had a dictionary but our notebooks, pens, books, and eventually our plates of food, were spread out in all directions. Mara’s daughter, Kayla, who sat at the table next to ours, was doing a homes-schooling assignment in a workbook. We kept an empty chair nearby for visitors, some of whom were scheduled to drop by.

Kathleen, a member of the same Writers’ Workshop that both Mara and I belong to, was the first one to sit down with us. She, too busy to play with us on this day, came to discuss our joint efforts in the selling of a recently deceased friend’s books and collectibles in order to fund a chapbook of his photography and poetry.

“Do you want to keep score or should I?” Mara asked me as she and Kathleen were making plans to open an account at the local bank.

“I don’t keep score or drive unless someone forces me too,” I answered while looking for a place to put my tea bag.

By the time Kathleen left, the lunch crowd had arrived, and Sally the owner, who was cheering our game on, had to go and take orders. There was a business meeting going on at a nearby table that I was trying not to eavesdrop on while at the same time trying to figure out what they were talking about. Mara’s dad, who works at the nearby Jacksonville Center, came in, pulled up the extra chair, and gave Mara some insurance advice, while Kayla, with a crayon in hand, had moved on to making a flyer for the Spoken Word Open Mic night that was to be held at the Café over the weekend. scrabbletouche2.jpg

From the big picture window next to where we sat, we could see people on the street walking by and stopping to study the many bumper stickers on Mara’s car parked outside. Our friend Monkia came in and snapped a few pictures of us. Meanwhile, Mara was laughing because that’s what people do when your from the north and they’re from the south and you use the term “bulkie roll" when talking about your lunch (pronounced bukie). The reactions coming from the people reading Mara’s bumper stickers were really getting entertaining, and somehow I kept managing to knock down the knick knacks on the café window sill ledge onto our table.

It was 2:30 when the game wrapped up. Mara read some of her poetry to me while I was cleaning up. I went on to do some errands while she stayed behind. She had one more appointment scheduled that hadn’t shown up yet.

Post Notes: Some of Mara’s bumper stickers include: “Keep Your Laws of My Body,” “No, You Can’t Have My Rights, I’m Still Using Them,” and “Human Kind: Be Both.” Maybe Mara will come by and tell us what happened after I left. Both her and I, along with many others, will be reading at the Cafe's Spoken Word Open Mic Night this Saturday at 7 p.m. My St. Patrick's Day Post is below.

March 16, 2006

13 O’Thursday

13celtic1a.jpg 1. My current favorite Irish quote is this one: “I have never liked working. To me a job is an invasion of privacy.” - Danny McGoorty

2. This is what I said in a past entry about how my Irish background was a consideration in the conception of this blog: I wasn’t completely aware of why I chose a picture of me in Ireland, wearing a shamrock pinned to my sweater with a waterfall behind me, for my blog photo. I knew it had something to do with wanting to take a break from writing political commentary and following the news compulsively (although being involved in politics is yet another Irish trait). I wanted to let my hair down, tell a good story, and hoped that the fairies and the gift of the blarney would come over me.

3. Being of Irish decent also figures into my writer’s bio: I come from a long line of working class, non-intellectuals who were self-taught.. On my father’s side, there are indications that writing is in my genes. I have a poem in newsprint that my Grandmother from Ireland wrote, and a published piece of music with lyrics by Grandfather. When reading “How the Irish Saved Civilization” a few years back, I was struck by how the common Irish, who were hired by monks to hand copy the classics, wrote little poems and ditties (often about how boring their task was) in the margins of their work. “Those were my ancestors,” I thought. It’s no wonder I consider myself a folk writer.

4. Winter was so mild this year that the hammock in our yard never came down and the kale and turnip greens in our garden never completely died off. They’ve started to come back in full force, which means I have a bumper crop of greens growing in my garden for spring.

5. While riding up and down the backstreets of Beaufort, SC, recently on my bike, enjoying the beautiful homes, many of which were mansions, I realized that I never covet other people’s houses or cars, only their roses.

6. The day before leaving for our recent trip to camp along the ocean on Hunting Island State Park, I found out that my book, “The Jim and Dan Stories” was going to be used by a group of book club members in Blacksburg. My husband, Joe, drove to meet my friend Alex, who read the book and suggested it to the group, at the Christiansburg exit of 81 to deliver 10 books to her.

7. Joe loves to play golf to the point that some people might perceive me as a golf widow, but I think he, as the husband of a writer, was a widower first.

8. Recently when he told me that he was going to play golf, I said, “You dog!” He looked dejected by my comment until I added, “No, I don’t mean you’re in the doghouse, I mean you lucky dog! Go for it!”

9. Joe once dedicated a song to me, which he sang acappella from the stage of Oddfella’s Cantina on Irish Night. It was “The Star of County Down,” a traditional song recorded by Van Morrisson with my name in the lyrics…Near Banbridge town in the County Down one morning in July…Down a boreen green came a sweet colleen and she smiled as she passed me by. I still smile when I remember it.

10. My name, Colleen, means GIRL in Gaelic.

11. My husband’s family name, Mooney, originated in Offaly County, Ireland. Some of my Irish ancestors were Dineens, a family name that also originated in Offaly, which means that my husband’s ancestors and mine might have known each other.

12. This is what I said in a past entry about my Irish heritage: When I went to Ireland in 1997 to visit my grandmother’s hometown, I learned more about myself there than I could have in 10 years of psycho-therapy. The majority of the Irish people I met reminded me of my own family. I saw the faces of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings in their faces. And that’s not all. The Irish tend to be unpretentious, playful, tender-hearted, nostalgic, self-directed, and not overtly ambitious. They are often self-deflecting, something that can be endearing but it can also border on an inferiority complex. And I thought these traits were unique to my own family.

13. And this from the same entry is worth repeating: Although most Americans are aware of the devastation of Irish famine, our history books don’t tell the story of the Penal Laws that were imposed on the Irish by the English from the late 1600s to the nineteenth century. Under these laws, the Irish were denied their right to own land in their own country, to go school, to practice their religion, or speak in their own language. Poverty and oppression under foreign domination for centuries are likely to be contributing factors in the Irish trait of self-depreciation…. But before you get the idea that the Irish are sweet and meek; think again. They also have a history of being warriors, and they are hardly repressed (as much as the English and the Catholic Church tried) when it comes to self-expression, including that of a volatile or rebellious nature.

Post Note: Find out how to participate in 13 Thursday from herself at Just the Girl Next Door or click on the 13 icon on my sidebar to visit others who also play.

March 14, 2006

A Strong Foundation to Stand On

josh'sfeet.jpg I and Pangur my cat… “Tis a like task we are at…Hunting mice is his delight…Hunting words I sit all night. ~ Excerpt from a stanza scribbled into a ninth century Latin manuscript by an Irish scribe.

In March everything is turning green and seems to revolve around St. Patrick’s Day. The March issue of the Museletter, the local newsletter I co-edit, is printed on green paper and the front page ad for this month’s Spoken Word Open Mic (Saturday, March 18, 7-9 at the Café Del Sol) reads: In the tradition of the troubadours and the ancient Celtic bards, come out and share your ballad poetry, limericks, and even your blarney.

Because their ancient Celtic culture was based on an oral tradition, and because Ireland was isolated from outside influences by the Atlantic Ocean for so many centuries, the Irish came late to literacy; but they more than made up for lost time when they did. Thomas Cahill writes in his 1995 bestseller book, How the Irish Saved Civilization, Like the Jews before them, the Irish enshrined literacy as their central religious act.

Although writing language down can be likened to trying to possess a butterfly, the Irish, steeped in the oral tradition of their poets, bards, and druids, embraced what was opened up to them by doing so. To the Irish, who were said to have invented rhyme, language was a living entity and the alphabet was magical. Soon after their introduction to the written word, they learned Greek and Latin, devised Irish grammars, copied out the whole of their native oral literature, and even began making up languages.

Cahill writes: The Irish thought that all language was a game – and too much fun to be deprived of any part of it…they found the shapes of letters magical. Why, they asked themselves, did a B look the way it did? Could it look some other way? Was there an essential B-ness?

Irish curiosity and playfulness led to their invention of the codex, the descendent of scrolls and predecessor of books as we know them today. By way of the codex, Ireland began to produce the most spectacular magical books the world has ever seen, as evidenced by The Book of Kells.

Reading Cahill’s book helped me to understand my heritiage and the tradition I write from. I especially related to the passages in his book where he describes how the Irish country folk, hired by monks to hand copy the classics, would write little ditties and poems inside the margins of their work. He writes of one example: in the margins of an impenetrable Greek commentary on scripture – we find the bored scribblings of the Irish scribes, who kept themselves awake by writing out a verse or two of a beloved Irish lyric – and so, by accumulation, left for our enjoyment a whole literature that would be otherwise unknown.

Although, I do write longer poems, I have a strong inclination, like my Irish ancestors who copied the classics, to condense language into scribbled-out small ditties, as the following excerpt from a press release introducing my first collection of poetry describes: The Irish side of my family is rich with storytellers; some poems and a song have been published, and there are a few unpublished novels still floating around. I think the Irish influence in my poetry manifests as humor, my love of wordplay, and my inclinations towards short poems, about limerick in size.

Photo: Self-potrait of feet taken by my son Josh.

March 13, 2006

Dreaming of Beachfront Property

camper.jpg Welcome home beach bums! ~ email from my friend Kathleen.

I recently realized that ocean camping fulfills a lifelong dream of mine. The one in which my girlfriends and I skip school and vow to live on the beach forever. While growing up on the narrow peninsula of Hull, Massachusetts, we built fires with drift wood and heated up cans of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup using quahog shells for bowls. It was fun, but then seemed to take forever for the school buses to bring the kids home from school, at which point we knew we could go back to our warm houses again.

Now I live in the mountains and have a camper with a stove, a refrigerator, a bed, and a heater. Having a camper makes me feel self-sufficient and appeals to my childhood love of fort building; which we did in the nooks and crannies of the granite boulder seawall in our neighborhood. It’s like owning a mortgage-free retirement home that I can take to ocean whenever I get homesick for it.

At the ocean, I’m a girl again. Everything is brighter against the grey canvas of water, sand, and sky, and the world seems to open up like a shell ready to explore. My favorite time for exploring the beach is early evening in the warm glow of the setting sun, which is when my husband and I set out walking while camping at Hunting Island State Park recently.

On the south end of the park, there’s a section of beach that can only be reached at low tide where evidence of changing landscapes and the impermanence of life can clearly be seen. Gigantic uprooted trunks with gnarly roots still lie where they fell when the ocean claimed them in piles and on top of each other. Some are still standing dead; others have worn down to stumps. The scene is a beautiful one and sad one at the same time, and I can’t decide whether to call it a graveyard or an art museum of sculpture. joeonstump.jpg

My husband, who looks for any opportunity to practice yoga or perch from a tree, thinks it’s a playground. Noticing the quiet sadness that had come over me, he reminded me that when one part of the land is lost to the erosion of time another part is being born somewhere else. Both destruction and renewal exist at the same time.

The wind picked up and the sky darkened. We zipped up our jackets, pulled up our collars and headed back to camp where the inviting glow of electric lights shown out from the camper windows. In a surreal convergence of past and present time, I remembered my childhood dreams and saw that they had come true.

March 12, 2006

Winding Down

beachangel.jpg AKA: Landing
Like a kite swept up in the sea air, I was riding high during the week that my husband and I spent camping along the ocean on Hunting Island, South Carolina. Mid-week, I commented to him how much better I feel at the ocean. No stress. No afternoon naps, almost as if the remnant of Chronic Fatigue that I still struggle with was in remission.

After a week of waking with the sunrise and a view of the ocean from our camper window, it was time to head for the highway that would eventually lead us back home to the mountains. But the further we got away from the beach the more deflated I began to feel. Within a half and hour of leaving, my kite crashed. By the time we passed a strip mall of fast food stores and motels, and even though it was only 11 a.m., I slumped down in my seat and fell asleep.

“I feel like dead weight,” I said to my husband when I woke up. “I guess I’m no longer being buoyed up by all those health-giving negative ions that come from the ocean.”

“You’re getting out of your element. You grew up surrounded by the ocean and bay. It’s in your blood,” he answered.

“It’s like eating protein all week and then eating a meal full of all carbs,” I continued to complain and wondered if I hadn’t hit on something related to a physiological explanation as to why people have a hard time readjusting after a vacation and sometimes feel depressed.

Although, my energy is fragile, like the canary in the mine who feels the effect of changes sooner than others, my reaction to leaving the ocean caught me off guard. I was fulfilled by our week of camping and content to go home. My reaction was shocking to me because it was clearly physical.

Being away from the ocean left me feeling like a fish out of water. But aren’t we all? The umbilical cord to the primordial sea of life had been cut. It was time to learn to breathe on my own again.

March 11, 2006

Guerilla Blogging

gorillablogging2.jpg The hardest part of Guerilla Blogging is finding your cursor when the daylight casts a glare on your computer screen. You’ll need to learn how to balance your lap top while riding a bike, turn your laptop carrying case into a makeshift mouse pad, and be ready to pick up and move at a moment’s notice when the wireless signal gets low. There will likely be gnats and other bugs to contend with and discomfort from sitting on the ground. And don’t even try guerilla blogging if you can’t get used to being stared at by people walking or riding by. Some will stop and ask what you’re doing. Be prepared to explain what blogging is. Some people still don’t know.

Where's the strangest place you've blogged from?

Photo: Picking up wireless in the woods next to The Hunting Island State Park Ranger's house. The ranger says the whole park will probably be wireless within a year or two.

March 10, 2006

Real Estate

realestate.jpg Affordable beachfront property, ocean view, easy access to white sandy beach, solar heat source, air conditioned, ample parking, nearby playground, rustic furniture in a driftwood motif. Total package cost (if you can get the present tenets out): PRICELESS

Post notes:
My husband, Joe, waking up from a nap in the master bedroom and finding me writing this, says: “Don’t forget to mention that there’s an award winning, ocean front golf course and resort 5 minutes up the road.” I answer: “Get your own blog! You totally need your own golf blog.”

Thanks to Tabor at One Day at a Time for her great suggestions, left in a comment, for the above ad.

March 9, 2006

13 Thursday: The Beach Vacation Version

13cabana2.jpg1. Pelicans always look like cartoon characters to me. When they crash down into the water to catch fish, it looks like slapstick.

2. What a world! If spring is taking too long, you can drive south to meet it. Drive a little further and you’ll run into summer.

3. I love the sound a stick makes when you swish it quickly in the air, and I’m still amazed that if you swing a bucket of water upside down fast enough, the water won’t fall out.

4. The first place I blogged since we left home last Friday was under a palm tree in the corner of the Huntington Island Park Ranger’s front yard, the only place in the park to pick up wireless.

5. I forgot to bring shoes that tie, which means that I’m riding my bike in flip flops or clogs.

6. I watched some of the Academy Awards on the small TV in our camper. I liked when George Clooney was accepting his award for best supporting actor and announced that he was proud to be part of such an “out of touch community” (Hollywood), one that brought attention to the issue of AIDS when no one else was talking about it and fought for civil rights before it was popular.

7. The Blogsphere is a pretty big water cooler to hang out around. Being on vacation, I haven’t been there lately and am wondering what others have been blogging about.

8. This is what I saw yesterday evening: A man on the beach flying an orange kite, wearing a black t-shirt that read, ‘Fat people are harder to kidnap.’

9. I’m reading “Hannah Coulter” by Wendell Berry. It’s one in a series of books about the lives of the good people of the fictional town of Port Williams (probably Kentucky) and is mostly about grief and love. In the first chapter, I picked up a few more names for the list of old country names that I’m collecting: Jarrat and Burley. I also discovered a few more in the obituary section of the Floyd Press that ended up coming with us in the truck: Remon and Meda. Old country mountain names are like the hippie names of old times.

10. I’ve been trying to finish a poem about my father who passed away this past November. It’s all coming down to one line. I have about 11 syllables to describe my father’s condition the last time I saw him in the hospital. I have pages and pages of words and notes but it’s too big to condense it and pin it down. Maybe I need to start a second poem.

11. Each line in a poem should look and feel like no other line was possible, and finding what isn’t working in a poem is as much progress as finding what does.

12. I’ve had the old song “As Time Goes By”…You must remember this...a kiss is just a kiss...a sigh is just a sigh… in my head lately, especially last night while riding my bike along the shore at sunset. At that point, I came to believe that my father was talking to me through his mother tongue, his beloved songs of the 40s. Tears began to fall, and I dared to hope for an open line to him and wondered what song he would choose to put in my head next.

13. Even on vacation I’m a homebody. I like to stay at the campsite while my husband goes out to explore area golf courses. What could be better than a thermos of tea and a good book to read with the ocean as my front yard and hours to while away following the sun, moving my beach chair or tracking it down by bike if need be?

The photo: My makeshift cabana and my wheels; my back-up home away from home and transportation when my husband takes the truck camper to go play golf. Click the 13 Thursday icon on my sidebar to visit others who play. Nicole, just the girl next door, hosts the game. Visit her for the rules.

March 8, 2006

Oxymoron

The highlight of the day is the sunset.
sunset3.jpg
The day’s events revolve around it. (A pun?)

Post Note: My essay about living in Floyd, “Life in the Rural Fast Lane,” originally a blog entry that went on to be published in last year’s Floyd Fest brochure, is set to be aired this Friday on WVTF radio at 6:55 am and again at 8:55. You can hear me reading it at the WVTF site, here.

March 7, 2006

Beaufort by Bike

beaufortblossoms.jpg On the backstreets of downtown Beaufort it’s warm enough to ride my bike without wearing a jacket, and traffic is hushed enough to hear the songs of birds. My bike glides up and down the neighborhood streets with little effort from me, almost as if it was being pushed by the breeze.

I crane my head up to see the stately houses as I ride; pink, mint green, and some in standard white with black shutters. There are cobble stoned courtyards, ivy covered fences and gates, hibiscus lined verandas, and trees. A gentle breeze blows the Spanish moss hanging from the limbs of the gigantic sprawling live oaks and carries a sweet scent that smells something like rose mixed with orange.

I’m not the only one enjoying the charm of the neighborhood. A horse and buggy full or tourists, waving as they pass, trots by.

I can’t help but smile at the sight of people outside, not working at their jobs or in front of the TV. I pass a man sitting in a rocking chair on his porch doing what I guess is a crossword puzzle. One woman is on her hands and knees digging in her flower garden, another is watering a hanging basket of ferns on her sky-blue colored porch. A boy on a tricycle peddles by with what I assume is his nanny walking next to him.

The sound of a military jet startles me out of my peace. I stop and get off my bike to take a picture of a small tree in bloom. It’s pink.

March 6, 2006

Hunting Island Beach, SC

palm.jpg The Carolina lowland makes the ocean’s horizon look closer. At high tide, its brim looks as if it is tipping towards me. There is no land mass, no boats or lighthouses in the distance to give it perspective. Sea foam – the tumbleweed of coastal living – flutters by and crosses my path as I walk. At dusk wind-swept pieces of it seem especially animated, like sandpipers.

The palm trees look placed. Too perfect. Too straight. Occasionally, a brave one will stand alone near the shoreline, ignoring what I see as warning signs: remnants of fellow fallen trees, strewn like dinosaur bones along the dunes.

As I turn the bend, the beach stretches out, wide, empty, and white. What world it this? I feel a disorientated sense of delight. The only thing that keeps the scene from looking like a desert is the ocean, which could be a mirage, for all I know.

Post Note: The answer to yesterday’s question is the title of the above. It’s just outside Beaufort, South Carolina, where much of Forrest Gump was filmed. Thanks everyone for playing along!

March 5, 2006

Where in the World are Joe and Colleen?

Follow the clues...scarolina1.jpg
Leave your guess in the comments...alligatorsign.jpg
More clues to come...gump.jpg

March 3, 2006

The Continuing Story of the Pots in the Window

AKA: What Does Nina Simone have to do with it?

The Background: Last Friday I posted a follow-up to an original blog entry titled “How Much is that Pot in the Window?” It was related to a pottery piece that my Asheville potter son, Josh, had displayed in the window of his “Clay Space” pottery studio; 9 pots glued to piece of wood, which was set on the ledge of his studio, not necessarily for the purpose of selling, but more to draw attention to his studio. potwindow3.jpg

“How Much is that Pot in the Window?”
Last week, Josh called with the answer; “$400.” It was purchased by a private collector.

The Plot Thickens:
The art collector who bought Josh’s pots glued to wood has a blog! It’s called “The Eunice Waymon Birthplace” and chronicles his efforts to restore the original home of Eunice Waymon in Tryon, North Carolina. In the time it took to click on a google search, I discovered that Eunice Waymon is Nina Simone! Of course, I knew Nina Simone was a singer and a major talent, but I didn’t know anything about her history, or the fact that she was active in civil rights, recorded several Bob Dylan songs, and sang a rendition of (my all time favorite) Suzanne by Leonard Cohen. Her webpage describes her as: "Singer, Pianist, Arranger, Composer, Honorary Doctor in Music and Humanities, High Priestess of Soul, Queen of African Rooted Classical Music. " She died in April, 2003 at the age of 70. Copus 2.jpg

But the best part of this connect-the-dots saga, is that the private collector who purchased Josh’s Clay Space window pots sent me a photo of them in their new home. Don’t they look great?!

My son, Josh, doesn’t have a webpage yet. I’m thinking maybe he needs his own category on the sidebar of my blog.

Post Note:
We are heading out for some R&R to an undisclosed location that I’m hoping involves the ocean. Posting here may be erratic.

March 2, 2006

Thirteen Thursday: 13 Messages after the Beep

13phone4.jpg1. My husband is a good sport, when I call him up at work and say, “Call me back and leave a message. The answering machine is about to have 13 messages and I want to take a picture of it,” he understands and is happy to oblige.

2. This past November when my sister Kathy called to tell me the shocking news that my father had died, I took the phone into the bathroom, closed the door, and sat on the floor as if I wanted to be near the toilet in case I was going to be sick.

3. My all-time favorite answering machine message was one of my dad’s. In his best Irish Gangster Boston accent, he simply said, “State your business.”

4. I’ve recently recovered from an infestation of mice in my house. I guess somebody has built a better mouse trap. It’s called poison.

5. When my girlfriend Juniper and her boyfriend were over for dinner last week, she insisted that we watch my wedding video (taken up on the Blue Ridge Parkway in 1996) because she had never seen it. It was my first time seeing my father in film since he passed away last November. The image of us doing our father and daughter dance is now replaying in my mind over and over.

6. I think Juniper wanted to watch the video to show her boyfriend how we live in Floyd, or maybe she wanted to give him a hint.

7. The highlight of the week, besides getting my first ever SCRABBLE BINGO was selling 5 of my books to one person. I love when that happens, and I love to watch the book ripple out and fulfill its higher purpose.

8. Best line seen in the blogsphere this week at Rocks in my Dryer: The other night, my oldest son was reading a book, when he asked, "What does gossip mean?" My Hubs, without so much as a pause, said, "Son, it's another word for BLOG!"

9. Favorite email this week from my husband: Call me if you’re coming in to get your hair cut. We may stick a chair in your trunk.

10. Favorite blog heading quote seen this week at The Jake Silver Show: Be yourself. Everybody else is already taken.

11. Congratulations to the winners of the Share the Love Blog Awards. Go on over and meet some new friends.

12. I’m a little phone phobic. I put off making calls and usually don’t like to answer the phone. I think my aversion can be traced back to when I was a girl; when a boy would call me up, I’d just sit there on the other end with nothing to say. But it may be genetic. I’m not the only one in my family who is like this.

13. Before I became a foster care provider and had to have professional messages on my answering machine, people used to call me up just to hear my answering machine messages, like this one:
Hello…Hello…Oh… I’m in the past and you’re in the present, but if you leave a message, I’ll get back to you in the future.

Leave a message for Nicole at Just the Girl Next Door. She is the 13 Thursday host and keeps the game plan and master list.

March 1, 2006

Word Drunk

The Irish were intoxicated by the power of words. Every noble Irish family maintained a family of ancestral poets. The Irish sons of Mil were accompanied by their poet, Amhairghin… ~ From How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill

Word Drunk

I’ve been pulled over
for driving while doing it

I’ve stayed up late
doing it alone

I’ve nursed hangovers
and mixed metaphors

My house is littered
with half filled notebooks
of unreadable scrawl

and dried out pens
have collected in the cracks
between the cushions of my couch

Post Note: I'm going to take a nap and sober up now.